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How to Create a Niche Site That Earns 4 Figures a Month in 6 Easy Steps



How to Create a Niche Site That Earns 4 Figures a Month in 6 Easy Steps

Niche sites have significant earning potential. So much so that they can eventually replace your regular “9 to 5.” But to reach that point, you need to know how to successfully get one off the ground.

I’ve been an SEO consultant for the past four years and have worked specifically with niche site owners. They include people just starting out.

I’ve worked with clients to build sites from scratch. They went on to start earning their first commissions within 60 days and four-figure monthly sums within 12 months.

In this guide, I’m going to share my step-by-step process for successfully building a niche site that earns over $1,000 a month within the first 12 months.

But first, let’s get some of the basics down:

A niche site is any website that caters to a specific audience or topic. It can be about anything: health, business, relationships, travel, food, fashion, animals, or the more obscure.

There are all kinds of niche sites, and covering them all in this guide will probably turn it into an SEO version of “War and Peace.” So for today, we are only going to focus on niche affiliate websites.

How do niche affiliate sites work?

Niche affiliate websites work by promoting someone else’s product through content. A commission is earned from every sale the company makes. This is the basic concept behind affiliate marketing.

To do this, site owners produce articles, often reviews, covering topics like “The best five backpacks for hiking.” In such content, they detail the following:

  • What the product is
  • Who needs the product and why
  • Reviews of the top few choices
  • Advice for the reader on the pros and cons of each option

Each of these reviews contains affiliate links that send the reader directly to the product on the partner’s website. If someone makes a purchase then, boom, an affiliate commission is earned.

How much can you earn from a niche affiliate site?

Like the majority of SEO, it depends—in this case, on specific things:

  • Whether you choose the right niche
  • Building the site right from the beginning
  • How much time and effort you put into the site to get it off the ground

The simple fact is choosing a niche with high-ticket items, laying the right foundations, and putting more effort into the amount of content you produce and links you build will have your site earning more at a quicker pace.

Generally speaking, the sites I have built over the years have seen their first commissions within six weeks and hit the $1,000/month mark within 12 months.

In fact, here is a site I built around eight weeks ago that’s already earning (a minimal amount, of course) its first commissions on Amazon:

Graph showing key commissions data; notable, bottom-left corner shows total earnings of around $8

This site has little traffic. However, it won’t take long to scale up if it consistently produces content and builds links.

Here is January’s traffic of a site I built 12 months ago:

Line graph showing traffic trend; notably, data summary above shows 28K monthly users

Here is January’s traffic of a site I built almost three years ago:

Line graph showing traffic trend; notably, data summary above shows 129K monthly users

Both of the above sites are seasonal (hence the downturn in traffic for January). They currently see a solid ongoing monthly income and can be flipped in the future to make a profit.

Niche sites currently flip for around a 32X multiplier based on one month’s income. That means if you build a niche site that earns $1,000 a month within 12 months, you can potentially flip that site for $32,000.

But how do we do that exactly?

Six steps to build a profitable niche site

Earning an extra $1,000 a month from a niche site is a side hustle that may just be what you need. Or maybe being able to give up your day job and earn $10,000 a month from your site is the pinnacle of success.

Either way, we are going to look at the six steps you need to follow so that your site gets off on the right foot. These are:

  1. Choose the right niche
  2. Find the right keywords
  3. Build your site
  4. Write content
  5. Build links
  6. Rinse and repeat

Step 1. Choose the right niche

Choosing the right niche is absolutely crucial to starting a profitable niche website. It lays the foundation for everything else going forward, e.g., degree of difficulty to rank your site, amount of money you can earn, etc.

With that said, there are a few things you need to consider when coming up with profitable niche ideas:

  • Personal experience/interests
  • Choosing the right affiliate program(s)
  • Viability in the long term

The niche selection process will look something like this, and we will discuss that more in a bit:

Flow chart showing questions one should ask to choose the right niche

Are you interested in the niche?

From what I’ve observed, having too much experience in a niche can hinder the success of your site. Site owners tend to be too personally invested.

Every piece of content has to be vetted with a fine-tooth comb or written by the site owner themself. Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking pride in your work, but this is incredibly hard to scale.

