- The Big Idea
- Antique Site Examples
- How Do They Make Money?
- What I’d Do
- What I Like
- What I Don’t Like
- Summing Up
Growing up, my family collected a lot of antiques.
My parents were friends with a heavily tattooed antique dealer and we purchased a plethora of 19th-century furniture and lamps from him and other NYC-area auction houses.
Things like this Horner dining room table, which is our dinner table to this day:
My father bid at local NYC auctions, but eBay revolutionized the collectibles market when it launched in 1995.
Our home is packed to the gills with antique lamps, Persian rugs, ornately carved mirrors, even a baby grand Mason & Hamlin piano with real ivory keys.
And we aren’t alone:
According to IBIS, the U.S. market for Online Antiques & Collectibles in 2020 is a $1.5 Billion dollar industry that includes:
“retails or auctions antiques and collectibles, such as coins, jewelry, books, figurines and memorabilia.”
It’s clearly a huge, growing market.
How can you capitalize on it? In this niche report, I’ll walk you through how I’d approach creating and monetizing an antiques and collectibles niche site.
The Big Idea
Rank for high priced, antique keywords like “art deco furniture”, “antique radios for sale”, “apothecary cabinet” and monetize with affiliate and display ads.
Antique Site Examples
To get a sense of the big players in the antiques niche, I extracted the top 10 organic competitors for Collectors Weekly, which is “is an online resource for people interested in antiques, collectibles, and vintage items”:
Collectors Weekly has a ton of informational antique content. As opposed to eCommerce sites like 1stdibs, which actually sells antiques.
Presumably, if you’re entering this niche, you’re not going to be an antique seller.
You’re going to be writing about antiques and monetizing with affiliate marketing and display ads.
So these are going to be your most relevant competitors:
|Target||Domain Rating||Total Backlinks||Total Keywords||Total Traffic|
How Do They Make Money?
As always, there are 3 ways websites make money: ads, affiliate, commerce.
Collectors Weekly, an informational content site, runs ads and does affiliate marketing.
Check out one of their recent articles on the Beatles:
You can see them running ads on the site (1); pushing traffic to an art market search engine called Barnebys (2), which is probably an affiliate relationship; and (3) they direct traffic internally to their Category pages, in this case for “Records” or “Beatles” or “Rolling Stones“.
What I’d Do
If you’re interested in this niche, the first thing I’d suggest doing is pouring over the keyword research.
I extracted 1,000 of 1stdib’s top-performing organic keywords, screening out branded search terms:
You can see lots of expensive furniture with really low Keyword Difficulties.
Imagine ranking for “cocobolo desk” and generating sales on a $15,000 piece of furniture:
With a 3% commission rate, you’d earn $450 on that purchase.
This is definitely an under the radar, high-ticket affiliate opportunity.
The question becomes- how deep should you niche down?
I might be tempted to go ‘general’ and try to rank for any and all of these keywords, basically what Collector’s Weekly does.
Or maybe I specialize in a certain style of antiques like Art Deco, or a type of furniture like desks.
There’s no definite answer- though I’d avoid niching down so small that you restrict your site potential.
I’d also try to figure out what my monetization options are before starting to build the site.
Create a Google Sheet and begin sketching out your options.
Here’s an example when I was exploring the ink cartridge niche:
You don’t want to start building a site and ultimately realize there aren’t any good affiliate opportunities.
Antique Affiliate Programs
I’d begin Googling around and checking inside of the popular affiliate networks like ShareASale, Rakuten Linkshare, etc. to unearth opportunities.
Taking a look at the most obvious option, 1stdibs doesn’t have an affiliate program at this time. Maybe you can create a private deal once you have some traffic, but for now, it’s not an option.
eBay is another option- it’s easy to join, they have somewhat decent affiliate advertising tools, and they have the inventory, but the problem with them is that their affiliate terms are pretty poor.
Currently, eBay is paying 3% on Antiques purchases, but the Referral period is only 1 day.
That means, after 24 hours of clicking your Cocobolo eBay affiliate link, if that person outright buys, or wins the auction, you’re paid nothing.
For considered purchases like this, it’s not likely you’re going to have people buying within 24 hours.
Wayfair could work- granted, they don’t sell antiques, but it’s conceivable that if someone wants a cocobolo desk, but can’t afford a $15k antique, you can convert them on a new desk for a couple hundred:
I’d wait until I have some traffic and a decent-looking site before applying to them. I’ve been in the Wayfair program for many years, but I hear that new people are having some difficulty joining.
A lot of people are writing off Amazon ever since their drastic commission reductions, but it’s still the best-converting affiliate option you’re going to find.
Like Wayfair, Amazon isn’t in the business of antiques. But you can find new furniture options to cross-sell your users.
Currently, Amazon’s U.S. Furniture category earns 3% commissions.
Barneby’s is a is a “search engine for art, antiques and collectibles from more than 3,000 auction houses and galleries around the world. Barneby’s offers a free-to-use database of realized prices, dating back to the beginning of the 1970s and providing over forty million sold lots (Source).”
