21 Sep Things you should think about before starting a niche site, but won’t because your lazy
17 things you NEED to do before starting a Niche Site but probably won’t because your lazy, don’t be lazy.
1. Who is your target audience?
Just because you’re the most passionate person in the world when it comes to scuba diving gear doesn’t mean the rest of the internet shares your enthusiasm for that particular sport.
Or that enough people are looking to buy wetsuits and tanks to sustain yourself on Amazon affiliate sales.
So think creatively beyond “people who are passionate about scuba diving every weekend” and think more in terms of people who have broader interests that might include scuba diving as well.
People who are passionate about marine life, for example. Or tourists visiting the coast. Or beach bums who like to explore the ocean’s depths every once in a while.
Decide the range of who you will target so you know who to write your blog posts and on-site content for, and where to focus your marketing efforts.
2. Where will your traffic come from?
Because honestly, you can optimize your pages for keyword-based SEO all day long and twice on Sunday and still not get the kind of traffic you need to make your niche site sustainable.
To give yourself a boost, go ahead and stand on someone else’s shoulders for a while… there’s bound to be groups of people that avidly share their interest in your niche on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook. Why not interact with them and find ways to benefit them within the space they’re already hanging out in so they’ll be naturally interested in coming to your site?
3. What are some other popular niche sites adjacent to yours?
A big part of online success—especially in getting your first swarms of traffic—comes from networking and recommendations from other influential people online.
We’re not talking about your competitors here, but people who do still share some of your same target audience that would happily visit your site.
For example, if you run a blog that’s all about cooking and sharing your at-home gourmet recipes, you might want to check out some family life and parenting blogs.
Brainstorm a handful of these sites and start commenting on the posts there and interacting with the blogger herself on social media.
4. How will you make money?
Though your number one purpose in setting up this site is to make money, a little thought into exactly how that money will be generated and added to your bank account will be helpful… especially in constructing an impromptu business plan that changes as your business grows.
For the time being, you might simply want to rely on the easiest-to-implement methods like AdSense and Amazon affiliate links.
These are very easy ways to get started and you’ll notice your income growing as your traffic does.
But think a little further down the line too… particularly about some sort of monthly recurring income model (like a subscription or membership site), as that’s some of the easiest passive income to make, even though it does take a while to get the setup running.
The sooner you start working on that kind of model, the sooner you’ll start profiting.
5. What’s a realistic income goal?
The big picture goal is usually pretty clear for most of us: make enough money so we can replace our incomes and quit our jobs.
It’s a great goal, but it isn’t tangible.
Realize that you may only be making $20 per month from Amazon three months in and have a plan with real, specific numbers on how you’ll grow that from $20 to $200, then from $200 to $2,000.
You might not meet each milestone perfectly, but when there’s a clear number goal in mind, you’ll be much more likely to achieve it.
“[Setting goals] focuses your acquisition of knowledge, and helps you organize your time and your resources so that you can make the very most of your life,” said Mind Tools. “By setting sharp, clearly defined goals, you can measure and take pride in the achievement of those goals, and you’ll see forward progress in what might previously have seemed a long pointless grind.”
6. How many hours per week will you commit to your new niche site?
If you work a full-time job that has a 30 minute commute both ways, that’s at least 9-10 hours of time out of your day.
Add in sleeping, meal prep, and getting ready for work and for bed, and you’re up to at least 20 hours, leaving you only 4 hours to have a social life, relax, and work on your niche site.
Because burn out and discouragement from burn out is a very real thing when working for yourself, make sure you’re realistic about how much time you have to commit to your site and the things you’ll be able to accomplish in that time.
7. Do you have an exit plan from your current job?
This might be big dreaming, especially if you’re making less than $100 per month from your niche site at first, but you’ll want to know how you’ll plan to leave your current job when the time comes.
I’m not suggesting you plan some epic quitting notice that burns bridges, but maybe you could write out the two-week notice email you’ll send to your boss. (Just don’t send it yet!)
