Update 2/4/2013: Building a niche store to earn side income is no longer a strategy that I recommend. As part of the Google Panda updates, Google pretty much killed the niche store as I used it. While I was incredibly successful using this strategy until end of year 2011, my earnings across all of my niche stores have dropped significantly and continue to fall. You can read all about the details in my article, Don’t build a niche store. Again, this is no longer a strategy I would recommend. Instead, I would encourage you to start a money making blog.
The original article I wrote follows:
There are literally hundreds of successful ways to earn a side income online. While I’m constantly looking for new ideas and opportunities, I’ve found that focusing on three particular strategies have proven very successful for me:
- Web Design and development – I design and build WordPress websites and blogs for people and earn income by the hour as part of my Empty Cabin Media Business
- Blogging – I run a number of blogs where I earn income from advertising and affiliate offers. While I currently have about 5 blogs, my primary focus is here on Side Income Blogging. My series Start a Money Making Blog walks you step by step
- Niche Stores – Another great revenue source for me are niche stores, where I offer third party products and services to visitors and in return for them purchasing these, I earn affiliate income.
Build a niche store
I’ve started more than 20 different niche store sites over the past 5 years, a few of them have been very successful and being honest, a few of them complete flops. On the few that were successful, I was earning in excess of $1500.00 a month from the top one alone. The great thing about Niche stores is that they are relatively easy to set-up and require very little ongoing maintenance. The key difference between a niche store and a blog is that a niche store focuses on existing products (and/or services) where a blog focuses on articles. In other words, if you don’t like to write, creating niche stores just might be a great option for you.
This is the first in a series of articles that will teach you how to build a niche store. Not only will I guide you through the process, I’ll even build a real site with you and track the earnings. Will the niche store I chose be a success? I sure hope so, but who knows.
What is niche affiliate marketing?
Before I explain what a niche store is, let me explain what is niche affiliate marketing. Niche stores are simply front-ends to affiliate offers. Affiliates or affiliate offers are provided by various companies. Affiliate offers pay you to market a companies products or services. For example, a company may offer a slick new WordPress plugin at the price of $100. If you market this new plugin on your blog or niche store and someone clicking through your link purchases the product, you get paid, generally either a fixed amount of a percentage of the sale. This is referred to as affiliate marketing, and since we’re niche focused, niche affiliate marketing.
Niche affiliate marketing programs are offered, generally, in two primary ways: 1) Through affiliate marketing networks such as Commission Junction, LinkConnector, Share a Sale and many others 2) Privately by the product company directly. The majority of affiliate marketing offers are provided by affiliate networks which provide a central place to track your earnings, track click trough rates and provide ability to search for and sign-up for new offers.
What is a niche store?
Now that you understand niche affiliate marketing, let’s discuss niche stores. A niche store is basically a web-site, set-up to look similar to an online store. The site features products and services offered by other companies with the links to these products and services being affiliate links. There are many different styles and strategies for niche stores. The most basic, and in my opinion often the most successful is the simple store. The simple store provides the products either on the main page or on sub-pages and offers various options for browsing available products by brand, cost range, style, size, etc. The other option I’ve used is a review site. Review sites target a specific niche, and provide reviews of the various products available. As part of the review article, affiliate links are included.
For the Build A Niche Store series, we’re going to build the basic niche store but if you would like to see an example of a review site visit the MPG Meters site I created a few years back. This was the very first niche site I created. In 2011, this site generated $274.00 in revenue for me. Not bad, considering I literally haven’t done anything to the site outside of basic maintenance and upgrades.
Some of you at this point might be thinking: Aren’t niche stores a little misleading? Good question, and I wondering the same thing when I first started considering them. I think it depends on how you build them. The way I build them, I strive to provide added value to the visitor. For example, my MPGMeters site at the core, provides links to MPG Meters for sale on Ebay. But if you look at what the site does, it not only features the meters for sale, it provides reviews of the meters, informative articles on how mpg meters can benefit visitors and even provides tips and strategies for optimizing their use. For the basic niche store, your site will provide information above and beyond what eBay provides and you’ll make it easier for visitors looking to purchase the products easier.
Key tip: Make sure your niche site provides added value.
Looking forward in the series
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be publishing subsequent articles that will teach you how to build a niche store of your own. Next I’ll help you find a unique niche or your own and share the example niche I selected. After that, we’ll reserve the domain name and get the actual server set-up.
I think you’ll be surprised to find that building a niche store is very much like starting a blog. I really think you’ll find this series fun and interesting. Not to mention, niche stores can really supplement your side income. Earning more money online is always a great thing right?
Photo by: Will Scullin