I’ve been asked a few times to do an expense breakdown on the cost to make one niche website. When building a niche website there are multiple different tasks to consider. There’s keyword research, domains, hosting, content writing, link building, outsourcing, and then any other monthly subscriptions that go along with the whole process. Once you’ve got enough websites using the monthly services then the costs per site go way down. For example, if I had one website then using something like Unique Article Wizard could be very expensive…but if you have 100 websites then it might then be a small expense for the overall picture.
So, I will now breakdown my expenses for you. I’ve included affiliate links for some of the services that I use. I’d like to thank you in advance if you sign up for any of them through my links.
1. Keyword research
In March I did a post about keyword research for niche websites. In that post I discussed the criteria I look for when choosing a domain name and how I go about doing it. What I didn’t mention is that I have this all done on autopilot. I didn’t do this to keep anything from you. I didn’t tell you because before you outsource anything you need to know how it’s done by doing it yourself.
So how do I get it done on autopilot? I outsource it to oDesk. I pay my Domain Researchers between $.50/hr to $1.00/hr to do the exact method I used in the previous post. They research the domains and then I use Longtail Pro to determine which ones I should try to build websites with and which ones are too difficult. I don’t let them do that part of the research because I feel like it is too subjective and can’t be easily explained to a worker. Perhaps in the future I will change my mind on this part, but until then I will continue doing that part of the work myself. I also think that by doing it myself it keeps me connected to my business.
How much does outsourcing cost?
Well since I’m only paying at most $1 per hour, I am able to discover lots of domains quite cheaply. In my niche site cost calculation I say that each domain costs about $1. Most domain researchers are able to find multiple domains fitting my specifications per hour, but I have to go in and separate domains that I think can rank from the ones that are too competitive. So, it’s about a $1 per domain.
It seems like most domain registrars have similar pricing these days. Of course you can find a promotional discount here and there, but the prices are usually within a few dollars. I try to skip all that and do bulk registrations. I’m currently only registering at least 50 domains at a time. GoDaddy gives a bulk discount after you register over 21, 50, and 101 domains.
Most of the time .com domains are taken, so I end up buying .net and .org domain names. In my niche site cost calculation I say that each domain costs me $8. This gives plenty of room for error, and I like to err on the higher cost side than the lower.
All the domains that I’ve bought so far have been purchased from registrars, but in the future I’m considering buying some more premium domains and using my method to try and raise them in the search engines. But for now this is how I’m doing it.
I really don’t factor hosting in as much of a cost when creating niche websites. There are many different groups of though on how this should be done, so I can’t claim to have the “right” answer. What I’ve been doing is putting a little over 100 websites on each Hostgator server that I use. I’m currently using two Hostgator Baby accounts to host my 250 niche websites. As I’m writing this I am noticing that it’s time to buy another account as I’ve gone over my 100 website per account limit 🙂
Why do I separate my accounts like this?
I’m paranoid. I already have all my websites using the same Adsense account, so I’d like to think that if one server gets deindexed from Google for some random reason that I’ll still have my other websites around on other servers. Yes, I know Google can find me if they want to, but you never know why a server’s websites will get deindexed. Better safe than sorry.
So how much does hosting cost?
I pay $119.40 per year for each Hostgator Baby account. If we all do the math…that’s about $1 per site. That is fine by me. If you know any other hosting as good as Hostgator and as cheap then please let me know in the comments below.
4. Content Writing
This is a tough one. I struggle with this aspect of my business all the time. Why? Because I know that Google prefers quality content over rubbish. I also know that rubbish is much less expensive than quality content. What to do?
What I DON’T DO
In my quest to get content I don’t auto-generate content. I know that autoblogs are still working for a lot of people, but I just don’t want to risk my Adsense account on something that will most likely get deindexed in the near future. Yes, I know that some autoblogs add value, and I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the autoblogs that simply regurgitate content, spin it, and then post it with images, youtube videos, amazon listings, etc.. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, I don’t use any of that junk.
I also don’t hire cheap writers from India, the Philippines, Africa, or any other place where you can get articles for cheap. These types of articles always read poorly and you can tell immediately that they are not written by a native English speaker.
I’ve mentioned the crap that I don’t buy, but I should also mention that I don’t buy the gold either. There are many content writers out there that are extremely good writers and worth every penny. But I just simply can’t afford paying the prices that they deserve when creating niche websites. I’m forced to buy less quality content.
What I DO do (that sounds funny)
I hire native English speakers on oDesk. These people are not necessarily professional writers, but they are educated English speakers who can write fairly well. I pay between $4 and $6 for 850-950 word articles. My pay rate isn’t high, but I offer my writers unlimited work and freedom. They can fill any vacant writing assignments with writing articles for me.
So let’s say that each article costs about $5.
