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How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

In-Depth Guide To Launch Your Site & Email Marketing Strategy

Have you ever seen advertisements featuring dudes sitting on a tropical beach sipping pina coladas with their laptops in front of them while they earn passive income?

Too good to be true, right?

Well, for most of those guys, chances are, they’re not actually getting work done on the beach, and they likely just did that for a photo op.

But the reality of being able to work from your laptop anywhere in the world is definitely not a fantasy. It’s a reality for many people, thanks to the opportunity to create an online business.

One of the most popular ways to earn an income from your laptop is to create a niche site.

If executed correctly – and with the help of a strategic email marketing plan – you can definitely make a few hundred dollars per month to a full-time income and beyond.

In this article, I’ll break down how you can build your own niche site so you can sip coconuts in Bali — or if you’re not into that kind of lifestyle — simply live where you live but experience much more freedom and flexibility in your daily life.

Let’s begin!

What Is a Niche Website?

What’s a niche site, you ask? Well, first off, are you pronouncing it correctly?

Just kidding. It doesn’t matter whether niche rhymes with itch like “nitch” or niche rhymes with sheesh like “neesh.” A niche website is a site that specifically targets a small segment in a large market by zeroing in on a specific interest.

Simply put, it’s any site that’s focused on a segment of a market.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

The smaller the segment, the more “niche” it is. The larger the segment, the less “niche” it is.

A niche site doesn’t always mean you have a small site. You can have a niche website with thousands of pages that get millions of visitors every month.

In layman's terms, a niche site is simply an informational website. It’s a place where someone can find a ton of information on a specific topic like ragdoll cats, quilting, or hot sauce.

Most people who build niche websites also monetize them through display ads, affiliate marketing, digital products, or an e-commerce integration.

Are Niche Sites Still Profitable?

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Curious whether or not you can profit from a niche site in 2023?

Most definitely.

In order for any business to be profitable, it needs to bring in more money than it costs to run the business. In terms of the monetary hurdle to start a niche site, it’s almost non-existent.

You can launch a niche site with as little as $50, if not less. You simply need to pay for a few small costs like a domain, hosting, and a couple of other things.

Upkeep costs can be as low as about $20 per month. So as long as you can earn more than $20 per month, you’ll make a profit. For my own niche site, hockeyquestion.com, it took me 4 months to reach my first $20 month.

And for many niche website owners, they’re making much more than $20 per month. While it’s not a given that any site will generate revenue, if you stick with it, the odds are certainly in your favor.

How Much Money Can a Niche Website Make?

Niche sites can earn anywhere from zero dollars to upwards of $50,000 per month. There’s a massive spectrum. However, it’s common to earn a few hundred dollars per month to a few thousand.

My own niche site makes about $500 per month as of July 2023 – about 18 months in.

It definitely takes time to start making a noticeable income for most niche site owners. The majority of full-time income earners have been building their sites for a few years to get it to a part-time or full-time income level.

In the Blogging Income Survey 2023, it was found that the average earnings of a blog less than 1 year old is only 38 cents per month.

But… once they hit the 1-3 year mark, the average earnings jump to $1,366 per month. By 3-5 years, it’s up to $2,228.28, with jumps to $3,919 at 5-10 years and $4,929.45 at 10+ years.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

The story this data is showing is that the longer you’re in the game, the greater the odds are that you’ll earn a full-time income.

In a 2023 survey by Income School, they found that the average blogger receives 60,500 pageviews and earns $2,226.52 per month.

Another consideration when looking at how much a niche site can earn is its market value. A niche site isn’t just a dinky little website – at least if it’s able to generate some revenue. An income-generating niche site is a real asset.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

And… assets have a resale value. Niche sites can typically sell for anywhere from about 25-50 times their monthly revenue.

That means if you’re able to generate $1,000 per month from your site, you could probably sell it for about $25,000-$50,000.

If you grow your site to $5,000 per month, you could probably expect at least $125,000.

