How Niche Sites Can Thrive Without Google & Make Money

Over the last few months multiple travel, sports, and other niche owners have reached out because Google wiped their traffic. This post isn’t about the reasons why Google may have wiped them, its about what they could have done differently when Google was sending them traffic.

As a marketing strategist and affiliate manager, my job is to help niche site owners build sustainable revenue and remove their reliance on one traffic source.  This happens by making themselves a destination site vs. a one and done review or article.  And for the record, many niche site owners are not spammers, they are people with a passion for a topic that want to provide value to an audience of like minded people.

Here’s some of the things I shared with them by niche type.  I hope this helps you if you’re a niche site owner, if you manage affiliates or influencers, or are an aspiring content creator.  If I give the tip in a higher section, I don’t repeat it lower to save some space.  Many can apply to other niches too.

Product Review Sites

This includes furniture, outdoor sports or leisure products, and events planning.  Each one of these business people felt it was a one and done type of deal and that the visitor had no reason to come back.  This is not accurate.

Outdoor Sports Equipment

I’m focusing on winter and snow sports for this example, but it works for hiking, mountain biking, etc… Having content and first hand experience with specific regions whether it is Colorado, Utah, Vermont, etc… is a gold mine.  You know the trails, communities, hidden spots for food, and when the best times to go are because of snow and a lack of tourists.

Opportunities here include:

  • Collecting emails and SMS numbers and doing a community get together from the lists.
  • Cut deals with the resorts and mountains where you create content and have a community only discount for those slower weeks that is only available for your subscribers.
    • Great opportunity for a membership portal and paid annual or monthly subscription.
    • A niche beauty influencer I worked with started an annual conference where she brought in other estheticians for a networking mastermind, and it was wildly successful.
  • You can make money off hotel bookings, lift tickets, gear, restaurant reservations, etc… because you have the guides to the area or the equipment used or rented there.
  • Share which trails to do with the times of day based on sunrise and sunset for instagram worthy moments (golden hour) and where to stop on the trail with photo examples.
    • Camera and lens rentals, rugged cameras that fit into the gear you recommend with the skis or snowboards, tripods or attachments to a ski pole and tips on which poles could allow for more stability with photos, are all ways to monetize this.

Having unique copy that only someone who is there would know gives people a reason to come back.  And offering more content like where specific animals are and hidden instagramable spots add value.  Offering community perks gives people a reason to join your newsletter and community.  Reviewing a grill or ATV might not, but this value-adding content combined with an incentive might.

Side note: All of the sites that reached out believe original photography means E-E-A-T.  It does not.  Machines cannot read or verify images, that’s why third party and scraper sites outrank you for your own images.

E-E-A-T is also sharing what was wrong with the product and giving an alternative or combination that solves the issue (and linking to the specific paragraphs where you share that though on the alternate product), sharing other reviewed products that were similar or safer for kids, better for adventure, and where this one is better when talking about sports equipment like dirt bikes, and it is worse than similar or competitive products.  E-E-A-T is including multiple things that only someone who has tested, been there, and had the full experience would know.

Home Products

From baby cribs to air purifiers, and even couches and home entertainment systems, you can build an audience and make money off of more than a review.

