How Not to Make Money Online: Static Info Sites

Okay, so I had an idea several years ago, and several years ago maybe it would have worked, but this year (technically last year) it did not.  Here was the idea: have a simple site, with decent content, about a popular subject, that you could update once  year, with some ads on it, and it’d bring in revenue.  The dream, right? Not quite.

So, I am not too into sports (soccer, skateboarding, ultimate frisbee… that’s about it), but other people are!  So I decided to do info sites about a team.  I picked the Houston Rockets.

Here’s EXACTLY What I Did

I registered the desired domains on GoDaddy (they have a simple and cheap hosting plan available, plus 1yr registrations were half off).  I wanted the domains to be relevant to the content, but .COMs are more expensive and many of them were taken, so I used .INFO.  I registered http://coreybrewer.info/ for Corey Brewer, and I only used hyphens if necessary, such as for http://dwight-howard.info/ (yep, http://dwighthoward.info/ was already taken).  Now, it is sometimes stated that .COMs get preferential treatment over other Top Level Domains (TLDs, the letters after the dot in your “dot com”, “dot org”, dot whatever….) in search results, but Google denies this anytime it is brought up (and I believe them).

I used AdSense to create the maximum number of ad units allowed, three display ads, three link ads, and two search ads.  If possible I made the ad units responsive, if not possible I made them 200px in width or less so they would easily fit on a mobile screen.

tylawsonsiteI formatted an HTML file with with the ads so I could just plug in the different content for each site.  I had registered eighteen domains, so I made eighteen copies of the file.  I formatted each one with (starting from the top):

  • some metadata (title and description)
  • a link to my blog (this blog)
  • Text/Image Ad Unit #1
  • Page Title (Player Name: First Last)
  • Search Ad Unit #1
  • Content Block
  • Link Ad Unit #1
  • Content Block
  • Text/Image Ad Unit #2
  • Content Block
  • Link Ad Unit #2
  • Content Block
  • Text/Image Ad Unit #3
  • Content Block
  • Link Ad Unit #3
  • Footer (Player Name: Last, First)
  • Search Ad Unit #2
  • Links to all the other static info sites

That may sound like a lot of ads, and it is kinda, but I don’t think it didn’t look to crowded.

I needed content, but I knew nothing of the subject matter.  I could have just reworded some stuff off Wikipedia, but that would have been lame.  I went to Fiverr, I’m a fan of Fiverr.  I tried three different writers – each had good reviews, said they could complete the task when I contacted them ahead of time, and were given a target of 500 words.  I ended up selecting a Texas native who was a fan of the Rockets (lucky happenstance) with the help of two friends I had asked to read the three versions and tell me which was better – we all agreed on who’s was best, even though my friends were picking “blind” in regards to who had written it.  I contacted my preferred seller, and he wrote the other seventeen articles.

I filled in the blanks of my html template, modified the description for each page, and added some tags.

I then uploaded the files to my GoDaddy hosting space and directed my domains towards each one as needed.

Once the sites published I submitted each on manually to Google and Bing.  I was able to verify that they were indexed, as that if I do a search for the site address they are shown in the results.

Then I sat back and waited for the money to trickle in.  I did not have high expectations, but was hoping for $50/site/year.  Man, was I dreaming, tsk tsk…

I only added Analytics tracking to one, coreybrewer.info (it was my first/test site for this project), it was viewed by 29 people other than me since I registered them ten months ago.  Suffice to say, these have not paid for themselves and I will not be renewing these domains.  I will be transferring all the content to my blog when the time comes (the content isn’t bad, just the implementation and my expectations).

Why Didn’t it Work?

I was ten to fifteen years too late on this.  Nowadays search engine rankings are so complex and depend on things like how long the domain has been around, how fresh the content is, linkbacks to it from useful and authoritative sources, and more factors than I can adequately list here – SEO is about more than just one good piece of content.

So, if you think you’ve got a great idea to make money for very little work, just like with everywhere else, that only works on the internet if you’re a scam artist…

The following domains will be expiring on August 29, 2016 – one year from registering them.  The entire project took about two weeks to complete.


P.S. – You’ll notice a few of those guys aren’t Rockets – I mixed in some popular Houston football players too, and still failed :/

P.P.S. – You’ll notice in the featured image that if you googled “Ty Lawson Info” I was the first result! on the third page… 🙁

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