Ever dream of quitting your job, buying a camper, and going wherever you want whenever you want
while your bank account automatically fills with money?
But for many people (like me), this sparkling dream seems like nothing but a flashy advertisement its best to ignore.
Unlike many people, however, this dream actually came true for me.
Back in 2011, I built a niche website (my first ever), sincerely wanting to help people like me get into trucking.
In June of that same year (six months after I started), I earned my first $7.
Flashforward to today, Ive quit my job, bought a camper, and travel across the United States and Canada.
And Im not a broke backpacker either.
I didnt have to sell all my stuff and live like a hippie in the woods.
Because as I travel and enjoy life, my bank account gets fatter by the month with my affiliate earnings.
Just look at what Ive made in the past two months
And thats from JUST 1 of my 14 affiliate partners.
Now, Im not telling you all this to brag.
Thats really not something I do.
Im telling you all this to inspire you.
If an average guy like me, who repeated the first grade and got a mediocre 2.2 GPA in college, can achieve something like this. So can you.
In this blog, Ill show you my method.
Ill show you what I did in the start that really got the ball rolling for me: starting a niche website.
Ill teach you:
What a niche website is (and why it has the potential to make you rich)
How to build a niche website from scratch
My tips and tricks for writing content, monetizing your site, and more
The tools and resources I use and love
And much more
Lets dive right in.
What Is a Niche Website?
Ok, first things first.
Youre probably wondering what a niche website is.
Glad you asked.
Put simply, a niche website is a website that focuses on a small segment within a large market.
It caters to people with more common, specific interests.
Clear as mud?
Lets look at an example.
Heres Dog Food Advisor.
As you can tell, Dog Food Advisor is a niche website all about helping people pick the right type of nutrition for their furry friends.
Sure, this site can be classified as a site on pets.
But its niched down to dogsand further niched down to dog food.
So yes, its an excellent example of a niche site.
Lets look at how others define the term niche site.
Heres Adam Enfroys take on it.
And heres what Income Prodigy says about it.
In short, a niche website is any website that focuses on a smaller, more specific part of a larger market.
Why Should You Build a Niche Website?
So if niche websites only target a small portion of a larger market, you may be thinking, then why build one for myself? Why not target the larger market, which has a bigger audience and more potential to make money?
Here are two reasons to build a niche website.
You Wont Be Going Head-On with Huge Sites
Lets face it.
Its no longer 2011.
Which means, you can no longer choose any topic you want, build a blog around it, and expect to earn a ton of money through ads and affiliate partners.
For instance, lets say youre a pet expert.
Do you go ahead and build a site targeting all types of pet owners?
Well, you can.
But trust me, youll have tough competitors slashing at your throat with their knives.
Like The Spruce Pets
which has a domain rating of 80 and 8.3 million site visitors per month.
So instead of going head-on with huge brands like this, you can go for smaller niches like Fish Laboratory.
You Can Be Unique
Sure, almost anyone can write about travel and the best places to stay when abroad.
All you need to do is research, make a list, and publish your finds.
But writing about being a female solo traveller, based on experience?
And it works.
Just check out Be My Travel Muse, where Kristin shares her tips, tricks, and secrets on how to travel the world as a sole female backpacker.
Its a unique, personal, intriguing spin on the regular travel stuff that honestly gets exhausting after a while.
Thats the magic of a niche website.
Question: If niche websites are the new best thing in making money online, should we never go for broader, authority websites?
Glad you asked.
The truth is, it depends on you.
You can stay small and continue running your niche website forever.
And thats cool.
But once you start getting a ton of traffic and adding legions of people to your fan base, you can think about broadening your scope and becoming an authority site.
All Im saying is that if youre just starting out, building a niche website is the best way to go.
It helps you stand out in a digital world thats simply packed with too many successful sites.
But from there, your journey depends on you.
How to Build a Niche Website: 4 Steps to Success
Now that you know what a niche website is and why starting one is a great idea, lets get into the actual step-by-step process of building one from scratch.
Youre excited, I know!
And you should be.
This is going to be fun.
How to Build a Niche Website Step #1: Select Your Niche
I know, it sounds simplistic.
Also, it sounds easy.
You sit down for 10 minutes, ask yourself what youd like to blog about, and voila!
