Making money from niche websites is simple (but not easy):
As I said, these steps are simple – but they’re NOT easy…
There are a lot of moving parts involved that take some time to understand and get
But here’s the good part: if you follow the 3 steps above, you can build assets in a relatively short period of time that you can sell for tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars.
How do I know?
Because I did just that with two of my sites in 2018!
I turned two sites that were hardly making any money into assets that were making a total of ~$5,000 a month.
And I sold those two sites for $125,000 through the website brokers FE International.
Sites that get most of their traffic organically (i.e. from Google) and are monetized through “passive” sources like Amazon affiliate commissions sell like hot cakes on marketplaces like FE International and Empire Flippers and typically get from 25 to 35 times monthly profits. So a site earning $3,000 per month could sell for $75,000 to $105,000.
To get a handle on how you can create your first $100k site, first look at how the math breaks down:
To make $3,000 per month from a niche site with 10 “money” pages (e.g. articles that review an affiliate product), each page would need to make $10 per day ($10 per day X 10 pages X 30 days = $3,000).
Assuming a 5% commission (typical for Amazon products), to make $10 per day, a web page would need to generate approximately $200 per day in sales of Amazon products.
In my experience, that’s not very hard to do, because of a couple magical aspects of the Amazon affiliate program…
This site is in a health niche related to sleep disorders.
I started the site after noticing health symptoms that my wife was having and discovering (through keyword research) that a lot of people were searching for treatment options for the same condition.
Even better, there were a broad range of topics (both informational and commercial) that people were searching for – which meant I could create a site with lots of educational content.
And that’s what I did. But what I didn’t do was create any commercial content (i.e. content that targets “buyer” keywords).
That is, until one day in early 2017, when, just for fun, I checked my Amazon Associates account. Here’s what I saw:
Woohoo! I had made $29.07 in Amazon commissions in the month of February!
Truth be told, my Amazon earnings had been so small until then that I chose to receive payment in Amazon gift certificates, which I used to buy books.
But then I got thinking…
What if I added Amazon affiliate links to some of my site’s pages that are currently monetized with Adsense?
Here’s what happened when I did that:
By simply adding Amazon affiliate links to existing web pages, I was able to instantly increase the site’s income. In fact, for the month of April 2017 I earned $169.55.
That triggered another thought: what if I added new content to the site that specifically targeted Amazon products?
That’s when I dove into the world of “buyer” keywords (also known as “commercial” keywords) – in other words, keywords that imply the searcher wants to buy somethingnow.
So I went searching for as many niche-specific keywords I could find that included the modifiers “best” and “review” (which I had read are the best modifiers for commercial keywords).
Then I had twenty or so articles written that specifically targeted those keywords, loaded up the articles to my site, and moved on to other things.
Here’s what happened:
Without making any other changes to the site, those new articles steadily started to rank in Google, gaining more traffic every month, and steadily increasing in Amazon Associates earnings from $26.97 in March to $1,836.04.
The site was also making money from an info product that I had created years earlier. I was kind of burned out with the niche, and had let this site (and its associated info product) languish. The info product was making an average of $1,000/month – which I think could have been a lot more if I had had the enthusiasm to work on it.
(I know that sounds kind of strange – “You were making $1,000/month from the info product and you didn’t have the motivation to ramp it up?!” But I’ve always been more of a researcher/strategist than a manager. Managing things makes me bored pretty quickly…)
Right after New Year 2018, I contacted FE International and asked if there might be a market for my site. I was shocked when they got right back to me and said they had a few potential buyers in mind, then shortly after that said they had an offer for me of $75,000.
This site was focused on government grants for Canadians and was monetized by ads only – first Adsense, then a free service that optimizes ads and their placement (more on that in a minute).
This was also an old site that I had left sitting neglected. What spurred my interest in scaling this site was my sale of the health site earlier in the year. I thought: “Can I replicate that success?”
So I followed the same formula as the health site, but because this government grants site was monetized with ads, my keyword research focused more on informational keywords.
(Note: I did research some buyer keywords and have content created around “best” and “review” keywords. That didn’t turn out so well, as I cover in the “Testing matters” lesson learned in the section below.)
This site aggregated government grants for Canadians in a specific sector. It was basically the only site of its kind, and because Canadian government sites suck at SEO my site’s pages often outrankedthe government web pages that are the authoritative source of information!
(Tip: aggregating data that is both useful and scattered all over the web is a great business model.)
I did two things to scale this site’s traffic and revenue:
Adding more articles slowly but surely increased the site’s traffic.
And switching from Adsense to a new provider (Ezoic) instantly increased my EPV (earnings per visitor).
As you can see from the two screenshots below, my ad revenue went from a monthly high of $689.51 with Adsense to a monthly high of $$2,186.11 with Ezoic.
Here’s my ad revenue with Adsense:
And here’s what happened when I switched to Ezoic:
(Note that my organic traffic also increased, but that increase took place in the Fall. Between June and August there wasn’t much change in traffic, so simply switching from Adsense to Ezoic increased my income by ~250%.)
In October 2018 I contacted FE International again and asked if they could hustle up a buyer for this government grants site. Sure enough, they quickly found a buyer, and I was soon the recipient of another lump sum wire transfer – this time for $50,000.
