Wednesday, October 5, 2011

One Website or Many?

Should you focus on one website (or niche) or several?

This question has come up for me many times since I started my online writing journey, or more precisely, since I began focusing on my own websites for the foundation of my writing business. Part of my conundrum stems from having more great website ideas than I have time to build, develop and write. I've purchased a couple (okay, maybe a few) dozen domain names and yet the bulk of my income comes from just two of those. 

Oh, I've tried outsourcing, to mixed results. But ultimately, my best websites and articles are ones I've written myself. They tend to be so focused that a hired freelancer without preexisting interest or experience in the topic can't do it justice at the standard freelance rates I've been able to afford.

The problem I've discovered, when you have a large number of domains and thus websites and blogs (assuming you've made the first steps to turn the domains into traffic-generating, revenue-earning assets) is that your attention can become very fragmented, meaning that even your best niches and blogs become somewhat neglected.

In the quest to make every website reach its potential, none actually do. For example, my pets website earns $500-$1,000 a month. It could hypothetically bring in much, much more, but I still haven't gotten it a new and better template, or regularly added new content in recent months. I'm too distracted by other sites that may not be in as great a niche and I've barely touched, yet feel an odd obligation to take care of.

I don't think I'm ready to just delete -- or not renew -- my collection of great-idea domains that are languishing in various stages of completion. But my approach moving forward is to give my most focused attention to the ones that showed themselves early on as true winners. By winners, I agree with fellow WAHM Felicia at No Job for Mom: the website has to both do well AND be something I truly enjoy writing about.

By putting about 80% of my efforts into my two top niches (the pets site and a home/ family niche that is also doing very well, responsible for most of my affiliate sales) I think I can have my cake and not eat it, too (I'm on a post-baby diet.) That is, I can both hold onto all my wonderful ideas and still maximize my earnings by focusing the majority of my time, effort, and resources on the best income-generating ones.

With these two websites alone, I know I can get back to my previous income level of  $5,000 a month.

To keep myself on track, I will:
  • Make a detailed work plan at the start of each week, and a checklist for each day to accomplish the week's goals. 
  • Schedule my work time, with my family's cooperation.
  • Use my prime morning work time (5-7:30 am) for my top niche sites.
  • Work on the extra sites when I need a break, or during extra work sessions after my main weekly goals are completed.
 Have you faced the dilemma of how many successful websites you can truly manage? What was your conclusion or solution?


Ken said...

Hey Maria,

Thanks for stopping by Blogging For Dads. I love it when someone of your online reputation leave comments. It means that people are reading!

I often struggle with the "one site or many question" and in all reality-I'm a lazy dude. If I could find one site that worked and brought in the income and gave me the creative release I was after, then I wouldn't even think about more than one blog.

For now I am still so new to blogging I am trying out lots of stuff.

Great post...Thanks

Living in DC said...

I also had the same problem last year. I had a lot of great ideas, but little time to execute them. Instead of having a network of great websites, I had a network of neglected sites. I tend to do most of the work myself, so I realized that the best thing for me was to only have a few websites that I could manage well and be proud of.

- Di

Peg said...

Oh, what a relief it is to read that you experience the same dilemmas as us mortals. Seriously, I think the criteria you gave (the Web site does well right away and it's something you enjoy writing and working on) is the key. For me anyway. I too have a several (zillion) ideas bouncing around my head at any given time. Focus, Peg, focus. Thanks, Maria!

Gayle said...

Great discussion Maria! I have to focus on two or three sites because I can't juggle so many things at once. I think it is great that with your babies you can keep so many domains and ideas going. You are a legend in your own time and you inspire all of us with your success. Keep up the great work!

Kidgas said...

I am constantly faced with wanting to do much more than I have time for and not just with blogging and online work. It can be difficult to choose between so many things. If you already have some good earnings, I would go with those. But I still am looking for what it is that will click so I may or may not end up with a few more sites. I can see where it might get impossible to have more than about 4 or 5 to do them justice, though.

Miftah said...

I do not really think of one or many websites. but which I think is how every website / blog that I have that is optimized to monetizing as well as a means of self-actualization. thanks: D

Tiffany said...

First off... I hope that baby of yours is doing good and sleeping through the night for you.

Secondly, I am a domain junkie. I am actually getting better and have gotten rid of several of my domains this year when they came up for renewal but for some reason I still go hunting for new domains even though I have PLENTY to work on for the next 20 years of my life.

Right now I am focusing on 3 sites that I think can do awesome during Christmas and then next year I have 2 new domains that I want to work on and think I can do really well with. I also want to continue to build some of the other sites I have as well... and here goes my addiction to sites. I think if I was to get one of my sites making several thousand dollars by itself I would then drop a lot of my other sites, but I am still waiting to hit that gold mine.

Good luck with your plan!

Nikki Lenton said...

Hi Maria,
Just this month I have been trying to decide if I should spread out and start another website. The thought of trying to keep more than one up to date is scary to say the least. So far I have one site for my home business website with my blog included in it. It's a lot of work now to update my site and find time and content to blog about.

Maria said...

Ken -- Yes, so many people read without commenting -- I am sure you can tell by the number of visitors you have versus comments left. Thank you for your kind words! My low level of online interaction these days is due to being a mom of many -- I am not too busy for my fellow online writers and marketers -- and I am learning from all of you, too!

Di -- Seems we've had similar experiences. One good thing about having many irons in the fire is that you can discover a great niche by lots of experimenting.

Peg -- you are too funny. ;) I know whatever you focus on will be a fun (and hopefully profitable!) niche. Do keep me posted!

Gayle -- You are too kind! Anyway, I have been fortunate to find a couple niches with some great potential. I am afraid that with juggling kids and work I'm not maximizing the potential yet but I don't want to sacrifice too much time doing it while they're little. I really need to have more tightly focused work sessions with no distractions -- easier said than done!

Tiffany, I know what you are going through -- great, profitable ideas and you KNOW they will do well, just getting each one to that level proves difficult given the constraints of time. I'm following your online journey. :)

Nikki -- Some diversification is good, but if your one site is highly profitable or at least does what you need and want it to in terms of supporting your home business, it makes sense not to spread yourself too thin.

Lee said...

Hi Maria,

It really does take your focus off when you have to many websites.

There are a couple solutions to this.

One is to focus on pages not sites. Since 80% of the income is usually generated from 20% of the pages, it makes sense to focus on those pages that are bringing in the income with a smattering of links to other pages to make it look natural.

Since google ranks pages not sites this fits well with gaining traction in the SERPS.

Another option, is to decide on the sites you enjoy the most and sell the rest. But instead of just selling them off at one go. Pick one at a time.

Laser target one profitable keyword such as a product keyword and get that keyword page to rank high and bring in income. Then sell the site once it is profitable.

This way you can benefit from your work on the site, yet sell it so you don't have to continually keep that page ranked.

Once sold, focus on another site you want to sell.

With Google changing its algo so frequently, it does not make sense to work on to many sites. Because it takes time to raise up multiple keywords. And by the time they rise high in the SERPS there could be another change that lowers the position. Better to work on fewer keywords get them positioned well, and enjoy the earnings. Then if they get slapped you have still made a good profit.

At the same time, I do think it is a good idea to have several sites not just one.

Lee (aka LilBlackDress)