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Keep MONEY coming 3 years from now!
shafaki




msg:1431920
 7:32 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Instead of complaining on why posts in the adsense forum here have gone lame, I'll try to do something positive instead. This post intends to liberate us by using our imagination as an inspirational tool.

Let us imagine that we want to make a website that would still be around 3 years from now and will still make money, very good money, from AdSense or whatever other programs out there.

Sure this very thing cannot be predicted nor calculated not only because of the many unpredictable twists and changes on the Internet, on how people use it the technologies available and all that, how AdSense itself will look like in 3 years from now is sure something beyond our predicting powers. That is why this is a perfect exercise for our imagination, our analytical, constantly calculating brains will take some rest, while our more creative imagination will have its say.

Let me start by myself describe the site I see still up and running and making good money even after 3 years from now:

The site will be:
- very narrowly focused or have very narrowly focused content that is hard to find elsewhere.
- continually updated content, fresh content at a rapid pace.
- lots and lots of interactivity with visitors. allowing people to interact with each other (by posting comments or similar for instance).

I believe the last point might be the most important of them all. I think that's what we are heading towards, more participation by visitors, more interaction between visitors and more building of 'online' social ties. That's the way ahead.

Anyway, I was just excercising my imagination, no calculations involved, that's the beauty of it.

Now it's your turn. Excercise your imagination breaking loose and sharing with others how you see a website that can remain making good money after 3 years from now in a rapidly changing online world.

 

ken_b




msg:1431921
 8:03 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Frequent updates.

This appears to help, as long as you are updating something folks want to read.

But it can also be a lot of work. So be careful what you ask for. :)

Interactivity.

More work! sheesh... this is turning into a JOB!

OK, I merged these two to some extent. People email me info and I add it to my site. Works great, draws a bunch of traffic, isn't really that much work. Pays modestly well.

The thing I haven't fully managed yet is to move that traffic around the rest of my site much. Some wander around the place, but not as much as I'd like, and I think that's key to what Shafaki is talking about, if you make a site interactive.

The frequent updating will keep folks coming back, it's maximzing the income from that traffic that gets harder. And "current info" isn't always the most profitable on it's own.

Back to the "Be Careful What You Ask For' concept.

It's my opinion that a carefully crafted niche site can run almost on autopilot, with very little, if any updating, and remain profitable for years.

Starting from that point, adding interactive aspects to the site can be a study in diminishing returns if one is not careful.

That doesn't mean one shouldn't do it. It just means careful consideration is needed.

We only have so much time and effort available to devote to site building and management. If we devote to much for less than maximum returns on one site, it could mean we are passing up greater opportumities with other sites.

Unless you can reasonably expect to reach some kind of tipping point where the return goes up again fairly soon, and fairly aggressively, putting a site on at least semi-autopilot might make sense.

david_uk




msg:1431922
 8:04 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, my site has been online for 5 years now, and with Adsense for nearly 2. I've seen my income from Adsense rise over the time I've been here in this forum. Hopefully, as what I *have* achieved is what you hope to I might be able to give you some inspiration and tell you what works for me. What works for you may be different, but you were asking for feedback.

I'm not saying I can give up my day job, but on my adsense earnings so far this year I've taken the family for two weeks in Crete, and another week in Wales as well as paying a few bills here and there. I'm now saving my adsense earnings to take the family to the US next year and drive around in a Winnebago for a couple of weeks. If you see a confused guy driving the biggest winnebago there is on the wrong side of the road that's me - just wave!

- very narrowly focused or have very narrowly focused content that is hard to find elsewhere.

Absolutely. I fell into my niche by accident. I'm at the top of the serps not by SEO, but by simply having worked on my content, become an authority in my niche and generated a lot of regular traffic. In my case there is no shortage of quality advertisers willing to bid to be on my site. I'm also an adwords avertiser so I know what the keyword normally costs, and I'm getting WAY more than that!

I keep my site focussed tightly on the topic.

- continually updated content, fresh content at a rapid pace.

Yes - a very good point. I would say that I tend to do a monthly update, and try to have a new major article or page at that time. The regular visitors know when I update, and make a mental note to come back. I do minor updates all the time, but I think the new feature article at the same time draws a lot of people back.

