This guide provides explanations on how to create a blog, increase traffic, monetize, and scale. The goal is to maximize your website flipping sale valuation.
Creating, growing, and then flipping a niche website is still one of the best ways to make money online that is open to a true beginner. The idea of being able to make a full-time living or even a life-changing amount of money from a single blog sounds like a dream to many people.
That’s the reality for thousands of individuals who make a full-time living off of one or more websites.
Don’t believe anyone who says it’s impossible to create a profitable niche website. Thousands of new websites that will grow into profitable sites are started each day. Read the niche site case studies to understand the possibilities.
Here is a detailed guide to understanding how to set up and start a niche blog that does everything right to be profitable over the long haul.
Looking to learn how to do website flips? Our detailed course covers the ins and outs of buying and selling content websites. Get a decade of experience in a day. Check out the course!
While making money off a website is a great method, you can’t just throw up a random personal blog and expect the ad clicks to start rolling in. Website owners who are actually making good money focus on creating sites that focus on specific topics or “niches” that provide revenue-making opportunities.
These aren’t personal blogs but sites that focus on narrow topics. A niche website could focus on a topic like pets. Or it can continue to narrow down. A niche site could also be about training dogs, labradors, poodles, or other more specific topics.
Niche websites are built with monetization in mind. So they are built knowing it’s important to think of display ads, affiliate sales, and being revenue-friendly to stay on the good side of advertisers.
While this can sound intimidating to beginners, a little bit of smart planning can make starting a new niche blog a breeze.
Here are the 9 simple steps to start a niche blog:
I’ll break down each step into bite-sized actions with detailed explanations and screenshots.
Driving without a map is the perfect way to get lost. While this might seem like a simple answer like “Get paid to write,” or “To make money,” breaking down those reasons can build up the long-term motivation you need.
Because while building a niche blog is profitable, even experienced niche site builders and website flippers know it takes time.
Sit down and make sure you can draw out why you want to blog and to make sure you have the motivation that will pull you through the hard times. Because as a beginner, there will be hard work and it will take time.
Being a natural writer definitely helps. Is easier to build a blog if you love writing versus hating it. However, it’s important to know that you’re not going to make a full-time income typing about your day, your random thoughts, or a funny conversation with the neighbor.
The writing needed for niche sites will have to follow a certain style, format, and be informative while keeping important SEO practices in mind.
So while love of writing helps, be prepared for the work it takes to learn a specific style if you want to succeed.
Making an impact is great and sometimes you can do that with a niche website. Many other times the best way to make an impact is to focus on a niche that interests you, build a great site that is helpful in the niche, and then use the earnings for your life-changing projects.
Too many beginners try to force their way into finances or self-improvement, and YMYL categories are really hard to break into.
Often going with a different niche to make money, and using that money to fund a passion project, is the better way for most beginners to go.
Most people hate their regular jobs. This is sad, but people need to work to make money. Having control over your own income from a niche site can let you be financially independent, or only look at jobs that you want to work.
Whether additional income, replacing a full-time income, or earning more per month than you ever have before: all of these are possible with a good niche website.
There are many ways that the niche website not only makes money for you directly, but can even open up other opportunities down the road.
Depending on the niche this could be working with businesses, consulting, speaking, or a foray into YouTube.
Building niche websites takes a lot of hours and a lot of work. Having specific goals whether it’s freedom of schedule to spend more time with the family, money to take that dream vacation, or the need for financial security - having that motivation in mind makes a huge difference.
The appeal of blogging is that you can write about pretty much anything you like. You’re your own editor-in-chief and publisher.
If the goal is to make an income, the niche needs to be something with plenty of interest, can be monetized, and that you can contribute good information to.
There’s no shortage of niches to choose from. Don’t pick your topic based on what pays the most. That gets you often competing with professionals who have more knowledge, better credentials, and in a niche with the most competition.
Start with looking at your own interests, hobbies, or skills. Look at what you find interesting whether cooking, camping, sports, or something you’ve always wanted to learn.
This might not result in you finding the perfect niche, but brainstorming here will help you get a good list of ideas to start with.
Lastly, having a well-defined niche for your blog helps you monetize it better. You will have an audience, which is potentially interested in your products/services, rather than a group of scattered readers, who are not really sure why they are reading your posts.
There’s a higher trust level with info products or high-ticket items when they’re on a site focusing on one topic versus a dozen.
