Niche marketing is one of the best ways to make money online. People are passionate about reading all they can about the topics that interest them– particularly if they find a well-done site dedicated to the topic.
People also tend to buy things that help them, entertain them, or teach them. You can combine their passion for soaking up information and their tendency to spend money to profit from your own site.
Of course, the web is always changing. What worked 10 years ago or even 5 years ago no longer works today. It’s time for a niche site strategy that will work for you now and for years to come. That’s exactly what I’m presenting to you today– it’s the opportunity to cash in, in a way that readers and search engines love.
It’s not about taking shortcuts or slapping sites up for the sake of doing it. At the same time, I think you’ll find that these sites are easy (and even fun) to build. Very few people are using this strategy– and next to none are doing it in exactly the way I’m going to show you. Get in on the strategy early so you can ‘wow’ your niche and make a big splash. You’ll soon have a lot of sites out there earning for you on autopilot.
What Are Mini Authority Niche Sites?
Authority sites are really the way to go these days. People want to learn about things and get product recommendations from people who know what they are talking about. Those little niche review sites that were so popular years ago can still work– but they can’t touch this style of site.
People expect some relationship building before they hand over their hard-earned cash. They want to get to know you as the site owner and product recommender. They are on to the ‘scammy’ product recommendation techniques of days past and they want something more. That’s exactly what you’re going to give them.
There are huge authority sites out there that are really popular– those sites earn well, but they are also a bear to maintain. Their owners have to hire people to work on them constantly or marry themselves to the site day and night.
You’re going to have the best of both worlds. It’s going to be small and manageable so that it doesn’t take over your life. But it’s also going to contain the elements popular authority sites have so you can really stand out in the niche– earning search engine traffic and a loyal readership.
Your site is going to:
- Focus on a specific sub-niche
- Be personal
- Be honest
- Build a high converting list
- Convert highly with product recommendations
- Feature three different types of content search engines and readers will love
- Feature the latest information and news
This will all make sense as you read through the site strategy, so just keep these things in mind as you read on.
Why These Sites Are So Profitable
Mini authority niche sites are so profitable because they give people what they need before they make a buying decision. It’s one thing to see an ad or a canned review on someone’s site. Those things can convert…but usually not very well. It’s much better for people to feel like they know the site author. It’s better for people to feel like they can trust the person giving them the product recommendation.
People tend to buy more from those they like and trust. They have long ago caught on to scammy ads on the web and they aren’t going to stand for it anymore. People are also very in tune with the fact that they should research the things they buy before they buy them. They want someone…someone like you…to give them the real ‘scoop.’ They want real information from someone they can relate to.
You’ll be using a lot of the elements of copywriting to make great sales from your website. You’ll build a relationship through your list and through the content on your website. This method might be different than any you’ve used before, but I highly suspect you’ll find it to be a lot more profitable.
Choosing a Niche
There are some important things to think about when it comes to choosing a niche. Consider these criteria:
- People should actively seek information about the niche
- People should be used to spending money in the niche
- There should be authority sites already up in the niche
- There should be mini review sites already up in the niche
- It should be something you are interested in running a site about
People Should Actively Seek Information About the Niche
You won’t do very well if no one is searching for terms related to your niche. You also want your site visitors to visit time and time again. There should be plenty of opportunity to write new articles and target new products.
At the same time, you don’t want the niche to be so broad that it will be hard for you break through and stand out in the niche.
Here is an example of this concept:
“Gardening” would be a niche that is too broad. There are certainly authority sites on that topic, but it’s not something you’ll target for a mini authority site.
“Organic container gardening” would be a niche that is just right for a mini authority site. There is a lot you can write about it but it’s also very specific. People actively seek information about this topic and buy products on the topic. It’s something they keep up with regularly as a useful hobby.
People Should Be Used to Spending Money in the Niche
It doesn’t matter how devoted your following is if they aren’t spending a dime. It’s great to have an active readership, but you want an active readership that is constantly buying products related to the topic at hand. This will allow you to review products on your site, make money through emails to the list you’ll build, and even create and sell your own products.
Take a look at sites that are already out there. What are they advertising? What are they reviewing? Do you think they are making money? Are there products on Amazon you can promote? If you type related words into Google, do Adwords ads appear? These are all good indicators that there is money to be made in the niche.
There Should Be Authority Sites Already Up in the Niche
Your job is to follow the money. If there are zero authority sites, others have likely already determined that the readership and interest isn’t there. It’s not worth your time if there aren’t other, healthy, sites already in the space.
