Is Making Money With Niche Sites Unrealistic? (Reader Question)
Commenter Leo posted the following on the Niche Site Challenge post today:
He’s got a pertinent question that I guess most readers will have: is making money with niche sites unrealistic?
As always, I went to post a comment replying to Leo but realised my answer was going to be pretty long-winded. I didn’t have a topic in mind for today, so I figured I’d write about making money with niche sites for this article.
If you want to know my thoughts on whether making money with niche sites is a waste of time or a great thing to try, then continue reading. If my thoughts don’t matter to you, then just make some niche sites. You’re going to learn more about making money with niche sites by doing stuff than you are by reading articles about it.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s go.
The First Key To Making Money With Niche Sites Is To Stop Thinking About Them As Niche Sites
Is making money with niche sites unrealistic?
That’s the question on Leo’s mind. It’s the question on a lot of people’s minds. Sometimes, it’s a question that’s on my mind.
We’ve got a figure in mind for the niche site challenge: Let’s make a $500 a month niche website. You might think that that figure is low. You might think it’s high. I don’t know.
Is making $500 a month from a website unrealistic? Obviously not.
Amazon is a website. Facebook is a website. Loads of e-commerce stores are websites and tons of blogs are also websites. Now, clearly it’s possible to make $500 a month from a website. I don’t think many people would argue that point.
If it’s possible to make $500 a month from a website, then presumably making money with niche sites is possible. After all, they are just websites as well.
The only difference between a niche website and any other money-making website is that you’re not selling your own product, nor are you attempting to build any lasting audience. You’re just straight up selling products to people via affiliate links.
Let’s run some numbers.
Making Money With Niche Sites Is All About Numbers
I’ve written elsewhere about niche sites. Because time is important though, I’ll summarise three key things for finding a decent proposal for a niche website:
- SEO Traffic looking to buy
- A decently priced product ($100)
- A decent affiliate program (The higher %, the better)
Provided you have those three things, you can make money with a niche site. I’m not going to jump into hypothetical scenarios here because people tend to get stuck on examples. Instead, I’ll go to Amazon and pick the first example I see and do the example in real time.
Literally, this came from the home page as a daily deal. It’s a treadmill that’s $449 with $200 off. (That’d be useful info if we were writing a sales page.)
Now, Amazon is a pretty useful affiliate program. You’ll get paid around 5%-7% for most orders, and the cookie means that you’ll get paid if people visit Amazon from your site and buy anything within 24 hours. That’s good, even though the percentage you get paid is pretty low.
Still, let’s say you get 5% on $449 – that’s $22.5 per order.
While we’re on the product thing, let’s look at our competition in terms of keywords and searches for this product.
As you can see… we’re not looking at a ton of competing pages here. 298. If I were going for this niche, I wouldn’t have any fears with that figure. (Incidentally, without the quotation marks you still only have around 3400 results – I wouldn’t worry about that either. Those are low figures.)
So, we’ve established we’ve got a good product. Well, we would have if this were real life: The treadmill has 37 reviews and it has 4 stars overall. In real life, you want to pick a good product. Do your due diligence.
We’ve also got some figures for the affiliate program. We’ll make around $20 for each sale.
Let’s do the fun bit; keyword research. (Just kidding, this is boring.)
Open up Keyword Planner or your keyword tool. We’re going to find some search terms that might be useful for us.
Before you do that, bear this in mind: We know that treadmills are a viable market. We know that people want to buy them. We know that people will read about them. How do we know these things? Because a) there are tons of companies making treadmills, and they’ve done the research for us, and b) because you can walk around outside your house for five minutes and see plenty of runners. You can also check reddit and see there are tons of communities set up for running of various different flavours.
Anyway, let’s just take a glance at the keyword tool results. Essentially, what we want is high searches and low competition. I’ve filtered mine accordingly so that things like “treadmill” with millions of competitors aren’t included. Luckily, our example still throws up some good ones:
I’ve highlighted the top one because it’s a brand name… in fact; it’s the brand name that we’re selling. There are also some other brand names there which could be used as separate reviews or even as comparison materials in your sales letter.
More importantly, there are some terms which are seemingly unrelated. “Best at home workouts” is good, because you can write a separate article which has nothing to do with treadmills and then link it back to your sales letter.
You get the idea.
Now, let’s say we write a sales letter for this page and a handful of other articles based on us getting a small portion of those monthly searches. Let’s say we write 6 articles total and they get ten percent of the clicks for monthly searches estimated at a thousand.
That’s six hundred readers per month.
Let’s assume you have a conversion rate of one percent. That’s six sales per month at $22.5, which we’ll round down to $120.
You’re probably thinking, “But, Jamie, that’s not $500 a month.”
No… but bear these things in mind:
- Six articles is not a part time job. It’s not a part time anything. Six articles will take you about six hours maximum. You could do this process once a day if you wanted.
- If this works… then rinse and repeat. Find another treadmill or other related product, write six more articles. Hell… you don’t even need to write six articles. You could just write twelve product reviews if the keyword results favour that.