For that reason, I recommend choosing a niche that you find interesting but not too interesting. You should have enough interest to produce some of the content in the beginning to keep costs down, but not enough that you want to write every single word in the long term.

Choosing the right affiliate program

Ensuring there are viable affiliate programs in your niche is a key part of niche selection. After all, you can’t make money as an affiliate without something to promote.

The ideal scenario is to find a product that has affiliate commissions of over 10% or high one-time payout offers. These can include a set fee for each referral you direct to a partner’s site.

The issue for newbies is that most private affiliate programs and even affiliate networks want proof the products will be successfully promoted. Only then will the programs and networks allow these newbies to become affiliates.

The only program that pretty much anyone can join at any stage is Amazon Associates.

Amazon affiliate commissions have been slashed in recent years and are, in some cases, significantly lower than other private affiliates’ (as low as 1% for some product categories).

List of product categories with corresponding commission rates

Current Amazon affiliate commission rates by product category.

But for a total noob, they make a great springboard to more advanced, private programs.

What I mean by this is that showing evidence of consistent earnings from Amazon can help you get a foot in the door to work with a desired private affiliate partner.

But regardless of the affiliate program, it is important to choose a niche that has high-ticket items.

It costs exactly the same to produce content regardless of whether the products you are promoting have an average cost of $350 or $3.50. High-ticket items will allow you to reach your goals faster, even with an affiliate program with lower commissions.

Therefore, finding a niche that has high-ticket items, a decent Amazon commission, as well as private affiliate options with commissions of 10% or above is the safest route for a total beginner.

Recommended reading: How to Build a Successful Amazon Affiliate Site (Step by Step)

Will the site work in the long term?

There is a temptation to jump quickly onto anything that is the new, hot thing. But is it going to last forever?

Choosing a niche for your site that happens to be hot right now is probably not going to give you enough scope in terms of keywords to scale your site.

Also, remember that focusing on seasonal niches, such as golf or tennis, means your site will likely earn more at certain times of the year and possibly nothing at other times.

That doesn’t mean you should avoid seasonal niches altogether. In fact, if you already have seasonal employment, e.g., you work as a ski instructor, a seasonal site you can focus on during quieter months of the year could be perfect.

But if you are looking to build an affiliate site to act as your main source of income in the future, you have to factor into your business plan that earnings throughout the year from a seasonal niche may not be consistent.

Step 2. Find the right keywords

Keyword research is the process of finding what your ideal audience is searching for in Google. It’s important because there’s no point ranking for things that nobody’s searching for, as you won’t get any traffic (and, therefore, no affiliate commissions).

When doing keyword research for niche affiliate sites, you’re mostly looking for three main types of keywords:

  • General comparisons – Best wifi router, best protein powder
  • Branded comparisons – MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro
  • Product reviews – MacBook Pro review

These are all keyword types that people regularly search for where you can plug products to earn affiliate commissions.

Venn diagram showing best affiliate topics are those that people search for and allow you to plug the product naturally

Here’s how you can find them:

  • Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  • Enter broad topics or brands related to your niche
  • Go to the Matching terms report
  • Filter for keywords containing a relevant modifier

For example, if we are starting a site in the coffee niche and want to find general comparison keywords, we may enter “coffee” and “espresso” as our seed keywords. Then add “best” to the “Include” filter to find keywords containing that modifier:

Matching terms report results for "coffee" & "expresso"

If we want to find branded comparison or product review keywords, we can enter known brands like “hario” or “nespresso” and use either “vs” or “reviews” in the “Include” filter:

Matching terms report results for "nespresso"

Because you’ll likely find it hard to rank for competitive keywords right out the gate, I also recommend filtering for low-difficulty keywords by setting the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a low number like 25:

Matching terms report results for "nespresso"

Although I would love to go into more detail, a full step-by-step guide is an entire article in itself. Luckily, our head of content, Joshua Hardwick, has already put that together for you.

Step 3. Build your site

Now it’s time to register a domain and build your site. It doesn’t matter all that much which domain registrar or hosting provider you use. Just pick one, choose a brandable domain, and get things registered.

