The “traditional” way to get started with an online business, a niche website, can be hugely profitable if created and run successfully. It’s important to remember that “tradition” is only a couple of decades old when it comes to online businesses, so the model is not set in stone. Still, a niche website is like any other business plan. Find a gap in consumer needs and fill it. There are generally two ways to go about this.
Start with the Heart
Pick your passion and go from there. This method has the advantage of keeping you interested in your project and allowing you to express your particular brand of knowledge or expertise. However, your passion may be saturated by tons of relevant niche sites. With some creativity, you can overcome this obstacle. Put your signature on a niche. If you have a unique point of view, style, and a captivating method of presentation, you can find success even in a popular subject.
Start with the Brain
Alternatively, you can formulate your idea for a niche website by consulting the oracle. That is, do your keyword research. You’ll ideally want to find a selection of keywords that generate high searches with low competition. Of course, you’ll probably find a compromise somewhere in the middle. Organize your research and begin to build your niche site strategically around these keywords.
Come in Strong
Whichever method you decide to use, don’t launch your site with a small blog posting, a picture of your cat, and a link to the latest viral dance video. Create a site that is, at a minimum, professional and easy to navigate. Ideally, you’ll want a good amount of content ready to showcase immediately. If you’re eager to start right away, realize that you’ll be updating quite frequently at the beginning in order to build something substantial.
Offer Fresh Produce
Once your niche site is up and running and hopefully generating some traffic, you’ve got a limited time to keep your momentum going. If you want your niche site to be successful, give it the attention it deserves. This means fresh, original content. Not only should you be blogging regularly, you should also consider starting a relevant forum, finding respected and talented writers to contribute content, and seasoning your niche site with pinches of visual media.
There are tons of ways to make money from your niche site if you’re creative. Sell advertising directly if you can, and use Google AdSense to fill in the gaps. If you’ve established yourself as a trusted authority and there’s a product you feel confident about, enter an affiliate program and offer it on your site. Better yet, create your own products, physical or informational, and sell them directly. If you offer something particularly helpful or life enhancing, create a monthly membership program for your users.
You’ve built a great niche site filled with captivating content. Now get the word out. Social media sites are essential tools for marketing nowadays. Become involved in all the big ones, and don’t forget about Google+. It may not be as popular as Facebook or Twitter right now, but you can rest assured it will be a major player in maintaining online reputations in the future. Don’t forget the power of video. If you can create something heartwarming or funny to draw an audience to your site, even better. Joining relevant forums and contributing regularly can also pay huge dividends. Lastly, get outside and do some offline marketing. Something as simple as handing out flyers with your domain to a relevant demographic could draw loads of traffic.
As your site grows in size and popularity, or begins to decline, keep track of your programs and progress. Stay up to date with your keyword research, pursue the kinds of content that are generating positive responses from your audience, and track your marketing efforts for efficiency and rates of return. Use your statistical research to keep your niche site moving forward.
Eventually, your niche site may become so popular that you can sell it for a profit. In fact, purchasing, renovating, and selling websites is a promising business in its own right. If you’re still passionate about your niche, stick with it and take it as far as you can.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.