By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning content writer and author who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
“Build a niche website. You can make a lot of money.” If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard about the opportunity you can have in creating a website that caters to a small segment of readers with a common, narrow interest.
A niche site offers quality information and resources about a specific topic. It attracts visitors who are interested in that subject. Those users subsequently buy products and services from links on the niche website – and the site owner receives commissions or fees.
The Prepper Journal, for instance, is a daily survival blog devoted to preparedness, survival, self-reliance, and personal defense. It’s got more than 1,700 articles and has been featured in mainstream news publications like The New York Times and Daily Mail Online. At last check in, the site makes over $6,500 a month from affiliate sales and ads. That’s a nice piece of change for a guy who launched the site because he wanted to be prepared to take care of his family if he got stranded on vacation.
Beyond an income stream, there are several reasons why you might want to build a niche website ... and a few reasons why you may want to give it a pass, at least for the time being.
Forget the “how” for now. Instead, focus on the feasibility. Take this quiz to see if building a niche website could be right for you.
Respond to each statement with a yes or no answer. You’ll see some explanations with each one to help give you clarity.
When it comes to building a niche website, the biggest outlay of time (for most of us) is at the beginning.
Are you willing to make the time to accomplish those tasks? And before you worry that you don’t have the skills, let me assure you that I felt the same way before I built my niche sites. I used Nick Usborne’s Money-Making Websites course to take me through the process step by step.
The true question here isn’t “How do I do all that?” It’s “Am I willing to invest time to do it?” Yes or no … which is you?
Plenty of resources are available for you to acquire the extra skills writers need to build a niche website. I used the Solo Build It platform’s Action Guide to learn how to find a topic, how to get started building the site, how to add content consistently over time to build readership, and how to make money at it. I did it just an hour or two at a time – in the evenings and on weekends – until I was ready to launch my first niche website.
But maybe you already know how to manipulate graphics, post in bulk on social media, and find keywords using SEO. If so, great. If not, are you willing to learn – yes or no?
By definition, a niche is a narrow topic – a specific need, want, problem, activity, hobby, pursuit, or profession. Let’s say you have a passion for youth sports. That’s a broad topic. And your true love is youth lacrosse – specifically, teaching lacrosse to new players. But are you willing wait and dig a bit before you run out and buy the domain www.youthlacrossecoach.com?
If your answer is “no,” and you jump in without a thorough market study, you could invest a good deal of effort and time with paltry results. But if your answer is “Yes, I’m willing to do the work to find a profitable site concept even though I really want to write about coaching youth lacrosse,” then your chances of success escalate a good deal.
Here’s why. With a bit of study, you discover there are low search numbers and low numbers of in-demand keywords associated with “coach youth lacrosse.” That means low numbers of surfers are looking for information about that topic. That particular site concept has low demand and low opportunity for traffic. Few visitors mean less opportunity for income.
But if you take the time to dig around a bit, you find much higher numbers for the term, “lacrosse equipment.” The idea intrigues you. You could write hundreds of pages about lacrosse cleats … reviews of different kinds of goalie gloves … how to replace the netting on a lacrosse head. You may have discovered a profitable site concept to use to build a niche website because you were willing to take the time and do the work.
Look at any successful niche website and you may automatically think that the writer is an authority in the field. All that luscious content must spew from someone who knows a lot about the subject. Or maybe they hired an expert to write it.
But what if the site owner wasn’t an authority about the topic when starting the site? He took the time to learn about the subject matter. Bit by bit, he accumulated all kinds of information in order to write the site’s pages. He became an expert by writing the site.
You can do the same. Over time, if you keep learning about your topic, you’ll acquire an arsenal of information. You’ll write pages and pages about a subject from all kinds of angles. (That’s another reason to take your time choosing a site concept. You get immersed in it, so you better enjoy the topic.)
If research isn’t your thing, then no matter how intriguing your site concept, you may not have the interest in uncovering details, investigating different angles, and discovering needs. That being the case, your response to this question is “No, I don’t want to become schooled in this topic.” But if you’re willing to dig around for information, reach out to experts, and write product reviews – over time, mind you – then you’re likely a “yes” on this one.
You don’t need to write a lot all at once. You can get your niche website off the ground with a basic navigational structure and 30 pages and then continue to add a page a week. Do that and in a little more than a year, your niche site will have nearly 100 pages.
If you’re okay writing at that pace, you’re a “yes.” If you have your doubts, say “no.”
“Building up a successful niche site can take years. Scratch that. Will very likely take years,” says Jon Dykstra at Fat Stacks blog, who has published 16 niche websites that earn him thousands of dollars a month. “Not 20 years mind you. More like two to five... depending on how much time you put into it and how you go about it.”
Contrary to instant success stories you may hear, a niche website is a long-term project. Plenty of new site owners want to slap up Google ads the moment their site goes live. Then, after publishing just four or five pages – or even twenty or thirty – they wave the white flag of defeat. They haven’t given the search engines time to do their work and they haven’t allowed their site to establish credibility.
If you’re not willing to be patient and let your niche website earn its search engine stripes honestly, then your response here is “no.” But if you’re willing to be a tortoise over the hare, respond “yes.”
To run a successful niche website, you need to be willing to write consistently about one topic steadily over time. Week in, week out you add pages. You continue to uncover high demand, low supply keywords and write pages for those keywords.
Why consistently? Because the search engine bots keep working in the background, evaluating whether or not a site continues to add fresh content. If the site stays stagnant, then rankings can go down.
I had a vibrant niche site operating with a four-figure-per-month return. Then, during a three- or four-year period when I was focused on other writing projects, I failed to add additional content to this niche website. That was a big boo-boo.
My site income halved – even though I continued to send bi-weekly newsletters to my subscribers and post links to existing pages on social media. Once I started adding new pages consistently, traffic took off again and so did my income.
A niche website has no guarantee of success, even if you conduct due diligence in researching your site concept and you’re consistent about adding quality content. Maybe you choose a topic that’s too broad. Or maybe you choose one that simply cannot get traction.
That is why it's good to assess progress at the 100-article mark after 12 to 24 months, says Jon Dykstra. If numbers are going up, you're on the right track. If not, something is amiss.
Don’t want to risk that disappointment when you build a niche website? Respond “no.” If you are willing to learn and grow with the chance of rewards down the road, then answer “yes.”
Tally your answers to see how you scored. Then decide if you’re ready to proceed and build a niche site.
And before you run scared, keep in mind an important point. “Niche sites have significant earning potential,” says Jenny Abouobaia, writing for SEO digital industry giant Ahrefs. “So much so that they can eventually replace your regular 9 to 5.” If that idea appeals to you, then building a niche website may be worth your time, effort, and risk.
Niche site owners understand that they’ve created a piece of intellectual property that has potential to make good income. And as an online resource, your niche website gives you the chance to provide useful information to readers about a topic that interests you, not just once but again and again, over the months and years. Plus, a niche website can be a source of creative fulfillment.
My niche websites have been all of those to me – a source of fun and pride. A way to interact with readers who share my interests. And a nice income stream. Yours can be, too.
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