As Ken_b says, a tight niche site may well need less updating and run itself. I find that I get a lot of rolling visitors as well as a healthy percentage of regulars. What the rolling visitors are looking at may be quite old, but it's new to them.

I also agree totally with Ken_b that updates need to be new content that people really want to see - not just updates for the sake of them. Less is deffinitely more sometimes!

- lots and lots of interactivity with visitors. allowing people to interact with each other (by posting comments or similar for instance).

Well, in my case this didn't work out. In any case, forum pages don't tend to be big earners. But it's certainly a good way to add fresh content and get ideas for content. I wouldn't necessarily make it my #1 earning strategy.

Adsense doesn't always work every page. I guess that I have several hundred pages but only 9 or 10 banners. Over time I've learned where they will work and where they won't. I think visitors appreciate that there isn't an ad block on every darned page - especially as they came to the site for the content!

Good luck with it anyway.

europeforvisitors




msg:1431923
 8:35 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

very narrowly focused or have very narrowly focused content that is hard to find elsewhere.

You have to be careful not to have content that's too narrowly focused, or you may start bumping against a traffic ceiling.

continually updated content, fresh content at a rapid pace.

That's fine for a news site, but "evergreen" content can be just as useful to readers and is more likely to attract visitors through search.

lots and lots of interactivity with visitors. allowing people to interact with each other (by posting comments or similar for instance).

Community content can be hard to "monetize," and in any case, people who are looking for information don't necessarily want to wade through forum posts, comments, user reviews, etc.

There are obviously many ways to skin the proverbial cat, but I've done pretty well with a solid foundation of "evergreen" content that can be updated and expanded over time. (This certainly isn't a new concept--some of the BLUE GUIDE guidebooks incorporate editorial content that dates back to the early 1900s.)

Margarita




msg:1431924
 9:03 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think the most important thing for a site to still be around in 3-5 years is the interest level of the publisher and the visitors. I find it hard to update and write sites about topics that don't interest me so I'd be more likely to let it fall by the wayside.

A site that fulfils a need for visitors and does so in a unique way will be more successful. Sites that put a unique spin on a topic or add personality tend to attract more repeat visitors.

- lots and lots of interactivity with visitors. allowing people to interact with each other (by posting comments or similar for instance).

It is acutally okay if the communication is mostly one way. I have a very successful website and send out a monthly newsletter, have a blog, and forum. People are very quick to reply back to me, send an email or use the contact form.

But it has been difficult to get people to start posting on the forum and to interact with one another It could be the audience is not as net-savvy. So in my experience the work it takes to build a forum is not worth it. And yes, it's a lot of work. I also hear from other forum admins that the AdSense CTR is very low on forums.

But communication to visitors is important...offering useful and informative articles, products they want, an ezine or free course/e-book all help build loyalty. (And the more they come back the more likely they will be to buy products or click on AdSense.)

Evergreen content is also very appropriate for many markets. There's many topics that just don't change that often. That's why on several of my websites I don't put dates on the articles/blog posts.

incrediBILL




msg:1431925
 9:31 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Duuuuuuude....

Been doing exactly what you said for 7 years already except for the part about:

lots and lots of interactivity with visitors.

Had too many lurkers that wanted to be entertained instead of chatting amongst themselves so I yanked the forum.

Margarita




msg:1431926
 10:03 pm on Sep 21, 2005 (gmt 0)

Had too many lurkers that wanted to be entertained instead of chatting amongst themselves so I yanked the forum.

Yes or want to post blatant advertisements or spam and never return.

Sweet Cognac




msg:1431927
 12:30 am on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, if I learn as much in the next 3 years, as I have in the past 5 yrs. I should be okay. But, I think I like the semi-auto site idea. I can't imagine sitting here doing what I'm doing for the next 3 years.

1. I hope I'll be traveling and adding content on the road.

2. I hope in 3 yrs the serps are not so spammed up that my sites can't be found.

3. I hope in 3 yrs. someone will offer me a nice chunk of money for one of my well established sites.

Here's to hoping. :)

Swebbie




msg:1431928
 4:20 am on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I guess I'll be the voice of dissention again (kind of)...

