What is a Niche Website?

Discussion in 'Site Build It' started by happywife, Oct 12, 2012.

  1. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Quite often when chatting to new forum members who are asking questions about the best way to build an online income I (or others) will suggest that they use their knowledge to build a niche website. But sometimes I forget that there was a time when I read that suggestion and said to myself, "Huh? What's a niche website?" (n)

    There are a lot of terms that relate to the online world and/or the marketing world that were completely unfamiliar to me and I felt a little confused and overwhelmed (like trying to understand a foreign language). I'm a hard worker and willing to put in the effort, but when you don't understand the language, it can become a real barrier to progress and success.

    Remembering those early days has inspired me to write a few articles here in the forum that cover the area of niche websites - which is the business model I chose 5 years ago as the right path for me. Hopefully these posts will help you decide if a niche website is right for you, too.

    So, What is a Niche Website?

    In my other post about Why Build A Niche Website, I said "A niche website is a theme based website that is focused on one particular topic or subject." And while that is true, I want to take that thought a little further.

    You can look up the definition of the word "niche" in the dictionary, but let me give you my own interpretation of "niche" in relation to websites and online business. They are two angles or perspectives when referring to this type of web business.
    1. First, a niche website is a site that targets any specialized market or very specific topic. Let me give you some examples...
      • Instead of a house cleaning business, a niche would be carpet cleaning, and a more narrow niche would be cleaning wool carpets.
      • Instead of a website about hunting, a niche website would be about bear hunting, and a more narrow niche would be about bear hunting in Alaska.
      • Instead of a website/business about cakes, a niche would be cake decorating, and a more narrow niche would be cake decorating with fondant.
    2. Secondly, a niche website can refer to a topic that is specifically suited to YOU and YOUR interests, abilities, and passion. You've probably heard someone say, "I've finally found my niche in life" or something similar.
    Both of those concepts are important, in my opinion, when you are considering building a business online with a niche website. Ideally, you DO want to target a narrow specialized market that has demand and appeal to others (or you'll end up with no visitors/customers), but it is equally important that the niche is suited to YOU.

    Sure, you can (and I have done) create a website around a niche topic that seems to be a good market as far as $ is concerned, but if the subject really doesn't interest you that much, you're really going to struggle. This is especially true if this is your first endeavor and you are faced with the challenge of learning all the new skills that go along with online marketing at the same time as creating content on a subject that has no real appeal to you personally.

    Most people who build a successful niche website either write a lot of good content or spend a lot of money on advertising.

    The statement above is important for you to really understand and grasp when it comes to the area of online business success. There are always exceptions to the rule, but don't count on you being one of them. ;)

    In order to make money online from your website (no matter what topic you choose), you need to have visitors. How will you get those visitors? Throwing up a website with a half dozen pages or so is not going to automatically generate a lot of traffic to your site (regardless of the quality of your content).

    You'll have to pay for visitors - through advertising programs like Adwords, etc., or you can generate free traffic from the search engines - people find you when they type in specific search terms in Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

    I prefer the free traffic because I didn't have a lot of money to spend buying traffic, and now I'm just plain spoiled. You can lose a lot of cash fast if you don't know how to advertise properly and/or the traffic you do buy doesn't convert to paying customers.

    To get that free traffic you have to build a solid website with a lot of content about your chosen niche topic. With a good niche website you become a recognized authority on your subject. When people read your content and see that you cover every angle - you're not just a sales page. :) You're a valuable resource.

    I'll be adding more about the when, where, how, etc, of building a niche website in the coming weeks, but realize this...

    It really isn't rocket science, but it IS work and it IS involved. It DOES take time and motivation, but if you are wise and choose a niche that suits you, you're going to LOVE working on your website because it's "YOU." (When the money starts coming in, you'll love it even more!) ;)

    Any questions? I don't consider myself a "pro" but I'll do my best to answer if I can. If not, one of the other forum members can probably jump right in and help you out too.

  2. Just2EZ

    Just2EZ Moderator

    Thanks for making me smile this morning!:)
  3. payment proof

    payment proof Well-Known Member

    Excellent post Angie. :) Thank you for sharing.

