Make sure zero maintenance isn’t zero money

This post is not meant to be a scientific experiment, I know there are major other reasons for the two sites I mention not being equal but it does demonstrate to some extent a few of the cliches you hear a lot, if your thinking of putting up a low/zero maintenance information website you have a couple of options.

  • Scrape content
  • Pay a content writer
  • Pay someone who really knows what they are talking about

I have never bothered with scraping content and republishing it, purely because I have always felt the short term gains are just that, I prefer something that has a better chance of lasting longer, so that leaves two other options, both of which I have done.

WriterPay a content writer
This is the cheaper option, you can find them in various forums and through recommendations and it certainly is the case that they vary in skill and ability, I took this option for home and office furniture. I made a list of 30 articles that were based on the main keywords for it’s genre using overture and paid around $200 for the articles as a bulk deal, put the articles up and added some adsense and a couple of small links and left it be. That was January 2006.

Since then the site has earned it’s money back generating under 10 page impressions per day. Last month in December 2007 it earned a paltry $5.27

Links: Naturally this site being of low value content has done next to nothing, Yahoo site explorer reports 20 inbound links. I have other plans for the domain now and the poor quality articles just have not worked for me, I would have to spend serious amounts of time on rankings & backlinks to get anything decent out of this site.

writer1.jpgPay someone who knows what they are talking about
I chose this option for another information based site on tattoos. For the site I sourced a tattooist from asking around on a few forums and paid not much more, about $10 per article to make 30 informative articles on again a variety of keywords/questions using overture for inspiration. Added a couple of links and left it completely alone, that was January 2005.

Since then the site has grown traffic wise to around 1400 page impressions per day, last month in December it earned around $100 in a low paying niche.

Links: Naturally this site being of high informative value content wise has done much better, Yahoo site explorer reports 176 inbound links, these links apart from a half dozen of my own have been gained naturally with no backlink campaign or work done.

Although these two sites are in totally different niches with one always being more linkworthy than the other it should still serve as a reminder that the old sayings like content is king are very much applicable more so today than ever they were, if you have the choice between a quick and easy solution to pay article writers for content or spending a few hours on forums sourcing someone more qualified to write for you as a one off then I suggest taking the time out to get valuable content.

Today the furniture site is stagnant with less than 50 visitors last month and I have other plans for that domain now, the tattoo info site had over 14,000 visitors last month and is an asset - the main difference between the two for myself was spending an extra 2-3 hours at the start to find someone qualified to create content that would inform and educate others.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. hey, this is again another useful post. this morning i had 7 new posts in my web marketing RSS and this is the only one i read. Keep it up!!! 😀

  2. That’s an interesting comparison that you did. It’s good to see what happened over time as time can reveal a lot more about a project.

  3. It is easy to think anyone can write about any topic, looks like you have a solid case for field experts writing about what they know best. It is nice to see actual numbers tied to the experience. Of course this means anyone wanting to setup a quick info site will have a bit of extra up-front work to do to make it turn a reasonable profit. Add that to the list for launching a new site 🙂

  4. I’ve had mixed results from paid writing. One of the most frustrating aspects is getting the writer to actually complete the job.

    Another is, you’ll get a great sample report, but when it comes to the finished article it’ll be a mis-spelled scrape off another site.

  5. What script is the tattoo site running on? I like the way its layed out, and wouldn’t mind using it for landing page I’m working on.

  6. Being an ‘expert’ and having good ‘copywriter’ skills are things that we can all do and get better at through learning and practice.

  7. Why don’t you recommend scarping?

    Thanks for the article though

  8. Have you looked at ways to improve the urls for your tattoo info site? It can be a bit more tricky with asp rather than php/apache but it could be a worthwhile exercise. For anyone wanting a similar type of site, wordpress is actually a very good option for a similar structure, just without the rating/reviewing bit.

  9. Very useful information for anyone trying to build any kind of online business…which is all of us in business. Thank you for the great case study.

  10. I never knew tattoo websites were so sort after what with tattoos-by-design going from strength to strength as well.

    The concept seems so simple but in practice it is a test of patience. Generate a worthwhile amount of useful content and the traffic will start to pick up. The launch of a new website often frustrates me in that it can take so long to get indexed.. then you need to wait several months for your SERPS rankings to settle before climbing up the ranks.

    I’ll use ths post as inspiration though, thanks!

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