When you go to the store, you go there one step at a time.
When you’re in a new country, you get lost, you ask for directions, and you enjoy the adventure.
But somehow with making money online you get serious. You become afraid of failure, which paralyzes you from doing anything.
You run into overwhelm, and you try to figure out how you can guarantee success.
It doesn’t work, because until you let go of the seriousness, nothing will happen.
The good news is that you don’t have to think big. You don’t have to build a million dollar business. You just have to get started.
If you’ve never made money online, focus on making your first dollar. If you’ve earned some money, focus on building a site that brings in $100 per month.
It’s much less overwhelming, and much more, dare I say, fun.
Here are seven steps I’ve used to consistently build small sites like these:
1. Find a Tiny Problem
Like with anything, you start with a problem.
But with small niche sites, the research doesn’t have to be vague. You can use the free tools Google gives you and find keywords that people are searching for. Just sign-up for a free Google Adwords account, and use their free Keyword Planner.
If you’re into acne, you’ll run into keywords like:
- How to get rid of acne on my face
- How to get clear skin
- How to heal my skin naturally
And so on. You can immediately see what the problem is here. If you’ve helped people get rid of acne, or eliminated acne from your life, you can share what you’ve learned. This is exactly what Tracy does.
You don’t have to create a huge website, just a small one. You still have to provide valuable content, but it’s much more doable with a tiny site, instead of a big one.
2. Research the Competition
Once you’ve identified a problem, and a few keywords, it’s time to look at the competition for those keywords.
Your goal with a small site like this should be to target keywords that are easy to rank for. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because the most obvious keywords are often quite competitive, especially if there’s money to be made.
A good sign that a keyword is beatable is to look for low PageRank pages. Simply use an SEO plugin for your browser, or go to http://www.bulkpagerank.com/ and put in the top 5 sites that show up for each keyword.
Other signs that the competition is weak is when the following kinds of results show up:
- Yahoo Answers
- Forum posts
- Blogspot, WordPress and other free blogging platforms
You have to dig deeper and uncover keywords that other people haven’t found. This is why it helps if you know your market well. For example, if you’ve cured your own acne, you know the common problems people run into.
3. Build Your Site
The next step is to build your site, and I recommend you start a WordPress blog.
You don’t need many articles at first, five to ten will do. These articles should be written around the keywords you find.
So if one keyword is “How to get rid of acne on my face,” that’s an article you can write. Then write five to ten more of those articles targeting one keyword for each.
You don’t even have to rank on the first page of Google for each one, because as time goes by, and as your site gets more links, and more authority, you’ll start getting traffic for keywords and phrases you weren’t even targeting. This is called the long tail.
The structure of your site is important, but not something you need to focus on right away. Just make sure it’s a WordPress blog stripped bare. So no unnecessary widgets, tag clouds, or banners.
4. Build Links
With the recent Google updates, there have been people saying that links are dead, but they aren’t.
Content is becoming more important, yes, but that content has to be backed up by links. Links are to search engines what votes are in the presidential election. They matter. And it often takes some effort on your part to get the ball rolling.
Once you have a few articles on your site, and it looks done. It’s time to start building links. But not just any kind of links. The links you build should provide value. We’re not after spamming links just to get rankings, but using other platforms to share what we have to say.
You can get links from a variety of different sources, such as:
- Article directories (like EzineArticles)
- Web directories
- Web 2.0 properties (think Squidoo, Hubpages, WordPress.com, etc)
- Guest blogging
- Blog commenting
- RSS feeds
- Video sites (think YouTube)
- Social bookmarks
- Other websites (hint: ask people)
- PDF sharing sites (think Scribd and SlideShare)
If you’re doing this yourself, it will be tedious, but it’s better to do it yourself first before you outsource it.
When you build links, avoid any link building service that promises you thousands of links. It will just get you penalized, or banned, from the search engines.
And avoid building all of your links at once. Build one or two a day and you’ll be fine. Stay away from quick fixes.
5. Provide a Tiny Solution
After you’ve built your links, it may take a few months before the search engines start sending you traffic.
This is when you wait. You could build another site while you wait, or you could keep building more links and keep making more connections online. And if you can, guest post a lot.
Once you start getting traffic, it’s time to provide a tiny solution. If you’re in the acne space, you could:
- Review books and programs
- Review skin care products
- Throw up advertising like Google AdSense or InfoLinks
- Write a Kindle book (like I did)
- Create your own program
Once again, the list goes on and on. As always, it comes down to helping the people that visit your site. If you’ve used an acne program that helped you, then by all means write up a review and share your story.
6. Attract a Tiny Audience
The good thing about these tiny sites is that you don’t need thousands of daily visitors to make them work. You just need a few hundred to get started.
And if you want to take things to the next level, you need to build an email list. An email list will allow you to build deeper connections with people.
You don’t HAVE to build an email list, especially with a tiny site, but it doesn’t hurt. Once traffic is trickling in, and you’re getting the hang of this, you can find more keywords and write articles on those.
As you get more links, and write more articles, you will get more traffic, and if you’ve done things right, you will start earning some money.
7. Expand, Sell, or Move On
Once things are rolling along nicely, you have several options, you could:
- Sell the site (you can usually get 12-18 times the monthly income)
- Grow it
- Build another one
If your site is making $100, you could sell it for anywhere between $1,200 to $1,800 on various website broker sites, such as Flippa.
You could also move on and build more of these sites, just like Spencer does, or if you’ve got an affinity for the site you’ve created, you could work on growing it.
I’ve built many of these sites throughout the years, and I’ve never sold one. I like to keep them. Some of them make $30 per month, while others make a lot more.
$20 per month is still $240 per year, and if you have ten of those sites, it adds up.
The Bottom Line
The reason I’m writing about this is to show you that you can start small, and you can get going even if you have no experience at all.
You don’t have to be an all knowing expert. But you do have to learn what works and what doesn’t. And you still have to provide value, and help people.
If you’re reading this, it means you most likely have a computer, and that you can type, which is what you need to do this.
Building a small site is a great way to learn the ropes while you bring in extra money. And it’s a lot of fun, too. Yes, it takes work, and it may be frustrating, but you can do it, if you want to.
I realize there are a lot of details missing, but for many, this will be enough to get them going.
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David Anderson says
Love this approach. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself, instead focus on small steps at a time.
Right you are, David.
Anh Le says
These look simple but indeed are a lot of work. Even in each step, there are tons of minor things-to-do include. However, as David said above, focusing on one step at a time. Don’t rush for money. Deliver great value and money will come afterwards.
Bryan Thompson says
Hi Henri. I was able to build a personal development site that did pretty well, though I wasn’t able to devote the time I would have liked to. But it’s interesting, your initial opening talking about letting go of the “seriousness” is really true with ANY kind of startup. I am starting a new kind of church – one that is more like a weekly TED Talk kind of experience than St Gregory Catholic Church. It’s new, it’s different. But the fund-raising part has scared me to death! But you’re right, it really is as simple as starting by relaxing a bit. Don’t take myself so seriously. Thanks!
Navid Moazzez says
Great post Henri! I love how you approach things, and it’s so important to not overwhelm yourself and just focus on one step at a time. I thought everything had to be perfect when I first started out, but the best thing you can actually do is just to get going and take the right action. Then you can correct things along the way, and make it better.
Thanks for sharing this with us, and keep up the amazing work you do!
Great information as always Henri. It’s so easy to overthink this stuff or think we’re not doing enough.
Keeping things simple is often the best approach.
Mallie Rydzik says
Thanks, Henri! I’m on step 3 of this process with plans for steps 5 and 6. Didn’t know about the website-selling site or the link-building resources. I appreciate the push to just go through with it and see what happens!
I am just starting out and I am working on building my site, I was not in a rush, I really wanted to take the time and learn new skills. Your article has reassured me that starting small is ok
Thanks Henri, you nailed it. The key is jumping in, having fun and keeping steady. If i am not too focused on making lots of money, its easier to have fun and money can then follow.
Martin Poldma says
Once we are able to make our first $100, then it will be much easier to start earning more and more. We just need to get started from somewhere and it’s good to start with small goals like that.
Great article, thanks for sharing.
Awesome post Henri. I love your emphasis on the “tiny” mindset – keep it tiny – keep it simple. I’ve been following your blog for a while but haven’t commented much – but love your work.
Just curious, is this website your full-time income?
Daniel, as of right now, Wake Up Cloud is maybe 40-50% of my income.
To get a better idea of my income, you can see my story here: https://www.wakeupcloud.com/making-money-online-journey/
I love the positive energy that you are able to communicate through your writing. I recently started my website and went through most of the issues you’ve identified. I’m still struggling, but the key is to be determined to succeed and believe in what you’re doing!
This article was very helpful for me, it inspired me to create a website just for fun, to get some experiences. (I started a blog this year, and I felt myself so overwhelmed with it, that I left it, but now I think I will return to it). So what I have started with was writing. I told myself I will make this website, but first I will write one or two article for it before I start everything else. I wrote the two articles (that gave a huge boost), then I bought the domain, made the design, put together the whole site. I put up my articles and then I’ve stopped with it – I felt overwhelmed again when I got to the more article writing part. I left the website for a week, I read this post again and again, and I decided that I will continue to work on my website because I will only know what I can achieve with it if I finish what I’ve started.
I started doing one update a day, it can be a very little update, because as soon as I start working in it, I know will do more. For example I changed something in the css, and I put up two more pictures resulted in writing the text for a whole page. 🙂
I’ve just finished putting together the site for the start. It is not big, just 7 pages and 3 news article. My next step will be marketing the site, getting more views, polishing the texts and after that I will put some ads to it too. I am very excited about where this site will go (it is a fansite for a computer game).
I have already learnt a few things along the way and I wanted to thank you for the motivation and for the guidelines. You really helped me a lot.
Thanks for sharing that, Adrienn. Small steps is the way forward. In the beginning, you will be overwhelmed, but you’ll learn by experimenting and doing one thing at a time.