A common question that I get from readers is how quickly can they expect new niche sites to start making money. My answer is that is can be as quick as 2 weeks or it can take as long as 90 days. However, my rule of thumb is that usually by 90 days you can tell whether or not a site is going to be a big earner or not. But can sites actually start earning any significant money after only 90 days? Absolutely!
Today, I am going to do something a bit different and post the income of the 21 new sites that I created in August of this year. These sites are now all right about 90 days old. As you will see below, these sites are doing VERY well. I do NOT always do this well with new sites, but this is indeed what has been going on with my sites from August of this year. So if niche websites are dead, someone forgot to tell me about it.
Before I go into the numbers, I wanted to share how I found my keywords and built the sites. I did my keyword research using my standard methods with Long Tail Pro (my keyword research software). I also did a lot of analysis on the top 10 competitors in Google which is by far the most important thing to look at to determine whether or not you can rank well. However, I have to admit that I strayed a bit from my usual search volume and CPC metrics.
Search Volume and CPC
Typically I say that if you think you can rank in the top 3, you can target a keyword that gets 1,000 exact match local searches per month and has a CPC of $1 or more. However, if you only think you can rank below #3, you need to step up the search volume to 3,000 or more. However, I now look at is as a sliding scale. So, the ideal situation is at least 3k searches with a CPC of $1 or more.
However, I am now accepting keywords with a lower CPC if they have higher search volume. So, if the CPC is only $0.50 but it gets 6,000 search per month and I think I can rank on the first page of Google, I will go after it. Make sense? So, if the CPC is only $0.25 but the search volume is 12,000 per month I would take it as well. Remember, this is not an exact science but these are some very general guidelines that I followed. I still stuck with over $1 CPC for the most part on my sites from August, but in September and October I have built more sites that have less than $1 CPC.
So, what is occurring with a couple of these new sites from August is that I am not making as much per click, but I am getting a lot more search volume and therefore more clicks. So, I am making just as much or more than some of my other niche sites that have a higher paying CPC.
What About Exact Match Domains?
I have always said that exact match domains are preferred, but NOT required. About half of the 21 sites that I created in August are NOT exact match domains. I have simply added a suffix to the keyword to create a unique domain name. So, if my keyword is “spencer likes honeycombs” then my domain name might be spencerlikeshoneycombstoday.com. So, don’t get too hung up on finding an exact match domain! Its not that critical – most of my sites overall are not exact match domains because its hard to find the domains. In addition, Google is placing less and less emphasis on having an exact match domain in the search results.
So, I simply find a great keyword in Long Tail Pro that gets a good search volume and CPC. Then I analyze the top 10 competition (using the criteria I linked to above), if it looks like I can rank, then I check for the exact match domain. If the domain is not available, I just create a domain with a suffix and build the site. I hope I’m clear on this point.
Rankings and Earnings
I thought it would be interesting to break down the numbers both in terms of where I am ranking on Google for my primary keywords and the earnings by individual site. This will give you a good idea of not only how well some sites are ranking, but the distribution of earnings for the sites. In addition, I have included the local exact match search volume (US) and the CPC of the keywords that are ranking. This will give you plenty of data to analyze and take a peek into the types of sites I am building and making money from. All of the earnings are for last month (October 2011).
So, the sites that I created in August, earned me approximately $1,816.19 last month! So, I really won’t have what they are truly earning after 90 days until at the end of this month, but this will give you a good idea of how well these sites are doing. Overall, I am currently ranking #1 in Google for 5 of my chosen keywords! The ones with the * next to them on ranking are sites that just started ranking #1 this month, so I expect the earnings to be much higher for these sites for the month of November. All of the rankings listed are as of today.
In the search volume column you will notice 2 sites with an *. The first one is a site that will only get searches for the next 2 years or so. The search volume is increasing quite a bit right now and I expect is really closer to 3k per month or so, and I knew this would be the case when I chose the keyword. The second * is for a keyword that I knew got good search volume because of my analytics on a different account. So, I think its easily over 1k/mth for this keyword.
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You will also notice that I only listed 20 sites above. One of the domains I bought actually hasn’t been fully developed yet, so I can’t really include that. There is no content on the site yet.
Obviously about half the income is coming from one site! You might just say I got lucky with one site. Well, even without my top earning site, I still made close to $1,000 from the remaining 19 sites! That’s approximately $50 per site per month! This is highly profitable. According to my number with expenses, etc. any small niche site that makes over about 5 or $6 per month is profitable (this could be a huge discussion). So this truly is money in the bank even without the top earning site.
With all the 20 sites listed, the average is $90.81 per site. This is HUGE! I expect my earnings for the month of November to be quite a bit better as well because I just recently reached number 1 on a few sites AND I have been adding new content to my top earning site.
I recently wrote that building niche sites is a numbers game. This breakdown gives you a perfect example of how some sites are winners and others are losers. Three of my sites did not make any money at all in October. However, on average the sites are doing very well. And because I build a large number of sites I now have 4 new sites all making me over $100 per month. I was also able to gain a site that earns about $1,000 per month. This seems to occur for me about 1 to 2% of the time.
Future Plans for These Sites
Some of these sites will be developed further, some sites will be sold, some sites will just sit and earn a recurring revenue. Some of the higher earnings sites, such as the #1 site will get additional content and will be developed further. I have already begun this process by adding around 20 articles to the site. Depending on the individual potential of each site, others may get additional content as well.
I also plan on selling a few of these sites on Flippa or elsewhere in the coming couple of months. I have sold a few sites in the past; 2 to private buyers, and 1 on Flippa – so I do have a very small amount of experience here. I am interested in seeing how some of these sites will sell, so I will keep you posted as I move forward with my plans for that.
Finally, I didn’t stop building sites in August! I have built more than 20 sites in both September and October. The sites from September are starting to show some promise already and my September sites are too new to see any returns yet. I will be building more sites in November as I continue to build my business.
If you are interested, I can also post the earnings for these sites in detail like this for the month of November. What do you think?
Anyway, I hope you have found this massive amount of data both interesting and useful. I want to be clear that I usually do not have such a high earnings on average for my sites. But perhaps I’m getting better a keyword research? The reality is that sometimes no matter what you do your site is not going to earn much and other times with very little effort, some sites will do extremely well when building small niche sites.
Do you have any additional questions? Please let me know your thoughts below!