There are many different ways to do keyword research, and entire online courses that are based around various methods of keyword research.
There’s no single right way to do keyword research, but instead multiple methods. Before diving into specific practices let’s get some important pieces of information out of the way so you don’t fall for the same mistakes many true beginning bloggers make.
Keyword tools can be great to get a general idea of how much traffic terms get in relation to one another, but the numbers are notoriously wrong.
If a tool says one word gets 150,000 monthly views and another gets 10,000 monthly views, it’s safe to assume that the first one likely gets many times more traffic than the second term.
That said, those numbers are educated guesses that can be off by thousands or tens of thousands of monthly views. Those are also terms that are usually going to have heavier competition.
You don’t need to shoot for high volume keywords and in practice 99.9% of those will be out of the reach of a new blogger anyway.
Targeting long tail keywords is the smart move and should be done with each article on your site. Even on a post shooting for a larger volume keyword, there will be related keywords that are more specific and have lower traffic numbers.
A blog post with a good 10 or 20 long tail keywords that one article ranks for can bring in thousands of views - a few hundred from every one of those keywords.
Learn about the importance of long tail keywords and write articles that shoot for bundles of them. Even if the keyword tools don’t bring back huge numbers but the topics, keywords, or questions make sense - include it in the article!
In a story from one of my writers, he mentioned an outdoor site where his highest traffic keyword was a five-word long tail that tools said had 100 visits a month, but in reality the #1 spot brought in 15,000 to 20,000 searches a month depending on the time of year.
Don’t sleep on the long tail keywords - they are the smart way to build a site and sometimes you will find a jackpot among them!
A good keyword has traffic, hits a topic that people have a vested interest in learning or studying, and that doesn’t have a good or in-depth answer in current Google results.
This is part of the reason that many questions make excellent topics or long tail keywords. If you had a question during a favorite hobby that “Everyone has at some point” and there’s no good information on it online, or just scattered forum posts, that’s a clear winner.
Keep in mind that “long tail keyword” and “keyword phrase” can mean the same thing. Many of these keywords can be a full question or even full sentence, as long as it’s the kind of term that might get a lot of searches.
There are a few methods that are used by a wide array of niche website builders and have consistently provided good results for many different site owners.
This is where you type a keyword into Google, space, and then a letter. So if the topic you’re considering for a niche site is camping tents, you would type into Google search “camping tents a,” “camping tents b,” “camping tents c,” and so on to see what Google’s autofill puts in.
Those are some of the most common terms that are type into Google. Do this with every single letter. Some terms won’t be great or make sense not to go after, but you will have a large list of potential keywords to write about, or to Google to see what further keywords come up.
This is the Google Alphabet Soup method, and is always a great fallback way to find good keywords. Googling promising terms that come up to go even more niche will lead to some great questions and low competition keyword ideas.
The Ahrefs paid tool can be expensive for a beginner, but it is one of the most trusted and well-regarded SEO tools out there. Brainstorm topics and general keywords, then use the search function to look for low competition keywords.
Ahrefs has a tool that ranks the estimated difficulty of each keyword, so after using the tool to search, look for the keywords that have a low (10 or less, lower is better) estimated difficulty and organize those based on the number of estimated searches.
That’s an easy way to get a good list of keyword topics to start writing about.
Keyword Chef is a paid tool that has several search options. It focuses on pulling data from Google’s “People Also Asked” and “People Also Searched For” to find long tail keywords. This tool is particularly good for finding those longtails.
Many will be listed as having zero traffic, but remember that traffic estimates are always that. Many terms Keyword Chef brings up will have less traffic but some will actually be quite good.
This is a tool that focuses on long tail keywords, making it a good resource to learn how to use.
One of the advantages of creating a niche website on a hobby or area of expertise is that you have existing knowledge of common questions, problems, or potential products that others might be interested in.
Forums are also a good place to look. Look at specialty forums and see what questions or topics come up in conversation. This can be a gold mine of ideas.
You already know that there are dozens of blogging platforms out there. In creating a blog, you need to decide whether you want to start on a free or paid blogging platform.
While we’ll walk through the differences here, if you want the TL;DR short answer: you want a self-hosted blog, ideally with WordPress.
These options allow for easy setup but come with a huge array of limitations including:
Avoid the free platforms and build your own self-hosted WordPress blog.