There Should Be Mini Review Sites Already Up in the Niche
Small fish follow the big fish! Search Google to find mini niche review sites. If there are, that means others have determined that there is money to be made. You’re going to do even better than these little guys…but it really does help to make sure they exist in the first place. They’ve already done the research that says it’s a good niche to target.
It Should Be Something You Are Interested in Running a Site About
There is a lot of debate in marketing about whether you should target a niche you’re personally passionate about or if you should just follow the money. I personally think you can have the best of both worlds. You’re going to get pretty bored pretty fast if you have no interest at all in what you’re writing about. Find a niche you like and your passion will shine through, netting you more sales.
Studying the Competition
Next, it’s time to study the competition. You’ve already done this to a certain extent when you set out to determine profitability. But, now it’s time to do so in an organized way now that you’re totally focused on your niche.
I want you to Google your niche using blogs.google.com. Find the top five blogs in the niche (this is not a science…just choose the ones you feel are popular based on comments left, updated posts, etc.).
- The type of content
- The feeling you get from the site author (who they are as a person, their level of knowledge, etc.)
- The ads they have on the site
- How many comments they tend to get per post, and from whom
- Anything else that stands out to you about the blog
You can also Google your niche for sites that aren’t blogs. The only important thing is that you find the most relevant, active, and popular blogs to takes notes on.
This is so you can get a feel for what works and what doesn’t work. Studying sites that have come before you is one of the best ways to jump start your own site to success.
Setting Up Your Site
You’ve done the preliminary research, now it’s time to really get things going! This section is going to cover the technical aspects of getting your site up. For some of the steps, I’ll refer you to YouTube since this is more about the finer points of setting a mini authority site up vs. the nitty gritty details of pointing a domain name to a server, etc.
Choose Your Domain Name
The first technical step is choosing your domain name. Don’t stress too much about this. Many people choose an ‘exact match’ domain name, which basically means choosing a keyword you want to target in your niche and registering a domain name with that keyword. For these sites, it’s more important to choose a name that is on topic and catchy enough that it will attract long term readers. Go with your gut on this one.
I prefer Namecheap for domain names– they have excellent help documents if you get stuck along the way.
Set WordPress Up
Next, you should point your domain name to your hosting and install WordPress. You can easily do this using Fantastico in your cPanel. If any of this is confusing, you can find great screenshot Tutorials on YouTube.
Plugins, Themes, and More
I suggest you choose a theme from the WordPress theme gallery that suits your site’s niche. This is not a make-or-break decision– you can easily choose a different theme or purchase one later you think might suit you better. Socrates is a great paid theme for these mini authority niche sites and one I use with great success.
As for plugins, I suggest you browse through the most common ones to see what might suit your site best. You may want to use a paid Amazon plugin or something like that if it suits your site. At minimum, I suggest you install the All in One SEO plugin. For now the plugins aren’t the most important thing– getting content up and establishing yourself in your niche is the most important.
Introducing Yourself to the Niche
Right now, you just have the framework of your site ready, but it’s never too early to become known in your niche. Networking is one of the ways you’re going to turn your site into a near instant success.
You’ll use the following to become known in your niche:
- Social Media
- Blog Commenting
Forums are a great way to become known as an authority. The most passionate people in your niche hang out on these forums. Many forums allow you to put a link to your website in your signature line. At the very least, they allow you to do so in your profile.
Use Google’s discussion search or The Biggest Boards to find relevant forums. You want to find active forums where they have lively discussions.
Register, either with your own name or your brand (the name of your website). Read through popular threads and check out the profiles and posts of the most popular members to get a feel for the culture of the site.
Remember– you’re not just here to drive traffic to your website. You’re here to interact, develop relationships, and become known in your niche. Start to post and interact– the seeds you plant now will do well for you as you really get your site up and running.
Social media is another way to become known in your niche. You can use sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest to develop relationships, share information as an authority, and even promote your site.
For now, join the sites under your brand (related to your domain name– consistency is key so people easily recognize your social sites as belonging to you. You’re going to get a lot of traffic and authority based on name recognition.
Find and follow others in your niche, including other authorities and readers. Share things they post, answer questions they ask of their readers, and start to post great information yourself. Building a social media following is a slow and steady thing, but the relationships can really pay off in terms of traffic, relationships, and sales.
