There are one-to-one media…like telephones.
There are one-to-many media…like newspapers. (One publisher, with many readers.)
And then there is the first many-to-many medium, on a global basis, the Web.
During its first fifteen years the Web took baby steps towards its promise as a many-to-many medium. Traditional media built big sites online, in the hope that the Web was simply another one-to-many medium they could control.
Sadly for them, that isn’t the case.
The growth of social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter has accelerated the evolution of the Web’s true nature…as a many-to-many medium.
There are now a billion of us online, worldwide. More and more we ignore big media websites and, instead, connect with one another, learn from one another and listen to recommendations and warnings from one another.
The natural outcome of this shift in attention, from big media to each other, is that big media sites online will become increasingly irrelevant.
So who will the new media be? It will be you, and me, and a billion other people online, connected 24/7.
And that is very good news for those of us who have created our own information websites on topics that interest us.
As an example, with my own website, CoffeeDetective.com, my role is not to provide the final word as an expert. I’m not an industry expert, I’m just someone who knows more about coffee than most.
My position as an expert-next-door fits perfectly within the web as a many-to-many environment. My visitors don’t want to seek out some big industry website about coffee. They would rather connect with me. Why? Because I’m not a big company. I’m not an inaccessible expert. I don’t write in the language of coffee professionals. And I do answer questions people ask through my site.
In other words, I’m just a regular web user, like my visitors. I’m part of the many-to-many.
As social media continues to grow the connections between individuals online, the opportunity for people to write their own money-making websites on topics that interest them increases.
In a many-to-many environment we want to learn from each other, not from big media.
This is the opportunity you will find explored in my book, New Path to Riches.
If you want to make money by creating a content-rich website of your own, you have to find a niche with potential.
You can’t simply pick a site topic out of the air, start writing and expect to make money.
In fact, the more time you spend on the research of your topic, the more likely it is that you will end up with a winning website.
Step Number 1: Choose a topic that interests YOU.
It makes sense to pick a topic that interests you, because you’ll be spending a lot of time developing, writing and marketing your website. If the subject doesn’t interest you at all you’ll find it hard summoning up the enthusiasm to write enough on the topic.
Keep in mind that if you want an information site to generate a good monthly revenue, you will likely have to write hundreds of pages. You can lighten the burden by having your readers contribute content, but you’ll need to write the first hundred pages yourself.
Don’t be discouraged by that number. Once you get started, it’s surprisingly easy.
But you do have to ask yourself two questions.
1) Is this a topic about which it is possible to write hundreds of pages?
2) Will it interest me to write these pages, or will I be bored after the first ten?
Step Number 2: Choose a topic that people feel passionate about.
It’s much easier to engage the attention of your readers if you are writing about a topic that people feel passionate about.
What do I mean by that? Well, think about what you and your friends like to do AFTER you get home from work. Think about hobbies, sports, entertainment and so on.
As a rule, it is our after-work activities that we get the most excited about. This is why people flock to sites about cooking, baseball, kids’ parties, wine, music, gardening and more.
This isn’t a rule. You can create a very successful site about work-related topics too. But I always look first at hobbies and other after-work interests. It’s great to have a passionate audience for your website.
Step Number 3. Choose a niche that has high demand and low supply.
This is the most important step in choosing the topic for your money-making weekend website.
The easiest way to run a profitable website is to have all your visitors arriving through the major search engines. In other words, you want free, organic search engine traffic.
To make it to the first page of the major search engines for your principal page keywords and phrases, you need to find a niche topic for which there is high demand from searchers, but not too much in the way of quality supply from existing websites.
There are many tools you can use to help you find the best keywords. One of my own favorites is Wordtracker.
Perhaps the easiest way to get started in finding a high demand/low supply topic is to think in terms of sub-niches. That is to say, instead of choosing “wine” as your topic, explore niche areas like “organic wine”, “ice wines” or “Mediterranean wines”.
You CAN decide to go head-to-head with existing, quality sites on a top-level topic like wine, baseball or Hollywood. But you’ll find it much easier to succeed with your site by focusing on a sub-niche.
Once you have a great site topic it’s time to work on creating compelling content for your website.
Go back twenty years and for a writer to be published, he or she had to have some impressive credentials, and get the nod from and editor and publisher. Us common folks just got to write letters to friends and family.
Then the web came along and a few brave folks built their own websites, and were able to bypass traditional media and share their writing with a broader, online audience.
Then blogging appeared. It’s easier to start a blog than it is a website, so thousands more people started to share their writing, and interact with others. Suddenly, and for the first time ever, the volume of output from amateur writers began to exceed that of professional authors.
Then MySpace and Facebook appeared. The means of publication had become totally democratized. Tens of millions of people are now publishers. The tools and interfaces are becoming easier and easier to use. And it is becoming easier and easier to share one’s knowledge, expertise and opinions.
