So you must have heard about niche websites and are keen to start your own. This guide will be the only reference you need that will show you how to start a niche website in 2018. Lets get started!
I intend this guide to be the ultimate guide for a niche website. You will find easy steps that you can take to build the right website and make some real passive income.
This guide will be very long, so take your time to read and bookmark it. In this way, you can always come back to the article when you need to read it again.
Quick Overview of the Guide
In order to understand how to develop or build niche sites, we need to understand what niches sites really mean. So, we will cover that very quickly.
Next, we will discuss how to find a niche. In that section, I will talk about keyword research and how to go about performing this laborious task. Hopefully, this will be simplified for you.
After that, we will go about establishing a blog. If you are familiar with creating your own blog, then you can skip this step and move on to the next.
Finally, we will talk about the monetisation strategy. This is where I will explain the details of earning money from your niche website using advertisements from Google ads or as an Amazon affiliate. You will find out how to develop the right content, use social media and earn backlinks.
I will also show you some of the tools that I use. Some of the links may contain my affiliate link, which means that I would receive some money, if you sign-up for those tools.
Here is a quick video that summarises the details that outline how to create niche websites. Have a look before we get started with the text:
Without further ado, lets get started.
What are niche websites?
Lets get something straight, niche sites are not small sites. That felt good!
I am not sure how many times I have heard or read that niche sites are small sites. No, they are not.
Lets use the definition from Wikipedia for a Niche Market.
It is a subset of a market of which a specific product is focussed.
Similarly, a niche website targets a specific set of visitors that are commonly neglected by the main websites. A niche site focusses on one particular aspect of a product or requirement.
Within its definition, Wikipedia refers to how Hewlett-Packard Company, more commonly known as HP, caters to a niche market.
Another good example is MTV, right its MTV, the music television channel that targets the youth market. A specific subset of all the people in the world.
Utilising the same definition, it also considers websites that focus on Sports as niche websites. This includes sites such as ESPN, and Fox Sports. Another site that could be classed as a niche site would be TMZ.com, as it focusses on celebrity gossip.
You may be thinking that these are massive sites and how would you compete with them? Well, that is why this guide will help you. We will not create sites that take on the monsters in the world wide web. Maybe someday you might. When we start, we will focus on niches that are even more specific subsets.
So, we will not base our site on all sports or all celebrity gossip. I consider a niche to be ‘women’s beach volleyball’ or ‘celebrity breakup gossip’.
So how many pages are needed for a niche site?
A niche site is not only 10 pages or posts. It can be as many pages that you can write on the topic. I referred to the ESPN site, it is massive. In the same manner, your niche site can be the same – a resource for those looking out for more information in that topic.
Let’s look at some examples of niche sites:
- Unsplash is a niche website that targets the keyword ‘free stock photos’.
- Make & Do Crew targeting the keyword ‘free crochet patterns’.
Project Phase 1 – Find a Niche Topic using Keyword Research
Are you excited about beginning this journey in niche sites?
I am glad to be there to guide you. This guide is broken down in to 3 phases, of which finding the niche topic is phase 1.
If you are looking to start a new niche website that is successful, you need to pick the right niche to target. The niche should be something that can be profitable. It could also be something that you are really interested or are an expert in.
Remember the time when a friend or your neighbour asks you for advice on a particular topic, may be a lawn moving unit or how you trim your trees. These could be examples of niches that you could target.
My process for building niche ideas consists of 2 Ps:
Lets start with Passion.
Step 1 – Develop Your Niche Ideas List using your Passion
We need to get moving to the first real step. Let’s build a list of niche ideas.
I said it before, that we need to choose a profitable niche. Some of the most profitable niches are in topics such as technology products, finance, stocks and real estate. If this is your first niche, it would be best to avoid getting in these niches. The most profitable niches tend to be the most competitive.
To avoid the heartbreak that you may suffer from your first niche site, choose something that is more closely related to you. Your first niche site is going to be an opportunity for you to get your feet wet. Use it as a learning block. You will learn to develop a niche site and make it profitable.
Lets start with choosing topics:
- What are you knowledgeable about in real life? What do your friends reach out to you for?
- What is something that you really want to get into? This is a topic that you have less knowledge but are willing to learn more about.
Using the above two criteria, develop a list of niche ideas and write them down somewhere. I prefer to use Numbers. Its the Mac version of Microsoft Excel. You can use either software that you own. Alternatively, you can also use Google Docs. It does not matter which software you use in this case.
I have shared a partial list of niche ideas that I came up with. What does your look list look like. Coming up with the list is not very difficult. Within 5 to 10 minutes you should have built a list of at least 15 niche ideas. That is a good starting point.
If you are feeling stuck and cannot come up with some ideas, use these questions to guide you:
- What is your hobby?
- What do your friends ask your advice on?