- I haven’t spent hours coming up with ideas for this niche site. I’ve done it in real time (literally, I’m writing this as I go along) with the first product I saw (I don’t know how viable this is and I think a lot more about the niche sites I start) and the first affiliate program. You can come up with better ideas, find better products and better keywords.
- $120 isn’t $500, but if you made an extra $120 every month from a single day’s work, you wouldn’t be sad, would you? It’d easily cover the hosting/domain and put money in your pocket every month.
Let’s talk some more about the $500 a month figure, because I guess that that was what Leo was asking about and I’ve just used his question as a springboard so far.
Is Making Money With Niche Sites Realistic Even When You’re Talking About Making $500+ A Month?
Let’s go back momentarily to our treadmills.
To make $500 a month from a niche site about treadmills using the figures we found, you’d need to sell 500/22.5 treadmills. In other words, you’d need to make 22 sales.
That’s less than a sale a day for $500 in profit.
To go back to the question, when you’re starting a niche site, you should have a vague idea in your head as to how many sales you’d need to make to break even. In this case it’d be a handful of sales, and if you made 22 sales you’d reach your target.
Is that figure unrealistic?
I wouldn’t say so, having done the quick bit of research I’ve done thus far. (This post has taken me about 40 minutes to write, so I’ve done maybe five or ten minutes of actual research.) Running is a big market, and there’ll be plenty of angles and products to write about. There’ll also be plenty of traffic.
If you’re worried about the $500 figure… don’t be. I don’t start a niche site hoping to make $500 a month and then cry if I don’t make that.
In fact, the $500 a month figure is something I used because I took it from the tweets. It’s the same with the 28 niche sites figure. Most guys who’ve told me that they’re doing the niche site challenge have said either a) they aren’t building that many sites or b) they aren’t going for the $500 a month figure.
The way I see it is this: It costs me about £300 a year for unlimited hosting of as many domains as I want. It’ll cost me about £200 or so for 28 niche domains. That means my outgoings are around £500. If I create 28 niche sites and they all make back the £8 domain money and the hosting fees between them (although, my non-niche sites already cover this) then I’m ahead moneywise.
Hell, if I start 28 new hobbies and the niche sites cover the cost of all the gadgets I buy myself, then that’s a victory.
Think of the $6k a year figure as a stretch goal. If you are procrastinating because you think, “$500 a month is too unrealistic” when it comes to making money with niche sites, then think about what figure you’d be happy saying is realistic to yourself.
Would you say making $50 a month from a niche site is realistic? If so, then make that your goal. It’s an extra $600 a year, which is more than enough to pay the domain costs and buy you a years’ supply of ice cream or something. A handful of websites making $50 a month is nothing to sniff at, and as a first goal, it’s perfectly achievable.
Even so… that’s not really the point of the niche site challenge.
Final Thoughts: The Non-Monetary Benefits of the Niche Site Challenge
The niche site challenge is about making money with niche sites. I won’t lie or move the goal posts. I want to make niche sites which make money. So do you.
However, the idea that I’m literally going to make more money than a doctor as a part time hobby is a bit tongue in cheek as much as it is a serious goal. I’m not sure how realistic that is. I’m not sure that – even should I build 28 niche sites – that they’ll all hit a $500 a month profit mark. I don’t know if they’re all going to be profitable. Hell, I don’t even know if I’ll make 28 at this point.
What I do know is that the worst that can happen is I’m out the cost of a domain for each site. If I write ten articles across twenty sites, then that’s 200 sales letters for practice. Nearly one sales letter a day.
The most important part of the niche site challenge is the learning and the data.
If my first few sites don’t make $50 a month, I’ll obviously rethink my approach entirely. I’ll go for different niches. I’ll go for different products. I’ll seek out different traffic methods. Or whatever.
On the flip side; if I strike a niche which makes money, then I’ll obviously look further into it. Can I do similar niche sites? Can I build a product of my own or start an authority site or write a book on the subject?
Ultimately, if the $500 a month figure turns out to be a bunk figure and completely unrealistic, then I’m going to do two things: 1. Learn from what I’ve done in the years’ challenge, and 2. Unreservedly blame Robert Koch and deflect blame away from myself. 😉
If I make the equivalent of $1000 a year from each site, then that’ll be a massive success. Nowhere near what the goal is, but who would complain?
To actually conclude, if you’re uncomfortable with jumping in with a massive, potentially unrealistic figure, then find something you’re comfortable with. Start experimenting, start learning, and start succeeding. Then turn it all up a notch and succeed there. Then keep turning it up until you’re achieving those unrealistic figures you thought were impossible.
The important thing with the sorts of questions that we’re all tempted to ask ourselves is to find something to actually do and then do it.
P.S. It’s taken me about 50 minutes to write the 2,250 words in this article and find the treadmill niche and do some very limited keyword research for it.
In those 50 minutes, you could have looked for a $100+ product, found some keywords, planned a few articles and written one. Time to stop reading and start planning how to make money with niche sites!