By Karol Krol
When it comes to starting your own thing online, building a niche site is one of those go-to beginner-level ideas that everyone can grasp, and everyone can do with relatively low cost.
In reality, though, this doesn’t always play out that well at the end of the day … or at the end of the month, rather.
And don’t get me wrong; niche sites are great for what they are. I really mean it!
After all, if you go to Flippa, you’ll see tens, if not hundreds, of different profitable (cash positive) niche sites on sale. So there certainly is something about them … something that can be worthwhile when done right.
That being said, we often fall victim to something called the survivorship bias.
Explained by the almighty Wikipedia:
[Survivorship bias] is the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that “survived” some process and inadvertently overlooking those that did not because of their lack of visibility.
In other words, the fact that we keep seeing so many successful niche sites all around, tricks us into thinking that the whole endeavor can’t be that hard, can it?
That’s when marketing mistakes come into the picture…
Let’s have a closer look at those marketing mistakes, and point out some ways to fix them.
Mistake #1: Not Realizing the Influence of Your Web Host
Granted, launching a niche site has a very low barrier to entry. It won’t cost you your shirt.
On the other hand, though, you really can’t just sign up for whatever hosting platform offers the cheapest rates. There are multiple problems with that.
- In general, cheap hosts offer you what’s called shared plans, which means that you’re sharing the server with other websites. This equals lower performance. (Note: If you’re not entirely familiar with what web hosting is and how it works, check this resource out. You really need to know that stuff as a niche site owner!)
- You’re sharing the same IP address with those sites. This can have negative affect on your Google rankings.
- Because of the shared IP, your website gets associated with all of those other websites. Without even knowing, you can find yourself in a very bad neighborhood (you don’t know what those sites are, or what’s on them).
In general, don’t get a hosting plan that’s below $5/month. The usable stuff starts around $10/month. If you’re serious about your niche site, the investment will pay off.
Sorry, I won’t give you any hosting recommendations here. You have to research this on your own.
Mistake #2: Choosing a Niche You Have No Interest In
This is something I’m most guilty of…especially when I worked on my first two or three sites.
I feel kind of embarrassed talking about this, but my first site was something about Xbox gaming (can’t remember exactly), when at that time I had never owned an Xbox. Actually, I wasn’t even a gamer in any shape or form. I just got onto that because I found a niche keyword that seemed easy to tackle.
What’s wrong with this mindset:
- If you have no interest in the topic, it will become significantly harder every week to work on the site (trust me, I know).
- You won’t be able to tell whether your content is good or not.
- You will have to hire other people to create content—which isn’t bad in itself, but … read above.
- You have no chance of being better than your competition – the people who have been in the niche for months or years, and have a lot of personal experience, produce better content, and offer better products.
- Your audience will see through you right away. Remember, they are passionate about the topic so they will be able to spot that you know nothing.
Join only the niches that you at least understand on a fundamental level. You don’t need to be the know-all expert. It’s perfectly sufficient to just share a problem with your audience, and talk about how you’re solving it. Whatever you do, you need to have at least some level of personal interest in the topic.
With all that being said, it’s also more than easy to go too far in the opposite direction … which brings me to the third of marketing mistakes.
Mistake #3: Looking Only for Topics You’re Passionate About
Be honest with yourself, what are you truly passionate about?
If you’ve counted more than four things, you’re lying.
Passion comes with mastery.
Trying to begin your journey into anything by looking for passion first, and then growing your skills afterwards isn’t going to work.
The topic of passion is often misunderstood and leading us to making the wrong decisions, or rather not making the right ones.
[Steve Jobs] sort of stumbled into Apple and then quickly cultivated that passion once he was there. […] That idea – that you don’t follow passion, but rather cultivate it through new skills – applies to most of us.
… says Cal Newport.
So if even someone like Steve Jobs started by entering a market, and only then found his passion later on, why not do the same?
Enter a topic you have interest in. You don’t have to be passionate about it. If it really suits you, passion will follow as you grow your mastery.
Mistake #4: Your Site Has No Brand
There’s a misconception circulating around that content is 100 percent of what matters for a website’s success.
On one hand, content is king, that’s a fact. If your content sucks, your website won’t succeed, even if it’s designed by Jony Ive.
But on the other hand, if your design is really … really … sub-par, the site doesn’t look credible.
Your site can’t look like a fraud. In=t simply needs to look credible.
Invest in a cool WordPress theme. That’s the simplest solution of them all. But it’s not everything. A brand is much more than just the looks. Even though it’s a niche site we’re talking about, you still need to find your story and convey it effectively—a story that resonates with your target visitor.
Mistake #5: You’re Inconsistent
The landscape of today is tough. If you want your website to remain on good terms with Google, you need to create new content consistently.
As many webmasters have observed, Google tends to favor new content over old.
What it all means is if you’ve only invested in the initial batch of posts for your niche site, and then you’ve somewhat stopped, your career is going to be short-lived.
Never stop updating/creating new stuff for your niche site. This includes:
- Publishing new posts.
- Updating old posts.
- Updating the site software/platform (such as WordPress, or maybe you’re using something else).
- Publishing other types of content (such as infographics, or presentations; here’s a good tool for that – called Visme),
- updating anything else you offer on the site.
Mistake #6: Having Only Spam-like Presence on Social Media
Social media takes time, I get that.
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest … if you’re going to be on all of those, you’ll have very little time left to do anything else.
Because of that, we often fall victim to doing things up to a slightly lower standard. I mean, our social media presence starts being only about sharing some articles from our niche site automatically a number of times per day, and that’s it. (Ekhm; spamming!)
This isn’t good for anyone. Or at least not good for the two most important parties—you and your audience.
Choose just one platform. A platform that’s the most popular in your niche. Work on it first. And do it honestly.
For example, if your niche is business-centered then LinkedIn might be your platform. If it’s cooking, Pinterest or Instagram.
In short, do some research and find out what’s already out there and where the people are.
Mistake #7: Putting Affiliate Links Everywhere
For most niche sites, affiliate marketing is how they make money.
It’s the easiest to get into, and often one of the more profitable methods of monetization.
(Simply speaking, affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s products and get commission for it.)
So, you have no fulfillment costs, no development costs, nothing. You just get paid when you make a sale.
How perfect is that, right?
No surprise that some niche site owners go too far with their affiliate promotions. They begin losing the grasp on the main idea—being useful to the visitor—and instead try squeezing every last affiliate link click out of them.
What’s wrong with this?
Your people will see through this very soon. They will realize that whatever they click leads them to a product page. This is a very short path to losing your credibility.
Going back to my Xbox site … this is the mistake I made. Nearly everything led to Xbox fixing guides.
Provide value first. Solve a problem. Link to affiliate offers only if they’re part of the solution, and only if they truly benefit the reader. Don’t promote things for promotion’s sake.
Other Marketing Mistakes?
Have you made other marketing mistakes with your niche site, and you’re not afraid to share?
Speak up in the comments!
image credit: Pixabay