What do you say when someone from the ‘real world’ asks you what you do for a living?
Internet marketer? Too scammy. Some online marketers rightfully have a bad rep, so do I want to be associated with them?
SEO? Well in my experience that just opens up a whole bunch of questions I’m too lazy to ask. Or worse still, they have a site and they want some FREE advice.
The truth is, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I am a jack of all trades. I have some profitable niche sites, I handle some local SEO clients. I have built some PBN’s for other people and I sell domains.
A few months ago I bumped into a writer friend. We went for a drink and when the conversation turned to this topic I surprised myself with the answer I gave.
“I am trying to find a way to make enough money to avoid having to join the real world.”
Everyone has got their own reasons, their own agenda, even if they don’t know what it is but from my experience most us just want to make this online stuff a full time gig.
One of the best resources online is Pat Flynn And The Truth About How Difficult It Is To Make Money
I think most people have found inspiration from Pat Flynn and his Smart Passive Income.
The first thing that smacks you in the face as the site loads is in the top right corner. Pat’s Income tracker. Last month he earned almost $200k.
For many that’s the promised land, we’re talking 7 figures from the comfort of your own laptop. It’s easy to get excited by such numbers. The reality is, it’s a grind – even for Pat Flynn.
Pat spent so much time and effort on his site– foodtruckr.com. According to his post he's making $80-$150/month. Wow, hardly life changing, it will take him 2-3 years just to make his expenses back.
But on the other hand, I’ve not doubt he makes a healthy dollop of money when he launches one his books. The point is, it’s not all plain sailing, even for those killing it.
Most of us will never make a dime. Somewhere between 80-95% would be my guess. And 5% would make a profit.
I’m not trying to be a doomsayer here, I don’t want to bum you out. I personally think that it’s easier to make good decisions when you have good facts to make decisions on. And the truth is, it’s not easy to make $1 never mind $100k.
My argument is not don’t do it. My argument is absolutely get involved just understand what you’re getting involved in. The real point is, Yes the market is saturated, but it’s actually saturated with beginners all struggling to make step 1 and earn their first buck.
This is my personal belief. Get past step 1 and you’re in the top 10% of people trying to make money online. Your chances of making it work for you are infinitely better. To do that you just need to:
So what’s step 1? For me personally, the first step is building links to an existing site. Most people find content creating easy because they’ve no clear idea what’s good content at this point. If it talks about the right topic . adds value and is without spelling mistakes it will do.
But link building? That taking a step into the unknown. With no budget it’s pretty tough and just as importantly, it’s monotonous.
Once you’ve got your first Niche built and ranked, what’s the next step?
It's time to build a portfolio.
Firstly, that question is far too open, we need to setup some parameters to make sure we’re talking about the same thing.
What does “making a living” mean to you?
If you moved to somewhere like the beautiful Sri Lanka then you could live off one or two niche sites (It’s tempted me before to just pack my bags and live the easy life)
However, that’s probably not a realistic option for most of you reading this. For the sake of having a figure in all our minds, I’m going to say we need $4000 / month to live off.
If you can’t live off $4k then you have some rich tastes my friend. Or you’ve taken on some hefty debt.
If you have kids and a wife who doesn’t work I’ll let you off, likewise if you live in an expensive city like New York (and have a wife and kids). Now I feel sorry for you!
I think I’d be pretty hypocritical to lecture you on saving and cutting back on expenses because not everything is rosey in my own garden. If you’re in need of that- here’s some good resources on that.
And remember $4,000/month isn’t permanent it’s just an initial target.
There are people out there like Jon Haver who has turned a side gig for some extra pocket money into 5 figures a month. OK, this guy is super organised and motivated but it shows what’s possible.
I want to give you a glimpse at some of the niche sites I own. These days I've diversified and have my fingers in a few pies but still niche sites are a huge focus of mine.
If you haven’t done this already, take a minute to calculate your Earnings Per Thousand (RPM). In my opinion RPM is ‘the Daddy' of metrics, It gives you the clearest picture into the profitability of your site.
To calculate your RPM either look at the past month or even better, the past few months. Make the sample size as large as possible to give you the best chance of getting an accurate picture.
Here’s a tip, to make sure you don’t spike your own stats. If you’ve had a steady number of visitors for the last 6 months, lets say 100 unique visits a day, then you can use that figure.
However, if you DID have 100 unique visits / daily but for the last 2 months that number has spiked to 150 unique visits / daily then just use the last 2 months.
