Now, we’re finally getting to the meat of the project! Aside from traffic (which we’ll get to in the next part of the case study), content and ads are going to be the key ingredients to making money with an AdSense micro-niche site.
In this section of the case study, I’m going to walk through how I create my niche site content, including where my ideas come from and how I outsource the creation. Once the content is added to the site, I work on ad placement, a critical task in optimizing the earning potential of a niche site.
Let’s get into it!
A Brief Word on The Importance of (Good) Content
No article about content creation would be complete without mentioning the obvious, yet often overlooked, fact that good content is very important to a site’s success. With micro-niche sites, things get a bit hairier. The same principles apply, but your objectives are slightly different. On an authority website, you absolutely need great content and it needs to be executed well – otherwise, no one is going to return to your site or bookmark/share your writing.
With micro-niche sites, we’re less concerned with that. While it would be great to have content shared and bookmarked, we’re not relying on it. That doesn’t mean we ignore the goal of “good content,” but it does mean that we aren’t interested in making it to the front page of Digg. For micro-niche websites, theses are the most important content-related “rules”:
1) Content must be unique – This doesn’t require much explaining. If your content isn’t unique, you’re not adding value to the internet. Value aside, you’re most likely plagiarizing someone else’s work, which is illegal (aside from PLR content, which I won’t be going into).
2) Content should give the reader the information he or she desires, or at least point them in the right direction – You can never expect to be comprehensive with your content, but it’s important that you’re adding value. The reaction you don’t want is, “What is this crap? This has nothing to do with what I’m looking for.”
3) Content should be written with the reader in mind, but structured with Google in mind – Never forget that you’re writing for people. Good grammar, spelling, and sentence structure are extremely important and should never be overlooked. That aside, you need to be sure you’re doing all of your “on page” things correctly, so that you maximize your chances of ranking highly on Google and other search engines. This will be covered in more detail in the SEO section of the case study.
How to Get Started with Your Site’s Content
Before we can actually create the content, we have to figure out what the heck we’re going to write about and how much we’re going to write (initially). For my site, I’ve decided to begin with 3 articles, but ultimately I plan on adding more as time goes on. My primary article will be 750+ words, and my two supporting articles will each be 400+ words.
There’s no real reasoning behind this – I think 400+ words is a good minimum point for article length, but I’m sure many people will tell you that you need more, or that there’s an amount less than 400 that is sufficient. Here’s the truth: No one knows with absolute certainty, but more is generally better, provided the quality is there.
What to Write About
This is an area where some people struggle. Should all articles be closely related to your primary keyword? Should they be drastically different? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, provided it’s logical. If you’re targeting the keyword “coffee mugs” you probably shouldn’t write an article about polar bears (unless it’s a polar bear coffee mug – then by all means go for it).
The primary article is easy – write about your target keyword. For my site, the primary article will be titled “Moving in Together” and it will discuss the implications (challenges, pros, cons, etc.) of a couple deciding to move in together.
The supporting content can be a bit more challenging. To help me with this, I usually like to use Google’s Keyword Tool. I start by typing in my primary keyword and looking at the results. Usually, I’ll find a couple things that give me ideas for the supporting articles. This is also a nice way to approach it because it allows you to see the keyword search volume of the keywords that your supporting articles may target. I don’t put much thought into search volume for these, however. My main goal is to focus on ranking for my primary keyword – anything else is icing on the cake. As you develop a site and bring it beyond the point of being a micro-niche site, you can focus more on secondary keywords.
Based on the results I found, I’ve decided to have my supporting articles be closely related to my primary article. Here’s what I’m going with:
I could have easily had my supporting articles be about “how to compromise in a relationship” or something similar, but I decided not to. Again, it isn’t going to make a huge difference provided it makes sense.
Getting the Content Written
While you may choose to write the content yourself (which isn’t a bad idea if you have time and this is the first site you’ve created), I think this is the step where outsourcing saves you the most time. Writing the 3 articles I’m planning for my site could easily take 3+ hours. My time is much better spent researching new keywords and planning new sites, or optimizing current sites so that they perform better. Therefore, it makes sense to pay someone to write the content for you.
A word of warning: In general, you get what you pay for. Very inexpensive writing should always be examined closely to ensure that it’s properly written (grammar, structure, etc.) and to make sure it wasn’t copied from somewhere else.