Getting going with WordPress isn’t expensive, either. You can get blog hosting for just $2.75 per month (meaning just $33 per year) and a free blog domain name costing $10-$15 per year!
Many web hosting companies offer inexpensive shared hosting that promises the moon. Most of them don’t deliver.
Many niche website owners learn this the hard way. The hosting is sluggish. The support is lacking, at best. Websites go down for hours and may or may not pop back up online at some point.
This is an experience most have been through. Do some research and get good hosting. Eventually getting a server or quality VPS is a good idea but before that look for a company with a really good reputation for quality shared hosting like Cloudways.
Quality hosting is crucial. If your hosting goes down, your website goes down. Even beyond that, site speed is a big part of SEO.
If your hosting is slow and uptimes are inconsistent, those are major strikes against your site. You need quality hosting.
On the technical side, having good hosting also often means it will be less of a headache to back up your site. This is a practice that needs to be done consistently.
While old blog posts might suggest an exact match domain name (EMD), that’s old information and is generally not the best way to go. Creating a brand is far more important and brings an extra bit of legitimacy to your niche site.
If a good domain name is brandable and has a related keyword in it, all the better! The main concern needs to be with looking at good brandable domains to potentially build your site on.
This is just good practice to grow your business, build authority on Google, and it gives more options for growing or selling the site down the line.
Ideally you go with a .com if it’s available. The .com TLD is standard, and the one that people are most familiar with. If all the good .com names are available in a niche .io, .co, and .ai TLD extensions are also very popular.
Generally speaking, it’s best to stay with one of these common TLDs whenever possible.
Buying an aged domain name can be a great way to get a head start on building a site. An aged domain name is a domain that used to have a website on it and had links built to that site.
Since those links point to the domain name, if that site goes away the domain name itself has potential link juice from day one.
An aged domain with history can keep you out of the Google Sandbox, make it easier to rank for long tail keywords right away, and set a foundation for building more links for a higher authority in the future.
Aged domains are going to be more expensive, and they can be tricky as things like bad backlink history or previous penalties can also be attached to that name. Take a look at this in-depth aged domain guide for a deeper dive into this topic.
You can’t start mass producing content until the blog is setup, and there are definitely important things to consider when setting up a good blog for the long-term.
Site speed is a crucial part of SEO. Premium WordPress themes simply do better than what’s freely available. So which ones are best?
There are multiple good options when it comes to premium themes but I’m a huge fan of GeneratePress. This theme is very fast, it’s versatile, and it has a high level of functionality.
The price is also very reasonable for a light and versatile theme. It’s simply one of the best options out there.
Canva is a free online tool that has an extensive image and graphics library. This gives all the editing tools needed to do basic Photoshop-type work or to make simple illustrations or touch-up graphics without needing advanced tools or training.
Sometimes you need custom graphics or you want to highlight part of an image, add a banner, or design your own picture ads.
Tools like Canva make this easy and you don’t need to be trained or incredibly tech-savvy to make them work well.
As long as the base is done right, the site doesn’t need to have a perfect design from day one. Incremental improvements over time can keep your site design fresh, functional, and at its best.
This might include adding a search bar, tidying up the content, or adding or subtracting to About Us, Contact, Mission Statement, and other similar pages.
This could also include changes to graphics or on-site artwork. The point is that the site design doesn’t need to be perfect out of the gate. Focus on getting the framework in place and then the rest of the design can be improved piece-by-piece over time.
A good content strategy is at the heart of every successful niche website. Google wants quality content, and excellent content that answers questions, targets long-tail keywords, and adds exceptional value will be ranked higher by Google than content that is not.
Your full strategy should include content goals, publishing schedule, keyword lists, and more. Think about the big picture and then work from broad to specific to hone in on the details.
This isn’t just having goals for the website, but you should have publishing goals. How many words per day will you write? How many articles do you want to publish per week?
Goals should focus on specific measurable actions that you actually have control over. While the goal of “$2,000 a month” is okay, you don’t have control over that in the beginning.
However, you do control how many words you write, how many blog posts are published, and how good that content is.
Writing for young 20-something males obsessed with the great outdoors is very different from writing for 60+ year old women who love their grandchildren and knitting. Understanding the target audience is crucial to produce the type of content that readers will engage with.
