One mistake a lot of new online business owners make when they get their first taste of success (money), is that they want to repeat the exact same process over and over again (more money). This IS a way to build a steady, large, passive income.
The rinse and repeat method is very useful if you have a proven formula.
The problem that I faced was that my first bit of success was more of a fluke than the result of business or marketing knowledge.
So instead of taking that little bit of money and turning it into lots of money by building tons of similar sites, I just made the same mistakes over and over again, turning a little bit of money into a little bit more money.
Eventually I was able to learn from past mistakes and get some stronger, healthier, and more profitable websites. Then I did the same thing, went gung-ho, and build 14 websites simultaneously based on the same format of this success.
Are you in the same boat?
Eventually I was able to pare down my work load to a few of my favorite, most profitable websites and am now in the in the intermediate stages of cutting the number of websites I own and maintain significantly. It's awesome, and I've never felt better about my business. How did I do it?
Here are some tips to follow if you find that you've built a huge network of websites that's simply unsustainable in their current state.
Beginning Stages – Tracking
1) Get as much tracking as you can on the websites. Install Google Analytics (see video), track link clicks with pretty link (or a similar plugin/system), and anything else you can think of. Tracking is going to be essential to the final cut of who comes and who goes. Also, It's very important to see if your current affiliate program has tracking available to see where sales are coming from.
3) Give it time. You will need at least a couple months of data to make an educated decision about this. I gave my sites 2 years to prove themselves.
Middle Stages – Analysis & Decisions
1) See how much traffic the site gets and approximate how much money its making. Does it make more than it costs to pay for the domain, hosting, work you do updating it? Any site that costs more to keep than it makes can be immediately uninstalled and set to not renew next year.
2) Are you breaking even? Where is most of your traffic coming from? You might be able to turn this site into something else. Could it be used to get traffic to another site or collect email addresses for a related list?
3) Is it making a bit of money? Maybe you can use the profits from this site to pay an outsourcer to write articles, update the site, and do keyword research. Let's say you make $100 per month on a site, and pay someone $100 per month to maintain and expand the blog. In 2 or 3 years you might have an awesome authority site – no work from you required!
4) Does this website have potential? Write down some ideas of where you want to take it in the next year and beyond. You might want to put this baby on the “A Team”. Selling your site is another option. A decent website with a bright future could bring you some fast cash on Flippa.
Final Stages – Cutting Out Dead Weight
1) Make the final decision about what stays and what goes. If the site is totally worthless, take a load off your mind and take it off your hosting account. I'm sure you're either running out of data or inode space with all these websites. I have about 50 sites right now and am pushing 175,000 inodes. Hostgator has a limit of 250,000 before you are required to upgrade!
2) If you still have quite a bit of time left till the domain registration runs out and there's decent traffic or a minimal amount of sales, there's no reason to be in a rush. Direct traffic somewhere useful or collect your $20 per month. Just make sure you update every once in a while so you don't leave yourself open to getting hacked on an old version of WordPress.
3) Decide how many sites you can maintain, what sites can be done by an outsourced freelancer, and what needs to die. Revamp you goodies, hire the necessary people, and let your registration run out on the losers.
Now that you've cut your work load down, and maybe even pruned out some of your piddly earnings, you may see fluctuations in traffic, sales, or other metrics. That's OK. Now you can focus on your winners.
Look for ways to improve upon your best sites. Go back and fix errors. Think about user experience. Check and double check that you've made the best site possible. Make a plan, and stick with it.
In the past month or so I've installed new themes on 3 of my big winning websites. I've gone through and redone some internal linking. I've uploaded new pictures (high quality, versus old, cheapy ones). I've also rearranged menu items to see if I can get bounce rates down and I'm looking closer at what people are doing on my website.
There's lots to be done. I'd like to eventually cut it down to about 3 awesome websites that I can focus on, and then I won't have to build any more sites. This will depend on how much I can increase sales on my current winners.
Most of all, I know that whatever future online business ventures I get involved in, I will spend more time researching, and less time learning through failure!