Building a Business Around Seasonal Niche Sites

Building a Business Around Seasonal Niche Sites

This is a guest post from Arbel Arif.  Arbel does several things in the online business space; including buying and selling domains, and building profitable niche sites.  In particular, I found it interesting that he has been able to build a decent income from a network of sites surrounding Halloween.  I’ve never tried to target a seasonal niche like this, but this article certainly makes me think of the possibilities!  Now, here is Arbel’s guest post:

Is it true that you can earn a substantial income building niche sites? The topic is highly debated in today’s Internet world. Has search ranking changed too much? Have viewer interests caused this method of affiliate marketing to lose its spark?

Actually, it can still be done and more successfully than in years’ past, when you know what you’re doing. I believe that you can make a solid living with niche sites because I have done it. Here’s my story and some tips on how to do it for yourself.

It All Begins with an Idea

For some time now, I had been looking for a way to earn a passive income from affiliate marketing. I tried domain parking and honestly, it was a flop. But I did not let that lack of success hinder my efforts. I knew there was a method out there for me and I just needed to find what it was.

I ended up building a five figure per year business in the seasonal Halloween niche by seeing a need and filling that gap. I started my niche business in Halloween costumes. It’s something millions of people need every year and that is very popular. I began with one niche costume site, then another and then a whole network of sites that I could connect to one another.

I decided that Halloween 2011 would be a great test for me. Some examples of the sites I built were:

  • RobinHoodCostume.com
  • SleepingBeautyCostume.com
  • RefereeCostume.com

HalloweenMall.com

HalloweenMall.com was the result of this Halloween niche business. I was able to build this five figure business from a simple idea about a costume website. This is a project that began with a simple idea and evolved into something much larger and more useful.

My first pilot site was for Avatar costumes, building on the popularity of the movie that had recently released. It saw profits so I moved on to a new site centered about Tron and costumes for Tron. This one was very successful and I continued to build around that original pilot.

I linked all of the sites that I built to BuyCostumes.com and I also created a Halloween eBook for HalloweenMall.com. This high quality, professionally written book would provide tips and advice for Halloween, costumes, parties and even games and fun. It wasn’t a sales pitch for my costume sites but instead was solid, quality information that people want to read and share with their friends.

When the book is read and shared, it serves as a marketing piece for HalloweenMall.com and my entire network of costume sites. By my second year with this niche business, I had earned over $12,000 and I am projected to earn more this year.

Growing and Expanding in your Niche

One thing to keep in mind about your niche business is that there are always opportunities to grow. You need to be on the lookout for how you can expand. One of the best ways to expand is to create other sites in your network, such as support sites, that you can interlink all together.

Examples for my network support sites are:

  • HalloweenBlog.org
  • HalloweenForum.org
  • LastMinuteHalloweenCostumeIdeas.com
  • HomemadeHalloweenCostume.com

Here are some tips you can follow for growing and expanding your niche:

  • If the topic is for US users, try to find a really good US writer (I found mine in Odesk.com)
  • Build your Halloween sites on exact match domains (if available).
  • In the drops (expired domains), you can get a lot of exact match domains.
  • BuyCostumes.com is the best converting affiliate (in my experience) but HalloweenCostumes.com has also a good affiliate program.
  • Get in touch with the affiliate manager and try to raise the commission percentage (it will not be easy if your sales are low).
  • Halloween is a great niche because the people are buying & they have a deadline, so you will see a lot of implosive buyers in October.
  • Like niche sites, try to build one site for one costume, this way you will get targeted users from the search engines.

Building Your Own Similar Business

When building your own similar business, there are some points to know.

  • True success doesn’t usually happen overnight
  • It can take months and then years to build your niche networks
  • It all begins with a great idea that’s not already overdone
  • You need to find a unique way to present your idea

Remember that I started with individual costume sites based on popular movies, topics and other searchable keyword phrases, but then I created HalloweenMall.com because it was great for branding and it tied all of the individual sites together.

Key Points to Remember

There are some things to remember when building a business around niche sites:

  • There is no guarantee to success
  • You most often get what you put in
  • They are considered volatile assets

With these points in mind, remember that it is possible to earn residual income (even five figures) from niche sites and niche networks.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, it is possible to build a business around niche sites. I recommend starting with one that you can really put all of your efforts and energies into and once you have reached a point of generating profits with that one, you can move on to a new site or add several sites to connect with a network of sites, the way I did with HalloweenMall.com.