For the actual site build, I recommend using WordPress because it’s super customizable and completely free. However, the default installation looks pretty dire, so it is important to consider using a good theme with a built-in page builder.

This will allow you to use the drag-and-drop functionality to create high-quality aesthetics on your site that can stand shoulder to shoulder with known brands and retailers. This is important because it helps to establish trust and authority with site visitors.

We will go through this in more detail below. But there are a few things to consider for the build process (aside from the aesthetics).

  • Choose the right theme
  • Consider conversions
  • Think about E‑A-T

Choose the right theme

Your theme is going to be the core foundation of your site. The theme is going to determine how easily you can make changes to the design and how it performs.

As someone who has had to “de-thrive” many affiliate sites, I think it’s important to choose the right theme right out of the gate.

This is as trying to change it later down the line to make improvements is going to be a big job.

Many people think it is easier to just choose any theme and use a popular page builder. After all, page builders, such as Elementor, give you the ability to use the drag-and-drop functionality to create beautiful aesthetics without being a top web designer.

The only issue with page builders is they often add lots of unnecessary code to your site, dragging down the performance. Hence, you’ll need to get multiple performance-enhancing plugins to work with the page builder to counteract that.

Therefore, it is a good choice to go with a theme that has its own built-in page builder functionality, such as Astra.

There are even themes currently in development like those found on AffiliateFish—which I was recently asked to beta test—that are designed specifically for affiliate sites. Some themes allow you to have everything needed for an affiliate site while maintaining super speed.

Consider conversions

The aesthetic of your site needs to be high quality, as we want the site to look trustworthy. This comes down to the design and the considerations mentioned above.

It is also incredibly important to ensure your site has clear call-to-action (CTA) sections.

A CTA helps to entice visitors to act in a preferred way, such as clicking a link to your recommended retailer, downloading an ebook, or signing up for a mailing list.

Ensuring you have clear CTAs on all your product recommendations and even on your homepage makes it easy to direct visitors to check out the products you recommend so that you can earn those all-important affiliate commissions.

CTA to find best rectangle trampoline on an affiliate site webpage

Think about E‑A-T right from the beginning

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E‑A-T), although not a direct ranking factor, is now more talked about than ever in the SEO community.

I truly believe at some point, for niche sites specifically, we will see something similar to the Medic update of 2018 across all niches. Google wants to ensure that any advice being given is from authoritative websites and authors.

Ensuring that your website has a clear and comprehensive “about” page and author bios from the beginning will help you to establish your site as a genuine authority.

Your author bios are meant to showcase experience and expertise.

For example, if you run an affiliate site about dogs and your lead editor is a vet, this really needs to be prominently displayed because it gives the articles on your site credibility. This is important for both readers and search engines.

Step 4. Write content

Content is the bread and butter of a niche affiliate site. This is where those all-important affiliate links, which can earn you commissions, will be housed.

Although I would love to delve in here with a step-by-step guide on how to produce epic content from start to finish, that’s going to be a topic for a whole other article.

But this guide on creating evergreen content is a fantastic starting point.

But generally, make sure that you write quality content that is unique and engaging. You don’t want to be producing generic articles that anyone can copy-paste and slap onto their site.

Also, it is incredibly important to write content for humans, not search engines.

AI-driven content optimization tools have risen in popularity over the past few years. Although they make a great addition for a newbie to understand how well optimized your content is, your articles should do more than just check SEO boxes.

Content should still be written with your audience in mind first and foremost. It should engage your reader and give them the answers they are looking for.

This is what will help you build trust and a loyal readership. This is important because you don’t want to be driving new visitors through organic traffic only. You also want to encourage your visitors to return time and time again because they love what you are doing.

Step 5. Build links

Links have always been important for SEO. But now more than ever, links need to be coming from high-quality sources. This has become even more apparent since Google’s recent spam update.

This beginner’s guide to link building from our CMO, Tim Soulo, will give you the lowdown on what link building is and why it’s important.

In terms of what kinds of link building you should be doing, these are my top choices for beginners:

Earned media

Using sites like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), Terkel, and Sourcebottle is my go-to style of link building. Not only do these sites allow you to build high-authority links from top-tier publications like Forbes and The New York Times, but they also help boost E‑A-T.

