I was sitting with Jim the other day (from the $0 – $2k Case Study) and we were talking about Rob. He has a portfolio of sites and he’s making over $30,000 per month.
Jim said something to the effect of:
“So a portfolio is the way to create a full time income, right?”
“No, not really. Most of the income comes from just one site” was my reply. See about $19,000 comes from one site. And my thought is that Rob makes $30,000 per month in spite of having a portfolio of sites.
(Make your one site a good one by checking out: how to find a profitable niche)
Rob’s plan from the start was to build out several sites at one time. In fact, when you watch the coaching case study from back in 2015, you’ll understand that Rob wanted to scale his system to build up his revenue.
Here is the thought exercise that we’re looking at today:
Would you rather have 10 niche sites making $1,000 per month or 1 niche site making $10,000 per month?
(*I originally saw the question on Smart Passive Income from a post in 2011, though I’m sure it originated from somewhere else.)
People want to have a diversified income. They want to spread the risk among several efforts. It’s a popular statement for just about anything, and it sounds smart. You can pop into a conversation that you know nothing about, then mention that diversification is important and you’ll sound intelligent.
Doug Cunnington – My Preference
I prefer to have one site that makes $10,000 per month. It’s simpler to work on one site versus many sites. Imagine if you had 10 meetings per day or just one meeting. You’ll definitely be more distracted and stressed out with 10 meetings, even if they were just 30 minutes each. I’m always talking about focus, too.
Here is the main reason that I prefer one site:
The Mind-Space of 10 Sites Is Stressful
People underestimate the mind-space that each simple task takes. Easy things like keeping the site up to date with the latest version of WordPress, theme, and plugins become a real hassle when you multiply that by 10. It might take 5 minutes to do that for one site but 50 minutes for the portfolio. Next thing you know, you’re putting off that task even though you know it’s important.
It might take 5 minutes to do that for one site but 50 minutes for the portfolio. Next thing you know, you’re putting off that task even though you know it’s important.
Example of one of my dumb ideas when I didn’t think about the mental bandwidth capacity: I started a case study with 4 sites as a test for expired domains versus new domains. You can read about it, but eventually it failed and it was WAY more work than I ever expected. If I set up a small team (as described here) to work on each site, then it would have been a different story. Well, the whole thing still would have failed, but I wouldn’t have been as stressed out.
If you’re thinking, ”Why does is it stressful to have a portfolio?” here’s why..
Each Site Has Overhead and Admin Work
Every site has some level of ongoing maintenance and this is the part that will eat you up. Each thing is small but adds up…
It might be something related to:
- The domain name renewals
- WordPress updates
- Theme updates
- Plugin updates
- New content
- Ongoing outreach
- And so on…
You can imagine that most of that is pretty simple and won’t take much time. But other parts do take more time and a lot more effort. It’s the simple stuff that isn’t hard that will totally bog you down.
When Will A Portfolio Work?
I know portfolios work great and they have their place. As a counterpoint, here is when portfolios are a good move:
- When you have the budget to hire a qualified team, including a project manager. I have to include a PM since it’s in my background. The main thing is that you shouldn’t have more than about 6 people report directly to you or it gets messy. So if you have a PM, a Content Manager, an onpage SEO Manager, an Outreach Manager, then you’ll have a tight, lean team that will interface with their teams without you having to work with 10 individual writers.
- If you have a proven system that you know works. Rob Atkinson did this effectively, in fact, you can watch all the coaching case studies for free here. We developed the system over about 7 meetings and I turned a lot of the concepts into the Multi Profit Site course.
- When you already have a successful site, then it’s wise to start up your next one. Then, you work on the new site in a dedicated way and use what you learned from your first success. You can keep moving on as you build more successful sites.
I caution people that are new to niche sites and want to start more than one site. It’s trouble. Here’s why:
When you’re starting out you’re learning, and you’ll change your methods, your system, as you go. That’s a great thing and you should learn from your real life feedback and take action based on that. But the trouble starts when you implement something on all 10 sites and then realize there is a mistake. You have to fix it on 10 sites, while if you had only one site it would be just 10% of the work.
This is a great question, and I had a hard time trying to decide which side of the fence I’m on. But, after much deliberation, I would say TEN niche sites are better than ONE, especially if you’re first starting out.
Test, Test, Test
While I do acknowledge managing multiple niches will spread your attention, it pays off big time when it comes to learning SEO. If you only have one website, you’re going to be ultra-conservative with your ranking techniques. I’m not saying a long-term approach to your site is bad, however, I personally love to experiment on my sites with different techniques. Having more sites let’s you become a better SEO, which you can apply to your one site.
This largely comes down to the type of SEO you’re doing. I consider myself a gray hat SEO and know that I must have multiple sites to reduce the risk. I have a higher chance of losing my website to a Google penalty.
