As promised yesterday, this is day 1 of my case study on building a “Niche Super-Site.” I'm an engineer by training. For me that means we need to know what we are trying to do before we get started. (Note that this does not completely explain why I always need to make seven trips to Home Depot per home improvement project).

As I mentioned, I am an engineer by training. I love my job, and I am doing this for fun (and possibly profit) in my spare time using my own resources. I will be doing this late at night (and probably missing some sleep). The fact that I am an engineer means that I am not an internet money super-guru. I am just a guy with a laptop that has never done this before. I am not doing this to make a living. So, there is no warranty expressed or implied. Your mileage may vary. Not valid in certain states. All that…

Anyway, we have a simple goal:

Goal: Build a niche site that generates $2/day.

How did I get to that figure? I've got a number in my head that an worthwhile amount of money to make online would be $3000/month. That sounds like a very aggressive goal — but so was landing on the moon. Problem is, I have somewhat fewer resources than NASA. For example, since I am doing this part time, I am starting with the assumption that the most niche sites I could ever build and maintain are 50. In round numbers, I am thinking I could launch an average on one site per week per year. If I wanted to generate $3000 per month in residual income with those 50 sites, each site would need to generate $3000/50 = $60 per month. That's about $2 per day in round numbers. If I can figure out how to do that once — I can do it 50 times.

As a side note, there are super-humans out there like Garry Conn — I am told he is at times running over 100 niche sites.

So, now that we have a goal, what are the design characteristics that we want to think about? Here are a few to start with. We may add some (or take some away) as we learn about the best way to do this.

  • Keep it human. I am not interested in putting up sites that are not useful in at least some small way.
  • Maintainability is key. If there will be 50 of these sites, I need to stay away from things that require a lot of time (like daily blog updates).
  • Leverage existing software tools. I like to write code, but there are 100s of developers out there that are smarter than me focused on very specific tools. No reason for me to reinvent the wheel.
  • Stay white hat. I am not interested in black hat tricks.
  • Diversify. I'd like to avoid putting putting all my eggs in one basket (e.g. Adsense). There are lots of ways to make money out there — I need to find several way to monetize my niche.
  • Fast deployment. I cannot afford to spend more than 7 days on the initial launch of sites subsequent to the first one. The first one will take longer due to this diary and real-time research and learning. After that, the goal is 1/week until Christmas.
  • Leave room for growth. If I find a niche that I want to grow into an authority site, my niche site structure should allow for this easily.
  • Small start-up costs. I am not interested in paying $500 for some get-rich-quick software solution. I'd like to keep the total cost for the initial site below $100 total — with minimal costs for subsequent sites.

That is about it for now. Those are the design goals and the design constraints.

Tomorrow, we'll talk about finding a web host.

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