A New Site is Born

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogSteven Kennedy’s development story motivated me to build a site on my own to show just how simple it is – even for someone without much development skill (like myself). I wanted to find an animal-related domain name that wasn’t registered, as the point of my experiment is to start from absolute scratch. I did some research focusing on sea-life and sea creatures, and I honed in on species of sharks.
After doing some research, I learned about the Chain Catshark, and I saw that Aaron Wall’s keyword tool showed 65 daily Google searches and 93 total daily searches. There were also just a few thousand sites indexed in Google that even mentioned the Chain Catshark. I saw that was unregistered, and I went to work at around 4:30 in the afternoon.
I found a site for free web templates, and I downloaded one of the templates I thought would look nice. The only requirement they have is a link in the footer. I then found a GNU free to use image on Wikipedia, and I began to play around with the template. I wanted the template to look as customized as I could with my limited technical expertise, and it was fairly easy to do with Dreamweaver.  
After adding Adsense spots and making color and font changes, I began to do some research on the Catshark, Chain Catshark habitat, Chain Catshark food, and other Chain Catshark information. I used several reliable internet resources for my information in order to provide visitors with the content they are looking to find. I created individual pages for several topics related to Chain Catsharks and wrote small articles for each.
Overall, the entire project (research to development) took just under 4 hours of time. Hypothetically, if I paid myself $100/hour, I will need this site to make $.15/day consistently to profit on an 8 year revenue multiple – basically less than 1 click per day. If I was able to do 2 of these a day (I won’t – I would rather work on or, I could probably sell these sites for a nice return down the road.
While I don’t expect to make a lot of money from the site or others like it, I do want to show that you can make money by registering new names without having to hope that someone randomly makes an offer on the name before it expires. If you have a passion for something and buy a domain name related to that interest, learn how to build a small website and spend an afternoon developing. You probably won’t get rich, but you will learn how to use html in a low risk setting. I should also add that it’s nice to be able to mess around like this – being my own boss is great. 🙂
***I am headed to another wedding in a couple of hours, so I won’t be approving comments until I return.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. I’d be interested to see if you actually do make .15 cents a day with it. I have some doubts.
    Keep us informed on this Elliot. This is a neat experiment. 🙂

  2. One thing that I struggle with is SEO for mini-sites like this. Trying to get backward links doesn’t justify the effort for the low revenue potential. The only thing i can think of is posts on do-follow blogs. Any other ideas? Since these longtails dont get much/any type-in, and dont justify SEO, surely they get few visitors?

  3. You said:
    “If you have a passion for something and buy a domain name related to that interest, learn how to build a small website and spend an afternoon developing.”
    But if you have a passion for something, why whip up a site in an afternoon just to hopefully make 15 cents a day? Why not really work on the site and build a business for yourself and make hundreds of dollars a day instead? Especially if it is a topic you have a passion for – make yourself the leader in that niche.
    The two sites I’ve built took a lot of work – about a year of work in fact, but now that they are “finished” they are just an hour or two a month of maintenance but they continue to make real income.
    I guess I’ve highlighted the difference between domain name investors/quasi developers versus infopreneurs who set out to build businesses based on a keyword/niche. (Not that you don’t do this as well – obviously, your other sites are full of great content)
    I know people who have a passion for specific topics and own hundreds of domain names related to the topic. Since it would be very tough to develop hundreds of unique websites, developing mini sites on a network of inter-related domain names might be a passive way (passive after developing) to generate revenue

  4. Elliot,
    By using a newly registered domain and sticking adsense on it, typically you’ll face two issues with google.
    1. The site will be sandboxed and not rank for months in the top 100 or even 10 for any of your key phrases.
    2. You will get 4 cents a click for the first few months no matter what your niche is because your site is a new domain
    Basically, google assumes that newly registered domains that come online with adsense on them are spammers, especially if they are mini-sites.
    So let us know how it goes. I am sure lots of other folks are interested to hear about your experiment. 🙂
    – Richard
    Now #10 in Google for “chain catshark” and #5 in Google for “chain cat shark.” I am sure it will drop over time because there’s usually a boost at launch, but then it will hopefully stick around in the top 10.
    We’ll see what happens. It took me 4.5 hours and $7.00, so why not try something new? 🙂

  5. I like the experiment.
    This example highlights my frustration with some of the keyword tools. Aaron Wall’s tool says 93 searches per day, while google’s keyword tool estimates less than 100 for a whole month, for the exact phrase (and only slightly more for the phrase).
    Too Many Secrets – Let’s say you take a new reg, put a minisite on it, and try to monetize with something other than adsense……do you believe the same sandboxing will occur, as you reference above?

