19 Sep 07 5:43 pm
Here’s what doesn’t work (as of September 2007)
I have two purposes for writing this post. First, there is an absolute ton of information floating around regarding making a living online, much of it (IMHO) over-hyped and misleading, and I think it would be really helpful to newbies (and to some folks who have been around for awhile with only minimal success) to talk about what strategies do NOT seem to work very well these days. This is of course only my opinion, derived from my own experience over the last year, in trying several different approaches to see what works and what doesn't (at least for me). But if this discussion helps some people to avoid going down some dead ends, then I think it is indeed worthwhile for me to post this.
My second purpose is to hopefully elicit some help from the people who ARE finding some considerable success online. I have only discovered those approaches that really don't seem to work very well. I have not discovered any approaches that actually do work well (by “work well” I mean an approach that can reliably deliver $10K or more per month in profits). Hopefully some of you experts out there will take pity on those of us who are struggling and will share some strategies that actually still work in late 2007.
So let me begin…
I started getting involved in internet marketing about a year ago (Fall 06). I have a strong technology background, so the programming aspects of building a website business were no big deal to me. After joining KA and a few other places and reading as much as I could, I decided that my first step would be to build an empire of Adsense sites. I tried a number of approaches including the following:
- Used my own modified version of RSSG with some PLR articles and some RSS feeds
- Joined ViralInstigator and created a number of sites with 50-150 spammy-looking blogs
- Got a copy of TheBlogSolution and created a number of other sites with equally spammy-looking blogs
- Created a few mostly white-hat looking sites
For these sites, I uses Delicioso to submit the pages to social bookmarking sites, and used RSS Submit to submit the RSS feeds from these blogs to the feed directories. In a few cases, I also submitted the sites to some free web directories.
I did this for almost 9 months, and built up over 200 domains. The result? My daily adsense earnings never got over about $30 and were usually much lower. After about 3 or 4 months at best, Google would delist my sites, so all my earnings came from Yahoo or elsewhere. If I take my average daily adsense earnings and divide by my 200 sites over this period, I come up with a less-than-impressive 5-10 cents per site per day. Sure some sites did better on some days, but what matters for a volume business like this is the average, and my average was nowhere near the figures that some of the gurus were reporting (like $1-$10 per site per day). A little math makes it really clear that this approach just isn't scalable: at 10 cents per site per day, a target income of $400 per day requires 4000 websites! And as the websites get smarter, they are dropping mass produced websites faster and faster, so this approach is likely to get even less effective in the future.
Yes I heard from a couple people that they were getting closer to 50 cents per day per website by building much bigger sites than what I was building. But the one example I remember of someone who reported that income reported about 2 months later that Google had closed his account, presumably for making such large spammy-looking websites.
So the next approach was obviously to build higher quality white-hat websites. I used a number of niche finding tools (as well as my own judgment) to identify about 10 different niches I could build websites for. I read through Niche Marketing on Crack, which seemed to give a pretty compelling story about using Wordpress blogs and affiliate programs. So for some of my niche websites I followed this approach, while on others I custom-built my own website. In all cases, I put Adsense ads in the right places on the page, hooked up with some affiliate programs related to my website content, got a ghostwriter (several in fact) to ghostwrite some original articles, posted some to my websites and others to ezinearticles.com, submitted some press releases, created a Squidoo lens that linked to my sites, created a MySpace page that linked to my sites, joined 3waylinks.net to get more backlinks, used LinkMetro.com to get more links, submitted the sites to website directories, and probably did a few other promotion things I can't remember.
So what was the result of this? It really varied across my niches. As far as Adsense earnings, these sites stay in Google (they are WH after all) and so earn better than the BH ones. On average, my WH sites earn around 25-50 cents per site per day. Some earn virtually nothing because they never get any traffic. Others earn more, but it averages to 25-50 cents per day per site. Of the affiliate products promoted by these sites, only two have actually earned me any money. A ringtone program earns me around $1000 per month, while an EBAY affiliate program earns me around $100 per month. The other programs earn basically nothing. So when you add it all up, my 15 or so WH sites earn me about $2.50 per day per site. And most of this is from a single ringtone affiliate program, so the average is pretty deceiving – maybe I just got lucky finding that one affiliate program that works. But in any case, pretending the average of $2.50 per site per day is valid, to get to $400 per day, I would need to create about 160 of good quality WH sites and keep them updated an fed with new relevant content. This seems like a pretty big undertaking to me, since each WH site took quite a bit of work to set up. Furthermore, to get the content for each site, I can either write 30 articles myself (try that for 160 websites) or hire a ghostwriter. Even at $10 per article, 30 articles costs $300 so articles for 160 websites would cost $48,000. So this approach doesn't seem very appealing either.
I read TimG’s article blitz strategy, and I was hoping to see some inkling of his success by submitting my own articles to ezinearticles. No I didn't submit 30 articles, but I did submit 10 for one website. Maybe it is the case that the results are not proportional, in other words submitting 10 articles is not 1/3 as good as submitting 30 articles, instead it is 1/1000 as good. I don't know. In any case, I was hoping that submitting “some” articles would show “some” results. Thus far the results have been minimal.
So now I’m pretty sure of the following:
1) Masses of BH Adsense sites don't work and
2) You need a lot more WH affiliate websites than I thought to make any kind of real income
So who exactly is making money online and how are they doing it? I’m beginning to suspect that the people who actually do make money are IMers whose one and only market is selling “how to make money online” information or products to other IMers. Doesn't anybody make money by selling actual products (or other people's actual products)? Of course, it is certainly possible to make a killing online if you happen to come up with an idea for the next YouTube or MySpace or Digg.com, and then make it happen with some VC funding, etc. But this is not an easily duplicable online business model, certainly not the model that the “make money online” gurus tell you exists.
Anyway, I've gone on long enough. Hopefully this info will help some newbies to try some other approaches. And as I said, hopefully, some of the experts out there will chime in and make some honest suggestions as to what really does work today, as opposed to 2 years ago during the Golden Age of Adsense and Affiliate Programs.