I mentioned previously that one of the things that I think every blogger should do is set up niche sites recycling the content that they have already written. The niche sites I have currently bring in several thousand dollars a month and deciding to create them as part of my plan to blog full time was one of the best moves that I made. If you are looking to create a full time income online, taking this route is something that you should seriously consider.
I received an e-mail asking me how I did this. There really is no secret to doing this and it’s the complete opposite of rocket science. The strategy is common sense and all it takes is time and commitment to accomplish, but for those who want to see, I’ll write down the steps I take and add a few comments along the way.
Pick a topic: When I’m writing, if I notice that I have written quite a bit on a certain topic, I will go back through my posts to see if I have 10 good articles on the topic. 10 articles seems to be a good number for creating a niche site. If I do have at least 10 articles, then I consider creating a new site on the topic.
Will it attract people multiple times: I didn’t ask this question when I first began creating niche sites, but I did as time went on. While this is not an absolute determining factor of whether or not I will put a niche site together, if it’s a topic that has the potential to bring back users multiple times, then I know it’s worth my time. For example, Grocery Coupon Guide attracts a lot of repeat users because many of the articles have links to other resources that people find useful. Even though the site is rarely updated these days, many people interested in coupons visit on a regular basis due to the content.
If the subject matter is not something that will encourage people to come back time and again, I have to consider other factors as to whether or not it is worth my time to create it. I also don’t put up niche sites that require frequent updating anymore. Even with the best intentions, I have so much other work that a site that requires a lot of updating doesn’t work for me. I did place up several before I realised this and I was never able to update them frequently enough and finally gave up trying. The niche site needs to have information that is basically timeless for me to consider creating it now.
Find a domain name: Finding a good domain name is getting more difficult, but it isn’t impossible. When you know the topic, it’s simply a matter of trying out names again and again until you find one that works. I think it’s worthwhile spending a decent amount of time searching until you find one you like and fits well with your topic. A good domain name can have a significant impact on the traffic the site generates.
Rewrite the content: I don’t simply copy the content and place it on the new niche site. I take a few hours and rewrite the content trying to add more content to each article to make the articles even better. This ensures that all the content on the new site is unique and even better quality than what was placed on the blog.
Put the site up: I have a set template for all my niche sites that I use. I began doing this before WordPress was as flexible as it is today. If I were starting today, I would likely opt for a good WordPress template since this would allow me to customize the sites a lot more easily and quickly, but my current template is also simple to use. Once you have created a template, putting up new niche site is pretty painless.
Cost: Since I have a dedicated server for all my blogs/sites, the only real costs for me to put up a new niche site is the cost of the domain name. I use 1and1.com, but there are a lot of places to register domains out there for under $10. The other cost is the time that it takes to set the site up which is usually a day counting all the rewriting involved. You will need to pay a bit more to host the site if you don’t have a dedicated server, but it shouldn’t be very expensive these days. For me, if the niche site can clear a dollar a month, then it comes out ahead which is not that difficult to achieve, especially once it has been indexed in the search engines.
Promotion: Once a niche site is up, I do a bit of promotion to make sure the search engine spiders find their way to the site. It’s a fairly simple process and there are a number of ways you can accomplish this. I have a set of blogs and websites that are fairly popular and get indexed well where I know I can place a link if I leave quality information in return. I’ll spend a couple hours doing this. The easiest way for someone beginning is to leave quality comments on a number of blogs that have to “do follow” enabled.
Variations: I have also put up a few niche sites for timely events. For example, when I first heard that the post office was going to create a Forever Stamp, I purchased a related domain name. Since the first round of publicity was about how the post office was considering making a forever stamp, I was pretty sure the eventual debut of it would attract another round of publicity. While I have never lost any money creating timely event niche sites, none of the ones I have built using this variation has been a huge hit either. The forever stamp site was probably one of the biggest earners which brought in several hundred dollars at the time the forever stamp was launched and continues to bring in a few dollars a month today.
Wait: Once a niche site is up and published, I don’t do much with them and let them sit. Once they get into search engines, smalls amount of traffic will come. Occasionally one will get a good mention that makes the entire process worthwhile. A few of the niche sites bring in a decent amount each month with the best one bringing in over $1000. Most make only a few dollars a month which doesn’t sound like much, but when you have a lot of them, adds up. And there are always a few that are complete flops and don’t earn anything, although these are a minority.
Managers: I did do an experiment where I hired some people to add content to the niche sites on a regular basis with the deal being that we would split any income the site produced. This was successful and not successful at the same time. There is definitely an opportunity to use this model to increase the amount niche sites make, but finding someone willing to put in the time and effort is quite difficult. It also took organizational time on my part to coordinate with those who are managing the sites. In the end, while the experiment did increase revenue, I stopped doing it because I didn’t feel the increase in revenue was worth the time I was spending on the project.
Final Note: Trying to guess which niche sites will do well and which won’t is quite difficult. Some that I was sure would be great successes have been some of the biggest flops while others I spent a long time questioning whether they would even generate any revenue have done quite well. I wish there was a secret to picking good topics, but up to this point I have not been able to figure one out.
That’s basically all there is to it. It’s a pretty simple and straightforward plan. Of course, placing more time into the niche sites would certainly increase the amount they earned, but I feel my time is better served working on the main sites since time is always limited. If you have specific questions, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer.
Image courtesy of John Parres