  6. Elliot, who is this post for? You’re in a league of people who own great names like and others… surely sites like these are the absolutely lowest priority and lowest potential earners for you and for most readers of your blog…
    Made-for-Adsense sites and minisites are definitely old-skool, and if you want to learn -that- art, sites like Digital Point (yes DP) and WickedFire would be some good places to start…
    But then these types of sites are only the beginning where you learn about content/traffic, then come alternative ways of monetization, ad copy, & increasing conversions…
    The beauty of my business is that I can focus on whatever I want whenever I want. There’s no boss to tell me I need to do something else. I wanted to try something out, and I am trying something out.

  7. This is very interesting to those of us that have hundreds of domain regs from the last 4 years, but have only developed the premium names. A minisite fulfills your need to create and breaks up the tedium. I understand the allure- it’s like bream/brim fishing.

  8. I think that it is very interesting, but how the heck do you SEO mini-sites that get no type-in, in a cost effective and time efficient manner? I am in the sandbox with 10 mini-sites and I dont have a clear idea what to do. If i spend a lot of time on it the return won’t justify it. Just to give you an idea is one of my made-for-adsense sites.
    Amber’s reference to a different business model is just that a different model. One that I will move to once i have cut my teeth on minisites. I think SBI as used by Amber is a great co. – they have so many success stories. The dont, however, put attach enough value on the domain name for resale factor. Most of their site names are long hyphenated phrases – if I was Amber I would invest in a short domain name and transfer and rebrand without losing the links. But I am no expert and she is far advanced of my efforts so that could be bad advice 🙂

  9. I took a look at Amber’s two sites. Pretty impressive! shows +60K unique visitors per month between the two sites.
    How about “5 Questions w/ Amber”?

  10. Throwing up adsense on newly registered domains and sites that have just been setup and gettin crawled with very little links and what not…generally isn’t a good idea… You really need to wait — at least a few weeks.

  11. Nice little site!
    Personally, I think that if you’ve got a direct match domain name it may well help for both ranking and for user recognition.
    If you read Aaron Walls blog you’ll see that he suggests holding back on the adsense for a while and then don’t be overtly aggressive with the ad placements when you do include them.
    Don’t forget you need a privacy policy too for adsense T&C compliance. See
    Any reason why you didn’t go with a wordpress solution?
    I’m not seeing your site rank at the mo for the phrases mentioned above by the way.
    Thanks for the reminder – I forgot to add those 2 pages yesterday.

  12. After reading the comments above, I was interested to test if the prediction that the “…early pop in the SERPs is likely to vanish shortly” had actually occurred. My quick check on Google today shows the following rankings:
    #4 – Chain Catshark
    #3 – Chain Catsharks
    #3 – Chain Cat Shark
    #2 – Chain Cat Sharks
    It’s been about a month since went live; so is this a case where ‘sandboxing’ was avoided (and if yes, any speculation on why?). Or, is it still early and we have yet to see these “early pop” 1st page Google rankings disappear??
    I am not an expert, so this is only my speculation. I believe the site is ranked well because of the relatively little competition for the term. Since this is the actual term that is being searched, Google ranks the developed website fairly high.
    Just to give an update, while the name isn’t generating much revenue, it has become profitable (based on the minimal registration fee I paid). I will also add that I am not quickly going out and doing this too much right now because the time it took was more valuable than what it’s made 🙂
    I do think that this could be a more viable option for higher paying niches, as there aren’t many advertisers.


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