New Site Launched. What Now?

What’s up, internet? How’s everything going?

Things are going well with me, thank you for asking.

On Friday, February 20th, I launched a new site that I conceived using some of the techniques I discussed in my How to Find an Online Niche to Dominate post from last week. It’s not an affiliate site, and it has nothing to do with dog sweaters or organic dog treats. Instead, it’s a site that will feature information relating to an industry I admittedly don’t know much about, but on a local level, the keywords are not particularly competitive, so I’m hoping that I can use the site as a lead generation tool while also making some money via Adsense ads on blog posts.

I’ll go into more detail about this new site soon, but in the meantime, here’s today’s nugget of website-building advice…

As we can all clearly see from this site, I am an amazing writer. Truly brilliant. Problem is, I don’t always like to write, especially when I couldn’t care less about a particular subject. Whenever that used to happen, I’d stare at the screen and grit my teeth and fight my way through the project, one clumsy word at a time, usually taking multiple breaks to browse Facebook or play a game of Tagpro. And in the process, it would often take me upwards of an hour or two to write a hundred words or so.

It was not an efficient use of my time at all.

Recently, though, I stumbled upon, a site that’ll let you hire freelance writers of varying degrees of ability to write articles and posts for you. And because their pricing is very reasonable, I love this tool so far.

Now, it should be noted that, in my experiences, you get what you pay for with They let you select what level of writer you want based upon reviews (with the better writers costing more), but when you’re paying, at most, roughly ten bucks for an article, you’re not exactly getting Hemingway.

Thus far, I’ve used the service twice. The first time was for a short 300-word blurb for which I provided a fair amount of reference material. The article I received was okay, but the author inserted some awkward references to God that, upon further inspection, were nowhere to be found in the source material. So that was interesting.

The second time, I had one of the Hirewriters freelancers write a 700-word, ten-step “how to” list based upon a few other articles I found online. This was to be the first blog post for this site that I launched last week, and I received a response within a few hours. And while there were some slight issues with punctuation, it was otherwise fairly solid.

In both cases, I went back in and did some rewriting, but the submissions of both writers formed a solid basis for me to work from. And while writing articles from scratch makes me want to pull my hair out, doing a bit of editing on an existing article doesn’t bother me at all.

So if you’re look for some affordable content for your site, check out They’ve definitely helped me out, and I’ll absolutely be using them in the future when I don’t feel like spending hours researching and writing about a topic I don’t care about.

How to Find an Online Niche to (Hopefully) Dominate

There’s a guy on Reddit named Humblesaleman who recently posted a guide for figuring out how to find a good niche for an affiliate website. If you’re interested in giving something like that a shot, you should really go read his post, and his subsequent follow-ups. While he doesn’t reveal the niche that he selected, he does a great job of outlining his process for choosing one. You should probably go read his post, because he sounds smart. Or, if you’re really, really lazy, here’s my step-by-step guide to choosing an online niche…

1) Decide that, as part of your goal of earning $5,000 a month via the internet by February of 2016, you’re going to try to launch a couple of sites expressly designed to make money via affiliate programs while also taking advantage of Google’s current search trends. An affiliate site will typically display various products in a specific field and, using the Amazon Affiliate Program, send users to Amazon to complete the purchase, with the site owner receiving a small commission (starting at 4% and increase to 6% with additional sales over the course of a month) for each sale.

2) Make a list of products that you are either interested in, or could at least fake being interested in in exchange for money. From what I hear, affiliate sites are hard work, and whatever topic you choose, you’ll be spending hundreds of hours writing articles and guest posting and generally marketing yourself as an expert on the subject. It’ll help if you already know enough about the subject to get by, but you might want to resist choosing something that you’re truly passionate about, because you might end up hating the topic if it were to become your job.

3) Make sure your list is not too general. For example, let’s say you like dogs. Dogs are cool, right? Well, guess what? A billion other people on earth also like dogs, and at least a few of them have already created websites to sell dog supplies of all sorts. You’re going to have a hard time competing with those sites right off the bat. So you’re better off choosing a more specific niche. Like “dog sweaters,” for example. Or maybe “organic dog treats.” Brainstorm and come up with a few options. Or just do what I did right here and only think of two before moving on to the next step.

4) Head over to the Google Adwords Keyword Planner. This tool will enable you to approximate how many people are searching for any given word or phrase.


On the first screen, under “Your Product or Service,” type in your first option, then click “Get Ideas.” This will bring up a graph showing how many people have searched for that term and all similar terms in the past year.


As you can see, this is a fairly frequently searched term, with the total number of searches reaching almost 4.3 million in December of 2014 (a lot of lonely old ladies buying sweaters for their dogs for Christmas, I would assume).

Looking at this, I would say that “dog sweaters” has some potential. Just for kicks, let’s see what the stats for “organic dog treats” look like.