This will help you produce content that creates more time on-page and more engagement. That’s good for SEO and leads to better monetization over the life of the niche website.
Consistency is one of the most important traits you need to make money with a niche website. Setting up an editorial calendar that keeps you on track with daily, weekly, and monthly writing and publishing goals you have for yourself.
This consistent habit of adding quality content ensures you grow the website and get into the habit of writing and growing the site.
An editorial calendar is one of the most powerful tools you have at your disposal to help guarantee your success.
Quality content is the goal. A blog with 50 amazing blog posts will normally crush a blog with 100 or even 1,000 mediocre posts. While you don’t want to spend weeks on a single article, taking a few extra hours to do research, then an extra hour or two to make truly great posts is worth it.
This sets your content apart, and quality content can often beat out mediocre content on much larger or more authoritative websites. Be known for quality and that site will be more profitable in both the short and long run.
There are multiple monetization options for a niche website, and it’s important to understand how they work. This can affect how you write, the topics you pick, and how blog posts are organized.
Here are the most common monetization methods bloggers can use.
Display ads are one of the most popular ways to monetize traffic. They are easy to set up, and allow site owners to focus on creating content and getting more traffic since more traffic means more revenue.
The traffic requirements vary from one display ad provider to another, and it’s important to look at each one’s terms. In general, publisher start with AdSense or Ezoic before moving on to Mediavine and, if they get enough traffic, eventually Adthrive.
The four most popular display ad providers currently are:
While there are still some niche sites that don’t run display ads but fully optimize for affiliate conversion, most run both.
Affiliate programs can really increase the earnings of a website. The Amazon Associate program is open to everyone and tends to be where every niche website owner starts. They make it very easy to link to items sold on Amazon.
Because of the size of Amazon.com and the trust associated with its brand, conversion rates tend to be very high. The commissions tend to be rather low.
Because of this Amazon is a great start for affiliate programs, but once a niche site is established site owners should look at other affiliate programs, and search for niche-specific affiliate programs that pay much better.
A combination of affiliate programs will offer the best results once the content is up and driving traffic.
Getting serious revenue from your visitors starts when you have good products to sell. This could be a physical product, database, custom software, or information product.
This is a major time investment, but these can often be sold for large amounts and you keep most of the profits instead of settling for a percentage.
Having a product to sell is a great way to maximize your profits.
Nothing gets done if the content isn’t written and published. There are multiple studies from large site owners indicating that there doesn’t seem to be a difference between whether you “trickle out” the content one post at a time or publish a lot at once.
Just start publishing as you complete articles or edit and publish any articles you outsourced. Getting that content up and live is the most important step. Without the content, nothing else happens.
There are pros and cons to starting a new website from scratch, just as there are pros and cons to buying an existing site and working off of that. Generally, I recommend beginners build their first site from scratch.
This will teach you the skills, troubleshooting, and challenges that come with building a site. These skills are invaluable not only for building more niche sites but for knowing what to look for when it comes to hiring outsourced help.
While buying existing niche sites and improving them is a great strategy, there are challenges unique to that strategy. Make sure to do your research before shelling out a lot of money to buy a website.
Here are some of the most common questions asked from beginners about blogging and building profitable niche sites from scratch.
This depends on the niche, market, and monetization. It’s not at all unusual for a good niche website to make a full-time income for someone.
A few thousand dollars a month isn’t at all unusual and there are many examples of blogs making five figures a month or more.
This can vary. Starting from scratch, expect it to take two years to make serious money. There are ways to shorten that timeline like using an expired domain, ramping up content production through outsourcing, and link building, but there are a lot of skills that go into building a solid niche site that must be learned by doing.
This is a repeatable process once mastered. Some easier niches can be done in a year, while some of the more competitive niches can take even longer to get established.
No. While there are a truly amazing number of niches and micro-niches that can be profitable, making a website on 14th Century Romanian Poetry is going to be an uphill battle, to say the least.
Use a little bit of common sense but keep in mind there are many ways to monetize a niche.
You do want to build authority and expertise for your site, but being enough of an “expert” to have a strong site isn’t hard in most niches.
Do research, watch YouTube, listen to podcasts, interview a couple of experts and you’re far enough ahead of 99% of internet searchers to be enough of an expert to answer their questions.
Being an expert helps, but it’s not necessary in most non-YMYL niches.
Now that you know how to get started, read up on these in-depth guides: