But, I also have a content site. Now, what I'm about to tell you isn't to brag, it's to set up what follows.
My content site, I'm guessing, has about 300 pages. The index page has a PageRank of 6, so it gets some respect from Google and other search engines. It has a global Alexa ranking of 126,647, and a US Alexa ranking of 78,656. That puts it in the top 1% of all the sites in the world.
Well yippee for me . . . but is it making money?
Of course it's making money! Here's how:
- Selling ad spaceOn the last item, the site caught the attention of a book publisher, who asked me to write a book for them, so I credit the site for leading to a book deal and the resulting royalties.
- Affiliate promotions
- Mailing list of over 10,000
- Promotes my member site with over 500 members
- Selling my own products
- Providing services
- Book royalties
Is it easy?
I guess that depends on what you compare it too, but basically, how hard is sitting on your butt typing or making graphics? I can work 12 - 14 hours one day and it doesn't seem hard. I don't usually work that many hours, I'm just sayin...
However, if thinking is hard for you, then a content site may not be for you.
It takes consistent effort, dedication, and knowing what you want to accomplish. You have to believe in your vision because the rewards don't come at all at first, not until you've built some content and momentum. If you don't have the time or patience, a content site may not be for you.
If you want to build something that lasts year in and year out, then maybe building a content site is for you. My "side sites" as I call them, can come and go, but my main content site has been going strong since 1997.
And, so that you don't have to ask, I wrote all the content myself. Doesn't mean you have to, but I did because I enjoy writing. You do have to be on the lookout for content ideas though. I've jotted down ideas on business cards, bar napkins, the margin of newspapers, etc. Be ready for ideas, wherever and whenever they may come.
Here are my tips for building a content site:
- Before you start, write down your goals and map out the site, not every page, but define each content section, and plan how you will handle expansion. This can help you see flawed strategies that might box you in if you don't plan, which can force a redesign. For SEO purpose, keep your topics tightly focused and use a silo structure for segregating topics.
- Plan your navigation structure before building any pages. That will also help you visualize problems before they arise. If you build a static site, I recommend learning how to use SSI so you can include your main navigation unit on every page by linking to just one file. When you update that file, you update the main navigation on every page.
My sidebar content is also pulled in through SSI, with a different SSI file used for each content section. Update the SSI file, and all my sidebar info is updated on every page in that section.
- Insist on producing high quality content only. The difference between average and high quality is often nothing more than one rewrite.
- In the early going, build good will by answering every email personally. The good will you build by making people feel important, or at least respected, can go a long way.
- Remember, it's a business, but keep it personable to connect with your visitors.
- Start right by creating a template. Use on-page best SEO practices for every page you make - no excuses. Use a "noindex" meta tag on pages that don't support your site theme.
- Start a mailing list right away. I didn't start a mailing for years, but then I didn't consider myself a marketer back then either. Use professional list hosting too. I self-hosted my mailing list at first. I had about 1,500 subscribers when my script was hacked and spam was sent through my domain. When the dust settled I had about 700 subscribers left on my list and my site had been shut down temporarily.
- Deliver good information to your mailing list more often than you send promotions. That's kind of expected with content sites, and it keeps people subscribed.
- Create lots of products that relate to your content! If you produce quality content people will assume your products are also of good quality. If you create products people want, you will make sales.
- Teach yourself copywriting if you can't afford a copywriter. It's an investment that will pay off handsomely. You can find good copywriting books in most libraries.
- Create professional graphics or outsource it if you can't do it yourself. While content is king, the visual aspect of your site is what will make the first impression on most people.
- Get over yourself. Seriously, your site isn't about you, it's about what's in it for your site visitors. Putting the focus on them and what they want goes a long way toward success.
- Do your freaking keyword research! I rarely make a page without doing keyword research to see if the idea is worth the effort, and to choose the best name for the page.
- Let Google's Wonder Wheel tell you how to build your content. For example, if you run a craft business and one of your main categories is "Handmade Beads," your index page will link to your handmade beads page, then let Google tell you what other pages to create to link to the handmade beads page.
In this case, Google thinks: handmade charms, craft beads, handmade clay beads, and a few others are all highly relevant. Do you think Google would like your site if you made a page about each of those topics, and linked them to your original Handmade Beads page? I do.
This is getting a little long, so I'll just say you can made good, consistent money with a content site . . . after it gets going. You can also take the products you make for your content site and build minisites for them so you're selling one product from two websites.
Your content site will naturally gain links because of the content, but you'll still want to promote it. Your minisite will take more work, but this is where to set up your affiliate programs so others can send traffic to it. You keep all the money from your sales from your content site, and split the money from the affiliate site sales with your affiliates. Can you say, "best of both worlds?"
I'll check back later to see if anyone has any questions. Hope you enjoyed my little ramble. There's something it seems I'm forgetting. If it comes to me I'll add it later.