You have your niche.
Sadly, it doesnt work that way.
Because although you may be passionate about building a colony of ants in your home, you probably wont find a ton of people whod be interested in that.
Or you may love raising chickens in your backyard, but find that there arent many ways to monetize a blog built around your favorite bird.
In the end, picking your niche means striking a balance between your passion and whats profitable.
Lets start with your passion.
Avoid Starting a Blog on a Topic You Hate
Have trouble with marketing?
Feel like youre falling asleep when talking about business?
Its a no-brainer.
Dont start a blog on those topics.
Because the truth is, building a niche website isnt a get-rich-quick scheme.
Youll have to put in days, weeks, months, or even years of grueling work. (I often wrote my trucking blogs after an 11-hour workshift.)
Youll have more than a few sleepless nights.
Youll reach a point where youre tired and want to give up.
And if you hate what youre writing about?
Chances are, you wont even make it to month #2.
This is why if you want the stamina to continue over a longer period of time (and have any hope at all of success), I suggest NOT going for a topic you hate, no matter how much money there is in that niche.
Make Sure Theres Money in the Niche
This is essential, as you dont want to spend months or even years growing your site, only to realize one day that there arent a lot of ways to monetize it.
So before you pick your niche, spend time doing some research first.
Spy on the market and see if you have any competitors.
If you do, how are they faring?
Do they look successful, or just about to drop down dead?
How are they monetizing their websites?
I know, this can get a tad confusing.
So lets break the niche research phase down into a couple of easy steps.
Step #1: Spy on your competitors.
The truth is, affiliate marketing is all about being a copycat.
I dont mean plagiarizing other peoples work or any kind of criminal activity.
What I do mean is that its not a great idea to be a pioneer or explorer. (Nope, youre not Christopher Columbos or Ferdinand Magellan.)
So instead of making headway and exploring a niche thats never been tested before, you should follow in other bloggers footsteps.
This means spending an evening or two spying on your competitors.
Or more accurately, finding out if you have competitors at all.
One way you can do this is through using an SEO tool like Ahrefs.
Lets imagine that youre planning to start a website on turtles.
First, think of a keyword youd like your site to rank for.
Lets say thats turtle food.
Type this keyword into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer.
Then, scroll below to see which sites are ranking for this keyword.
To do this, youll need to click on each of the links and do some serious snooping.
Looks like youve got one.
As you can see, this site is exactly like the one youre thinking of building.
Its not an ecommerce store, nor is it a large site on pets in general.
Go through it, and youll see that its got articles on caring for turtles, where to buy turtle food, types of turtles, and so on.
Youre not alone in this niche.
Step #2: Find out if your site has a fighting chance against your competitors.
Theres not much point in starting a niche site if you have to go up against huge, authoritative sites.
So before you start, first check if there are any smaller sites ranking on page #1 of Google for your dream keywords.
As a good rule of thumb, a small site should be a site with a DR (domain rating) of less than 30.
So, do we have one for turtle food?
Sure we do.
TurtleHolics ranks on page #1 of Google for the term turtle food, and its DR is only 17.
Step #3: Check if there are a lot of keywords you can write around and rank for.
Your chosen niche is dog hammock.
(Yeah, thats a real thing.)
You search your competition, and things look pretty good.
So you build your site and start writing about dog hammocks.
But a few weeks later, youve run out of topics.
I mean, seriously.
How many articles can you write on dog hammocks?
If this is happening, youve probably niched down too far
or youre simply in a bad niche.
So before you actually build your site, its important to know that you can write at least 100 articles on your topic.
Now, lets go back to turtles.
Jump on Ahrefs Site Explorer and type in your competitors site.
In this case, its TurtleHolic.
Then, click Organic Keywords on the right side of your dashboard.
Heres what youll get.
As you can see, TurtleHolic ranks for 21,479 keywords.
And if you ask me, these keywords look super attractive.
For example, why are turtles slow has a search volume of 1,200 and a keyword difficulty score of 0.
All this data tells you that building a turtle site is an excellent idea because:
Youll have a ton of topics to write about.
The keywords your competitor is ranking for are high search volume, low difficulty, making it easy for you to get in there and start ranking yourself.
So, you can stop right here and go build your turtle site.
