You often hear claims of people earning “hands free, automatic income”. The good news is that this IS possible, albeit with a little work beforehand and some time spent on maintenance/updates.
The method most used is to set up content sites that target specific niches, and then serve ads on those pages. All that’s left in the equation is to drive traffic to the site.
Of course, nothing is ever really as simple as that so here’s a few tips to get you started:
1. The easiest way to run a content site is to use WordPress, or your blog/cms platform of choice. WordPress is a great staple because it’s very popular, has a lot of plugins and templates available, and is of course free.
Once you have decided upon your niche you only need to buy a domain name that has some of your keywords in it (or find an expired domain name), and then couple that new domain name to the host of your choice.
2. One of the most important steps is to build a list of keywords for the niche you are going to target. Luckily there are many online tools you can use for this.
Nichebot Classic (uses Wordtracker)
Google Keyword Tool
MSN Keyword Forecast (keyword counts)
MSN Keyword Tool
You can also use misspellings of keywords, and even misspellings of competitor domains:
Misspelled Keywords Tool
You can generate your own common misspellings by including run-on search terms (i.e. no spaces, such as “formulaone”), double letters, missing letters, and difficult-to-spell words.
You can find the keywords used by competitors, using Spyfu.com
And you can even find those competitors, by using Quantcast:
(look at the “audience also visits” list)
Finally, for some quick and easy traffic, you can use keywords based on the Digg.com front page (popular URLs), the Technorati top posts, Stumbleupon Buzz, etc. A site called http://www.populair.eu contains a handy list of these top sites.
3. Your next step is to write articles on each keyword, in your new wordpress blog. Some of the best types of articles to write include reviews, how-to’s, and tips. To help drive readers, you can use topics such as:
keyword+ “tips” “advice” “help” “tricks”
etc. For example: “Ipod Tips”, “Ipod Tricks”, “Ipod Help”, “Free Ipod”, “Ipod Secrets”, or for other subjects:
“Rich Jerk Scam”, “Rich Jerk Controversy”, “Rich Jerk Review” for a business-opportunity type site.
Your article need not be too long, it should include the main keywords in the post title, and perhaps within the post itself, but don’t overdo it. Don’t use content verbatim from other sites because google penalises duplicate content.
4. To add income streams for your articles you can simply use an appropriate template, or edit one to include ads. This saves you adding ad code to each individual post – though that option is still there.
Adsense is very popular, and easy to implement. WordPress plugins such as:
Adsense Manager can help make it simple.
Alternately, a ready made adsense-focused theme can make it simple, such as those available at: Adsense Blog Themes
You can also edit your themes manually within wordpress to include adsense in other places. Popular areas include the head of the entire page, left-justified at the start of each post, at the foot of each post, or in the side-menus. Note that google limits the amount of ads shown on a page.
There are also other income sources you may want to pursue:
CPA networks offer to pay you on a cost-per-action basis. For example, a credit card company can pay you per application. That means no sale is needed, the visitor just has to fill in a form.
Popular CPA networks include:
http://www.CJ.Com (a mix of affiliate types)
There are many more, simply search Google for “CPA Network”
Kontera is a little different. It will turn relevant words on your site into paid links automatically.
Chitika can show “mini malls”, which include price information, small descriptions, etc for certain links. These can work well on some site types such as technology ones.
Clickbank primarily offers digital products such as e-books, with high payouts up to 75% per sale. A site such as CBProAds.com can show these, or you can include relevant products manually.
Finally, there are specialist blog-advertising networks such as Blogads and PayPerPost that advertise more directly to your audience. You usually need a more established blog with good traffic to benefit from these.
5. At this point, if all works well, you should be able to get *some* traffic from the search engines, just from your keywords and article content alone. Of course you’ll want to increase this.
Commenting on blogs, and arranging links with blogs, can help your seo rankings. Try commenting on sites that are currently experiencing a buzz – such as the Digg front page, stumbleupon buzz page, etc mentioned earlier in this article.
Viral traffic from sources such as a branded report, branded video, free template, free salespage/product, that you release can have an excellent effect on your traffic levels. If you can include your link in the salespage/template/website etc you give away it can spread all over the web and increase your backlinks.
You can buy traffic from Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, etc, but you have to be careful. The keyword lists you built up earlier can greatly help here. Try to focus on “long tail” keywords rather than general ones for cheaper hits. For example, don’t try and buy hits to a term such as “dogs”, try focusing with “dog grooming”, “dog grooming in ohio”, etc. The idea is to have a great number of lesser-searched terms rather than a few high-searched ones (which can be priced exhorbitantly).
Remember: backlinks to your site help with your search engine position (along with other factors), so whever possible – by writing reviews, comments, testimonials, articles etc – link from keywords not just your basic URL.
Other search engine factors are harder to influence, but in general links from authority sites (try getting links from sites with a high Page Rank or even from .edu sites etc), one-way links, the age of your site (obviously only achievable over time, unless you are lucky and find an aged site that has expired or is for sale), and the content on your site are the most important.
6. After all this is setup your site is mostly hands-free. You then have a few options:
Move directly onto creating another site in another niche.
Continue to write new content for your site.
Continue to seek out new backlinks, submit new articles, etc.
Start an e-mail list.
Create your own product to sell (such as an ebook), and get affiliates for your product.
Or even sell your site!