I'm working in online advertising since 1998 and finally decided to start my own blog.

Small niche sites project with 500% ROI – how I did it?

WHY BUILD NICHE SITES AT ALL?

I was talking with one aspiring affiliate the other day, he wanted to start making money online, but didn’t like the instability of affiliate campaigns, especially when utilizing paid traffic. We all know, that campaigns come and go and what worked yesterday, doesn’t have to work tomorrow. This can get pretty annoying after a while and not everyone is able to cope with it.

When talking about alternatives he could take advantage of, we ended up talking about small niche sites that are easy to build and even easier to manage, since it’s all about the build and forget approach πŸ™‚ You all know that I have tried a lot of stuff during my affiliate career, and obviously, I tried this too. So let me tell you more about my experience with this kind of online business.

So first of all, this strategy is all about very simple sites that you build and forget about – let them live their lives so to speak. The basic monetization method is using ads from Google Adsense. Since google isn’t really in love with sites that are made for Adsense directly, you need to provide some value to the readers. This means you should choose a niche that you either know something about, or pay a skilled writer to make the content for you.

WHAT NICHE DID I CHOOSE AND WHY?

the-internets-favorite-dog-breeds-by-country

Now let me tell you what I actually decided to build. The project started in 2012, which was the year I bought a new dog since my old one died from liver problems. I was browsing a lot of dog breeders sites back then – and I was blown away by the sheer amount of information available and the amount of official dog breeds alike. The idea was pretty simple, let’s build a smallΒ niche site for every officially accepted dog breed.

Since there is between 150-300 dog breeds, based on what source you use, it would be too much of an investment at once. So I decided to pick the 30 most popular ones and I registered a domain for each of them. The idea was to have the breed in the domain, along with some other words, based on what domains will be available. The domains were like this : canecorsodog.net, weimaranerdog.org, pugdogpage.com, goldenretrieverspage.com …

NOTE: I sold the whole project at the end of 2014 for $1200 and the new owner let the domains expire after a year, so to my knowledge, none of the sites is active anymore. But, in case you want to see what the sites looked like, web.archive.com has them stored πŸ™‚ Here are a few links for you :

http://web.archive.org/web/20130715231623/http://www.goldenretrieverspage.com/
http://web.archive.org/web/20140627035156/http://www.pugdogpage.com/

http://web.archive.org/web/20140627200244/http://www.canecorsodog.net/

HOW I BUILT THE SITES AND HOW “BIG” THEY ACTUALLY WERE?

As you can see, the setup was very basic. I used WordPress with the default theme, just added a header. Some photos, some videos embedded from YouTube and plenty of text. ALL the text was unique, partially written by me, but in order to speed it up, I also used the services of my friend Attila who was dealing with writing services at that time. Actually, he still is, so in case you need some solid quality writing done for cheap, check them out at www.bannerslanders.com and ask for writing services.

The structure of all the sites was the same : basic info, temperament info and characteristics, something about history, puppy care etc … 10 pages of content per site MAX. I wrote the articles based on research I did on other dog related sites and basically rewrote it in my own way – so like writing a research paper. I also told the writers to do the same, after all, we wanted content that made sense and provided some value.

It took me about 2 weeks to build the sites – no heavy work of course, but I had to wait for the texts to be written and also write some myself, setting up the sites took some time as well. Once the sites were ready, I placed them on my servers – I spread them across 3 servers in order to have some variety in the link profile and created a list of all the sites, that I placed in the right column of each site. So every site was also linking to the rest of the β€œnetwork”.

DID I PROMOTE THE NETWORK? WHAT WERE THE TOTAL EXPENSES?

To give the network some link juice, I purchased links in some link directories that were about pets. I found a bundle of 15 sites that asked for $69 bucks for a year. Next thing I did was finding a couple related blogs, posted some comments on their sites, leaving a back-link to one of the 30 sites wherever it was allowed. I built about 50 links this way, which took me a couple days. I didn’t do anything else in terms of promotion, then I left the sites be and moved on to other projects.

So let me sum up how much I actually invested in this project.

Domains: I registered them at GoDaddy, with some coupon at under $10 for 2 years. So total cost for domains was under $300 for the first 2 years. I had to renew them once more but got part of the money back from the buyer of the project, several months later. The total cost of domains was about $450 for the whole duration of the project.

Hosting: Since I used servers that I already had for other projects, there was no extra hosting cost associated with the project. I just checked some deals now, hosting starts at about $5 per month on hostgator.com or bluehost.com, so it wouldn’t be any huge extra expense anyways.

Content: I wrote part of it myself, the rest that I ordered was $620. Sites were running on WordPress, which is free. I made the headers myself, so no extra costs again.

Promotion: $69 for the 15 link directories, the rest was all free methods that cost nothing, except for my time.

