Income Series: Creating Passive Income from Niche Websites

Hey everyone. Today I bring to you the next edition of my “Extra Income” series. If you would like to be featured, please send me an e-mail. Other hustles in this series include: I Run a Resume Business, I Help Businesses Create Online Campaigns, I’m a Creative Web Entrepreneur, and I’m a Frequent Flyer Mile Redemption Specialist.   The following…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 26, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

rp_dollar-499481_640-300x2121-300x2121-300x212-300x212-300x212-300x212.jpgHey everyone. Today I bring to you the next edition of my “Extra Income” series. If you would like to be featured, please send me an e-mail. Other hustles in this series include: I Run a Resume BusinessI Help Businesses Create Online CampaignsI’m a Creative Web Entrepreneur, and I’m a Frequent Flyer Mile Redemption Specialist.


The following post is from MMD of My Money Design is a blog that not only tackles traditional topics in personal finance such as investing and retirement, but it also explores methods of building streams of passive income for making money on the side.

2013 was one of their most successful years when they started the niche website initiative. This was a project to start building a small collection of highly focused, authoritative websites that earn a passive income from advertising.

Related: 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More

Here is more on how that is working out for My Money Design.

How did you get started with your side hustle?

I first discovered the concept of building niche websites when I was learning about keyword research. I was trying to figure out how I could improve the traffic on My Money Design. A lot of the tips I found suggested that I should focus my efforts on search engine optimization (SEO).

However the more I read about SEO, the more it seemed to discuss this whole concept of “niche sites”. It wasn’t long before I was checking popular websites like Niche Pursuits and learning about all the possible income you could be making every month if you were successful.

Very quickly I figured out that I was missing out on a great opportunity and I got to work. It took me a few months to start getting noticed and earning an income, but eventually it worked.

All I wanted to do once I started earning money was figure out how I could keep re-creating this success and multiplying my earnings!


What got you interested in this side hustle idea? I found building niche sites to be the ultimate in residual income ideas. Unlike a blog that requires a lot of content creation, self-promotion, networking, etc niche sites just seemed to work a little bit differently in a way that I really liked.

For instance, many of the steps to build a niche site can be automated or outsourced to a VA (virtual assistant). You can pay someone else to do keyword research, write the content, and even do your link building. And they will do it for cheap!

Once the sites are up and live, you literally don’t have to do anything else while the income rolls in every month. All you have to do is monitor them and make fixes if necessary.

Another thing I really like about creating niche sites are the costs. When you consider all the possible small investment ideas that are out there, this one is pretty substantial. You can get a site up and running for under $100 while stand the potential to make anywhere from $500 to $1,000 per month after only a few weeks of development.

Please don’t think of building niche sites as being a cold or mechanical process. A lot of webmasters choose to build sites that are geared towards something they really enjoy. This motivates and encourages them to have fun building up the sites.

For example one of my niche websites focuses specifically on topics for retirement planning. Having either wrote a lot of the content myself or reviewing what my freelance writers provide me, I can now say I know a great deal more than the average person about this topic!


What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a small business owner?

Just to be clear, I still have a full-time job.

My website income is something I do on the side. However, with that said, the biggest lesson I’ve learned:

  • No matter what – treat your hobby LIKE it’s a business!

By that I mean have a plan.

Here is the plan I follow:

  • Identify something that someone else would find valuable
  • Create a website that could satisfy that need
  • Decide how to monetize that effort
  • Make a profit from that effort by paying close attention to expenses


What are the start-up costs?

Surprisingly it doesn’t cost very much at all to start a niche website at all. Here are some of the typical costs you run into in your first month:

  • Domain registration and hosting: I bought a package through iPage that only cost me $36 for 3 years!
  • Article writing (10 to 20 quality articles): $50 to $100 using Elance
  • Weekly VA for link building: $5 per week or $20 per month on oDesk

I know. It’s hard to spend money at first when you’re not making money.

But then after you make your first $100 in one month, these expenses will feel like nothing!


What are your business goals for the upcoming year?

2013 was a big year for me. My portfolio went from one virtually non-existent website to a group of 3 of them making almost $1,000 per month.

I’ve vowed in 2014 to take my extra income effort to new heights. And the first place I’m going to start is to build a new niche website that utilizes a monetization strategy I haven’t tried yet: Amazon.

To date the three niche sites I’ve created all use Google Adsense as their primary income source. I’ve read a great deal of success stories where people found that building sites where Amazon was the primary income source to be far more lucrative! Therefore, that’s where my sights will be focused next.

Beyond that, I see no reason to stop a good thing. I will always be doing keyword research on the side looking for that perfect unicorn keyword that is low in competition, high in search volume, and high in income potential. And you can bet that when I find it, there will be another opportunity for me to build another site!


What’s the most positive thing about your side job?

The best thing about making money on the side like this – the fact that I know I can!

It’s very liberating to know that I have entrepreneurial potential. Too often we get ourselves trapped into thinking that our day-jobs are the one and only way that we can make any kind of serious money whatsoever. This is simply not true.

You can actually make money a ton different ways. My way is going to be to use my money to make even MORE money. And the way that I’m going to get there is to use this extra income to advance my efforts and build it much faster than I ever would have normally.

The ultimate goal: Early retirement!

Thank you Michelle for allowing me to present this post. If anyone has any comments or questions, please feel free to stop by My Money Design or drop me an email.


Have you ever thought about creating a niche site?

Do you want to make money online? Why or why not?


Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Tarence W.

    This is very encouraging, Thank you. Even though I know all this, it’s good to be reminded. We just have to keep moving forward. Thanks again!

  2. I’ve always thought this was a neat idea, but I would never have the patience for hunting them down and keeping up with more than one (or maybe two) websites. Major props to those that do!

