February 27, 2012, 5:00 am

If You Can’t Buy’em, Build’em!

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Niche Website
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Last week, I started to share my view of how you can build an empire online. In my opinion, there are 3 ways you can succeed. From my own experience, the 3 ways are good and have equal chances of succeeding. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect and this is why each strategy has its strengths and weaknesses. Then, I talked about how you can build your empire by pressing the fast forward button: through acquisitions. In the first part, I told you why I think that cheap buys don’t make the cut in my model. Today, I’ll tell you exactly why.


Because I Prefer To Build My Own Sites


I totally understand that not everybody is willing, or has the possibility to shell out 50K on a blog. So if you have a limited budget, let’s say 4K, I want to let you know that there is another alternative to buying a small site. But before I talk about building your own site with 5K, let’s take a quick look at what you buy when you buy a small site:


–          Less than 500 articles (most likely 100 to 200)

–          Less than 10,000 visitors per month

–          Less than $500 per month (most likely around $200 to $300)

–          A PR2 or PR3 site


If I look at all these metrics and think that I would have to pay $4,000 for such a site, there is another question I need to ask myself before completing the transaction: can I make build a better site with similar metrics with the same $4,000?


The answer is most likely: YES!


The thing is that small sites are for sale for a reason. Chances are that the blogger wasn’t able to find a way to bring the blog to the next level, wasn’t too good at SEO or is just simply too bored to care. All these reasons lead to the same consequence: underperformance!


There are things you can tweak quickly and make a few bucks out of these sites, but some articles are simply worth nothing (e.g. they won’t be read or found through search engines). So you can either spend a lot of time tweaking the site, or building a new one. Sometimes, you are better off starting from scratch.


Where To Start


I believe I can now build a website with less than $4,000. And I’ll show you how with this example. The first step you must start with is to do a quick keyword research and narrow down your topic. We won’t go through how to use Market Samurai and find your niche (you can read these 2 articles, right?). Let’s fast forward to the moment when you have your domain, topic and keywords you need to rank for. What you need to do next is to write down all the categories and post titles that will be on your site.


It’s important to complete the structure before you start writing your very first article. If you don’t do it this way, you will start writing and will get more and more ideas. Then, after 2 months, you will have transformed a static site into another blog… and you don’t have the time for that ;-). Plus, I’m not expecting you to write these articlesJ. Each category should be created around a specific keyword that is a derivative of your domain name and main topic. Then, you make sure you have enough topics to have at least 25 articles. You can have more, it’s up to you (and your budget!).


You Have The Structure, Now Write!…. oh no… WAIT!


The point of buying a site is to benefit from what has been created already, right? Well it’s the same thing for a “built site”. Once you have your structure and know exactly how many articles need to be written, your quest to find a writer has just started! The easiest way to do it is to find a good blogger in the niche you want to hit and make him an offer. Most bloggers don’t make much with their own blog and would probably be happy to write for $20-$25 per article.


Depending on the topic, you can also pick up a writer from ELance or ODesk. So far, I’ve had much better results by picking existing bloggers than using these sites. I guess it really depends on the topic! For great results, you can take a look at a few freelancers/bloggers:

Hank from Money Q&A

Miranda Marquit

Robert @ The College Investor

Crystal @ Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Miss T @ Prairie Eco Thrifter

Briana @ 20 and Engaged

Jon @ Free Money Wisdom

Melissa @ Moms Plans

Justin @ Money is the root

Jesse @ PFFirewall

Andrea @ So Over Debt

Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog


The point of paying someone else to write is that you don’t have to do it… yeah I know, it sounds simple and stupid to say it but that beauty of a “built site” is you don’t have to work hard. But two things are required: money and a great brain! If you pay $25 an article and spend $3,000, you will get 120 articles… that’s enough to get any site rolling!


You Have Your Article, Now What?


This is where the “brain” comes into play. So far, you should have not spent more than 3-4 hours on the site. That was used to a) build your structure and b) find your writer and give him directions. Now that you have your articles, you have to use your brain a little.


