The following set of posts will be focused on how to build and deploy niche websites fast using Hugo, a static site generator (SSG). This is the template I'm using to build niche websites to make money online. Of course, there are pros and cons to using a SSG for websites but if your goal is to make money online, then the structure and speed of a SSG make a lot of sense.
What are niche websites
A niche website is a website that's hyper-focused on one particular topic. This could be about motorbiking or cooking. It's a topic that the content creator is most passionate about and has expertise in. They use these websites to help drive traffic to their websites by using "long tail" keywords.
I won't go into helping you find a niche for your website in this article, I'll assume that you have one and are trying to figure out how to build and deploy your site.
Why build a niche website for passive income
Why bother building a niche website, or plain old website, at all? If your goal is to make money online as a side hustle or to replace your main income then creating a niche website can help you achieve that result.
Niches are synonymous with long tail keywords, keywords that exist in Google but don't drive 100,000 pageviews to you a day. These are keywords that on average could drive 50, 100, or even 1000 page views a month.
Becoming the next Medium or Yahoo Finance is near impossible these days but if you focus on those long-tail keywords and capture enough of them, you could get over 100,000 page views a month. Then, coupled with the right income strategy and mix of display ads and affiliates, you could make a good income.
Find a niche, focus on writing great content for it, and then deploy it in a flexible and fast SSG.
Why Hugo for niche websites
I built websites ever since the Internet hit the mainstream. Then I started blogging in 2006 and the rest has been history for me. It wasn't until I turned this blog into a new career did I believed that blogging and creating niche websites could change your life!
Since 2014 I've been living the gilded life, working in a field I love and making a lot more money. I owe it all to the time and energy I put into this site and now I want to do it again. Now I want to turn this site into a passive income generator by making money online.
I will admit that getting to 2023 has been a helluva journey. I've had many bumps along the way and made many mistakes that I'm still dealing with today. The worst thing I did was change blogging systems all the time. That wrecked my SEO and long-term backlink power.
Getting to today I used many different blogging tools (CMS) like WordPress, Jekyll, Expression Engine, and others. Each one had its own pros and cons, but Hugo and Ghost have been the ones I've settled on for the long term. Why those? Because each fits my go-to-market strategy in a different way.
Ghost is perfect for letting me build a "membership only" content section and is fast, and Hugo lets me build sites programmatically and deploy them quickly that are served blazingly fast on the Internet.
The simple solution, for me, is this: Ghost for membership (and email management) and Hugo for fast-serving passive income niche websites.
Speed, Design, and SEO
I introduced the speed issue above which is the most important attribute of all in the world of passive income and making money online. You need to build fast-loading and low-resource footprint websites with great content to rank high in Google.
The site speed goal will dictate your website design, it will guide you in defining the structure of your site as well as the "guts" for SEO. I won't lie, there are a lot of moving parts to build these sites but once you have a quality theme (template) you can just cookie cutter this with different content around the Internet.
Hugo shines for site structure and programmatically building a website. It does incredibly well with SEO if you build it correctly. The one thing that it's not great at is content writing. For that, you'll need a good editor and do all your final edits before you put your article into a post.
However that "con" isn't too bad and lets you decouple the writing part from the building part. This way you can employ an army of content writers and then cut and paste it into a Hugo article template, build the site, and deploy your site to your favorite host, whether it's Dreamhost or AWS
Working with themes (templates) is easy and you can start with a basic one from their free library. I prefer the ones that are optimized for fast mobile loading because that's where I believe most of my online money-making income will come from.
You can turbocharge SEO using Hugo with the right schema markups, responsive images, a CDN, and breadcrumbs navigation. That, coupled with a good display ad and affiliate strategy and you can definitely make a good chunk of money.
For example, you will need to start with how to structure your homepage and individual posts. You will need to make sure that:
- Social Metadata is included (Facebook's Open Graph, Twitter, Web mentions, and Analytics ) how your home page and posts will be under the hood
- Schema markup (JSON-LD) is there
- Fast loading time
- Lazy loading of images and compression
- Full use of shortcodes for ads and affiliate links
- The use of Hugo modules for faster development
- Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD)
- A strong and fast CDN with SSL
These 9 items are crucial to building your niche website and we'll go into detail for all of them in the next few posts.