The thing is, most people who write Facebook pages don’t move on to write websites of their own.
That’s a pity, because many people have a lot of knowledge they can share. They don’t realize that building a website has also become incredibly easy. Nor do they realize that they can make a good second income by writing their own website.
That’s what my new book, New Path to Riches, is all about. It is a call to everyone who enjoys writing online, even through Facebook.
Its message is simple. If you enjoy writing and sharing, you really can write a website of your own. And it really can earn you a very nice second income.
I suppose it is conceivable that you could, spread out over the next fifteen years or so.
But trying to make a million bucks in a few short months is not what this model is about.
Frankly, when marketers pitch systems they claim can make you a million dollars by Christmas, they are selling you an illusion. They are selling you a lottery ticket.
With a lottery, your chances of getting back anything at all on your investment are very remote indeed.
The model described in New Path to Riches turns all that around.
Instead of there being just one or two winners, almost everyone gets to win.
Not everyone will make the same amount of income from their money-making websites. Your income will depend on how carefully you choose the topic for your website, how well you write the pages, how hard you work on writing a lot of different pages, and so on.
Using the model I describe in New Path to Riches I have some sites that make me only a few hundred dollars a month. Frankly, I just haven’t worked hard enough on those sites and they don’t have enough pages.
My most successful website to date, using this same model, is CoffeeDetective.com, which makes me about $4,000 a month.
The point being, my book won’t show you how one in a thousand people might make a ton of money. It shows how anyone, you included, can make a valuable second income, simply by writing a website on a topic that already interests you.
Making a million dollars online is a nice idea. But for most of us, that’s just a dream and an illusion.
Making a few thousand dollars a month online is definitely within our reach. And, unless you are hugely wealthy, even an extra thousand dollars a month is going to make a difference to your life.
We can’t be sure our jobs will even exist next year.
We can’t be sure that home prices will always rise.
We can’t be sure that our retirement nest egg will continue to grow.
We can’t be sure that our company retirement fund won’t be swallowed up by fraud or bankruptcy.
Our parents could be pretty sure about all these things. But we can’t. And our children won’t be able to either.
This is another reason why the second income I make with my money-making website, CoffeeDetective.com, is so valuable to me.
It’s safe and reliable.
Over the last eighteen months the number of visitors to my site has more than doubled, as has the income. The economic downturn hasn’t impacted it at all. Unless, of course, my site traffic would have quadrupled over the last eighteen months, without the downturn. But 100% growth is OK by me at a time when other investments and assets are spiraling down in value.
This second income also gives me a strong feeling of independence.
The more I grow my site and its income, the less I have to worry about shenanigans on Wall Street. I feel in control. My future wealth is not in the hands of people I don’t know, or economic circumstances I can’t predict or control.
And both my risk and opportunity are spread wide and far. If one person decides not to click on an AdSense ad on my site, another person will. If someone in Connecticut chooses not to buy a coffee maker through one of my affiliate links, someone in Colorado will. It’s like the ultimate, global mutual fund.
And while I might worry about what income I’ll achieve with my consulting or coaching business this month, I won’t worry about the income from my own website. Plus or minus a few percentage points, it’s always there. And consistently growing.
If there is another source of income more reliable and safe as this one, I have yet to find it.
In my case I have some sites that make less than $500 a month each. While my best site, CoffeeDetective.com, makes closer to $4,000 a month.
As for what to do with that extra money, there are several ways to use it.
1. Save for retirement.
That’s what I’m doing. I’m no spring chicken and I have been freelancing most of my life, which means I don’t have a big fat retirement fund waiting for me. Right now, instead of investing money in a fund, I’m investing time in my websites. By the time I retire, I hope to have a monthly revenue of $10,000 a month from my sites.
2. Save for your first home or a bigger one.
One of my sons is using the money he makes from his money-making website to put together a deposit for a place to live. Nice for him, because he doesn’t have to put aside money from his pay check, and nice for me, because I won’t have to find a a big chunk of money to help him out. : )
3. Put money aside for your children’s education.
If you want your children to go to college, you’re probably trembling at the thought of the costs involved. So why not build a website and put aside its revenues in a special college fund account?
4. Pay off credit card debts.
A long list of experts tells us to put aside 10% of our pay check to go towards paying down our credit cards. Good advice, but not always easy to do. But if you have a second stream of income coming in from your website, you can use that to pay down any debts you might have.
You can probably think of other ways you could use some extra money right now.
The nice thing about making a second and quite separate income is that you can choose not to have it swallowed up in the family bank account, but put it aside for a specific purpose.
And you don’t have to be serious and sensible with every penny you earn this way. Maybe you should put some of this extra money aside for vacations, long weekends, special dinners or a bigger TV.
Once the money flows in, it’s yours to do with as you wish.