- What do you excel at during work or school?
- What do you feel you know so much about that you have no need to Google it?
- What do you read about the most during your free time?
These 5 questions should help you. Did you come up with at least 20 niche topics now? That’s awesome.
With such a list, you have already ensured that there are no topics that you would not want to pursue. Imagine:
If you hated scuba diving and your first niche website was about scuba diving. How long would that last?
Probably, not more than 2 weeks or at the most 1 month.
With such a set of niche ideas, we have eliminated one reason for which many niche sites fail. Lets now move on the next step.
Step 2 – Finding Profitability using Keyword Research
We have taken care of your passion, now lets look at profitability. In this step, we will need to shortlist and find 1 niche topic to start our site with. The main purpose is to find the right niche that we will use for our site.
There are two key ways to make money online from a niche site:
- Advertisements (abbreviated as Ads), and
- Affiliate Marketing.
To earn money, your site will need visitors. The main source of traffic for niche site is via Search Engines. There are many search engines out there and the biggest one is Google. Some of the other well known search engines are Bing, Yahoo and Yandex.
Any time we do not know an answer to something, we look it up online. Mostly on Google. Hence, google it is become a common verb.
That is how we intend to get visitors to our site:
We target words that people are searching for in the Search Engines.
That is the essence of keyword research. We tap in to what people are searching for on the search engines.
So, we will try and find those words that are being used on search engines. Yet, at the same time, we need to find words that are not utilised by the mega sites. These are words that are too competitive. We need the opposite of that. Low competition, high volume.
My favourite tool for finding such keywords is KWFinder.
The good news is that it works without the need to create an account. However, you are limited to certain number of queries or searches in a day. You can always sign up for an account once you start building more niche sites. For your first site, just use the free option.
You can read my detailed review & tutorial of KWFinder, if you wish to find out more about KWFinder.com
Enter your keyword in the input box and click the Find Keywords button. Wait for KWFinder to perform its magic.
I entered the term ‘scuba diving’, as it was one of my niche topics.
KWFinder gives me loads of information on this topic. The key items to focus on are:
- Search – There are approximately 163,778 average monthly searches in the last 12 months.
- CPC – The average Cost Per Click in Google Adwords is $1.32.
- KD – The Keyword Difficulty is 64. On the right section, you can see that below 64, the tag says Hard.
This means that I should avoid this keyword. However, I start scrolling down in the Suggestion box on the left side and notice a potential winner:
Could this be our niche topic?
- Search – 1,900 average monthly searches in the last 12 months.
- CPC – The average Cost Per Click in Google Adwords is $1.02.
- KD – The Keyword Difficulty is 39 and it says Still Easy.
The criteria for shortlisting keywords is to look for an average monthly search of at least 1000 and the Keyword Difficulty of Still Easy.
You can continue using KWFinder to assessing the other niche topics. Then you will have a list of all keywords that can be utilised for starting your first niche site.
These will be your profitable niches, if the CPC is at least $1 and you are monetising using ads.
If you are keen to monetize using Amazon affiliate, then you need to refine your search further.
You need to search for Buyer Keywords with the modifiers:
- Best <keyword>
- <keyword> reviews
- Buy <keyword>
Look for a search volume of at least 750, keyword difficulty should be Still Easy or Possible.
Additionally, you should find products on Amazon that are worth at least $20 and have at least 200 reviews.
This entire process will take you some time with a free KWFinder account.
But, this is the most important step to determine the overall profitability of your niche site. Spend the required time to complete your keyword research.
Great, so now you have a list of niche topics that you have shortlisted. These are the words that you have a Passion for and are Profitable.
However, to nail the decision, answer the following questions:
- Do you see yourself involved in this niche for at least 1 year?
- Can you write at least 50 articles on this topic?
- Can you add value to the readers in this niche?
If you find that you have answered ‘yes’ for these 3 questions for many niche topics, then pick an ideal niche topic for your site.
Lets then move on to Phase 2 of our niche site project.
Project Phase 2 – Setup your Niche Website
In this phase of how to build your niche website, we will focus on setting up the niche website. This can be considered the most technical aspect of this process. But once you know how, then its easy and straightforward.
Step 1 – Choose your Domain Name & Hosting
A domain name is like a Post Office Box number. Its a name by which your site can be found on the Internet. The domain name of this site is –oojahdesigns.com –.
Hosting for your site is provided by many web hosting service providers. They provide space on their server for your site. In your case, you can get the domain name and hosting from one service provider.
You need to take care to choose your domain name. It will be the identify of your niche site for the rest of its life.
