My #1 way of Making Money Online. What's yours?

Discussion in 'Growing and Managing a Business' started by Clinton, Jan 23, 2010.

  1. Clinton

    Clinton
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    I make a lot of money online. Every month.

    This is where the suspicious among you will write me off as a seller of some Ponzi scheme and click away. That's fine, no hard feelings.

    For those of you still here, I'm not going to show you testimonials and screenshots of my Paypal account. I'm not going to promise you some secrets never before revealed. I'm not going to tell you how much I earn. I don't need to. I'm not selling an ebook or some Magic Money Generator Plan. Anyone smart enough to figure out who I am and smart enough to go do some investigation on me - it's easy enough - will find that I don't just talk the talk.

    How I made my money is easy and I'll tell you right here in this post.

    I did something very, very simple.

    Prior to "falling into" this business I worked extremely hard. I've owned various businesses - a school in India, a company manufacturing specialist computer systems in the UK, a finance business and others. I slogged my ass off not seeing my family for days on end. There were years when I worked all 365 days. I know how tough that is.

    Now I work when I feel like it. I have a log cabin at the end of my garden and my "commute" takes all of a few seconds. I have no money worries. At all.

    What changed?

    A few years ago I discovered, quite by accident, the Adsense program. No, that isn't the magic pill, it's just what trigged my light bulb moment.

    I put some Adsense ads on the site I was using for my business at that time. After a few months I hit one month where Adsense made me more money than my main business. It got me thinking. I devoted more time to developing that Adsense income via putting more useful information on my site and getting it more traffic.

    Summer was traditionally a quiet time for my main business, but that summer I didn't feel it too much - the website was compensating nicely. Then an opportunity presented itself. A competitor ran out of working capital. I bought him out, closed his business and put Adsense on his site. I was now making more from the sites every single month than my main business.

    I got bold. I looked around for other sites to buy. They had to be profitable sites, preferably in the same industry. It took a bit of searching. I finally found one. Adsense had banned the site and the owner had discovered other and better ways of making the website profitable - he was generating leads. It was something I didn't understand but he was very helpful and taught me the ropes.

    I was hooked. I closed my main business - one generating a $ seven figure turnover and decided to live off websites. I made all the staff redundant, paid up the remainder of the lease, threw all my stock and equipment in the tip and ordered the log cabin.

    That was a few years ago and was the best decision I ever made. My lightbulb moment was realising that saving some money and making that work for me was far more fun than doing the work myself. And realising that a lot of profitable websites sell every year ...and sell for silly money.

    Since then I've bought many websites, all profitable businesses that I don't have the smarts to build myself. Some earn money selling software, others from affiliate programs, one from a service offered. A few are just information sites with the simplest possible monetisation - the old Adsense. And there are others. It fascinates me just how many ways people earn money from websites. All of these businesses were started and built by individuals who have skills far superior to mine.

    Could you replicate what I did? Sure. There are many marketplaces where profitable websites are bought and sold. Browsing through them you'll find a lot of junk. But you'll find some good stuff too if you're patient. Do you need some special skills? Not really. A little experience with business and websites helps, but 99% of it is common sense. If you have enough common sense (and a little money) you can built a profitable portfolio of web businesses.

    As I said before, I'm not a very smart chap, but if I can help with any questions in this thread, please go ahead and I'll do my best.
     
  2. Tecknowoman

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    Have you suffered any ill effects with the recent closure of many adsense accounts?

    I have a number of ways I make money online. I similarly have a significant background in business however I choose to have my money making spread over a number of different business models and markets.

    Its my personal belief that having all your eggs in one basket can be a dangerous and risky strategy.
     
  3. Entré

    Entré
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    As a 16 year old boy, I have known of adsense since I made my first forum at the age of 9. I tried adsense when I was 11 on my runescape helpsite, and since I was not getting much traffic I thought that AdSense sucked.

    Now, I see that it could just be a money maker, it could be a way that I can make a lot of money. I can get a hold of money to invest but I think that I am scared to do what you have done. I am scared to make that leap. I am only 16 and I think that £400 is a lot of money .. It can get me a lot of things.

    I am happy that you shared this, thank you very much. If you are looking for a protege then PM me.
     
  4. Fergal

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    Wow, thanks for sharing all that with us Clinton. The log cabin in the back garden is a great idea. My online income comes from Adsense and direct ad sales.

    What technical skills, if any do you feel are required by someone in your line of business?

    Have you seen any decline in Adsense eCPM or CPC in recent times?

    It's great that you think that way. Some of the richest people I know place huge value on amounts of money that much poorer people would scoff it. Placing a high value on money will be an important factor in your success. Feel free to start a new thread to ask any questions you have, to run any ideas by us or to get reviews of your sites / business ideas.

    [Moving thread to Online Business forum!]
     
