So, you want to build the next highly profitable niche site?
Welcome to the club.
Niche sites are an awesome way to start building up passive income, not to mention blogging experience.
But there’s always one place people get stuck, and arguably, it’s at the most important step: figuring out what specific niche your site is going to focus on.
Choosing the best option can feel overwhelming and time-consuming; there are about a billion choices out there. Make the wrong step, and it can be a lot harder to make money blogging.
But, finding a great niche with low keyword competition and great affiliate programs can make your path to building a successful online business out of your site so much easier.
How do you pick the best niche site ideas?
If you’re stuck on this step, we’re going to make things easy for you. In this post, I’m sharing what I think are the 12 best niche site ideas to get started on this year.
But before we get to that, you might be wondering who I am and why you should trust me.
My name is Sean Ogle, and I’ve helped thousands of people create online businesses and work remotely over the last ten years through my community, Location Rebel Academy.
On top of that, I have a system that lets me repeat and scale building niche sites, generating passive income in areas ranging from photography software reviews to golf and cocktails.
So, you could say I spend a lot of time researching potential niche website ideas.
With this list, a lot of that work is done for you. You’ll get some of the best opportunities out there you can tap into and start creating sites of your own.
Let’s do this.
What is a Niche Site?
A niche site is just a website that focuses on a small part of a broader market with the end goal of monetization.
There are multiple paths to make money with niche sites, including through affiliate marketing programs, ads, online courses, digital products, consulting, sponsored posts, and more.
My favorite form of monetization is affiliate marketing.
For a niche site to be successful, you have to:
- Create a website with a website builder or WordPress.
- Conduct keyword research and write quality content with good search engine optimization (SEO).
- Work on obtaining backlinks from reputable sites in your niche to build Domain Authority (DA).
- Update your posts frequently to start ranking on Google search engine results pages (SERPs).
- Join affiliate programs and strategically place your affiliate links to start earning commissions.
Next, once you get to a certain level of traffic (think 50,000+ visits per month), you can add display ads as well for even more passive income. I recommend you check out ad platforms like Mediavine or AdThrive, which provide higher earnings than Google AdSense.
Overall, to make money online with a niche site, you need digital marketing chops, a methodical approach, and hustle.
Why Your Niche Website Topic Matters.
You want to think about your niche site as a business. That means a lot of planning and brainstorming has to go into it.
Anyone can pick something to write about and call it a day.
But, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get traffic, rank for quality keywords, or make any affiliate income.
To do that, you need to start with the right topic.
The primary thing you want to focus on is the potential for your niche to make money. Otherwise, you’ve just got a hobby site.
What you want is to start a blog that has earning potential from the start. For more in-depth strategies, you can read Adam’s guide on how to start a blog like a business or my step-by-step guide to start a successful blog this year.
So, you need to remember that and focus on three primary drivers of any successful online site:
- Affiliate products: I look for high priced items where I can make more selling one thing than programs where I need to sell dozens to make a profit.
- Commission rates: Browse different affiliate networks and Google individual affiliate programs to see their commission rates. This is the percentage you make for each sale. You’ll also want to check the cookie duration, or the window of time that you get credit for the sale after the affiliate link is clicked.
- Keywords: Keywords are crucially important. I always look for buying keywords that have a high search volume but low competition or difficulty score. Different SEO tools like Ahrefs will help you find great keywords.
- Competition: Are other people making money in this niche? I always keep an eye out for product reviews with affiliate links because that generally means it’s a program with high commissions. Typically, the higher a company is placed in an affiliate article, the higher their earnings.
Here’s the basic formula I like to use when thinking about niche topics:
Good buying keyword traffic + review posts with affiliate links + high priced products that offer good commission rates = a pretty good chance people are out there making money in this niche.
Now, that’s not the end-all, be-all way to approach niche and affiliate sites, but keeping to that general framework has worked pretty well for me over the years.
Without any of these, it’s going to be an uphill battle to see progress or make a substantial amount of money through your site.
That’s why keeping these three things in mind is so crucial when picking a topic. If you don’t build your site around a topic with good keywords and affiliate programs, you’re not going to get any traffic.
And that means you’re not going to make any money.
What is a Niche-Within-a-Niche?
