Some of you may have noticed I don’t post as frequently on here as I used to. That is because this last year I have been dabbling with building out an authority niche site. Well, I just recently hit my goal! I am going to share with you how I took a brand new niche site from 0 to 110,000+ visitors a month, making $1,000+ a month all in under one year. And the best part of it is, I only spent on average 3-4 hours a week on this project and didn’t spend any money on advertising. Some weeks I didn’t touch it at all.
How is this possible? It is a combination of good keyword research, consistency, and outsourcing. Check out some of the tools and strategies below which I used to help grow my passive income.
My Niche Site
I started my niche site back in October 2015, and as you can see from the stats below, in October 2016 it had a little over 111,000 sessions. I have been able to consistently maintain a steady growth, month after month. I am not going to reveal my niche, but I can tell you it isn’t in the WordPress or marketing space. It is something completely different.
Over the course of the year, 88% of that traffic was from organic search. 7.5% from direct, another 2% from social, and the rest randomly scattered throughout. The small 0.20% of paid search was someone else sending traffic to my site. I never spent a dime on PPC advertising.
The site makes its revenue through a couple different sources, which now are upwards of over $1,000 per month. I primarily used the following:
- Amazon Affiliate
- Sponsored Content/Direct Advertisements
Building a Niche Site
Check out my tricks and strategies for building out your own authority niche site.
- 1. Choose a Niche Wisely
- 2. Do Keyword Research
- 3. Outsource – Your Time is Precious
- 4. Seriously, Get Fast Web Hosting Folks
- 5. Choose the Right WordPress Theme
- 6. Automate Social Media
- 7. Monetize Your Site
- 8. Utilize Niche Building Tools
- 9. Use Eye-Popping Images
- 10. Be Consistent and Stick With It
- 11. Take Advantage Of Additional Resources
1. Choose a Niche Wisely
There are a lot of recommendations from different bloggers online on how to choose a niche. The very first thing I can tell you is to choose a niche that you have an interest in. Many will say that it doesn’t matter. But trust me, it does. If you work a full-time job like I do, you need something to keep you motivated. If you choose a niche that you enjoy, picking it up in the evenings after you work all day is a lot easier. Maybe you love coloring, so perhaps you could build a site around that.
Over the past couple years a new term has emerged, and that is “authority niche site.” This is different than your typical small Amazon affiliate or AdSense site targeting small keywords. This is about building a large site long term that generates 20x that of a small niche site. You are building a brand or an authority online. However, the caveat to this is that it does take a lot more work. But it is something you can do in your spare time, even if you have a full-time job.
The niche I chose was something I love talking about and am very knowledgeable about. If you already know the niche this can make things easier when you get into outsourcing, etc. Also, having the ability to write a post yourself on a topic in your niche can also be to your advantage. With an authority niche site you want to focus on high quality. The best way to do this is to know it.
Another trick to choosing a niche is to pick one that isn’t too big, but not too small. Remember, with an authority niche you should have lots of room for growth. But if you go too big or too broad you are going to have a hard time competing. Remember, it is still called a “niche” for a reason. Here are a couple of good examples that might work:
- Kayaking tips (within the water sports niche)
- Tiny homes (within the architecture niche)
- Wall decorating (within the interior design and decorating niche)
- Staging your home (within the real estate niche)
Hopefully you get the idea. Pick a broad topic, and then pick a niche within that. For example, if you launch a general “health” site, you are going to have a hard time competing against all the noise. And of course, you will want to do some keyword research to know how much search volume is in that niche. I will go into more about that below.