    My niche has always been sites that are free to join and offer free ways to make money. I've been doing it for over 6.5 years and I love it!

    It's important to pick out a niche that is profitable and also something you'll enjoy doing.
  4. JackieM293

    JackieM293 Member

    Thank you for providing such clear and grounding post at a highly appropriate time in my journey.

  5. JackieM293

    JackieM293 Member

    Angie, I just noticed the bit that says "any questions" so I hope you don't mind...I have a pretty specific dilemma and don't really know which way to go with it.

    I joined SBI over a year ago now and have the small beginnings of a site, however life got in the way and my efforts shelved. Until now!

    I return with a new sense of purpose and two holiday apartments which have become my responsibility to promote and manage.

    My vision had been to create a brochure website for the holiday rentals with booking capability and some good quality local area information, things to do, restaurant recommendations etc. The apartments are in my home suburb which also happens to be one of Melbourne's key tourist areas so insider knowledge, enthusiasm and content are all readily available. Some basic keyword research has thrown St Kilda Holiday Apartments out as an appealing domain name.

    I then planned to complement my apartment site with two SBI sites, a new Visit St Kilda site and the completion of my existing Melbourne site.

    Reading your post and failing to register with 1and1 My Website last night (no facility for Australian addresses in the application form) has set my mind whirring with questions;

    Am I being too simplistic or perhaps "old fashioned" in my want for a site purely devoted to apartment bookings?

    Should I actually be creating an SBI site - st kilda holiday apartments - which would contain the bigger st kilda section that i had originally envisaged as a separate SBI site?

    If my understanding of the SBI niche identification process is correct the numbers don't stack up for the latter as the supply is very low, although instinct tells me that there are lots of monetization opportunities beyond the apartments themselves, including other people's apartments, local activities from kite surfing to tour bookings etc. etc.

    Can a broad niche exist within a tight domain name or is that not appreciated by the google bots et al?

    I'm driving myself nuts with questions, trying to decide upon the best place to make my start and build this site. Any words would be much appreciated.

    With many thanks

  6. Just2EZ

    Just2EZ Moderator

    Wow Jackie, now you are asking the right person.
    Not only is Angie our local SBI expert, she's in the same country!
    If anyone can guide you on your quest it's Angie.
    Must be the reason 1&1 failed for you.
    The Lord works in mysterious ways!
    JackieM293 likes this.
  7. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Always glad to make someone smile! :p

    Exactly! That's one of the ways to "narrow" a niche. Instead of making money online, you pulled it into a more specific niche that targets those people who are focused solely on "free ways to make money." And you love it, to boot. 1+2+hard work=success!

    Thanks Jackie, that is exactly what I was aiming for! I hope it will help others at just the right time, too.

    I'm going to make a new post to answer your second one, regarding your request for help in determining the direction you should take on this specific niche your aiming for. Back in a minute! ;)

  8. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Okay, I'm back! :)

    Let's begin at the beginning. You mentioned that you already started a site with SBI. My first question is whether or not you still have that website and domain active, or whether you let it go. It sounds like it's a site about Melbourne, if I'm reading your post correctly. If you still have it, put a link to it in your signature so I can take a look at it. (In the upper right section of this page you'll see your user name that has a drop down box. You can click on the signature link and create a signature).

    Assuming that you still have the Melbourne site...

    St. Kilda is a suburb of Melbourne, so you do have the option of having a St. Kilda section on your Melbourne site. I guess it comes down to the supply and demand numbers as to whether you create a separate St. Kilda site or merge it into your existing Melbourne site.

    I know you said that the keyword research shows St. Kilda Holiday Apartments is not really viable as it stands, but what about St. Kilda itself. How do the numbers look for that? If you want to go more narrow than Melbourne, consider going with St. Kilda and then have one of your T2 sections as St. Kilda Holiday Apartments. If you go that route, you would want the domain name to reflect that the site is about more than the holiday apartments.

    I don't necessarily think that it's "old fashioned" to have a separate, simple site devoted specifically to the holiday apartments. I just don't see the necessity of having 2 or 3 sites around virtually the same topic/region, when one would do perfectly fine.