One more thing to cover before we jump into the best niche ideas is the idea of a niche-within-a-niche.
This is one of the most important things you can learn if you’re just getting going.
First off, most “niche” ideas you have are probably more accurately industries.
Golf, travel, and video games for instance are all industries.
In order to differentiate yourself and create a successful authority site, you need to think smaller.
As an example, golf is an industry and has a ton of competition.
Golf equipment is a niche, but still has quite a bit of competition.
Golf swing improvement tools is a niche-within-a-niche. There’s less competition, it’s very focused, and there’s a lot of potential to make money faster.
We’ll cover more examples of how this works throughout this post, but be thinking about how you can take your big idea, and niche down to give yourself less competition.
Remember, you have to be the clear leader in your specific niche. If you don’t have confidence that you can be a top 10 golfing website, niche down and be known for something a little smaller.
Ok, now that you know how important it is to choose the right topic, let’s get to the list.
Alright, now that you know the main things I look for when creating a niche blog, here are some of the topics to explore right now.
Here’s a question I bet I already know the answer to, but I’ll ask anyway.
Raise your hand if you’ve had a Zoom call in the last week or two.
Pretty much everyone would raise their hands to that.
With everything that’s going on in the world, remote work has become more important than ever.
Now people need all sorts of stuff they’ve never thought about before:
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Ring lights
- Laptop stands
- Second screens
- Wireless keyboards
Plus, everything else they either had in the office or didn’t need at home.
Then there’s software – video conferencing tools, team messaging apps, webinar software – these SaaS tools all require monthly subscriptions and many have affiliate programs.
Even when people start going back to work, chances are a good percentage of them will still end up working from home either full-time or just a few days a week.
So, they’ll still need all that software and equipment.
That’s why building a niche site around work from home tools presents a huge opportunity.
An easy way to start with a site like this is by building a niche site that first relies on Amazon affiliate links.
While the Amazon Associates Affiliate Program’s recent commission cuts have made it a little less appealing than it used to be, it’s still an easy way to start.
Pick the remote working tools you want to highlight, create killer reviews for them, and post away on your site.
2. Video and recording equipment
At this point, everyone but my mom has decided to start a podcast or YouTube channel.
Even if you aren’t into podcasting or becoming a YouTuber yourself, it doesn’t matter, because there are a lot of opportunities out there for people looking for equipment.
I can speak to this myself.
I started my YouTube channel a few years ago, and over the years, I’ve gotten more and more sophisticated gear to try and keep up with the likes of Peter McKinnon (it hasn’t worked yet).
But, think of all those people who are at that beginner and intermediate stage of getting a YouTube channel or podcast up and running.
You can create a niche site all around the best gear for it.
This can include everything from the high-end stuff like cameras and lenses to the more moderately priced gear like microphones, tripods, accessories, video editing tools, and more.
Since the sound on YouTube and podcasting is what really matters to listeners, there’s a lot of content you can create around audio techniques and audio editing software.
Gerald Undone is one of the most impressive examples of this and is also a great example of how you can leverage YouTube and video when growing your niche site.
And the best part?
3. Credit cards
There’s a ton of competition in each of these, but if you can find the right sub-niche and position yourself in the right way – there’s a lot of potential for a successful niche site.
As you might expect, a niche site around credit cards can be extremely lucrative.
The affiliate programs can often be tricky to qualify for, but once you do, there are big commissions to be had.
The key to making a site like this successful is to find your unique angle. Are you going to focus on travel rewards? College students? Business owners?
Any of these target markets can work
I’d look at BankRate as a starting point for jumping into this niche. It features all the big names in cards, and you can manage it all from one place.
Another great thing about credit card affiliate programs is they go across any and every niche and industry. Do you have a travel blog like my buddy Nomadic Matt?
Then you can create a round-up review of all the best travel credit cards out there, just like he did with this post.
An underrated way to figure out a good niche is to talk to your friends. See what they’re obsessed with, and go from there.
Way back in 2010, my buddy, Dave, quit his job and thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). He always loved the outdoors, but that adventure was the spark he needed to create his website, CleverHiker.
It’s hard to get more SEO optimized than that selection of posts!
