2013 In Review And Beyond

Well, I have not posted an update here for quite some time, so I guess you are all due a peek behind the curtain at what I have been up to recently.

My thicker site test has ended up going pretty well overall and I am happy to announce that in 2013, the site earned me a total of $544.16 – which, considering it comes mainly from 1 page on the site, is not too bad.  The “Best Of” type posts do seem to work well for me and also on some of my other thick sites too.  I have also added an ad from media.net, but at only around 80 impressions or visitors per day, it does not achieve very much.

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$550 for the year is not very much money when you consider that other people have been able to make much more from a single site in 1 month, or by using “thin methods” rather than thick content.  The problem with my site is that the majority of the items I sell via Amazon.com are small in value, which equals small in affiliate earnings.  Sure, I have quite a good sell through rate and the number of items is quite good for such a small niche, but the return is quite small.

I have poured hours of work into this painful-feet.com site, whereas a thin site is thrown up in a matter of minutes and could possibly earn more in a shorter space of time.  2014 will definitely be the year of thin for me, but more on that a bit later…

Google Analytics (yes, I know… tin foil hat on, when it comes to Google) shows a nice set of visitors to my painful-feet.com site, at around 9000 for the year, which I know is nothing amazing, but definitely nothing to be sniffed at, seeing as I really did not do much backlinking to the site at all.  Plus, this niche is quite small and therefore is not an ideal earning opportunity.

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In an ideal world, I would be using Adsense to earn more from this site as it is more of an informational resource rather than an e-commerce store.  However, my “proper” Adsense account was terminated during 2013 as I had the ads all over the place on other sites and was definitely working against their TOS.  I then received an email from them a few months later, asking me to “Monetize my content with Adsense” to which I replied, got accepted under a different email address and was then terminated again a few weeks later.  There is just no winning with them, unless I want to start my own business and register under those details instead.  However, I would be reluctant to put the ads on any existing sites though as the link would be obvious if Google were wanting to ban me again.  I can understand them banning people for fraudulent clicks, but they should really work with people who have obvious thick content sites to make sure that they are in TOS.  An email stating “the use of this ad on your thin site is not allowed, please fix it” would have been better than an immediate hammer ban for the entire account.  But yes, I know I am just very small-fry to them and they can’t keep tabs on me all the time, so they have to protect themselves somehow and banning people outright is the easiest way.

But – don’t freaking send me emails asking me to monetize my content if you are just going to ban me again, retards!

So, the site continues to sit and be profitable in it’s current situation and with it’s current focus.  I am not looking to do much with it at the moment, although, thinking bigger, it could become a good site that is ideal for people who are looking for a “non-medical” type resource for painful feet.

If I put my brain in Pat Flynn Mode, there is definitely scope to releasing an eBook, or a podcast, doing Q&A sessions with professionals and doctors or keeping pounding on the content.  However, along with a long list of other thick sites that I have bubbling away, the time and commitment aspect comes into play.  Should I drop everything else and concentrate on this site?  Probably not – plus it is definitely not in an area I am interested enough in to spend so much time on it.  I do enjoy helping people, it’s definitely my “single motivating purpose” even if I don’t quite “get it” yet myself.  Perhaps the right niche has not arrived for me yet.

I think this is definitely my problem – time and commitment vs the need to move on to other, new things all the time.  The world of Internet Marketing is a constantly evolving beast and there are always new things to test, build, consider and react to.  Keeping the focus on one site or project can be difficult for me.

Thin to win.

This is where thin sites, build using eBay and Amazon as an affiliate partner are ideal.  They are a real set and forget type of site and the main cost of implementation is the initial domain cost and hosting.  The time is negligible really, as I have tools to help me find niches, keywords and content for the thin sites that makes building them very easy.  The actual mechanics of the site can be build on WordPress or on your own PHP framework.  Wordpress is easy, but cumbersome and after you get a few sites on your hosting, everything starts to slow down and you end up with resource issues.  PHP coding is definitely the way to go.  My newer thin sites all share common code and are really just a set of spun content, a list of keywords and a load of shared PHP functions to output eBay and Amazon links for people.  It all sounds ridiculously easy, which it is, but it does work – even if you only buy a .info domain for $1.99.

Once a thin site becomes indexed, receives visitors and proves profitable, the idea is to clone that “good site” and make another one on a new domain so that the search engines keep riding the wave of freshness.  Obviously, each site receives a little tweak to make them unique from the last one, but the process is quick and easy.

However, thin sites are also quite short-lived, lasting only around 6 weeks, before they are buried in the SERPS for being crappy spam sites.  This is to be expected though and once they drop, the odd trickle of traffic will help keep them going and hopefully past the initial cost of the domain and into profitability.

Thick or thin?

So, if thin sites are so easy to stick up and only cost a few dollars to implement, why not keep thick and thin running side-by-side?  That is pretty much what I have been doing already, but I have not built many thin sites over the last 12 months as it was not clear which methods were working for me and the rest of the IM community I have been hanging out with.  It has even crossed my mind to sell off my thicker sites – perhaps that is a way to move towards, build thick, then sell, move on to the next one.

Or should I just outsource the content of my thick sites and keep them going?  It’s hard to let go of control too and the writers on sites like iWriter.com seem to be pretty rubbish, so I would have to find good writers, which can be costly.

Anyway, I am rambling now 🙂  To many ideas, not enough hours in the day or energy in my body to make it all happen.  Like Bilbo says, “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”.  That is the story of my life though… but don’t get me started on that one.

Another niche site duel project.

I have also been involved with another “niche site duel” type project, where a team of people have been building sites around a single keyword, seeing who can manage to rank in Google.  So far, I have managed to make some small, cheeky Amazon sales from my site, but the numbers of visitors is quite low.

I have been backlinking and writing new content for the site regularly and also getting guest posts too.  Hopefully, like the painful-feet.com site, it will rank over time for longer tail keywords and income will come from there.  I will perhaps sell the site on after the “duel” is complete.  I don’t need another site dragging my time down to be honest.  It will have been an interesting experience, with different people doing different methods, so it will be interesting to see how it ends up.

Onwards

So, I had a good year in 2013, built some good thick sites, wrote some PHP code, decided on moving to a network of thin sites in 2014 and feel like I might have turned a corner in approaching it more like a business.  My monthly earnings will determine how many sites I will build the following month and a portion of my earnings will now be paid directly towards paying off my mortgage early.  Too long has my money languished in PayPal – time to put it to work.

So what do you think?  Is thin the way to go?  Should I sell my thick sites and go thin?  Are you interested in buying painful-feet.com from me?  Let me know in the comments.

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