Getting two wire transfers in 2018 for large sums of money was an adrenaline rush – one that I’d like to replicate many times, for years to come.
So at the end of 2018 I sat down and tried to isolate some “lessons learned” from scaling and selling those two sites in a relatively short amount of time.
Here are the lessons that I’m currently implementing on my existing and new niche sites:
Action step: Choose a niche whose audience has an overwhelming need for a solution to their problem.
Action step: Choose a niche that has a perennial need (and, ideally, a need that isn’t seasonal).
So the first thing I did when planning new content for my two niche sites was to open Google Analytics and look in Search Console for keywords that my pages were ranking between positions 5 – 10 and had at least 500 monthly searches. Then I wrote new content for those existing pages that explicitly targeted those keywords. Boom! A near instant increase in traffic (in some cases, within days).
Action step: If you already own a niche site, dig into your Google Analytics data to find pages that are ranking in positions 5 – 10 for keywords with decent search volume.
Then create new content that specifically targets those keywords and add that content to your ranking pages.
Action step: Do deep keyword research to find the lowest-competition keywords possible.
Action step: If product recommendations help your site’s users, add recommendations for relevant products (with affiliate links). Increase your income further by researching more buyer keywords and creating content around those keywords.
Amazon Affiliate Earnings for My Health Niche Site (Sorted by EPC)
I did this analysis to try to figure out which pages sat in a sweet spot: high traffic and high earnings-per-click. As you can see from the chart, even though some pages get a lot of clicks (e.g. tracking ID 11, 13, 14, and 19), they make a low earnings-per-click, which means some pages with lots of clicks actually make less money overall than pages with low number of clicks and high earnings-per-click. A prime example: tracking ID #4, which was a “best” page that reviewed the top models of equipment that cost on average $200. My average commission on that was almost $9.00. Compare that to tracking ID #19, where my average commission was ~$1.00.Was it any harder to rank for the buyer keywords that those two pages targeted? No. They both were new pages that ranked at around the same time. The difference is that one page reviewed high-priced products (~$200), and the other reviewed cheap products (~$20).
Action step: When doing keyword research for buyer keywords, keep in mind the price of the products you’ll be reviewing. It’s often no harder to rank for keywords that target high-priced products – so you might as well go for those!
Action step: Even if you’re not planning to do outreach for your site, make sure your content is the best in your niche. One of the best ways to do this is by using the “Skyscraper” technique.
Amazon Affiliate Earnings for My Health Niche Site (Sorted by Earnings)
You can see from the cells highlighted in green that 5 of the 23 “money pages” on the site brought in 74% of the total earnings. In other words, while those five articles represented approximately one-quarter of the money pages on my site, but they brought in nearly three-quarters of the revenue! And here’s a chart summarizing the main pages of my government grants site:
Ezoic Ads Earnings for My Government Grants Niche Site
Again, you can see that a small percentage of my pages (5 pages) made a disproportionately large percentage of the earnings (68.76%).
Action step: Don’t settle for publishing a handful of articles to your site, because it’s hard to predict which ones will provide the bulk of traffic and earnings. Publish lots of content – which will increase your chances of having content that “takes off” and gets lots of traffic and revenue.
Ad Revenue Increase After Switching to Ezoic
Bottom line: I could have tested a lot of other things on my niche sites before selling them, and probably could have increased earnings – and the sale value of the sites. I’ll be doing a lot more testing on my other sites in future…
Action step: Once you have some traffic coming in to your niche site, test different monetization methods, providers, and offers, to see if you can increase revenue without having to increase traffic.
Here are the main findings of the Ahrefs study:
And here’s a nice graph summarizing the distribution of page age in the Google top 10 rankings across 2 million keywords:
And here’s Ahrefs’ Sam Oh with a summary of the study and a few tips for ranking faster:
The lesson for you? Start a site and get publishing content asap. Even if the content you publish doesn’t get traffic right away, if you do your research correctly that content will eventually rank and get traffic.
Now, if you’re a glass-half-full type of person (and why not be?), keep in mind this point:
22% of pages ranking in the top 10 were created within the past year
So while the majority of web pages took a long time to rank on the first page of the SERPs, there were still a heck of a lot of pages (in absolute numbers) that took less than 12 months.
In fact, in his video Sam Oh states that “ranking for keyword terms with a low search volume generally tends to be faster”.
Why is that? Because keywords with low search volume also tend to be low-competition keywords.
Action step: Keep in mind that there are ways to get traffic to a new niche site faster. As I found in my study on fast-ranking niche sites, you can speed up your site’s progress by:
To state the obvious: it’s a great feeling to get a wire transfer for a big chunk of money.
I’m in the process of implementing the lessons learned from scaling and selling those two sites in my existing and new niche sites (while also keeping in mind my principles for online business).
I hope you’ve picked up a few things you can implement with your own sites. And if you have a comment on your own experience scaling and/or selling niche sites, please leave it below!
I've been making money online since 2009 and have a passion for research. My focus is niche research: finding profitable niches, keyword research, and competition analysis, as well as creating outstanding content.
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