If you reach $10,000 per month, that means your site is likely worth at least a quarter of a million dollars.

So when determining how much money a niche site can make, you need to consider both the recurring cash flow it generates as well as the potential sale value.

If you own a site for 5 years and the average earnings are $3,000 per month and you end up selling it for 35 times the monthly earnings, that means in 5 years time, you earned this much:

Total Monthly Earnings: $3,000 x 5 years x 12 months = $180,000
Sale Earnings: $3,000 x 35 = $105,000.

Total Earnings: $285,000

In this scenario, you generated $285,000 in 5 years. That works out to an average of $57,000 per year or $4,750 per month.

Why Listen to Me? I currently run a niche website, Hockey Question, that gets over 50,000 visits per month. I’ve also managed two e-commerce email newsletters over the years, including one with 100,000 subscribers and one with 30,000.

6 Steps To Build a Profitable Niche Site

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Now that you have a better understanding of the earning potential of a niche site, it’s time to break down the steps you need to take to create your own site.

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of building a niche site, let’s quickly summarize how a niche site works and cover something crucial about the “passive income” involved.

The big idea with a niche site is to find a profitable niche (that you’re likely interested in to some degree). Then, you build a website and begin creating blog content for your niche blog, so it begins ranking in search engines for different keywords.

You then monetize the traffic that comes to your site through display ads, affiliate marketing, your own products, or online courses.

The reason niche sites are sometimes referred to as a way to make passive income is because you can create blog content ahead of time and even automations with your email newsletter platform that can essentially bring in traffic and convert it into income whether or not you physically work on the site on any given day.

The reality of niche sites is that they aren’t truly passive income since there will always be some level of ongoing work or maintenance involved, even to a small degree. If you start earning with your site and you decide to just leave it forever, you will eventually get overtaken by the competition due to outdated information, technology, and other upkeep factors.

But it’s certainly possible to get to the point where you may only need to work part-time or just a couple hours each week yet receive a full-time income from your niche site thanks to the power of digital leverage and online reach.

Now, follow these steps to create your own profitable niche site:

1. Pick Your Niche.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

I’m going to be blunt. This is the hardest step.

Not because it’s so challenging to find profitable niches, but because most people get so caught up in trying to figure out the perfect niche, they end up with analysis paralysis and throw in the towel before they even start.

Don’t be like those people! There are thousands of resources on how to come up with the perfect niche. And I will admit, this is an important step to take and you shouldn’t pick any niche lightly.

But it essentially comes down to three questions:

1. Is there enough interest?

2. Is it profitable?

3. Do you like it?

That’s it. If you can answer “yes” to each of those, you’re golden.

Forget everything else about niche selection.

Yes, there are still ways to be successful if you can’t meet those requirements, but the odds of success are much lower.

Take a look at each question again. For instance, with #1, some people preach that the smaller the niche, the more likely you’ll be to succeed. But the problem is… the smaller the niche, there will be fewer people who are interested in it due to the less demand there is for information on the topic, which means less traffic for your site.

The caveat there is that if there is enough traffic and you can be the authority site for that space, there’s a chance you can be successful with it. The question mark remains on what is really “enough” traffic and whether or not you can be “the” niche site authority in the space.

Think about it this way: Will you have an easier time convincing 100 random people walking by to pet your pet snake or your golden retriever puppy?

Chances are, people would rather pet a puppy. Why? Not only are they less scary, but there’s more interest in them. More demand = more people searching.

Yes, there will be more competition; but there are ways to stand out, and there are always underserved long-tail keywords you can go after with your blog topics.

With #2, let’s talk about profitability. It’s one thing to have enough people interested in your niche. It’s another thing to ensure it’s the kind of niche that will earn you money. The reality is that a niche site about origami is going to have a hard time making more money than a site about dogs.

Why? Just think about it from a business perspective. How much money do people spend on origami each year? Maybe a few dollars on some fancy paper and a how-to book?