A lot fewer searches than “dog sweaters,” but 1.3 million in January of 2015 is nothing to sneeze at. Unless you’re allergic to dogs, I guess. And that number is 300,000 higher than the number of searches for that term in February of 2014, so it would appear that it’s a growing field, as the number of people looking to give their dog organic treats is increasing. For the record, I had four Hot Pockets for dinner last night and I feel fine. Organic, schmorganic, if you ask me. But to each their own.

5) Next, let’s download and install the Moz SEO toolbar. I had never heard of this tool until I read Humblesalesman’s initial post, so I owe him all of the credit for this suggestion. This toolbar will give you a general idea of the strength of your future competition.

6) Once you have the toolbar installed on your web browser of choice, do a Google search for the terms you’re looking to focus on. Let’s start with “dog sweaters.”


Well, crap. From the looks of it, if we were to start a site selling just dog sweaters, we’d be competing directly with the likes of Amazon, Petsmart and Petco. has done a nice job of getting on the first page of the search results here, but just below them is Wal-Mart. So while we could certainly build a site selling “dog sweaters,” it would likely be a long, long time before we could outrank those corporate heavy hitters. So let’s see what the results for “organic dog treats” look like instead…


That looks a little better. The top-ranked sites are a bunch of companies I’ve never heard of, and according to the Moz SEO toolbar, their PA and DA (page authority and domain authority, respectively) rankings are only so-so. It wouldn’t be impossible to build a site, create content and backlinks and outrank these guys.

From this point, you’ll want to find and register a good domain name, set up website hosting and start building your site. I’ll cover those steps in a future guide, or I’m sure you can just find information online somewhere.

And if anyone would like to take my organic dog treats idea, go for it… I don’t own a dog.

January 2015 Traffic and Earnings Report

I’d never heard of until I stumbled upon someone linking to one of their income reports on Reddit a few months back. I started with their first post, published in September of 2011 (and recapping their website earnings from the previous month, in which they made just a hair under $22), and by the time I’d read two or three month’s worth of reports (during which PinchOfYum’s income grew steadily), I was hooked. For someone like myself, who had made cursory efforts to monetize websites in the past but never had a defined strategy, the information put forth in these reports was not only entertaining reading, but also incredibly helpful.

So if you’re looking for some excellent advice on monetizing a blog, head over to PinchofYum and check out Lindsay and Bjork’s monthly earning reports. Or, if you’re looking to read an earnings report from someone who has made virtually no money online, ever, but really wants to talk about traffic and website monetization, read on…

After a number of experiments with creating a website that I could remain interested in and for which I could regularly create fresh content, a friend and I had a moment of inspiration in early February of 2014. Entertainment Site, as we’ll call it here until I’m ready to reveal it, is a site that, as we envisioned it, would require minimal work on our part but would be useful to readers and could, over time, do very well traffic-wise.

And when it comes to traffic, we were not disappointed. In the site’s first full month, it got 1,129 pageviews. The next month, pageviews more than doubled to 2,561. Aside from a down month in June of 2014 and a slight dip in December, which was likely due to the holidays, traffic has consistently increased. In January of 2015, the site got over 20,768 pageviews, but a large part of that is due to one post getting a fair amount of attention on Facebook. This month, we’re on pace to fall far short of that mark, but taking the outlier posts out of the equation, traffic to the site has grown steadily.

From day one, we’ve had Amazon Affiliate links on Entertainment Site, but they haven’t proven to be particularly beneficial. In September, October and November of 2014, we got between 250 and 300 clicks each month, but we only earned a total of $2.44 over those three months. All told, we’ve had 1,287 clicks, 48 orders and revenue of $14.70 from Amazon Affiliate links since the site’s launch. And at least a few of those were from me testing the links, then ordering a book from Amazon later that afternoon.

I'm pretty sure I own this exact pair of socks. Mine have holes in the toes, though.
I’m pretty sure I own this exact pair of socks. Mine have holes in the toes, though.

Just kidding… I don’t read books. It was probably a pair of socks.

In January, our Amazon links resulted in 98 clicks, 5 orders and $1.43 in revenue.

In the interest of establishing trust with Google, we waited until August of 2014 to put Adsense ads on the site. Those have performed okay, but not mind-blowingly so. In all, we’ve made $45.09 from Adsense ads, with $16.40 coming during the month of January.

So if you’re keeping track, we made a total of $17.83 in January of 2015. Here’s the breakdown, in a tidy bulleted list, if you’re into that sort of thing:

  • Adsense: $16.40
  • Amazon Affiliates: $1.43
  • Total: $17.83

Which isn’t great. But hey, PinchOfYum only made $22 in their first income report. So suck it, Bjork and Lindsay! I’m coming for you!!!*

*Just kidding. I think your site is fantastic and I’m really quite jealous of your success. Keep up the great work!

