Saturday 17 March 2012

Making a living from a website

Date: March 2012: Having done it myself,  I can confirm that someone totally new to website building can make a living in America (USA) from a single content website, working alone. How much do you have to earn to make living in the US? It depends what your demands are. You can live cheap and have no children or have five kids and send them to expensive schools etc.. Anyway, we are told that a living wage is about $4,000 per month. I am sure you can live off less.

Update June 2014. I earn less (about half) these days from my site because it is impossible to compete after 7 years or so. Also you run out of content. You exhaust the subject matter. You have to evolve as well which is hard. It takes money. I give away all the money earned these days or pay writers with it.

You can make $4,000 per month from a single website within about 2 years of starting from scratch without any prior knowledge of how to build a website or make money from it. As I said, I know because I did it. However, there are a number of big caveats...

It is not easy. Why should it be? In fact it is tricky and hard work. There is an element of luck as well. There are no set formulae for success either. It is no easier making money on the Internet than it is making it somewhere else. The advantages of Internet work are that you can do it whenever you like and wherever you like. And you are your own boss. A lot of people would like that.

I now earn less than $4,000 due to competition, copyright infringements, Google changing its algorithm etc.. That is the nature of the beast. I am endeavouring to come back though!

There are a lot of failures. Expectations should be realistic. It is getting harder for an individual to make money on the Internet working alone as competition grows. It has even changed substantially since I started about 4.5 years ago.

You have to continually build the site because that is what the search engines demand. I think the sort person who has a good chance of being successful making a living in America from a content site is:
  • suited to website building work - meaning he or she likes building websites and likes researching information.
  • reasonably intelligent;
  • hard working;
  • a stayer - has stamina;
  • at least proficient in writing good English and is...
  • committed and
  • able to take some risks and be willing to learn by mistakes.
Note 1 : if you have commitment, stamina and an inquiring mind you can do without the rest because you can learn as you go.  Don't be put off by the list. But to summarize, it will not be an easy journey. Why should it be?

Note 2: A suitable person for making a living from a website is someone who likes and is good at:
  1. science (html coding)
  2. art (illustrations)
  3. design (layout)
  4. writing (text)
....these are ideals. The more of the above the better. Writing skills must be decent. I think that you have to be a good allrounder if you work alone and initially you almost certainly will work alone.

Note 3: There are other ways of making money on the internet. This article deals with building the classic content website. This is the way anyone can make money using advertising on the site such as Google AdSense.

I don't have the figures, but it is probable that about one in 100 attempts to make a living from the internet are successful (1%). However, there are some inspiring stories. One person comes to mind. She is the owner/creator of She is certainly one of the most successful individual internet entrepreneurs - meaning working on the site as an individual rather than a team effort. She says she developed RSI (repetitive strain injury) in her hands and now dictates some of her content. That gives a clue as to the amount of work that you need to put in. She earns big though (I often dictate my articles now too).

Website Hosting

I would recommend SiteSell, Wordpress and Google Blogger. SiteSell charge but they provide you with the chance to learn as you build so you can get off the ground quickly. This motivates as you can see results more quickly. It can be very demotivating if nothing happens for months and nothing will happen for months normally.

Important update: I now reject SiteSell. They kicked forced me to move my website. Here is the story

You can make good money using free Google Blogger without even having a custom domain name. However, Google might not like it. You can customise the domain with Google Blogger.


AdSense, Casale Media, Infolinks, Custom advertising. These are the simple ways I make money. There are many other ways including selling products as an affiliate. You act as an agent by advertising your partner's products on your site and get a commission. I tend to avoid these because of the management needed to control the business. That is a personal choice.


  1. Hello Michael,

    This article of yours is very encouraging small site owners like me that managing their content site alone.

    But I wonder why you write about earning living in America? What about SBI websites owned by not American citizens like me? What's the point about living in America, U.S concerning making living from a website?

    Another question that I would be happy to hear your opinion about is the affiliate program way of making money with websites. You say that you tend to avoid this programs because of the management needed to control the business.

    What do you think about the affiliate programs one-sided contracts that sometimes are 45 pages long that the agents have to confirm before joining the program, without having the option to negotiate on terms, which mostly imposes great financial implications on the agents only. I wonder why no one is worried about these kinds of contracts.


    1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for commenting, I reference to America because (a) most of my visitors are American and (b) it is the biggest market place. I am pleased the article was encouraging but....I would not be that keen on recommending it now. Too tough.

      The Internet is highly competitive, ruthless in fact and the bigger players exploit the smaller people. There is a lot of exploitation going on, on the Internet. Sometimes it is semi-anarchic. My experiences of working with moneymaking methods other than advertising using AdSense is that they cause complications and don't often work so the amount of effort required to keep them going is not justified.

      I think you have to have a certain sort of site to make money as an affiliate. I don't know much about it. All I know is that my experiences tell me to not bother. But if you wish to make money from AdSense you have to have lots of hits. At the moment I have about 7-10,000 page views per day and about 4 years ago it was 3 times that (30k)

      It is very difficult to keep a website going because you have to constantly renew it. Very few people working alone can do this because it takes a lot of time. I have worked for 24/7 for the past seven years. It takes that kind of effort to make a living from it. I never did it to make a living. I did it for fun and to keep me active and thinking in my old age!

      Good luck. It is possible definitely. You have to be good though and it helps to be a good or excellent coder as well.

    2. Hi Michael.

      Thank you for your reply to my comment. I noticed that you made several updates in your article regarding earnings and also about SBI. You recommend using Google Blogger or WordPress. Do they provide close support and accompaniment such as SBI?

      And one last question, do you still recommend to use Casale Media, and Infolinks?

      Many thanks,

    3. Hi Rachel. I had a bust up with SiteSell. Google Blogger is the best in my opinion especially if you have your own domain name and personalise it which is quite easy. It is reliable and free. Google also tends to find Blogger websites more often so it is good SEO as well.You have to keep building though. You can never stop.

      Casale Media is fine. It's as good as Google AdSense really. I no longer use Infolinks. I just thought it was too fiddly and intrusive.

      The trouble is you can't overdo the adverts because it puts visitors off obviously. To generate revenue from advertising you simply have to do get a lot of hits and as mentioned we are talking in the tens of thousands up to 1,000,000 page views per month which is what my site was doing at one time. I mean the main website.

      WordPress is not that good in my opinion. The plug-ins are unreliable and you need plug-ins. There's little backup. You have to rely on forums and forums are rarely any good. My main site is WordPress based and hosted by Hostgator (USA).

      Even though I don't recommend SiteSell because they treated me very badly (although I am outspoken), they probably have improved since we parted company because when I parted company with them it was a bit of news on the Internet! I think they have improved their customer service since and they have held their prices for very long time. Therefore, you might consider this hosting company.

      The bottom line is this: it takes tons of work, good luck, a good idea, intelligence, perseverance, persistence etc. I mentioned that perhaps one person in 100 has a success but to be honest I think it is much less than that today because over the 7 years that I have been running my website the Internet has become much more competitive.

      Good luck though.

    4. Hi Michael,

      Thank you for your cooperation. I wish you continued success with the rich and interesting sites of yours. I like your blog very much.

      Thanks again for your helpful answers.



Your comments are always welcome.

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