2. Do Keyword Research
One of the main reasons my niche site was able to do so well is because I am a big believer in keyword research. Every single post I write or outsource is chosen based upon how much search volume there is and how competitive it is. I hardly ever write, just to write.Never assume people are searching. Write natural, but write smart. 😉
There are two primary tools I recommend to do keyword research:
KWFinder is one of my all-time favorite SEO tools and it never closes in my browser. I use it all day, every day. Let’s say you are starting a niche site about “wall decorating” and are wanting to write an article. You can input this keyword into KWFinder and see how much monthly search volume there is, along with the SEO competition. Immediately two keywords stick out:
- “wall art stickers” (14,800 search volume) and not hard SEO competition
- “metal wall decor” (8,100 search volume) and not hard SEO competition
So as you can see, within 10 seconds I found some great keywords in that niche to write about. You can also use KWFinder’s new autocomplete feature which is amazing for coming up with new keyword ideas.
When you are just starting your niche site, you will want to stick with keywords that have easier SEO competition. Because if you don’t rank for something, there is no reason to write about it. Once your site gains some domain authority, backlinks, etc… you can then start branching out into more competitive terms.
It is also important to take notice of the CPC for keywords in KWFinder. If the CPC is super low this means AdSense isn’t going to pay very much for ads placed on that post or page. So when you are choosing a niche or coming up with blog post ideas, keep track of the CPC and determine if it will be worth your while. Make sure to check out my in-depth KWFinder review.
SEMRush also provides a great way to generate new keyword ideas. Now lets say I am writing a brand new post. Maybe about “blogging for money” So I have a few keywords in mind but I really don’t know what has the highest search volume or the variations I should be using. So this is where SEMrush’s new SEO Keyword Magic tool comes into play.
So in the SEO keyword magic tool I input “blogging for money” and you can see it returns that keyword along with all the variations around it. It also gives the keyword search volume and the keyword difficulty estimation. Now anything in the high 70s is going to be pretty hard to rank for without some work. Especially if you are publishing it on a newer website. This is where domain authority comes into play. So on a brand new niche site I would probably skip this topic or come at it from a different angle. But without using a tool like SEMrush you would have never known this.
Make sure to check out my in-depth SEMRush review.
3. Outsource – Your Time is Precious
Outsourcing used to be a big problem for me. I am a pretty OCD person and a huge perfectionist. It is probably one of my biggest weaknesses to be honest. I never like handing over the reigns to anyone else. However, when you work a full-time job and are building an authority niche site site it will take you forever unless you outsource some of the work. I chose to outsource 80% of the content on my site. This is one of the primary reasons I only had to put in 3-4 hours a week on the site (and sometimes none at all).
I have tried quite a few different outsourcing services, but my favorite by far is iWriter. iWriter allows you to post a “blog post” to a large marketplace of writers. And usually within 24-48 hours you will have your content back! I have even gotten fully written content back within 4 hours before. Everything is automatically passed through Copyscape so you don’t have to worry about duplicate content or plagarism.
You can see below from my dashboard I have put a whopping 170+ articles through the iWriter system.
Here is an example of how to submit a project. There are 3 different levels: Premium ($10.50 for 1,000 words), Elite ($18.50 for 1,000 words), and Elite Plus ($64.75 for 1,000 words). Each level has a different price and quality of writers that your job gets submitted to. In the example below I am requesting an article on “Top 5 Reasons Why You Need an Emergency Fund.” I input the title, keyword, article purpose, and special instructions.
The special instructions I use are below. I have this in every job because I don’t want the writer spamming it with keywords, I prefer to have them write naturally and I might optimize it a little bit afterwards. I also make sure that they include sources. Remember, the nice thing about iWriter is that you don’t have to accept a job until you are satisfied with it. So there really isn’t any risk involved.
IMPORTANT: This is NOT an SEO article. Please don’t focus on keyword density and just write naturally.
Article about the top 5 reasons why you need an emergency fund.
Use credible sources and just write naturally.
Please list your sources at the bottom of the article. I will not accept articles without sources.
Another important thing to know about the iWriter system is that you might have to go through a couple writers until you find one you like. I have a couple writers now that I use for everything. As seen in the screen above, that bottom box allows you to input the name of the writer you want. This way the job always goes to that same writer.
