How To Create A Local Event Site For Passive Profit
This next niche idea can be a really fun and lucrative one especially if you live in a big city.
The idea here is to create a local event site with a focused specialty or theme (music, tech, luxury, etc.) and monetize with sponsored content.
This post will examine the opportunity and discuss how best to approach it.
Living in NYC, there's a lot to do. One way I figure out which events are worth going to is by relying on several NYC-themed event sites.
Some of my favorites include:
Watch My Video Walk-through of This Niche
I shot a video examining this niche- including a site review of the 5 event sites above using Ahrefs. You can watch it below.
Ryan from NicheFacts with another online business idea. So the idea here is to build a local event website.So the idea is say you live in a particular city. What you would do is build up a local content site that can cover different aspects of things that are going on in your city and since I live in New York City, there are several websites that I’ve come to rely on for finding things do so from a sort of a meta perspective- yeah there are websites like Eventbrite and Meetup.com and they’re really great.
You could book things on there. You can find things on there, but they’ll always lack the sort of curated touch that you can find on more personalized web sites. So I have a list of these websites that I use when it’s Gary’s Guide. Another one is PrintUpList. There’s The Skint, Guest Of A Guest, Brooklyn Based and these are all different kind of examples of local area websites that have interesting focuses and specialties.
So from a high level, Gary’s guide they’re very much focused on tech events in the city, PrintUpList does underground New York City events, the Skint has focused on cheap and affordable things. Guest of a Guest is like really high-end. Events like that. You have to be invited to a purchase, a $ 500 ticket for. And brooklyn-based, as you might imagine, is a Brooklyn area website very content-heavy, as opposed to some of these other sites like Gary’s Guide & PrintUpList- they don’t do a ton of content is more just curating events, doing email marketing, especially in the case of the Skint, but just from a high level it’s a very interesting niche to get into it, because there’s really so much opportunity for you. You know it’s, it’s really what you make of it.
You know if you live in a particular city you can really drum up a lot of attention and interest just by examining what’s going on and reporting on it and coming up with interesting things to do, which is really the main thrust of websites like this.
So in terms of why I like this niche and I’m gonna get into a little bit some examples of the websites that I think do it well in the New York City area. Why I like it is because it’s really a fun way to build out a local community resource, so a lot of people, maybe you’re not attracted to building out an Amazon affiliate website. Maybe the idea of you know ranking for product reviews is boring to you, and I could certainly sympathize with that. So this is an interesting kind of approach to take on building an authority site and it doesn’t need to be your complete life.
You know you just could just be one site of several that you own and then you just kind of build it up and you learn how to automate it and it could just be a strong website in your portfolio of niche websites.
Another reason why I like it is that it’s pretty cheap to produce local event guides- you don’t need to be super detailed. They can be, but in terms of just providing value, say you produce a weekly guide and it’s like the 10 best things to do in Kansas for the week of November 1st through November 7th, or something like that, and this is valuable information. People would subscribe to you because it’s you know it’s useful to them and you don’t need to to write up a thousand words every single time- you can just curate information and that’s valuable to people.
A third reason why I like it is that once you get going, you could really outsource a lot of the research responsibilities to a virtual assistant using UpWork, and that way this may be further down the line once you’ve figured out how to operationalize things. But it’s a it’s a really big win. Once you learned how to to outsource redundant and repetitive tasks like, for instance, you could outsource the virtual assistant to go to certain websites find the events you know put them onto your site. Put them into an email. Have them send the email- automate it and they could just do that in the recurring basis. So you could really step away from this, especially once you have a bit of a following.
There are also some unique monetization opportunities here. Well, it’s not as easy as like Amazon affiliate, where you’re just serving a link and getting paid when people find you organically through Google and then clicking a link and buying- you know you can sell ad placements once you have a big enough list and is really targeted and you could show that people are actually opening your emails, you could put ads in those emails. You could send one-off broadcast to your email list for local businesses, and this would this takes a little bit more more work. You’d have to reach out to people a lot of people, so if you don’t like emerging from behind the curtain to actually do something like ad sales this could be hard.
