What I’m about to share with you is a rarity in the site building space.
I’m going to share the first niche site I built, how much money it makes, how I find keywords for it, how I generate traffic, but most importantly, I’m going to share the site itself.
Most site builders do not share their sites.
The reason: It takes many hours of work to find a niche that’s profitable and research articles and keywords that Google will like, and when you share the site you basically give all that information away for free. Someone with more resources than you could simply make a copycat of your site and outrank you and steal all your traffic.
This is why profitable niche sites are very closely guarded.
However, for the purposes of teaching, and because I’m such a nice guy, I’ll be sharing with you a full case study on the first niche site I ever built, including the site itself.
The site this case study is based on took maybe 30 hours to get to a money-making stage. I didn’t do anything super complicated. I didn’t take any courses or read any books on how to build a niche site, I just read a few blog posts and tried it.
Now it only takes me an hour a month to maintain and makes around $300-$500 per month completely passively. The only cost is web hosting, which works out to ~$5/month.
Let’s start from the beginning.
1. Choosing a niche
Choosing a niche is an art, not a science.
It’s also very personal.
Ultimately a niche has to satisfy two criteria:
- Is it a subject you are knowledgeable/passionate about?
- Is it a subject other people are searching for online?
And to be honest, even #1 is negotiable. If you find a niche that satisfies the crap out of #2 (as in, you find a really really popular untapped niche but you know nothing about it), you can dedicate some time to studying and learning about it so you can write on it.
To show you some of the nuance in selecting a niche, let me tell you the backstory of how I chose the niche for my site:
Some years ago I had a big rash on my leg. I grew up with bad eczema so I figured it was just a flare-up — the stress of investor life maybe, no big deal.
But then it started getting really red, and itching like crazy, so I went to the doc.
He looked at my skin and told me the bad news: Scabies.
If you don’t know what scabies are, it’s a skin parasite that burrows under the top layer of the skin. It’s not a killer parasite like malaria or giardia, but holy crap are they annoying. I’ve no idea where I got it — probably from jiu-jitsu, but anyway.
The doc gives me some scabies cream and tells me to smother it on, it’ll be gone overnight. I think cool, no biggie.
However, the cream doesn’t work the first time, and I can be a hypochondriac. So I freak out and spend the next two weeks reading absolutely everything I can about scabies on the web — the history, all the different treatments, all the horror stories, some people saying they’ve had it for five years and want to kill themselves.
Now I’m thinking shit! I’m going to die from scabies! (nobody has ever died from scabies). Now I’m going mega overboard and reading all the latest scabies studies, taking notes, researching all these weird plants and oils that are used in rural Indian villages and by Aborigines and the Ancient Romans.
Then I go and try all the treatments, and spend a few days smothering different concotions all over my body.
A week later I’m cured.
I start writing up an email to my doctor about all the research I did, and that’s when it hits me – this information should really be public. Especially since many of my Google searches weren’t really fruitful, they just came back with people crying “Waa I’m dying” and things like that.
Since not everyone has the time to be reading through hundreds pages of scabies studies like myself, I figured I could summarise it all and give people answers to treat scabies properly.
Surely a site like that could be really valuable to people!
So as a newly minted armchair expert on scabies, I decide to build a niche site about it.
This might not be the best example of choosing a niche, because it sounds like you need to go through a weird “niche” experience which is not the case at all. I actually had about seven or eight niche ideas, but I just chose scabies because it was (a) on my mind at the time, and (b) felt like the easiest subject to write about.
Also, there probably weren’t many other sites to compete with, because how many people in the world are really going to build a site about scabies?
If you’re struggling with finding a niche, keep this in mind: The truth is you can get a good niche out of any subject (yes, any). Video games, parenting, hiking boots, fishing, avocados, BB guns.
The trick is to niche it down to the point where there is very little competition. Instead of hiking boots, think hiking boots for kids, or environmentally friendly hiking boots, or XXL hiking boots.
Every topic will have a sub-niche that the world wants information on.
2. Validating the niche. Is it a site people want to read?
The next step is validating the idea.
Are there enough people searching for the niche to make a site worthwhile?
The first thing I did was Google some basic scabies questions and note which sites popped up.
I found one site which was basically exactly the site I was trying to build (someone who had previously had scabies and was now teaching others how to treat it).
However, the site only talked about a couple of treatments and missed a lot of things I had found in my research.
In other words, I was confident I could build a much better site than his.
The other thing I noticed was he had lots of affiliate links around the place and some ads, so I knew he was making money from the site.
The next step in validating the niche is checking search metrics.
How many people are searching for the topic? And what are they searching for exactly?
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.
The goal is to find out how many people are searching for stuff about scabies on the web.
If only 100 people per month are searching for scabies information, probably not a great niche idea since nobody is interested in it.
However, if it’s getting many thousands or millions of searches per month, we could be in luck.
Here’s what Google shows for “scabies”:
100k-1 million searches per month.
Makes sense too — it’s one of the oldest ailments known to humans.
