What Is A Niche Site?
The purpose of a niche site is to build a website that makes an income.
It can make an income through various ways, such as advertising, commissions or product sales.
Niche sites are a bit like rental properties for the internet. Once you build them, they can just sit there on the internet and bring in passive income. They may need a little maintenance here and there, but as long as you keep them in good shape they'll continue to earn.
In this guide, I'll take you through all the basic steps of building a niche site, from setting up your domain name to making your first $100.
How To Build A Niche Site
A niche site is simply a website about a certain topic.
For example, you might make a website all about school snacks for kids.
You could post recipes or snack ideas or summaries on which snacks have the most sugar — whatever you want.
Generally, the more "niche" your site, the better.
For example, instead of school snacks for kids, you could narrow it down to school snacks for kid’s with allergies (or vegetarians or diabetes).
The goal of the site is to give information to people about a very specific topic.
The reason going "more niche" is beneficial is when your site is very specific, there's less competition, and it makes it easier for people to find you.
What You Will Need:
Building a niche site is a lot of work, but it's not complicated.
Four simple steps:
- Get a website up and running.
- Choose a good niche.
- Write a bunch of helpful articles (keyword: helpful).
- Get traffic to the site.
The best part of niche site building is how low-risk it is.
You can do it from your bedroom, you don’t need to take a course or go to a special school, and it should cost you around $50 to get started.
This will give you a business that could potentially make you four or five figures per month.
Realistically, a site will take you around 50 hours to build before it starts making money.
My first site took around that long, but now it only takes an hour per month to maintain, and still brings in around $400 to $500 per month on autopilot.
Let's go through the process step-by-step:
Get a website up and running
If you haven’t owned a website before, this step may sound complicated.
It’s actually super easy (shouldn’t take more than an hour).
Getting your niche site up and running requires 3 things:
- Choosing a web host
- Installing WordPress
- Installing a theme
Choosing a web host
Getting hosting is like renting a piece of land on the internet where your website will sit.
Without hosting space, you can’t own a site.
Luckily, web hosting is super affordable these days and even ten-year-olds can afford to have their own blogs.
While there are thousands of web hosts to choose from, not all of them are good. And if you are going to start a website, trust me, you want a good host.
I can’t stress that enough.
A bad host where your site always crashes and is slow and the support team never answers your emails — it’s hell and you might as well not have a website at all (believe me, I’ve been there).
I’ve been a site owner for almost 15 years now, have been with many hosts, and there is only one host I recommend for new site owners: Dreamhost.
- Super affordable! $2.50 per month on their Starter plan with this link.
- Great support. When I migrated my sites to Dreamhost, the support team were great and responded to everything super quick.
- SO EASY to use. They have a one-click WordPress-install, and you can even ask support to just do it for you.
- Free domain name!
- A great (and fast!) premium plan to upgrade to if your site starts to grow.
Also, they are one of the official hosting recommendations by WordPress, so if you plan on using WordPress (if you’re reading this guide, then yes), they’re an ideal choice.
Of course, you are free to choose any host you like, but Dreamhost is my top recommendation for new site owners.
Simply head to their homepage and click on their Starter plan to get going:
WordPress is the most popular website software in the world.
If you want a fast, secure, nicely designed website, I would highly recommend using WordPress.
Best of all, it’s 100% free.
The other great thing about WordPress is it’s super simple to use.
No nerdy stuff, no weird programming or coding. Just install and go.
If you’re hosting with Dreamhost, WordPress will already be pre-installed for you, because they’re awesome like that.
(If you’re using a different webhost, look in your cPanel or dashboard and look for one-click WordPress install. If it’s not there, contact support and ask for the instructions, or search their support section).
If you forgot to check the “pre-install” WordPress button during your Dreamhost setup, don’t worry.
Installing WordPress on Dreamhost is as simple as clicking a button.
Go to your Dashboard and click “One Click Installs” in the left-hand menu:
You will get taken to the WordPress install screen.
Simply choose your domain name from the drop-down box (it will be the same domain you chose during signup) and click Install It For Me Now:
Wait for it to do its thing, and you now have a working WordPress site.
How to log in to your site
Dreamhost should email you a username and password, or you will choose it during setup.
Once WordPress is installed, you will login to your site at www.yoursite.com/wp-admin.
So if the domain name you chose was redapples.com, you will login to your WordPress site at redapples.com/wp-admin.
Installing a theme
Now, your WordPress theme.
A theme is like a pre-made design for your website.
