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One of the biggest draws of building niche websites is the idea that you can build a passive income stream that produces a recurring flow of money with little to no work on your end. I know that for me, that was a big reason why I decided to go down this path several years ago.

In the beginning, I had a vision of continuing to work my day job while my niche site brought in a bit of extra income on the side. And if I played my cards right, maybe I could even build up enough side income to replace the salary from my full-time job, all without requiring me to devote much time to maintaining that side business.

With that being said, is it really possible to create passive income from building simple niche sites, or is it all a dream that someone sold you to get you to buy their course? Well, the short answer is a little bit of both.

In this post, I’m going to go over what it really takes to build and maintain a niche website and show you how passive it can really be.

What Does Passive Really Mean?

Before I get into the day-to-day details of building and maintaining a niche website, let’s first define what passive income really means. Now, keep in mind that this is my definition of passive income, and this is a gray area that will produce a different answer depending on who you talk to.

For me, a passive income stream is one that involves very little ongoing work to keep the money coming in. It doesn’t matter to me if there’s a ton of work up front, as long as the cash keeps flowing once everything is in place.

A big part of creating passive income, as you’ll see below, involves having the ability to outsource some or all of the work. While that means there’s still maintenance work required to keep the income stream alive, if I’m not the one doing the work, I still consider it to be passive.

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The Upfront Work of Building a Niche Website

Overworked on Laptop

Even if your end goal is to produce a passive income stream, you’re still going to need to put in some time and effort up front. I think this holds true for just about any income stream. Even buying and holding stocks requires upfront research, etc.

Here are just some of the tasks that you’ll likely need to do early on when starting a niche website:

  • Choose a niche
  • Choose/buy a domain name
  • Buy hosting (Bluehost is my go-to choice for a brand new site, but we move to Rocket.net once we start generating good traffic)
  • File legal paperwork (if you decide to do so)
  • Create accounts for email, social media, etc.
  • Create a website
  • Choose/install a theme
  • Install plugins
  • Set up your site’s menus, layouts, etc.
  • Create the general pages on your site
  • Research topics for your site
  • Write and post articles
  • Find and add image to your posts
  • Add internal/external links to your posts (I recommend using Link Whisper for adding internal links)
  • Sign up for an ad network and/or affiliate networks

The list above is just scratching the surface. There’s plenty of other tasks that you’ll likely come across when first starting a website as well.

As I’m sure you can imagine by now, the process of starting a niche website is in no way passive. It’s a very active process that involves a lot of time, work, and a bit of money.

With that being said, many of the items listed above are one-and-done tasks, meaning you only have to do them when you start a new site. The passive part kicks in once you’ve got your site up and running. We’ll dive into that part next.

The Ongoing Work to Maintain a Niche Site

Website Maintenance

The maintenance phase of a niche website is when it starts to become really passive. While there will still be some work involved, the amount of time and effort required to generate a large amount of money can be very minimal.

A few of the tasks that I listed above will still need to be done:

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  • Research topics for your site
  • Write and post articles
  • Find and add image to your posts
  • Add internal/external links to your posts

In addition, there are some new tasks that you’ll have to work in as well:

  • Pay taxes
  • Keep your site and plugins up to date
  • Maintain legal filings
  • Maintain your domain and hosting
  • Manage your social media accounts
  • Respond to comments
  • Respond to emails

So far, you’re probably thinking that this doesn’t look passive at all. That’s because I haven’t gotten to the key point to making this a passive business model: outsourcing.

If you’re not familiar with the concept of outsourcing, it’s basically where you pay someone else to do a task for you. The great part is that all or most of this can now be done online, meaning you can initiate and manage these relationships right from your computer.

Why Outsourcing Is the Key to Passive Income

Outsource vs In House

If you really want to turn your niche site into a passive income stream, you’re going to want to dive head first into outsourcing. Without outsourcing, everything on the two lists in the last section will still be your responsibility to maintain.

Speaking of those lists, several of the items listed don’t really take up much of your time. For example, taxes are typically paid annually, and you’re going to have to do that anyway. You might have to pay estimated quarterly taxes in the United States, but again, that’s just a few minutes every few months.

Responding to comments and emails also won’t take up much of your time until you have a huge site, and if you want to, you can disable comments and not put a contact form on your site. While I don’t recommend it, plenty of people do this successfully.

Along the same lines, when it comes to social media channels, you always have the option to flat out ignore them. That’s basically what we do on all of our sites. We used to spend a ton of time creating pins for Pinterest, but now, the only social media channel that we spend any time on is YouTube.

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Out of the items that I listed above in the previous section, there are only a few of them that are time intensive. Those are:

  • Research topics for your site
  • Write and post articles
  • Find and add image to your posts
  • Add internal/external links to your posts

If you really want a hands-off approach, you can literally outsource all of these. However, if you’re like me, you won’t outsource the first one: researching topics.

Researching on Computer

Finding good keywords and properly gauging the competition is the most crucial factor in determining the success of your niche site, in my opinion. For that reason, that’s one step I don’t see me ever outsourcing.

Everything else on the list, however, is fair game. You can easily train someone to add appropriate images to your articles or to add internal and external links where it makes sense.

With that being said, your biggest time saver will come when you outsource the actual writing of the articles. Writing the articles themselves is what really has the biggest impact on whether maintaining your niche site is active or passive.

Thankfully, it’s really easy to outsource content these days. Upwork is a great place to start if you’re looking for just a few articles a week. If you want to scale further, go with a content writing service instead (see who we use on our tools and resources page).

Just be aware that once you start outsourcing anything, whether it’s writing content, managing your social media accounts, or simply adding images to your site, you will need to really spot check the work to make sure it’s up to your standards. There’s a lot to consider when outsourcing work, but I’ll cover that in more depth in another post.

While it’s definitely possible to outsource just about anything I’ve mentioned in this article, I don’t recommend it. You want to maintain a certain level of control and visibility with your niche site, and if you outsource too much, you may soon find that those things that made your site successful in the first place are no longer happening.

Put another way, maintaining a niche site can be as passive as you’re willing to make it. Ideally though, you find a balance that frees up a lot of your time, but still keeps you in the driver’s seat.

For me, the ideal balance is to do everything except writing the articles themselves. And even then, I still write articles from time to time, simply because those articles almost always outperform the outsourced articles.

In my scenario though, I work as part of a four-person team. It’s much easier for us to maintain our portfolio of sites without outsourcing too much. If you’re flying solo, it very well may make sense to outsource a bit more than we do.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide how much control you’re willing to give up in order to make your business more passive. When done right, a niche site can practically be hands-off and continue to grow and thrive.

Final Thoughts

If a passive income stream is what you’re after, building a niche site is one of the easiest and most lucrative paths to take. While it’s not completely passive, the high return more than makes up for the small amount of maintenance involved.

While there are other income streams that can be even more passive, like buying and holding stocks, you’ll have a hard time finding anything that can produce such a high return so quickly.

As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort up front, niche sites can bring you a passive stream of money for years to come.

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    Author

    After spending several years struggling to find a reliable way to make money online, I finally developed a simple system that produces large and consistent results. My small team and I are now generating life-changing income for all of us by building simple niche websites using the basic steps covered on Passive Income Unlocked.

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