The first dollar I ever made online was with Adsense. It was from the first website I ever made, which was a niche site in the aviation industry. Ever since I got my first cheque from Google, I was hooked. I’ve been building new niche sites ever since.
For the first 4 years, I was only making a few hundred dollars a month. My cheque was enough to pay for my car lease, and I was happy with that. Now, I’m now making a full-time income.
Here’s how I grew my business last year from part-time to full-time income.
Why It Took So Long to Get to This Level
Looking back at it now, I had shiny object syndrome. Adsense was clearly working, and I was able to consistently launch niche sites that made steady money. However, it wasn’t as high as I had wanted. I would grow each site to a few hundred dollars a month and then move on to another site.
I was looking for the big payday, the one that would change my life. We all know the stories: the guys making 6 figures a month from their one website. Or the guy who built an app and made $10,000 a day. I wanted to be that guy.
It wasn’t until 2 years ago, when I had tried absolutely everything (including building an iPhone app) that I should stick to what I’m good at: building niche sites and making consistent money with Adsense. I was chasing the quick riches, and not really working effectively towards it.
I finally decided to focus on one thing, and I wasn’t going to give up until I grew it into a full-time business (By the way, my definition of a full-time income at the time was $2,500/month).
At the time I had about 15 websites. Only about 4 were making any real money, and the rest were sitting idle with old content and making about $1/day.
*Sidenote: If you’re like me and build out a ton of sites, don’t get rid of them when you decide to stop working on it. Throw on some Adsense (if it complies with their program rules) and just let them sit. In the long run, this worked out very well for me. These old sites that I no longer run or operate all add up, and now bring in at least $100/month in extra income. Even sites where I published only 1-2 posts and decided not to pursue it are still up and making me money. People still find the content from long-tail keywords.
Growing My Existing Sites: Turning Small Sites into Authority Sites
2014 was a big year for me. A game changer. I nearly doubled my average monthly income.
How? Google’s algorithm changes were extremely beneficial for me. It’s easier now than ever to get to a full-time income, at least in my opinion. However, it’s more difficult to get to a part-time income. That may sound confusing, but more on that in another post.
What allowed me to grow so much was Google’s higher recognition of authority sites in niches. Once my sites were established as trusted resources, long-tail traffic boomed. And, I mean BOOMED. That’s one of the main factors I noticed in 2014. People with 5 page sites targeting a long-tail keyword were no longer ranking. Instead, Google would rank an authority site’s post about it even if it had no backlinks. I started ranking for so many long-tail keywords without doing any separate linking. It’s awesome. The benefits of turning your sites into an authority now are so great.
I took my existing sites and really worked on growing them. I went back to older posts and added a lot more meat to it. I started looking at bigger, more competitive keywords and really spending time to build the ultimate resource on the topic. I spent a lot of time refining the design, and I spent time acquiring links from other trusted resources in the industry.
Building New Sites With a New Game Plan
Every new site I build from now on, is aimed at becoming an authority in its niche. Different people have different meanings for what they consider an authority site. To me, my criteria is: building the ultimate resource on the topic, having better content than every other site currently ranking, and also having the best design.
A nice design isn’t absolutely necessary, but I want my sites to look really good. If I want it to be considered the best resource in its niche, I felt it should look better than the rest, too.
Targeting Big Keywords
I no longer build sites based on easy long-tail keywords. In the past, I would build a lot of new sites based on easy, long-tail keywords as my main target keywords. These were keywords that were easy to rank for, but didn’t get very many searches per month (less than 1000).
Now, I target the biggest keyword I can find for the topic. Of course, I don’t rank for these right away. Especially with newer sites, I’m finding it takes as long as 6 months to a year before I can naturally build up enough authority to rank for them. However, I only need to build the page targeted around that keyword once. After that, I can spend time building up the rest of the site with hundreds of posts on long-tail keywords.
Eventually, the site would rank for the main keyword and get a ton of traffic from it. The plus side is, once the site is considered “good enough” to rank in the top 3 for the main keyword, the long-tail keywords are like guaranteed first page rankings.
I don’t need to do any separate backlinking for the inner pages. With a good inter-linking structure throughout the site, the inner pages rank based on the amount of the authority the overall site is given.
This might sound a little confusing to some of you, as it was to me when I first started shifting my direction towards this strategy. The topic deserves its own blog post, so watch out for that in the coming weeks.
Don’t get me wrong, I still build a lot of spam sites. By spam sites, I mean ranking low-quality content in mass numbers. It still works if you know how to do it right. However, now my main focus is on authority sites in big niches. If you’re looking for the big bucks (and a long-term business that isn’t destroyed by algorithm updates) then authority sites are the way to go.
Once I realized this, I was able to really increase my traffic. Instead of building out sites in big numbers, I build out big sites with a lot of pages.