Carl Heaton

Running a niche website

Part four of ten ways to supplement your teaching income

Passionate about something? Then write about it

Are you passionate about something? Do you have a lot to say on a certain subject? Are you an amazing cook or fitness guru? Running your own niche website is a great way of expressing your opinion and making money through things like Adsense, banner advertising and sponsored articles. This article will show you how to get started and hopefully make some extra income.

Use topics you love

When your thinking of your niche website, pick something that you know there is an active community for because you always want to encourage engagement. Through inviting people to comment and send in their own thoughts, it helps you create a community around your own website, which will then bring in even more visitors.

Always put a unique perspective on what you're talking about. This can be done through research, questionnaires, reading books that have been lost for years, interviewing people or just coming up with your own theories and putting them out to the world. One thing to remember is that you should always keep a note-book handy so when you do come up with a great idea for an article, you have a safe place to log it down and remember it.

Regularity brings popularity

I spoke to a wonderful gentleman who runs a long term blog here in Thailand and he said that the most important thing was consistency of posting i.e what and when you post. He always posts his articles on Sunday afternoon without fail and his readership expects this too.

Creating a content schedule is a great way of helping you keep on track. First choose how many articles you can consistently write a week, second space them out over the week (or month if you're writing only a few articles) and then record the type of article you will write into a calendar. For example Monday = article on ESL teaching, Wednesday = Book review and Friday = funny stories from teachers. Just remember to be honest with yourself and map your content writing around your daily life.

What is your voice?

Before you embark on this quest think about the angle and kind of voice you want to bring to your topic. Are you reviewing, informing or condemning? Are you going to be formal, free, fanatical or friendly? Choose early and stick to it as people tend to warm towards characters.

To get started, first define your personality in a sentence. Then think if your writing style was say a drink what would it be? A glass of aged red wine? A fruity cocktail or even a cool glass of easy going beer? If you get stuck then try different personalities and write say 200 words in that persona and see which one feels right.

Think of your favourite author or column in the newspaper and how look forward to reading articles from certain critics. Well, that is the feeling you want to give to your readers.

How many visitors do I need in order to start charging?

To cut a long story short you need over 30,000 unique visitors a month to warrant charging for exposure on your website with the norm being around 50,000 to 100,000. However! If you can show potential customers that your site has a highly active and focused readership, then they may consider paying you for advertising.

Business owners like me want a return on investment or brand exposure. Potential advertisers will want to know your CTR (click-through rate) in other words what percentage of your website visitors are seeing the advertiser's banner and then physically clicking on it - so they can work out how many potential customers they can expect. It is easy to do a Google Analytics PDF export of your site stats - after signing up for Google Analytics of course - so keep that handy to send to customers.

Ways of making money online

Selling Banner Advertising Space

First you will need to have a page on your site clearly advising visitors what banner sizes and banner types are available. Be sure to include information about dimensions in pixels and the size of the file e.g. keep under 100Kb. Your pricing will depend on the length of time, placement and size of the banner. Start cheap and work your way up e.g 460×60 full banner, on the homepage for one month should be around 3000 baht.

Need help selling? Then try signing up for as they will sell and manage your spaces for you. You could also offer banner design services by learning photoshop and offer a full package.

Google AdSense

Another way to make money is through Adsense which puts Google ads on your website dependant upon your set criteria or the keywords on the page. Be careful when doing this, less is more so don't spam your own website with too many ads.

Sponsored Articles

If you have a successful website you may start to get companies and individuals contacting you to do paid reviews or sponsored articles. Essentially the pay you to review their product or they send you an article to put in your site. In return they will ask for a link to their site. With this you have to put the quality of your website first rather than a quick $20 shoddy article on your site.

Only post reviews and sponsored articles that are interesting and relevant to your users and don't be afraid to ask the company to re-write an article or link back to your review from their website.

Last Thoughts

Building a successful website is all about amazing content, lots of quality imbound links and tones of social media. It takes time to build a successful website and it all depends on that passion you have in the pit of your stomach for your topic. Write passionately and they will come.


"I run the most popular blog in Thailand about Thailand, i found this article full of fluff and not helpful"

Well, everyone is entitled to an opinion I guess Chris but I'll try and be a tad more constructive.

I think what Carl does with these blogs is sow the seeds of possibilty in people's heads. He's pointing the way. The journey is then up to you. Try some of the ideas, diss some of the others - totally up to you.

By philip, (17th June 2013)

Hi Carl. Much there to chew over. And of course it's a subject dear to my heart. I run - a site about teaching in Thailand - and it probably doesn't get any more niche than that.

I totally agree about having a 'passion for writing about your subject' Even though I haven't stepped in a classroom for a good few years, teaching is still in my blood as it were. Even more so the whole scenario of living and working and surviving as a teacher in Thailand. That's what I really love writing about because the numbers fascinate me - especially when they don't stack up. That's what has always been about - to hopefully represent the reality.

Google Adsense / Google Adwords? Never been a great fan. Apart from the fact they look ugly, very few seem to make more than a little 'pocket money' out of them. And I don't know the exact ins and outs - Google Adsense / Adwords are far too complex for their own good - but I know a few people who made a living out of it, and then suddenly didn't when Google changed the rules overnight.

That of course is the problem when you are building a business that's heavily reliant on a third party platform - Facebook, Twitter, et al. Overnight, those giants of the internet can lose popularity, become less significant, change their rules, etc - and you're up a certain creek without a rowing implement.

Sponsored articles have never ever worked for me although I do get plenty of offers. There's an old saying 'it takes 'two to tango' and you rarely get the quality of article that you want in return for the exposure you are giving the article writer. I'm not dissing sponsored articles - simply saying they have never worked for ajarn.

Banner advertising is an interesting world but it's a tough, tough sell. Most websurfers - me included - have developed 'banner blindness' - they don't even see them. Banner advertising CAN work and it HAS worked on but one thing I always try and impress on advertisers - make sure the banner has 'Thailand teacher appeal' in any way possible. Banners that have little or no 'Thailand teacher appeal' have a poor track record on my site. And that's perfectly understandable. It's the way it works.

CTR (click-through rate) is important of course, but none of it means a thing if none of those banner clicks are converting to cash-paying customers.

By philip, (17th June 2013)

I run the most popular blog in Thailand about Thailand, i found this article full of fluff and not helpful, adsense is a joke, I charge 5000 baht for a paid post not $20 bucks. And I wouldn't send my traffic stats to anyone!

By Chris, (17th June 2013)

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