  5. Clinton

    Clinton
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    Teckonowoman, that used to be my biggest worry - losing the Adsense account. So I set up multiple accounts (within Adsense T&Cs - using Ltd companies).

    Then I worried that if Adsense went belly up, so would I. So I worked to reduce my dependence on G. I'm happy now that no single source provides a significant enough percentage of my income to lose any sleep over.

    But a recent spurt of Adsense closures is news to me, I thought it was Adwords accounts they closed.

    Entre, you don't even need £400. You can start small with $100 if you find an old neglected site, buy it and start adding some content that's useful and informative.

    Fergal, the short answer is I Don't Know. I've acquired a few skills as and when required by sites I bought but I know very little HTML and almost no CSS, even now. I use Frontpage if I need to edit a html file but I try to get others to do stuff like that for me.

    The easy way is to work out your strengths and capitalise on them as much as you can before going and acquiring new ones. I don't buy a site if I don't understand the business model. I separate the seller's opinions from the ascertainable facts - that's very important: recognising what's opinion and what's fact. It relies more on common sense than an MBA or a computer science degree.
     
    #5 Clinton, Jan 23, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2010
  6. Tecknowoman

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    Oh dear you are right I had my very early Sunday morning brain on when I was looking at the forum. It was adwords!

    I think it will help other to see you have a diversification strategy within the model you are using.

    I guess one of the other nicest things to come out of this thread is you do need to appreciate the investment required before you start things. There may be cheaper ways to start and the like but you should be respecting 400 pounds!

    I know being on this forum has helped with that because the amounts that some people make in their country, or is a lot of money for them where they live but wouldn't buy me a meal. It is a great way to realign some perspective and be grateful for the things I have and the things I don't.

    Part of the reason I am not in just one business model is that I need the stimulation of the diversification I have. I love the detective work I do to make things work. I love the challenge of converting visitors to lifetime customers. I love the thrill of a sale and of getting it right. Those things really make me happy and feel alive.

    Cheers from a hopefully more awake Sunday evening brain!
     
  7. Fergal

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    Thanks for that Clinton, when it comes to technical skills, I have is a basic knowledge of HTML and I also contract out the coding and graphics work that I can't do myself.

    Do you have associates for your online business that you meet with face to face, or is your business run completely online?
     
  8. Clinton

    Clinton
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    Diversification: Absolutely! Not just in programs that bring home the bacon but the sectors (niches/verticals/markets) they're in too. And all of that doesn't eliminate the risk if you've got a weak link elsewhere in the chain e.g. your reliance on Google for 90% of the traffic reaching sites in your portfolio. If Google, Adwords and Adsense all disappear tomorrow I'll lose about 30% of my income - not enough to have me jumping off a bridge. In equal measure I admire and cringe at people who have the balls to take on 20 employees and build a massive business on the presumption that they'll never lose their Adwords account.

    Associates: I rely on some very nice people who manage my forums on one site, my software support on another etc., but I've never met any of them in person. My business or rather all the individual website businesses I've acquired over time are all completely online. Not only that, I've avoided buying any business that made fixed time commitments on me. I didn't want any business that required me to check my emails everyday and construct replies ... or filter the orders and pass them on to a merchant. I didn't want to be in a position where I had to interrupt a month long holiday just to do the weekly newsletter about latest events in the industry. I didn't want to be tied down. If you don't impose those restrictions it's a lot easier to find businesses to buy.

    At the moment there is an exception to that - the forum I've just started. It requires my regular presence as it's early days and I haven't appointed any moderators yet. But I have no intention of making it a business - this is more a hobby/interest thing and I get to chat with like minded people who share my curiousity and fascination with buying/selling web businesses.
     
    #8 Clinton, Jan 24, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  9. Entré

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    Forums require you to be online every single day. If Fergal came online every two days, this place would suffer trumendously. Fergal doesn't just have to be online here every single day, he has to be on this for more than an hour.

    Also, if you will, please post every website/forum that you've owned or currently own. I will get an idea of how you do it precisely from that.

    And how do you get so much traffic to make the ads pay? What is your secret there?
     
  10. Clinton

    Clinton
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    I don't intend the forum to become one that needs my daily attendance (and I don't believe Fergal's does).

    No, I won't. That would be required if I were looking to establish credibility here. I'm not. And my providing a list doesn't help you if you don't have access to back-end information on them. Any half decent webmaster can find some of my properties with a little digging around. But there are other websites I own, sites I have taken care to ensure that even Google can't make a connection to using all their data and a hand review. Not that I have anything to hide - but there's little point to putting your eggs in different baskets if all the baskets are then tied together.

    The "secret" is already out there - good content. I have no special secrets to getting traffic over and above commonly available knowledge. In fact, I don't even have much of that commonly available knowledge on getting traffic. I don't have a facebook or myspace account. I've never done a tweet in my life (whatever that is). My skill isn't in promoting websites.

    I just buy websites that others have applied their knowledge to.
     