But it is unlikely I’m going to rank highly in the Google search results for a term as broad as “scabies”. So many sites will already have written about the topic, and some of them will be the biggest sites in the world. I’ll be competing with the Wikipedias and WebMDs of the world.
Instead, it would make more sense to focus on long-tail keywords, or niche keywords.
This is one of the keys to success with niche sites.
An example might be, “How to treat scabies with tea tree oil” or “How to kill scabies with natural treatments”.
When people Google search those specific terms, it’s less likely that many sites have targeted those phrases, giving your niche site a better chance of ranking in Google.
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 scabies:
Now, for a niche site you don’t need a shit ton of search traffic, but you still want as much as possible.
1,000 searches a month would be a minimum. That means 1,000 people are going into Google typing that search term, meaning 1,000 potential visitors to your site.
If you can target 10+ keyword phrases, that’s a decent amount of potential traffic.
Next, look at the competition.
If the competition is high, it means a lot of sites are targeting that keyword. You’ll have a hard time ranking highly in Google search results.
If competition is low, you have a better chance of landing on the first page and being found.
To do this research I actually use a premium software called Keysearch.
While this makes things easier, remember you can do all your research with free online tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner. Software like Keysearch just saves you a lot of time. As a guess, the information you can get in an hour from Keysearch might take you 3–4 days with the free Google tools.
Keysearch is $17 per month but you can get a one month free trial here. You probably only need it for a month anyway for your first site. If you can afford the extra $17, I strongly recommend it. It will make your life 100x easier.
The other reason I like Keysearch is, not only is it faster, it provides much more information.
For example, it shows you the sites that are actually on the first page for that search term, so you can see who you’re competing with, how old those sites are, and gives you more detailed search numbers.
Take a look at what comes up when you analyze the search term “how to treat scabies”:
I won’t explain all those columns to you, but basically, red means very competitive (bad) and green means not competitive at all (good).
Obviously, we want to compete for words with low competition, so we want a lot of green in that table.
This search term above has quite a bit of red, so it’s not a keyword phrase I decided to target.
You can also see I’d be competing with sites like Healthline and Mayo Clinic which are super established — that will be difficult.
After spending about 4–5 hours on this I did find some great low competition/high search volume keywords, which are the phrases I’ve targeted in my articles.
- “Can you get scabies from a massage”
- “Does bleach kill scabies?”
In the end I had about 30 article ideas to start me off.
3. Choosing a domain and setting up the site.
There’s a lot of debate around how important a domain name is.
There was a point in time where people insisted you should use an “exact match” domain to get the best results for SEO.
For example, if you were building a niche site about golf balls, you would build it on a domain like bestgolfballs.com or golfballreviews.com.
Perhaps that made a difference ten years ago, but Google seems to have gotten much smarter nowadays.
My personal opinion – domain name doesn’t matter (much).
I think the most important thing is to choose a brandable domain name.
So instead of bestgolfballs.com, I would choose something like golfnut.com.
It sounds less spammy, and still holds relevance.
For my site, I decided to go with a cross between the two: scabieshomeremedies.com.
As for setting up the site, this is a simple process your web host will help you with.
If you’re looking at building your first site, I highly recommend going with Dreamhost. They make setting up a site as easy as a few clicks, and the pricing is very competitive.
4. Creating the content
With the site set up on my new domain and a list of keywords to target, it was time to write the articles.
There are generally 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).
For example, one of my cornerstone articles is a huge 3,000-word guide on scabies treatment. Super well-researched, lots of cited studies, super high quality.
I have about three of those types of articles.
All the other articles are minor, less important articles. “How to stop scabies itching at night” and things like that. I’ll recommend you come up with at least 30-50 topics for articles like this. Why do you need to publish these smaller articles?
- 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.
While 50 articles might sound like a lot, keep in mind these don’t have to be very long articles. Between 600 – 1,000 words will be enough if the quality is good. And you can create new articles for every new question/issue in your niche. Example:
- “What are the symptoms of scabies”
- “How to treat scabies”
- “The best natural treatments for scabies”
Those were the obvious topics and filled the first 15-20 spots on my list.
Then I went back into my search history and looked at all the things I searched for when I was dealing with scabies.
I had typed in things like:
“Can you get scabies from the gym?”
“Can you get scabies from jiu jitsu?”
Ding! Those are two more article ideas I can add to the list. That led to all kinds of other possibilities like:
“Can you get scabies from a spa pool?”
“Can you get scabies from a massage?”
Just think of the types of things people will be typing into Google. Those are the exact articles you want to write.
Another hack is to find another site about your niche, and steal a few article ideas (obviously don’t copy the actual article, rewrite it in your own words and try to make it better).
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.
As for scheduling, don’t think about it too much. I think it’s best to just post as much content as you can. Pump them out as quickly as possible. If you can write 5 articles a day, go for it.
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.
5. Getting traffic to your site
Once your site is live with content, you need to attract visitors.
Ideally, we want the site to be popping up in Google whenever people search for our niche, but that takes time.
Remember, you’re competing with every other site on the internet.
Before Google starts ranking you above all the sites that were there before you, you need to prove yourself worthy.
