I Make Money Online: Building Niche Sites
It’s time to share with you another way that I’m making some extra money online. I love this series because it shows that no matter your situation, if you have some skill or interest in a particular topic, you can usually find some way to monetize it online! That’s the true power of the internet. But on to how I’m making money. This time it’s with niche websites or blogs.
What Is A Niche Site?
For those of you not living in the web world, a niche site is usually a website or blog that covers one particular subject and nothing else. Some would consider this site to be a niche site since it covers personal finance, but it’s too broad a subject since we talk about everything from making money to paying off your debt. Niche sites usually choose the deepest minutia of a topic and drill down to the barest essentials and cover nothing else. For instance, a general medical website might talk about diseases. A topical site might talk about cancer. A niche site might talk about skin cancer. A deeper niche site might talk about melanoma.
Finding My Own Niche…and Failing
I first learned about niche sites by somehow stumbling into Pat Flynn’s site called Smart Passive Income. He was challenged to a niche site duel by Tyrone Shum. The goal was to see who could build a niche site from scratch and get it to make them some money. The only rule was that they could not pay for traffic. This duel started way back in August 2010 and I followed along intently. The great thing about these two guys is that they updated everyone following along regularly and showed us their techniques for getting their sites up and making them money. Some other bloggers soon joined into the niche site duel and shared their own techniques as well. I’ve linked to the niche site duel hub on each of their individual pages. Pat Flynn’s site is now making him an extra $1,500 each month! What could you do with an extra $1,500?!
Motivated by these posts, I thought of building my own niche site, but I really had no clue what to write about. I looked around for a hot and trending topic. At the time, bed bugs were a huge problem in New York, so I thought about doing one on bedbugs, but I really wasn’t motivated and didn’t put the effort into it. In October 2010 I started building the site, How To Kill Bed Bugs Now (I’ve since deleted the site). About a third of the way into building the site and adding articles, I stopped. I just wasn’t motivated enough and I didn’t have any money to hire someone to do it for me. I know that you’re wondering, if you didn’t have any money, how did you build the site. Simple. It was only $6.99 to register the domain (I caught a sale) and I already had hosting for this website, so I just slapped it under my existing hosting plan for free. The template that I used was also free. So, essentially it only cost me $6.99 and my time to build the site. But a half-completed site really won’t make you money.
I continued to follow Pat in his duel and updates. In the meantime, I was having problems with my tenant and since it was really popular on this site, I decided to build My Tenant from Hell (again only $6.99) to share those stories with you where I wouldn’t have to censor myself since she made me want to curse a blue streak every time I wrote about her. I didn’t want this blog to become all about my tenant, plus I wanted other people to be able to share their stories and avoid the hell that I had gone through. I built that site in January I think. I never though of it as a “niche” site per se, but that’s essentially what it was. So far that site has made me over $400 and I update it once per week, when I remember. Half of the fun it that some of the stories come from you! I don’t even have to think about. By the way, if you want to share a story about a bad landlord, tenant, or roommate you can go over, register and write your own story.
Okay, so this niche site thing might work. What if I had 10 sites and they could each make me $100 per month? That would be an extra $12,000 per year. It was an ambitious goal and I have a short attention span, so I knew that I would never take the time to do that, but the potential had me thinking. Okay, let’s try this niche site one more time. But again, what could I write about. I took a different approach this time. I came back to this blog and looked for the one article that made me the most money from Adsense advertisements. For those of you wondering what that is, it’s the ugly little advertisement block on the top right hand part of this page that you hate and some of you click on. Every time you click on one of those (well, almost every time) it earns me money from Google. Okay, so which article was earning me the most money? Funny enough, it was one short little article that I had thrown up on this site almost 2 years ago and forgotten about. I hadn’t done any research on the topic or anything. I just shared some information that I though you would find helpful. It turns out that many did find it helpful and it was ranked #1 on Google for it’s topic. Sweet!
I looked around on Google to see if anyone else was really writing about this topic and there were a couple of other sites that had some information, but no dedicated site…at the time anyway. I wondered if this topic could stand alone as a site. I figured for $8.99 (domain prices went up), I might as well give it a try. I registered the site and literally spent two weeks putting articles up. Funny enough, people started finding the site even before it was finished, and it started earning me money. Okay, it was only $4.27, but that was about half of its cost, so that was good, right? The first month that it was up it earned me $34.56. Kaching! I was in the plus. This month it has earned me $18.47 so far, and I am not selling any products or direct advertisements. It looks like this will be a money maker for me, because I am still not finished!
One of the most important things about the niche site challenge was getting your site to rank high on Google for its search terms. My site doesn’t rank in to top 100 for its key words because no one has linked to it yet. For those of you wondering why that’s important, it’s kind of like throwing a party and forgetting to send out the invitations. If people show up and bring a gift it’s totally random and by accident. That’s what I have done. I need to go back and follow Pat and/or Tyrone’s strategy for publicizing the site. I haven’t done that because 1) I’m lazy; 2) I don’t have much time in my day; 3) I’m too cheap to hire someone and; 4) It’s already making me money. Don’t forget, I still have an article here on the same topic that’s also making me money. I know that my efforts will be directly proportional to the amount of money that I could make from the niche site. I can easily see the site making me $100 every month once I start building links, or from my example, sending out the invitations. When I had the opportunity to meet Pat Flynn at the Financial Blogger Conference, I thanked him for sharing this information for free, and told him how much my site had already made me. He was genuinely psyched and happy for me! What a class act.
Let’s Do This!
So, you want to build a niche site, but have no idea how? There are plenty of people that can and will do it for a fee! I’ve mentioned oDesk before for outsourcing and hiring virtual assistants. You can find someone to build a site for you for cheap! I would just be sure to go through Pat’s Niche Site Duel page to find out what it’s all about and see what’s involved before jumping in head first. One thing that you’ll notice from this article is that I haven’t mentioned the final niche site or the topic. That’s on purpose. Maybe I’ll mention it in the future when it’s 100% complete.
So, if you have time on your hands and extra hosting space for another website, consider shelling out $10 to register a domain that could potentially make you extra money online.
Update (December 2013)
Want to know how much new niche site is doing? Well, it’s been making me at least $200 every month. I share that in my debt summary every month. In November 2013 the site hit an income high of $523.16 in one month with zero effort from me and still no promotion and less than 10 backlinks.
I love using Go Daddy because it’s pretty cheap and you can build a website very quickly with pretty much zero skills. All of my sites are hosted by Go Daddy and built on WordPress. Give it a try.
Do you have a niche site? Is it making you money? Tell us about it in the comments!