How much do dog owners spend on their dogs each year? Dog food, treats, toys, vets, dog beds, accessories… the list goes on.

Another consideration with earning potential is your target audience. The reality is that people who live in Western countries will spend more money. Think U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, France, etc.

This is less important if you reside in a lower-cost-of-living country. But if you live in the West, it’s typically best to target a Western audience, so you can earn an income that can pay for your cost of living.

With point #3, it’s pretty simple. The more interest you have in a topic, the easier it’s going to be to write about and the easier it’s going to be to appear as an expert and authority on the topic -- and, most importantly, the easier it’s going to be to stay the course. The reality is, that after you’ve written 100 blog posts and 50 email newsletters, the only way you’ll be able to write another 100 posts and 50 newsletters is if you have some level of passion for the topic.

Even if you decide to outsource the writing, chances are, you’ll still be somewhat involved in the keyword research or editing to some degree, so it’s a good idea to like the topic at least a little bit.

2. Build Your Site.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Now that you’ve got your niche, it’s time to create your website.

There are dozens of different ways to do this, with more options and customization options the techier you are.

Typically, there are three things required to launch your niche site:

  • Domain

  • Hosting provider

  • Content management system (CMS)

Your domain is your website’s address – the part that comes after “www.” The general rule of thumb is that shorter is usually better, and you’ll want it to relate to your niche.

The hosting provider is essentially where your website lives. Think of it like a self-sufficient condominium. Your website is one of the units in the building, and everything is taken care of by the development company to keep things running properly.

A couple of examples of hosting providers are BlueHost, Cloudways, and SiteGround.

Your content management system is your website’s internal headquarters. It’s where you’ll manage your site, publish new content, and customize it.

But, for simplicity's sake, you can create a site on WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace, which are three popular options, or you can sign up for beehiiv and get your own custom site hosted right on the platform.

If you do choose to go with a WordPress site, you can still integrate your email newsletter on beehiiv’s platform, which is a popular combination.

3. Conduct Keyword Research.

Now that you’ve got your niche chosen and your site set up, it’s time to get to work.

That’s right, building and running a niche site takes real work, but the rewards can be incredible.

You need to start by figuring out what to write about. If your goal is to earn an income, you need to generate traffic. If you want to generate traffic, you need to write about what people are searching for. So the key is to figure out what people are searching for, so you can fill in the gaps and solve their informational problems. Enter the world of keyword research.

While there are dozens of robust keyword tools you can use (Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz), you can really get started by just heading over to Google.

Google offers a few nifty tools right within their search engine that you can use to come up with topics for free.

You can type in your niche and hit the spacebar, and Google autocomplete will show you some suggestions. These suggestions are based on what people are really searching for. You can try entering a sub-topic keyword as well for even more suggestions.

For instance, let’s say your niche is French bulldogs. You could try typing in “French bulldog food,” “French bulldog toys,” or “French bulldog health.”

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Once you’ve clicked on a Google autocomplete suggestion, hit enter to see the results. You’ll see plenty of blog posts on the topic that can give you ideas.

You can also check out the “People Also Ask” section, which is near the top just after the first few results. If you click one open, it will generate more PAA queries.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Finally, the third option Google gives you for topics is near the bottom called “Related searches.” These are also full of ideas.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Spend some time plugging in different keywords related to your niche and see what pops up in these three categories: Autocomplete, People Also Ask, and Related searches. While they won’t give you in-depth keyword analysis or search volume estimates, they are based on real searches by real people; so chances are, if they show up, there is some level of traffic for those queries.

4. Create Blog Content.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Now that you’ve got some ideas for blog topics, it’s time to start writing.

While it can take some time before you’re able to create really high-quality blog posts, there are a few guidelines you can follow to give yourself a leg up on the competition right away.

Keep in mind, none of these are absolute rules. But these are tips that I’ve found to work well when it comes to creating quality blog content that people enjoy reading (which keeps them on your site longer, giving good SEO signals back to Google, so you can earn higher rankings in the search engines):

  • Write short sentences -- often and even if they don’t always make grammatical sense.