I’d wait a while until I had meaningful traffic before applying to Barneby’s.
Outside some of the big players, there are a variety of niche affiliate programs.
I’d add all of these to my spreadsheet, including commission rates and conversion stats, if available.
Having compiled all of this data, if I’m starting a new site in this niche, I’d probably just go with eBay to start.
Once I begin getting traffic, I’d consider applying to some of the niche programs that have relevant product inventory and using ThirstyAffiliates to automatically link keywords on my site to relevant offers.
Going With eBay
For now, eBay is the quickest option to get monetization up and running.
There’s even a plugin to create eBay product feeds like this:
A product feed with images like this is an easy, compliant way to get imagery on your site.
Unless you’re an affiliate for a company and they let you reuse images, you’re going to need a license.
I’ve even read through eBay’s terms of service, and they don’t want you using images from their listings.
Stock photo services like DepositPhotos might work, but it’s not going to have a ton of antiques’ pictures.
Another workaround is using Instagram embeds like this one:
I wouldn’t worry about ad networks until I have some meaningful traffic. Maybe I’d apply to AdSense, Ezoic, or Monumetric when I’m averaging 200 visitors a day.
Keep in mind that unless you have meaningful traffic, you’re not going to be making much money from ads, so it’s not even worth the user experience aggravation to run them.
My ultimate goal would be to get the site into Mediavine or AdThrive- so you’re going to need to average at least 50,000 uniques a month before they’ll even consider your application.
To the heart of the matter- what type of content should you create?
If you’re an affiliate, you’re going to be creating informational content.
That is to say, you’re not going to build an eCommerce store and ship Cocobolo desks from your studio apartment.
Yes, you can create a fake eCommerce storefront by importing product listings with lots of duplicate content, but I’ve written enough about scraper sites for a lifetime.
I’m more interested in the whitehat approach here.
Check out the SERPs for “cocobolo desk” and you’ll see a mixture of informational and eCommerce content:
I’d poke around the SERPs of the different search terms and see what types of informational content ranks.
You can even use SurferSEO to help ensure your on-page content is perfectly optimized for Google.
Maybe you create listicles– i.e. the ’10 most stunning cocobolo desks’ and use Instagram embeds for the imagery.
Maybe you write up a Wikipedia style article discussing the history of this style of desk.
You’ll need to experiment to see what works.
Instagram listicles will certainly be cheaper- and you can easily outsource it to HireWriters.
Once I have my niche selected, as well as a general content and monetization strategy, I’d choose some of the lower difficulty keywords from my research (think KD < 5) and begin churning out content.
Keep in mind, you don’t need all your affiliate links set up and running from day one.
You’re likely not getting meaningful traffic for a while, so maybe add an eBay call to action for each of your posts to get started, affiliate-linking to the search path for the antique.
This is a great niche for Pinterest- it’s a good idea to get an account up and running as soon as possible.
I’d begin creating Pinterest Boards and filling them up with relevant pins using the Tailwind Chrome extension.
Eventually, as you get more content on your site, you’ll be able to have a Board for every keyword post on your site, like “cocobolo desks”.
I’m not a Pinterest expert. There’s a ton of free information out there about Pinterest strategy- read up on it because if you’re in this niche, there’s tons of traffic to be had.
If you need inspiration, check out what 1stdibs is doing on Pinterest- they have over 10 million monthly viewers:
I’d also experiment pushing traffic to the site from YouTube or maybe even generating affiliate sales directly from the channel.
You can easily churn out tons of slideshow videos using a tool like Animoto:
This video has over 2 million views at the time of this writing! And it’s basically a narrated slideshow.
If you have the money to invest, I’d recommend using a service like Fat Joe or Authority.Builders (read my Authority.Builders review here).
You can also do your own guest post outreach- there are a million guides out there on how to do it.
But it’s a tedious and expensive task that often requires bribing webmasters with money.
Maybe once your site has 15 quality posts, hit it with 5 links from FatJoe and 5 links from Authority.Builders and track how your rankings improve.
You can also use my Backlink Breakthrough methodology to acquire high-powered backlinks for little or no money.
What I Like
- Fun niche
- Lots of low competition keywords
- Great for immediate and long-lasting Pinterest traffic
- Interesting potential for high-ticket affiliate opportunities
- Good for ad revenue
What I Don’t Like
- Generally, I’d expect low affiliate conversion %’s on antiques. It’s not like converting people on Amazon commodities like power washers and Bluetooth speakers
- Very image-based content. I prefer being completely above board with images- so I’d use Instagram embeds, but they can go offline. I wouldn’t expect any legal issues if you used an image from an eBay auction, for example, but it’s clearly against their T.O.S.
There’s definitely a lot of low-competition, high-traffic opportunities here. Conversion percentages might not be great, especially for the really expensive furniture.
But you can supplement with ad revenue. Lots of people enjoy just looking at the furniture and reading about its history.
It also has a ton of Pinterest potential. Which is great because SEO takes forever. With Pinterest in particular, you can get traffic to your site from Day 1.