Fast forward to today and Dave and his partner, Annie, are making a living off a niche site built around outdoor hiking and camping reviews.
Obsessive hikers and campers are willing to spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on the latest gear. Plus, it’s a niche that’s not oversaturated, and you can find all sorts of niche-within-a-niche opportunities.
For example, you could create a niche site around women hikers, camping with kids, and hiking with dogs, just to name a few ideas for you.
Either way, the fact remains that more and more people are going to be looking to get out into nature over the next few years, as the pandemic has shifted priorities and travel plans.
In the same way, you’ll find campers who will spend a lot of money on stuff; you’ll find sports enthusiasts too.
Being a golfer, I know this well. It’s very easy to spend hundreds of dollars on just one club in your bag, not to mention range finders, balls, and shoes.
Golfing isn’t the only opportunity for this.
Think about people who love stand up paddleboarding; a single board can easily run from $300 to $1,500 and beyond.
Build up a quality site around paddleboards, and now you’ve got the potential to make some real money. Plus, you can toss in all the extra gear that you need for paddleboarding, including oars, car racks, storage racks, life jackets, and so on.
The same goes for a sport like cycling. You can see with the Competitive Cyclist affiliate program; the average order value is over $250.
Think about other expensive niche sports too; hang gliding, wind sailing, and fishing all come to mind.
You might be thinking, hotels? Now? Hardly anyone is traveling!
Where there’s change, there’s opportunity.
There are a lot of commissions to be had in the travel world, and hotels, and real estate in general.
By coming up with a unique angle to approach hotels, you could see some great returns in your own niche market.
Perhaps you create a site about 5-star hotels that you can currently stay at for more than 50% off due to COVID.
Or maybe you do reviews of the best “socially distanced” hotels or travel destinations.
Either way, right now there are a lot of people with severe wanderlust and pent up demand for travel.
A lot of travel bloggers have packed it in too, so there will be opportunities over the next couple of years for a new crop of different niche sites to become successful.
If the idea of this feels daunting (and like a lot of work), then try and niche down even more.
Focus on a specific city, for instance. Jeremy Jones of Discover the Burgh has created one of the best single city niche sites I’ve come across.
Keep in mind, the commission percentages aren’t huge, but when you consider single bookings can easily be a thousand dollars or more – it can add up fast.
Simply put, people love their pets.
And almost as much as that, they love spending money on their pets.
The industry is growing in a big way; it goes way beyond chew toys and leashes.
Today, you can get high-tech gear for your pets, known as pet tech. This gear is pricey and often has higher affiliate commission rates than the standard 5-8% you see in many places.
For example, check out the Fi Dog Collar:
It takes your typical dog collar and transforms it into a GPS tracking device.
You’ll never lose Lucky again with something like this, and at $150 a pop with a 20% starting commission rate, you can make $30 a pop for every sale.
If you wanted to go all-in on pets as a niche site, you could go in many different directions. But a great approach is to pair a few key pet tech affiliates with all sorts of other pet-related and complementary affiliate programs.
Think about pairing pets and hotels, how about a niche site all about the best pet-friendly hotels in the U.S or just New England?
Another way to focus on pets and get some of those higher commission links is to write about pet insurance too. Most people end up getting pet insurance since a visit to the vet can cost a lot of money, and a lot of the biggest pet insurance companies also offer affiliate programs.
8. Web hosts
Want to start an online business? Well, the first thing you need to do is get online by getting a domain name and choosing a web host like Bluehost.
Just look at how many times “how to start a blog” is searched in the U.S. alone each month.
Web hosts are known for the high commissions for each new customer. As such, there is a lot of competition for search terms related to this.
But if you get creative, you can still find ways to make serious money in this niche.
You might find there’s too much competition to go for a straight “web hosting review site,” but sticking with our theme of a “niche-within-a-niche” you could make it a bit more focused and have success.
Perhaps you focus specifically on helping retirees build their side hustle, and then recommend web hosts and domain name providers specifically for that market.
Or perhaps you focus on one industry, like freelance writers who need portfolio sites and target your reviews at their needs.
With this niche, target any entrepreneurial audience first, then recommend web hosting second.
In 2021 and beyond the most successful niche sites are going to be the ones that think outside the box and potentially combine two different industries to build something unique.