Blog commenting is another great way to boost your authority and start to get recognition and traffic right away. Find those authority blogs you found earlier on. Start to interact on them via the blog comments. You’ll be able to post your website along with your comment. If you leave great, relevant answers and really take care to be part of the blog community you’ll start to get traffic and build name recognition.
Pay attention to how other bloggers do the same thing– it’s not about spamming, it’s about interacting. The relationships you build with the readers of popular blogs as well as the bloggers themselves can really pay off.
Do a Little Every Day
The bulk of your work will take place on your own site. But, I suggest you take between 15-60 minutes each day to interact with others off-site. Your name recognition, authority, and traffic will build over time as a result. Every time you interact on forums, social media, and other blogs, you’re planting a seed that can grow into great traffic for you.
Planning Your Content
Believe it or not, the content is the most important part. This is what is going to get you ranking in the search engines. It’s also what is going to thrill your readers, help your readers, get them on your side, and help you earn money. There are three different kinds of content I recommend you include on your site.
I have to warn you– the number of half finished, abandoned blogs on the web is staggering. I don’t want that to happen to your blog. That’s why I’m going to have you write and stock up 30 posts for your blog. This will give you enough time to get things up and running long enough to get readers and sales…before you lose steam.
Read through my tips on content below, then schedule yourself to write these 30 posts like crazy. You’ll schedule them to post over the next couple of months on your blog. Then, you can attend to traffic building, authority building, and monetization.
Once you have 30 posts done, pat yourself on the back, take a day off and continue to post at least 1 a day until you reach 100 posts. This is the big tipping point that will enable lots of organic traffic and sales.
Using Elements of Copywriting
It’s important to understand the most basic elements of copywriting as you start to write your content. It’s not that you’re going to cover your blog with sales letters– but you are going to use the psychology behind writing copy.
The most important point is that your content should always be about your reader. You need to understand them well enough to connect to them. What do they want? Why are they reading your blog? What drives them?
If you know these things, you’ll be able to structure your content in a way that really connects with your readers.
Another important element of copywriting is storytelling. People want to connect with others who have been through the same things they’ve been through. Use part of your own story and passions in your writing and it will really come through in a sincere way.
It’s also important to concentrate on benefits. If you’re reviewing a product or revealing a certain solution, focus on the benefits of that product or solution. For instance, a pimple cream might heal acne as a feature…but the benefit is so much more. It’s self-esteem, it’s dating, it’s the confidence to do whatever one wants to do. That is what you’ll hit on.
Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
These basic elements will carry you well as you start to write your content. Next, let’s get into what those different content pieces of content will consist of. Note that the three types of content below are not the only types of content you’ll write…but they will get you started.
Remember that I recommend you start out with 30 solid posts, so you can do 5 of these different post styles, each.
Content Type 1– Relationship Building
The first type of content is relationship building. One of your biggest goals is that others get to know you as a person so they will respect you as a blogger…and go on to buy products you produce or recommend.
This means focusing on topics that you can really help people with. Target their biggest passions or problems and write well thought out posts that help them, with nothing expected in return.
Here are some ways to generate ideas for this style of post:
- Find the ‘hot topics’ on forums– these signal topics people are most interested in talking about or learning more about
- Find the table of contents of popular books related to your niche– these topics matter to people
- Brainstorm topics that come from your heart– that you feel you can do a good job of being passionate about
- Tell your own stories related to topics in the niche
These posts should be focused on revealing your thoughts, research, information, and stories related to topics that matter. There is no ‘right’ way to write these posts– the only important thing is that you write in a way that connects with people. Try to make these posts between 400-800 words, although the longer the post, the more organic traffic you will get from the search engines.
Content Type 2– ‘Of The Moment’ Posts
You won’t be viewed as an authority if you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what is going on in the niche. You need to subscribe to related keywords in your niche via alerts.google.com. That way, you’ll know the moment something happens. People will come to value your opinion on everything that happens.
There are some niches that are more evergreen and don’t have as much in the way of ‘new’ things going on. That’s okay– subscribe to those news alerts anyway. There are bound to be people in your niche who post things that will be of interest to your readers. You can write response posts or posts on similar topics. Link out to other blogs and you’ll build up your own authority more quickly. Google likes when you link out and other bloggers appreciate being linked to– they might naturally return the favor.