You know if you have a list of 3,000 people in Topeka Kansas- it makes sense that a local law firm would sponsor you in some way. You know, and that could take different different forms. Maybe it’s a widget ad on your side. Maybe they just want to get access to your email list, so you send a link to their services and one of your emails things like that. Another reason why I like this is that you’ll get returning visitors, as opposed to say an Amazon affiliate site.
That’s unless it’s a really good affiliate site, where you’re providing very, very good value. It’s kind harder to build up an email list, but with this you get a lot of returning visitors week on week, if you’re producing guides of what’s the best thing to do in Topeka Kansas in the month of December. You know people are gonna keep coming back in January in February, just to get good information that you’re providing and they’re gonna type it right into their address bar and they’re going to remember you hopefully, because you have a brandable domain name and I have a whole post on that explains why that’s important and how to choose one.
So that’s another really great value here is that once you build up an audience, once someone comes once they’re going to come back again if you have good value, especially if you capture their email. Another reason why I like this is that as you build up an email list and as you establish brand authority and people are returning to your site, just because they know who you are, and they remember your name, you become immune to a lot of the Google algorithm updates. You know you’re not going to get penalized or let’s say if Google never really likes your site. Maybe you don’t produce a ton of content, you don’t get a lot of search traffic or maybe god forbid you get penalized. Which is pretty unlikely unless you’re doing something pretty untoward.
You know you really aren’t dependent on organic traffic. You’re not dependent a search engine to feed you your audience like a lot of affiliate sites are that are 95% organic traffic like mine are, which is one of the reasons why I started this site, is that I want to have more of an established brand with an email list and I’m working around an outside of organic traffic, which is very variable and can just turn off one day and you’re left with nothing.
Another reason why I like this is that it’s it’s easy to create unique content for a dedicated audience. What I mean by that is in the Topeka Kansas example, that you really have a rapt audience, there are people you’re ultra focusing on providing value to- a dedicated population of people. So it’s highly relevant is highly useful and it’s easy to create value for them, because no one’s really focusing on providing like city level curated event experiences for them. Like I said before, web sites like Meetup and Eventbrite, you know they’re, really great websites and they are able to provide a lot of customized curated value but at the same time, is never going to replace something that’s a website that’s specifically dedicated to that audience, but even further down say you live in Topeka, Kansas website and it’s focused on tech events, or it’s focused on music that these large websites are never going to replace the common touch and then, like I’ve, already covered, you can build an email list with this audience and that it may not grow to you know a hundred thousand, depending on where you focus your efforts.
If you’re in Topeka, Kansas or New York City, you know your audience, size is going to vary. I should also say: you live someplace where there just is not an audience, you know, or maybe there’s not a lot going on. There’s nothing stopping you from profiling a nearby city, maybe one you personally want to move to one day and live in- all the information is on the Internet, so you can always find things that are going on. You can really build out content for any location that you want to focus in, so I want to go over some of the the sites that I like, and these are them right here. So the first one up is Gary’s Guide. What’s really great about it and everyone in New York City that goes to any sort of startup or digital marketing event, they know this very well. It’s also something I should mention is that when say you eat like when I go to an event, people will say: oh, how did you hear about this event? And I said Gary’s Guide- so the word of mouth really travels and multiplies.
So if you have a website and people go to an event, you recommend they’re going to say how did you hear about it? I’m going to say I was on this website that you know curates events and there’s a good chance that you’ll get a lot of word-of-mouth exposure. So anyway, Gary’s Guide bills itself as a number one resource for New York City tech and it really does deliver. This is the heart of it right here like this. This website is, this homepage is updated sort of on a weekly basis. He probably does daily updates as well. So today is Wednesday, and he has this full list of things to do, and it’s always interesting. You know it’s really. You get a very quick glance like this, for instance, this would be a good event for me to go. I am NYU graduate, so there’s a entrepreneurial event happening today at 5:30. You registered for the event and see he links out. So he goes to Facebook events, but he’s not handling any other registration on site he’s just linking out, and this is the most of the very thin page.