How to Spend All of Your Monthly Earnings on One Lunch

As mentioned in my first post, my goal is to make $5,000 per month on the internet by February 12, 2016. Given that I’ve made roughly $9 on the internet to this point in my life, I think this a goal that I’m going to miss badly, but so be it. I’m going to give it my best shot.

It should be noted that I’m not starting entirely from scratch here. As mentioned, I have a fair amount of experience building websites, and I know how to optimize them for search engines. I’ve dabbled a bit with e-commerce sites, and I know the ins-and-outs of internet marketing.

Additionally, about a year ago, I set up a website that, over the past twelve months, has seen the traffic increase to respectable levels (10,000 to 20,000 pageviews per month). But viewers don’t tend to spend much time on the site or view many pages per visit, so despite having both Amazon Affiliate links and Adsense ads, it’s been difficult to monetize the site. In January, the site made $17.83 through the combination of the two revenue streams, which works out to roughly fifty cents per hour of work that went into it.

Note: I know what you’re thinking… $17? That’s a good start! Well, the site has earned a whopping $59 in just under a year. But between registering (and recently renewing) the domain, buying a WordPress theme and experimenting with some Facebook ads back when I was desperate for traffic, I’ve spent $160. Until the site is out of the red, it’s hard to get excited about monthly earnings of $17, especially when my lunch today cost $16 (a grilled chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries and a sweet tea and, yes, it was delicious).

I’m not going to provide the URL of that website at this point in time, but for the sake of reporting on its visitor stats and revenue, I’ll hereby refer to it as Entertainment Site That Shan’t Be Named, or ESTSBN for short. Actually, that’s too clunky. I’m just going to call it Entertainment Site.

While I intend to continue to work on Entertainment Site indefinitely because I do enjoy the subject matter, I tend to think that I won’t be able to rely on it for my $5,000 monthly income.

In addition, I also have a handful of other domains that I intend to put to use soon and while I also don’t want to link to them yet, we’ll call them CPC Site and Food Site.

Not me.

Aside from those, here are a few of my interests that I wouldn’t mind trying to work into my monetization plans somehow:

  • Woodworking
  • Sports
  • Making Barbecue (pulled pork, brisket, ribs, etc.)
  • Video Games
  • Beer
  • Buying old comic books on Ebay
  • Eating Barbecue

So all aboard the internet money train, folks! Choo choo!

How to Make Money Online? Don’t Ask Me!

I can’t recall the specific details of the first time I used the internet.

I can remember the approximate time frame (sometime between 1993 and 1995, I think), but I don’t remember the particular details of what I encountered during my first time online. I’m sure there was the long-lost sound of the Gateway’s modem connecting to the phone line, and I imagine there must have been some sort of CompuServe welcome screen, but after that, it’s all a blur.

This is a stock image, not one of my actual AOL chat room screenshots. I’m more into blondes.

During my first few weeks online, I remember being intrigued by the possibility of reading scores of Roger Ebert movie reviews and a wide variety of sports articles, but I think I was a bit underwhelmed by the internet phenomenon at first. Once my family switched to AOL, however, and I discovered chat rooms, the grandeur of the online world became readily apparent, and I proceeded to spend much of the next year or two starting arguments about music and religion with complete strangers.

Once I went off to college, I really only used the internet for email. Even when I finally purchased my own computer — a blue iMac G3 — I really only used it to write long, drunken emails to friends and occasionally play Diablo or The Sims.

I studied graphic design in college and. after graduation, got a job at a local newspaper as an ad designer. While I had taken one web design class in school, I was never tasked with creating an actual website until early 2007, when I joined a startup magazine that required an online presence. This required me to relearn the HTML basics that I’d long since forgotten and begin exploring the world of CSS, which confused the hell out of me for years, until I started a Blogger site in late 2008 and got to work on customizing it to my liking.

Since that time, I have abandoned Blogger and fallen in love with WordPress, and I’m finally comfortable with CSS. My current coding nemesis is PHP, but I’ve been wrestling with it for years and I think I’ve accepted that I’m just too old to learn new programming languages.

These days, I am a 35 years old, married and gainfully employed as something of a jack-of-all-trades graphic designer, web designer, email marketing specialist and SEO guy. Over the past few years, I would estimate that I’ve built and launched 20-30 WordPress sites on the side, some of which have been reasonably successful and some of which I got bored with and abandoned almost immediately. But the one thing I’ve never figured out how to do, in all my years of using the internet, is how to make money online. I’ve made a few cents here and there from Adsense revenue, but I want more. I don’t dislike my day job, but I’m determined to figure out how to make enough money online to quit my job and work from home, with only myself to answer to.

As I write this, it’s February 12, 2015. Three o’clock in the afternoon. By this time next year, I’m determined to figure out a way to make $5,000 a month on the internet. That amount would enable me to work from home and live comfortably.

So until I get bored and abandon this site as well, I intend to use this platform to document my efforts to meet my goal and make money online. Here goes…