Everyone knows that there is a lot of potential in taking a wildly successful dot com model, and spinning off the same model for a niche audience. The “niche” audience can be across a specific Vertical (think Christian Dating and Matchmaking), or even localized to a specific country (think Digg clone for India). There IS plenty of money to be made if you move early and capture the attention of your specific targeted audience.
So, if you’re thinking of throwing up a copycat dot com model for a specific target niche – and you’re reading this article – you’re in luck. Why? Because I am going to show you how you can get your site up with as many features as there are in the professional dot com global leaders – for a few dollars of investment and in many cases zero investment in the backend software that will power your site.
Before I get on to specifics, there is one very important issue. You must be interested in your niche and making your site a success. Their is considerable effort in taking care of your “baby” once it is born – and once it enters the world – you will need to get visitors and users. You can read other articles on this blog to learn various means through which you can make this happen – but, be warned that it will take time and effort and therefore you must enjoy this if you need to make a success of it in the long run!
While trying to install these free / low cost scripts on your webiste, if you know how to configure a basic php script, you can do this yourself. Otherwise, go ahead and hire a webmaster for under $5 per hour to help you get this up in as little as 2 to 3 hours. There are plenty on the Elance type freelancer project posting websites.
The biggest and most interesting fact here is that you can start this business on a Credit Card with no upfront money. You can get a good hosting company and Virtual Private server with unlimited domains for little $17 per month. If you just need one website – there are plenty of offers for $5 per month. You can literally start a dot com business worth hundreds of thousands of dollars without spending much and just for a few dollars. The software scripts that power your website can be purchased for a few dollars and in many cases for free. These are stable – tried and tested scripts being used by many people the world over and are in NO WAY INFERIOR. On the contrary, some of them, by their very nature of being Open Source are More stable than the commercial grade software scripts out their. So, take heed – if a commercial grade software provider is trying to mislead you telling you that their solution is more stable than the free Open Source alternative. This is many a times NOT the case. Just look at Open Office as compared to Microsoft Word – as a first example.
Once your site is up – the most important part is to invest you time in Online Marketing. Either, you learn this from scratch, or expand upon what you already know – or you hire a professional agency to help you market your website. I prefer learning the tricks as its fun!
So now, here is the list of ideas that you can spin off with almost no money. I have given some suggestions of niche markets – feel free to apply thought to branch out into your own niche ideas. These are listed in no particular order of preference.
1. Dating and Matchmaking – Use script OS date. Its free. They have many “skins” or “themes” which you can purchase each for $5 only. Very stable script with a large number of modules. Highly recommended for anyone looking to start a dating / matchmaking or matrimonial portal. Spin off a niche model based on say “country” example – India, Pakistan, Australia or even Americans living in India. Another niche can be for specific religious sects that like to date and meet people within their sect. your niche can even be targeting for example “high net worth individuals” – the rich who earn over $1 million per year with over $10 million in assets. It could also be Blacks in NY, or Hispanics in USA. There are countless possibilities. Just make sure that there are not already too many players in the niche and that you will enjoy doing this in the long run.
2. YouTube Clone – There are plenty of “scripts” floating out there which you can buy for as little as $100 or even get for free. A good commercial grade script that I recommend is Clip-Share. If you are looking for a free solution – try PHPmotion , its basic and comes with all the stnadard features making it a good starting point if you are on a shoestring budget. Another slightly expensive solution is Rayzz – but it comes with complete social community features and audio, file, video sharing, blogging etc. The biggest problem with this model is finding a good hosting company that allows you to grow as the viral traffic increases. Although, the cost of bandwidth is relatively high, when compared to the money you will make via an ad running on the page or a pre-roll – this model is sustainable – even once you cross the “free” bandwidth quota provided by your hosting company. Most of the top grade hosting companies will give you about 1200 GB of data transfer per month within the cost of the hosting package. But, once your website video traffic crosses that mark you will have to cough up around $2 per GB. So, if a video on your site is of an average size of say 3MB – that will equate to around 650 videos served for $2. Now, on an average you can expect the surfer to surf around 4 pages of non-video streaming content before they finally decide to watch the next video. So thats 5 page views per video. So, 650 videos will cost you $2 and bring in a total of 5×650 = 3250 page views. But, then lets also safely suppose that 50% of the people will watch only half the video and skip. So, thats 650 bonus videos for $2 – or 1.5MB per video. OR a cost of $1 will bring in 3250 page views. Now, if you optimize your ads properly on your video website, you can very easily bring in $1.50 per 1000 page views – at the least – using on Google Adsense. I know, because i’ve done it! So, this equates to $4.50 revenues for every $1.50 spent on bandwidth in EXCESS of the 1200GB free allotment. NOte: If you pre-purchase bandwidht, you can get it for 50 cents per GB – which means your expense goes down 4 times, and you make more money!
Update: There is a great new video share setup software for $10 only… the templates are not that great and futuristic looking – but it has amazing features like youtube video embedding, permalink seo friendly urls, and a host of other features… well worth $10 ! get it here.