    If you DO go with separate sites for Melbourne, St. Kilda, and St. Kilda Holiday Apartments, are you willing and able to pay for 3 SBI packages? If not, you'll need to consider the fact that you'll have to learn and use at least 2 different site building platforms. Are you prepared to do that?

    Having said all that, going extremely narrow can actually work surprisingly well in certain cases and using SBI may still be worthwhile if the value per visitor is there. Let me give you an example...

    A friend of a friend has a station in far north Queensland and he wanted a website to advertise pig hunting adventures on his property. His friend told him about me and I spoke to him on the phone about SBI. After talking to him for a few minutes I realized that he really only wanted what I call a "mini-site" and although it definitely falls into the category of a niche website, as you know, it isn't really what SBI is all about (content rich authority sites).

    I explained that although I could certainly build him a website through SBI, he didn't really need that and could probably buy hosting cheaper somewhere else (since he wouldn't be generating a ton of traffic), purchase a domain name through GoDaddy and get someone to build him a wordpress site, etc. I personally only use SBI, so it wasn't something I could do for him (nor was I willing to take the time to learn for the small fee that I would charge him). ;)

    Anyway, long story short is that he insisted that he didn't mind paying the $299 per year to SBI if I would go ahead and build the site for him. So, I created for him www.southwellhuntingandfishing.com and it's only at most 6 pages. Regardless of the fact that he only gets about 15-20 visitors per day, his visitors are highly targeted and he generates interest in his hunting packages. One hunting package per year booked through the website is enough to pay for the cost of the website, so it is worth his while. Of course, I can't help but see the potential he has of generating heaps more visitors if he would simply add more content, but it's his business and he hasn't chosen to pursue that at this time.

    All that to say, if you wanted a very narrow and specific site for renting out those holiday apartments, it may be worthwhile to have a separate site just for them because the cost of a booking would probably cover your web expense, I just don't see the "need." It's really a preference thing on your end.

    On the other hand, I can see benefits to having all the info in one site because the whole site/business would benefit. Your visitors looking for holiday homes would naturally be interested in the local attractions, etc., and visitors looking for the local attractions could quite possibly be interested in the holiday homes.

    In addition, if you develop a good solid site on the St. Kilda (or Melbourne) area, you may even be able to add another option where other holiday home owners would be willing to pay you to list their apartments for rent, too. Ka-ching! More money in your pocket for very little extra work!

    Wouldn't you have a better chance of making those types of arrangements if you had a highly visited authority site on St. Kilda/Melbourne than if you only had a simple brochure type site on the apartments? I think so. It puts you in a much more commanding position for price negotiation when you have the traffic on your side.

    You asked if a "broad niche could exist within a narrow domain." I suppose it "could" but it seems more sensible to me to go the other way around - a narrow niche within a bit broader domain.

    Have I helped or confused you further? I hope it wasn't the latter! :D

  9. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Thanks Jimmy. You're very kind. I'm no expert, for sure, but you are definitely right about the way the Lord can sometimes work to help us on the right path. He did exactly that for me when I was looking for a way to earn some extra money online and He does it regularly in all areas of my life. I wouldn't be able to make it without Him! :love:

  10. JackieM293

    JackieM293 Member

    Thank you soooooo much Angie! :)

    I do still have the Melbourne site however at just 3 pages it's definitely a 'not quite started' rather than an unfinished symphony! Given it's mildly embarrassing state (1 of the pages is actually repeated twice) I've opted for a link here rather than my signature www.explore-melbourne-australia.com

    You'll see that St Kilda is already a Tier 2.

    Funnily enough when I went through the process of identifying my Melbourne niche and domain name I was torn as to whether to focus purely on St.Kilda. I was worried that although relatively strong the numbers were not enough for a beginner. With the benefit of hindsight I think I should have trusted my instinct and focused on St.Kilda from the start.

    Anyway, that decision has past.

    As I've read your post it has struck me that my concern is that the holiday apartments and booking of will get lost in the 'things to do', 'restaurants and cafes' etc. etc.

    Why the concern? Because my primary financial responsibility is to pay the mortgage on the apartments by obtaining bookings. This defines my Most Wanted Response - at this stage in the game my MWR is for people to book one of the apartments.

