Niche Site Duel – Update #2: Monetization Strategy (And My Big Mistake)
This is absolutely one of the most important considerations when launching a niche site. If you can’t answer the question, “How will this site make me money?” you’re in trouble. Having great content is one thing, but if it doesn’t translate into advertising revenue, commissions, or sales of your own product, you’re wasting your time.
There are a lot of ways to monetize a site, and not all of them are practical or even necessary. There are sites that make money 20 different ways and earn less than sites that only have one way of monetizing traffic. Based on your niche, it’s up to you to figure out which method is most effective. Sometimes it’s obvious – other times, it requires a bit of trial and error, with constant tweaks until you find that perfect recipe for success.
I wasn’t originally planning on writing about my monetization strategy as my 2nd update for the niche site duel, however I realized (via the comments on my niche site duel introduction post) that I made a huge mistake regarding my plans to monetize my niche site. I’ll discuss it more below.
When to Monetize a Site
There’s some disagreement in the “make money online” blogosphere about when you should monetize your site. The general consensus seems to be that you should first focus on content and traffic (which includes SEO/backlinking) before you worry about monetization.
I tend to agree with this, but for this niche site, I’m going to get my monetization working from the beginning. I think a lot depends on how difficult your methods are to implement – with what I’m going to use, it’s fairly quick and easy. On the other hand, if you were going to monetize your site with a guide or eBook that you’re creating yourself, it might make sense to first get the site running and get your traffic coming in first.
How I Plan to Monetize My P90X Review Site
I noticed many of the challengers in the niche site duel are primarily monetizing their sites with one affiliate product (e.g. an eBook from Clickbank). This seems like a good option, because then you can focus all of your energy (and content) on driving sales to that one product.
My approach is going to be somewhat different, and what I like to call “a monetization cafeteria.” Just like your high school cafeteria, no single part of your meal was all that great, but at the end of lunch, you were still full and satisfied (okay, maybe you weren’t completely satisfied). I plan to spread my potential sources of income across several different methods – although each individual method might not be a tremendous source of income, they should add up to something decent.
My Big Mistake
Before I go into my actual monetization methods, I want to point out a critical mistake I made when I decided to create this niche site. My original goal was to have this site earn an income through affiliate sales for P90X. I was going to use Commission Junction to do this, although there are several affiliate sites that allow you to sell P90X.
In my last niche site post, one reader (Frank) left the following comment:
You can’t be a P90X affiliate through CJ if you have their trademark in your domain name. I already learned that one the hard way – they reversed my first seven sales.
Initially, I panicked. Frank was absolutely right – I confirmed that this was true, by checking the terms of the affiliate agreement on Commission Junction. All I could think of was, “Now what do I do? My primary source of income is dead.” Luckily, I figured something else out (which I’ll explain shortly).
The lesson here is to make sure you read the terms and conditions of your affiliate agreements. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches later on.
The first thing I implemented was Google AdSense. I’m not a huge fan of AdSense ads (which is why you don’t see any on this site), but I know they can be effective. Looking at the health and fitness category, ad clicks tend to pay pretty well because it’s a fairly competitive niche.
I decided I wouldn’t display any ads on the main page. This way, when you first land on the site, you aren’t overwhelmed with a spammy atmosphere. The goal is to get people deeper into your content, so you don’t want to scare them away. I’ll admit that I might be leaving some AdSense money on the table by doing this, but I think it will be offset by the additional income earned when people aren’t scared away from the site.
If you’ve checked out the site, you’ll notice that the ads are on the blog posts themselves. Because each blog post on the main page only has the first few sentences visible, the reader is forced to click on a blog post anyway if they want to keep reading.
To display the ads within blog posts, I’m using a plugin called All in One Adsense and YPN. I like this plugin a lot because it allows you to randomize the size and location of the ads. This keeps the reader from becoming completely ad blind – in other words, they’re less likely to ignore an ad when it constantly changes size and position. Hit refresh on one of my P90X blog posts if you don’t believe me.
You can also set the number of ad blocks that you want to display. Right now, I have it set at one. I originally tried two, but it became too distracting.
Although I previously said that no monetization method would be prominent for me, I plan on Amazon being my largest source of income for this niche site. Their commissions are very low (between 4.0-8.5% depending on # of products sold), but because most people like purchasing from Amazon, conversion rates are typically high.
This became the solution to my problem of not being able to sell P90X. Fortunately for me, Amazon sells P90X and doesn’t have the same restrictions that other affiliate sites (like Commission Junction) have. I’ll have to settle for a lower commission, but perhaps I’ll make more sales.
In addition to selling P90X, I plan to write reviews on a variety of exercise equipment. Amazon sells almost anything you can think of related to exercise equipment, so I’ll have no problem finding everything I want. In addition to reviews, there will be contextual links sprinkled throughout my regular blog posts.
Remember, the nice thing about Amazon’s affiliate program is that once someone clicks on your link, you get a commission from anything they buy on Amazon.com within the next 24 hours. They might click on my link for dumbbells and wind up purchasing a plasma TV – I would get 4.0-8.5% of the TV price, in that example.
One of the great things about the health and fitness niche is that people are rarely satisfied with one product. For example, when I’m done with P90X, I may look to try another home fitness program (or I may simply do another 90 days of P90X). Fitness and weight loss are difficult concepts for a lot of people, which is why it’s one of the most lucrative niches (not to mention one of the most competitive) out there.
Therefore, I plan to have another category on the niche site labeled something like “Alternatives to P90X.” Here, I’ll write reviews/descriptions of other weight loss and fitness information products from Clickbank. I plan on doing research and reading reviews about these different products, to make sure that I’m not promoting something that others don’t like.
Other Affiliate Sites
In addition to Clickbank, I’m a member of various other affiliate/CPA sites such as Elite Clicks Media, CX Digital Media, and Affiliate.com. These sites have a wide variety of offers in just about every niche you can think of, so I’ll probably see what I can find to further monetize my site. I recommend signing up with those sites to at least see if there are any offers you can promote on your niche site.
Building an e-mail list is something that many people overlook when they build niche sites to promote Clickbank products (or however else you monetize the site). While this will definitely earn you some passive income, you’re leaving money on the table. After all, most people will probably visit your niche site one time. They may purchase something, they may not. Either way, you will probably never see them again.
Building an e-mail list allows you to keep that relationship alive. Once someone signs up, you will have multiple opportunities to share your content with them, but more importantly, you will have opportunities to either sell them your primary product or other related products.
Generally, you need to offer an incentive for someone to sign up. You can put together a fairly quick 5-10 page PDF regarding something in your niche like “Top 10 Ways to Lose Weight.” In my case, I’m offering an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track my P90X workouts.
I plan to dedicate an entire niche site duel article about building an e-mail list, so I’ll end my discussion about it here, for now. In case you’re wondering, I use Aweber for my e-mail list (you can sign up and try it out for $1 for your first month).
That’s the end of update #2! Hopefully this discussion about monetization gave you some ideas for your site. Please let me know what you think about my methods and if there’s anything you’d recommend (or let me know any questions you might have!).
Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed (if you haven’t already) so that you don’t miss future niche site duel updates!
UPDATE: When I originally posted this article, I meant to include my current Google rankings for my desired keywords. I’ve done some backlinking so far (I’ll write about that in a future update), but here are the current rankings on Google:
P90X review: 46
P90X blog: 76
home workout routines: 174
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