The Birth And Death of My Health Niche Website

Brett from Niche Laboratory here.

Quite a few of you have asked me about starting a website in the health niche. In this post I’ll braindump everything I know about health sites.

I don’t know about you, but I always like to read articles from people who have “skin in the game” so to speak. By this I mean that somebody has actually done something you also want to do.

In my case, I started a health niche site back at the beginning of 2010, and kept it running until 2014.

I started the site because at the time I fancied quitting my boring cubicle job and moving overseas. I guess I wanted to become a digital nomad before the term became popular.

This wasn’t my first attempt at making money online. In fact in 1998 I started making a bit of money by writing technical IT related articles. Then I started a highly successful software business.

However, my health site was my first attempt at making money from a micro niche website.

So what was my niche? It’s a common condition. It’s not a serious condition (like cancer or diabetes). However it does have a huge impact on quality of life. So it was a great candidate for a health micro-niche site.

A search of Google Trends also shows that this condition is much more searched for in the UK, Australia, Canada and the United States. In other words English speaking countries where the population have plenty of disposable income to pay for goods and services:

My Approach to Building the Niche Site

I wrote an e-book about my experiences with the condition and how I resolved it. I then uploaded it to ClickBank and built a simple 2-3 page sales site to market the site.

At the time I had read quite a bit about how to build landing pages. I put in plenty of *benefits* to reading my guide, and a few endorsements. In short, I was doing what everybody else was doing at the time.

I guess I was doing things right, because I got quite a bit of traffic:

A bounce rate of 65% was pretty good as well, so I clearly had some fairly good engagement with my audience.

Why This Was a Good Niche

Health niches can be good because:

  • There are loads of desperate buyers who will pay money for good products and services.
  • If you personally suffer from a condition then you are in a good position to write about your experiences.

A friend of mine runs a really good forum for people and their families who have had a particular life changing condition. I guess the difference with him is that he originally started the site to connect with others who have been through what he has. He didn’t originally set out to make any money from his site. Being truly passionate about a niche is always a good thing.

Why This Was a Terrible Niche

I did reasonably well selling e-books through ClickBank. However, they tightened up the rules regarding health niche books and it was too much hassle to keep it in the marketplace. I was also disappointed by the number of sales. It was hardly a bestseller and I was lucky if I sold one book a week. After paying for web hosting and affiliate commission it was turning into a high risk low reward business, so I took the book out of ClickBank.

I did try advertising my site on Google AdWords. However, there was an unexpected problem in that the main keyword related to the niche is actually a trademarked term. Consequently it wasn’t possible to bid on the main keyword in my niche! What’s even more irritating is that the term isn’t actually trademarked for its use in the healthcare niche! Rules is rules I guess.

Why did my ClickBank experiment fail? There are some really nice niche products on there. I made quite a bit of money by affiliate marketing a software product I spotted on there. But the problem is that 99% of internet marketing people on there just market the big name titles, like that book about how to grow taller, and the ones about getting your ex girfriend or boyfriend back.

Yes these books sell tens of thousands of copies but the problem is that everybody else is trying to market them as well. But I have found out that aspiring marketers always end up choosing the same old niches. This is pretty much backed up by the 3+ years worth of Niche Laboratory job data I now have.

After I closed down the e-book business I decided to change my approach. Instead of charging $10 for an e-book I simply turned the e-book content into a WordPress blog. I monetised this site using advertising.

Unfortunately this site made barely any money. I did get visitors, but click through rates (CTR) on adverts was really low at around 1%.

I had another go at making the site a success. I turned the site into a phpBB forum. It was in theory a really good topic for a forum. But I got hardly any legitimate users registering and it just ended up being overwhelmed with spammers.

Another problem was that Google started to tighten the requirements for health sites, so my traffic showed a long decline:

Why Did I Close Down the Site?

I ended up pulling the plug in 2016. The domain was up for renewal and I simply let it expire.

I found out that people in this niche are unusually angry. I got some horrible hate mail and that was really discouraging.

But the main reason for quitting was that I had some much better niches so I decided to withdraw from the health niche. A 1% CTR on adverts was not really worth pursuing. My main niche has 10 – 20% CTR for just around the same CPC!

So even after reading about all the drawbacks, would YOU enter the health niche? Is it a good topic for online marketers, or should we leave this niche to the professionals?


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