If you have the money and want to skip all the testing to find good writers, then go with Express Writers (good quality), Writer Access (really good quality), or Codeless (the best quality on the web).
4. Seriously, Get Fast Web Hosting Folks
This should be a given, but people always seem to keep surprising me. Fast web hosting is so very important in 2016 and 2017. I am not going to go crazy into this topic because I have a lot of posts on this site about how to speed up WordPress already. Google loves speed, and the faster your site loads the more likely you are to show up more in SERPs. Also, a faster website will result in lower bounce rates, longer time on site, higher CTRs, and a better user experience.
My niche site loads in 678 ms, and that includes 17 images and 4 Google AdSense ads loading on the page. And there are 31 active WordPress plugins running. You can do all the optimizations you want, but if you don’t have fast web hosting there is always a limitation to your speeds.
I host this site and my niche site with Kinsta. They are the only managed WordPress host to exclusively use Google Cloud Platform. They run everything on NGINX, MariaDB, HTTP/2, and PHP 7/HHVM. You can read my in-depth Kinsta review if you want to learn more.
5. Choose the Right WordPress Theme
Choosing WordPress themes has never been a problem for me. I have been using MyThemeShop themes for many years. Many other marketers such as Zac Johnson, Matthew Woodward, and John over at Fat Stacks Entrepreneur all stand behind MyThemeShop and use their themes. The theme I am using for my niche site is the Newspaper theme.
There are a couple reasons why I really like this theme:
- It loads super fast! You saw the speed test above.
- It is fully responsive and looks great on all devices.
- It has ad placements built-in which makes implementing Google AdSense a breeze.
- The theme itself is cheap.
- It is kickass for SEO and supports schema markup and all latest Google updates.
6. Automate Social Media
Not only did I outsource most of the content, but I also automated 100% of the social media. Automated? That’s right folks. It is pretty much a hands-off approach that grows your community while you sleep. Some of you might be wondering just how good this works, so let me share some tricks.
This strategy of course might not work for every niche, as each niche has different networks which work for them. Twitter is one that works very well for my particular niche site. Below you can see the stats on it’s Twitter account. That’s right, in the last 28 days I have gained 283 Twitter followers (high-quality followers in my niche) without lifting a finger. A total of 3,500 followers might not seem a lot for a year, but remember, it is automated. I didn’t spend any time doing this. And actually didn’t setup the automation till around halfway through the year.
And yes, this does result in a good amount of traffic back to my niche site. That of course, is one of the primary reasons to use social media, is to drive additional traffic back to your site. Here is exactly how I did it.
Re-share Evergreen Content Automatically
First, I use a tool called SmarterQueue. This is like Buffer, but better. It allows me to add my niche blog posts into a queue that rotates and shares out forever. I also use this tool for this blog and all my other sites. It is amazing. Make sure to only add evergreen content into it.
Basically how it works is you set up categories, throw it in your queue, and say “re-queue after posting.” I recommend getting at least 50 posts on your niche site before doing this as you don’t want to share the same content too often. Check out my in-depth SmarterQueue review and see why it is better than Buffer, Edgar, and HootSuite. It supports Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
Share 3rd Party Content Automatically
The best strategy you can have for a social media profile is to not only share your content, but also other people’s content. And guess what? There is a tool for that too. Quuu is a hand-curated content suggestion platform that connects to your Buffer queue, allowing you to grow a relevant social media following across your entire social landscape. Select categories/interests that matter to you, and they queue relevant suggestions to your Buffer.
There free plan allows up to 2 curated posts per day, and 5 categories. You can then pair it up with the free Buffer plan and boom! You now have kickass 3rd party content being shared for free. I have used Quuu for over 6 months now and never once had an issue with the quality. It is great. They also have an option to manually approve if you are nervous about that.