Broken link building

When it comes to links, broken link building can be an easy way to pick low-hanging fruit.

Guest blogging

This link building technique is an oldie but a goodie! Guest blogging can not only help you build high-quality links to your website, but it can also help you improve E‑A-T and establish yourself as a thought leader in your niche.

For example, if you are a personal trainer building an affiliate site in the fitness niche, having a guest blog featured on a reputable health and fitness site that displays your author bio alongside it will undoubtedly help to promote you as an authority on that topic.

There are a few considerations when using this technique. Luckily, Tim has already put together a complete guide on guest blogging that covers everything: finding the right websites to reach out to, writing the post itself, etc.

Step 6. Rinse and repeat

This part is simple. It is just a case of repeating steps #4 and #5 over and over again until you build enough traffic to reach what you consider to be success.

The important thing is to have patience. Remember, every site is unique. What works and how quickly you achieve success depend on multiple factors. But it will happen. Just give it time!

Final thoughts

Following these six simple steps again and again while scaling as you go is a surefire way to build a profitable niche site.

Choose a niche with high-ticket items, create awesome content, and build links. It’s that simple.

Got questions? Ping me on Twitter.

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7 Ways To Use Google Trends For SEO & Content Marketing



7 Ways To Use Google Trends For SEO & Content Marketing

Google Trends is a surprisingly useful tool for keyword research, especially when using advanced search options that are virtually hidden in plain sight.

Explore the different Google Trends menus and options and discover seemingly endless ways to gain more keyword search volume insights.

Learn new ways to unlock the power of one of Google’s most important SEO tools.

The Value Of Google Trends

While Google Trends is accurate, it doesn’t show the amount of traffic in actual numbers.

It shows the numbers of queries made in relative percentages on a scale of zero to 100.

Unlike Google Trends, paid SEO tools provide traffic volume numbers for keywords.

But those numbers are only estimates that are extrapolated from a mix of internet traffic data providers, Google Keyword Planner, scraped search results, and other sources.

The clickstream data usually comes from anonymized traffic data acquired from users of certain pop-up blockers, browser plugins, and some free anti-virus software.

The SEO tools then apply a calculation that corresponds to their best guess of how that data correlates with Google keyword search and traffic volume.

So, even though paid SEO tools provide estimates of keyword traffic, the data presented by Google Trends is based on actual search queries and not guesses.

That’s not to say that Google Trends is better than paid keyword tools. When used together with paid keyword tools, one can obtain a near-accurate idea of true keyword search volume.

There are other functions in Google Trends that can help dial in accurate segmentation of the keyword data that helps to understand what geographic locations are best for promotional efforts and also discover new and trending keywords.

How To Use Google Trends For SEO

1. Get More Accurate Data By Comparing Keywords

Google Trends shows a relative visualization of traffic on a scale of zero to 100.

You can’t really know if the trend is reporting hundreds of keyword searches or thousands because the graph is on a relative scale of zero to one hundred.

However, the relative numbers can have more meaning when they are compared with keywords for which there are known traffic levels from another keyword phrase.

One way to do this is to compare keyword search volume with a keyword whose accurate traffic numbers are already known, for example, from a PPC campaign.

If the keyword volume is especially large for which you don’t have a keyword to compare, there’s another way to find a keyword to use for comparison.

A comparison keyword doesn’t have to be related. It can be in a completely different vertical and could even be the name of a trending celebrity.

The important thing is the general keyword volume data.

Google publishes a Google Trends Daily Trends webpage that shows trending search queries.

What’s useful about this page is that Google provides keyword volumes in numbers, like 100,000+ searches per day, etc.

Example Of How To Pinpoint Search Volume

I’m going to use the search phrase [how to lose weight] as an example of how to use Google Trends to get a close idea of actual search volume.

The way I do it is by using known search volumes and comparing them to the target keyword phrase.

Google provides search volumes on its trending searches page, which can be adjusted for what’s trending in any country.

On this particular day (September 22, 2022), the actress Ana De Armas was trending with 50,000+ searches, and the American ex-football player (keyword phrase [Bret Favre News]) was trending with 20,000+ searches.