However, even if you consider yourself a white hat SEO, you would be a fool to think you get a free pass with all of Google’s Algorithm updates. For example, let’s say you’re get 50 guest posts for your site, and you go a little aggressive with your anchor texts. Boom, Penguin penalty. Google doesn’t care what type of links you have in that case.
Yes, multiple niche sites are tough to manage. Many of my sites do get left in the dust. But I’m the kind of person that craves new things, and hopping around my sites keeps me more interested in my business. That said, I do envy people that put their sole focus on only one site, as I’m quite aware of the power of focusing on just ONE thing (great book by the way!).
Rob Atkinson is a great friend & digital nomad, making a great Full-Time Amazon Affiliate income. He had a record month in Nov 2016 and you can see exactly how this “regular guy” ramped up his portfolio of sites using templates and processes.
Personally, one site is better…
Managing 10 sites is a chore, they individually get less overall authority because your budget/time is split 10 fold and you will often end up (if you’re going after the same niche 10 times) overlapping in keywords and fighting with yourself.
I often find if I’m building a big authority site that I’ll unintentionally rank for keywords I’ve never found using my previous research, which allows me to be a lot more targeted with my budget/time on those individual low hanging fruit keywords than I’d ever be able to find on 10 different sites.
10 sites is likely better if you have good budgets and a huge team, but I’m all about ROI and it’s hard to justify the cost of 10 sites in an unknown niche.
Charles Floate is an SEO phenom from the UK and he’s 20, though he’s been in the game for years. Even though I can barely understand Charles over his accent, his YouTube videos are rock-solid and cutting edge information. (Just kidding about the accent, buddy!) Go check out some of his stuff, like the Link Building Quick Wins or WordPress SEO Strategy Guide.
Matt Diggity from DiggityMarketing
When you’ve diversified yourself amongst a portfolio of sites, you’re now protected against algorithm updates and shifts in consumer trends. At the same time, you have more sites to experiment on with new SEO techniques and an exponential amount of new verticals to branch off in.
Matt Diggity is the man when it comes to Private Blog Networks and SEO experimentation. Most SEOs run a single test and call it a proven fact…Matt tests like he publishing is a scientific journal. If you have read Diggity Marketing before (and appreciate Gray Hat strategies), then check it out. Here’s one of my favorites.
Andrew from BrandBuilder.io
If there’s one thing I learned from being in this industry for over 8 years, it’s that you should do one thing at a time. While it may seem like a good idea and +EV (expected value) play to churn out dozens of niche sites and hope that each site will (eventually) bring in $100+/mo – that will almost never happen.
You’ll lose focus somewhere along the way and won’t follow through with anything that matters.
Courtesy of CommitStrip.com. Check them out!
You should pick one vertical, one niche, one domain and construct the best possible website your visitors will love. Your work doesn’t stop when you fill the site with content, set up opt-in forms, create sales funnels… No, that’s when you need to start doing some actual (marketing) work. There’s no point in waiting for SEO to kick in – you gotta go out and hustle hard to get targeted traffic to your site from Day 1.
Andrew James: entrepreneur, digital marketer, wine enthusiast, hustler (in a good way) & the guy behind BrandBuilders.io.
Stuart Walker from Niche Hacks
For me personally it’s hard enough to focus on ONE site and give it all the time and attention it needs (there’s a lot to do) so how anyone can focus on up to 10 is a mystery to me.
My advise would be to focus on one site. You can grow it to new heights and income levels that wouldn’t be possible when you’re spreading yourself so thin.
And there’s always the argument about not putting your eggs in one basket but I don’t think that applies to any website where you treat it like a real business as you make sure you have multiple traffic sources and income sources.
So if one does dry up or runs into a problem there are backup options.
This is the only type of site you should be running IME, no point in running sites that only get Google traffic and can only earn from Adsense or Amazon’s affiliate network (Amazon Affiliate disclosure info here).
As Google traffic is unpredictable and not guaranteed and Adsense and Amazon ban all the time. You don’t have a real business if you can be out of business overnight by an algorithm change or a banning from a network.
So yes, one site only for me.
Stuart Walker is the founder of Niche Hacks, one of the top internet marketing resources. They seek to help over 5,000 individuals in the next 5 years find their profitable niche and free them from full time employment thanks to the online income they are generating with niche ideas and online marketing advice.
Dave Fox – Niche Site Project Success Story & Case Study
Since I have a number of sites myself, I’m going to have to go with “more sites = better”. Although it does sound appealing to have one site that makes all the money, compared to 6 sites which make the same amount, for me it wouldn’t have been possible to entertain that option of just growing one single site, just because the reason I made more than one was because I was getting a bit bored with having one site in the first place.