These articles should already be “SEO’d” since they have been started with specific keywords and written by real bloggers (not some Philippine dude working in a hut). However, you can use a bit of your magic touch to:

–          Add internal links

–          Add pictures with alt text

–          Make links from your homepage

–          Find affiliates that fit

–          Include Adsense code within your articles

This is how you will boost both your SEO and the chance to make money from your site. This operation should require up to 10 hours of work.


What Should You Do With The Last $1,000?


So far, I’ve “spent” only $3,000 out of my $4,000 budget, right? The last 1K can be used to promote your site via:

–          Carnival submission services

–          Article marketing services

–          Paid tweets

–          Commenting on forums or other blogs

–          Etc.

You can also put out $70 and get a decent logo (go see Peter from Logos for websites!). Another great thing you can do is to build a newsletter (read how I made $463 with my last mailing).


A Real Life Example


I’ve already shared my experience building Canadian Dividend Stock last week (read it here). The site is on its way to earning a solid $100/month from Adsense and just added another advertiser that will be paying about $150/month to display its add on my site. Therefore, with a $4,000 budget, I have a site producing $3,000 in the upcoming year. It took me 4 months to get there and am convinced that my site will be making a lot more than $250/month by the end of this year.


The difference with a “cheap buy” and a “built site” is that the latter has a sustainable business model. This means that I can count on this site to generate the same $250/mth and will probably increase over the years to come. I highly doubt that you can buy a cheap site, do almost nothing with it and come up with the same result.  Your thoughts?

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I think you are probably very quality conscious when building your sites so the build it yourself is definitely the way to go. You have complete control over the structure, internal links and SEO factors, which can add up to a significantly more attractive site (in Google’s eyes).

It sounds easy when you know what you are doing. I think it is going to take a few try before you can get the heck of it. The difference between win and loss is that whether you can learn from the mistake and improve next time when you fail until you find the way.

I like this approach. I think there are many niches which would do well with 100-120 articles on a static site. My question is where do you get pictures without worrying about copyright violations?

by: The Financial Blogger | February 27th, 2012 (1:14 pm)

@Passive Income,

I should have mentioned that: I’ve made several mistakes before building a successful site from scratch! good point!


I pick them from flickr in the common section where only an attribution link is required. It’s not professional pictures, but still it works and it doesn’t cost anything!

This is a great post! As a newbie currently building his own site’s presence, I can’t get enough of this type of information. One of the things, I’d like to know (in TFB’s opinion) is what does success look like at specific time intervals post starting a site (money yes, but also readership in terms of visitors). I feel like I’m making progress in readership, but honestly, I’m measuring against my own expectations (which may be too low)! I know success is personal, but I’m interested in TFB’s take as a proxy.

Great info Mike.

Is USD25 the average price you pay for each article? I really like to engage some of these folks but I wonder about their costs. I definitely will not be able to afford USD50 an article.

Wow, a 50 USD budget eh Aaron? My guess is you will have absolutely no problem finding writers for $25-$30!

Awesome post Mike, and not just because you pitched me 😉 I really need to get my sites together. My first niche site that I haven’t touched since I built it last April. I think I built it just to show myself I could. I’m going to really put an investment in it and my upcoming empire.

by: The Financial Blogger | February 28th, 2012 (12:08 pm)


the key is to always show some progression on either traffic or income each month. I’ve taken 2 years to get something out of TFB (believe it or not!) and I’m taking 4 months to make money out of Canadian Dividend Stock. I guess it depends on your niche and how hard you work on your site!


it’s true that some bloggers charge up to $50 a piece. At that point, I guess it depends on how much you are willing to pay and the difference you will get from a $50 article and a $25 article. I’ve been able to pay on average $20-$25/article as I mention in this post. I think it’s too hard to generate profit if you pay $50/article (unless you have crazy quality articles that will generate hundreds of visits each on a recurrent basis…. ).


have you get any results from your niche site? any traffic? income? those are the only 2 true metrics to me 😉

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