Step 1. Find Search Trends For Target Keyword Phrases

The target keyword phrase we’re researching is [how to lose weight].

Below is a screenshot of the one-year trend for the target keyword phrase:

Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

As you can see, it’s a fairly stable trend line from September 2021 to September 2022.

Then I added the two keyword phrases for which we have a close search volume count to compare all three, but for a 24-hour time period.

I use a 24-hour time period because the search volume for our comparison keywords is trending for this one day.

Google Trends ComparisonScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

Our target keyword phrase, with a red trend line, is right in the middle, in between the keyword phrases [Ana De Armas] (blue) and [Bret Favre News] (yellow).

What the above comparison tells us is that the phrase [how to lose weight] has a keyword volume of more than 20,000+ searches but less than 50,000+ searches.

The relative search volume of [how to lose weight] is 50% of the keyword phrase [Ana De Armas]. 

Because we know that [Ana De Armas] has a search volume of approximately 50,000+ searches on this particular day, and [Bret Favre News] has a search volume of 20,000+ queries on the same day, we can say with reasonable accuracy that the keyword phrase, [how to lose weight] has approximately a daily search volume of around 30,000 on an average day, give or take a few thousand.

The actual numbers could be higher because Google Trends shows the highs and lows at particular points of the day. The total for the day is very likely higher.

The above hack isn’t 100% accurate. But it’s enough to give a strong ballpark idea and can be used to compare with and validate extrapolated data from a paid keyword research tool.

Related: How To Do Keyword Research For SEO

2. Discover Insights From Time-based Trends

There are two general ways to look at the keyword data: stretched across over longer periods of time and shorter time periods.

Long Period Trends

You can set Google Trends to show you the traffic trends stretching back to 2004. This is valuable for showing you the audience trends.

  • Upward Long-Term Trends: If a trend is consistently going up, this means you need to focus energy on creating content for this trend.
  • Downward Long-Term Trends: If the trend line is steadily moving down, then it may be a signal that audience content consumption is changing.

For example, review this five-year trend for [WordPress] the search term, WordPress the software, and WordPress the website:

An image of Google Trends tool showing a five year trend.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

There’s a clear downward trend for WordPress in all three variations.

The downward trend extends to related phrases such as:

  • WordPress themes.
  • WordPress plugin.
  • WordPress hosting.

There are many reasons why search trends go down. It can be that people lost interest, that the interest went somewhere else or that the trend is obsolete.

The digital camera product category is a good example of a downward spiral caused by a product being replaced by something else.

  • The digital camera caused the downturn in searches for traditional analog cameras.
  • The iPhone started the downward spiral of the digital camera.

Knowing which way the wind is blowing could help a content marketer or publisher understand when it’s time to bail on a topic or product category and to pivot to upward-trending ones.

Related: Content Marketing: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide

3. Related Topics And Queries

Google Trends has two great features, one called Related Topics and the other Related Queries.


Topics are search queries that share a concept.

Identifying related topics that are trending upwards is useful for learning how an audience or consumer demand is shifting.

This information can, in turn, provide ideas for content generation or new product selections.

According to Google:

Related Topics

Users searching for your term also searched for these topics.

You Can View by the Following Metrics

Top – The most popular topics. Scoring is on a relative scale where a value of 100 is the most commonly searched topic and a value of 50 is a topic searched half as often as the most popular term, and so on.

Rising – Related topics with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period.

Results marked “Breakout” had a tremendous increase, probably because these topics are new and had few (if any) prior searches.”

Related Queries

The description of Related Queries is similar to that of the Related Topics.

Top queries are generally the most popular searches. Rising Queries are queries that are becoming popular.

Screenshot of Google Trends Related Queries feature.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

The data from Rising Queries are great for staying ahead of the competition.

4. Short-Term Trends Can Bring Massive Traffic

Viewing keyword trends in the short view, such as the 90-day or even 30-day view, can reveal valuable insights for capitalizing on rapidly changing search trends.

There is a ton of traffic in Google Discover as well as in Google News.

Google Discover is tied to trending topics related to searches.

Google News is of the moment in terms of current events.

