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Building the Ultimate Resource: Taking a Niche Site and Actually Making It Useful

Building the Ultimate Resource: Taking a Niche Site and Actually Making It Useful

By Pat Flynn on

Become the Ultimate Resource

In my last post, I shared an email I received from Google about my Adsense account.

I wasn’t banned (luckily), but I was given a warning and 3 days to make changes…”or else.”

My violation and reason for the warning, “format mimicking,” seemed to totally contradict some advice that Google was giving to it’s Adsense publishers.

This is why I ended my last post with:

“All I know is, I would not let Google babysit my kids.”

In other words, I wouldn’t rely on Google to be the sole provider of income for my business.

Any business that does is on thin ice.

My security guard training niche site: on thin ice.

Building the Ultimate Resource

Although the Adsense income has been good (consistently between $1200-$2000 per month over the last year), I’ve always known that this site could do bigger and better things.

Most sites can.

There are a few signs that support this thought about my security guard training site:

  1. I’m consistently seeing people using the integrated job board. Not just via page views, but people actually getting hooked up with new jobs. I’ve even had a couple of emails from people saying thanks, which is totally awesome.
  2. I get emails every day from people who are looking for more specific information about security guard training in their local area, beyond the information I currently have on the site.
  3. At the moment, there’s no real ‘ultimate resource’ for this industry.

Bottom line – there’s a hole in this market that needs to be filled.

Although I’m ranking #1 for a lot of the top keywords in the field, my site is still purely informational and doesn’t do much beyond just tell people what they should do or how to do it.

I recently tried to get away from Adsense a little with private banner ads, but that was a mediocre attempt at earning a little more money, and nothing more.

I need to start building the ultimate resource: the “go-to site” everyone talks about and shares when anything about that niche comes up in conversation.

That’s when monetization options go way beyond pay-per-click advertising.

So how do I build the “ultimate resource” for security guard training? Here’s what I’m thinking:

In addition to the state specific information I have to become an unarmed and armed security guard, I should also include:

  • directory of all the security guard training companies in the U.S., searchable by zip code to make it easier for people to find not only how to train, but where to train too.
  • store for all the gear a security guard would need.
  • library of security guard training tips, both for those looking to get a job and those who are already working in the field.
  • Information about other types of security guard training practices, such as baton training, pepper spray training, etc.
  • forum or community aspect for support, questions, and answers.
  • Up to date news in the industry published on the site.
  • Expansion into other countries, such as Canada, the UK, etc.

An actual in-brand certified training course would be ideal, of course, however there’s the issue that each state in the U.S. (and territory in Canada) has a different set of security guard training requirements, so a one-size-fits all course, even at the entry level, would be difficult to create and manage (and get approved).

This is a lot to take on, but that’s what would take this site to the next level.

Monetizing the directory and tapping into the actual companies that are training new security guards might be where the gold is, it’s just a matter of how that should be done.

I have a few options:

  1. Have companies pay a small monthly fee to be included in the directory. A company does not show up in the zip search results unless they have paid a small monthly fee. The recurring income would be sweet (even with just 1 company per state!), however it would take a lot of convincing to have companies pay upfront for something like this, I feel.
  2. Include companies on the directory for free, but charge for a premium position, monthly, at the top of the directory in designated zip code ranges.
  3. Include companies on the directory for free, but setup an affiliate program or pay-per-lead offer for specific companies.

The affiliate program / pay-per-lead option seems to be the most attractive to me because companies wouldn’t have to pay unless they got sales and/or leads, depending on the model, and I wouldn’t be “capped” here either.

The more people I send through – the more money would come in.

Well, that would be the plan once all systems are up and running.

To help me figure out how this might work, I did some research and came across some helpful information on Shoemoney.com about Schoemaker’s experience with local affiliate marketing.

The content written almost 4 years ago, but it very much still applies today.

Local Affiliate Marketing?

Local affiliate marketing is getting paid to send leads to local companies such as car dealers, dentists, doctors, etc. – all companies that don’t usually have an online affiliate program but know how much a lead is worth to them – and many of those companies are willing to pay for those leads.

Shoemoney’s strategy is to drive leads to these companies by running targeted PPC (pay-per-click) ads on Facebook to a landing page where  they either call that company using a special number that keeps track (i.e. CallRail.com) or he just collects those leads and sends those to designated companies in batches each week for a price.

Other times he’ll direct people to companies with a special coupon code connected to his name to keep track as well.

Very, very interesting stuff right there – and it almost makes me want to try local affiliate marketing here in San Diego, or even the town I live in within San Diego (since there’s less competition) but…I have to stay focused, lol.

I think collecting leads or possibly even using special phone numbers to track calls would be an option for my niche site, and I don’t even have to do PPC because I have the site and keyword rankings to drive traffic already.

That said, if it works with the natural traffic I already have, maybe I could give it a boost with paid advertising too.

Hmm…

There’s big opportunity here, and I’m willing to give it a shot.

My mindset has changed:

Forget about the mini niche sites and start thinking about building the ultimate resource for a niche.

Think about the ways that you can turn your site into the ultimate resource. Even just one thing you can do to make it better than it already is can make a huge different – possibly a feature or benefit that no one else in your niche has.

Lastly, what are your thoughts about this new direction?

I’d love to hear your comments below.

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