  • Write conversationally. Read your blog post out loud afterward.

  • You should talk to one person -- like I’m doing right now. You should use the word “you” like I just did twice.

  • Use the word “I” like I did above and did again in this sentence. It adds more personality, is more engaging, and makes it seem like a conversation with a friend.

  • Hook people in right away with something that sparks their curiosity. Ask them a question or straight up tell them why they’re here.

  • Use PAS when possible (Problem, Agitate, Solution). It’s a simple and effective way to write an intro to your article. Example keyword: “French bulldog eye issues” – “Does your little Frenchie have crusties around their eyes? Do they deal with goopy, crusty eyes, and you’re not sure what to do? There’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing your little Frenchie looking up at you with their sad little face when they’re dealing with nagging eye issues. Thankfully, there’s a way out for you and your little fur baby. With just a few simple eye-care tips, you can have your Frenchie happy and back to himself again in no time. Follow these six steps for a quick Frenchie eye fix!

  • Write short paragraphs (usually only 3-4 sentences max).

  • Break up your content with images.

  • Write at least 500 words (but usually 1,000) in almost every article. There’s no hard and fast rule on this; but in general, higher-ranking articles typically have over 1,000 words. But don’t add fluff words to hit a higher word count. Quality is always more important than quantity. If you can’t find a way to add more value, end the article.

  • Interlink your articles. If you have a blog called “French Bulldog Eye Health” and a blog called “Top 7 French Bulldog Health Tips,” then link them together. You’ll get a percentage of visitors to each blog reading the other one, generating more pageviews on your site.

  • Add a powerful title no longer than 70 characters. Use parentheses at the end. Try to use numbers if you can. Example: “7 Crucial French Bulldogs Health Tips (For Beginners)”

While there are hundreds of other tips about how to write high-quality blog posts for your niche site, the gist of it is this: write something you would want to read. Provide more value than the top-ranking blog posts for your keyword. Maybe that’s formatting your text better, including personal stories, adding in custom images you took yourself or writing a more intriguing title.

5. Monetize Your Site.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Now that you’ve got some posts up and you’re generating some traffic, it’s time to start cashing in on your efforts.

However, there are plenty of other ways to earn an income from your site:

  • Display ads

  • Affiliate marketing

  • Sponsored content

  • Advertise for another website

  • Sell a physical product

  • Sell a digital product

  • Sell an ebook

  • Sell a course

  • Influencer marketing

  • Charge a membership fee

As mentioned above, the three most common ways people monetize their niche sites are with display ads, affiliate marketing, and by selling their own products.

Affiliate marketing works by linking to other people's products on your site. If your visitors click on your affiliate link and end up buying the product, you will get a commission on the sale.

Amazon is the easiest affiliate program you can get started with, and you can sign up quickly without a traffic threshold. However, there are dozens of other affiliate networks you can partner with. You can also establish private affiliate deals with businesses that can earn you even higher commissions.

Display ads are set up on ad networks like Mediavine, AdThrive, and Ezoic.

Oftentimes, these ad networks have minimum traffic thresholds (as well as other requirements) to get into their network. Once you’re in, they’ll set up display ads on your website that will generate ad revenue for your site on autopilot. You’ll simply earn money by people viewing your ads while they consume your site’s content.

6. Launch Your Email Marketing Strategy.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Once you’ve got your website running and you’ve started running ads or affiliate deals, it’s time to take things to the next level with an email marketing strategy.

The truth is, you should really be setting up an email newsletter at the beginning when you first set up your site because you can begin collecting emails from your site traffic immediately.

Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways you can turn a niche site from a hobby into a full-time income. The hardest part of running a niche website is that the business model is heavily dependent on search engine traffic — visitors who find your site through Google often find the answer they need and leave.

