For the past number of years I have been searching for ways to create an income in what might be considered unconventional ways.
I come from a very conservative, science-y background (I’m a Medical Laboratory Technologist who works, conventionally, in Healthcare IT implementing computer systems…yawn, right?) but I am intrigued by all the ways that people make money. In my travels I have met people creating a life in ways that I could never have imagined; creating and selling Photoshop brochure templates, buying and selling currency, running entire brick-and-mortar companies remotely, creating training programs based on their professional background, house-sitting, geo-arbitrage (the act of buying something cheaply in one country and selling it in a more expensive country)…almost anything. I always ask new people I meet how they are creating an income and I’m almost always surprised.
That’s how I found out about affiliate niche sites; I met people who were doing them and was intrigued. I like the technical, analytically parts of it (hello, science background!), I learn a lot while researching topics, and seeing money coming in with minimal work just simply amazes me.
It’s funny, though, how when you’re in something you don’t realize that not everyone knows about it. Whenever I tell people about my sites, and how much money they make, it’s always the same look and the ‘how-on-earth-do-you-do-that’ amazement. Here are the five questions I get asked most often:
1. What IS an Affiliate Niche Site?
An affiliate niche site (or niche affiliate site) is a site built around a single topic (or niche) and that drives traffic to an on-line product for sale for which you receive a commission on every sale.
You may already use affiliate marketing on your blog. If you write a post about the long road trip your family did last summer, you might include an affiliate link to the car seat that kept your 3-year-old content and safe for the whole trip (I’m obviously not a parent…seriously, content…for the whole trip?!). It is highly unlikely that anyone is going to Google ‘child car seat’ and end up on your site; you rely on readers who are coming to read about you and might be interested in products you promote. This can work, of course, but you need a large audience who will continually click and buy in order to make a decent income.
Niche sites work a tiny bit differently. Instead of writing and trying to attract readers to our witty repartee, we look to see where the traffic is, what they are searching for, and then build a site that speaks directly to what they are looking for.
I liken it to holding up an old-fashioned signpost.
I can create a sign (blog post) that reads ‘child car seat’ and hold it up right outside my house. Yes, maybe a few people would drive by who are interested in car seats and they may stop and have a look. But most people driving by aren’t really looking for a car seat; they’re out on a Sunday drive, taking the back roads and stopping at anything that might be interesting.
On the other hand, I can take that sign and find the nearest highway where I know all the parents are driving. If I hold my sign up here I have a MUCH better chance of reaching exactly the people who would be interested in my product. If that highway isn’t littered with signs from other car seat companies, then I have an even better chance of attracting the right people. If my sign looks professional, and contains interesting and relevant information, then I have another advantage and it’s likely that people actually get out of their cars and talk to me about the car seats I’m selling.
This is a niche site; built around a single topic (car seats), that stands in the middle of traffic (the terms people are searching), contains interesting and relevant information (posts about car seats and safety), and drives that traffic to an on-line product for sale (car seats on Amazon). Easy peasy.
2. CAN you Make Money With Affiliate Niche Sites?
Yes! If you find the right niche to target, build a site that attracts traffic, and wait for it to mature, you CAN make money. One of my sites currently makes $200USD per month (which is like $873CAD, right?!).
The key is finding the right niche to target; one with enough traffic that people are looking for what you’re offering, yet not so much competition that you could never rank in Google for it. If you use the right metrics, and sift through all the chaff, you can find one that meets both criteria – high traffic and low competition. Gold!
3. Is it REALLY Passive Income?
Yes. And no.
Yes in that, once the research has been done, the products chosen, and the site created, you really just have to wait for the traffic to come. Once they start coming, clicking, and buying, then yes it is passive. I created site that makes $200USD/month in Jan 2015 and have made only one 5-minute tweak to it in the past year. I seriously do NOTHING to the site and it keeps paying out.
No, in that you have to do the work up front. Researching, finding products, and creating the site takes about 70-80 hours but, once that work is done, you’re done. It’s all passive from there on out.
4. Do You Need to Know a Lot of Technical STUFF to Build Niche Affiliate Sites?
No, not really. If you already have a blog, or website, then you likely have all the technical knowledge that you need. The sites are usually pretty basic – between 6 and 8 pages – and with a few plugins to activate for maximum exposure. If you can write, edit, and publish a post then you can probably build an affiliate niche site.
The hard bits might be finding the niche (hint: it’s a numbers game…I use Excel to keep track of it all), setting up the initial WordPress site and generating the affiliate links BUT if you keep it simple even these pieces are not that difficult.
5. Is this LEGAL?
Yes, it’s completely and totally legal. Niche sites are not against the law nor are they against Google’s terms of service. You’re probably using affiliate marketing on your blog already…affiliate niche sites are just the next step. You’re simply providing a way for consumers to find a product that they are already searching for. Nothing illegal about that.