Yesterday, I wrote a couple of articles giving updates on my mini sites that were built by Wanna Develop and Big Ticket Domains a year ago. Over the last year, I’ve worked with a few mini site development providers and built my own mini sites, and I want to share some tips and advice based on my experience.
– Mini sites may not make a lot of money, but they can be good traffic producers
– A mini site can help get a domain name get ranked in the search engines, which is beneficial to a potential buyer (or the current owner) looking to avoid the typical sandboxing that comes with newly developed websites once the mini site is turned into a comprehensive website.
– With the traffic some can bring in, lead generation might be a higher paying option than Adsense.
– If you can learn enough coding to enable yourself to work with a WordPress or static html template and use it for various sites, you will save money on many templates (if you have the time). You can use services like TextBroker.com or eLance to find good writers, and sites like Flickr can be a source of free-to-use images.
– If you don’t have the time (or desire) it may be worth your effort to build some of these mini sites on names you haven’t successfully monetized with PPC and/or you don’t have the time/desire/funding to build a big site/
– There are several companies out there that can build you similar mini sites. If you don’t want to do it on your own, test the various services and choose a provider that meets your needs (price, time, personality…etc).
This year, I haven’t done much more with mini sites (aside from a Epik site on BumperProtectors.com). I think this is more a result of buying higher value domain names that are quickly selling than buying the less expensive names I invested in during last year’s tougher times. I am sitting on less new inventory this year than I was before, and I have been focusing on growing my revenue-generating websites.
While I will agree minisites aren’t likely to make much money or rank well at Google, oftentimes Bing & Yahoo will rank exact match domains fairly well. This can serve as a marketing tool for the domain and other domains within your network.
This one lands squarely in my court. Ive made a good system out of building *lots* of minisites, each making a handful of change a day. This adds up nicely, and is pretty stable and dependable revenue.
As the previous poster points out, it is easy to rank highly on exact match domains, I buy several a day on the drop and they *always* cover their cost in a month, sometimes in just a few hours. Even if a $7 domain makes just a $1 a day thats a $358 annual profit, not too many investments can return that.
Also you will find that some actually take off, through design or the vagaries of the Big G’s latest search algo. These become target sites, spend more time developing them and making them *real*. These then start bringing in the real green stuff.
And as Elliot very rightly points out – learn WordPress or some other cms system, it makes the whole thing easy. With some html,php and various other skills you can make pro mini sites with ease and without taking your whole day.
Oh and heres a little gem for all you lovely people who didnt already think of it, it works well for me:
On your minisites that get busy, analyse the traffic and see its origin. If you deal soley in english language sites then its probable that most of your traffic will come from USA, then maybe UK and a 3rd country. BUY THE ccTLD for that place matching your .com. Even better, try and have the ccTLD version of your site hosted on servers in that country. Link to it from your .com. The Big G will put your ccTLD to the top of their index for that keyword search when a local person performs it.
If you want to be even cleverer then have the site translated into the local language. Buy the .com of the translated word, if available. If you can pull it all off that gives you world ownership of that niche on google, and top in the most popular markets. Have a great day!
My experience is similar to LindaM. At any given time it is pretty easy to find exact match domains and I have NEVER failed to make money on a name that is “developed” to any exent. In my case, development can include 1 page or a blog that is thrown up in 5 minutes and never updated again. And yeah, it is pretty easy to rank those in Google as well. I wouldn’t say monetization is a piece of cake but it’s fairly easy with all the options out there as far as affiliate programs, adsense, selling ads directly ( people will email offering to buy ads if you rank in their niche).
I also manage to hand register much better names, IMHO, than I see a lot of people go crazy for in the aftermarket,/drops. Perhaps because I don’t limit myself to .coms ( if your primary goal is to flip domains, I understand why you would) and the more obvious niches.
Thanx for interesting advice, @ LindaM and @ Greg!
Minisites are all part of the archiecture of a good network – they should ALWAYS be used if you ask me – they support a main money site very well, even if they are low thresh-hold. I have never had a site not break profit within a year, even with a fairly decent hourly wage against their creation.
I would love to ask LindaM a few things:
How does she rank so fast to recoup her costs in one month ?
Does she use standard article submission sites ?
By mini, is that 10 pages/ 5 backlinks ?
Does she stick to high CPC words ?
Does she ever cross link her sites ?