Not so fast.
Because theres one more thing to look at.
Step #4: Research if there are any products you can recommend on your site.
The truth is, having a successful, high-traffic site isnt the same as earning a cartload of money.
And if your goal is simply to inspire people with excellent turtle advice thatll change their lives, even if you dont earn a cent in the process
then you can jump off this blog and start building your turtle site.
But if Im guessing correctly, youre not starting your site just for kicks.
You want a decent side income (or maybe even a full-time income) from it as well.
Which is why you need to do research and find out if there are any products you can recommend on your site.
To start, check on your competitors and see how theyre monetizing their site.
Lets look at TurtleHolic
TurtleHolic recommends a ton of products from Amazon, meaning you can too.
Another thing you can do is hop on Amazon itself and search for products you can recommend.
Start with turtle food.
As you can see, there are 475 results for turtle food.
To get more ideas, scroll below to the related searches section, and click one of the options there.
Here are the results for turtle tank accessories.
Yes, you saw that right.
Once inside, check if there are any affiliate programs you could join that would fit your niche.
Bonus – Step #5: Ask yourself: do I see myself doing this for at least six months?
Ok, so far weve found out that getting into the pet turtle niche is like falling into a mine packed with gold coins.
Your competitors arent that mighty.
There are a ton of keywords you can easily rank for.
There are thousands of products you can recommend.
Butwhat if you detest turtles?
You cant even think of a turtle without shrieking.
Your worst nightmares consist of turtles taking over the planet.
Ok, thats too much.
But the point is, what if you dont care much for turtles?
Do you still go ahead and pursue this niche?
My answer: it depends on you.
If youre the type of person with an iron will, who can stick with something you dont love (or even hate) for six months or more, then the answer is YES.
I mean, anything is better than your detestable nine to five, right? (If youve stuck with that for years, you can stick with this too.)
But if you feel that the whole blogging thing wont work for you unless youre super passionate about what youre writing about, then the answer is NO.
To be honest, building and growing a site is hard work.
And life wont pause to let you do it.
Youll still show up at your day job, take care of your family, do the dishes, wash your car, and so on.
The question is, can you love your site enough to stick with it through the ups and downs of life?
Really, I cant answer this for you.
Its up to you to assess yourself and your life, and see where you can go from there.
Question: What if I cant afford an SEO tool like Ahrefs?
I mean, youre just starting out, right?
Maybe $99/month doesnt fit in your budget.
There are alternatives.
For example, theres KWFinder.
This awesome tool gives you all the data you need on keyword difficulty score, search volume, domain rating, and more.
Plus, it wont cost you an arm and a leg to subscribe.
Check out its affordable pricing plans.
KWFinder also has a 10-day FREE trial, which you can use to do basic research on the niche youre considering. (Go here to start your FREE trial.)
Well, KWFinder is basically a keyword research tool.
Its not a comprehensive SEO suite.
Which means, you cant do complex site audits, content analysis, and all that techy stuff.
Still, if youre just starting out, you dont really need all that.
There are successful bloggers and affiliate marketers out there who use nothing but KWFinder, and it suits them just fine!
You can check out our video on Ahrefs vs KWFinder to help you decide which one is better for you!
Dont have even $29.90 a month?
You can use the free method.
How to do it:
Jump on Google.
Type in your dream keyword.
Check if you have competitors on the top 10 spots of Googles SERPs. (A competitor would be a site thats similar to the one youre thinking of starting. For example, a turtle site instead of a pet ecommerce site.)
Visit your competitors sites and snoop around a little to find out how theyre monetizing.
If your competitors seem to be doing well, go ahead and start your own (better) site.
Warning: this method isnt based on data, which means it involves guesswork. BUT, its better than nothing.
How to Build a Niche Website Step #2: Set Your Site Up in 4 Steps
Youve passed the hardest part of building a niche website, which is choosing your niche.
Now itll all be unicorns and rainbows ahead.
But this next part is way easier than researching and selecting your niche.
It consists of four steps:
Choosing your domain name
Getting a hosting plan
Selecting your CMS (content management system)
Picking your plugins and themes
Lets look at them one by one.
Choose and Buy Your Domain Name
Choosing your domain name is like naming a new business.
Yeah, its that big a deal.
So spend time on it.
Also, pay attention to these general rules for choosing a domain name:
Keep it short and simple.
Include your niche in it.
Make it memorable.
Make sure its easy to read and spell.
Lets check out some examples.
Heres our domain name:
Short and simple?
Easy to read and spell?
Heres SmartBlogger’s domain name:
Short and simple?
Easy to read and spell?
Now, how about this one?
Short and simple?
Easy to read and spell?
Once youve come up with a domain name, head over to Namecheap to see if its available.
Simply type your idea into the search bar and click search.
When you do, youll see whether or not the name is available, and how much it costs.
Note: always pick .com over .net, .ai, or other options.
Add the domain name to your cart and purchase it.
Get a Hosting Plan
A hosting provider is what makes your website accessible on the internet.
So youll need one (obviously).
Which web hosting provider should you choose?
For us, BlueHost works perfectly fine.
Plus, its much cheaper than other options like WPEngine.
Check out BlueHost’s affordable pricing and plans:
Yup, you saw that right!
You can get a hosting plan for as little as $2.95 a month.
This plan offers a free domain, so you can skip the Namecheap part if you want to.
Remember, though, that experts dont recommend you getting a domain name and hosting plan from the same provider.
If youre just starting out and youre on a tight budget, though, you can totally go ahead with that.
Get a Content Management System
A content management system makes posting content online easy.
I mean, you dont want to go through all the trouble of coding, right?
(Didnt think so.)
So, heres the most popular content management system (CMS) around:
You guessed it!
Of course, its not the only CMS out there.
But if you ask me, WordPress is the best option because:
Its reliable, with great support.
Its used by 43% of the web (which is saying something about how great it is)
Plus, it has great themes and plugins, which brings us to
Select Your Themes and Plugins
This is the fun part!
Themes and plugins help you create a site thats 100% your own.
Think of a theme like a template that you can use to decide what your site looks like.
With WordPress, there are tons of themes to choose from, giving you the freedom to be as creative as you like.
Then, there are plugins.
You can think of a plugin as something that gives your site special function.
For instance, theres Yoast SEO.
Yoast is a plugin that makes SEO easy.
It helps you optimize your content so its more attractive to both Google and humans.
Of course, Yoast SEO is only one of the whopping 50,000 plugins on WordPress.
As you can see, creating a site that looks and functions exactly as you want doesnt have to be hard.
For a step-by-step guide on how to build your own website (including all the tiny details like which extras to choose, how to create pages and categories, and more) visit our tutorial here.
Or watch our video guide!
How to Build a Niche Website Step #3: Research Your Topics
Ok, now you have a brand-new website.
So, now what?
How do you get people to visit your site, trust you, and ultimately buy your recommendations?
The first step: start writing content.
But what do you write about, exactly?
Obviously, it has to be something your audience cares about.
It has to be something that tells them, Hey, this guy knows what hes talking about. Maybe hes the one who can help me solve my problems or achieve my dreams.
Honestly, though, reading your audiences brain is tough.
Even if youre an expert in your niche, mind-reading is hard because you cant know exactly what your audience is searching on Google.
Except you can.
Lets look at an example.
Imagine that you want to know if your audience is interested in finding the best turtle food around.
All you have to do is type best turtle food into the search field of your chosen keyword research tool.
Heres what that looks like on KWFinder.
What youre looking for here is the search volume.
If more than 300 people search for this term per month, thats a sign its a profitable enough topic to write on.
Lets see how it is for best turtle food.
But remember, search volume isnt the only metric thatll help you determine if a topic is good to go for.
Theres also keyword difficulty.
Keyword difficulty shows you how hard it will be to rank well on Google for a certain keyword.
Lets look at best turtle food.
Determining whether to go for a certain keyword based on its keyword difficulty score can be tricky, but as a general rule (as a beginner blogger), try not to go for keywords with a KD score over 40.
Now, repeat this step for topics youre thinking of writing about, so you can determine whether or not youll get an audience for your content.
Remember, its a good idea to plan ahead.
So if you can find topics to write about for the next six months, youre playing the game the right way!
How to Build a Niche Website Step #6: Plan Your Content
I know, I know.
The last sentence in the previous section must have felt like a falling bomb to you.
Six months? you might be shouting, frantically scratching your head. How the heck can I plan content for the next six months?
You dont have to be a genius to come up with hundreds of content ideas.
In fact, theres a simple, systematic, no-guesswork way to do it.
The easiest way is to invest in a keyword research tool like Ahrefs.
Once inside Ahrefs, type your dream keyword into the Keywords Explorer tool.
Your dream keyword is the keyword that defines what youre doing. (For example, if youre a turtle expert, your dream keyword might be pet turtle or turtle food.)
Lets say your dream keyword is freediving.
Type it into Ahrefs Keyword Explorer tool and see what you get.
From there, all you have to do is scroll down and look at the keyword ideas below.
As you can see, there are thousands of keyword ideas for you to choose from.
You can then sort through them, choosing the keywords that are high search volume/low keyword difficulty score.
Another way you can use Ahrefs to find great keyword ideas is to spy on what your competitors are ranking for.
To do this, scroll further below to check which sites are ranking for your dream keyword.
Pick a site thats similar to the one youre thinking of building, then copy its URL into the Site Explorer tool on Ahrefs.
Next, click Organic keywords to find out which keywords this site is ranking for.
Heres what thatll look like.
You can then sort through your options, deciding which ones youd like to write around.
Now, what if you cant afford an SEO tool?
What if you want to wing it for now, keeping expenses to a bare minimum?
Is it impossible to fill your 6-month calendar with keyword ideas?
Of course not.
There is a free way to do it, and although its less systematic and more based on guesswork, its still a viable way to get awesome ideas for your content topics.
How to do it:
Hope on Google and type in your dream keyword.
Pick a site thats similar to the one youre thinking of creating, then browse through their blogs.
Make sure to have a pen and paper (or your favorite note-taking app) beside you.
As you read, jot down ideas for your own content topics.
Here are some example blogs from The Deeper Blue.
Remember, dont copy exactly what theyre doing.
Use their articles for inspiration, putting your own unique spin on their blogs.
Also, dont stop with reading your competitors blog titles.
Go through each article and find holes and questions you can tackle and turn into separate blogs.
For instance, check out this list of pointers in one of Deep Blues blogs.
What you could do is write three separate blogs on each of these pointers, with tips on how to do each one.
The more you spend time practicing this, the more your mind will open up creatively.
In no time, youll be spotting blog topic ideas from simply glancing at a competitors article.
Of course, like I said, this method is less systematic than using a premium SEO tool.
There is guesswork involved, and you may need bouts of trial and error before you start to see success.
However, if you really dont have the cash to spare, do it.
Its better to begin this way than to wait around forever, hoping money for an SEO tool will drop into your lap (it wont).
Dont have $99 to burn, but dont want to go free either? Heres a video on how you can find keyword ideas on KWFinder:
How to Build a Niche Website Step #7: Create Your Content
Now, for the fun part.
Its time to actually start crafting content for your niche website.
Hold on a second, though.
Before you write a single word on your Google or Word doc, you need to define how youll stand out from other blogs.
I mean, you cant just spew out content thats identical with other sites out there, right?
Here are three steps to help guide you as you craft your content.
Step #1: Find Your Content Differentiation Factor
Find out what makes you unique.
For instance, lets say you decide to start a site for turtle owners.
What makes you stand out is that you believe turtles should only eat food from their natural habitat.
With this belief, your blogs will take a whole new, unexpected turn.
Your blogs will stand out from the rest of the turtle blogs out there.
Of course, this is only an example.
Make sure to do extensive keyword and topic research first, to find out if people care about organic turtle food in the first place.
Lets look at an example.
Take Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You to Be Rich.
Ramit believes that getting rich shouldnt involve all the painful sacrifices most financial blogs suggest.
He believes you should go ahead and buy that $3 latte without guilt.
And naturally, his blog posts are angled differently.
Check this out, for instance.
Of course, as an affiliate marketer, youll be writing reviews, comparisons, and list posts.
Still, coming up with a content differentiation factor will help you build trust with your readers.
Itll give them a reason to pick you over other blogs out there.
(And trust me, considering the sheer number of blogs out there, you need this.)
Step #2: Define Your Voice
Your writing voice is the unique way you speak with the written word.
It includes your tone, your choice of words, and your style.
To give you an example, compare these two blogs and note the difference between their voices.
As youll notice, both blogs are about content marketing.
But while Content Marketing Institutes voice is professional and serious
Brittany Berger’s is upbeat, fun, and casual.
So, how do you define your voice?
Here are three tips to help you:
Make it similar to the way you speak in real life.
Get to know your audience and find out how they like being spoken to.
Spy on your competitors to gauge which type of voice is most successful in your industry.
Remember, nailing the right voice and using it for every single thing you write will take practice and patience.
But, you got this!
Step 3: Decide How Long Your Blogs Will Be
Or rather, find out how long they should be.
To do this, check out your competition.
A good rule of thumb is to write blogs that are the average length of other blogs ranking for your keyword.
For example, lets say your keyword is best turtle food.
Go on Google and look at the top 10 results for this keyword.
Then, count how many words each article has.
You dont have to count the words manually.
You can get an extension like Word Counter Plus to help you.
Next, get the average word count of the top 10 articles ranking on Google for your keyword.
That average is the word count youll try to stick to when crafting your content.
In our example, the average word count of the top 10 articles ranking for best turtle food is 2,321.
That means 2,000-2,500 words is a good length to stick to when writing on this topic.
How to Build a Niche Website Step #8: Pick Your Monetization Strategy
You now have a niche website, and youre ready to start making a nice side income.
But how do you actually monetize your site?
Here are three ways you can do it.
Use Your Blog to Promote Your Affiliate Links
If you ask me, this is the most effective way to make money with your website.
So, how do you do it?
First, youll need to sign up with affiliate programs.
Once youre accepted, youll receive special links that you can use to promote the companies products.
Plant these links within your blog, so your readers can click and buy the products you recommend.
When they buy using your links, youll get a share of the profits.
Remember, some affiliate programs require you to have a certain amount of traffic on your site before theyll accept you as an affiliate.
Dont worry, though.
If you build a trustworthy site and consistently post valuable content, it wont be long until you have a decent flow of traffic to show off.
Use Email to Promote Your Affiliate Links
Another way to earn using your affiliate links is to promote them through email.
Email isnt dead.
In fact, 87% of marketers use email today.
Collecting email addresses isnt as hard (or spammy) as you think, either.
All you have to do is to create a mouthwatering lead magnet.
This lead magnet can be a short course, a book, a PDF, a series of tips, or anything your audience is interested in.
Give away this freebie in exchange of your readers email addresses.
Check out this example from Optin Monster.
Once you have a nice, fat email list, sign up for email marketing software like MailChimp.
Doing so will make it easy for you to segregate and send emails to your list.
Remember, dont spam your email list!
Dont stick to promoting your affiliate links.
Give your readers value with each email you send, so their mouths water each time they see a new one from you.
Use Social Media to Promote Your Affiliate Links
This one is a little tricky, as social sites can ban you if you become too promotional.
Also, some affiliate programs dont allow you to promote on social media.
However, monetizing on social could be a nice side strategy to help you maximize your income.
Here are four tips to help you monetize through social media.
Provide valuable content your audience will love.
Use social media to drive traffic to your blog.
Promote in niche-specific groups (but make sure to read the groups guidelines first).
Publish clear, attractive images to go with your content.
Remember, you dont need to stick to one method of monetizing your niche website.
Create a strategy that includes using all three together, and youll go far with your goals of making a nice side income.
How to Build a Niche Website: The Basics
So, here you are.
Wondering how to build a niche website.
I mean, thats what many affiliate marketers are talking about.
They go on and on about how they made millions through their niche websites.
And maybe youre imagining something super complex.
Something youll never be able to do.
Not anymore, though.
Because after reading this blog, youve realized that you only need to follow eight basic steps to get your site up and running.
Its not rocket science.
Its not a feat only accomplished by tech wizards or people born with a pen in their hands.
Take me, for instance.
I was once a truck driver, now earning $40,000 from my niche websites.
So go ahead.
Take that first step.
Then the next.
Then the next.
In no time, youll find yourself passing that resignation letter to your boss, ready to enjoy the freedom and joy of passive residual income thats enough to cover your dream life.
All screenshots taken by the author, April 2022.