Start a niche website by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your niche website. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a niche website?
The cost to start a niche website is extremely low. The main expenses are buying a domain name, paying for hosting, website design and any content-related expenses. It is possible to purchase a domain name online for around 10 dollars per year. The cost for hosting can range from two or three dollars per month to hundreds, depending on the requirements. Most niche sites which do not use streaming media should expect to pay around 25 dollars a month for quality hosting. Niche website owners can spend thousands of dollars on designing their website or they can download a free theme. Most niche site owners find that one of the many quality premium themes for sale for around $60 which are great a fit for their sites. Many website owners write their own content because they love the niche topic, but those who want to outsource content creation, can find writers online.
Depending how much a niche website owner is capable of doing on his own, it is possible to start a niche website for less than 100 dollars.
What are the ongoing expenses for a niche website?
Niche website owners need to renew their domain name yearly and pay for hosting on a monthly basis. Site owners who choose to buy content will have to make a room in their budgets to include that expense.
Who is the target market?
The target market is anyone who shares an interest in the topic of the website.
How does a niche website make money?
Many niche websites use multiple methods for earning money. Depending on the topic of the site, joining an affiliate marketing program is a good choice. Affiliate marketing is when one website receives a commission for encouraging their visitors to make a purchase at a third-party retailer. Other sources of income are traditional ads, direct selling to visitors or charging a subscription to access information. The best type of monetization depends on the niche and the number of monthly visitors.
How much can you charge customers?
Most niche websites do not generate a lot of revenue on their own. Many people who build niche sites would consider earning anything more than $500 a month on a single site as an outstanding return. The majority of niche site owners have multiple websites covering a variety of niches.
How much profit can a niche website make?
The profit of running a niche website varies, but depending on the niche topic and the experience of website owner, profits can range between four and 8 dollars per one thousand visitors.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Many niche website owners have multiple websites to increase their monthly profits. In addition, adding a store which sells products is a great way to cash in on a popular niche site.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your niche website is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a niche website business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
For information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
Trademark & Copyright Protection
If you are developing a unique product, concept, brand, or design, it is prudent to protect your rights by registering for the appropriate trademarks and copyrights.
The nature of legal requirements in distance education is ever changing, especially in regards to copyright laws. Here is a frequently updated resource, which can help keep you aware of the legal requirements.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a niche website
Marketing a niche website is easier than marketing other kinds of websites. The pool of potential visitors is small and most likely the ideal audience is already concentrated at one of the existing authority websites. The goal is to convince some of the fans of the broad subject to explore a specific aspect of the topic at a niche site.
How to keep customers coming back
The only way to keep niche website visitors returning to the website is to provide meaningful content. Fans are willing to overlook a slow-loading or ugly website if the content is great, but will can't forgive sites which don't provide something new and valuable.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Niche Website In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
A niche website is perfect for someone who has an intense interest in a specific aspect of a wider topic. Because of the limited scope of the topic, a niche site does not have to have as much content as other types of sites, and the information does not need updating as frequently. It is a great part-time business for anyone who can't spend every day working on a website.
What happens during a typical day at a niche website?
Owners of niche websites generally do not need to work on their sites frequently. The average niche website may require a week or two of active website design and content creation at first, but then there are only occasional updates. Using the example of a niche website for a single TV show, the site owner would only have to update the content of the website after each episode airs. Since most shows air only a few dozen times a year, the site owner doesn't have to think about the site most of the time. Besides limited content updates, a website owner needs to find a way to monetize and market the site. The good news is marketing a website is much easier than marketing other sites.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful niche website?
Owners of a niche website need to know how to create high-quality content which ranks well in the search engines. They should also have experience with ecommerce and affiliate marketing to help they optimize the site's ability to earn money. It is helpful to have some knowledge of content management system, like WordPress, before starting the business.
What is the growth potential for a niche website?
The entire premise behind a niche website is taking a large, popular topic and breaking it down into much smaller parts. Naturally this approach decreases the number of people who are interested in the subject and limits the potential number of visitors. Instead of attempting to attract more visitors by expanding the scope of the site, it is far better to create a separate, yet related site.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
One nice thing about a niche website is that they typically do not require a large team to run. Some owners like to outsource site design and content creation, but it usually is not a necessity.