  11. Fergal

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    Thanks for those very interesting insights Clinton. Your approach to doing business reminds me of The Four Hour Work Week. Congratulations and I wish you continued success and good luck.

    When it comes to forums I agree with you Entré, that they require someone to be online everyday to moderate the discussions and remove spam. However, the person that fulfils that role doesn't necessarily have to be the forum owner. There are actually many great forums that have a strong staff team and don't need to owner to be there everyday. For example FP has an excellent Mod and Admin team and it doesn't need my presence every day, in order to run smoothly.
     
  12. Clinton

    Clinton
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    Thanks, Fergal, you're very kind.
     
  13. Entré

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    Clinton I am not trying to 'test' you here, you do not need to gain credibility. I know that you are not making this up, you seem to be a very smart and an inspiring man.

    However, for my interest and just to see what websites work with this ideology. I was just curious to see what websites were good in this role of making ad revenue. Please do not think that I was trying to make you look like a fool or test you - because I most definitely was not.

    Even if you will PM me a few of your sites, it would just be interesting - simply.

    Also have you failed on any sites? How did you gain inspiration to keep going and why did you keep going if you failed on one occasion?

    I mean no offence, so you can let your guard down mate :)
     
  14. Clinton

    Clinton
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    No offence taken and no, that's not what I thought you were trying to do in your post.

    Have I falied? Lots of times. Have I bought a site that turned out to be a lemon? Definitely. But I learned something every single time. In some of those cases the site tanking was out of my control but most times it was my fault entirely. I was "motivated to continue" because I was lucky enough to have had success with my early sites - by accident - and I knew it was possible.

    Any site that's making money. Contrary to what you seem to believe, ad income is not the only income from my sites. It's the easiest but I own websites that came with intellectual property - copyright on software, valuable information, designs, that sort of thing - and they earn money from selling those products. Other sites earn from services provided online - e.g. one where people fill in a form and get a certain solution worked out for them. There is the subscription model with its very attractive recurring revenue. There are various others.

    Given that I've included my new site in my signature it shouldn't be too difficult to do a bit of digging. Browsing that site and my profile/comments would lead you to its sister site. Even amateur ability at using Google would lead you to others, particularly if you know what WHOIS can give you. I don't see how it helps to have a list but if you're interested enough go ahead and dig ;) and those detective skills will come in handy when you find a site to buy and want to investigate it. If you want to replicate what I did, look at the wider picture - finding and evaluating sites to buy, not analysing the keyword density on some obscure site I own.

    Sorry, I missed that question earlier. The answer is Yes... and No. I see the conspiracy threads and can understand the reasoning. I would think that too if I looked at my Adsense account #3. But that account seems to have an inverse relationship with account #1. Each time one dips the other rises. So, personally, I'm less inclined than some to believe that Google is fiddling the books.
     
    #14 Clinton, Jan 24, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2010
  15. Fergal

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    Thanks Clinton. Maybe I'm a bit innocent & gullible, but to be honest the thought that Google were fiddling the books never even crossed my mind. I should probably be a little less trusting and a lot more suspicious. Having had my faith and beliefs rocked over the last couple of years by revelations of what Irish banks, financial regulators and politicians were doing and not doing I don't want to even contemplate that Google might be doing something like that. :)

    I've personally seen declines in CPC and eCPM and put it down to the recession and changes in online advertising - i.e. advertisers having more options, hence spending more on other forms of online advertising and less on Adwords.
     
  16. eddane

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    It doesnt sound like a business that has real value.

    It's not a business that you can scale and make a lot of money with.

    How many people do you have working for you (?!?)

    Good luck

    Ed
     
  17. Clinton

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    Fergal, if it's any encouragement, I do see sites in some sectors doing better now. If you're seeing a drop you may benefit from more spread. Working from home is one niche I'm seeing a lot more advertisers in. And they're spending more money. Enterprise software - from Helpdesk to POS to ERP - has surged sharply in Jan.

    Obviously, the big Adwords accounts clearout has had an impact in some areas.

    I'm glad I'm over that headache - running a payroll, collecting and managing complex tax impositions, coping with the demented UK government's screwed up tax credits system ...and that's not to mention recruiting and managing staff, coping with everyone wanting their holidays at the same time, going through ridiculous procedures and hoops to sack an employee taking drugs on the premises...

    Now I have more people "helping" me but they all work for themselves and life's so, so much easier.

    What doesn't? Adsense? Or the businesses I buy?
     
  18. Fergal

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    Thanks for the support Clinton.

    Interesting that you should say that, given the new advertiser we have in the header here on BAF.
     
  19. Clinton

    Clinton
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    :) I hadn't noticed that.

    (Or is it something I shouldn't say in case he's reading the forums? ;)
     
  20. calebtheslacker

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    Can you explain for they are just helping you? Do they "work" for you as in freelancers? Or as in, kids who want to moderate a forum but don't know you are making a profit?
     

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