To sum it up, the projects total expenses were: 450$ + $620 + $69 = $1.139 plus about 3 weeks worth of my time – large part was just waiting for the texts. If I had it all prepared at once, the project would be finished within 1 week.

HOW DID THE PROJECT ACTUALLY PLAY OUT?

I took a few weeks for the first visitors to arrive and several months to see a decent stream of traffic. The thing with sites like these is, they will never get a lot of visitors, so do not expect it. Their power is in how easy they are to deploy and that you can have many like that.

Below is a screen-shot from google analytics, showing the traffic growth of one of those sites. Somewhat stable traffic started about 3 months after the launch, the highest levels were reached after about 9 months, then it fell down to lower levels and staid there for a year and half. All the sites had more or less similar curve.

canecorso

The only monetization method I used here was Google Adsense. Below is a screenshot since the beginning until late 2014 when I sold the sites. NOTE: It’s against Adsense policies to show you anything except the gross revenue generated, so I had to erase all the other data. I left the domain names there so you can verify I’m not pulling this out of my ass πŸ™‚

adsense-final2

Ok, so let’s make a final calculation here. The total costs were $1.139, the total revenue was $5.597 + $1.200 that I sold the sites for. This comes down to $6.797 – $1.139 = $5.685 PROFIT. That’s almost 500% ROI πŸ™‚

I realize that these are no MEGA numbers, but for a weeks work and some $ invested, I would say it’s a pretty damn good result. I also didn’t handle this in the best possible way. Since I got heavily into buying traffic at that time, I lost interest in the project and didn’t actually finish it. It would also be a better idea to keep a project like this on one domain and utilize subdomains or directories, which would result into a more robust site with way more content and longer life – not even mentioning the domain costs… Some updates here and there would also definitely help a site like that.

WHO SHOULD BUILD SITES LIKE THESE?

There are several reasons for building sites like this.

1. I always recommend affiliates to depend on more than one source of income. Don’t focus on paid traffic ONLY, build passive income too. As you could see with this example, it’s not so hard to build something like this.

2. Want to start buying traffic or build some large project, but don’t have the funds for it? You can use smallΒ niche sites to build the initial funding capital. Just don’t wait any longer and start building now, as you could see, it takes time to actually see some traffic flowing. Time is the only thing you can’t get back once it passed.

3. Are you looking for a stable stream of income, with less spikes and bottoms? Passive income sites can be just that. But, you should focus on larger webs in this case, not 10 page wonders like the ones I built. Think about blogs/sites that you would regularly update with valuable content – authority sites that readers would return to. Or a more complicated setup with several small sites and one large authority site build β€œabove” them.

There is a lot of different ways to build sites that can become sources of passive income. If executed properly, they can bring in super high returns on your investments. Build a lot of them and they can become your main source of income as well. Just start as soon as possible, take action and don’t waste time – it’s your most valuable asset!

Thanks for reading.


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9 comments

  1. If there was a steady income stream with minimum effort and investment, why did the buyer of your sights let them expire?

    Why did you sell them?

    1. Hello Anna, I sold them for a year worth of income, and also got renewal fee back from the buyer. So a solid deal I’d say πŸ™‚ I sold plenty of small sites to raise capital in the past, when I needed it quickly.

      Why the buyer let them expire is a different story and I don’t have the answer as we didn’t communicate further. I guess he had some plans with the sites that didn’t go well for him. I think he bought the sites to use them as link farms, not for the profit they were generating.

        1. This wasn’t actually one of those decisions, those sites were on autopilot, I didn’t touch them since the day I build them. This was more of the “get a year worth of profit now, instead of waiting and risking they would die in the meantime” approach πŸ™‚

          I had more than 300 active domains at that time, so needed to drop some too.

  2. I keep reading about how difficult it is to get a top listing , using SEO, with Google.
    Would that strategy (putting up niche sites) work today?

    1. It surely is a hard task to rank high, especially with highly competitive keywords, it’s been like this for years… but the long tails, guess that’s still doable.

      To be honest, I’m not sure if the same methods still work, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. I want to see if I can still build and rank a niche site. Affiliate marketing definitely is a niche, so let’s see.

      Looks like it is still doable, this blog is just a month old and google is already sending some traffic πŸ™‚ Did you see my 1st monthly summary?

      http://www.matuloo.com/matuloo-com-1st-moth-in-a-nutshell-what-happened-so-far/

      I created a category to put these reports in, you can see the link in the menu : BLOG STATS. Follow that category to see how it’s coming along. I’m really curious myself πŸ™‚

  3. What I hate the most about Paid Traffic is; you have to awake your ass off all the time to make it work.

    I would rather go for long term passive income. I would travel and my sites would be making money.

    1. Paid traffic campaigns can be very volatile, that’s true. I also love the passive income I’m getting from my organic sites, but running paid traffic can be a lot of fun too. Everyone should definitely test both approaches πŸ™‚

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