It occurs to me that working to build lots of stickiness and repeat visitors (a community, if you will) is counterproductive from a purely AdSense perspective. Someone with such a site correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm guessing those sites do well with other kinds of revenue generation, but see AS CTR and revenues fall over time. Regularly adding new or evergreen content surely helps stem that tide, but I bet it's a case of running to stand in place. Is that off the mark?

david_uk




msg:1431929
 5:45 am on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Swebbie, I take your point. I think you need to achieve a balance of both new and evergreen. It's good to have content there that's been indexed by search engines and has got good rankings, but it's bad for visitors to come to a site to see that the webmaster hasn't bothered to update it for 2 years.

I doubt if my regulars click on the ads - I would imagine it's the fresh visitors that are most likely to. But the regular visitors pay dividends in other ways. Sometimes I get good suggestions from them, and they are the ones most likely to contribute to the site in some way.

I have no idea if numbers of repeat visitors affects page rank / serps in any way, but I'd guess they can't exactly harm any ratings!

davewray




msg:1431930
 8:46 am on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Now is the time to get your sites established. Why? Because in 3 to 5 years time there will be a lot more people "coming" online to run a business as opposed to those who are completely new to the internet.

In 3 years time it will take more WORK and it will seem like a JOB because the competition will be that much more fierce. I don't imagine there will be that many niches untouched like there still are today. The internet will be more dog eat dog and the most persistent, hard working "dog" will survive.

But, I will still enjoy what I do online. I will find new challenges. What will change in three to five years time? Could be lots. Will text ads still be effective? I'm sure contextual advertising will be very different, or even perhaps close to irrelevant like banner ads.

But to answer your initial comment...how to keep money coming in after 3 years? Continue to keep one, two or three steps ahead of your competition at all times. Ride new trends, even create some new trends. Always look back in the rear view mirror because there will always be someone there to take over your spot as "hub" of whatever.

Ok, it's 3am, enough rambling

Dave.

zulu_dude




msg:1431931
 11:21 am on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I agree with what Dave's said above... I think that the Internet landscape is going to be vastly different in 5 years time. With day-to-day commuting become more and more expensive, while communication costs are getting lower every day, the internet is going to become a much more attractive marketplace than it is today.

It's so easy to look back and say 'I should have started that years ago', but we'll be saying exactly the same thing in 3 years! So if you have an idea, go for it today!

Instead of people spending capital on buying shop premises, they will spend money on buying a virtual shopfront (i.e. domain name). Instead of handing out flyers, they'll advertise online. I also think that in 3 years, the internet will be much more a part of the everyday home. In other words, internet on TV's, computers in the kids room, living room and the kitchen, etc etc. So services that integrate well with everyday mundane life are going to become more important.

As for earning money in 3 years... if you set up a site NOW and can run it successfully for three years, you're going to be taken that much more seriously as a webmaster in the future. So even if your current site isn't amazingly profitable in 3 years, your reputation/experience will still be highly profitable! And on a practical level, as has been mentioned many times in these forums, diversification is the key to a stable income. Use your online profits to diversify into offline sources of income as well.

bobster2




msg:1431932
 12:53 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I belive that there will be no such thing as the small time publisher in three years time.

The SERPS will be dominated by big business and sponsered results (its going that way now) and organic results will be a thing of the past.

Anything that is worth getting into for income will be taken by big business.

People that want to be webmasters will have to work for big businesses.

Enjoy it while it lasts and take your heads out of the sand.

RIP SEO

europeforvisitors




msg:1431933
 2:30 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I belive that there will be no such thing as the small time publisher in three years time.

In the offline world, small niche publishers often do very well. Why? Because they can make a tidy profit from revenues that wouldn't begin to sustain the same publication if it were owned by a corporate behemoth that had vice-presidents and support staff to pay. Thanks to low production costs, that's likely to remain true on the Web as well.

The key word here is "niche." The big corporate guys tend to focus on breadth at the expense of depth, because that's all they can afford to do. This creates opportunities for the small entrepreneur who is an expert on a topic and understands niche publishing.

The SERPS will be dominated by big business and sponsered results (its going that way now) and organic results will be a thing of the past.

Not if search engines want to stay in business. Without organic search results, the SEs don't attract "eyeballs," and there's no one to look at the sponsored results.

Fact is, search engines need niche publishers just as much as niche publishers need search engines.