    For me, these are potentially the most profitable customers - attracted because they have a very specific request, if our particular apartments don't appeal I still have the opportunity to generate secondary income via affiliates and by introducing local attractions etc etc.

    Again I agree wholeheartedly on this consumer behavior however the 'quite possibly' scares me given the financial imperative.

    So having just had, with your help, a few light bulb moments I think I have to start things off by focusing on attracting quality rather than quantity visitors;

    Phase 1 - St Kilda Holiday Apartments - tightly linked to visitors primary search but more than a brochure site, an SBI site designed to deliver my MWR and optimize secondary income

    Phase 2 - Explore Melbourne Australia - the big authority site will attract the broader audience, support the super niche site and ultimately deliver against the bigger business objective.

    My vision exactly (y)

    Angie, your post has definitely helped! Thank you again.

    Goodnight for now from Aus,

  11. JackieM293

    JackieM293 Member

    1) Is it possible to think whilst asleep?

    2) Is it possible to delete the ramblings of my previous post? :oops:

    Angie, I'm pleased to say that I have woken up and I hear you!

    One site it is! I own and have made a small start with 'Explore Melbourne', I need to get on with it and make it the authority I know it can be - a true SBI site. Should it transpire that the more relevant niche is St Kilda I may tighten things up and migrate the content under a new domain further down the track but that's for another year, another time. I need to focus on now and get things moving.

    That said, I remain nervous about the almost immediate financial imperative especially in the context of the time involved in building a successful SBI site.

    As you advised your friend in FNQ, I am therefore going to put a cheap and cheerful brochure site together. Something to meet the immediate need. Something which may be discontinued and incorporated elsewhere in the future...we'll see... In part this is for my own piece of mind and in part I think it's about building my confidence both in my self and the tools, techniques and processes of the onlineworld.

    Thank you and apologies, I hope the ear mufflers I must have been wearing last night were not too frustrating.


  12. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Hi Jackie,

    Glad to hear your thinking has been clarified at least and that you are feeling more focused and confident in the direction you are taking. Let me make a few additional observations.

    I don't think that should be of any concern to you because the most targeted visitors that you are hoping to get will "find" your holiday apartment pages directly rather than "stumble" upon it while browsing the rest of your site. Those stumbling visitors will just be considered the icing on the cake.

    However, if the brochure site will give you peace of mind, go for it. I would definitely add the section to the Melbourne site, too, but rewrite the content, of course. You don't want to copy and paste because you do neither site any good that way.

    Don't be embarrassed! We all have to start somewhere! ;) Your link may be removed by the admin because we aren't allowed to post links to our own sites in the text of our posts (only in our sigs), but I'm sure Vishal will realize you aren't attempting to self-promote. Either way, I've had a chance to take a look already anyway.

    You definitely want to re-write the duplicate content so that each page is unique. Since you haven't worked on the site in a while, are you aware of SBI's new blockbuilder/site designer? It's referred to as BB2 and it will be a breeze for you to go in and convert those few pages over to the new site designer.

    This will enable you to easily have a lovely new template and edit those existing pages as you transfer them over. The new BB2 is pretty awesome, and once you get the hang of it, you're going to LOVE it! :)

    Ha ha! I do it all the time. Sometimes I fall asleep thinking about keywords and phrases and ideas for how I want to expand my sites, etc.

    I hear what you're saying about the financial imperative. I just don't see the same correlation between that and a separate site. In your position, I would simply focus on the St. Kilda section of the site first (rather than the greater Melbourne area), focusing on the holiday apartment pages ASAP.

    Unless you are planning to pay for advertising, I don't see how you'll be getting any more visitors to the "brochure" site than you would to the main site if you simply put the pages there. It's quite possible you are seeing something I'm not seeing, but it seems to me you are setting yourself up for doing the work twice when once, done well, is plenty.

    Ultimately, what I'm suggesting is to still use what you already have and instead of building it out in the traditional SBI way, built it out by focusing on the holiday apartment section first since that is your immediate need and priority.

    Have you got time on your hands to get at it?

    1. Change your template to a BB2 design using a custom header that looks professional if there isn't anything suitable in the current available options.