3. Digg Clone – Use Pligg or Drupal Digg. They are both 100% free. My favorite is pligg, but Drupal is also pretty good and will allow you to add on more community features, should your venture take off and thus you will be able to offer more to your community making your site more sticky. I like pligg because it has an active community for support and they have some nice looking skins. The Admin interface is also very neat with a lot of modules and many plugins and configurable elements. There are countless verticals that you can setup as niche Digg clones. Again make sure you will enjoy running this niche Digg clone before you put in the time and effort to set this up (done in 1 hour max) and then customize it, launch it and market it. Some examples of successful niche market Digg clones are – Sphinn, PlugIM, DesignFloat, Dubbagol and Zligg. Visit the Pligg Forums section where people introduce their Pligg sites for more. If there is a niche that interests you, and you feel there is potential – go ahead and start this right away. Some example ideas could be â€“ Bloggers Blogging, Book Site, News sharing for a specific country, news for a specific niche. Just make sure there is potential for fresh news and fresh posts in your chose niche. It should have a large variety of new things being reported on the blogosphere and it should potentially have a large audience.
4. Niche Social Network – Sigh. There IS still a LOT of potential here – no matter what people are saying. There are as many niches as their are stars in the sky 🙂 OK maybe not THAT many. But there are plenty of niches just waiting to be socially networked! There are some very good expensive and inexpensive commercial grade softwares. A very stable but expensive solution is OneSite. Then there is Ning.com – which allows you to setup a Social Network with averagely decent features at yoursitename.ning.com and even later on your own domain if things take off. I liked Boonex‘s Dolphin solution – but was most impressed with PHPizabi – as it was simply fantastic and has a large number of features that are essential in a Social Network. Some Social Network niche examples – Indians living in USA, Hispanics in USA, Blacks in Australia, Mathematicians, Physicists, Professors worldwide, Skateboarders, Rock Climbers, Programmers, … you can really go on. The key here is – again that you must understand your niche and have an interest in connecting them and running the site. If this is not there – drop the idea. It wont work.
5. Ecommerce Portal – I would highly recommend OSCommerce. You can get your store up at no cost on your own server and domain in as little as day. Customizing it and adding products through the Admin interface is not complicated. There are other hosted solutions or other pay solutions too, but I like OS Commerce. Create a niche store for any category on the planet – Gadgets, Adult Toys, Shoes Store in Australia or even an custom print T-shirt shop.
6. Blogging – I dont have to say much here. Get WordPress or Typepad – both free. I prefer WordPress. Unless you’ve just come out of a cave on a deserted island, you’ve already read of the potential of blogging in a niche.
7. Niche Web Advertising Network – For $25 you can start your own niche ad network that looks a lot like Adsense. You can install and use the script by inClick.net guys for 15 days at no cost. If you like it pay them a one time fee of $25 and 15% of your revenues and the script and system is yours. This sounds like a great deal. The only problem here is that you will be essentially competing with Google. But then so are some of the smaller ad networks out there – and the market seems to b there – if you focus on a niche and are confident in your ability to sign up advertisers. The technology used by inClick is obviously far superior than Adsense or Adwords by Google – but if you want to target a small niche and make a little bit of money – this may be plausible. ( off-topic, but relevant – if you’re looking a for a stable Ad Management script that you can run across several sites to manage ads for several clients, get OpenAds.org – its free and fantastic! )
8. Your own Torrent Site – Try / Googling – “TS Special Edition”. I wont say more. 😉
9. Hot or Not Clone – If you have $100 you can get K-rate by Turn-k.net â€“ along with some themes. This is the best of the lot. If you have $45, then try PHPzen solution or even better – RateMyPhoto at built2go.com. The best free solution is at – Destiney, and it has some pretty decent features, given that its free. So, if you are just dabbling and having some fun, go for Destiney. But, if you’re serious go for Krate by Turn-k.net. Possible niche areas? A Hispanic Hot or Not, AsiaHot or Not, Websites Hot or Not, Adult Xrated Hot or Not.
10. del.icio.us clone – There is a free Open Source solution called Scuttle. Perhaps there is room to start a niche social bookmarking site for a specific mindset of people or interest – for example , all graphic designers?
12. Project Posting and Bidding Websites – like Elance, WorkExchange or Rentacoder. Try Freelancers for about $50 its an awesome solution. You can well easily start a niche site on this concept that appeals to a closed community, for example for Graphic Designers, Coders in Russia, Lawyers, Software Coders in India and Game Development Community. Basically any vertical that has potential where clients are seeking help to outsource the projects to service providers globally or in specific countries.
There are plenty more dot com models that are being replicated to target niche markets, and I could go on (file uploaders, photo sharing, real estate, classifieds etc) – but I thought these were the signinficant ones. Do let me know if I missed out some important ones and also do post any cheap scripts links that I may have missed out for the above dot com models.