This is a process and it’s really all about taking something that you are passionate about and want to see succeed and then building on it a little at a time. It’s not about get-rich-quick schemes but instead, it’s about forming the foundation to something that can generate you a residual income for a long period of time.

Will you make enough to retire? Maybe not at first, but it’s certainly possible. There are times where you hit a home run and when you find that winning tactic, it’s important to ride it out for as long as you can. Niche sites are still very popular but the methods are changing and evolving every day so you have to be willing to keep up to date with Internet trends to see the full potential of your success.

Good luck with your own niche ventures. Here is wishing you much success!

My name is Arbel Arif. I am making a full time living from home. All of my current income is coming from the Internet. In Traffic.me, I want to share with you my story of how I am making a full time living from home.


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30 Comments for this entry

  1. Interesting idea. I wonder if it’s better to focus all your efforts building niche sites on one seasonal event or to build a few around each seasonal event so that you have income coming in year-round instead of all at once…

    Thomas

    • steve wyman says:

      Hi Thomas

      I think this is a good idea. however i also think focusing in on one “season” or Topic is better when people start out. get focused. People like us are far o often butterflies flitting from one project to another instead of sticking with one area (well i do anyway).

      Having said that I do agree, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, Mother day, Father days would be a good spread (I killed it during fathers day run up this year).

      just my 0.00001 cents worth

  2. interesting post…

    I think many lose perspective of the fact that doing business online is fundamentally no different from offline.

    it is real living and breathing people that drive your business and determine your success. the medium you operate on is just a channel or mechanism by which you reach and interact with those people (customers and clients).

    if a brick mortar seasonal business can work, there is no reason an online concept of the same nature shouldn’t.

  3. semir says:

    hey
    good post! but i am realy getting mad about niche sites….everybody is saying they are volatile…..if you are going to have to keep up with trends …..on niche sites i think that means you are in a great risk. i mean if u build backlinks in what seems to be okay now…..then google updates algorithm…all your 20,000 a month is gone…(i mean google doesnt care whether u make 1 dollar or 100,000 per month) and finally you might not be able to get your investment back…. it is more like gambling…it is not like a buisness risk, i am sorry if i confuse you with my bad english… but i want to add something…look at
    manual reviewers—– as —–polices
    google——-as ——a goverment
    algorithm—-as——-soldiers released to kill the law breaker
    website traffic —as —people of the country
    the niche site—-as—-store
    backlinking——as—-machine gun
    now the government(google) said only these stores(websites) desereve to be where the people(website traffic) hang out ..lots of foot traffic…now would you go out and build your store on a place where you are not allowed by using your machine gun(backlining) to kill the soldiers(algorithm) ………that is what i feel about niche sites…
    anyway it is good to know that good money can be made throguh seasonal things…and if u focus on 3 holidays , you could make money all year long…a smart imer might be makiing a killing with olympics season…
    that could have been spencer because i know he loves marathon and he runs it too…that means he could have written a lot of original content…
    thanks bye

  4. Arbel Arif says:

    @Semir – I agree with you about the risk factor but any business has a risk, our job is to lower it.
    Let me give you some examples –
    6 months ago I created a list (email list), now I have a list of potential costumers.
    I wrote a very good guide for Halloween & I am doing contests for Halloween.
    Contest Example – http://www.halloweenmall.com/contest/halloweenmall-com-july-contest-win-a-65-buycostumes-com-gift-card/
    eBook example – http://www.halloweenmall.com/blog/halloweenmall-com-ebook-2012/
    This way I am not relying only on Google Traffic.
    Another example – I contact Halloween Costumes companies for direct advertising, I closed 2 nice deals, this way I am not relaying only on Affiliate Commission.
    I also created a Facebook group with good loyal members.

  5. Arbel Arif says:

    @Thomas – I totally recommend to diversify your income.
    I am doing domain flipping, AdSense niche sites, affiliate sites, big development sites etc.