So there’s that, but there’s also the fact that I was interested in trying out some different niches, just to see how they worked, and I couldn’t have done that with just one site either. That said, the logistics of having a bunch of unrelated sites can be a bit crazy, I will admit, but if you can manage your time properly, it can also be pretty exciting to watch because you never know what is going to take off next.
It’s like betting on a horse race and you own 5 of the 10 horses. To me that means less chance of losing. That’s my 3 cents!
Kevin Graham of Bulk Buy Hosting
I much prefer the portfolio approach of ten sites earning $1,000 per month over one earning $10,000.
There are a number of reasons including:
- The higher multiples that smaller sites are tending to sell for on Empire Flippers
- Risk is spread across 10 sites, so if one site has a new competitor that out ranks you, you’ll only take a smaller hit to your earnings
- Higher liquidity – it’s easier to sell a $1k site than it is to sell 10% of a $10k site.
Kevin Graham is the founder of Bulk Buy Hosting and makes about $30k per month from his Amazon Affiliate Niche Sites. Bulk Buy Hosting is the premiere hosting solution for Private Blog Networks if you want to erase your hosting footprint.
Shawna Newman from Skipblast
I’m definitely in the multiple site portfolio camp, with the main reason being that it minimizes risk – namely the risk of losing all your income overnight. If you have multiple sites, then it’s not the end of the world if one gets penalized by Google or takes a hit from a competitor’s negative SEO.
Another benefit of multiple sites is that you can test out different tactics on the sites instead of having to pick one and hope that it’s the most effective for your single site.
And finally, with multiple sites you can easily sell one off without losing all of your monthly income, unlike with a single site.
Shawna makes a full-time income from niche sites and blogs at Skipblast. She sold a bunch of sites with the Empire Flippers. Shawna says on her about page that she’s “tired of hearing how there are no women in SEO or Internet Marketing. There’s plenty of us and we make bank just like the guys.” I’m glad to have Shawna on the list! Check out her current cases studies.
Jon Haver from Authority Website Income
The answer will depend on your situation but for me I prefer to have TEN good sites vs ONE great site assuming they are all making a meaningful amount.
The big reason is that although you give up some ability to focus and really drive improvements on one site you gain by being able to run more tests.
The more you experiment and test the faster you learn and I believe in the long run the ones that can test/learn and implement the fastest will win. So by having 10 meaningful sites it gives me the ability to test a lot.
My one caveat is that each site needs to be meaningful, I would rather have 1 site making $1,000/month then 10 making $100/month but I would rather have 10 making $1,000/month then 1 making $10,000/month.
Jon Haver blogs at Authority Website Income. Jon Haver is a 32 year old, husband, father, engineer, sports fan and huge geek when it to comes to automating and outsourcing any activity. He’s one of the first guys I read about back in the day when I was getting started online.
Kent Chow from Niche Up
I prefer to have 1 Authority site and have 2-3 smaller niche sites. I would mainly focus on one site to grow as huge as I can. It’s very hard to switch working on multiple niche sites at the same time. I’d like to focus ONE project.
To reduce the risk (have all eggs in one basket), I’d maintain a few smaller niche sites and publish content on weekly basis. They are on the side in case the main authority site gets hit.
Also I can sell off those smaller sites in case I’d need some cash flow.
Kent Chow blogs at Niche Up and he’s been building niche sites since 2011.
Will Blears from One Man’s Brand
Great question, this is something I’ve reflected on numerous times and my answer would have to be ten niche sites and I will explain why below.
Now, ironically, my answer isn’t reflective of my current situation, it isn’t that I haven’t tried – I have more than 10 established websites with about 7 making money, but one of my sites makes the majority of my revenue so whilst I’d like to have 10 sites each earning $1,000 each, in reality I have one site that makes five figures and a handful of sites that make four figures.
We all know how the saying goes, ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ and I am a firm believer of this when you are building Amazon niche sites. Interestingly, my opinion does change when we start talking about authority site projects, you know those sites which add an incredible amount of value, are bespoke, have unique features and assets and are built with the intentions of growing a brand, for example The Wirecutter. If that is what we were referring to then I’d change my answer to one site. However, since we are really talking about niche amazon sites which as much as I hate to admit it, are more of a rinse and repeat strategy then my answer sticks at 10 niche sites.
So why do I think ten niche sites are better than one?
It all boils down to risk, reward & cashflow.
Having one uber niche site which is hitting five figures every month is awesome, but it can be quite risky. I am not sure talking from the perspective of Google rankings, but also other factors such as the site being hacked, the site going down due to website errors, wordpress errors, database errors e.t.c these are all things which would instantly reduce your income to zero! Whereas, the risk with having 10 established niche sites is significantly lower, if one site goes down you have 9 others to support you.
