How I Make Passive Income From Niche Websites

Update: My income has greatly increased and my strategy may have changed since I originally wrote this article. It still serves as a good overview of my business, but most of the information is outdated. 

Quick summary

In August of 2018 I came across some Youtube videos about affiliate marketing and making money with niche websites. I was instantly intrigued and already knew how to build websites so I dove right in.

I started building niche websites, which are websites about specific topics, with the intent of making money from them.

*Update: 7-8-21

After many months of failures, successes, milestones, as well as much trial and error, I’ve reached a point where I now make over $15k/month from niche websites in passive income. I expect that income to only increase each month going forward.

It basically goes like this in a nutshell:

  1. I Build a WordPress website
  2. Add SEO articles to it about my niche
  3. Monetize the articles with affiliate links and ads
  4. Get organic traffic from Google
  5. Profit from traffic

Using this business model, my total revenue for March 2020: $1740.52. There are some minimal expenses involved like hosting and tools but they add up to less than $100/month, the rest is pure profit. I can either pocket that money or I can re-invest it back into the business by buying more content for the sites.

There is a lot of work involved up front, but once you add the content it can keep earning you money for years to come. They are making me money constantly, not just while I’m on the clock. That’s why I do consider this passive income.

However because I want the sites to stay healthy and keep growing, I put in a lot of work. It’s really like a second full-time job. Which is why the ultimate goal is to get my sites earning enough to support me and my family full time.

Want to know more about my process and how this works? Keep reading…

How I do it

There are many many ways to monetize web traffic, but that’s not what this article is about so I’ll just cover the 2 I used here.

  • Affiliate marketing is when you place unique product links on your website, when a visitor to your site clicks that link then buys something you get a commission. I use the Amazon affiliate program for this, Amazon Associates.
  • Display ads are just ads that are shown to visitors to your website, then you get paid based on how many times the ads were displayed or clicked.

So those are the two ways that I chose to monetize my websites to reach this amount of income. Amazon Associates on the affiliate side and Ezoic for the ads, specifically. I do use a few other affiliate networks as well have a few sites on Adsense but the earnings from those sources are minimal and not included in this article.

If one of my sites were about outdoor recreation (a highly competitive niche by the way) I might write an article about how to properly choose a backpack for going hiking. In this article I would write a detailed guide on how to choose a backpack and then I would recommend my favorite ones on Amazon using my special affiliate links. People searching in Google for info about backpacks might run across my article and click on it.

If I have ads on the page I get paid for showing those to visitors, if someone clicks my link and buys a backpack I get a piece of that pie too.

If you do this on a large enough scale it can really add up, and if you’re good enough you can do very well for yourself.

Below are screenshots from my dashboards on both Amazon and Ezoic showing my earnings for March. The sharp drop at the end of the month for Ezoic shows where I moved my main site to Mediavine, a premium ad management company.

Ok so that’s high overview of what I do, if you want to know how I make money from these websites just a little more in depth then keep reading.

The websites

* For a more updated view of my portfolio, check out my income report for June 2021.

With a bit of research under my belt for how to select a niche, I started my first niche website with the intent of monetizing it in August of 2018. I chose a hobby that I’m somewhat interested in, but by no means any type of authority or export on. I spent too much time building the site and tweaking the theme to no end. I had a decent understanding of writing for the web but there was still a learning curve because this was different than anything I was used to. This resulted in many sub-par pieces of content as well as a lot of trial and error.

Then I started building more websites… and more. At one point I had as many as 14 but at last count I have 9 niche websites that are monetized. Below are the 4 that I plan on focusing on the most going forward, in order of traffic and earnings but I plan on site 2 dropping in the ranks soon. I’ll explain more about that below.

Site 1

Site 1 was not my first niche website, I had started a handful of sites by this point. It ended up being my most successful site though and the one that is most solely responsible for me earning the amount I did last month.

This site is a hobby niche like site 2, but a totally different hobby. There are places where the two sites intersect just a little bit but for the most part, totally separate niches and hobbies. I actually started this site with my girlfriend so I had a partner on this one who knew about the hobby and could help with content.

In the first few months we got out maybe 10-12 pieces of content, we weren’t putting a ton of effort into content creation at first. I wasn’t sure it was a keeper until about 5 months in when those few pieces of content really started gaining traction and getting traffic.

I started that site in mid-November of 2018 and it starting showing signs of life in March/April of 2019, at around 5 months. In May I made a big content push and got about 15 articles added, all the while still trying to add content to other sites I had created. However I was slowly losing interest in some of the other sites by this point and it was clear where the focus needed to be going forward.

