As previously announced, I started 2016 by beginning a brand new niche site that I intend to grow to $500/mo and then sell. While I will not be revealing any specifics of the site publicly, everything is disclosed in my Insider25 premium group. The group is full right now, but you can secure a spot on the waiting list if you’re interested. If not, you can watch for monthly updates here on the basics of niche site building.
Selecting A Niche For Your New Site
Before you can get to work on a site that earns you a decent monthly income, you first need a niche. This can be pretty much any topic, whether you’re interested in it or not. You don’t even need to be knowledgable on the topic because you can either learn as you go or pay someone else for their expertise (or to do the learning). For this case study, my only concern with choosing a niche is that it has products sold by Amazon. At this early stage, I don’t really need to know what they sell, how many items they sell in the niche, or the cost of those items. I just want to know that I can make money from Amazon links with my new site. And the easiest way to do that is to look at all of the Amazon departments.
So, just pick one. Seriously. I’ve seen entire blog posts on how to pick the perfect niche. It’s not that serious. If you’re doing all of the content creation yourself, then yes, select something that you’re interested in or would like to learn more about instead of the opposite. And think broad. So, instead of “baby toys” think “babies” or “kids” because you want to have room to expand your site.
The Technical Stuff
Got a niche? Good, now we can move on to the boring technical stuff. You need a clever domain name, web hosting and a WordPress theme….and maybe a logo.
For the domain, I suggest that you go with something brandable as opposed to a keyword-rich EMD. Sure, you can still rank EMDs if you’re good with on-page SEO, but brandable sites do better in the SERPs over the long run. So, if you want to work in the baseball niche, you could go with something like ViewFromTheDugout.com (I have no idea if this is a real site) that gives a real sense of the niche without any keyword stuffing. You know before you even go to this page that it’s going to be about baseball, right? That’s the point here. I’m not opposed to using PMD for my niche sites either, which could be something like TheBaseballGuy.com – though it does have a direct keyword in it, the domain is still brandable – but I would avoid PMDs like BestBaseballReviews.com because it just looks too spammy and really limits the potential for your site.
What if you can’t find a good domain or have trouble brainstorming? Use something like Lean Domain Search (owned by Automattic) for ideas.
I register most of my domains at Namesilo because they have some of the lowest prices and they don’t charge extra for WHOIS privacy. If you’re buying a new web hosting package, you normally get a free 1-year domain registration with signup, so you could use that as well. Just keep in mind that when domain renewal time comes around it will not be cheap through your web host!
Web Hosting Package
Now, let’s talk about web hosting packages. If you look around the web you will find an inordinate amount of people recommending Bluehost as the only place to put your websites (or sometimes Hostgator). Save yourself a lot of frustration by not using those two hosts. Seriously. People only recommend Bluehost and Hostgator because they pay out a ton of money in affiliate commission. I mean, if you really want to use them, then I will gladly take their high payout – so click here for crappy Bluehost hosting.
Since, that’s out of the way, let me be straight with you. I only recommend
three two web hosting companies for your niche sites. They are the hosting companies that I use for my own sites, which is why I recommend them. In order of who I recommend the most:
I know that those three web hosting companies have higher prices that good ole Bluehost (I think A2 is the cheapest of the three), but you truly get a hell of a lot more for your money. Your sites will load quicker and the support you receive will be far better than what you get from Bluehost – and I can say this with 100% honesty as I use both Bluehost and Hostgator for some of my PBN sites. And before anyone wants to get snarky in the comments, yes, those are affiliate links and I will earn anywhere from $15 to $50 if you sign up.
If you are short on cash, then I can really only recommend Stablehost as a cheaper alternative to the others – just keep in mind that A2 is not as expensive as the other two. Unfortunately, Stablehost’s support and service isn’t what it used to be and I now only use them for PBN sites. But there is no denying that they are cheap. You can sign up with STABLE40DISCOUNT discount code at stablehost.com for the lowest price – but I advise you to start planning now on moving your sites to better host once you can afford to do so.
If you’re 100% new to making websites, then you’ll have to look for a step-by-step guide to installing WordPress once you get your domain and hosting all taken care of. It’s super easy and most web hosts have it as a one-click install from your cPanel.
Once WordPress is installed, you’ll need a snazzy theme for your website. You can pay for one or go with one of the free options. I’m not going to lie – there are plenty of great themes available to you at no cost. If you’re on a budget, then I definitely suggest taking that route. The only bad thing about using a free theme is that they are often not as easy to customize and you have the risk of your site looking like everyone else’s sites.
However, if you install a premium theme and leave it looking like the demo version, then you also run the risk of looking like everyone else.
Personally, I have a mixture of free and premium themes on my sites. I tend to use premium themes most of the time though so that I can customize the look of my niche sites and because premium themes tend to load faster as they are not bloated like some of the free themes. The only premium themes that I use come from:
The theme of this site is actually one of the Thrive Themes options. My biggest complaint with StudioPress is that their magazine style themes are not as attractive as the options offered by Thrive Themes. And my biggest complaint with Thrive Themes is that their updates often break something in the theme – however, their support is really good and they have the better customization options (in my opinion). Both of them seem to load very quickly though.
In the end, I don’t think it really matters all that much which theme you go with. Just find something that loads reasonably fast.
If you want to make your site stand out a bit, then be sure to add a logo to it. This is something that can be done very cheap by using Canva and doing it yourself or paying someone on Fiverr. It doesn’t need to be a work of art – and remember, you can always change it later on. But don’t worry if you don’t want to do a logo or if your theme doesn’t really work well with one. Plenty of sites just have plain text instead of a logo.
Bringing It All Together
Once you have the domain, hosting and WordPress installed – you’re ready to start making a site!
It all starts with keyword research. I’ve written on it before, but I don’t like to use a lot of tools for my keyword research. If you are going to use tools, then I suggest you stick with something like KWFinder.com or Keyword Shitter. And I also suggest that you stop relying on competition scores, like those that come from Long Tail Pro and other software. I’ve mentioned before why you can’t trust those scores and that truth still stands.
When it comes to creating the content for your site, this is something that you can write on your own or outsource. I do a mixture of the two for my own niche sites. I have narrowed down the places that I use for outsourcing to just:
I find that I often get better content from UpWork, but I like that I get the article back faster from Writer Access. I’ve been using the level 2 writers on Writer Access with a lot of luck, and when I use UpWork, I pay between $0.02 and $0.03 per word. I feel like $0.02/word is the lowest that you can pay for quality content, unless you are in a really technical niche.
I like to start a site out with at least 10 posts before I start any backlinking at all. I do it this way because I think immediate backlinks for a new site doesn’t look very natural – and I definitely don’t want a new site to get on Google’s radar.
In terms of content and site structure/layout, there are a lot of different opinions on this. Check out what your competition is doing and see if you want to have a layout like their sites or if you want to improve on it. And remember, you can always make changes later on, so don’t stress too hard about it now.
What I’ve Done With The New Site In January
I’ve been building out the domain for this case study quite a bit slower than I normally do. That’s because I am building it live with the Insider25 group, so I am answering a lot of questions and explaining my process as I build it. This slowed things down quite a bit in the beginning. Here’s what’s been accomplish for January:
- Domain + new hosting package bought
- Logo created with Canva for $1
- 6 articles posted on the site
Other updates to this case study:
Hey, I’m Shawna. I make a living working from my laptop in places like London, Sydney, Dubai, Rome, Oslo, Bangkok, Las Vegas, Barcelona, and Amsterdam. I share how I do some of that on this website.