Where to Outsource
With the several sites I’ve created in the past, I’ve experimented with a number of different outsourced writing. Here’s what I’ve used before, and my brief review of it:
TextBroker - This is what I currently use. The reason I like it is because they have their own internal system that helps to ensure the quality of the writing you receive. You may pay a bit more here, but it’s worth it. You pay per word, and the cost per word is dependent upon the quality of writing you choose (from 2 stars to 5 stars, 5 being “professional”).
The cool thing is, a 3-star order can be written by 4 or 5 star authors, but you still only pay the 3-star price. In general, 3 stars is the quality I select – sometimes I need to make edits once I receive the completed article (somewhat due to the fact that I am picky), but overall it’s good. The other nice benefit is that if you have a large order of articles, you can still get quick turnaround times because they are all being written by different authors. Finally, Textbroker automatically checks the article with Copyscape to make sure it’s unique (at least, per the criteria Copyscape uses).
Elance – I like Elance, but I like it more for larger orders/projects. The advantages with Elance is that you can usually get work done less expensively, and if all of your articles for one site are written by the same person, it may appear more consistent (as far as writing style goes) across your entire site. The downside is that you don’t necessarily know how good the writing will be, especially if you go with a less expensive author.
oDesk – Pretty much the same thing as Elance. Also a great option.
Fiverr – In my opinion, this one comes with a bigger “buyer beware” sticker. I’ve used Fiverr for content before and had very mixed results. Because you generally can’t read as much feedback about a provider and there is less incentive for a provider to do good work (vs. Elance and oDesk where many writers earn their living there and live/die by their feedback), the quality is often questionable. I’d prefer to use content acquired via Fiverr for article marketing (backlinks) than for content that actually gets published on my niche sites.
A Look at My Outsourced Writing Order
In the interest of being fully transparent, here is an example of one of my writing orders that I placed with Textbroker (click image to enlarge):
Putting the Content On the Site
Once I receive the written articles from the writers at Textbroker, I review it for grammar, spelling, structure, and overall logic. This typically doesn’t take long, unless it’s terribly written, in which case, I can send it back for revision. For this site, I’m not crazy about the direction my writers took for these articles, but as long as it’s logical, I’ll go with it. Obviously, a topic like “moving in together” invites some opinionated content. In this case, my writers seemed to focus on stereotypes along with a level of cynicism.
For these types of sites, I like to publish the content as pages (instead of posts), and then I set the “main” article as a static page on the front page with the following selection:
Outside of adding the actual content that I’ve outsourced, I usually also add the following pages, both with the help of plugins:
- Contact Us
This step is particularly important because ad placement will directly impact your earnings by influencing an ad’s click-through rate (“CTR”). Although there are many tips out there for how and where you should place ads, the only way to truly determine what works for your site and your niche is by testing different ad placements. Unfortunately, this exercise won’t do you much good until you have enough traffic to obtain good sample sizes for different ad placements.
For now, I’m going to go with an ad placement that I think is effective, but I’m fully prepared to change it later based on testing. The screenshot below shows where I’ve placed my ads.
The ads within the content are generated by a plugin that I like called Awesome Ads – Google Adsense and Others. (There are other similar plugins. ) The other ads were inserted manually, within the code of the theme and with a sidebar widget. The only reason why I won’t go into that now is because every theme is different – showing you where I pasted the AdSense ad code in my theme is just as likely to confuse you if you aren’t experienced with playing in the code within WordPress. Also, I probably don’t know it well enough to properly teach it.
A couple important notes about ad placement:
- Although it does seem like there are a lot of ads, this is the right idea for these types of sites in my opinion. We’re still well within Google’s rules (in fact, they won’t let you place more ads than their pre-determined maximum).
- Pay attention to the color scheme of your ads. As you’ll notice, I’ve selected colors that blend well with my theme.
Finally! The site is fully operational, with all ads in place. I wish I could say it was time to go to bed and start earning money while I sleep, but as we all know, creating the site and adding content is only half the battle. In the next section of the case study, I’ll focus on SEO and building backlinks – this step is going to be crucial to the success of this site. Before I begin building backlinks, however, I will probably wait a week or two. Building backlinks is something you don’t want to rush into and do quickly – slow and steady wins the race when it comes to proper SEO (and I’m sure there are exceptions to this).
What do you think about this so far? Do you have any tips to add, or questions I can answer? Share them in the comments!
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- AdSense Micro-Niche Site Public Case Study – An Introduction (Part 1)
- AdSense Micro-Niche Site Public Case Study – Where Do We Go From Here? (Part 6)
- AdSense Micro-Niche Site Public Case Study – SEO / Backlinking (Part 5)