Instead of paying a web designer thousands of dollars to design a pretty website for you, you can just install a WordPress theme with one click and your site will look great.
This is perfect for dummies like you and me.
To get to themes, go to “Appearance” in the left side menu, then click “Themes”.
If this is your first website, I’m going to recommend that you don’t buy a theme right away.
You’re probably going to spend days shopping through different themes, and it will just be a distraction from the more important tasks.
There are millions of free themes you can use in the meantime.
In fact, you can just use the default theme that WordPress gives you — that will suffice for now.
Also, now is a good time to just play around with WordPress. Install the free themes and see how they look, click around the menu and make some posts and pages and keep previewing the site to see how it all works. Don’t worry, WordPress is very hard to break — just play around with it and have fun. It’s your website!
Changing a theme is as simple as one click, so no need to worry about this so early.
Focus on building your site content and traffic.
Once you’ve written some articles and have an idea of how you want your site to look, it’s time to start theme shopping.
My #1 theme recommendation right now is Thrive Theme Builder.
It is simply the best theme if you want to customise your site to look exactly how you want, without writing any code or going crazy.
This website you're reading right now is built with Thrive Theme Builder.
Check out a demo of it right here.
Remember – there is nothing wrong with sticking with a free theme for now. It will not affect your ability to build a good, profitable niche site. You can upgrade your theme at any time in the future with a single click.
Choosing A Niche
Now that you’re all set up we can work on building the site itself.
First, your niche.
What’s your site going to be about?
There are two things to think about here:
- Is it a subject you are knowledgeable/passionate about?
- Is it a subject other people are searching for online?
The truth is, you can get a good niche out of any subject (yes, any). Games, parenting, fishing, avocados, BB guns.
Try and think about an experience that caused you to start researching/buying new things, or a particular problem that you needed information on recently and started Googling.
If you actually had trouble finding information, even better!
Since a good site doesn’t exist yet, you can make it.
Here are a few idea starters for helping you choose a niche:
- What is something you have bought online recently?
- What is something you purchased at the store recently?
- What is a question you have asked a friend for advice on recently?
- What is something you cook/make often? (niche recipe sites are excellent).
- What is something you’ve typed into Google recently?
- What is an item you spent a lot of time researching/shopping for?
- What is something you bought that was expensive but you really needed it?
- What was something that stressed you out recently that you needed help with?
- What is something you’ve bought that has made your life easier?
- What is something your friends are really into or spend a lot of money on?
Remember, niches are about information.
People are searching for information — you need to give it to them!
If you bought a juicer recently, you could make a juice recipes site, even niche it down further into specific juices for specific health conditions.
If your kids are playing with new toys or games you could build a site around toys for “insert blank”.
Good Niche Ideas
What is a hobby or interest you’ve taken up recently?
If you have none, what is a hobby or interest you would like to take up?
Start that hobby today, and start documenting your progress in a niche site.
Example: Let’s say you want to get into archery. Go and buy a bow, gloves, arrows, find an archery club, start learning to shoot. After you’ve done all that, you now have five blog posts you’re perfectly placed to write:
How to buy your first bow
Which arrows to buy as an archery beginner?
Do you need gloves as an archery beginner?
What to look for when deciding on your first archery club
Five things I learned at my first archery lesson
There really are endless possibilities.
Take thirty minutes to jot down some ideas of things that you’ve experienced/are knowledgeable about/are interested in. Write down everything — there are no wrong answers.
In the next step, we’ll help decide which one is a winner.
Validating Your Niche
Now you’ve thought of a niche(s), we need to see if people are actually interested in it.
Are there enough people searching for your niche to make a site worthwhile?
Luckily, Google has a free tool where you can type in a subject and see how many people are searching for it.
Now the following process might sound a little heavy.
If it confuses you, don’t worry. Once you start doing it, it will start to make sense.
Say we decide we go with the juicer example.
You’ve been making fresh juices with your juicer for months and you think juicing will make a great site.
Let’s take a look:
Up to 100k searches per month. That’s great, but here’s the problem.
Juicing is a really broad term. Notice how it says "Competition: High"?
You’ll be competing with all the biggest health websites in the world!
Instead, it would make more sense to focus on long-tail keywords, or niche keywords.
Let’s look for something a bit more narrowed down, like “juice cleanse”.
When you target these kinds of phrases, you give your niche site a better chance of ranking in Google, because far fewer people are writing about them.
Ideally, we are looking for phrases that have:
- Low competition
- Good search volume.
