I have seen some discussions on writing on Infobarrel vs setting up our own website, so I would like to give my two cents based on my personal experience. I am going to write about this topic in two parts, the first one being the pros and cons of creating your very own site with the goal of generating passive income.
Your Own Niche Site â€“ Pros
1. Everything Under Your Control
The biggest advantage of having your own site, in my opinion, is that you have all the freedom to design and run the site any way you like. I think it would be best if I show you an example -- my very own niche site, IPassTheCPAExam.com.
This is an information site that helps aspiring CPAs to get qualified, apply for and pass the CPA exam. In this site, I am able to choose my own platform (self-hosted Wordpress), my own web hosting and even little things such as the font and the layout of the page.
2. You Get 100% And More Choices Of Affiliate And Advertising Revenue
If the niche site falls into a "profitable" category (and you can tell by how much people are willing to pay in Google Adwords for the keywords in your niche), you can quickly build your site to be quite profitable in a short period of time.
For example, my niche is very technical, specialized and so quite profitable. As a result, I am able to ramp up the site to achieve 4-digit earning each month since the second month of the site launch. There are still lots of thing I should do to improve the site's content and traffic, but I have to say I'm pleased with the progress and the result so far.
Also, the great thing of having your own niche site is that you can get 100% of the revenue streams, and that you are free to choose your own affiliate providers that pay a lot more than Adsense, Amazon and Chikita offered at Infobarrel.
Better yet, if you take the time to create your own product, it can be another excellent way to monetize your site. For example, I have written two e-Books on the CPA exam and they are both important income source for the site.
3. You Can Build A Brand Name
If you have a website, and more importantly, a website with your own domain name, then you can start building your brand. In other words, you aren't just one of the hundreds or thousands of writers at Infobarrel; you are THE publisher of your site, and potentially the authority in your niche market. Not only that it may mean more revenue generation opportunities, it can be more satisfying, if this is also what you are looking for.
4. It's Almost Auto-Pilot Once Set Up
At Infobarrel, we probably need to write hundreds if not thousands of articles to get a decent income stream. For niche sites, I manage to get the 4-digit income with less than 200 pages. Better yet, once everything is set up, all I need to do is to answer questions in the comment section, which (depend on volume) takes less than an hour per week, and money keeps rolling in!
Your Own Niche Site â€“ Cons
1. Basic Knowledge Of HTML Required
At Infobarrel, you need to know zippo about HTML and all those technical stuff. But if you run you own site, either based on a blog platform (like me) or simple HTML pages, you'll need to know at least the basic HTML codes to get going.
It isn't as daunting as it sounds, because all you need is probably the 10 most frequently used HTML codes and you are all set, but it does require some sort of a learning curve.
2. Hosting Cost And Care
At Infobarrel, all you need is to sign up and write. But if you run your own site, you'll have to buy a domain name ($10), pay the monthly hosting fee ($6-7 per month) and possibly other miscellaneous costs if you decide to run a newsletter and sell your product online. This is a drop in the bucket compared to running a brick-and-mortar company, but still an expense nonetheless. So expect to invest a little bit before you see the money coming in.
If you are hosting your own site, you'll also need to take care of it. Sometimes we may whine about the little glitches at Infobarrel and other sites, but you know what, at least someone else is working on the solution. With your niche site, you are the one to identify the problem and get it fixed, and for non-technical people like myself, this could be very stressful.
A few months ago my site was under a "DDoS attack". First, I have to figure out what it means, and then a way to solve it. Thankfully the hosting company I am having is excellent and helped me take care of it, but who knows when and how serious another attacking will beâ€¦ if you are deciding whether to set up your own site, please keep this in mind and pick the web hosting company based on quality and customer service, not just the price.
3. You Start With PR Zero
If you don't know what a PR (page rank) means, it is essentially a grade assigned by Google to your site. New site takes forever to get the recognition; so unless you buy an "aged domain" instead of a new domain, you will probably get stuck at the very bottom for the longest time. So far, IPassTheCPAExam.com has a grand score of PR 0 even though I get 500+ visits per day and is monetizing well.
What's the use of PR? Well, it helps your site to rank better under Google, and it is huge. Obviously this is not the only factor as I manage to have my site ranked among the top 3 spots in some keywords I am targeting, but in general, PR is the reflection of how Google evaluates you.
InfoBarrel has a PR 4, which isn't the highest among the web 2.0 sites but is certainly much better than mine. If you write an article and publish on any of these platforms, I can guarantee you that this article will rank higher and indexed faster than a similar page under your own site.
4. You Do Your Own Marketing
What does it mean with a lower Google ranking? It means that you'll need to do more marketing. And the challenge is, you are again on your own when it comes to marketing your site. As an InfoBarrel writer, we can improve our individual articles' ranking by some SEO (Search Engine Optimization) methodologies; but in general, we don't really need to worry about marketing and working on the PR as InfoBarrel team is working hard on it on behalf of all of us.
If you have your own site, you either DIY or pay quite a large sum of money for some marketing people to do it, and chances are that you won't so you are left all alone.
What To Do? Should I Give Up The Idea Of Running My Site?
Oh don't, be optimistic!
Simple ways do exist for you to market your site without spending a fortune or soliciting your clients, so to speak.
First, make sure your page is highly SEOed, and for informational sites like mine I find "article marketing" (e.g. writing an article on ezinearticles and create backlinks to the site) very effective. Also, if you run a site that is unique and truly helpful, with lots of great (and real) testimonies that you can show to your target audience, you will gain readers through referrals and recommendations.
Setting up a niche site could be another way for you to write on your expertise and create another passive income stream, in addition to what you are doing at InfoBarrel. It's almost like launching a new business but the process and result could be very rewarding.
So, what's your thought? Are you going to stay within the InfoBarrel comfort zone or jump in to create your own niche site? I'd like to hear from you!
* Photograph courtesy of davidsurfer