The single biggest contributor to my financial success with online business has been the amount of profitable niche websites I’ve been able to develop over time.
I currently own over 20 profitable niche websites, each of which generates income from a variety of sources such as contextual ads, private placement ads, affiliate product sales, sales of my own products as well as lead generation.
Although I have been working on what would be considered an “authority” website (outside of this blog), most of my online income is generated by the portfolio of niche sites I have established.
In this post I will discuss how I was able to quickly develop several profitable niche sites, and how you can do the same if this is a business model you want to replicate or simply add additional income streams to your portfolio. (Note: If you are interested in starting a web based business venture, consider looking for vendors with experts who can advise you on the legal ramifications associated with start-ups. One such example is SunDocument Filings.)
I started establishing niche websites while I was employed in a fairly demanding profession. I came across the SBI platform, which really educated me on how to take a topic I am passionate about and turn it into a successful online business.
When I first started, I set aside my weekends for content creation. Once I saw some success and understood how the business model works, I started to explore options through which I can expedite the process, starting with the concept to creation to marketing and all the way to monetization.
Fast forward a few years, through a rinse and repeat method, I was able to establish several profitable niche sites and in the process was able to sell a few as well for a healthy five figure sum as well (I have built and owned more sites than what I have now).
How was I able to do all this in a relatively short amount of time?
By learning the process, trying it out and proving it for myself, systematizing and automating as much as I could and then outsourcing most of it. It’s interesting how easy I am able to summarize it all in just one sentence, but the truth is that it takes time to do and really understand how all of that works and flows methodically. It is truly a method, much like an assembly line in a manufacturing business.
When I worked on my first website, I did everything myself. This is the best way to learn the process in my opinion, and really determine what works and what doesn’t. I am not saying that you have to do the same. In fact, many successful internet marketers outsource the entire process from start to finish without having done it themselves. That route can also work, but is not the route I personally prefer.
For me to be able to successfully facilitate a project, I need to be fully comfortable and confident in what I am doing, and the only way I can achieve that comfort level is by doing something myself first.
So let’s break down the process of developing profitable niche websites in 5 steps.
Topic Research – The first step in the process is to research a topic that you want to establish a website on. When I established my first niche website, I made sure the topic I chose was something I was personally interested in. This is critical if you want to develop, hone and grow your business yourself.
Many people chase numbers and end up giving up the project because the passion is just not there. If and when you begin to outsource the process, passion for the topic becomes less important. That said, the content you develop for the website still has to be superb.
Topic research involves evaluating your competition online, conducting keyword research to determine what keywords to focus on that will bring the visitors / search traffic, assessing the commerciality of the topic (is there money to be made / are people paying for products and services), etc.
Personally, I like to research new profitable topics myself, but this process can be fully outsourced because it is not subjective. In other words, you can research and conclude whether or not the topic can be profitable based on factual numbers.
Website Development – I am not technical and by no means a programmer. However, the tools we have today make it easy for anyone to get up and running online quickly without being technical at all. Here is an example of a tool that allow anyone to create a free website within minutes. Although I know how to create websites rather quickly now, this is one part of the process I almost always outsource.
Content Creation – Content creation is another one of my favorite activities, but only for topics I am passionate about. I can only force myself to write so much about profitable topics which I have no interest in. This is an area that I have heavily outsourced throughout the years.
Marketing – Successfully marketing a website is the most challenging part of the process in my opinion because there is so much that goes into it. There are several internet marketing strategies out there and a lot of noise that goes with them. Marketing can also get rather tedious, redundant and frankly boring.
This is my least favorite part of the process, though arguably the most important for your websites to get the exposure they need to succeed. I currently outsource 95% of all internet marketing initiatives related to my niche websites (under my close direction of course).
Another approach is to focus on creating superb content and a lot of it and let the marketing happen automatically. Let others find it compelling to link to you over time.
Monetization – Ideally you want to know how exactly you will be monetizing your website before starting on the project. I am not comfortable outsourcing this aspect of my business mainly because I enjoy implementing the different monetization avenues once I have a website where I want it in terms of the traffic it’s generating.
You likely picked up on this already from reading the above but the way I was able to expedite the process by which I established several successful niche websites over time is by leveraging competent resources who I outsourced the bulk of the work to.
What to outsource and to who?
Topic Research – I often don’t outsource this part of the process, but I have. If you are going to outsource this process, I recommend hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) and training your VA to conduct research exactly how you do it yourself.