  6. semir says:

    hellow again
    i have one question ….why dont anybody who considers building niche sites just use ppc—pay per click like adwords ? for example if i build 50 niche sites…i am going to have spend atleast 40-50 per site..that means 50*40=2000$ and i am going to have to wait to see a dime…like 3 monthes…and after all i am lucky if i make 500 per month…yes it is not going to be completely passive..even after that it is so risky that i could lose all the traffic. wouldnt that much amount of time and money make me much more risk free and safer way by using adwords or payper click….i wonder why spencer doesnt try ppc…there are indivdual people who make a million dollar a year from it. you could research and find a great niche spending only some hours and build a great site around that niche spending only 400$-500$ and use 500$ per month on adwords…i am sure you can make atleast 300 the first month and it could go to 1000$ the next month as you fine tune your spending on keywords!
    please spencer tell me in detail why you dont consider this buisness model…anybody who dont think this doesnt work for one or another reson please tell me…..i will check
    thanks so much

  7. Arbel Arif says:

    @Semir – PPC & SEO are both good models.
    Both ways you can make money, PPC is a lot more risky if you ask me because you spend a lot of money in front.
    SEO is much safer in my opinion because you don’t build 50 sites at ones, you start with 1 and progress only after results.
    This is only my opinion.
    I have friends making very good with PPC & SEO.

    • semir says:

      hey arbel arif
      first of all thanks for your response! if you are going to build one niche site and wait untill you see profits with it then you are moving very slow…spencer doesnt recommend building one niche site…if u read his ebook or some of his blog posts and comments…he says that there will be losers and winners out of the niche sites you build. so it is recommended to build at least 10 sites at first. and if you go the authority site model…then you are going to have to post lots of articles like 70 or 100 which will make your initial investment go up. and if you are talking about building 1 niche site …then lets think about the most lucky route…
      you build that one site…3 monthes later you make 50 $ per month with it you spend the money back into posting articles….you are lucky and u make 1000 with it 6 monthes later. sell it for 20000$.
      or you could go the ppc route and spend 1000 0r even 300 upfront….most of us interested in niche site are good keyword researchers so i think we tend to do good in chosing and bidding on great keywords…lets say you built a website for 300$ you spend 500 on adwords….and you break even the first month…and make nothing, good thing is the next month you are going to know the profitable keywords so you are going to make a lot of money….you could just make 1500, on the third month just by investing more on the profitable keywords and testing on new keywords…on the 6 month you might not advertise anymore because people know your brand and you might even get great search engine rankings without you trying for it.

  8. Jon Haver says:

    Arbel thanks for sharing the details about how your business evolved.

    The costume niche or other seasonal niches can be profitable the part I always struggle with is trying to measure and improve based on the stats since its tough to compare your December/November stats with your Sep/October.

    Is there a way you measure/improve your sites month over month since waiting a year for a fair month vs month comparison is likely too slow?

  9. Arbel Arif says:

    @Jon – Thank You…
    Between the seasons I am writing more content + continue to build my email list + SEO etc.
    Basically I am talking about general maintenance & new ideas.

  10. Arbel Arif says:

    @Semir – I will be very honest.
    I am not a PPC guy, I know tons of people use it but I don’t have experience with this route.
    I am an SEO guy.
    When I said, you start with 1 site I meant Halloween related sites & not AdSense sites.
    In Halloween 2010 I did 2 sites, I saw the potential, so I build 50 sites for 2011, in 2012 I have around 80 sites.
    I am not saying SEO is better, I just say it’s a different approach than PPC.

  11. Kyle proctor says:

    Great post. I have thought about seasonal niches before. I think once I become more established with my other sites and create enough monthly revenue I will start this option.

    I think it can work but it is not year round income so having the year round income would be nice. Also building multiple seasonal sites would help level load the pay. Great info.
    Thanks

  12. Arbel Arif says:

    @Kyle – Thank you for the comment…

  13. Tu says:

    I’m not sure if I want to take the seasonal route, but I’m completely with you on building a network of sites within and around your niche that you can leverage to strengthen the core business vehicle as well as each site separately.

    I find your e-book and mall ideas inspiring. It got me thinking about how I can expand into larger territory and monetize with information products, possibly my own e-store but preferably some high-level, clever affiliate marketing. Thanks.

  14. Arbel Arif says:

    @Tu – Thank you for the comment…

  15. Arbel, that is very impressive. I had ideas about creating costume niche sites, but didn’t follow through last year. :)

    “True success doesn’t usually happen overnight” That is very true.. I’m very impressive to see your network niche HalloweenMall.com

    Did you spend extra money to buy those EMD?