The majority of your site traffic will never return. In order to keep your business running, you have to depend on a steady stream of new traffic. This can be a real long-term challenge, especially because of new competition that may outrank you or even a change in Google’s algorithm which could cut your traffic in half overnight.

To safeguard your business and generate recurring, stable traffic, the best thing you can do is build an email list and regularly send email newsletters to them.

This does three things for your niche site:

  • Builds recurring traffic from visitors who wouldn’t have returned otherwise

  • Opens up new income opportunities

  • Increases the value of your business if you decide to sell

To start an email marketing strategy for your niche site, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Pick an Email Platform.

This is what you’ll use to build your list, create and send your emails, and manage your entire email strategy. There are dozens of different email newsletter platforms available, but three of the most popular are beehiiv, MailChimp, and Constant Contact, which you can read more about here.

The easiest platform to get started with is beehiiv (it’s free to sign up). You can have everything up and running and even send your first newsletter on the same day. It’s crucial that you don’t spend weeks trying to figure out which platform to choose. The most important thing is that you just get started.

2. Build Your List.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Once you have a platform, start collecting emails. With beehiiv, you can easily collect new emails with our signup form landing page. Simply direct people to your custom beehiiv landing page and grow your list in no time. beehiiv also has a Recommendation Network you can leverage to get your newsletter recommended to other beehiiv newsletter subscribers. Essentially, this means you can not only grow your list quicker but also open up new traffic streams to your website to earn more income.

3. Publish Newsletter Content Regularly.

Next, it’s time to start creating newsletter content. Most of the tips in the “4. Create Blog Content” section above will apply. But with a newsletter, you won’t want to make it nearly as long as your blog content.

You have endless possibilities when it comes to the type of content you create with your newsletter. The simplest way to get started would be to send out a newsletter every time you publish a new blog post on your niche site to remind your subscribers to check out the post.

Another idea for your newsletter content could be to come up with engaging emails based on your top-performing blog posts.

Or you could position your newsletter as an up-to-date news-style publication. In this scenario, your niche site could be more evergreen informational content, while your newsletter could be news related to your niche.

4. Tap Into New Email Revenue Streams.

How To Build a Niche Site (& Leverage Email Marketing)

Once you’re publishing your newsletter regularly, it’s time to start tapping into new revenue streams that email provides.

When you’re building a niche site with an email newsletter, you should really start thinking of your newsletter as a second business. While they are connected closely, they are truly separate entities with their own unique audiences and revenue opportunities.

With your email newsletter, the most obvious revenue path is to send traffic back to your site to generate income from display ads and affiliate marketing.

But with your newsletter, there’s a lot more potential for new income streams like paid ads through beehiiv’s Ad Network or even paid subscriptions for access to premium newsletter content.

When you build your email newsletter, it also increases the value of your overall business when thinking of potential buyers of your niche site. When looking at the possibility of selling the business in the future, your niche site becomes much more valuable when you have two distinct audiences, two traffic sources, and two paths to income.

Think about it. Let’s say you get 100,000 visitors per month to your niche site through SEO, and you earn $4,000 from it.

Let’s say you also have an email newsletter with a list of 30,000 people, and you earn $3,000 from it each month.

By building your email newsletter side-by-side with your niche site, you’ve essentially created a brand new asset and doubled the overall value of your business.

Launch Your Email Marketing Strategy From Day #1

Now that you’ve seen the potential of building a niche site in conjunction with an email list, it’s time to take action.

If you’re ready to launch your own business so you can experience new levels of freedom and flexibility, then there’s no better time than now.

By building a niche site and creating a cohesive email marketing strategy alongside it, you’ll be able to create the life you want – whether it’s relaxing with a fancy cocktail on a Hawaiian beach or working less but earning more from the comfort of your home.

If you’re ready to launch an email marketing strategy that works, then get started with beehiiv today. Created by the same team that built and scaled Morning Brew to millions of subscribers, our platform and our team will help you create a successful newsletter that integrates perfectly with your niche site. Start on beehiiv for free now!

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