    1. That’s where using VA’s can come in helpful. Once you hire out some of the more routine tasks, you’ll find yourself with the time you need to focus on more than one project at a time.

  3. Liz

    As I’ve become more involved in blogging I keep hearing more and more about niche websites. I think they sound like a really good opportunity to earn some extra money. However, I don’t think there is any way that I could start another website without first hiring a VA or some sort of help.

    1. You’re absolutely right. When I first tried this, I was doing everything myself for both My Money Design and my first niche site. As you can guess, the niche site did terrible. Then I learned about oDesk and Elance, and I started hiring out some of the more mundane tasks while I concentrated on the fun stuff. Not only did my enthusiasm improve, but so did my earnings!

  4. This is a good post but I have one question. Is it really that easy?

    1. My opinion – no, not at first.

      If you’re new to blogging or even mildly seasoned, it can still be very challenging to get traffic or earn any income at all. You really have to put in the effort to learn SEO and try tricks that you might not have used before.

      After you start to learn what does and does not work, your second and third sites do become much, much easier to build. But even then you can still run into problems you didn’t expect.

      Just like in real business – there will always be something you have to figure out and work through in order to get the reward in the end.

  5. John Richards

    Maybe I am missing something, but, after reading this, I guess I am not clear on what the actual business being transacted is here. What product or service is being sold?

    1. In a word – advertising. I build a quality site that earns lots of traffic. The site is then monetized with ads from Google Adsense. The more traffic the site receives and the more relevant the ads are to those visitors, the more revenue I can expect to make.

  6. I currently do make money online through my blog and I just started another website that hopefully one day can be a bit more of a static niche site but at first I’ll run similar to a blog. I think it has a pretty high potential to be a passive income source where I can outsource all the work – actually I have that same plan with Y.A.M. but for now I am still planning on putting a lot of my own time into the site.

    1. I will say that one unexpected site benefit to learning about niche sites was that it greatly improved the way I did things on My Money Design. As I applied tricks and tips to my niche site and saw the benefit, I also implemented them on my main blog and saw the same sort of positive results. I can confidently say that I probably would have never learned any of these improvements had it not been for chasing after the niche sties first.

  7. I wanted to use Amazon as a way to make money, but they don’t allow affiliates in my state anymore. I hope that changes since they will begin to charge sales tax here next month. I had a few niche sites using Amazon and they performed well.

    1. It makes no sense to me why some states don’t allow Amazon affiliates. What’s wrong with using one of the largest retailers in the world to help yourself get rich? In the end, doesn’t that just equal more taxable income anyways?

      My first Amazon niche site should launch in February. I’m pumped!

  8. Jayon Park

    I’ve thought a lot about making niche sites. I started by creating a Facebook page and eventually started monetizing that with MyLikes and I get about $10 a week from that. I would say if someone doesn’t want to put up the cash up front to start a niche site, they should go that route. Even try Swagbucks for a while to get that slow but easy start up cash. I have my domain and hosting for this niche, but I got a little lazy to set up a new wordpress site. Once I get that up I will try to go the Amazon Affiliate route as well.

    1. Interesting. I have never heard of MyLikes. I’ll have to check that one out.

  9. Kim Tobin

    I’ve been thinking over some niche site ideas for a long time. Maybe 2014 will be the year I actually do something about it since I am at home now with my son!

    1. If you do, feel free to check out my archives on My Money Design. At least once a month I do an update on my niche sites where I document everything I did and how it did / did not work out for me. You’ll be able to take a lot of shortcuts with some of the history I’ve got posted in there.

  10. Jayon Park

    Go KIM. I have your back! 😉

  11. How is the other website project going for you?

  12. Thanks for sharing your ideas. Niche sites tend to work quite well in general. However, a lot of it also comes down to volume in terms of the number of niche sites you actually have. Good luck with your ongoing endeavors in 2014.

  13. There are many people who earn lot of money online from blogging and some others who thinking about to buy some niche websites and start earning. I think it is not quite easy but need consistent hard work to update your website regularly so that more people visit your website. In 2014 for successful blogging career it is recommended that your content must be unique, original and well written by keeping in mind your audiences. By the way your post about making money from niche website is pretty informative for bloggers.

  14. I love hearing about people who have found success with niche sites. I experimented with building one, but I didn’t pick a strong niche. It is definitely something that I’d like to try again in the future.

  15. Great info! I tried the niche site thing a couple of years ago and just didn’t get them going. I sold all of the sites for a little less than what I paid for them. But everybody has to find what they’re good at. 🙂

  16. Tarence W.

    All great ways to get passive income. I really want to get more into investing. I better earn a bit more so I can funnel cash towards that goal! Thanks!

  17. Adam

    For me niche sites have been both encouraging and frustrating at the same time. But I’m writing 2013 off as a year of learning new techniques and trying different ideas. With 2014 and just over a years worth of practicing behind me I have plans to streamline focus on one niche site with amazon being the main affiliate and then using sponsored posts in the same niche once the site gets big enough.

    For some reason people think that starting a niche site will yield them instant success and results. Its like people who start a blog and then get upset that they haven’t made a dime within 6 months to a year. It takes planning and patience and pure perserverance to not want to give up after a few months.

  18. It’s inspiring to hear that people gained money through creating niche sites because I can see my self to them. Many of them enjoyed making money through online and niche sites. Investing your money in making profitable website can give you big income even if your just sitting and waiting for the end of the month.

  19. Tarence W.

    Very good information! I really need to start considering some of the options that you have listed. I think the toughest part is getting started!

  20. spookseo

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. The niche tends to work quite well in general. The niche tends to be good but it is difficult to handle the site on the updating the website in daily bases. The some people can manage the niche website who purchase it they have to work on the website on a daily bases and have to maintain the website PR.