7. Monetize Your Site
I recommend waiting a while before you start monetizing your brand new niche site. I waited three months before adding Google AdSense. This is simply because you should have a lot of good content before putting ads everywhere. There are a lot of different monetization methods and networks you can use. I highly recommend
I highly recommend Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliate, direct ads/sponsored content, affiliate marketing, and Media.net. These of course will vary based upon what niche you are in. For my niche site I am using the first three. When it comes to Google AdSense you will want to A/B test different ad placements. MyThemeShop has great ad placements built into their themes already, but you can go a step further with the free Ad Inserter WordPress plugin.
Google AdSense Matched Content
Besides your typical AdSense ads you are used to seeing there are other types which you can take advantage of. The first is a newer one called Matched Content. This basically allows you to create a “Related Posts” section on your niche site which will pull your other blog posts and then intermix some 3rd party content. This is a great way to increase time people spend on your site as well as making some extra money. Below is an example of what one looks like.
Google AdSense Page-level Mobile Ads
Google AdSense also has page-level mobile ads which have worked very well for me. One is an anchor/overlay ad which attaches to the bottom of the screen and stays there as the user scrolls. The second is a full page vignette ad.
Google AdSense Experiments
Another trick that has drastically increased my CTR in Google AdSense is using expirements. This feature allows you to automatically run A/B tests on different categories of ads that will appear on your site. You can pick a winner and then exclude certain categories that don’t perform well on you site.
Amazon Affiliate Plugin
I also highly recommend the Amazon Affiliate for WordPress plugin. If you have anything that is linkable to Amazon on your niche site, this plugin makes it super simple to include kickass looking tables, boxes, and displays of the product or item on Amazon. See example below of this hard drive. This was created in 2 seconds! This plugin will definitely increase your CTR and sales.
And besides direct linking to Amazon products, I also have had a great experience with Amazon’s Native Shopping Ads. Native Shopping Ads provide highly relevant and dynamic product recommendations in a stylishly designed and responsive ad unit that can be placed at the end of content or within the content to create a more compelling visitor experience and shopping opportunity.
And Amazon converts crazy high. My average conversion rate in Amazon is a whopping 16%! That is more than you will probably get anywhere else. They do a great job of closing the sale. So if you have an authority niche site that is applicable, Amazon can be an amazing long-term revenue driver.
Monetizing your site is a never ending testing process. You should be constantly trying new things to see what generates the most revenue. I haven’t spent that much time on optimization yet, so I could probably be making more money if I did.
8. Utilize Niche Building Tools
There are thousands of different tools out there that can help you build out a successful authority niche site, but I am going to share with you a couple more than I personally used.
As they say, the money is in the list! It is important to start building your email list from day one. Remember, with authority niche sites you want to build up a community and brand. A large email list can generate great affiliate commissions, traffic, and also introduce another place for selling direct advertisements. I used MailerLite for my niche site. Why? Because it is cheap and awesome. For up to 2,500 subscribers it only costs $10 a month. In comparison, MailChimp costs $30 a month for the same amount of subscribers.
I actually use the automated RSS feature that they have so that it automatically sends out my blog posts once a week. Remember, with authority niche sites the goal is to save time on anything you can. Here is a screenshot of my actual subscriber counts. On average my niche site is generating between 10-15 new subscribers per day. And the automated newsletter has a 55% open rate! So just because it is automated doesn’t mean it can’t perform well. Make sure to check out my in-depth MailerLite review.
WP Subscribe Pro Plugin
And a good mailing list wouldn’t be complete without having a clever way to get them to subscribe in the first place. I use MyThemeShop’s WP Subscribe Pro plugin for this. I have a popup window and a sidebar box on my niche site that allows people to subscribe to the newsletter.
The WP Subscribe Pro plugin also works great with MailerLite. You simply input your MailerLite API key and list ID and your good to go!