Sometimes, Google will even “sandbox” your site, meaning it won’t even consider ranking you until your site has been active for 3-6 months.
The best thing you can do in the meantime is generate traffic from other sources.
For scabieshomeremedies.com, I did the following:
Facebook — I set up a Facebook page and started posting all new articles as status updates.
Pinterest — This was one of my main traffic sources at the beginning. It’s a really great tool for promoting your site. I started a new Pinterest page and started making “pins” on Canva. You can refer to Pinterest’s guide on how to make pins here. Spend a few minutes a day keeping the Pinterest page active by repinning posts from other people and building some boards. It will make your pins seen by more people.
Youtube — You can rank videos super easily in Youtube. If you do a specific title like “How to treat scabies with tea tree oil” you’ll probably rank on the first page within a day. However, the challenge is actually making a good video that people will watch. I just uploaded a crappy Powerpoint presentation and it ranked almost instantly. It doesn’t drive that much traffic to the site, but it’s a great SEO indicator and I’m sure it’s helped with rankings.
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. I left an answer on practically every scabies related question I could find.
Reddit – Very easy to find relevant subreddits to post in.
Forums — I looked for as many “natural remedies” or “home remedies” forums I could find and made accounts, then posted links back to articles wherever relevant. This is a really good source of links and traffic.
After about two months, here’s what traffic looked like:
And here’s what my referrals look like:
As you can see Pinterest is the clear leader.
You can also see traffic from search engines was already picking up slowly.
Traffic then continued to grow steadily for the next six to eight months:
The traffic sources continued to change too.
As you can see, search engines finally started picking up my articles and driving the majority of traffic:
Now the site has been active around five years. Here’s what the traffic looks like:
It’s hit around 500 views per day after 2 years and has been sitting there reasonably consistently ever since.
It’s done almost 700,000 page views.
This is without any upkeep, so it’s been a generally good passive income earner for me.
Which brings me to the next question – how much money does it make?
My initial plan was to make money from Amazon Associates.
Amazon Associates is a program where you add links to products on Amazon, and earn a commission every time somebody purchases something.
This seemed like the easiest way since my site was based around home remedies (lots of oils, powders, plant products etc).
I included Amazon affiliate links to all those things in my articles.
I was pretty surprised when I started earning commissions, but then I remembered when I was treating myself for scabies, I was also ordering all the same things! The whole point of the site was to recommend people the same treatments that I used, so it made total sense people were clicking on my links and buying stuff. The site was working exactly as I intended.
Here’s what the first couple of months looked like:
If you can’t read that, it means the site made $59.02 USD in its first two months. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you build a website from scratch, even making $1 gets you super hyped.
Not to mention a site making money from its first month is 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.
The affiliate revenue on this site has been quite erratic since then. It peaked in 2020 where it was bringing in around $400 per month:
Then it slowly started to come down to around $80 – $100 per month and stayed there until today:
I didn’t change anything on the site, so it just seems to be the usual ebb and flow of the internet and Google.
This is one of the downsides of niche sites – you’re generally at the mercy of Google and your income is going to fluctuate a lot, usually none of which is actually your fault.
The only thing you can do is focus on what you can control – just keep building!
The next step was to see if the site could make any money from advertising.
Whenever people click those ads, you’ll get paid.
Since adding ads to the page, the site has made around $2,200 NZD in ad revenue:
Perhaps this could be optimised better, but I’ve simply let the ads run on autopilot.
It’s been a very useful source of set-and-forget revenue.
The final monetisation method for me to try was selling a product.
The goal of the site was to experiment with everything possible, so I wrote an ebook, which was basically a treatment plan summarised into about 20 very short and easy-to-follow pages.
The goal was to create something that someone could read through in 15 minutes instead of spending an hour scouring through all the blog posts for the information they needed.
I created the book in Canva (free) and split-tested it — one page was selling at $10 and the other was selling at $27.
Surprisingly, they sold exactly the same amount of copies, so obviously I went with the $27 price point.
I really wasn’t expecting much from ebook sales (to be perfectly honest I’m surprised I made any sales at all), but it’s actually turned out to be the top income generator for the site – a testament to the importance of experimenting and testing everything!
The ebook has now brought in almost $3,500 USD in sales:
Summary: Building Niche Sites
- Get a website set up. I use Dreamhost and highly recommend them. If you’re ready to get started, click here.
- Choose your niche. Try and choose something you’re knowledgeable/interested in.
- Think of 25–30 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. I recommend Keysearch.
- 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!
It’s that simple. I really hope this case study has been helpful.
When it comes to niche sites, there’s no substitute to just getting stuck in and giving it a go.
Remember, it doesn’t need to cost you a lot. You can use free WordPress themes, free research tools, writing articles is free, using Pinterest, Reddit, Facebook and Quora to promote your site is free. Your only cost will be hosting, and with Dreamhost you can get started $5 per month, literally!
There’s nothing intellectual or complicated about it (though it does take hours of hard work). The challenge is simply setting aside the hours to do the tasks. Work at it diligently and you should have yourself some new yellow arrows 🙂
Best of luck!