I love building minisites and have had similar monetary success with a few sites, but never so fast or on a large scale. The backlinking for rank is tedious.
To try answer some of those questions…
Most of my sites rank fast because I guess they already were ranked before they dropped so its probably no big deal for The Big G to stick it back in the index. Of course I help this along with some nice new links from relevent, well indexed, pr3+ pages using the exact match keyword anchor text. thats seo 101.
“Does she use standard article submission sites ?” – No.
10 pages/5 links – minimum. Ive found sites that you cant easily make around 40 arent really worth doing, or conversely you need to know the niche well. My sites are things like “Buy a Bike” and then id have /bmx /raleigh etc etc
High CPC – I try to, but when Im hunting domains on the drop I buy what catches my eye, if its short and searched for I’ll buy it. Also – something that doesnt immediately strike you as high CPC might turn out ok. For example I have a site about vets, small beer you would think but I get some of my highest CPC on there, equal to some of the credit card stuff.
Does she ever cross link her sites ? Yes. *very* carefully.
Backlinking is tedious, I do outsource it sometimes.
The thing is – if you make decent sites then people will link to you, thats how I try and play it. Dont make dead sites just filled with ads and aggregators, try make it into a more substantial thing.
Thanks for your insights. All the websites I build are around 50 to 100 pages and I try to get 3 or 4 links through article placements via emailing sites. I see between $ 1- $2 or more a day, but my money usually starts coming in 4 or 5 months after go live.
I find myself buying more than building which can vex a spouse 🙂 Luckily, like Elliot, my wife is a psychologist, so I am sure she is treating me like a long term study.
Im guessing you mainly use PPC ads, adsense or chitika or whatever. Those have their place but really are quite low down my list of monetizing strategies. I think affiliate programs beat adsense in the middle ground cpc keywords, and privately negotiated ad deals can be best of all.
I feel sorry for self employed / web entrepreneur types – time was you could pack the old man off in the morning with some sandwiches and a kiss and then chill for the day. Now the lazy oafs can just sit around and bore them to tears haha.
For the record, its the weekend here now, and if anyone asks me to marry them I;d hold their head under water until they retract. 🙂
Depends on the size of the minisite though – managing ad deals for tiny sites is not worth it?
Why you so adverse to marriage LindaM? :p
3 things to say there, not worth it is relative, 5 minutes of emailing anyone slightly interested plus adding the link or banner can get you a nice recurring payment, who cares if its only $10 a month, thats probably at least $120 as most advertisers will stick around for 1 year + – THATS $120 FOR 5 MINUTES OF ADDITIONAL ‘MARGINAL’ WORK. If you already have your luxury Caymans pad then Id understand why you wouldnt find it worth it, sadly however I still find it worthwhile – work sucks huh.
2nd – dont do *tiny* sites, then the issue doesnt arise anyway.
3rd I wouldnt want to marry anyone who would want to marry me. Besides, how would I find the time 🙂
I guess I mean more that to get to the caymans you would need a lot of $120 sites, which would be potentially unmanageable in that quantity – Perhaps my problem though is too many sites!
Well its true you have to keep organised, currently Im managing around 200 domain names either my own or associates, spread over 6 accounts in 2 registrars. Probably quite a modest portfolio but its a pain just keeping it all renewed and correct DNS, WHOIS etc etc – finding a system to keep that organised can be helpful.
As for the minisites, everyone has their own strategy – for me personally the minisites are just a means, not an end. Im trying to build maybe a dozen ‘target’ sites that are sometimes sourced from the minisite champions so to speak. Once such site turned 6 figures for *my associates* last year on sales, didnt even have any adverts at all on it. The minisites were instrumental in massaging the target site to the top of google for some good keywords, even though they themselves might only make a buck a day (which is still a $358pa gross per site, before your wages of course). Ive got a 5 knuckle lollipop for the 1st person to say linkfarm heh 🙂
Is funny how seperately we all do similar things – yours sounds a lot like what I do 😉
Its not a linkfarm anyway, its just foundation blocks in a pyramid of evil* I mean, value.
I have close to a hundred mini sites which rank on the first page of the major search engines. They all have traffic which is growing. I think it’s a quick way to get websites online and get some aging which helps to boost ranking.
Are they making money? It’s great to be highly ranked, but if they are for infrequently searched keywords, then it doesn’t matter so much.
They are making money. Most are on commonly used search terms associated with the services they offer, similar to your dog walker site.