There’s not a lot going on here. It is basically taking some of this information from the the event website itself. I would be a little bit leery of doing too much of that, because you could always that makes the website appear very thin, but at the same time it’s providing value and I’m not sure what does organic traffic looks like. But you know it’s at the end of the day: you’re providing a really great user experience. It’s really valuable information and something like this can scale up very quickly. Although you, you really have to focus on alternative traffic acquisition methods, because it’s not so much an organic traffic play though at this point like if I were to look it up: you see that he ranks number seven for “startup jobs” and “New York City startup jobs”. So these are not like really not very good organic rankings. You know he doesn’t there’s not a ton going on here. This is like, I said, really not an organic play, but the way he makes money is that these are all sponsored. He has an easy way to join his email newsletter and he also does San Francisco, so he actually does two locations.
So that’s another thing you can actually expand, say you’re, just you specialize in tech events in New York City. It makes sense that you would also take your expertise and do it in San Francisco as well. So this is a really cool little site. He has a job section and these again it’s probably people pay him. Some amount I’m speculating, I don’t know for sure people probably want to get very specialized access to people, viewing the site trying to fill jobs and recruiters or the companies themselves internal or external recruiters. So you know check out Gary’s Guide for some inspiration if you’re interested in this second website the PrintUpList. I’ve been following this site for a very long time, and I like it a lot at the same time. It’s also very poorly designed. I have to say it’s very difficult to use and like this imagery, this is very chaotic and confusing it sort of violates a lot of the user engagement best practices having something this huge and unreadable.
The top of the page is also very difficult to kind of filter through events, you know if she put a little bit more effort into kind of organizing this information see the way Gary’s Guide does it in a much cleaner way, even Gary’s Guide, what you’ve got up here is kind of annoying, but you know that’s sort of the money-making aspect of things but having something clean like that, would dramatically improve this website, but at the same time you know it provides really good information if you want to go to kind of these underground events in New York City that are there not as a lot of things that aren’t not as well known and I’ve gone through a lot of these events in my in my time. So she’s she’s also recently kind of expanded a lot of the stuff that she does like.
She has a review section now, and I mean this is like not to be too critical, but this is a real eyesore reading stuff, like this, it’s kind of hard to digest so she’s, making an effort here to do some affiliate marketing. Maybe this is a sponsored post, so there’s a lot of stuff going on here that you can kind of emulate just parties of the week. It’S a very good website. It really is. It provides a lot of good value that compensates for some of the the difficulty of navigating it.
Another website that I like is The Skint, and so the focus here is cheap, cheap events, free things, cheap events, which is really great. It’s a really great concept. I like a lot: it provides a lot of value just by finding inexpensive things to do in New York City and again, this is not going to be a site that is going to get you a ton of organic traffic. So if we search through, we say only four point: seven thousand keywords: it’s not a lot.
This is not an organic traffic play and you can see the this is what they rank for. They rank for their brand term, that’s their biggest, and that’s indicative of the fact that they’ve built up a brand and people know if they want to find the website and type in the skint, like all their keywords like free events, new york city, that’s probably their best keyword that could possibly rank for and they’re in position ten because it you know it is pretty competitive city to do SEO in.
This is a site I don’t often come to, but I get the emails, so I mainly digest it by email and then I come to the site that way so they’re, probably they get a lot of traffic. That way – and I actually haven’t dived into the site too much – I usually just get the email and it’s a very curated, focused list of things not to do but see they’re, making an effort here to help you find stuff, which is something you know, the PrintUpList could really take a lesson from this that there are ways to kind of use their CMS, whether it’s WordPress or not, to make it easier for visitors to navigate the site and so yeah.
This is another site that I really like it’s it’s got a nice focus. It has a really great email list and they’re trying to get donations as well, so that’s and that you know I find that a guy would donate to them, because I think they provide a ton of value they’re, trying to help a very specific subset of people. People in New York City, looking for inexpensive things to do is it’s an expensive place to live, so there’s a a real legitimate sort of core philosophy undergirding the site.
It’s providing people here who probably don’t have a lot of discretionary income, a way of finding fun things to do that are help them you know socially engage after work, so yeah, that’s another great site.
The next one, this one is a really cool site, I have to say, it’s Guest Of A Guest. So it’s focused on really high-end premiere events. I’m obviously unfamiliar with them in New York City, and I also somewhat the Hamptons. My parents have a house out there. Honestly, I haven’t gone to a lot of these events because a lot of them are like invite-only or they are VIP events at the you know, Natural History Museum on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and it’s like $ 1,000 for a ticket.