OptiRex




msg:1431934
 2:33 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Anything that is worth getting into for income will be taken by big business.

People that want to be webmasters will have to work for big businesses.

Wow! You're a happy pessimistic soul aren't you?

One thing that I have learnt in many years of business is the current transition away from the "big business/corporate" culture.

People, and even businesses, are seeking more personalised, relevant suppliers and partners and the likes of us have a very bright future since our expertise will be in even more demand...you can go to university, you can pass every examination with flying colours however there is still no substitute for business life experiences and the knowledge that comes from it.

What you really ought to be pessimistic about is the lack of genuine education in schools which seem to only teach that manual labour is "bad" for you...that it's much better to sit on your a$$ all day long being a Dilbert and creating absolutely nothing genuine whatsoever.

</rant>

europeforvisitors




msg:1431935
 3:13 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

It all comes down to "added value," to use a term that GoogleGuy brought up in a discussion of affiliate sites in the Google Search News forum a while back. If you're going to publish a site about widgets or whatsit, then you need to do it in a way that's unique, or that's better than what other publishers are already doing in your niche.

bobster2




msg:1431936
 4:14 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

"Fact is, search engines need niche publishers just as much as niche publishers need search engines."

Rubbish. Search engines need money like any business. They don't care about the small guys.

robho




msg:1431937
 4:47 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I very much agree with europeforvisitors that evergreen content is the way to have a stable money-maker.

One of my sites was written (in a weekend) in 1996. Apart from changing the advertising as fads come and go, I haven't yet updated it (will get to it one of these years). It's still my most consistent money maker with: no updates, a wide subject, no interactivity - and no work.

I can see the argument for a user-created community sites, but they're a lot more work and can fade out of fashion faster.

europeforvisitors




msg:1431938
 4:51 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

Rubbish. Search engines need money like any business. They don't care about the small guys.

Search engines care about attracting visitors. Where do you think their money comes from?

What they don't care about is giving a free ride to sites that have no intrinsic value and that make it harder for searchers to find useful information. Why should anyone be surprised when search engines try to separate the wheat from the chaff?

Getting back to the topic of this thread, AdSense publishers need to recognize that most businesses fail. It isn't enough to create a Web site, just as it isn't enough to open a storefront or print up a letterhead and a stack of business cards in the offline business world. If you succeed, you've got to be smart, flexible, and persistent. And if you want free traffic from other Web sites (including search engines), you need to focus on building a site that deserves referrals because of its value to users and not just because of its value to you.

Swebbie




msg:1431939
 7:20 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

I've had a lucrative business fail (2002), and the lesson I learned in spades was to diversify. I got caught being lazy and relying on a couple of big money clients for the bulk of my income. When they both ended their contracts at roughly the same time, I was left holding an empty bag. My own fault. I put my faith in both of them re-upping, but neither did.

I think in 3-5 years, we'll see more search engine tweaking on an annual basis, not less. The more pages they index, the bigger the need to get it right. That probably will mean frequent and sometimes major updates. If you have one site, your risk is heading way up, IMHO. The name of the game will be tight niches, and several of them to spread out your risk. I plan to hire a webmaster and some content suppliers in the coming years to keep up with what I think will be an increasing need to add good content and keep existing sites evergreen.

JaySmith




msg:1431940
 8:20 pm on Sep 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

As long as you diversify your sites AND your advertising sources, I can only see the money growing. You will never hear me cry in any of the SE update threads... The main reason I won't is that I treat those results as gravy.

I am currently making more off of paid and offline advertising than I do with free search result placement. Sometimes with some good serps, I make more that way. But my point is if search engines die, my business will still be there and flourishing.

Without search engines, I am making just below 1,000 a day profit.

When I see those update threads I just want to cringe.... Most people put their eggs in one basket and have no one but themselves to blame for that.

Its the free search engine traffic that got me started. But I did not let it stop there. I poured a lot of that back into paid online advertising and offline advertising.

I guess the bottom line, is to make your three year plan be as if free traffic is the thing of the past. That would be my advice.

I am doing so well in affiliate marketing that I am about to jump to the other side of the fence and actually have affiliates working for me.

Bottom line: DIVERSIFY Sites and Advertising Sources.

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