Earnings / (Unique Visits/1000)
Earnings Per 1000
#1 – RPM: $84
#2 – RPM: $48
#3 – RPM: $64
#4 – RPM: $212
Traffic (Unique Visits)
#1: $609 / month
#2: $182 /month
#4: 254 /month
As you can see #4 has an incredible RPM. #4 It’s a seasonal webiste so now it’s pretty low but at it’s peak it has almost 4000 visitors / month(130 visits/day)
As you can see, I make approximately $1200 a month from these 4 sites, $1500 around christmas. I have been managing these 4 sites for just over a year and I pretty happy with these results all in all. Nothing breath taking but they are profitable, low maintainance and I just rinse and repeat the process to get to where I want to be.
Based on these figures, and assuming that we are just looking at niche sites for our income, we’d need 14 sites to hit our $4k target.
All of these sites have made money and on this occasion there hasn’t been any failures. Of course that’s the exception to the rule not what you should plan for.
From my experience I have 1 site in 5 that doesn’t produce any noticable income. Taking this into account we need to build 17 sites to reach our $4k target.
When we start out it’s important that we create a spreadsheet for each site, we add metrics like traffic, we include costs that we occur, and we have a page for backlinks too.
Some of you will be keen to rely on majestic, MOZ or Ahrefs but I wouldn’t. Clearly they are great tools but they have holes in the information, your spreadsheet wont. It will be 100% accurate if you keep it up to date.
When it comes to building links, I think marketers are probably a little more creative than I am, I just use the most straight forward process possible and I’m willing to pay a little more in order to get that. For that reason I get my links from PBN’s I create.
To rank the keywords that give me the traffic for these sites I use on average 30 PBN backlinks. The best site has a little more with 40 backlinks but for this example let's call it 30 as an average. (If you’re looking to build a PBN then check out our PBN Fox – they do a great job and you'll get a small 5% discount through our link.)
If you’re the creative type that is willing to take the time to build your .edu links or wiki links then you won’t need so many PBN backlinks.
I know of some of you are probably more aggressive than I and would probably have more I link from each PBN to each money site. I just find it really tough to create content that doesn’t sound ridiculous and most importantly, that leaves a pretty sizable footprint. If you are more aggressive than I am then you might want to consider 10-12 links per PBN, that’s your call.
To not leave a big footprint and spread my backlinks across different PBN sites I would use 60 domains for these 17 sites. . If you use cheap hosting and find a registrar that doesn’t jack the rates up after the first year you’re looking at $3/month/domain. $1 for registration and $2 for hosting. That works out to $180/month.
Add to that your hosting for your money sites, and I’m going to assume you’re using a better quality service for them, then you’re hit around $250 for registration and hosting costs.
Each domain will cost you $20. I know you can find them cheaper but you’ll want to use a respected service (like ours) that will give you the quality you need If you need quality domains check out ours.
For the sake of working out the costs here, we’ll assume that an expired domain lasts you around 3 years before being de-indexed. That means your domains will cost you an average of $33 / month.
I’m going to assume you’re creating your websites yourself so no costs for a PBN service or VA.
There are some other expenses to bare in mind. You need to have access to some good tools. Majestic, keyword analysis tools, tracking software. You can add another $100 a month as a conservative estimate.
Drum roll please.
That gives you a total cost for $400 (I’d budget for $500) / month which would net you $3500 a month in profit from 17 niche sites.
That’s no laughing matter. Now, someone like Spencer Haws, although he’s never said openly how much money he earns he has stated it’s over 10k per month. That’s the great thing about using PBNs, they are amazingly scalable. And as you have more profit you can outsource tasks like content creation.
Let’s have a little reality check here. There is always the possibility that at some point in time PBN’s will be blown out the water and will be an ineffective way to rank a site. However, bear in mind, as long as Google looks at links as a factor for ranking sites there will always be a black / grey method for ranking sites quicker and cheaper.
The point is this : Know the realities of earning a living from niche sites.
It’s great when starting out to get any success but my advice is to keep your medium and long term goals in mind. The most important goal for most of us is to be able make this a ‘full time gig.
To do that you have to realistically understand how that’s going to happen. If you’re sat with an adsense account of $100 / month making grandiose estimates of doubling it every month until you’re making money, then you’re never going to get there.
If you have an idea of the realities and you treat it as a business. Costs, profits, margins, scalability and all those sexy things then you have a chance of getting there. It’s actually pretty simple, not easy but it’s not overly complicated if you have the right goal.