As you know, I like to build mini sites on my own. It’s probably a big waste of my time to spend a few hours on a mini site that will yield only a little revenue, but I like to build them nonetheless. I suppose that’s one of the nice things about working for myself. It’s probably more cost effective to purchase a website from one of my advertisers, but I enjoy the building process and feel a sense of accomplishment when I finish, so I will probably continue doing them every so often.
That said, I really like ThemeForest.net, which is a website where you can find professional templates in a variety of formats (HTML, Joomla, WordPress, Flash…etc. Depending on your skill and comfort level with development, there is a template for just about everyone. Personally, I prefer the html templates for mini sites, since WP isn’t great just out of the box for SEO and I am not great with the tech stuff to make changes.
Below are a few html templates that I like and will use in forthcoming development projects. They aren’t free, but they are pretty cheap/inexpensive despite looking like an expensive custom template.
Blue Glow Site Template – I like big pictures that rotate because they’re engaging to the visitor. I would probably put 2 large Adsense blocks on the left side – probably one image block and one link block. I will probably use this one for my next mini site.
Furniture Shopping Theme – This one looks like it would be good for an e-commerce site – maybe even a place to sell domain names. It comes in a variety of colors.
Lovely Print Business Template – The simplicity of the layout is what I like. You have a great picture spot taking center stage, but you can also still see the content below, helping with the CTR to your back pages that are filled with more content.
Dark – The color and layout of this make it very cool. You can have a lot of content on the home page, and there is plenty of space for Adsense or other links. Colors really pop on the black background, and it’s very different than most sites.
BlueLight – Many people are now familiar with this because it was created by my web designer and I’ve used it on several of my minisites, including UniqueInk.com and AthensVacations.com.
Multi-Colored Business Theme – This is a very simple design, which is great for a mini site. There is little hassle required to make changes, and it’s very easy to make the simple tweaks. Several colors from which to choose.
Clean Business Template – Less graphics to worry about and no logo in the header necessary. This is as simple as it gets and is ready for you to plug in your content.
I recommend looking at the live samples for all of these themes before you decide to buy. Check out each of the template pages to make sure the back pages are formatted in a way that you like. For some templates, I only use two or three of the template pages because the other pages aren’t set up in a way that is useful to me.
Be mindful of your revenue objectives for the site, and determine how you can integrate your revenue-generation tactics. Think about where you will put Adsense blocks, banner advertisements (for affiliate links and direct sales), and how you can add shopping widgets and other ecommerce functionality.