Hosting, Themes, Plugins, Infrastructure – The Framework

Remember the overall Roadmap of the Niche Site Process.

Remember the overall Roadmap of the Niche Site Process. Click the image to see the full version.

Luckily, this portion is less of an art and more of a science. You can treat this mechanically and just follow the process. I can finish this step and build out the infrastructure in less than 60 minutes.

Yeah, I know some people will disagree with me. These are essential steps but nothing is set in stone after you build out the framework.

The steps to set up the infrastructure are to:

  • Select a Domain Name
  • Set up a Hosting Account
  • Select a WordPress Theme
  • Install some plugins

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Picking a Brandable Domain Name For Your Niche Site

The days are long gone where you need to find an exact match domain name. An exact match domain is where the domain is the exact keyword phrase that you are targeting.

I specifically don’t recommend using exact match domains anymore. It might paint you in the corner, like if you picked bestballpointpensforwritingfast.com, how can you add other products in the future? So think bigger and broader.

As recent as the fall of 2013, it was still good to pick a partial match domain name. A partial match domain has 1 or more words from the KW phrase in the domain name. That may or may not be a good thing so think about the future and your ability to add more products in the future.

If you can find an available partial match, be sure to check that it was not used previously since it could have a bad history that you don’t want to be associated with. By “bad history,” I meant that maybe the previous owner built a bunch of spammy links and the domain is penalized (i.e. blacklisted) in Google’s eyes. So you can go check the Wayback Machine and the ICANN Whois history for the domains you have in mind.

It’s best to pick a domain name that is brandable. I think the ideal situation is a brandable name that has a keyword in the domain. Of course, if you have dozen of items that you might review over time (like the outdoor or fitness niche), then you won’t really be able to sneak in a keyword. In that case, then you’ll want the brandable name.

Choose something that is easy to spell and not confusing to say aloud. For example, don’t misspell words, don’t use hyphens…

And, so on…

Choose a Reliable Hosting Company

Find a reliable host with excellent support like Site Ground or MDD Hosting. I use both Site Ground or MDD Hosting, and I’m an affiliate for both of them, too, so I get a commission if you use my link. Thanks if you do!

If you’re starting out go for a basic, shared account. You don’t need to get anything that is for high traffic yet so don’t waste your money.

What about WP Engine or other premium hosting?

If you hear people saying you NEED to have something like WP Engine, which is high end, then I’m certain you’ll find they are an affiliate. WP Engine pays out a very high commission and that’s a big incentive for people to recommend it.

When you get more traffic, then you can upgrade your hosting plan so your niche site will load more quickly. Once you start getting a few hundred visitors per day, you can look to upgrade to an account that can handle more traffic. It’s usually called “semi-dedicated” or something like that. It’ll probably cost about 3 – 5 times more than the cheapest shared plan.

Choosing a WordPress Theme

Please don’t agonize over selecting a WordPress Theme. You can change it later if you need to. I recommend using one of the default WordPress themes if you get stumped.

Why?

All the WordPress themes are free, fast, and it looks pretty good out of the box.

You’ll have other things to worry about that are WAY more important than the theme.

So, save yourself the hassle of battling with the minutiae of customizing a theme.

Or, get a premium theme that you like. The good part about premium themes is that you’ll get support if you need it. You should check around, if possible, to hear from owners of the theme to see if the support is actually good.

A Few Thoughts on Theme Support

For example, I use Thrive Architect for some sales pages but I’ve found the support to be slow. In fact, I’ve heard that from so many people that I know it’s a common thing.

That said, Thrive Themes has a killer set of functionality, from landing pages to email pop-ups to home pages to magazine formats to evergreen sales pages. So I’m still an affiliate for Thrive due to the functionality, but if you have issues it might take a while for them to answer you.

Seems like a great thing to have everything under one platform, right? Well, I actually hate that sort of thing.

There are too many options with a suite of tools all within a theme. It’s completely overwhelming and I’ve seen people:

  • Try to use all these options and features and waste weeks trying to get their site to look “right” when it really doesn’t matter.
  • Do almost nothing due to analysis paralysis. They have too many decisions to make (even for a simple task like publishing a blog post) so they make no decision.
  • It takes 4 hours to draft a simple blog post after getting the content from the writer.

I’ve seen terrible looking sites do really well and make thousands per month. And I’ve seen beautiful sites never make a dime. It’s about delivering useful and valuable content to the visitor, and that’s in the next section.

Overall, simple is better for a theme. Look at sites like Medium where the content is the star. You don’t need fancy formatting, fancy buttons, or feature boxes.

Themes for Amazon Affiliate Sites

There are a few themes dedicated to Amazon affiliate sites. The main feature is having the ability to link to products and/or add images all within the WordPress Editor. A great one is the Ultimate Azon Theme.

The theme has been programmed to access the Amazon API directly. That’s a good thing and gives you some more options.

I’m an affiliate for some of them and they work fine. The truth is I’ve only used them for a few months to test them out, but I never stuck with them. I just use a plain, old common theme that is clean with just a few options. So you can check out the themes, but they are NOT required at all.

The one downside with such a theme is that there will be more options and configuration to get it working. I’m sure it’s not too involved, but it’s more than a theme with fewer options.

There are always tradeoffs: You get access to the Amazon API, but it will take longer to set up.

What About Plugins?

The great thing about WordPress is that you can get a plugin for just about anything. That’s also a downside… On my first site, I started adding more and more plugins. It was a total mess and my site was loading sooooo slow!

I keep harping on simplicity and how less is more. I have the same view on plugins.

I want as few plugins as possible.

Why?

They can slow down your site. The more plugins you have, the more of a load you put on your webserver and RAM. So once I got rid off and deactivated several plugins, my site started loading faster.

Here are a few plugins that I use:

Here are some plugins that I like and use, but not on every site:

  • AAWP – It’s called “Best WordPress Plugin for Amazon Affiliates” and I have to admit it’s very slick. You can do text links, product feature boxes, best seller lists, insert data fields like prices where ever you want, or put products in widget areas. It has geotargeting and templates.
  • Azon Tables – Create tables and have access to the Amazon API. It’s the “The Best Amazon Affiliate WordPress Plugin Build Product Comparison Tables fast.” You can build Amazon compliant product comparison tables with auto-updating prices and compliant images.
  • EasyAzon – This tool has been around for a while and has seen many updates. You can insert images, text links, and feature boxes. The look of the feature boxes is a little bit dated in my opinion, but it still works well.
  • *The links above are affiliate links so I get a commisson if you use them — thanks for the support!

Framework Resources

Recommended Hosting Companies:

From the blog:

From the Five Figure Niche Site Course:

Once you have the domain, hosting, and the theme squared away, you can move on to content.

It seems simple – because it is – but don’t let that fool you. You should spend a little time thinking about the Content Plan for your Niche Site before jumping in.
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