Luckily the Google keyword planner will suggest many keyword phrases for you. Here are some suggestions for “juice cleanse”:
Our goal is to find a niche that has a lot of long-tail keywords we can target, without too much competition.
Looking at the search results above, we can see there are several such keywords that could make this site feasible.
Start Writing Articles
Now that we’ve found a niche, and some keywords to target, what do we do with them?
We start writing!
There are two types of articles you will need to write for your niche site:
- Two or three epic, in-depth, expert articles on your subject (1,500 words plus).
- A collection of smaller articles to publish regularly (500+ words).
The two or three epic articles are your anchor content.
They show people you’re an expert on the subject and give your site credibility.
The other smaller articles we do for two reasons:
- To show Google your site is being constantly updated (Google loves this).
- To target the less popular keywords and bring more people to your site.
Now to keep publishing content you’re going to need a lot of article ideas.
I’ll recommend you come up with at least 50.
If you can come up with 50 good article ideas, it means your niche is deep enough to build a site about.
Now you might be thinking 50 articles is a lot, but it really isn’t.
If we take my first niche site for example, I’ve got one big article that serves as an expert guide, and then around 40 articles that are around 500-1,000 words.
Once you come up with one idea, that will usually flow into other ideas.
For example, you might write an article on “Why is carrot juice good for you?”
But now you have some obvious follow on articles:
“Why is beet juice good for you?”
“Why is celery juice good for you?”
And so on.
Sometimes you might change it around, such as:
“What is the best juice for skin?”
“What is the best juice for weight loss?”
You get the idea.
Just think of the types of things people will be typing into Google.
Those are the exact articles you want to write.
Remember your 2 or 3 cornerstone articles will account for 90% of your traffic.
The main purpose of the other articles is to build credibility with Google and show your site is active.
That means you can really post anything — answers to specific questions, some random thoughts on your niche etc.
Even if the post is only 500 words, that’s fine too. As long as they add some value, it’s a good addition to your site.
Target your keywords!
To get found in Google, you need to target keywords in your articles.
That’s why we spent all that time in the previous step finding good keywords to use.
The way to “target a keyword” is to add that string of words within your article in a decent number of places.
Why do we do this?
Because this is how Google knows what your site is about.
For example, if someone searches for “best vegetarian snacks for kids”, Google goes and scans the web for a relevant article. Obviously if your article has the phrase “best vegetarian snacks for kids” in it several times, Google will pick it up as relevant and return it to the searcher.
This means it’s in your interest to make it as clear as possible to Google what your site is about.
From a practical standpoint, this simply means including the keyword phrase within the body of your article 3 or 4 times, preferably near the start.
You can also try and put the phrase in the URL of the article, and also the article title itself.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is a lot more complicated than that, but that should set you on the right path for now. If you’re new to this, I don’t really recommend diving into SEO right away — it’s heavy and will suck up almost all of your time.
What I’ve told you above is enough to get started.
Focus on getting your site up and targeting keywords in your articles. We can worry about the super geeky stuff later.
Getting traffic to your site
This is easily the most difficult and least enjoyable part of the process.
Because so much of the advice out there is scammy, secret tricks, “spam your website all over the internet” type stuff.
This is why I haven’t really done that much traffic generation, but of course it’s a necessary part of the building your site.
One source of traffic we’re going to rely on is Google, but this doesn’t happen instantly.
Because your site is new, Google doesn’t know whether it’s good or not.
Usually gaining traction in Google takes around 6 months or more.
That’s okay, in the steps above we’ve set ourselves up for Google success in the long term. But here are some sources that can be useful in the short term too:
Facebook — If your site is about one of your hobbies, and it’s something people often ask you about, you can share your stuff on your Facebook page.
Pinterest — This is actually a really great tool for promoting your site. I would recommend starting a new Pinterest account for your site, make some professional looking pins in Canva and then start sharing them. You can share on your personal Pinterest too.
Youtube — You can rank videos super easily in Youtube. Even if you just upload a powerpoint about something in your niche, it has the potential to drive traffic if it's useful.
Quora — Lots of people ask questions on Quora all the time, like “I dropped my iPhone in jelly will it still work?” If you search for questions like this related to your niche, you can then post an answer and link back to your site. It’s a rather untapped resource that you should definitely check out.
Reddit — There is most likely a subreddit related to your niche. Post your articles up there, you might be surprised.
Forums — Always a great place to promote your site. If anyone has questions related to your niche, answer them and then direct them to a relevant article on your site. Great way to build backlinks too.
Stumble Upon — Super easy to use — just submit your pages and see how they do.
