Most of my income comes from 'puter work: consulting, programming, installation and migration, troubleshooting.. but a not insignificant chunk comes from web activities like Adsense, e-books, stuff like that. Like every other lazy slob on this planet, I'd prefer to do less actual work and soak up more passive income from web business.
While I know my way around this terrain, I'm always willing to listen to someone else's advice. This morning I listened to an audio presentation on the value of niche websites. I'm not going to bother to point you at it because there's nothing new there: it's the same old stuff you can read or listen to anywhere: create a hundred websites in tight niches and although each site is small, the money adds up. You can leave it at that or try selling the sites after you get them going. Yadda, yadda.
Nothing terribly wrong with that, and there's enough truth there that I can't react with outrage and tell you that it's a stupid idea. Oh, don't worry: I'll get to the outrage, but this concept can work. That's assuming that you can think of a hundred niches and can write content that might actually show up in search engine results now and then. You see, these sites aren't made for people. They don't expect to gain loyal readership, they just hope to land at the top of Google for a specific phrase.
What phrase? The typical advice is to look for niches where advertisers are offering high rates. That might be "mesothelioma" (because lawyers want clients suing over this). Now if you or I just put up a web page with that word, we're going to be buried in a sea of nine million other pages using that term. We want something more specific, so that when someone searches more specifically, they may find us. Again, remember that whether you have anything valuable to say to those people doesn't matter: they used the magic phrase that caused Google to see your site and list it on the first page of results. They click through, find your page is useless, but a few of them click an ad. Money for you, money for Google, lead for the lawyer, everybody is happy.
Well, maybe. There is that little matter of your page being useless other than being a carrier for ads. That's where my outrage comes from: there are so many of these "made for Adsense" sites now that it often is hard to find honest, useful pages in niche areas.
So maybe you think you could actually be useful, too? Or at least interesting? I have real concerns about mesothelioma: when I was young, I worked for my dad in the industrial boiler business. We used asbestos rope and other asbestos products. I can remember pulling asbestos rope from a box, measuring it off with my arms and seeing the fibers floating in the air. I breathed that stuff! Of course this was the sixties: nobody knew it was dangerous. I didn't just do that once - I handled asbestos rope and other asbestos products many, many times. I worry about that.. but back to our get rich schemes, right?
So there it is: I could write something at least vaguely interesting about asbestos rope and the industrial boiler business. Maybe I could find some statistics somewhere about how many people working in that industry in the sixties and seventies ended up with mesothelioma. I could get a lot of sentences with both "asbestos rope" and "mesothelioma" tucked into the page (look how many times it's here - and I'm not even trying!). I could throw in a few links to sites like Asbestos Products that mention asbestos rope. If I do enough of it, my page will float to the top of Google. Here, let's actually do it: here's a page I might write about my Fear of lung cancer from Asbestos exposure.
This page or that other page might even get there. If it did, and you came here because you were looking for legitimate information in this area, I apologize: this isn't what you want.
But that's what people are doing now: flooding the Internet with useless crap. Maybe you start out with good intentions: my "asbestos rope" page could be an honest account of my exposure and might even have useful links. But that's one page: if I'm going to repeat that a hundred or a thousand times, I'd have to move into subjects where I have nothing of value to add. That's the problem.
So yeah, I like passive income. But not so much that I'm willing to add to the ever growing pile of crap we have now. I wish more people felt the same, don't you?
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-22 Anthony Lawrence
Several people have told me that my inability to suffer fools gladly is one of my main weaknesses. ((Edsger W. Dijkstra)