Admittedly, having one site hit five figures is a fantastic achievement, a huge motivator and also proof that a niche Amazon site really can achieve a huge amount of success. The strategies I’ve used to hit five figures with one site are no different to that which I use for my other sites, its simply down to the market, average price and demand as well as the fact that I rank in Google.
The issue I have with having one site hitting five figures is that as the site grows and grows the size of the opportunity to continue growing gets smaller and smaller, you get closer and closer to the ceiling at which point there is no where to go. Whereas, if you have 10 established sites all hitting $1,000 each (which by the way is a ridiculously massive achievement) then you quite possibly have a huge opportunity for 10 websites to grow exponentially and potentially hit five figures each!
This is a huge factor for me.
And something I am very jealous of Rob for 😛
I have one site which generates the bulk of my income, I can’t raise cash quickly without selling my big site and therefore drastically reducing my income. The other issue is, a site as big as that will take months to sell, you have to find a buyer with enough money, then there is a significant amount of time invested in due diligence, communication e.t.c
Whereas, Rob and others who have a network of sites hitting four to five figures can quite easily raise cash by selling one of their assets, reducing their monthly income ever so slightly and probably finding a buyer relatively quickly as well. Just look on Empire Flippers, Amazon niche sites with historical records which generate $1,000 – $2,500 a month sell like hot cakes!
With one big niche site, your hands are tied.
These are the three biggest factors, and why I would always choose ten niche sites over one, however as I mentioned above my answer changes when we begin talking about larger projects with big picture goals.
Will Blears blogs at One Man’s Brand and he has 11 years experience in Online Advertising and dabbled in everything from building Proxy Websites to being a Clickbank affiliate & vendor, to promote CPA offers through Paid Advertising. Now he specializes in Amazon Associates.
Matt Allen from Dumb Passive Income
Knowing what I know now, after several years of experience with building and running niche sites and blogs, I would say that ONE niche site is better than ten. This, of course, is assuming that the same amount of money is being earned in either case. But I prefer not to think in static terms like that and I look towards future growth and potential.
I know and understand the importance of diversification. Many will argue that ten sites would be better because if one goes down, you still have others earning. This is true. But – as a guy who currently owns and is managing several different niche websites (not quite 10), I can tell you that it is very difficult to effectively manage and maintain many websites at once. Even with the use of helpful tools and virtual assistants – it’s nearly impossible to give each and every site the attention that it needs in order to earn at its full potential.
If I had it to do over – I would prefer to run just one single website. If I put 100% of my focus on just one website, the potential for earnings and growth could be magnified and multiplied much easier than if I were trying to divide my attention between as many as 10 sites at once. I would pick a broad niche that has many smaller sub-niches and I would build out the best content on the internet for each sub-niche. Doing all of this on ONE domain that builds up authority would have really powerful long-term implications. Just stay away from any black-hat link building techniques and you shouldn’t have to worry about the site tanking in the search engines one day.
Matthew Allen is a full time trucker – part time blogger and imaginary entrepreneur. He is the only known trucker who is blogging about creating passive income online. He blogs at Dumb Passive Income.
Other Thoughts on the Portfolio
Here are some problems with the portfolio of 10 sites making $1,000 each:
People Look to Diversify Too Soon
The time to diversify is when you finished a project and it’s in a steady state of ongoing support and maintenance. That means the niche site has stable traffic and can be reviewed once a month or once a quarter to make sure it’s not suffering due to neglect.
The wrong time to diversify is when you’re starting out and don’t have a full grasp of whatever you’re launching. I did this myself: I tried to launch about 5 sites all at the same time. None of them really took off, not until I ignored 4 of them and focused on just one site.
People hear their role models talk about diversity and think they should do it, too, even when they’re beginners. It’s a big mistake to emulate your mentors when you’re a beginner.
“I Get Bored Easily or I Get Distracted”
This one makes me laugh since it’s sort of like an excuse. On the SPI blog post, a person named Kevin said this:
“I’d go with 10 sites over 1.
Reason one: I get bored easily. As an entrepreneur I want to continue learning new things and starting new projects…” (*He listed 3 other things that aren’t important…)
I’m willing to bet he doesn’t follow through and complete projects that he starts. It’s a cop-out excuse and I call B.S. on that.
I used to say that in some form in the past, but I’ve learned that the less I work on the better. It’s funny when you get started in internet marketing because it seems like a crazy new idea that will never work, until you make your first few dollars.
Then, you realize there’s this whole world of opportunity–all you see is opportunity. You feel like you’re going to miss out on one thing and another and another, so you start more and more side projects. You’re left with several side projects.
There is no right answer for everyone. As you can see, even pros and experts have very different opinions. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself.
And, WHAT ABOUT YOU? What do you think? Leave a comment below and tell me:
- How many niche sites you currently have.
- If you’d rather have 1 niche site or 10 niche sites and WHY.