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Like most people, when I first started looking into ways to make money online, I had big dreams but low expectations. I knew that it was possible to make a living doing various things online, but would I be one of the lucky few that actually figured it all out?
In the beginning, I sought out to simply make that first dollar. And like many stories that you’ll come across, for me, that first dollar was all the proof I needed. After all, if you can make $1 online, you can make $10. If you can make $10, you can make $100. And so on.
As soon as I made that first dollar, I was hooked. I saw my ticket out of the 7-5 pm job (no, I’ve never had the 9-5 banker hours) and couldn’t stop thinking about ways to make this work. In fact, I felt like I had to make it work.
Before I dive deep into my journey, to answer the main question in this post, yes, you absolutely can make well over $100,000 online from building simple niche websites. In fact, My small team and I brought in over $175,000 in revenue last year from our sites and have already crossed the $100,000 mark this year at the time of this writing (mid-May).
Here’s a screenshot of our year-to-date ad revenue for our four main websites:
The screenshot above is just for running advertisements on our sites. We make money through affiliate links and sell digital products that represent a smaller portion of our income as well.
As you can clearly see, making $100,000 online with niche sites is not only possible, but you can make much, much more. These sites are still only 2-4 years old each, so they have a ton of growth left in them.
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Ways to Make Money Online
When it comes to making money online, your options are endless. That’s the beauty of it. What works well for one person might not work at all for someone else, but in the end, there’s almost always something that makes sense for you.
I’ve tried my hand at several online money-making ventures and have had failures, huge successes, and everything in between. While I won’t bore you with too much of the details, I do want to share a little about what I’ve tried, what worked, and equally important, what didn’t work.
Ironically, my first run at making money online failed, but I came back to it later and figured out how to do it right. That method is to build simple niche websites and is what Passive Income Unlocked is all about.
When I first got into it about a decade ago, my wife and I started 2-3 blogs on topics we were interested in. I remember one in particular was about playing guitar left handed.
I am left handed, but like most people, I grew up playing guitar right handed. While I got pretty good at it and played in a metal band at high tempos, my right-hand picking technique was never great. I eventually made the switch to playing left handed over several years, which ended up being a great decision.
While the topic was interesting for me, as writing and playing music was my passion for years and years, the niche site that I built didn’t make much sense. I had no focus when it came to topics, and even if I did, the guitar niche is not easy to crack.
Those 2-3 sites that we started were definitely failures, but believe it or not, we did end up generating a small amount of affiliate revenue from them. Like I said earlier, that was enough to keep me going.
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Our next couple of online business ventures were in drop shipping and selling print-on-demand items (think t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.).
To make the drop shipping model work, I was spending thousands of dollars per month on Facebook ads, which basically helped me break even. That wasn’t enough to keep me going with all of the custom complaint emails about long shipping times and low-quality products.
However, the print-on-demand model worked and is still bringing in a trickle of income today. When I say trickle, I mean about $100/month. I spent about $1,500 on designs for that business and passed the break even point a long time ago, so I can’t complain. However, $100/month isn’t life changing money by any means.
Now, let’s get back to what works. That’s building niche websites. While I chalk up our first few sites as failures, I came back to it for a reason: I saw the potential if I could only crack the code to approach it the right way.
That’s exactly what I’ve done over the past few years. I scrapped my old model of writing on random topics close to my heart and came up with a process that I could measure and tweak.
This didn’t happen over night, but after watching countless YouTube videos, reading hundreds of blog posts, and going through a couple of paid courses, I eventually put the pieces together to come up with a system that works.
When I say the system works, I mean that we’ve built four sites and have grown each to over 200,000 pageviews per month. We started a fifth site last summer which is following the same path as the others, and we’re close to launching a sixth site as well.
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The difference between our initial sites and our latest ones is that I not only figured out what I needed to be focusing on, but I also figured out what mistakes I was making. Once I dialed in on these two areas, the traffic and revenue started climbing quickly, all without spending a penny on marketing or advertising.
Here are a couple of screenshots showing the monthly pageviews in Google Analytics for a couple of our sites YTD:
While the traffic and revenue is great, equally great is the fact that we spend so little money on expenses. I’ll dive into the details in another post, but on average, we spend $5,000 – $6,000 per month. When you’re making $25,000 – $35,000 in revenue, that leaves a lot of profit for us to take home.
How Much Money Can You Make?
Speaking of profit, in my opinion, there’s no ceiling on how much money you can make by building simple niche sites, as long as you do it the right way. If you’re not hitting your goal with one site, you can always start up another.
When my wife and I first decided to get back into building niche sites a few years ago, we started with one site. Within a couple of years, it was clear that we were on the right track, so we started another. From there we grew our team and added a third, fourth, and now a fifth and soon a sixth.
With each site, we’re starting from scratch, but because we trust the system that I’ve put together, we can be patient and know that each site will eventually succeed.
How Long Does it Take?
I’ll be honest, and you need to be honest with yourself as well. Building niche websites is not a get-rich-quick scheme. While there are some shortcut you can take (if you dare), you’re realistically not going to start seeing a trickle of money come in until about one year after publishing your first batch of articles.
That of course is assuming that you selected a niche that’s not oversaturated, posted articles that target the right keywords, and so on. The steps are simple, but there’s a lot of them. Being off on certain ones can completely derail your chance of success.
For the four sites that we have, we make most of our money by displaying ads through Mediavine. Mediavine requires you to have over 50,000 sessions before you can apply, so you’re not going to get there overnight.
Until you reach that level, your best bet is to use Ezoic for your display ads. Ezoic recently removed their 10,000 pageview traffic requirement, so you can get started with them right away and make considerably more than you would with AdSense.
In our case, all four of our sites that are with Mediavine got to that 50,000 session threshold roughly around the one year mark. With 50,000 sessions, you’re likely to get around $1,000/month, although this can vary heavily depending on the niche.
To get to $100,000/year, you need roughly $8,333/month, which means you need roughly eight times the traffic. Thankfully, once your site starts getting some traction, it can grow very quickly. The traffic on each of our sites increased 3X-5X from the one year mark to the two year mark.
While I’ve only discussed ad revenue so far, depending on your niche, you can also make a good amount of money with affiliate links, selling digital products, or a number of other methods that will increase your revenue per visitor.
With that being said, you could realistically hit that $100,000/year mark anywhere from the two year mark or beyond. There are a lot of variables in play, so obviously, nothing is guaranteed. Even so, it is absolutely realistic to see a site go from $0 to $100k/year in a 2-3 year timeframe.
How to Get Started
Whether your goal is $100k/year, $100k/month, or even $100/month, the key is to get started as soon as possible. In fact, one of the biggest factors in succeeding in building niche sites is to simply be patient after putting in the work.
Being patient is incredibly difficult, but it’s also why so many people fail to succeed. It can be disheartening to write article after article with no reassurance that you’re on the right path.
If you’re ready to get started, either head over to my YouTube channel or check out the other posts on this site. I dive deep into each of the steps involved in building a successful niche site from the ground up.
As you get some traction and find success, be sure to let everyone know in the comments below. Seeing others succeed has been one of my greatest motivators and I look forward to reading about your achievements as well.