This is more of a psychological trick to motivate and propel you forward than it is anything else, but it’s very powerful… similar to the way vision boards help people.
oprah”You have to have a vision and a plan to execute so every step moves you in the direction [of your dreams].” -Oprah Winfrey
(P.S. If you’d like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
8. What will you do with your first earnings?
Let’s say you hit a huge stroke of luck and profit $200 in your first month.
Will you put it in your pocket and treat your family?
Or will you invest it back into your site to grow it even further by buying a popup plugin and some ads?
Neither answer is wrong, it’s all about your own priorities.
But knowing why you want that extra money and what you’ll do with it will make sure you keep your site-based priorities straight.
9. How much will this site cost you? And what’s your monthly budget?
After you pay for hosting, a domain name, and web site templates, your budget may very well be $0 if you can’t afford much.
But you really do need to face the reality that running a website is not free, and even if you bootstrap everything else, you will have to pay for your domain name and hosting on a yearly basis.
But, you may be able to spend an extra $100 per month showing ads of your content to relevant people on Facebook or Pinterest via sponsored posts.
If you have a monthly investment budget to start out with, know what it is so you can plan how to spend it to get the most bang for your buck.
10. What are your year one traffic and income goals?
Remember, “enough money to quit my job” is not a specific enough goal to create milestones based on.
If you have a target date for when you want to quit your job, say, a year and a half from now, figure out how much money you’ll need to make per month for that to happen.
Remember to cover your current take-home income, taxes, health insurance, and any other benefits currently covered by your employer. And factor in a cushion of at least 10%.
Then, based on realistic numbers you see around the internet, figure out how much traffic that means you’ll need and do backwards math from there for how much you’ll need to increase your traffic and your income quarter by quarter and month by month.
It’s not the end of the world if you don’t meet your goals one month, but it does give you something to drive you forward.
“Work out the end goal; i.e. what you want your business to look like and achieve further down the line when it’s at it’s peak, said Stuart in his post on running NicheHacks for 18 months. “A stand alone blog doesn’t make much if any money, it’s just a collection of blog posts on the internet.”
Stuart Walker Referee”Work out the end goal; i.e. what you want your business to look like and achieve further down the line when it’s at it’s peak, said Stuart in his post on running NicheHacks for 18 months. “A stand alone blog doesn’t make much if any money, it’s just a collection of blog posts on the internet.”
You need to know specifically what you want to achieve beyond “making money online” and plan backwards to make sure it happens.
Because when you have something specific to reach towards, you’re much more likely to take the strategic, pin-pointed steps you need than if you have a generic goal that’s easy to get lost in.
11. From where & how will you earn your backlinks?
Backlinks are a powerful way to grow a website… so much so that Brian Dean created an entire website around that concept.
They help contribute SEO “juice” to your site, boosting your search engine rankings, and they almost always send a solid portion of the host site’s audience over to your site.
I’d suggest creating guest blog posts for those adjacent blogs you listed out in question #3, as I’ve found them to be super helpful.
But maybe blogging’s not your thing, and that’s fine.
But it is really important to consider how you’ll start obtaining back links after your site is live—and equally important to consider and write down what you won’t do, so you don’t cross your own moral standards and get into black hat SEO territory.
12. How much time do you have to spend on content?
Similar to knowing how much time you have to spend on your site in general, it’s important to know how much time you have to spend on writing the actual home page, blog posts, and product pages you’ll host on your site.
Because content is the thing that drives the life of a niche site.
If you want to attract people who are interested in buying products related to your niche to your site, you’ve simply got to create content that’s interesting to them and place it on your site to lure them there.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to spend any time writing, you’ll need to set a content budget and decide on the level of quality you’re going after with your content.
(Hint: the better it is, the more expensive it gets.)
13. And what type of content will you create?
Even if you’re basing the vast majority of your content strategy around a blog (nothing wrong with that), what kind of blog posts will you produce?
Will they be short, quick product reviews? Long, in-depth tutorials with loads of screenshots? Q & A interviews with experts more famous than you are?