    I am sure that you have those high PR link juice and traffic to have an even successful Halloween this year.

    By the way, did you have success with Amazon Affiliate for your costume? I believe you will get 6-8% commission as ppl trend to buy more costume in bulk order.

    How’s buycostume treating you as an affiliate?

    Thank you so much for being open to share your site url. At least those are very good reference.

  16. Arbel Arif says:

    @Kent -Thank you for the comment.
    Exact Match Domains are my specialty.
    Almost all my sites are “Keyword”Costume.com
    From the beginning I thought about the exit point, I know .com
    s will be more valuable.
    Also I am getting TypeInTraffic because I own the .com’s.
    BuyCostumes.com treat me very good, I also have some direct advertising deals with other Costumes companies, so I am not relying on sales only.
    About Amazon, you totally right, I need to test Amazon affiliate & AdSense.
    I am sure AdSense will increase the revenue even more during the off season & on season period.

  17. steve wyman says:

    Hi Arbel

    Thats for sharing so much about your business.

    Did you start off following a halloween course some years ago?

    More importantly what percentage of your business comes in during September and October these days?

    Im wondering if as you have more sites and they are more popular/ranking well, that you have seen an increase in year round traffic?

    Lastly have you tested adsense at all?

    I also assume you build niche sites in other areas.

    thanks

  18. Arbel Arif says:

    @Steve – Thank you.
    * No Halloween course here, just saw an article about someone who make money with Halloween Costumes sites.
    *maybe around 70% of the sales happening on Sep-Oct but the direct advertisement deals are all year round.
    *Yes – more sites = more traffic.
    *I tested AdSense on couple of sites & it was good but I didn’t put AdSense in all of my sites.
    I am thinking about putting AdSense during the off season.

  19. Steve Eason says:

    It’s great to read about your success in this area. I love hearing stories of other’s success in the Internet Marketing world. It brings great inspiration to myself and others.

    I especially like your additional comments in the comment section about how your expanding your brand and diversifying your income by creating new products, mailing lists and such. This is a great way to Google-proof you efforts should something happen to cause your site to slip in the search results.

    Also, by watching trends and creating sites/products that speak to those trends, that helps keep the content fresh and brings new clients in. Before you know it, you have 100 products bringing in just 10-20 people each, which still adds up to a LOT of traffic.

    So great work, glad to see you posting here.

    Steve Eason

  20. Arbel Arif says:

    @Steve – Thank you for your comment…

  21. Jeff says:

    Any concerns with copyright infringement based on some of the domains you own? For example, TronCostume.us or ThorCostume.us or KermitTheFrogCostume.com?

  22. Jeff says:

    Another question…I can see the added value in having separate domains for each costume, but why not just use your high level domain “HalloweenMall.com” and just create separate pages for each costume……..if you’re creating unique content for each post/page, wouldn’t you expect to see similar results?

    This approach would be simpler to manage than 50+ separate domains and be cheaper…….or are there other negative concerns with trying to build this out under one single domain that I’m not thinking of?

    Thanks for overview of your affiliate site, very helpful….it’s always nice to see see live examples of affiliate sites that are actually working for others!

  23. Arbel Arif says:

    @Jeff – About the copyright, you totally right but I did my research & I am willing to take the chance.
    About one domain vs. 50 – you have benefits here & there.
    I started with 50 websites & only after I build HalloweenMall.com, so for me this is how I did it.
    I can tell you that I see a lot of benefits owning 100 Halloween related sites when I am closing advertising deals with costumes companies.

  24. tori says:

    Hi, what a great system you have created. Forgive my newbie confusion over how it works. Is your main income is from selling costumes for buycostumes.com and ads from that same site? Halloween Mall is not showing in my Google search results, looked through about 5 pages–how do you overcome this? Why not diversify and link to other costume stores–is it bad to feed competition in this way? Thanks.

  25. tori says:

    OK I see you said you have ads from other costume cos., I guess they don’t mind that you link to buycostumes.com. I still wonder about how to get found–I Googled Tron costumes and did not see your site–is it a matter of expending effort at the right time?

  26. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost
    a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100% positive.
    Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Appreciate it

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