Here are some tips to choose a nice domain name:
- Make it something easy to remember
- Limit the character count to less than 15
- Try to find a domain name with the .com extension
- Do not start the domain name with a number
I use Namecheap for registering my domain and also use it for hosting some of my websites. Some of the benefits of using Namecheap are:
- Quick and easy to buy domain name & hosting
- Offers a cheap SSL certificate. You need an SSL certificate to ensure that your site will say ‘Secure’ in different browsers.
- Cheap price for domain names
- Offer cheap hosting too that allows you to host up to 3 websites
So, lets find a domain name for our niche topic of Scuba fins. I enter scubafinguru.com in the search bar and click the search icon.
Luckily, that domain is available.
Repeat the above steps for the domain name of your choice. You may have to keep trying till you find an available domain.
Once you find the right domain name, add the domain name to the cart, and also add the Stellar Shared Hosting along with the Positive SSL.
Confirm your order. If you do not have a Namecheap account, you will need to create one. Pay for the domain name, hosting and SSL certificate.
After the purchase is successful, you should see the domain name in your Namecheap Dashboard.
Congratulations, you have just purchased your domain and hosting.
Wasn’t too difficult now was it?
Step 2 – Install WordPress
Now that the hosting & domain name is sorted, we need to install a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS helps you manage the content on the website. Its exactly what the name means.
Additionally, here are some compelling reasons to use WordPress:
- WordPress makes content management easy, being very beginner friendly
- Your site can Search Engine Optimization (SEO) friendly, thereby helping you rank higher in search engines
- You can customise your site with plenty of beautiful themes and powerful plugins
- It is open source and free to use, even for commercial purposes
- There are many tutorials available if you wish to customise WordPress further
Are you convinced now? Lets get to installing WordPress on your Namecheap hosting:
From your Namecheap dashboard, click the Hosting icon next to the domain name you just registered. In the pop-up, click on Manage.
In the new page, scroll a few sections lower till you find the Software section. Click the button that says LOGIN TO CPANEL.
Enter your credentials, and you will be inside the cPanel dashboard. I will not go in to the details of cPanel, as you will not use it beyond installing WordPress. There are very few times that I need to use cPanel.
Namecheap provides you with an exclusive panel within cPanel for most of the common functionality you may need. In our case, click on Softaculous App Installs.
You should find WordPress in the page that opens up. Click on Install.
You will find a long page that needs some key inputs from you to install WordPress.
First up, select the domain where you want to install WordPress. You should have only 1 domain there, so its relatively easy.
Next up, you can select the Site Name. I would enter Scuba Fin Guru. You can decide what you want to call your blog, based on the niche you selected.
Last, in the Admin Account section, you need to enter credentials for the administrator account. Select a good user name, preferably not admin. Enter a strong password too.
Click on the Install button at the bottom of the screen.
Wait for a few seconds and voila. Your WordPress installation is ready.
Click on the link that will take you to the admin section. You can also login to WordPress by entering ‘/wp-admin’ after your domain name – yourdomain.com/wp-admin
This will bring you to the WordPress administration login screen. You should bookmark this page in your browser. You will be visiting it very often.
Now, enter the administrator login credentials that you just created. This will take you the WordPress backend, where you can add your content & tailor the site to look like you want it to.
Step 3 – Customize Your Niche Website
What you have installed is the default setup for WordPress. You need to personalise your site as per your niche.
This can be done using Themes. A theme modifies the way the site works without changing anything in the backend. Some themes provide additional functionality too, such as easily adding beautiful tables to your site.
To find and install a WordPress, just click on the Appearance menu in the left column, click on Themes in the drop-down. You will see a list of themes including the default theme that is currently active on your site. Click Add New.
You will now see the beauty of WordPress. It has at least 5000 free WordPress themes that you can install.
Just scroll down or search, find one theme that you like. In this case, I searched for ‘Newspaper’.
From the list of themes, I hover the mouse over ‘Magazine Newspaper’ and click Install. Once the theme is installed, I hover over it again and click Activate.
Now you can visit your website, to notice that the site looks different and probably much better than the default WordPress theme.
You can further customise your theme, and thereby your site, by clicking ‘Customize’ under the Appearance menu. However, you can accept the default settings for now and move on.
If you are a control freak or would like to tailor the site, keep tweaking the settings until you are pleased with the way the site looks. You can change the color, font, size, logos, etc.
Premium WordPress themes
I need to inform your about Premium WordPress themes. Free themes have certain limitations. While free themes make your site look good, if you want the site to look better, you should consider Premium themes.
Tip: You can start with a Free Theme, but move on to Premium once the site has taken off and made you some money.
Install essential Plugins
WordPress is an amazing CMS out of the box. But, it can be improved. In order to make your niche site better, you will need to add some essential plugins.
My 3 essential plugins categories are:
- Search Engine Optimisation :- In order for your site to be listed higher in search engine results. Use either Squirrly or All-in-One SEO.
- Caching & Performance :- This helps your site run quicker when visitors try to access the site. My favourite right now is Swift Performance.