Most VAs are highly competent and are able to take instructions and fly with the task. This training is best conducted face to face via programs like Skype, coupled with a short bullet point instruction list. In my experience, the best resource to find a VA capable of this tasks is Odesk.
The output of this exercise is a road map to how the website will be built and what keywords will be used to create content and later promote the website. This output, or deliverable, becomes the main “guiding document” for the rest of the project.
Web Development – This is something I almost always outsource. I have found the best resources for development through freelancing platforms such as Odesk and Elance. A VA can also do this for you. I like to get the shell up and running and go back later to add the beefy content once it’s created. This gives your domain URL a chance to starting aging.
Content Creation – This is usually all me for topics I am passionate about, but when I am not developing it I like to use a VA from Odesk or a freelancer from Elance depending on the specific topic I am considering. When I get content outsourced, I review it and make modifications as needed and then provide it to the web developer to include on the website.
Marketing – Once you have your website complete, up and running, it is time to promote it. I have a couple approaches to marketing. Some of my websites are being promoted by my VAs following instructions I have specified for them, while others are being marketed by a specific SEO agency overseas who has delivered superb results in the 3 plus years I have been working with them.
Their fees are a bit steep, but worth the results they have delivered, mainly because I have them promoting some of my higher profitability niche sites. Since I recently started a local SEO firm, I am still evaluating how we can take over the promotion of these sites internally and still deliver the solid results we have been enjoying on these sites.
Monetization – Monetization is something I don’t recommend you outsource. This is a strategic business decision that is better made and implemented by you, the business owner. I discuss several means of monetization on this blog such as contextual advertisement, private ads, promoting affiliate products, selling ebooks and other digital products and more.
If you want to expedite your success, you will have to engage help at some point, especially if you are a working professional with limited amount of time. If you can learn what it takes to become successful, you can outsource the bulk of the execution process so that you are working ON your business and not IN your business. My business really took off when I finally grasped this concept.
Before concluding, I’d like to share some tips that have helped me along the way, many of which I have learned the hard way from the mistakes I made. I hope you can avoid the same mistakes by learning from my own experience.
I have found that technical tasks are best outsourced overseas to professionals from India. When I say technical I am referring to coding, graphic design, etc. Similarly, softer skill sets such as communication skills are best found overseas in the Philippines (at least in ways where you can take advantage of the cost of doing business). That said, there is good talent everywhere. These are just some of my takeaways based on my experience.
If you want to replicate what I’ve been able to do, the 2 biggest suggestions I have are:
1) Learn the process inside out, get comfortable with it and try it out yourself first
2) Outsource, outsource, outsource. The sooner the better. You will (as I did and many others) look back to your success and think to yourself that you shoud’ve outsourced sooner.
Everyone I know who has tried this says this. I understand that there are fears of the unknown to overcome, and one really has to be mentally prepared and conceptually ready to start outsourcing, but it really works wonders as you will see when you finally get there.
And when you are ready, there are fantastic resources available online today that you can use to find exactly the type of business partner you want to work with no matter what business model you are into. The three best resources I personally use and recommend are Odesk, Virtual Staff Finder and Replace Myself.
I have written a little bit about each one of these in my previous post on outsourcing. In addition, here are two other posts I have written about why you should hire a VA, as well as how you can leverage a VA to boost your business.
Finally, keep a spreadsheet with the entire process mapped out so you can easily go from one phase of the process to another as you progress in your business. I maintain such spreadsheets for each of my projects, and simply update them as the process moves forward.
If you are hesitant and reluctant to pursue outside help, I can understand how you feel as I was once there too. But I will tell you that doing so will tremendously impact your business in a positive way. You will grow leaps and bounds, and the sooner you engage help, the sooner your business partners will get to know about you and how you like to do business.
The relationships I have established have only gotten better over time, and as a result business has been streamlined and seamless. I hope that you can experience the same for yourself. If I can help address any questions, please let me know in the comments section below.
I am a user and an affiliate of all the platforms and services mentioned in this article. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have if you are contemplating using either one of these.
Finally, a very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. May 2013 bring more health, wealth and prosperity for you. Set your goals now, get out of your comfort zone, try something new and take bold action. Cheers to your success in 2013!
Do you have any experience outsourcing? What’s the experience been like? Is this something you feel you want to pursue? Do you want to read more about this topic? Please provide your thoughts in the comments section below.Previous: How Negotiating With Groupon Increased My Sales by 48%