Sites that target either of those traffic channels benefit from knowing what the short-term trends are.

A benefit of viewing short-term trends (30 days and 90 trends) is that certain days of the week stand out when those searches are popular.

Knowing which days of the week interest spikes for a given topic can help in planning when to publish certain kinds of topics, so the content is right there when the audience is searching for it.

5. Keywords By Category

Google Trends has the functionality for narrowing down keyword search query inventory according to category topics.

This provides more accurate keyword data.

The Categories tab is important because it refines your keyword research to the correct context.

If your keyword context is [automobiles], then it makes sense to appropriately refine Google Trends to show just the data for the context of auto.

By narrowing the Google Trends data by category, you will be able to find more accurate information related to the topics you are researching for content within the correct context.

6. Identify Keyword Data By Geography

Google Trends keyword information by geographic location can be used for determining what areas are the best to outreach to for site promotion or for tailoring the content to specific regions.

For example, if certain kinds of products are popular in Washington D.C. and Texas, it makes sense to aim promotional activity and localized content to those areas.

In fact, it might be useful to focus link-building promotional activities in those areas first since the interest is higher in those parts of the country.

Keyword popularity information by region is valuable for link building, content creation, content promotion, and pay-per-click.

Localizing content (and the promotion of that content) can make it more relevant to the people who are interested in that content (or product).

Google ranks pages according to who it’s most relevant, so incorporating geographic nuance into your content can help it rank for the most people.

7. Target Search Intents With Search Types

Google Trends gives you the ability to further refine the keyword data by segmenting it by the type of search the data comes from, the Search Type.

Refining your Google Trends research by the type of search allows you to remove the “noise” that might be making your keyword research fuzzy and help it become more accurate and meaningful.

Google Trends data can be refined by:

  • Web Search.
  • Image Search.
  • News Search.
  • Google Shopping.
  • YouTube Search.
Screenshot of Google Trends showing the different kinds of searchesScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

YouTube search is a fantastic way to identify search trends for content with the word “how” because a lot of people search on YouTube using phrases with the words “how” in them.

Although these are searches conducted on YouTube, the trends data is useful because it shows what users are looking for.

A Google Trends search for how, what, where, when, why, and who shows that search queries beginning with the word “how” are by far the most popular on YouTube.

Google Trends limits comparisons to five keywords, so the following screenshot omits that word.

Screenshot of Keyword Popularity on YouTube.Screenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

If your keyword phrases involve instructional content that uses words like “how to,” refining your research with the YouTube search type may provide useful insights.

For example, I have found that YouTube Search shows more relevant “related topics” and “related queries” data than researching with “web search” selected.

Here’s another example of how using different kinds of search types helps refine Google Trends data.

I did the same how, what, where, when, why, and who searches but this time using the News Search refinement.

Screenshot of Google Trends with News Search refinement selectedScreenshot from Google Trends, September 2022

The search trends in Google News are remarkably different than the search patterns on YouTube. That’s because people want to know the “what” and “how” types of information in Google News.

When creating content related to news, identifying the correct angle to report a news item is important.

Knowing that the words “what” or “who” are most relevant to a topic can be useful for crafting the title to what the readers are most interested in.

The above is the view of search queries for the past 90 days.

When the same keywords are searched using the 5-year perspective, it becomes clear that the “who” type keywords tend to spike according to current events.

As an example of how current events influence trends, the biggest spike in searches with the word “who” occurred in the days after the 2020 presidential election.

Every Search Type query refinement shows a different help to refine the results so that they show more accurate information.

So, give the Search Type selections a try because the information that is provided may be more accurate and useful than the more general and potentially noisy “web search” version.

Unlock The Hidden Power Of Google Trends

Free tools are generally considered to be less useful than paid tools. That’s not necessarily the case with Google Trends.

This article lists seven ways to discover useful search-related trends and patterns that are absolutely accurate, more than some search-related data from paid tools.

What’s especially notable is that this article only begins to scratch the surface of all the information that’s available.

Check out Google Trends and learn additional ways to mix different search patterns to obtain even more useful information.

More Resources:

Featured Image: Studio Romantic/Shutterstock

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