How to Make Money from a Website in Your Spare Time
How do you make money from a website in your free time? That’s a question I get asked a lot. And it’s important – here’s why: Living is expensive, especially when you have kids. Any extra income is welcome.
There aren’t many people out there who would turn down the chance to make a bit of extra cash on the side with minimal effort.
I was one of them. But, like you, I didn’t know where to start. Which is why I’m writing this blog post – not so I can sell you any products or get you onto my mailing list but so I can give you some pointers if you are serious about making a side income from a website.
Before we go further, I’m going to make two assumptions:
You know how to set up and use a WordPress website or blog.
You can write a half-decent sales letter or review (problem, agitation, solution, call to action).
If you can’t do either of these things, or don’t know what they mean, stop right now. You’re not ready for what’s coming next. Go off and work on those things before you start an affiliate marketing website.
Make Money from a Website – a Warning
If you think you’re going to get rich from your website, you’re mistaken. In fact your first attempt at making money online is probably going to be a failure. I know guys who make a ton of money from websites but they have dozens of sites all making a little bit of money each month.
I’m talking about starting one, maybe two sites and making a respectable side income that builds over time. This isn’t a get rich quick game. It’s a long term, learn as you go game.
Still interested? Keep reading.
Making Money Online – My Experiences
I’ve been making money online since 2010 when I wrote articles for a now defunct website called Suite101. It specialised in search engine optimised (SEO) ‘How To’ articles. From there I started writing on Elance (which became Upwork) and another defunct site called Demand Studios (DS).
DS used to supply content for places like Livestrong and eHow. I wrote some random stuff for them including ‘how to mount shark jaws on the wall’.
Freelancing is a quick way to make some money from the web and if you have a skill that people will pay for, it’s going into as a starting point. I’m not going to cover freelancing in this post as I’ve written about it elsewhere.
When This Dad Does was about ten months old I started another website. This was an affiliate marketing website that focused on a specific niche – supplements. It was a subject I knew plenty about (I used to review supplements for an online magazine). I started off small – with just a few posts and ended up with around 20.
My supplement review site now consistently makes me £50-60 ($65-75) per month with almost no work (TDD makes about $3 per month).
That might not sound like much money but when you think that’s an extra £600-£700 income per year from one website, that’s something worth having.
The sharp-eyed will notice that my commission percentage is low. That’s because my product is really niche – there’re only one or two UK suppliers!!
How to Find Your Website’s Niche
Most men I know who have affiliate marketing websites don’t talk about their niche. The narrower the niche, the more profitable the site. So understandably you don’t want to be telling the world what you’re selling. That golden goose of a site might just stop laying.
The best way to choose a niche is like this:
Choose a product that you can sell to your website visitors – something you know a lot about.
That’s pretty much it.
Here’s an example: Espresso machines. You know lots about the different types of espresso machines and can write good content about them and their features.
You then write a review of a coffee machine, put that on your niche website and include an affiliate link where people can go buy that (or any other) coffee machine.
When they buy one, you get a commission and they get a fresh espresso every morning. Everyone wins!
Your site should be called something related to the product you sell. A example would be:
(This is a real site and a good example of a very simple niche website.)
It helps if your niche is unique. Espresso machines are pretty common. But if you write and review caffeine free substitutes to coffee, you might just be onto a winner.
Build Your Money Making Website – Copy Other People
No, I don’t mean steal their topics. But there’s nothing to stop you using successful niche marketing websites as a template for your own work. This juicing website by Mike Cernovich is a good example and one I’ve used as a reference point for my niche site.
The reviews on Fit-Juice.com follow a set format which is easy to copy (Mike has encouraged his readers to do this). The site format is clear and simple. It also looks professional which helps build your authority.
While you can affiliate market from a free hosted website (domain.wordpress.com etc), a self-hosted site gives you more freedom to work with and is also your property.
An important lesson I learned early on is to take it slow when setting up your site. If you’re doing this in your spare time, it means doing a little bit each night (or morning) rather than spending a weekend trying to do the whole thing in a one-er. If you’re new to creating a website, it’s better to take it easy and learn as you go.
Here's an easy way to teach yourself website: keep going until you're stuck. Then Google the problem until you find a solution. Then repeat
When I started out I used to stress that my site wasn’t developing fast enough and that I didn’t have enough time to work on it. This was ridiculous. It’s much better to do a little bit at a time. Once it’s set up there’s less work involved and you can sit back and collect the cash.
Making Money in Your Spare Time: Resources
I’m always wary of compling lists of resources because I know I’ll forget someone or something important. I get a ton of traffic being on Ed Latimore’s resource page which I appreciate greatly. Ed’s a really abundant guy.
But other people might get offended if I missed them out of a list. Which is why this resources section isn’t meant to be a catch-all of copywriting and affiliate marketing essentials.
Instead it’s a starting point and some of the most foundational books, websites and people that steered me on my journey to making a side income from a website in my spare time.
Although I’d known about content marketing for a while, it was reading a free guide from RedPillReviews.com that made me take the plunge. James, who created the site, makes thousands of dollars a month from his sites.
I mentioned it before but a great place to see a niche site with great SEO is Fit-Juice.com.
I couldn’t compile this list without 30daystoX.com. This seminal article will get your money-making juices flowing.
This Book Will Teach You to Write Better by Neville Medhora is quirky, funny and incredible value. Buy it, read it and do what it says. It’s the best £2.99 I ever spent.
How to Write Seductive Web Copy by Henneke Duistermaat is a super quick guide that teaches you to write with direction and with a specific customer in mind. Again, a great value book (get it here).
While there are popular podcasts by people who claim to give you clever money while you sit about (clue: his name rhymes with ‘sat thin’), much of these programmes are quite scammy.
Listen to them for long enough and you’ll see you’re just a cog in their money making machine.
Instead, I want to pick one podcast that had a colossal effect on me, motivating me to actually start a website instead of just sitting around thinking about it.
Build a Website, Make Money and Use Your Spare Time Wisely
Once I gave up junk/destructive habits like reality TV and pornography, I instantly had more time, energy and focus.
Strange, isn’t it?
Using that spare time to build something which has become profitable has been a challenge but immensely rewarding. If I had to sum up my experiences it would be something like this:
Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the ‘perfect idea’ or for you to somehow magically learn how to run an affiliate marketing website. Plunge right in and get your hands dirty. Learn by doing. And enjoy yourself – making a respectable side income has never been so easy.
P.S. My email subscribers get a front row seat on all my latest news, posts as well as bonus content and free stuff. Sign up here to join them.
P.P.S ^^ That’s a call-to-action. Put them in all your articles from now on.