Want to make money with your blog? Have a feeling you’re shooting blanks? I feel ya! But no worries, I know the first step in getting (back) on track: answer the question do you have a niche site or an authority site?
This might seem like an unnecessary subject. Who cares?! Let’s get on and talk about social media, SEO, and monetization strategies. I know, I know, I can be impatient as well. But your blogging strategy depends on whether you have a niche site or an authority site.
In this post, I’ll explain the difference between these two. And I’ll explain how they differ in their monetization approach.
What is a niche site?
A niche site is a relatively small website (with only a few pages and a not so active blog) centered around a certain product or service. Its main goal is making sales. It serves only a small group of people, as it is a very specific product. In general, a niche site relies on only one type of monetization, for example, ads and affiliates. More and more niche sites are purely built around a certain Amazon product (or product group).
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a big part of making a niche site profitable. Therefore, picking a niche for your niche site should be based first and only (!) on the potential success of a few keywords and not on your interest or passion.
Most often, there is no (or only little) social media involved in growing a niche site. The same goes for email marketing. Of course, there are exceptions.
Normally, a niche site is not a long term strategy for making money (again, there are exceptions). There sure is (some or a lot of) passive income involved, maybe even for years, but it can be over instantly, for example, if Google changes its algorithms or when a strong competitor is on the rise. Therefore, if you want to make serious money with this, you should build several niche sites.
Although building a niche site is time-consuming, making an authority site profitable takes much more time.
What is an authority site?
An authority site is a relatively big site with lots of content. It is regularly updated with fresh posts and its target audience is less specific as with a niche site. Although the main subject can be very precise, its focus is more on connecting and informing like-minded people. Making money is – in theory – of secondary importance.
Authority sites use a combination of SEO and social media to grow and build their following. Monetization is mostly based on more than one sales type, for example, selling courses, ebooks, and consultations, affiliates, and sponsored posts. Email marketing and establishing relationships with readers is an essential part of becoming successful. It depends on the monetization strategy, but getting passive income is possible as well.
In general, an authority site is mainly based on the interest of the blogger. It takes years to build a strong authority site, but once established, it is there for the long run.
Which one is best for earning money with your blog?
Earning money online is possible with both a niche site and an authority site. However, there are a few distinctive differences:
- Building a niche site takes less time, but there are more risks involved (aka getting penalized by Google). Monetization can, therefore, be short-term. For safety, you should build more than one niche site.
- Building an authority site takes more time, but it is a more sustainable strategy for making money online.
Monetization strategy for niche sites
There are websites (for example here and here) about how to make money with niche sites, so I’ll only cover the basics.
Niche sites rely heavily on keyword research. If you want to start a niche site, the very first thing on your to-do list is carrying out an in-depth keyword analysis. Your goal is to find keywords relative to a certain niche/product that have lots of search volume but little competition and thus earning potential.
Monetization of niche sites is most often based on affiliates through Amazon. Of course, other affiliate programs like HotelCombined and Booking (for travel related blogs), ClickBank (digital products), and affiliate networks such as CJ Affiliate and Tradedoubler are also possible.
Link building for niche sites
Link building is for many niche site owners the biggest challenge. It is harder to link build to a niche site than to an authority site. Moreover, if you do it the wrong way, you receive a penalty from Google – making your hard work a waste of time.
Although you can Google ‘link building niche sites’, be aware that there is a lot of black and gray hat info out there. Don’t believe anything you read! Someone I know is trustworthy is Sharon from Digital Nomad Wannabe. She has built many profitable niche sites and offers a lot of (free and paid) info about building and monetizing niche sites on her website.
Is a niche site spam?
One more thing about niche sites: some view them as spam. And yes, there are niche sites responsible for spammy activities. However, if your niche site answers a question, offers a solution or gives valuable information, it is not spam.
Monetization strategy for authority sites
Monetizing an authority site takes more time than monetizing a niche website. The reason is simple: making money with an authority site is only possible when there is a long-term relationship between blogger and audience. Without trust, monetization won’t work.
The ‘authority’ of the authority website is based upon teaching. The blogger has knowledge and experience about a certain topic and with helpful articles, he informs his audience about the matter. It is exactly what I’m doing here right now: educating you about the differences between niche sites and authority sites.
Monetization strategies in line with teaching are courses, ebooks, and consultations. In general, authority bloggers offer free webinars, (email) courses and eguides before selling the paid alternatives. Earning money through affiliates and sponsored posts is another proven strategy.
Link building for authority sites
Link building is always a challenge, but for authority sites, getting natural back links is much easier. You can more easily benefit from networking and outreach. And when you’re ranking high in Google, you’ll notice that other (authority) bloggers link back to your helpful posts.
And of course, guest posting and link swapping are much easier when you have an authority blog. It may seem more work, but in practice, it is far easier to get backlinks for an authority blog than for a niche site.
Niche site vs authority site: the verdict
Both niche sites and authority sites have their pros and cons. Your preference is subjective as it is also a passion vs making money fast and a long-term vs short-term decision.
However, I’m a big fan of diversifying your income. Especially if you want to support your family by working location independent; you don’t want to take unnecessary risks.
So why choose one if you can do both?!
What do you think: building a niche site, an authority site, or both?