1 site or 10 sites? Decisions to be made

I am still in a quandry as to whether I should focus on one large authority niche site or 10 smaller niche sites, and my viewpoint seems to change everyday. There are pros and cons to both and as I’m less than 6 months into my niche site adventure I have plenty of experimenting left to do.

The Pros & Cons

With a single authority site I can focus my efforts into one subject including articles, SEO, promotion, etc and this should mean larger traffic and more revenue, but, and there always is a but, if the site is a failure then I have put all my eggs in one basket and I have zero income from 100% effort. But the possibility of large profits are there if I succeed.

10 smaller sites, which I’ve mentioned as my aim before, means diversifaction, with sites spread over a wide variety of niches. These sites will have less content, take less time to manage, but still include the same amount of effort into SEO. The benefit is that whilst each site will earn a smaller amount of revenue, if some are failures, or have a rankings drop, then I still have some revenue and still have the successful sites to focus on. Less content and smaller niches mean that I will have less traffic and less keywords to link back to though. Profits will be smaller but the more sites I hav, the more I could earn.

Is it all about the money?

Do I want to create sites just to earn money, with content written solely for the aim of getting clicks, or do I want to write websites that people will actually find useful?

If I’m being true to myself then money is secondary to creating useful sites and I think I’ve got some important decisions to be made. I hate crappy websites, with poor navigation, and loaded with adverts so why am I creating them? A lot of blogs say this is the way to go, but I’ve seen a lot of great looking and useful niche sites that are making money without making massive compromises. Security Guard Training HQ by Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income blog is a great example of how to create a successful niche site and if you read his blog you will get a lot of useful information about how he created the Security Guard Training site. The site looks professional and I would trust virtually everything I read on it. This is how all my sites should be.

The Solution?

The best compromise is trying to make ALL your sites authority sites, with great design, and useful content. This will mean going back to basics for me and going through all my niche sites and deciding which ones warrant the most attention and perhaps starting from scratch. Google will be providing the majority of the search engine traffic so it’s wise to read into the Google Webmaster Guidelines which are split into Design and Content guidelines, Technical guidelines, and Quality guidelines. If you can follow all these rules then you should be on the way to having a site that not only your readers love, but that Google also loves, and more content, means more keywords being indexed, and means the chance for more visitors and more revenue. If there is any justice (and you’ve picked the right niche) then a useful site will succeed.

Let’s start from the beginning

So it’s back to the start for me, and let’s see if we can get back to the kind of earnings I was making before I got distracted and lost my way. To answer the question in the title of the blog, I will have 10 sites, but I will treat them all as if they were the only site I had.

Fishing from Ramsgate

I haven’t been fishing for a couple of years, but when I found my self with a free day I thought I’d give it ago and had a walk down to Ramsgate harbour and fished off the Harbour Wall.

Sufficed to say I didn’t catch anything apart from sunburn and some crabs, which could be misconstrued for something altogether different if this were an 18-30s holiday. I never go fishing expecting to catch fish, and just use it for a bit of a time-out and an excuse for some fresh air.

It wasn’t just me who was failing though and apart from a few flatfish there was little being caught and so I accepted my fate, and headed home after a few hours. I think I’ll have to go elsewhere to catch any sizeable fish which casts my mind back a few years when I caught this Moray Eel on holiday in Gran Canaria.

There are several charter boats running fishing trips out of Ramsgate and that might have to be the next option if I’m ever to catch a fish again…

November Income Report

Welcome to my November 2011 income report!

I’m not a super blogger yet and definitely not making a living from my niche sites but I am doing my best to make money in my spare time, after doing a full day’s work, and hoping that each month’s income brings me closer to being able to earn a decent income online. I know some people will look at these reports and think that my earnings are peanuts but I know others who appreciate seeing these reports as they show what an average Joe is earning and that’s it’s not all about getting rich quick.

What happened in November

After a poor October I stepped up a gear putting more effort into my current niche sites and made some big steps towards my aim to have 10 sites up and running by New Year. In fact I can reveal that I have 9 sites now which is pretty cool and I’m already seeing the benefits of having more sites. As I mentioned in my last post a couple of these might be duds and a couple have very little content at the moment, but that’s to be expected, but more sites means more chances at being a success.

A couple of these sites are affiliate sites, providing reviews and affiliate links to products available on Amazon, and this is an effort to diversify my income away from solely Google AdSense. This is an important lesson for everyone. Just as you shouldn’t rely on just one site for your income, you shouldn’t rely on just one income stream, as you can leave yourself vulnerable. What is Google went bust? Okay that’s unlikely but what if your AdSense account was deactivated? It sometimes doesn’t take much to fall foul of Google’s rules, so look at other ways to monetise your sites.

I think that getting these affiliate sites to rank and start earning will be a lot harder than with traditional niche sites, but it’s another experiment and I’m enjoying learning new things. I will also be using social media to promote these sites so there will be less reliance on search engines and more reliance on other means of promotion including guest posts.

The Numbers

In previous reports I’ve given a site by site breakdown detailing how much each of my sites have earned but now that I’m increasing the number of sites it’s not really feasible to keep doing this. Another factor is that I don’t really want to focus on individual sites anymore but rather on what the grand total income is and how far away I am from my goal of making a decent living online.

Last month was my lowest full earning month earning £87.26 (US$139.06) and saw a definite drop from my peak earning months, but I’m happy to say I’ve bumped my earnings back up thanks to improvements to a couple of my sites which has resulted in a better CTR (Click Through Rate) as well as  a new site that started earning immediately.

November 2011 Income = £149.29 (US$234.25)

It’s definitely a move back in the right direction and I’m hoping that in a few months I’ll be back to what I was earning in the summer months.

Plans for December

I’m going to be mainly concentrating on my affiliate sites this month as well as keeping my other sites ticking along. I suppose that’s pretty obvious stuff, but I’m also planning to put together a spreadsheet of my sites so I can keep better track of them and how they are performing. At the moment I just have it all in my head which was fine when I had one or two sites but now I’m getting more I really should keep a record of earnings, links, rankings, etc taking a little bit of the guesswork out of my work. Do any of you use spreadsheets like this?

Plans for the future

Yesterday in the UK we had union strikes about pensions, changes to working conditions, and the increase in the age of statutory retirement, which coupled along with inflation, low wages, etc means that the future isn’t very bright for a lot of us. It’s my 31st birthday on Saturday and at the current rate I will probably have another 40 years of working before I can retire and get a state pension which will probably be very little indeed. I’ve known for a while that I will need to make my own plans for the future, and save for a very rainy day, and that is why I’m even more determined to do my best to earn any extra income I can and at the moment that is from these niche sites and the endless possibility they provide. I can dream can’t I?