So you know it’s a little bit, it’s a bit pricey for me and I just personally I’m not that interested in some of the things, but it’s really good. It’s kind of aspirational. So the other interesting thing is that the best feature they used to have was free and it was the calendar and now they’ve actually pay-gated their their calendar. So now it’s a recurring. It’s a recurring revenue model. So now you actually have to have an account to to access the events.
So if you click on log access now we’re redirected to a membership page and we have to pay $ 14.99 which really sucks honestly. But it really is great value, like I’m sure they have a lot of people subscribing to this. So we see a bunch of things that are going- on a pop-up travel agency, some sort of party, there’s a chocolate tasting at Neu House. So I have actually not looked at the organic rankings, but I can just take quick look now.
So it’s a way of building engagement with people that are running events in New York City and you probably pay them, obviously you’re paying them too for them to come. So it’s like lead generation as well. It’S like it’s very interesting ysk uneven, see what that’s of that, I’m not sure, not sure.
Let me see what there they’ve got an Instagram as well, so they’ve built up a really good brand they’ve got 53 thousand followers on Instagram, and that’s really that the the name of the game is building up a brand, providing value building out these social profiles. That are alternative traffic acquisition channels for them. Yes, sir, so checkout gets to the guests. It’S really cool. It’s a great inspiration. Maybe you want to do a high-end website like this. Maybe you want to get your content and your event calendar and charge people 20 bucks. A month for your, you know: premium access to your website.
That’s an amazing model. I need stuff like that, like 20 dollars a month and you get a thousand people paying it or 500 and mean you can do the math on it and all of a sudden, you have this amazing recording revenue stream. So the last one is brooklyn-based and this one is really like a Content site. It’S a ticketing site. You know they help. You find events but, like I said it’s a very it’s. A big content focused site, even more so than guest of a guest. In my opinion, but maybe they may not okay, they don’t rank for as many keywords, but they also are not as broadly focused as guests of the guests, because the guest of a guest is doing. You know. New York City is doing Los Angeles, Hamptons Washington, Miami San Francisco shot Chicago, whereas Brooklyn I mean it is obviously a much smaller search volumes, much smaller audience if they’re serving I live in Brooklyn.
So that’s a trade-off is that I live in Brooklyn and obviously I see the site like this. I know it’s tailored exactly to my interest, so you it’s a smaller audience, but it’s also something that people have more than an immediate allegiance to. So there’s a ton of content: here we go December and cultural calendar like that’s right cent front and center. That’S what they want you to really look at so okay. So it’s ten, it’s a list of ten things that they like to do. Actually, this looks sort of like a new show and sci-fi, so it’s actually television, I’m trying to see if they’re doing any sort of a it doesn’t look like there’s an affiliate link in that one. So it’s actually culture essentials for December 2011. It’S actually! Oh, this one is hip-hop version and using a bitly link, so there’s a chance that this is. You know this is some sort of affiliate link Ticketmaster and I did a video before about the ticket affiliate match. So this is I’m assuming they’re in the affiliate program. For Ticketmaster, so that’s a it’s a smart way to kind of create content. That’S monetized with affiliate links, so you can have an affiliate. I don’t actually have an affiliate disclosure, but that’s neither here nor there. It’S just my speculation, but I’m pretty sure that’s that’s an affiliate link the fact that they’re they’re using bitly to probably track it, make it easier on the eyes with it when people hover over the link. So they do a lot of cool things on the site. You know they break it down. Different categories makes it really easy easy to navigate and check out their Instagram, so looking at their Instagram, you’ve got eleven eleven thousand followers. So that’s good! You know this is this. Is this is a very you know? It’S a tight focus area. It’S Brooklyn, it’s one borough of a five borough city. So I really you know it’s a great way to specialize in providing valuable content in a to a very small, dedicated and curated audience, and I get their emails and I read their emails and open them engage with them. So you know I’m familiar with them and they do a nice, a nice roundup, of different events to do so, for instance, this is this is what an ideal week would look like in in Brooklyn, and you know again that these they may have some sort of Relationship with these these event, these particular events – maybe they’re, sponsored – maybe there’s some other way that these events are getting listed. But that’s really the what you can do. The the interesting thing that you can do with these slices that you can’t really specialize in an area provide interesting breakdowns of what’s going on, and I would recommend doing it in a way.