So traffic for this site kind of peaked in June then slowed down for almost the rest of the year, but I knew the potential was still there so I remained focused on site 1. We continued to add content all year as much as we could. I was constantly trying new things like adding different types of articles, promoting different products, adding social media accounts, everything I could think of to make this site a success.

In probably November of 2019 I came across a group of low competition information keywords with pretty good search volume in my general niche. I wrote a couple of articles targeting these keywords, then moved on and didn’t think much about them. Well by January they were getting the most traffic of any other posts on my site. So I doubled down.

This group of keywords were location based so I made a hitlist of the highest volume and lowest competition ones and pumped out about 10 more just like the first two. The results were pretty great.

In January I was getting about 200 users per day to this site, by late March I was getting 2,000 per day! A few days I’ve even gone over 3k visits in one day. I 10x’d my traffic using info keywords that had gone under the radar by others in my niche.

To be fair though, that massive spike in organic traffic wasn’t just from these info articles I was methodically writing for every location they applied to. I wrote an article back in May of 2019 during that content push that exploded on Google and started getting 500-1000 visits per day. It was also a location based info article and had a huge table for all of the locations. Very informative and unique and I was rewarded for it. I broke it down in my earnings and I think that article alone earned me over $200 last month.

This site was on Ezoic and earned the ad revenue from them for March 2020. However I recently got that site accepted into Mediavine, a premium ad management company, and am looking forward to potentially higher earnings with them.

Total articles: 116

Monthly traffic (March 2020): 51,367 sessions

Site 2

This is actually the very first niche site I made, but it’s no longer my main focus. At some point I realized my niche was highly competitive for a beginner and my domain selection had also been sub-par, I was already afraid this site would be hard to scale for those reasons.

But I was already invested in this site and created a little brand so I wasn’t quitting on the site. At about 3-4 months in is where I went on a little spree of building sites. I’d learned from mistakes and gotten good at researching a niche and keyword research so I started up a series of niche websites. Most in totally different niches but a couple were related.

I’m just going to let this site chug along for now, it’s still less than 2 years old and could pick up. For now it only gets around 100-150 sessions per day, I have single articles that get 5x that much on site 1. If you want the earn as much money as quickly as possible it usually makes sense to invest your time and money into your biggest site.

Total articles: 65

Monthly traffic (March 2020): 4,898 sessions

Site 3

I started this site almost exactly 1 year from when I started site 2, and I started at full steam. I put up 50 low competition articles in the first 30 days, I wrote part and outsourced part of the content. At the time of writing this, it’s about 4.5 months old and I’m starting to get 25-30 organic visitors/day. Just about what I was expecting.

This site is in a related niche to site 1, but more general. Site 1 could actually be a category in this one. I think I just saw a lot of potential in site 1’s niche and decided to make another site in the same realm. The domain is very brandable and I could really go in any direction I want to with it. For now though I am targeting low competition info keywords mainly. I have about 6-8 money posts, or affiliate offer heavy articles, and the rest are info with the only objective to get traffic for ad revenue.

I hope to pretty much repeat site 1’s success with this site, time will tell but I am pretty confident.

Total articles: 68

Monthly traffic (March 2020): 449 sessions

Site 4

Site 4 is actually on one of the first domains I bought, I just never really did anything about it. I went through my routine of buying the domain, building the site, and making it look nice. Then I added 1 article, and let it sit for over a year. I don’t think I logged into the site but maybe once or twice in that year.

This niche is the parent niche of site 2. I do see potential with site 2, but because of my domain selection I’m boxed in and feel like it doesn’t make sense to have certain content on the site because of that.

For this site I wrote some articles myself, outsourced a chunk of content on Upwork, migrated a few over from site 2 that fit better here, and consolidated 3 other small sites into this one. This also helped downsize my portfolio that had gotten overweight from my shiny object syndrome phase last year.

This gives me a good base of content, almost 30 articles. I’ll sit this site on the back burner for the time being and let it marinate in the SERPs.

Total articles: 28

Monthly traffic (March 2020): 285 sessions

Other sites

There are a handful of other niche sites on my server. All of them are fully built and set up as monetized niche websites with the GeneratePress theme. Some have as many as 20 posts, others as few as 3. I haven’t sorted through everything yet to decide what my plan is but I know my focus will be on site’s 2 and 3 going forward. Site 4 is yet to be determined but could have potential.

This group basically contains all of the duds that never took off or I lost interest in. There are a couple that may yet pan out but I don’t have time for them currently.