  • Baby cribs mean there is a parent looking for solutions. Offer them specific guides to saving without sacrificing quality.  This can encourage a subscription sign up where you send monetizable guides for the next 5 years or longer.  You just need to keep track of the year the person opted in, and set the next series based on the child’s new age.
    • Birthday parties and planning for the 1st, 5th, and 10th birthdays.
    • Kids eat free nights at restaurant chains and the best hotels for kids at XYZ age.
    • Toddler beds, kids beds, decor and school supplies, back to school, summer camps for ABC interests.
      • If you’re doing interests like sports, arts and crafts, theatre, etc… you’re now getting niche and can carry the audience into the teenage years.
    • Affiliate links, CPM ads, sponsorships, etc… can all be used to make money here.
  • Couches and home entertainment vary big time in use, cost and niche.  From man caves to family rooms, studio apartments where every inch matters, to the south where it is all about outdoors and open air living areas, this is a gold mine.
    • There’s bbqs and grills for outdoor couches and living spaces.
      • Grilling guides with original recipes can bait the person into subscribing if it is an outdoor living space couch or entertainment system.  Some of the recipes could call for specific grilling tools and you can earn affiliate commissions within the guide.
    • Sports packages and upsells for TV and cable (cut a deal and send the offer to the subscribers) with the man cave crowd.
      • And don’t forget she sheds where you could do decor, coffee makers, entrepreneurial signs, etc…
    • Guides to optimizing small spaces (couches for city apartments) and cross sell room maximizers like mirrors, decor, and multi-purpose furniture.
    • College students dorms and following up one year later with first apartments, and sharing entertainment offers and deals, spring break destinations and travel.
  • Air purifiers have cross-promotion and repeat revenue opportunities.
    • Deals on replacement filters if they subscribe and you send who has the best price monthly or quarterly.
    • Demographic data based on urban, suburban, and rural becomes valuable for home decor companies, things to do recommendations, etc…
    • Knowing if the person is buying for allergies (plant or pet), you’ll also have their spending power based on the specific models and luxury vs. necessity.
      • If the purifier is for pet dander, cross promote pet and allergy friendly plants (subscription models here for flowers and plants with recurring revenue) and guides to keeping pets off furniture.
      • And you can do pet products from toys to leashes, ESA letters, dog beds, cat trees, hamster balls, and impulse products.
      • There’s pet hotels and sitting services for busy travel seasons like summer and the holidays, and pet friendly hotel chains where you can talk about policies and options you can monetize with affiliate links on the hotel reservations.
    • Cross promote guides and supplies from cleaning to cooking with healthy living, other tools that reduce pollen or pet dander, etc… for the people buying for health benefits vs. necessity.

Each of these sites can collect and share experiences that users provide.  Air purifiers can have one around allergies and break it out by seasonal and animals, then provide more guides including back to school, dorm life, dating and helping a new significant other adjust, etc…  It builds trust and readership vs. being only reviews or review focused.  And this can lead to subscribers, repeat visitors, and traffic from social media and mass media when your guides get picked up or sourced.

Travel Sites

Tons of missed opportunities here.  LGBTQ, plus size travel, BIPOC, DINK, etc… are all groups that may subscribe to get ideas for friends trips, annual getaways, etc…

  • If the content is about honeymoons, keep track of the opt-in and start teasing 1st anniversary, 5th anniversary, etc…. trips with why each is perfect as the time they opted in returns.
    • This works for family friendly, boys/girls/friends trips, bachelor/bachelorette parties where you share a custom deal based on content category.
      • They can be good teasers in an exit pop to get the opt-in.  If everyone already leaves without coming back, why should you worry, you don’t have anything to lose except the opt-in.
    • If you know part of the vacation search is for kids activities or things for teens to do, in 5 years the kids are likely teens and you can market to the next stage in the family’s lives.  Or resorts without kids or empty nesters now that their teens are in college.
  • Many countries still have laws on the books making LGBTQ relationships illegal or where it isn’t safe (including the Caribbean).
    • Send an annual or seasonal (winter getaways vs. summer vacations) list of options and updates can help make planning easier, and you can make money on hotel bookings, excursions, airfare, travel accessories, etc… by showing they are LGBTQ friendly.
    • And you can share which hotel chains and airlines participate in pride festivals, have training for LGBTQ guests, etc… to build consumer confidence.
  • Plus size travel is important as well.  Not all cruise ships or boutique hotels make travel easy, and you can provide the details on the ones that do.
    • Monetization can include new retailers with swim wear and beach or travel accessories.
    • Updates on airline and train policies as well as upgrades to cabins which make one better than another.
      • This saves the subscriber time and research hours making their lives easier.
    • Share the room types that will work for the guests’ needs which includes larger showers and space, especially when space is limited like a cruise ship.

Niche sites have the ability to become destinations. Once your website is a destination you can build a community.  Once the community is there, you don’t have to worry if Google or Facebook traffic dries up, you have traffic you can monetize while you rebuild.  And best of all the community refers more people to you when you keep them engaged.  If you’d like strategies and ideas like these, join the affiliate programs we manage.  We share them custom to the programs at least once a quarter.

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