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There are two ways I make money online – from blogging and from niche sites. I write about how to create income from both these avenues (and my experience of each) on this blog.
There are a lot of similarities between these two types of sites and I’m often asked by readers whether they would be better off building a niche site or a blog.
It’s often bloggers who ask as they become disillusioned with trying to monetise their blogs and start wondering if there’s a better way. I know how they feel because that’s exactly how I used to feel.
It’s why I built my first three niche sites.
Mid 2014, I reached the point where I had met all the goals for my blog except one – making reasonable money. I was frustrated and the situation felt hopeless. I didn’t know what else to do and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.
I read about niche sites and quickly became hooked on the idea.
I am so glad I did.
Not just because niche sites have made great money for me (see how much they earned over their first two years here) but because they taught me so much about SEO, affiliate marketing, monetisation in general and how to treat my blog as a business.
This lead to one surprising side effect…
Building niche sites was actually the best thing I could have done for my blog.
I applied everything I learned from niche sites to my travel blog and BAM. I had the financially successful blog I craved.
However, each approach to building a financially successful site has its pros and cons.
Below, I am going to discuss them to help you make your own decision about what is best for you and I’m going to share why building niche sites lead me to discover the easiest way to monetise my blog (and how you can too!).
Don’t think a blog or niche site is for you? Read about creating other online businesses here.
You will learn...
- The differences between blogs and niche sites
- The pros and cons of blogging
- The pros and cons of niche sites
- The easiest way to monetise a blog
- My verdict
1. The differences between blogs and niche sites
The reality is that there doesn’t have to be much difference between a blog and a niche site.
Some niche sites are very much like blogs (but usually more specific) and some blogs look very much like niche sites.
I am going to generalise when I describe the differences in this article and focus on Amazon affiliate niche sites.
Basically, a blog is some type of personal website telling stories or giving information from the blogger’s perspective.
They usually have active social media accounts and, although they usually have a niche, it tends to be more broad. Like having a niche of travel compared to hotels in Thailand. They usually have a lot more posts than a niche site.
A niche site is usually much smaller and focused on one topic. Amazon affiliate niche sites are focused on one product or a set of related products and most articles on the site will be related to buying guides and reviews.
They often still have a personality – there will be a person’s name who loves the product and they will have an about page. These are probably fake.
The easiest way to understand the difference is to look at examples.
Where’s Sharon is my travel blog. Here’s another blog example, another one and another one.
Amazon affiliate niche sites have quite a different look. These are ones I found by googling “best” and random products. Example 1 and example 2.
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2. The pros and cons of blogging
There is a lot to love about blogging.
You get to share your passion with the world. You get the perfect excuse to do more of what you love. You may be able to make money in what seems like a very cool way.
The problem with blogging, however, is that if you want to be financially successful, it’s hard. Really hard.
Hell, blogging is hard. Period.
Us bloggers seem to put too much pressure on ourselves.
We want the perfect looking site.
The perfect content.
A ton of readers.
Social media with great interaction.
The problem with all of this is that it leaves little time to make money and it’s easy to get stressed out.
It’s hard not to want something to be perfect when your name is on it and you’re sharing it with the world.
The upside is that once you figure out the mystery of making money from your blog, it should be a safer form of income that is less likely to get taken away instantly since you are more likely to have diversified your income sources.
There’s also far more scope to make a lot more money from blogging than there is from a niche site.
In general, it’s a better long term plan exactly because you put so much effort into so many different avenues of generating traffic and revenue.
It’s also going to appeal to people who are happy being creative and don’t want a formula of how to succeed. It’s best suited to people who are comfortable marketing themselves and like the fame aspect.
- Can write about what you love
- More freedom with many different approaches to blogging
- More earning potential
- Can become well known (pro or con depending on your perspective)
- A lot more work
- Takes longer to earn money
- Figuring out how to make money from a blog can be very hard
- Getting noticed in a saturated space can be hard
3. The pros and cons of niche sites
If you come from a blogging background, it might surprise you that niche sites like example 1 and 2 above can make good money. Very good money.
Bloggers like to say that your site has to be a certain way, you have to write in an authentic way to be seen as trustworthy if you want to make money, you have to have active social media accounts and other things that seem to amount to an impossible workload that leave us with no time to actually make money.