That’s easy to digest, like Gary’s Guide, does as opposed to more of the the scattershot approach or the PrintUpList, but that’s really the idea that that I covered in this this this post on niche backs calm. So I go through a lot of the things that I like about the sites and the other thing that I like about this, that I didn’t really go over.
Is that say, you’re doing Topeka Kansas and you become known as this person with a this website that profiles, events you’re going to get invited to it too into events. You’re gon na get VIP treatment. You know you’re going to get access to your free access to things which is really cool. You know, maybe this is a great way to kind of improve your social life you’ll be on the red carpet on you know in your local town.
They’ll be inviting you to all sorts of interesting things because they want you to to write about it. So it’s that’s. That’S a really interesting aspect of it and let me just think, is there anything else? They that’s really, that’s really it like. I also cover sort of the traffic aspects of it. It’S it’s really not going to be an organic traffic play, there’s a couple keywords that will probably be logical for you, the target and eventually rank for, but the majority of the traffic is going to come. Just from you know, you hustling on social media, letting people know, for instance, hey we profiled your event. We listed it and just getting exposure that way, just just you really have to grind it out in the beginning.
But what I like about is that over time, you’ll get a word-of-mouth referrals, people would be visiting your site signing up and it can go viral and grow incrementally. So you have to keep that in mind and then also it’s not so easy to monetize as having a straight affiliate site. The path to monetization is a little bit slower, but it’s also can be incredibly profitable as well. As you see the guest of a guest they’re charging, whatever they were charging on a monthly basis for access, so it’s a really cool idea. Just let me know in the comment section what you think. Alright, I respond to all comments and that’s it I’ll see you in the next video.
Indeed, these sites curate NYC-area events in different ways.
For example, Gary's Guide focuses on startup, entrepreneurship, business, venture capital, digital-media events.
The Printup List focuses on underground, cultural and musical events.
The Skint focuses on free and inexpensive events.
Guest of a Guest, by contrast, focuses on ultra-high-end events like invite-only parties and celebrity happenings.
Brooklyn Based caters to the Brooklyn hipster- not as high-end as Guest of a Guest.
This comic by Tony Wolf introduces our new series, In Transit, reflecting on how we move around our city through essays, illustrations and articles. Check out more of his Greenpoint of View here. You can also follow him on Instagram and Twitter @tonywolfness. I've been a comic book fan my entire life.
In this way, these sites have discovered interesting ways of curating local area events that the big players like Meetup and Eventbrite just can't.
In the process, they develop a core following- an audience who routinely visit for updates and trust the resources the sites market to them.
Not Just Events
Guest of a Guest and Brooklyn Based are also interesting because they are not just event-based. They also editorialize on culture, food and fashion.
This is another interesting consideration- your event site could be a pure event list like Gary's Guide or, in addition, explore broader community affairs.
If you're going it alone, this might be a lot to take on- so perhaps curating events can be a good starting point.
It's important to understand that while these sites will often link to popular event ticketing platforms, it's to book the event- not to discover it.
So, don't be overwhelmed by a site like Meetup.com. While an excellent site and app, your human touch is a powerful competitive advantage.
With founders Amanda Bradford Venue (The League), Danielle Strachman & Mike Gibson (1517 Fund), Brett Hagler (New Story), Josh Miller (FarmShots), Ryan Smith (LeafLink), Kristen Hadeed (Student Maid), Nigel Eccles (CEO, FanDuel), Cindy Whitehead (CEO, The Pink Ceiling), Jason Fiefer (Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Mag), Allyson Dias (Program Mgr, Thiel Fellowship).
Word Of Mouth Power
And, think about this: whenever I go to an event from Gary's Guide, I often end up telling the host and other people at the event that I discovered the event on Gary's Guide- this word of mouth confers huge authority on his site.
This is an unorthodox, old-school way of getting traffic and building brand awareness. I've come to rely on these sites- Gary's Guide in particular.
