1) Can I be successful in [X] niche?
I dropped and shattered my crystal ball when I was about 12 so my ability to look into your future is long gone.
My philosophy is this. If there is a demand for the kind of information, service, or product you plan to offer then there is always a way to be successful.
The real questions are:
1) Are you prepared and motivated enough to learn how to build and effectively market your website?
2) Have you done enough research to determine if there is enough of a demand for your info/service/product?
3) What sort of unique spin have you developed to set yourself apart from your competition?
Obviously you will never know the real answer unless you try. However, if you address the above questions, you are well on your way to determining if you have any sort of chance with the niche you are considering.
2) How long before I make money online?
Dang it! If I only had that crystal ball.
Let’s pretend you are trying to start an offline business — we’ll use a a dry cleaning service as the example. Would you ever go up to a successful restaurant owner (a completely different niche) and ask them how long before your cleaning business starts making money?
No, because your know that your success will largely depend on location, pricing, product quality, marketing and more. Online is no different — even for bloggers or content affiliates. How much you will make largely depends upon…
1) How much demand exists for your niche
2) How much targeted traffic you have (people who NEED your info/product/service).
3) How well you convert traffic into paying customers.
4) Quality of your product (Yes, your website/content is your product.)
For some reason people think standard business principles don’t apply to making money online. As soon as you realize the fundamentals are the same (supply, demand, product placement, etc.), you will look at your business in a completely different way.
3) I have [X] clicks with AdSense. How come I’m only earning [$X]?
I guess since the customer support is so poor for AdSense, people just resort to asking me. I don’t work for AdSense and the info I share is only based on my experience.
Remember, AdSense doesn’t disclose information about how much you earn per click. Sure, you can figure out an average by taking your total earnings and dividing by how many clicks you have, but that will change from day to day.
Advertisers constantly change their bids, which causes the amount we earn per click to fluctuate on a daily basis. The best way to ensure you are maximizing your earnings with AdSense is to work on building traffic.
I’ve also noticed over the years that I am earning quite a bit more per click. Twenty clicks today seems to be worth way more than it was 5 years ago.
There definitely seems to be a correlation between EPC (earnings per thousand) and how popular/trafficked your site is. My overall clicks are down for AdSense, but I had a record month in July 2011 simply because of my EPC.
Bottom Line: No one can tell you how much you’re going to make with AdSense because there are too many unknown variables.
4) Do I need a blog and a static website?
Before you decide if you NEED anything, you should develop a strategy. What is your blog going to do that your static website does not do (or vice versa)? What will it offer that’s different from your original site?
Don’t just create something because you are feeling the pressure to have what others have. Make sure you have a strategy in mind.
5) What affiliate programs should I join?
If you are basing your monetization strategy off someone else’s niche or success, you are not building your own business. You’re just copying someone else’s business model. While that may work for some, it usually ends up in boredom and/or failure for most.
You can earn a lot of money from almost any affiliate program if you learn how to build a popular website and convert your visitors into customers. Period!
Something in Common
If you notice, most of the questions above are based on the one-size-fits-all strategy, which is the wrong approach to business. Everyone is going to have different experiences online based on their work ethic, motivation, interest, niche and more.
Using stats from successful sites for motivation is fine, but using their exact model as a benchmark for your own site can be very misleading — especially if you haven’t developed your individual strategy.