- Ads & Amazon affiliate :- Depending on your monetisation strategy, you will need a plugin for adding Google Ads or Amazon affiliate links or both. Sometimes, your theme may provide you with support for this. If not, you will need to install Ads Inserter and Amazon Associates Link Builder.
To install a new plugin, you need to click on the Plugins menu and then click on Add New. Its very similar to adding a new theme. You find the plugin, install it and activate it.
Play around with the settings for each plugin, and tailor it to your niche site. This would help complete your niche site customisation. We now move on to earn money from your niche website.
Project Phase 3 – Begin Monetization from your Niche Website
We have come so far, and now the fun begins. Its time to earn back the money and make much more from your niche website. Are you excited? I will also explain my strategy to increase revenue from your niche site in this section.
You would have read about the two monetisation strategies I wrote earlier:
- Ads; and
- Affiliate Programs.
There are other options to make money online from your niche site. However, lets start with these two.
Make money from your niche site using Ads
I use Google Adsense on some of my sites to earn money online. Google Adsense has the largest network of ads. The way that you earn money from ads is simple:
- Sign up for Google’s AdSense.
- Add your site & prove that you own the site.
- Create an ad unit or turn-on page level ads.
- Insert the ad code in your site. You can use the Ads Inserter plugin to help you.
- Ads for various advertisers for products or services services will be shown on pages of your website.
- You will get paid a small amount when an ad is either displayed on your page or clicked on.
You can watch this Youtube video in the steps above were not very clear:
Make money from your niche site using Affiliate Programs
While there are many affiliate programs, the main one I use is from Amazon. The largest marketplace on the planet.
To earn money from the Amazon affiliate program, you need to:
- Sign up for Amazon Associates program.
- Create an Amazon affiliate id.
- Add a link with your affiliate id on your site.
- Once a user clicks on the link and visits Amazon, if they buy a product within 24 hours, you will earn a commission on the sale.
This is a video on Youtube that shows you how to set up an Amazon Associates account:
Now that this background is out of the way, lets talk about how our monetisation strategy. I call it the Write, Socialize & Back Cycle strategy.
What is the Write, Socialize & Back Cycle strategy?
This is the strategy used by almost all the internet marketing community. You need to write great content, you need to promote it on social media channels and you need to obtain backlinks. Once you do all three, you need to cycle back to the Write step. As simple as it gets.
Lets get started, as we have still some way to go:
Step 1 – Write Excellent Content
Your niche site needs to stand out amongst the million other sites on the Internet. You need to show that you are an authority.
You need to come up with a strategy of writing at least 10 articles to start with. How do you come up with these 10 articles?
You start with your main niche keyword and think what would your readers be interested in:
- How can you provide information on the topic
- Answer queries that users may be asking. You can answer questions such as Who, Why, When, What, Where, and How related to the keyword.
Remember that with each article that you write, you must:
- Ensure that the article is well written
- Does not have any grammatical errors and spelling mistakes
- Add some images or videos
- Link to relevant articles on your blog or other reference sites
- Use proper formatting such as lists and paragraphs
- Bold relevant text in your article
A question that typically is asked on many forums is, ‘how long should an article be?‘. Another variation of the question is, ‘how many words should my article contain?‘. You may be surprised with the answer:
As much or as little as you need to write about the topic.
Most SEO tools will tell you that you need at least 500 words. If you write less than 500 words, then the search engines may consider your article as too thin.
One of my articles which is only 700 words gets me almost 50% of my traffic on one of my niche site.
Step 2 – Promote your content on Social Media
Social Media Marketing is one of the latest buzzwords. It means to use social media platforms to market your product or service.
Social Media Marketing can be achieved for free. You do not need to pay for ads on the platform.
You should use social media to promote the content you have just written.
Create accounts or pages for your niche site and post your recently written post on social media.
You need to cultivate a following on social media. Check out an in-depth guide to social media marketing from Sprout Social.
The key social media platforms are:
Step 3 – Try and obtain relevant backlinks
Backlinks are links from external websites to your content. Is it important to get backlinks, most internet marketers say that backlinks are important. But you need to obtain only good backlinks. Links from spammy sites are worse than having no links.
Some sites do well with no backlinks.
However, if you wish to rank in the search engines, you need to have some backlinks.
Step 4 – Repeat the Write, Socialize & Back cycle
After you have completed your first post cycle, you need to start all over again with the next article.
Keep repeating the cycle and you will certainly make your niche site profitable.
How to start a niche website – A beginning
This article covers the basics of how to start a niche website that will make you some money. There is no secret in this business. You need to invest your time to make some profits. If you find the right niche and produce some amazing content to add value to your visitors, you will make a successful niche site.
Feel free to share this post on your social media channels or let me know if you have any comments.