As you can see, this isn’t the case.
Niche sites can make excellent money and without all the effort that goes into blogging.
The best part about building a niche site is that there is far less work involved, often more money than most people will ever make blogging and a formula to follow.
The formula doesn’t work every single time, but it works most of the time with far better odds than the suspected percentage of bloggers that make decent money.
There is more potential for a blog to make a large amount and my travel blog makes more money than my niche sites. However, it took quite awhile before blogging beat my niche sites to become a bigger income source and I was blogging years before I built niche sites.
Even though my blog does make more money and is a safer, more diversified income source, when I think about all the time I spend on my blog compared to my niche sites, I do wonder if I made the best decision continuing with my blog.
Two niche sites take about a month of full time work to build including time to build a PBN (I did this part time over a few months). Ongoing, I would estimate my two niche sites take less than 5% of the time I spend working (compared to my travel blog generally taking about 95% of my time).
If all the time I focus on blogging had gone into building more and more niche sites, I could have made a lot of money now especially if I sold them when they reached a certain point.
There is more risk associated with niche sites but I don’t think it’s unreleastic at all to think I could have made over half a million dollars with them by now. That would buy me a lot of time to get a new business (or blog!) off the ground if something happened to stop the process working.
I worked this out by looking at how much my niche sites were making on average at the two year mark. If I had sold them at that point and received the standard 20 times the monthly amount they were making over the last few months, I would have made about US$121,000 on top of the $64,000 they made over the first two years. I would only need four more niche sites to reach the same level of success to make well over half a million!
I also like building a site which doesn’t have my name all over it. I find it freeing!
It also makes it easier to make sensible business decisions (leading to more money) as I don’t have the same emotional connection as I do with my blogs which I spend hours on and pour myself into.
The downside is that you might not be writing about something that interests you at all.
Niche site topics are picked based on what will make more money rather than passion. This can be outsourced, however, and I outsource all niche site content now.
- Far less work
- Faster to make money
- There’s a formula to follow so you are more likely to succeed than with blogging
- Easy to monetise
- More sellable since it’s not a personal blog
- Easier to treat as a business so easier to make smarter decisions
- Less safe as an income source
- Less likely to be writing about something that interests you
Interested in finding out the process of building your own money making niche site? Click here to download my checklist for building a niche site and to receive FREE weekly step by step instructions for how to build your site.
4. The easiest way to monetise a blog…
The easiest way for me to monetise my blog was to build niche sites.
This is because building niche sites taught me everything I know about the buying cycle, SEO and affiliate marketing.
And this is pure gold.
When I applied these learnings back to my blog is when I had financial success which lead to a six figure income from affiliate marketing alone on my travel blog last year.
The extra bonus was that I also had a couple of other sites that earn great money.
5. My verdict?
So should you build a blog or a niche site?
I don’t have a definitive answer.
Doing both has worked well for me but when I calculated how easily I could have made half a million dollars above with niche sites, it was hard not to regret persisting with blogging!
It is harder keeping up with multiple sites and sometimes it does my head in. Of course, if I had just stuck to two niche sites and a blog then this would have been completely manageable.
I currently have 9 niche sites and 2 blogs. Don’t go that crazy. I could handle 9 niche sites but having 2 blogs is crazy!
The good thing about multiple approaches is that it does take a long time to get a blog off the ground and I had that burning away while I built my niche sites and now I have the benefits of both.
What should you pick?
If your main goal is to make money and you are not making much (or any) from your blog right now (or don’t have one), I recommend building a couple of niche sites.
They take time, but a blog takes more, and they have a great shot of making good money if you follow the steps in my niche site case study.
If you are committed to blogging, that’s fine too. I love being a blogger. Just expect to work harder and for longer before you see a pay off. But it will be extra sweet when you get there!
You can also watch my live video where I go into more pros and cons and why niche sites are such good money makers here.
Find more posts on my case studies and niche sites here.
Interested In Niche Sites?
Download my free checklist 7 Steps to Building a Money Making Niche Site and receive weekly step by step emails for how to build your own.
So what do you think? Blogging or niche sites? What do you want to do?