To put it simply, with a pandemic happening, more people than ever are staying home rather than going to the gym.
Home gym sales are skyrocketing, and that’s a trend that’s not going to end anytime soon.
Specialized home gym equipment is a great area to build a niche site. And where you can really find some up and coming niches is by investigating growing workout trends.
A few of the more ‘trendy’ workout gear over the past few years include cross-fitters, kettlebells, flexibility and mobility equipment, yoga mats, and so on.
Here’s a more recent example.
Resistance bands were gaining a little bit of traction in early 2020, and then boom, look at it skyrocket during the lockdown and summer.
If you were ahead of the curve on creating a niche site around resistance bands, you probably were able to see some nice commissions.
Not to mention more high tech options in fitness like Peloton or Nordic Track, or fitness trackers such as the Apple Watch.
This is a booming industry worth building a site and social media presence around.
Food blogs feature some of the most successful niche sites out there.
There’s still plenty of opportunity for you, however. More people are eating at home than ever before.
Think about what unique spin you can create on a site like this that doesn’t have quite as much direct competition.
Think of what’s already in your kitchen and again go on the trends. InstantPots have been a huge driver of all sorts of food and cooking sites in the last two years.
Sites like Wirecutter, run by the New York Times, have built a loyal following because it reviews a ton of kitchen and cooking supplies.
Want to know the best knives or juicers or cast iron skillets? Wirecutter has probably reviewed it.
You can do the same thing, just niche down. Consider creating a niche site around just one of those types of products.
Perhaps a site all about the best blenders for green or raw foods enthusiasts, or the best Japanese knives or marble pastry boards.
With high end and niche cooking becoming more common, people are spending money on the tools you’d normally see in professional kitchens.
11. SaaS Products
Keeping with the working from home trend, many of us are having to rethink how we work, stay on top of tasks, and remain productive.
There are hundreds of software-as-a-service (SaaS) businesses out there that focus on productivity and related themes. From scheduling tools like Woven to full-fledged project management tools like Asana – there’s a lot of opportunity for a niche site that compares and contrasts these types of tools.
And productivity is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SaaS ideas. There are also email marketing companies, SEO tools, ERP systems – the list goes on.
A niche site dedicated to any of these industries could be incredibly profitable.
Some of them even have affiliate programs that pay on a recurring basis, so you can make one referral and continue to reap the rewards as long as they remain a paying customer.
12. Streaming Services
I used to be someone who religiously checked out the latest movies to rent through RedBox every time I went to the grocery store.
Now with the rise of streaming services, I haven’t rented a Blu-Ray or DVD in years.
In 2020 we’re seeing more new streaming services than ever. Not only do you have the incumbents like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video, but you have Disney+, HBOmax, and at least a dozen others.
The good news is between all of them, you can pretty much watch anything you want.
The bad news is trying to figure out what you can watch and on which platform.
There’s a lot of opportunities to capitalize on this growing trend by creating a niche site devoted to the different streaming software and services, reviews, content updates, and so on.
There are certainly some affiliate opportunities, but display ads would also be a great monetization tactic for sites like this. Building a high-quality email list and sending streaming updates would also be a good strategy.
Regardless of what kind of niche site you want to run, there are many potentially great ideas out there that can bring in passive income.
All you need to do is spend some time finding the right ideas and then getting to work.
Remember, you want to approach your niche site like it’s a business; the end goal is to find the right combination of long-tail keywords, affiliate programs, and traffic that will get people to your site and primed to buy.
From there, it’s all about creating killer content that educates your readers and builds trust. If they can trust what you’re telling them, they are going to be far more likely to buy from you.
Build your niche site the right way and you can scale and repeat this process over and over again. I know, because I’ve done it multiple times.
All it takes is some solid research, time, and dedication.
Decide you’re ready to do it and take steps every single day to make it happen. Taking that approach, rather than focusing on slapping something together to make a quick buck, will pay off over the long run.
So, if you’ve been thinking about getting your own niche site up and running, there’s no better time than now.
I know you can do it.
Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he teaches people how to build small businesses that allow them to work from wherever they want. When he’s not doing that you’ll find him on a golf course or on a quest to visit the top 100 bars in the world.