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
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?