It filters out all the noise from event platforms like Eventbrite, which is often plagued by spammy webinars and lacks effective filtering and discoverability options.
Read stories, find parties and view photos of people and celebrities at exclusive events - delivered to you daily by Guest of a Guest Global editors
Gary's Guide, for example, succeeds despite not being mobile friendly and despite a somewhat cluttered interface because it organizes real-time event information in a clear and dependable way.
I know that every Monday its event list will be updated and that the wheat will be sorted from the chafe, so to speak.
While most of the events he lists can be found on EventBrite, it would take me hours to discover them as I sort through spammy nightclub promotions and 'financial freedom' webinars.
Is This Niche For you?
Think about where you live.
You might not be in a cultural hub like NYC, but could you provide value by becoming a one-stop resource for local area events? Could you niche down and curate tech events, cheap events, luxury events, cultural events?
Maybe you live in a remote location- you can still profile the activities of a nearby big city.
Cheap Content: The Holy Grail
Plus, since you're merely aggregating content (the events), it's really cheap to produce these event guides.
Once you figure out a process, you can even outsource a lot of it.
If you haven't read my other niche reports, one of my favorite recipes for building a successful online business is leveraging cheap content.
When I first started building sites, I was recently unemployed after the startup I was part of failed. So I was extremely cost-conscious. If you're on a budget, this could be a smart opportunity to pursue- this curated event lists won't take that long to do.
And you can even use a Virtual Asssistant to help compile them on a weekly basis once you figure out which resources you want to pull event info from.
Become A VIP
And, think about this...
Once you get big enough, you'll start getting invited to ticketed events and even get VIP treatment.
This could become a really fun and lucrative niche with an added social benefit.
With some diligence you can get traction with local users who want a Gary's Guide for their home town- a destination site that is a one-stop resource for the week's best events.
Once you get some traction and build up an email list- your audience will become extremely valuable to anyone who wants to regionally target their advertising. Say a new sushi restaurant is opening up in downtown Ohio- you can tacfully promote it to your audience in exchange for sponsorship.
Perhaps a musical act you love is coming to town- you might get free tickets for yourself and giveaway tickets for your audience just for promoting it in your newsletter and on your site.
An Alternative Approach
An alternative way of conceptualizing this site is to create a national resource for particular events.
For example, you could become the resource for legal seminars, the resource for veterinary events, the resource for event marketing professionals. It's definitely another method to consider.
Event Keyword Research
Below, I used Ahrefs.com to examine some of the U.S. event-related keyword volume. This really isn't an SEO play, but it's interesting to see the searches that are being conducted- it might help prime your imagination.
How To Get Started In This Niche
- If you want a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site, check out AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System
- A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (it's what I use)
- A brandable domain name from GoDaddy (my guide)
- A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
- Image & graphics from DepositPhotos (all legal and licensed)
- Content from iWriter (my review)
- An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr (my review)
- An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using
- Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration
How To Build An Event Site
First, I'd compile some examples of local event sites I like and research them scrupulously.
Too often the local event sites I see don't invest in building a user interface specifically designed for event-style content.
This makes it cumbersome for users to navigate. If your event site is music-themed, you'd want to make it easy for readers to jump between categories like metal, punk, rock and roll, etc.
You could use WordPress Tags and Categories to help organize this content.
Another consideration- you don't want to copy event information and paste it on your site. Google frowns on this "duplicate content". I would consider either direct linking to the event page or including your own blurb.
Though, writing custom content for the hundreds of events you end up profiling is likely a tall and ultimately unnecessary order.
Since this isn't an SEO play right off the bat, my recommendation would be publishing event lists that direct-link to the event page every Monday morning and do this for a couple months.
You'll eventually discover what the best process is for you as you dive into the work.
- Opportunity to build a fun, local event resource that engages you with a community you're passionate about
- Returning visitors means that a consistent traffic source
- You aggregate content (events), so it's pretty cheap to produce and outsource
- Good potential for an email list
- Diverse monetization opportunities
- Generally not a super-fast path to monetization
- Not a strong SEO play- you'll have to hustle to get exposure, rather than wait to rank in the search engines