All other total articles: approx. 50

Monthly traffic: under 5k sessions

The content

In this section I’ll discuss my overall content strategies, basically the types of articles I add to my sites. It’s easy to say add content to your sites then make money off of it, but that doesn’t explain much. Within the scope of this article I can’t go into too much detail but I’ll give a good overview.

There are more, but generally there’s 4 main types of posts I like to write or outsource:

1. Question/answer posts

These articles are often low competition and good for building traffic quickly, especially to new sites. They simply answer a question.

I will sometimes choose ones that are purely going for traffic and answer very simple, and often ridiculous questions with an entire article. Other times I’ll choose questions that solve a specific problem, specifically where the answer involves the user making a purchase on Amazon. This scores me a commission as well as the ad revenue I get from people simply showing up on the post.

Monetization: affiliate and ads

2. How to’s and guides

Guides can be really high traffic and can also be monetized with affiliate links and ads. I like to do mine in list format, so something like this:

How to plant a tomato plant (9 helpful tips)

  1. Use potting soil
  2. Plant in sunlight
  3. Something else…

Within those tips I can link out to products that people can click on and buy. I love having these on my sites because you can double dip with affiliate and ads, but they aren’t my favorite to personally do for whatever reason so I’ll often outsource them .

Monetization: affiliate and ads

3. List posts (listicles with pictures)

I like these a lot because they have the potential to bring tons of traffic to your site. It’s difficult to monetize them with affiliate links so I usually don’t even bother. I will however often link to other posts that have affiliate offers on them.

These are the bread and butter of my ad revenue. Listicles are numbered lists of things or places, have lots of images, or maybe a video or two. I make them as tall and long as possible to keep the user scrolling and scrolling. The longer they’re on my site the more money I make.

If you get the formula down for these list posts like I think I have, you can really kickstart even a new site to the next level. They can also bring natural backlinks, which is a huge plus.

Monetization: Ads

4. Best posts (affiliate articles)

Most of my articles with the word “best” in them are pure affiliate articles with one mission… click to Amazon. Once they click to Amazon, any purchase they make within the next 24 hours is mine. Well 4-8% of it is anyway.

Because too many of this type of article can make your site like very unauthentic and salesy, I try to limit my sites to only have about 30% or less of this type of post. They can be highly lucrative, but most of your competitors are fighting over these keywords so the competition is always higher.

Monetization: affiliate 

The money

Finally, in this section I’ll break down the earnings just a little bit more for my two main sites. I’ll lump earnings together for all of the other sites, but it won’t be too much.

*Earnings from Amazon Canada and UK not included in these totals

Earnings for March 2020

Niche site 1:

Amazon: $916

Ads: $653.44

Niche site 2:

Amazon: $74.46

Ads: $38.47

All other sites:

Amazon: $25.06

Ads: $8.59

Plus a few dollars from a couple of other places the grand total is:

Total earnings: $1740.52

Income milestones

Here’s a quick overview of what I consider my significant milestones thus far. These account for earnings from all of my websites, even though the large majority is from just 2.

  • 3 months – First sale from Amazon Associates – Made less than $5 in December of 2018
  • 9 months – Broke the $100/month barrier and earned $122 in May of 2019
  • 16 months – Smashed $500/month here and earned about $622 in December of 2019
  • 19 months – Destroyed the $1,000/month barrier with a total of $1,740 in March 2020


First off I’ll say that it was not easy to get to this point. I worked on these websites for hundreds of hours in almost all of my free time knowing that I likely wouldn’t see any results for 6 months to a year. I went into this journey with pretty realistic expectations. I didn’t make any goals that were set in stone but I had 2 in mind from the beginning.

The first goal was to make $300/month by the end of the first year, so by July of 2019. I believe I made $297 that month so I rounded up and counted that as just barely making it.

The second goal was $1000/month by the end of the second year. In retrospect that goal was way too low, I ended up crushing that goal and another $740 at about 19 months. So I’m very happy about that.

In light of that, I have shifted my overall goal which was to quit my day job after 3 years. I believe that I can now hit that goal at 2 years rather than 3. The monthly income amount I’m trying to hit would be a middle class income for where I live and enough for me to live comfortably.

Even though I may be a little too ambitious at times, over the next year I’m going to start planning for hitting that last goal on time. My main site is growing rapidly and I don’t think it’s too far fetched that I crush the end goal as well.

Wrap up

For those of you out there still grinding and working on your sites in that first year, don’t give up. Things start moving faster in year 2 and is also when really start seeing success. If you’re new to all of this and and want to learn more, I started a Facebook group and am happy to share some tips or answer questions there if you want to join. Link at the top of the page.

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