Niche websites are a lucrative way to generate income online.
That said, my approach to niche websites is purely passive in that I do not actively maintain the content on my niche websites.
I understand that many of Ana’s readers actively operate and manage niche sites and blogs, which is what I would call an authority niche site.
In this article I will focus on five relatively easy ways to monetize a niche website, whether it’s actively managed or passively maintained.
Focus on Content & SEO Prior to Monetization
The beauty of a niche site is that it’s so narrow in scope that it’s very easy to identify who the target constituency (reader) of the website is.
When you know who your reader is, it becomes that much easier to monetize your website.
However, to make money online doing anything, your success is predicated on your ability to get more traffic to your web property.
Before you even think about monetizing your site, I highly recommend spending due time focusing on establishing quality content that is search engine optimized (SEO) as well – SEO tools make it a breeze to do that kind of research on your own.
SEO is critical to generating free, organic, targeted and highly relevant search engine traffic.
This is important whether you are actively or passively involved in your business.
I personally pick niches that are evergreen in nature, so that I can passively maintain the websites in that the content remains evergreen over time.
For example, how you can run faster is a methodical and scientific approach that will work tomorrow just as well as it works today.
But with that said, dynamic content such as the best tablet devices also needs to be optimized to maximize search engine traffic.
In either case, I do not monetize my niche websites until the site starts attracting at least 300 visitors from search traffic.
Why specifically search traffic?
Because the searcher has already indicated interest in the information they are looking for, whereas a referred visitor or a visitors coming from your email list/newsletter may not necessarily be immediately interested in your offer.
Once you have organic traffic coming in, it’s time to implement monetization methods.
Displaying contextual ads on your niche website is the fastest and easiest way to monetize a niche site.
If your domain is at least six months old and you have decent content, you will likely get approved under most ad revenue sharing platforms.
Google Adsense is the most familiar name that comes to mind.
However, there are several alternatives to Adsense as well.
Contextual ads are convenient in that you simply paste a small snippet of code on your website, and the ads automatically cater to fit the context of your content, hence the title “contextual”.
This is as passive as you can get with income generation approach online.
The biggest factor I’d like you to consider with contextual ads is the return on reader action (RRA).
For example, if you are earning 50 cents per click on average, whereas you can earn $10 selling an ebook, you might want to promote the ebook instead rather than have your visitor find you and then leave your website, leaving you with 50 cents in your hand.
Of course it’s more complicated than that with underlying assumptions such as click through rates, conversions, etc, but the general premise is to maximize the return on your efforts and visitor traffic.
Private ads are those that vendors pay you a fixed price for to display on your website.
The price you can demand for these depends on the ad type, size, placement on your site, your website’s page rank and the traffic your website generates.
Private advertisement offers can come totally unsolicited, so keep a close eye on your email inbox.
Alternatively, you can proactively approach relevant vendors and offer them advertisement space on your website.
I personally leverage one of my VAs to solicit vendors.
A small portfolio of private advertisers can sum up to a nice passive and residual income stream for your niche website, especially if you offer a good amount of online ad real estate.
As your website grows in popularity, you start making more money from your portfolio of vendors by charging more.
I like this income stream because it can be somewhat predictable, especially with long term commitments from vendors.
To put it in white collar terms, I view private ads as my “base salary”, while the additional projects I work on is the “performance bonus”.
There are several platforms today online that help you automate this process.
Take a look at Ana’s post on banner advertising to learn more about this income stream.
Not sure I need to elaborate much on this monetization method.
It is one of the oldest and most common ways to generate money not only online, but offline as well, long before the internet existed.
The key to succeeding with affiliate marketing is your ability to craft an enticing offer and successfully pre-sell it to your reader.
Delivering quality content is one way to do that.
When your readers are satisfied with your free content, they start developing trust in you.
Because your readers are subconsciously warming up to your offer as they consume your content, it is important not to sell directly.
Rather, focus on soft selling through content.
Soft selling can be merely mentioning how you personally use the product or service you are promoting as an affiliate, among many other ways of course.
When your readers are warmed up to you, they are more likely to act upon your offer if and when you were to approach them.
Ana does a fantastic job of this through her email newsletter.
Digital products can include software, ebooks, audio books, video courses and other similar instantly downloadable products.
I like this method because it doesn’t involve as much investment capital.
You don’t have inventory procurement and management issues, among many other headaches.
You can either create your own digital product, or outsource it to freelancers on various platforms such as Elance.
Once you have a digital product, you can sell is anywhere, anytime, and for as long as you like.
Again, personally I like to focus on evergreen information so that my products do not require constant updates and newer editions.
Of the 20 plus ebooks that I currently sell on various platforms online, I can count roughly 5 that require periodic updates.
You can take a look at how I’ve monetized one of my niche websites for digital products here.
Lead generation is an underutilized method of monetizing niche sites because many struggle with the concept behind it.
Others struggle with the idea of relying on a third party action to trigger income generating activity.
For example, a lead sent to a lawyer requires the lead to engage the lawyer before you are paid.
Too many factors beyond your control, right?
The key is to find business partners who are willing and able to pay simply for the lead generation and not the conversion.
Yes, they exist.
I have a couple of niche websites that generate leads for professional firms in highly specialized industries.
One firm pays me $200 per lead, while the other pays me $350 per lead.
A handful of leads a week and you have a nice passive income stream.
I have implemented this monetization method on a smaller scale as well for advertising and marketing companies that pay people for taking online surveys.
You can take a look at how I’ve monetized one of my paid survey sites for lead generation here.
These are not the only five ways to monetize niche sites.
There are numerous methods and possibilities with the niche website business model online.
Just in this article alone, each of the five methods discussed can be further diversified into other sub methods.
There are all kinds of internet entrepreneurs who are generating income in all sorts of ways.
I personally enjoy the process of creating a healthy income stream from almost nothing, especially income that is passive in nature which allows me to move on to other projects.
Niche websites allow me to do that repeatedly from one industry to another, and I can pick my industry based on either profitability, passion or a combination of both.
It can truly be a “set it and forget it” method if executed appropriately.
If you have a niche website that is generating traffic, start monetizing it today.
If you don’t, why not start one today?
While I have over 20 at the moment, I plan on doubling my portfolio in the coming months.
It’s such a rewarding initiative that is well worth pursuing.
What are your thoughts on creating niche sites to establish one or multiple streams of passive income?
Are there other methods to make money online that you prefer? Why?
Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time”, a FREE report you can download instantly from his Extra Money Blog, where he discusses how to create multiple streams of passive and residual income, entrepreneurship, internet marketing, blogging and personal finance. In 2007, he sold his ecommerce website for $250,000 to a top Ebay Power Seller and since then has sold several niche sites for five figures each. You can read more about him and his work on his blog.