A Personal Story About Making Money Online From Building Niche Sites To Building Authority Sites
Ted here from PartTimeTed.com. In this guest post I would like to share some of my personal experience about how I got into internet marketing. Then I will talk about how my business evolved from building niche sites to make money with into building authority sites to make money with.
When I First Started Out
Back in the early 1990’s when I first got out of college, I knew that I would one day be in business for myself. I just wasn’t sure which business or even which industry that business would be in. The internet was still just getting off the ground. Everybody was using dial up. In fact, 56K hadn’t even come out yet. You were happy to have a modem that connected you at half that speed.
You could tell that this internet thing was going to be big though. It was obvious. Because of my desire to one day be in business for myself, I was always dreaming up ideas about how to build a business on the internet. I came up with a bunch of ideas, but never acted on them. Instead, in 1995 I ended up starting a traditional local retail business that had nothing to do with the internet.
Throughout the next ten years and more of running that traditional retail business, I had from time to time revisited the thought of starting one of these little website based businesses. The idea kept growing on me. The urge to actually do it kept getting stronger and stronger.
Fast Forward To 2006
In 2006, I started looking into the internet business thing more seriously. I investigated how other people were making money. People were killing it in Adsense. I remember coming across a guy named Steve Pavlina (maybe you have heard of him). His is one of these personal development guys who had a blog that was becoming really popular. On the blog, Steve wrote a post about how much money he was making with Google Adsense. Bingo….I was hooked. I knew I had to do something like that. Could a regular guy really make over a hundred grand a year by writing about his life?
I started digging around the internet looking for answers to my questions about how to implement something like what Pavlina was doing. I came across this concept of building niche websites. The business model was pretty dang simple. Build a site with a bunch of articles on it that were all related to a general industry. Monetize that site by placing Google Adsense ads on it. Sounds simple right?
Then there were people saying you could make a killing in EBay as an affiliate. At first I thought they made that money on the commissions of products people bought. I later learned that there was more money to be made by getting people to sign up for a new account with EBay. Back then, EBay was paying quite a bit for each new signup. So you could get a first time customer to buy a really cheap product like a used book or something. Even if the person only bought an item that cost them one dollar, EBay would still pay you ($25 if I recall properly) for the signup. This sounded like a killer business model too.
Then there were all these other people saying you could make money by placing links to affiliate products on your webpages instead of using something like Adsense. There seemed to be an unlimited number of ways to make money building these niche sites.
My Experience With Niche Sites
Well, over the course of the next four years, I tried all of those things. And yes, I did make some money. What I was discovering though, was that I would only make about a buck a day with one of those sites. And those were the better sites believe it or not. Some of the sites I built that were one or two page sites never made that much.
And, unfortunately EBay ended that awesome deal of paying per signup. They changed their model to be more like Google’s pay-per-click system. That kind of killed the whole EBay affiliate thing for me. You went from getting paid big money to just getting some odd cents per click.
I kept building all different kinds of these niche sites though. I had a whole bunch of them. I ended up getting somewhere near 200 sites in total between my niche sites and the support sites I had built to help the niche sites make money. I was doing all of this part time too. During the day I was still doing the traditional day job kind of thing.
And let me tell you, building those sites was fun and even addicting. I just loved banging out little sites. I would register exact match domains, write a few articles, throw them into one of my templates and bang; the site was done.
After a while it started wearing on me though. I couldn’t believe that after building all of these sites, I had not yet even accidentally hit a niche that paid the big bucks. I still had not figured this thing out. There were some people making thousands of dollars per month with one website. I needed scads of sites to make a thousand dollars per month. All of the maintenance on those sites, plus the domain renewals and the hosting fees and everything else were making me wonder if this business model really made that much sense.
My First Authority Site Is Born In 2010
In my regular daytime retail business, I was constantly getting asked very specific and very detailed questions about certain things. A substantial percentage of my customers were asking me these same questions over and over and over again. After a while you get sick of explaining the same thing over and over and over to so many people.
I got this idea. I figured; why not just build a website that answers those few questions? That way I could just tell people to go to that website for a full explanation. Then if they needed any additional information afterwards, they could come talk to me again and I would further explain whatever they needed.
So, I threw this site up and made it look pretty. Then I decided, what the heck, I may as well throw some advertising on the site to try and cover my minimal hosting and domain costs. That was when I had the surprise of my life. Within about six months, that site was bringing in about $1,000 in revenue. That was just one little site with maybe ten pages on it. I was very pleasantly surprised. As it turned out, there were lots of people seeking the same exact information that my customers had been asking me about.
I got a page on that site ranked number one in Google for a very lucrative long tail keyword. That was where all the money was coming from. People who found the site that way were clicking on ads like crazy. And those ads paid pretty well compared to how a lot of my other Adsense sites were earning.
This site was getting one thousand unique visitors every day. It doesn’t take a huge CTR to make money from that kind of traffic.
I Guess It Was Time To Switch To Building Authority Sites
The success I experienced with this one website is what woke me up to what I was doing wrong when trying to make money online. Prior to that experience, I had thought that making money was a numbers thing. Just get the traffic and throw some kind of monetization in front of the visitor. That was how I thought about it. Yeah I took it a little bit farther than that, but not much.
Now I came to realize that I shouldn’t be doing that at all. Instead of building sites with my monetization in mind, I would instead build sites that genuinely helped my target audience. I was switching my mindset and my priorities to focusing completely on delivering what that person had hoped to get when they visited my site in the first place.
The change was liberating. Now, building money making sites was fun again. Switching to authority sites clarifies so much about this business that you wouldn’t believe it. You can tell how profitable a site is bound to be based on how bad people want what you are offering. You are never at a loss for ideas about how to make a site better because the goal of the site is crystal clear. Would this change actually help the audience more or not?
Authority sites are ten times easier to promote than a typical over-monetized niche site. People are glad that they have come across your authority site and they are more than willing to tell their friends what they have discovered. These kinds of sites are easier to get ranked high in Google, Yahoo and Bing. Plus they get traffic from other sources because people are actually telling each other to check out your site.
Authority sites are sites that Google, Yahoo and Bing actually want to rank high. That makes life ten times easier too. Running highly profitable sites like that makes this business way more fun than it used to be. Just imagine what a handful of sites like that could do for you.
If you have been trying to make money building the old style niche sites or trying to make money building sites that use exact match domains, then I strongly advise you to look into what it takes to build an authority website. Once you build one good one that is profitable, you won’t want to ever go back to building those old school niche sites with sub-par content and exact match domains ever again. Trust me on that one.