I would choose 1 or 2 sources to start with and focus on those. If you see any success keep going, and if you don’t, try something else. Which one is most effective really depends on your promotion style and the niche itself, so just keep trying.
Here are some screens from my traffic from the first few months of my first niche site:
And here’s what my referrals looked like:
As you can see Pinterest was the clear leader during the early months. I also got a bit of traffic from search engines which was nice, but building that source of traffic takes time.
As your site matures (if you’ve built a good site) your traffic sources should all pick up gradually.
Now you’ve got people visiting your site, we need to turn this traffic into dollars.
There are three main ways to do this.
Advertising is most easily done through Google Adsense or Ezoic.
Simply sign up for an account, enter your site details and if your site isn’t a spam factory you should be approved.
Then you can start copy-pasting the ads up around your site.
When a reader clicks one of those ads, you’ll usually earn between 10 and 50 cents.
The downside with advertising is it requires a lot of traffic before you see any results.
To me, advertising is a more long-term strategy for once your site and traffic matures.
If this is your first niche site, I would highly recommend starting with affiliate marketing instead.
If you want your site to make money from Day 1, I would suggest using affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is when you earn a commission for recommending a product or service.
You put a special link to a product on your site, then if someone clicks that link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.
If this is your first site, I’d recommend using the Amazon affiliate program.
How this works is you post affiliate links on your site for anything on Amazon (Amazon will provide the links for you). If your readers click that link and then buy something, Amazon will pay you commission of between 1–5%.
The program is particularly great because its affiliate links are valid store wide.
That means if someone clicks a link for coconut oil on your site, but while on Amazon they end up purchasing a laptop, you’ll get commission for that too.
Once you get more familiar with building sites you can start looking at other, more lucrative programs, but Amazon is a great one to get started.
Sell a product
Many niche sites sell courses or ebooks to generate an extra income.
This is usually quite lucrative if you have a marketable opportunity to sell a course or book (usually diet plans and weight loss programs do very well).
Other things to think about:
- If your niche involves products people will need to buy (for example, if you made a site about coconut oil recipes your readers will obviously be buying coconut oil) it makes more sense to monetise with Amazon. Why? Because you can link to coconut oil (or whatever product) on Amazon and collect commissions.
- If your niche is more informational and people generally won’t be buying things (for example, philosophy or meditation) then it makes more sense to monetise with Adsense or a product.
- Lastly: Make sure you build your site first before submitting an application for either Adsense or Amazon’s Associate program. Post some articles to your site and make it look full and active. When you apply, they are going to review your site to see if it fits their guidelines. This sounds daunting but it’s really not. As long as your site doesn’t look like shit (and it shouldn’t if you’ve followed my guide above) you should have no trouble getting approved!
Case Study: My First Site
I first started monetising with Amazon Associates from Day 1.
Here’s what the first couple of months looked like:
If you can’t read that, it means the site made $59.02 in its first two months.
That doesn’t sound like a lot, but I was stoked with it!
Having a site make money from its first month is actually quite rare.
However, if you write good content and promote it with a monetisation plan in place, there’s no reason you can’t do it.
Even if this site just chugs along making $60 every two months, that’s still $360 per year, with potential to go a lot higher.
Eventually I managed to build the site’s Amazon income up to $400+ per month:
Pretty cool for a little side hustle you can put together from your laptop.
I also started placing advertising on the site and its brought in around $2,000 NZD in ad revenue since then:
The most recent monetisation method I’ve tried was selling a digital product.
I didn’t expect too much from this, but surprisingly it became one of the top income earners of the site.
It’s since brought in almost $3,500 USD in sales:
If you’d like to see in more detail how I implemented these monetisation techniques, plus take a look at the site itself, it’s all detailed in my case study.
I share all the numbers, how I come up with the niche, keyword research, plus you can browse the site and see the different ways I’ve experimented.
It’s free to access if you’re on my email list.
Just enter your email below and I’ll send it right over.
- Get a website set up. I recommend Dreamhost.
- Choose your niche. Try and choose something you’re knowledgeable/interested in.
- Think of 30-50 article ideas.
- Write 2–3 epic articles to start with (ultimate guides etc). Monetise with affiliate links. I recommend using Amazon Associates if this is your first site.
- Target your keywords to make sure Google can find your site.
- Start making your site look reputable with a professional design. You can do this yourself with a WordPress theme. I use Thrive Theme Builder.
- Start promoting on social networks like Pinterest, Facebook and Stumbleupon.
- Publish one article a week to keep search engines happy.
- Watch your site grow and collect your money!