5. Link Building
I did a post here about link building for niche websites. A lot of what I do comes from advice I’ve taken from the WP Goldmine forum and Pat Flynn’s Back Linking Strategy That Works. There are lots of different ways to do backlinking, but I think the important part is not to just rely on one specific backlink, but to vary the types of links so that it looks more natural to Google.
As far as costs go for building each, I pay for two subscriptions which are $30/month for my Ezarticle link subscription and $100/month for Social Adr‘s top social bookmarking subscription.
For each individual site I pay Ezarticle link $3 to spin the website’s article. Then I pay Chris Hartpence $3 to submit the spun article to Unique Article Wizard and Article Marketing Robot.
So, I pay $130/month in subscriptions and $6 per website individually for links. If I create 50 websites per month then that’s about $3 per site for the monthly fee. So in total my link building costs me $9 per site. Let’s just round it up to $10.
As I’m writing this post I’ve realized that I’ve opened up a lot of content for future posts. I’m just scratching the service on all these topics, but I hope it will help you guys get a feel on how much I’m spending per site. I don’t like to see people spending $500 for a site that might only make them $200 in a year even if it hits page one position one on the first page of Google. Anyway, back to the point.
Outsourcing has really taken my business from one level to the next. I know, how many times have you heard that before? But it’s true. I will also say that I couldn’t outsource my business until I was able to to the process myself and know that it works. That’s wha took me the most time to figure out. I’m off track again. Let’s get back to pricing.
I currently have 3 virtual assistants working for me. They all work for about $1/hr setting up websites and link building. From start to finish takes my virtual assistants about 2 hours to build a website and enter all the information into my link building subscriptions.
So, that’s $2 in outsourcing (not including keyword research mentioned above).
7. Other Costs
There’s some other things that are involved in managing this many websites.
I use a service called Manage WP. That costs me about $150 per month to manage and backup all my websites.
I also use a $99/year Dropbox subscription to store all my backed-up websites and other files.
I use Copyscape that costs $25 per 500 unique content checks.
I check my website rankings using Whoosh which costs $50/month.
I use a free software called Jing and a ScreenCast Subscription so I can easily explain things to workers for $10/month.
All these other services are not usually factored into my website creation, but to keep things fair I’ll say that $2 for each website goes into these costs.
How much does each website cost?
If we factor in everything it’s about $29 per niche website from start to finish. I’ve been quite generous with rounding up, so I think the costs actually end up being a bit lower…but we’ll say $29 🙂
I hope this helps you understand a little better about how my website process works. Please comment below if you have any questions or suggestions.
I just signed up for Whoosh traffic via your aff link. I only signed up for the free trial to play with it, but I’m thinking we’ll upgrade if it works as I’d like it to. Funny, I’d come across their services before through someone else, but I can’t for the life of me remember where.
I checked out Ezarticle and I really didn’t like it. I understand that it’s bargain basement low, but I don’t like what’s going on with linkbuilding right now and it seems a bit spammy to me.
On the other hand, Chris’s service seems well worth it, actually. Scary giving out a good portion of your sites to another IMer though…how well do you know him?
Nice to hear from you, Justin.
Whoosh traffic has been a good way for me to keep track of my websites’ rankings. I’m sure there are other services out there, but I’m happy with Whoosh for now.
The thing I like about EZarticlelink is that it’s all on individual people’s blogs. Unlike BMR they are not simply owned by one company.
Do I worry about giving site information to Chris? Not really. I’m having so many websites made now that it would take a very large budget to try and compete with me in my niches. Plus, there wouldn’t be any exact match domains to compete against me with. Plus, I know Chris from the WP Goldmine forum where he has a good reputation. No worries there.
Nice post Mike,
I think you have nailed the site building costs..
Two things i would ask you to think about , if you are going to continue down this path it might be worth setting up a domain reseller account so you can get domains at wholesale I use resellerclub and .coms cost me $8.89 each (sometimes get deals as low as $5.99) they also do hosting.
I know it will be more expensive but I would probably consider using a VPS or a Server with multiple IP’s HG can get very slow due to over selling, if you stay on HG check your speed daily, slow loading sites will cost you money .
Thanks, Mark. I’ve really tried to nail down these costs as best I can. These are the initial costs, as there can be a few extra costs if a site is successful..things like headers and extra content…but that’s what happens when I build out a site.
A reseller club sounds like a good idea. I’ll look into that.
Once my income gets up I’ll get a VPS too. Once step at a time.
Great to hear how you’re doing. Lovely to have another IMer be so open about their strategy too 🙂
I’ve learned a lot about outsourcing and have had some major ups and downs. Where are you outsourcing to for $1 and how are you managing your workers? Are you doing this on a cost per job or are they your full timers?
Hope you don’t mind the extra questions – just testing things out in this respect and aiming to keep costs down like you until things pick up.
Keep up the good work
Thanks for your kind words. I’m happy to give away my strategy since I’m sick of other Internet Marketer’s tricking so many people into buying crap.
Best of luck to you!