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Beginner's Guide to Building a Web Business: Content and Niche Sites

By Edited May 8, 2016 0 3

If you’re like me, and either your principal day job isn’t the long-term career position you thought it was -- or it just might be nice to make some serious supplemental income - then you need to think about seriously building a web-based business. What I found was that through a series of logical steps, I’ve been able to grow my income monthly -- while I wait for much of my online content to age and earn.

Here are some logical STAGES for developing your online income streams:

Write for Passive Income

The first thing I did was start writing online content at places like Infobarrel and elsewhere -- crowd-sourced sites that cost zero money ($0) to get started, and share Google adsense revenue with the content creators. As many others have said -- it’s a great way to learn about keyword research, article marketing, web traffic, SEO, affiliate sales, and more. Many online entrepreneurs start with content creation and only do this for years -- some with great success. 

I have spoken to some writers who believe that this should only be a PART of a web-based business, and not the entirety of your activites. I agree. Why? When I look back at the last year, and consider the money I’ve earned online from passive sources based on revenue sharing sites - it’s only a fraction of what I’ve earned online. It’s great that my content collection will continue to generate “dividends” as long as the sites are live -- but with the earning amounts so small -- I may have quit by now if this was my only strategy. I would likely have been driven away by the HUGE investment of time for the small return in click revenues or affiliate sales. (Don’t get me wrong - I like the research and the writing components as well -- but I want this online business to be another viable stream of income in my household budget!)

Write for Active Income

Once I learned “how to write” online, and a had a small body of work on rev-share sites to generate passive income, I started looking around for places to write for “active” income. What this means is that there are many “work for hire” opportunities available for writers on places like Fivver, Constant Content, TextBroker, Elance, Odesk, and others --  that if you wanted to write entirely ‘on assignment’ for others (with some proof of your skills), you could probably do that full-time. (That’s part of my “if I get fired plan!” - not that I’m in danger of that...)

I started with little projects and assignments for others, and then landed a rather significant blogging contract (based on my online samples at free revenue-sharing sites like this). This has led directly to some other paid writing opportunities. Once I started making money from active writing, I always felt better about increasing my “passive writing” portfolio. The content I wrote and sold has still earned more per post, than any of my passive articles - but a couple are close. The active writer earnings definitely sustained and encouraged me.

Reinvest My Earnings and Start My Own Niche Sites

Once I started earning online in more than dribs-and-drabs, I felt like I had earned the right to reinvest. The first thing  I got was my own hosting account so that I could start to develop some niche sites based on my areas of interest, favorite topics, and most successful articles online. And what I found with my BlueHost account (here’s my affiliate referral link, thanks!), is that I could start as many sites as I wanted on one account, as long as I purchased (and later renewed) the domain names. 

Because the hosting, and the domains names -- bought largely at GoDaddy (ref link) and pointed to my hosting account at BlueHost -- were paid with my ‘active writer’ earnings, what did I really have to lose? So I now have 25+ niche and ‘authority’ websites on a number of topics all in my single account, and these are all serving ad networks (Google Adsense, Chitika, and/or InfoLinks), and affiliate sales (Amazon, Commission Junction, and/or e-Junkie). With the increased investment has come increased earnings -- and I may just decide to keep the best sites to continue to develop them, and maybe sell the others. Since my costs are the domain names, the pro-rated hosting, and any outsourcing -- I know the low threshold for each site to be profitable in the first year.

Learn SEO and Wordpress Skills

Along the way I had learned enough basic wordpress skills, site optimization, formatting, basic SEO, and more to be able to do a couple paid ‘contract’ jobs for clients whose live websites needed some work. This also added to the funds I felt I was free to reinvest in my web business(es).

Build Sites to Sell to Others

I also happened to create some sites that I later sold to an off-site friend/associate for his new business. This lead to my biggest infusion of new funds to date, and has meant that in addition to adding new sites, I am able to occasionally hire writers, tech support, backlinking, and other outsourcing help for my many sites. Why? I heard a really great interview about the amount of time it would take to scale up a web business without help. If you must do everything yourself - you still may succeed -- but it could take a significantly longer amount of time, if you don’t lose faith and quit first!

[Think of any great company... is it really just all done by the owner, president, CEO, or founder? Nope. And since I’m hiring only with my earnings, I still have no risk -- other than the time I’ve invested in this -- and the “opportunity cost” of not having done something else during this period.]

I know that others actually develop sites sometimes just to sell them on places like Flippa and other sites -- at approximately of 20X average monthly earnings. This means if you create a site that starts to make $100/month in consistent Google adsense earnings, you could likely sell it for at least $2000 immediately to someone who wants a portfolio of earning properties. Why would they buy it? They would purchase it in hopes that they could optimize it and increase the earnings so that it wouldn’t take 20 months to get back their initial investment.

Sell Your Expertise Through Infomation Products, Services, or Consulting

The final area, and perhaps the most lucrative, is to build an authority site around a topic you’re interested in, and provide a service, product, or membership to the audience that you built. One of my business associates told me about a client who has a niche service online, all in video form with accompanying PDFs, that charges about $30/month for access to all the site’s content. Over the last few years, he has managed to build up a subscriber base of a couple hundred+ (from a world of 6.8B people!) and this is now his full-time job. Do the math! 

A couple months ago I started a niche site that is becoming more of an ‘authority’ site every day, but still sells affiliate products and has adsense ads. Now I may offer a premium ‘consulting’-type service by PayPal that will likely take me one hour of work plus turnaround time, for my ‘standard’ billable rate. With a few of these ‘consults’ per month, I can continue to develop, build, outsource and create my diverse web businesses.


So best of luck with your online journey -- hopefully there is something here in this guide to building a web-based business that makes you quickly move out of the beginner phase and into a profitable side line source of income. Let me say that organization is the key -- keep track of what you’re doing! It will help tremendously. I have a very clear record of the eleven different sources of my online earnings, that I track monthly. Seeing what’s working allows me to focus time and energy in focused directions to maximize my time -- I still have a FT day job, BTW! Good luck!



Apr 1, 2012 5:43pm
Your article is a great beginners guide to web business.
Apr 1, 2012 6:51pm
thanks askformore!
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