Content Type 3– Product Review Posts
You want to make money from your blog. You have posted relationship building, informational posts. Now, it’s time to review certain products people in your niche will be interested in. Browse Amazon, ClickBank, Commission Junction (known as CJ Affiliate by Conversant now), ShareASale, and others to find relevant products. Take a look at what is popular– what people are searching for.
You don’t have to have used the products you plan to review. You should gather information from the manufacturer, reviewers who’ve bought the product, and the general buzz around the web. It’s easiest to do this with Amazon products because everything you need is on one page. Consider yourself to be a reporter– you’ll report on the good and the bad.
This is really where you’ll want to use the elements of copy writing. Draw people in with points of emotion. Paint a picture of how their life will be different when they have access to this product. Lead them to the conclusion that this product is the one for them– and include a call to action.
You can also compare and contrast similar products, synthesizing information that will help people make a decision. You’ll attract more readers if you focus on what will help them. They’ll come to trust all of your reviews.
We’ll talk more about monetization later, but these posts are really where you’ll get the best use out of your affiliate links since the product posts will be so targeted.
Your Posting Schedule
I mentioned earlier on that I recommend you write 30 posts over the next week or so. Some of the posts will be longer and more involved than others. The important thing is that you get them done, no matter what. You don’t want to have one of those sites that sits forever with one or two posts on it. Get these posts written and you’ll make the best use of the passion and drive you feel right now for getting this done.
WordPress is great because it lets you schedule your posts ahead of time. Load each of your posts and schedule them to post every 2-3 days or so. That will get you through the next 2 months. You can always write additional posts if you think of something– especially when it comes to breaking news or posts that need to get out there right away. Consider these pre-loaded posts your insurance.
Monetizing Your Site
Now, it’s time to make money! There are a few different ways I recommend you do this:
- Sidebar ads
- In-post ads
- List building
You don’t want to just fill your mini niche authority site with ads. But, you shouldn’t be afraid to make money either. Some people prefer to wait until their site starts to catch on before they monetize. Others want to get everything, including ads, ready from the start. Either way is fine as long as you’re sure the ads you include serve your visitors well and aren’t overwhelming.
I suggest you include one or two highly relevant ads in your sidebar. That way, the ads will be present on every page of your site without you doing the work. Some WordPress plugins, like WPZonBuilder, use dynamic ads for the sidebar that change depending on the content. It pulls products directly from Amazon so you can seamlessly integrate their affiliate program and profit into your posts.
Something like that can help conversions because it will be extra relevant. An alternative is Google Adsense, which will also dynamically adjust according to the content on individual pages. They will place related ads to your blog post content and you get paid each time a reader clicks on one of the ads.
Test these ads as your traffic grows. Don’t expect very high conversions on these ads– your highest conversions will typically come from review posts and content you mail out to your list.
One of the types of content I recommended you write is review posts. Naturally, you should include in-text ads, product photos, and graphic ads within these posts. Your goal in writing these posts is that you give people the information they want and inspire them to buy. Give a call to action (‘buy now’ or ‘click to check the price’) for high conversions on these posts. You want to pre-sell people so they will be ready to buy when they click on your affiliate link.
I’ll get more heavily into list building on the next post, but it’s worth putting in the section about monetization as well. That’s because your highest conversions will come from your list. Your list members will come to know and trust you. They are your regular readers– the ones who visit often, open your emails, and enjoy what you have to say. You’ll build a relationship with them and make occasional product recommendations.
Expect your conversions to be high because it’s all about the relationships! Some bloggers leave all ads off their site and make money solely through the emails they send to their list. That works great for certain niches. It can also help with SEO as Google includes information about ads in their ranking algorithm.
Building a List
If you do nothing else, make sure you focus on building a list. You’ll be able to write this list whenever you write a new blog posts, have relationship building information you want to share, and have a product you’ve created, or have a product you want to promote as an affiliate.
Your emails will keep you at the top of people’s minds. They won’t always think to visit your mini niche authority site, but they will think to read your emails. That means you get to cash in on your site visitors time and time again.
This is part of what will set your site apart from other mini niche sites out there– so many people leave a lot of money on the table by going so narrow that list building isn’t possible or by ignoring list building even if they do have a good niche for it.
There are a few elements to pay attention to for list building:
- Reason to opt in
- Opt in form on your sidebar
- Squeeze page
- Autoresponder emails
- Broadcast emails
Reason to Opt In
People are not going to opt in to your site just because they feel like it or because they want to be nice. It takes time to enter their email address. Some people are very protective of their email address. So, you have to make it worth their time.
