We all have unique passions — and we want to be around people who share similar passions and hobbies. The best websites bring content and passion to their audience and avoid trying to make everyone happy.
Every day, there are millions of other people waiting to discover websites and join communities for their specific interests — from design sites like Dribbble to cooking sites like the Pioneer Woman to startup news like Techcrunch.
For an entrepreneur, this means opportunity.
It’s a chance to create a community for obsessed, dedicated fans who share similar obsessions. Plus, it’s a way to grow a loyal audience who return to your site, and buy your products, again and again.
To give you an example of someone who has created an incredible community for a passionate niche audience, take a look at Corey Brown.
Corey, the founder of No Treble, saw an opportunity to create a community for his biggest passion: instruments.
A web consultant and entrepreneur since 1995, Corey wanted to combine his experience with the web with his obsession over bass to create a side project.
The site started small, and he heard concerns from his friends and family:
- "You’re targeting a really small group, maybe you should pick a larger audience."
- "You’re wasting your time. There’s no way this could be a profitable business."
- "How are you going to make money? Are you sure you don’t want to focus more on your actual career?"
Instead of listening to the doubters, Corey pushed ahead. Today, No Treble is one of the most popular niche music sites on the web with 450,000+ monthly visitors and healthy revenue.
We’re going to show you how Corey created his small community for niche bassists and grew it into a thriving business.
Let’s get started.
How Corey grew a unique niche and community into a successful business
Corey’s idea for No Treble started because he wanted to share his passion for bass with a larger audience.
Obsessed with finding the latest news on bass, Corey couldn’t find any bass-focused online magazines like he craved.
For example, on one site Corey would read a great interview with a bass guitar legend. But if he wanted to find information on new amps, or tips for improvising, he’d have to spend hours searching other sites until he found what he was looking for.
To fill his own need, Corey came up with the idea of a “one-stop shop” for bass aficionados like himself.
At first, Corey didn’t care about making it into a business. All Corey wanted to do was build the best collection of bass articles, videos, and content on the web. “I never did create it to make money, I never created it to be big,” Corey explains.
Coming from a career in web consulting, Corey put his idea into a website he called No Treble. It only had a few blog posts and a couple photos of bass instruments, but it was a good start.
Every day, as Corey kept adding content, he thought about how he could introduce other bass fans to his No Treble site.
Getting the brand in front of the right faces would be difficult. Corey had a shoestring marketing budget and he had to make every dollar count.
After exploring a few inexpensive marketing solutions, he found an effective way to grow the brand inexpensively. He found his magic bullet.
How stickers helped Corey skyrocket his niche website into a massive success
In June of 2009, with No Treble only a month old, Corey realized something: "I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do to grow the website. But I knew I was a sticker guy, so I wanted them to be part of the mix."
Corey used stickers as an experiment to grow the site and fan base.
I even saw my stickers on the amps of famous bass players. They were everywhere I looked."
As a trial run, he printed 1,000 three-inch custom circle stickers. He wrote a notice on his website: anyone who mailed him a self-addressed envelope would get a sticker sent to them for free.
The results blew Corey away. "As time went on, I could barely pull the envelopes out of the P.O. Box. There were just so many."
Every day, dozens of letters would arrive. People wanted to show their love for bass wherever they could — and they wanted to do it with No Treble stickers.
Seeing how successful the sticker trial run was, Corey doubled down.
Riding on the interest of his fans, he urged anyone who received a sticker to send pictures.
Hundreds of emails came in.
No Treble stickers were on cars, computers, bass cases...and even bass guitars!
Corey posted every picture on Facebook. Soon, his stickers started going viral. Every time he posted, he had dozens of curious bass fans writing, “I NEED THIS STICKER! Where can I get it?”
Day in and day out, Corey sent new stickers to everyone who asked.
To keep up with the growing demand, he started searching for companies to print his stickers en masse. It was at this point that Corey heard about Sticker Mule. “I loved what Sticker Mule was doing, so we switched over our business.”
With more stickers printed, the chatter surrounding No Treble kept growing.
Passionate bass fans were sharing the No Treble stickers every day. They’d post about it on their Facebook. They’d tweet about it. They’d even tell their friends in-person over drinks.
The "small" website that friends told Corey would be a waste of time was exploding with an obsessive, highly targeted audience of fans.
"I was getting pictures from friends who saw No Treble stickers on cars in different cities. I even saw my stickers on the amps of famous bass players. They were everywhere I looked."
As the stickers continued to go viral, international bass fans caught on.
But because of postal restrictions, Corey wasn’t able to mail self-addressed envelopes back overseas. So he decided to create and sell a special pack of stickers anyone could buy.
"I started a simple online order form where you could buy 1, 5, or 10-packs of stickers. It was incredible because I sold more 10-packs than anything else," Corey told us.
Selling stickers helped No Treble scale the brand and reach more people — and it helped push this “small” niche website into a sustainable business.
With No Treble’s sticker experiment, success is in the numbers. As the main marketing tool the brand used, stickers helped grow the community into 450,198 monthly pageviews.
Corey is quick to point out how stickers were responsible for No Treble’s success. “Free stickers made it a turning point for us. It was the catalyst for us getting involved in product sales and building a sustainable, passionate business. I never would have guessed we’d mail out 10,000 stickers like we did in 3-4 years.”
Today, No Treble still has stickers as their product staple — and the growth from stickers has allowed the brand to start selling t-shirts, books, and more. Even better, it brings in enough revenue for Corey to keep it going, hire world-class writers, and create a thriving niche community.
And if Corey was able to grow his niche community into an exploding business, you can too.
To help you get started, here’s our step-by-step system on how to use stickers to grow your own niche website or idea.
How to use stickers to take your idea, product, and website to the next level
Step #1: Follow No Treble’s lead and order stickers.
Die cut stickers are a great place to start. Use a logo or another piece of branding that your customers and fans will identify with. Our stickers are weatherproof and waterproof, so your biggest fans can put them anywhere they want — from their cars to laptops to their outdoor gear. Stickers are a great way to help push viral growth and skyrocket word-of-mouth marketing 2-5x for a fraction of the cost. (Also check out our custom sticker sheets.)
Step #2: Give away stickers as a free email sign-up perk. Corey gave away stickers to anyone who sent a self-addressed envelope to his P.O. Box. But keeping track of a P.O. Box can be a hassle. Instead, we recommend creating a simple form to request a user’s name, mailing address, and email. Getting an email address gives you the chance to add them to your email list and send offers in the future.
Step #3: Once you start gaining traction, sell special stickers to generate revenue. When No Treble received too many requests for stickers (especially internationally), they saw it as a potential revenue stream. Today, you can buy six different kinds of stickers on their website. Although the greatest benefit is still to spread the word and brand, it can bring in additional cash too.
To see the exact stickers No Treble used to grow their niche community from 0 to 450,198 monthly views, visit their store.