In my last post about creating passive income, I gave a general overview of how you could start to make money online, mostly through working for other people. However, I also mentioned the creation of your own ‘niche’ website as a great way to make cash. Building your own website is probably the best way to either start your journey towards entrepreneurship or simply pay off the bills every month by having some amount of money deposited into your bank account each month. Believe me, it’s a great feeling when you know each month you’re going to receive some amount of money from work you did three or four years ago! This process is not always the easiest and usually success doesn’t come overnight, however, if you dedicate yourself towards learning what to do and sticking to it you can begin to generate substantial passive income for yourself. It may be a small amount at first but remember that the sky is the limit in terms of earning potential. With this post, I want to lay out the basics of building a niche site from scratch to set the stage for future articles that will delve deeper into the information you need to know to hit the ground running.
What is a niche website?
A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing. (Source: Wikipedia)
So a niche website is that definition in website form. For example, if you build a website about dogs, you are in the ‘dog niche’. Meaning, your website will be exclusively about dogs and dog related products.
Niche vs. Authority Websites
Ok, sticking with our example about starting a website about dogs, an authority site would be a website that encompasses multiple aspects about dogs from how to adopt dogs to dog training.
A niche website about dogs could be about simply dog training and nothing else. See the difference?
Micro vs. Macro Niche Sites
A niche website can be broken down further into smaller niches within the more general niches, this is referred to as a ‘micro niche’. So, a micro niche site for dog training could be something along the lines of ‘dog training for ugly dogs with low self esteem’….haha that’s a really micro site and would be worthless, but you get the idea.
Now that those kinds of questions are out of the way….
How do you Make Money from a Website?
There is a multitude of ways that one could monetize a website and if you can generate traffic (more on this later) you surely make a little something, even if you have yet to optimize you site. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways you can make money from your website.
The most popular and probably the most lucrative options for websites (at least initially) is by signing up for Google Adsense. Google Adsense is an advertising system that I’m sure you’re aware of, and as a website owner you can places ads on your website that earn you money each time someone clicks on an ad. Adsense is the first way I started to make money when I launched my first website a few years back and it continues to bring in revenue to this day. Some websites have higher click through rates than others so niche selection can be important if this is going to be a main source of getting paid.
Beyond Adsense, there are other services that offer advertisements, especially in-textual advertisements. I’ve used these types of ads and honestly they don’t generate very much income, even when you have heavy traffic, as the amount per click is usually pennies.
Another option for advertising is selling advertising space on your website to companies who are relevant to your niche. You can work it out so that they pay you a lump sum each month for the privilege of advertising on your website. This will only become an option once you have some serious traffic built up but can be a great source of revenue.
Before the internet, if you wanted to sell products you had to come up with one on your own or at least have some start-up capital to become a wholesaler. Nowadays, if you have a website you can sell other peoples products either directly on your site or in the form of an affiliate link. Affiliate links take the traffic that your website generates and sends it to someone else’s product or sales page, so that the traffic can hopefully make a purchase.
The great thing about being an affiliate is that your only job is to promote the product and you can sit back and collect the revenue. For each sale you generate, you will receive a portion of the profit, while the creator of that product deals with the customer service and shipment.
There are many sites which offer signups to become affiliates. Clickbank is a popular website that deals mostly in the realm of digital product sales like ebooks on how to lose weight for example. There are also places like Linkshare and Pepperjam who handle the affiliate programs for major corporations such as Apple.
Amazon.com has a very popular affiliate program called Amazon Associates. It offers associates a certain percentage of the sales (usually 6.5% to start, I think) for any item a person from your website buys in their entire store. So for example, if you have a website about dog training and you link to a book on Amazon about training dogs and a person clicks your link and ends up buying a watch instead, you still get paid! Many niche sites are built strictly around promoting products on Amazon and letting the profits roll in. Unfortunately, some states are no longer allowed in the Amazon Associates program (including mine L ), which sucks because it leaves a lot of potential money on the table, so check to see if yours is included in the ban (a majority aren’t). You can still find other affiliate programs that will work even if Amazon is not an option, you just have to look for them.
Selling Your Own Product/Service
There are many niche sites that end up going the advertising and affiliate routes but find that often what brings in the big bucks is selling their own product or service directly. For instance, if you decide to build a fitness website you might consider your own ebook training program about ‘how to lose fat fast’ or if you’re a personal trainer you might consider selling your own coaching services by the hour or something like that. This can be a goldmine and the start to your own business if you play your cards right.
Yep, you can even monetize your site by having a button for people to donate through PayPal or some other service. This is really only an effective strategy if you provide people with lots of free value and they truly appreciate the effort or advice you have given them. So if you create a site about iPhone cases, then it probably won’t be a very profitable option for you, so I’d stick with the affiliates and ads in that scenario.
Where do I Create a Niche Website?
There is a difference between a free site and a hosted domain that you paid for beyond just the fact that you paid for one and not the other. That difference is the fact that with free blogs you are limited as to what you can do by that services terms and conditions as well as their customization options.
You can go to WordPress.org right now and start a blog for free. However, you cannot put up Adsense ads directly on your free blog (maybe you can now but it used to take some coding skills to make it happen and it was against the rules). I think you’re allowed affiliate links as well but overall your options are limited.
Google’s blogger features the implementation of Adsense so if you can build the traffic to your free blog you might make a bit of money off of the advertisements.
Your free blog will also have the address bar issue which doesn’t look all that attractive if you are trying to build an actual business or long-term revenure….’yoursitename’.wordpress.com or ‘yoursitename’.blogger.com looks a whole lot less proper than ‘yoursitename’.com. Plus, the self-hosted websites seem to do better in search engine rankings which means more traffic for you and potentially a whole lot of money.
In order to have your own personal website you must register a domain name and buy a hosting plan from a service provider. A domain name will run you about 15-20 bucks a year to register but you can usually find some really good deals for your hosting plan that will save you a bunch of money. I use Hostgator to register and host all of my websites. I bought a hosting plan from them that allows me to create as many websites as I want. If you want to run a website, you will have to spend money to register the domain and for the hosting plan (hint: most hosting plans are under $10 a month, mine was like 5 or something ridiculous like that. Seriously, it’s like buying a drive-thru meal each month, without getting fat). Treat is like an investment and recoup your initial outlay as soon as it’s feasible; my hosting plan has paid for itself and then some within a short amount of time.
This has been a very basic overview of what niche websites are and how you can utilize them to make passive income. Later posts in this series will cover specifics on how to choose a niche, domain names, how to set up a website, free plugins, how to build traffic, etc. I’m going to try to break all of this stuff down for you guys to the best of my ability. This is a personal development blog, so I figure that I should kick some of my knowledge about making money online in between my other topics. So stay tuned.