Develop a freebie of some kind (a free ebook or a coupon, for instance). Make it very clear that they will receive this freebie if they opt in.
Sign Up for an Autoresponder Company
Autoresponders are cheap and easy these days. Aweber and GetResponse are two good options that 99% of marketers use– choose one and familiarize yourself with their help documents. Aweber is our preference for delivery rates and overall reliability.
Opt in Form on Your Sidebar
Go through your autoresponder company and set up a list. Create a web form. Install the company’s plugin on your WordPress installation (so, find Aweber’s if that’s the company you have chosen). Enter the information they ask for and set up your opt in form widget to get it to show up. You want this to entice people to opt in (explain your freebie) and to show up on every page of your site.
You can also experiment with pop ups…just know that they often annoy readers.
It’s a great idea to send traffic to a squeeze page. A squeeze page is designed with some enticing text and an opt in form– nothing else. You don’t want any other distractions on the page. Set this up on your blog with an easy to remember URL. You can send article traffic, social media traffic, and blog commenting traffic here. The big ‘selling point’ is going to be your freebie– people will sign up to receive it and will come to know you, and your blog, through your list.
Autoresponder emails go out on autopilot. Person A signs up for your list on Monday and gets message 1. Person B signs up for your list on Friday and gets message 1. These emails are evergreen.
Plan to write 5-7 emails (they are also called follow up emails) in this fashion. The first one should be a welcome email. The others can be a mixture of great content, information and stories about yourself, subtle product plugs, links to your best blog posts, and more. Remember that these shouldn’t point to breaking news since they will be working for your long after that news isn’t news anymore. Keep it evergreen and relevant for whenever someone signs up.
Broadcast emails go out to everyone at the same time, no matter when they signed up. You can inform people of new blog posts and send out new product recommendations. You can send out emails for a product launch. These aren’t really something you plan far in advance– you send them as you get a whim to or as it makes sense to.
We’ve talked a bit about driving traffic already. You’ll drive traffic with your interaction on other sites in your niche and social media. You’ll also rely on Google for quite a bit of your traffic. Believe it or not, I’m not going to recommend a complicated traffic generation strategy.
I’m also not going to recommend you focus too heavily on SEO. Write frequently on relevant topics on your niche and you’ll rank well. Interact with others in your niche (where your link will naturally be interspersed) and you’ll rank well.
Here is a list of strategies you can add to your schedule– some we’ve talked about and others we haven’t.
- Blog commenting— comment on others’ blogs, be interesting and relevant, and others will follow your link to see what you have to say on your own blog
- Twitter– Find and follow readers and leaders in your niche. Retweet what they say, tweet interesting things, link to your blog posts. Be interesting and others will want to learn more about you and your blog
- Facebook– Create a page related to your blog. Share relevant posts, comment as your page on relevant pages, link to other social media sites (and from those, to Facebook), and just generally interact with others in your niche on Facebook
- Guest posts on blogs– Strike up deals where you write posts other bloggers will put on their blog– they will link to your blog in return. Develop good relationships with these other bloggers and it will be a lot easier for you to be seen as an authority and get traffic
- Article marketing– Write articles others can syndicate on their own blogs and to their email lists. Include your author’s resource box so their readers can visit you
- List building– Focus on building your list in any way you can. That way, you won’t have to rely on anyone or anything else for your traffic– you’ll be able to drive traffic to your blog and to your offers whenever you want
- Creating your own products– Create products related to your niche and sell them on Kindle, Clickbank, and other digital marketplaces. These can act as a business card and authority maker, leading others to seek you out. This can get you traffic to your blog and recognition in your niche
- Linking to others– Link to others and be generous in what you share from them and about them. This will net you goodwill and they just might return the favor. It’s about getting known in your niche and rubbing elbows with those who are already where you want to be
Building Your Empire
Let things build over the next month or so. From there, you can tweak and expand and grow your mini niche authority site to whatever you want it to be. You’ll be so far ahead of other niche marketers that achieving your dreams will definitely be within reach!
You’ll also be at a point where you can decide to create a related mini authority site to really take the niche over. Or, you can move to another niche to keep things interesting. Imagine having 5 or so of these sites… you can start to outsource the posting and growth of the sites…rinse and repeat.
Over time, the sites start to become even more autopilot, earning for you and creating a name for you. Build your empire of sites or grow just one or two. The choice is yours.