The next recommend tool I used, and one of the most important, is AccuRanker. AccuRanker is a tool that allows you to keep track of your keyword rankings in Google and Bing. This goes hand in hand with keyword research. You first need to write about the right thing, but then you need to make sure you are actually ranking. If nobody sees your content then it is useless. Because of good keyword research, I have been able to rank #1 for Google for a lot of terms as you can see below.
Another tip: frequently check keywords for which you rank on the 2nd page of Google, and spend more time optimizing and improving those. This can be a quick win.
Social Warfare Plugin
If you have great content, you need a good and simple way for people to share it. Every share you get is the potential for more traffic back to your site. This is where the Social Warfare WordPress plugin comes into play. I use it on all my sites, including woorkup. You can see it in action on the left-hand side of this site as you scroll down.
Another reason I really love it is because it is fast! I have a little playground site that I experiment with speed. I managed to score a perfect 100/100 with Google PageSpeed Insights on both mobile and desktop with the social sharing plugin running.
Make sure to check out my in-depth Social Warfare review.
WP Coupons Plugin
I also used the WP Coupons plugin. This is actually a plugin my brother and I developed. We created it because we couldn’t find another good alternative for showing off coupons. If you have an authority niche site with any types of products, this can work great.
Q2W3 Fixed Widget Plugin
And last but not least, I also used the Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin. This plugin allows you to have your widget scroll with the visitor. Remember though, it is against Google AdSense’s policy to have scrolling ads. So I used this with Amazon Affiliate’s Native Shopping Ads.
9. Use Eye-Popping Images
As they say, an image is worth a thousand words. I generally have a really nice featured image in my niche posts and then 1 or 2 images within the article. It depends upon the length of the post. Remember, the featured image is what shows up on Facebook posts and Tweets, so you want it to be shareable.
There are a lot of great free places you can grab images, but I generally don’t want to waste time by hunting on multiple sites. I use 99CLUB by Stock Photo Secrets for all of my images. It gives you access to a library of over 4 million premium stock images. You get 200 XXL images for $99 / year. You can then buy additional images in packs of 100 for only $69.00 or $0.69 per photo. So in the end, I am getting 500 images for a total of $306 or $0.61 per photo!
If you are just starting out, you can always go the free route, it just might take a little more time. But make sure to check out my in-depth 99 Club review.
10. Be Consistent and Stick With It
One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you when building an authority niche site is to stick with it! As you can see from the traffic report earlier in this post, I didn’t see any real huge results until I hit the 6th-month mark. So don’t give up and stay consistent. Do your keyword research, outsource the content, build backlinks, grow your newsletter. Keep at it and you should start seeing results. One piece of advice though. I see so many people obsessing over backlinks. I always recommend focusing on content first, promotion second, and then build backlinks last.
After 9 months the traffic on my niche site just skyrocketed.
11. Take Advantage Of Additional Resources
There are a ton of great websites and resources out there that share useful niche building strategies and tips. Here are two of my favorites:
I don’t usually buy or recommend courses. But if you are looking for an amazing SEO course on building authority niche sites I can’t recommend RankXL enough. It is pure gold and worth every penny! In fact, I used a lot of strategies from within the course myself for my niche site. Check out my in-depth RankXL review.
Fat Stacks Entrepreneur
If you are looking for ways to improve your Google AdSense income, then Jon over at Fat Stacks Entrepreneur is your guy! To be honest, his blog is one of the very few which I read on a regular basis.
Now the great news is that because my niche is big, I have probably only reached about 10% of the potential audience so far! That means I can still grow my niche site by 9x, which could result in over $10,000 a month in earnings with over 1 million visitors per month. That is the beauty of authority niche sites. With a small niche site, you usually will peak very fast and your only option is to start another site.
Hopefully some of the tips above will help you when building your authority niche site! Remember, outsourcing is a big key to growing fast, especially if you are doing it on the side with a full-time job. Find good writers you like, automate social media, spent some time on keyword research, and you are on your way. I will update this post again once I reach the 200,000 visitors a month mark, which at this rate doesn’t look like it is that far away.
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