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I am in a similar situation and would like to know what I should do. So, what would YOU do?
Build a travel-related site? Pay someone else to create 5-6 "little" sites that make $3-$5 a day?
Come on, lets hear it!
I'd learn HTML, PHP, MySQL, and CSS.
Then I'd spend $500 on all the scripts I wanted (CMS, Forum, Mailing List, etc.. etc..)
Then I'd spend $3,500 on great content. At $25 an article you could pull in about 140 articles, a very strong start to your site.
Then I'd launch and slap on advertising.
Then, with my monthly revenue I'd start buying more articles, 1-3 a week.
Continue until your monthly revenue is such that you can buy 1 article a day AND siphon off some revenue for youself.
Rinse and repeat forever.
That's between you and your therapist.
Personally, I think the amount you're spending based on anticipated ROI is skewed, only 5-6 sites for $3-$5 a day? That would make your monthly income between $500-$900/month. If your income does fall to the low end it would take 8 months to recoup your initial investment. Have you considered day trading instead?
You should be able to easily cough up a web page that can generate that kind of revenue without paying much to anyone. There are tons of nice inexpensive web designs on places like Template Monster, lots of FREE scripts on SourceForge that do everything if not more than some of the paid scripts. Leaves you a LOT of cash for paying for actual content.
I'll give you a hint to my secret of site replication:
I do most of my sites using a customized ecommerce application and all articles, affiliate products, etc. are put in the catalog. I kind of use the catalog administration as a low budget CMS system (content management system) so I'm not spending all my time, or a web developer persons time, editing web pages. You can get a template easily adapted to an entire ecommerce site so all the pages look the same site wide. The cart has been disabled and all the catalog pages have been optimized to the max so every site I launch has the best of my current site optimization tricks built-in. The sites instantly start moving up the ranks as the pages always do everything exactly the same. If I find out I have to change something, it's reflected in all my sites within the day, no page by page editing.
My sites LOOK static to customers and search engines, but the full automation saves me a TON of time and lets me act on search engine changes very rapidly.
Good luck :)
what exactly is a catalog system?
You know, an ecommerce system - already has CATEGORIES, SEARCH, SITE MAP, etc. built-in.
I put all my affiliate product feeds, articles, etc. in the online 'store'. Each page with title, <H1>, <H2>, alt text, etc. per page is perfectly crafted page by page being generated by the online catalog software.
It works really well and I dont waste time editing thousands of web pages, just a couple of page templates that that displays the various content from the database.
Cheap, fast, effective, instant site-wide changes.
It's the only way to fly.