One of my life list goals for 2012 is to start a niche site that makes money. Having never done this before, I was not sure exactly how to start and where to go. Rather than try it alone, I joined forces with my friend Jeff at Sustainable Life Blog to start our first niche site together.
Finding a Topic
I have been doing a lot of research on how to start a successful niche site, and the most important place to start is having a solid topic. I read through Pat Flynn’s niche site duel series, and it helped me get going on the niche site experiment.
I tried the Market Samurai free trial (I plan to buy the full version at some point as I work on this project) to do a lot of research on possible keywords, topics, competitors, and ideas. After going through a list of about 25 ideas on my own and with Jeff, he suggested a topic and I plugged it into Market Samurai.
I found that the topic, one that I know nothing about, had few competitors, a lot of traffic, and the opportunity to build out location specific pages. It is also a topic that can drive a lot of product specific sales through affiliate links.
The topic we chose is elk hunting. I have never been hunting and have no plans to ever go hunting. However, just like selling your soul for an econ degree, I sold out for a niche website.
Picking a Domain
Again, Market Samurai was very helpful here. We wanted a keyword dense domain name that included the full term “elk hunting.” We played around quite a bit with different ideas and settled on ElkHuntingHQ.com.
That URL is easy to remember, contains the primary keyword in its entirety, and explains what the site is about without any questions.
This is the hard part for me. Jeff hit the ground running with articles on guns, recipes, and nutrition. I offered to take the more academic areas such as the state specific sites (i.e. Elk Hunting in Colorado). These articles take a lot of research and work to produce, but they are useful and on topic.
I also did keyword research using Google’s AdWords to find related topics that have a lot of traffic and low competition. I added some pages on those topics and have a long list of additional keyword ideas to incorporate into posts and write about.
This is the hardest part. In fact, this post was the first real backlink I created to the site. To rank on keywords, it is important to have links in from related articles and pages. As this is a finance blog, it will not put in a lot of weight. However, getting links from related sites on hunting would be very valuable.
I did some reading on creating backlinks, and a popular method is to write articles on similar topics to your pages and submit them to online article directories, such as eZine, or to offer them to related sites as guest posts.
Your Ideas and Experiences
Have you ever built a niche site? Do you have any ideas for me? Please share in the comments.
Image by Digital Sextant on Flickr
10 thoughts on “My Niche Site Experiment”
Good luck! I hope you keep us posted. I have some elk hunters in my family if you ever need more content. Or some jerky.
Thanks Jenna! I don’t know much about elk hunting, but have been working hard to learn more. Jeff is the real pro.
I think niche sites are a great idea. I’ve got a couple myself, but struggle with making the time to actually do the content and link building necessary to make them go. Doesn’t look (or sound) like you and Jeff have that problem. Keep up the good work!
Thanks BB. We are working our way through some back-end hiccups, but it has been a great experience so far.
I’ve been looking into a similar endeavor myself and went through Pat’s backlinking strategy. The one big flaw with his strategy is Google recently de-indexed the blogging networks that he used as his indirect layer of links.
I think it’s still possible to do, it’ll just take a bit more work to accomplish. FYI Pat recently did a post about ethical link building worth looking at. It’s a good source of alternative direct and indirect linking. As much as I hate using a finance term in link building strategies, I believe diversification is key. From both types of links and keyword terms used. Good luck with the new site!
Thanks for sharing JP. Pat has done some great updates recently.
Thank-you very much for this. I’ve been thinking about starting a few niche websites myself. However my problem is finding the right ideas. I saw a couple “tutorials” on http://www.nicheprofitclassroom.com, and they were sorta helpful. But it seems as though the key is hands on research. I’m going to read those links from Pat Flynn – it seems like good information.
Market Samurai is also an amazing resource. It helped me out quite a bit picking the topic and doing keyword research.
I tried to build a niche site once, and basically went about it all wrong. I also chose a topic that I had no interest in, which made it harder for me because, well, I wasn’t interested in working on it, either. I can see where elk hunting might be a good keyword phrase to go for though, with a wide variety of related articles to write on. Good luck with your site 🙂
If I were not working with Jeff, there is no way I would be writing on anything hunting related. However, as a team he keeps me on my toes and I want to be sure to do my part. Pat’s method for picking a new topic was very helpful.
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