It’s important to think about.
Especially if you want to get the most out of the time you spend on your content, like you figured out with the last question.
Simply sitting down to write “a blog post for the survival niche” for example, probably isn’t going to yield the best results.
You might have some interesting stats and figures, but it probably won’t be that stand-out content that visitors will want to keep coming back for.
Fortunately, taking the time to think out what type of content you’ll create (and your deadlines for creating it) will make the time and money you put into your content efforts much more effective.
14. Will you be a high price & low volume site, or a low price & high volume site?
Lots of people buy books about running an online business from Amazon, for example. But very few people fork out hundreds of dollars per month for high-level business website hosting.
The money you make as an Amazon affiliate from selling one book might be $0.50, but the money you make as sn affiliate from selling one high-end, expensive website hosting could be a few hundred dollars.
- (Make a price comparison site with this guide)
The books are much easier to sell, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re more profitable.
And even though both products serve the same niche, the way you go about selling each one is completely different.
Being profitable selling books means you’ll need to put in a lot more work when it comes to traffic generation, but being profitable selling higher-ticket items means it’ll take a lot more work in setting up on-site content funnels to educate the visitors you do have so they make smart buying decisions in their business.
15. How will you convert visitors once they land on your site?
It would be wonderful if someone bought something from you every time they visited and bookmarked your site to come back to every week.
But I think we all know that’s not how the internet works.
People come to your site.
Maybe they read something, maybe they don’t. And then they’re gone, most likely forever.
But if you’re able to convert them into newsletter subscribers, then there’s a way that you can keep them interested in your site… by sending them emails every once in a while to remind them how great your content and deals are.
NicheHacks, for example, uses plenty of popups to make this happen.
But beyond that, once you have people as subscribers, you definitely want them to buy from you or off of one of your affiliate links.
Crafting in-depth tutorials with affiliate links to paid resources works really well if you don’t have your own product yet. (Create your own coupon website here)
But so does an email sequence building up to a launch of your own digital product: either a single-purchase ebook or something more long-term like a subscription software or membership area.
Hint: Popups work well for turning visitors into subscribers, and email sequences work well for turning subscribers into buyers. Easiest (& most effective) formula I know.
16. What affiliate programs will you sign up for?
Amazon is pretty much a given—even if you are selling those higher-ticket items, it never hurts to add in some hypertext here and there to point people to interesting resources and products that Amazon sells.
But even though Amazon features so many products, they don’t exactly have the highest commission rates for their affiliates.
For example, here’s a few affiliate programs and their commission rates:
- Amazon: 4% to 8.5%, depending on volume of products sold
- ClickBank: up to 75%, depending on seller policies
- ShareASale: 4.5% to 40% depending on seller policies
17. How will you make sure you optimize for SEO like you should?
If you’re like most new niche marketers, you do not have a heavy background in internet marketing.
That doesn’t mean success it isn’t possible, but it does mean that you need to make sure you cover yourself where you can… especially when it comes to your SEO setup, which will help you with getting free search engine traffic.
An easy (and free) way to do this is to add the Yoast SEO plugin to your WordPress site and fill in the fields every time you create a new page or blog post.
*ALTHOUGH I HIGHLY RECOMMEND going all in with “All in ONE SEO” plugin over Yoast. See for yourself.
“It’s easy to be tantalized by the fact that Pat Flynn is making well over half a million dollars a year,” said Doug Cunnington, “but the reality is, it’s a grind—even for Pat Flynn.”
(P.S. If you’d like to download a free list of 101 expensive affiliate niches click here or the image below)
Start Thinking & Work Smarter on Your Niche Site
A lot to think about, no?
(See this start here page if you’re just starting out)
It can seem like a lot, but don’t let it overwhelm you to the point of doing nothing.
Because doing nothing isn’t going to get you anywhere closer to your passive income goals.
Instead, look at these 17 questions as considerations that will help you work smarter towards your goals.
The thing is, getting niche sites to make money for you does take work, so the smarter you work, the better off you’ll be.