    2. Transition your current 3 pages over to BB2, fixing up that duplicate content issue while you're at it.

    3. If you already have your keywords for the holiday apartments ready to go, choose the best one for a T2 page and get started on that holiday apartment section. You can build out that T2 with T3's for each apartment including images, rates, and a Form Build It form to accept bookings.

    4. Place a few free ads online (or paid ones if desired) in the various classified sites, gumtree, etc., and link to your T3 apartment pages or even your T2 page.

    5. Once you're satisfied that your apartments are presented to the best advantage, target other related holiday apartment or Melbourne lodging keywords to draw in additional targeted traffic - you can cover all the various phrases by giving your visitors content about the benefits of renting a holiday home, the charms of holidaying in St. Kilda, the responsibilities of both the owner and the renter, maybe personal experiences of letting a holiday home yourself, etc.

    6. When you've exhausted that content, then start building out the rest of the site, starting with the best St. Kilda info. and then eventually going broader to Melbourne itself.

    That's just me thinking aloud as to how I would tackle your dilemma. I look forward to seeing whatever it is you decide to go with.

  13. JackieM293

    JackieM293 Member

    Hi Angie,

    I'm not sure what the forum etiquette for demonstrating extreme gratitude is. So, other than posting a page of emoticons all I can do is say wow! I am overwhelmed by the time and consideration you have given my query. I believe your help really is going to get me off on the right track and for that I shall always be grateful.

    I hope one day I can either return your generosity in some way or perhaps pay it forward to another new kid on the block.

    I am and I watched the video the other day. It's looks like things have really moved on. I wasn't aware that I would have to switch my current pages over, thank goodness there are only 3! ;)

    I think this is to do with fear. I am a marketeer by trade but that was a long time ago. I have not worked for 8 years and when I did it was in the 'old' currency of print, TV and cinema. Although at that time I was involved in some very innovative internet projects, the online world, the way we use internet and our expectations of it have moved on so much since then and that's without even mentioning the impact of social media.

    So, I am going to conquer that fear by trusting.


    I can guarantee an hour a day and beyond that I will try and grab as many productive moments as possible. This is nowhere near as much as I would like but that is not going to stop me! I will be introducing you to my newly worked and expanded website soon.:)

    Many thanks again,

    Vishal P. Rao likes this.
  14. tkyles1009

    tkyles1009 Member

    Powerful article here! Kudos to you Happywife! I loved every word, every sentence, and the concept as a whole. When I first heard someone mention niche I have to admit I was scratching my head in confusion.:confused:

    However when I finally began to understand the difference between a market and a niche within a market it made a world of difference and ultimately helped me decide what I'd like to base my website/business on.

    I know this article will help many hungry eager minds out there. Keep the good writing coming. We love it!;)

    All The Best
    Just2EZ likes this.
  15. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    Thanks Tim. :) I hope to add more soon.


    Hey Jack,
    Sorry I missed your last post. A simple thank you is always appreciated, of course, but the best thanks is paying it forward as you already intend to do. ;)

    I guess it's not "required" to switch your current pages over the new BB2, but I can't see a reason in the world why you wouldn't. You have everything to gain by doing so and it will literally only take an hour to do the lot. Of course, you may spend more time playing around with the template/design and getting the gist of the new tools, but the actual transferring of pages will be a breeze.

    An hour a day should be sufficient to really get you moving as long as you stay focused and make that hour count. I find I actually get more done in an hour (when I know that's all I have) than in 3-4 hours of "leisure" online. I work better under pressure I guess. :rolleyes:

    Looking forward to seeing what you do.
  16. Katie322

    Katie322 New Member

    This was really helpful! Thanks! :notworthy:
  17. happywife

    happywife Gold Member

    I'm pleased it was helpful for you Katie. Thanks for letting me know.
  18. Malluni

    Malluni Member

    Thank you very much for sharing! long time ago, I found a specific topic for my e-business and did not know how to make it real. I decided to create my website by myself, and I used a website builder from http://www.webstarts.com I did my own website interface and started the business successfully.
  19. JackGuzman

    JackGuzman New Member

    Really great post! I was reading it with pleasure! :)
    Thank you very much one more time ;)

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