WordPress is not only a great blogging platform, it’s also a very flexible content management system and can be used to build just about any type of content driven website. One type of website which I love using WordPress for is the Mini Site. Granted, there are much lighter CMS scripts available which would do the job just as well however I always use WordPress as it’s quick and easy to install, it’s free, it is SEO friendly and there are thousands of plugins available which can enhance your site. More importantly, WordPress has thousands of themes available, most of which are free to download.
What is a mini site?
A mini site is basically a small website with about 5-20 original pages of content (sometimes more). Basically what you do is buy a domain name, throw up a quick design and write about at least 5 pages of original content about a subject. The main types of mini sites are
- Information Mini Sites – A site which covers a specific topic and provides valuable information to the visitor. The webmaster can place adsense, amazon and other targeted affiliate links on the site in the hope that a certain % will click on them.
- Product Mini Sites – A site which reviews and talks about one specific product. These type of sites are usually developed to target a specific affiliate program item. For example, in order to generate sales to an anti wrinkle site you would could build a 10 page mini site which discusses the causes of aging.
- Tools & Helpful Mini Sites – Sites like Hot Scripts have thousands of free scripts available for download and you can build a mini site around a useful tool. For example, you could download a weight conversion script and build a mini site which lets visitors use this tool. Advertisements can be placed around the tool.
You can promote mini sites using adwords or some other ppc service however you should still get a little traffic through the domain name and the keywords on the site itself.
Although you may go back occasionally and update a mini site, the great thing about them is that once you have built them, you won’t have to spend much time on them again. You spend a few hours building the site and writing the content, you place a link to the site on some other sites you own to get it some traffic and you aim to make a little cash through it.
Individually mini sites don’t make much money but collectively they can be nice little earners. Let’s say you spend all day building a mini site and writing the content for it (say 7-8 hours), if that site can make even $0.50 a day that means the mini site makes you over $180 every year. The only costs are your hosting and the yearly $10 renewal of your domain name so it should be very easy to turn a profit even if you don’t reach your $15 a month target.
I’m a big fan of mini sites because you don’t need much time to maintain them ie. you don’t have to respond to emails every day and you don’t have to update them on a regular basis either, after building them you really don’t have to look at the site again if you don’t want to. This frees up your time to do other things (ie. including building more mini sites).
Of course, you should go back every now and then and check stats and perhaps add a page or tweak the site a little, particularly if the site is making you good money (note : mini sites are also a great way to test the water of a niche you’re not familar with).
Using WordPress to create Mini Sites
By now I’m sure many of you are interested in creating a mini site to see if you can make a little extra money. Here’s my 10 point quick quide to creating a mini site with WordPress.
- Decide on the subject – The first thing you need to do is decide what the mini site is about. If you are trying to make money from a certain affiliate product then clearly the site has to focus on that product for affiliate advertisements to convert well. If you’re struggling for ideas I recommend choosing a subject which either :
- You are knowledgable about
- Has a high PPC price on related keywords
- There is a lot of information freely available on the web which you can put into your own words and make it original.
- Register a domain name – Register a suitable domain name. A domain name which has the subject name in it is great but related keywords are fine too. One hyphen is ok but I wouldn’t personally recommend any domain name with over 2. Info or com are my favourite domain extensions for mini sites but org, net, biz and country specific domains are fine too.
It’s important to have a hosting account which lets you host unlimited domains. I’ll assume you do so go ahead and create a new account for the domain name you just registered.
- Upload WordPress – Download WordPress, upload it to your new site and install.
- Find a suitable theme – Find a good WordPress design. I prefer simple minimalist designs for mini sites as you don’t need many of the extra features which many complicated designs have however it really is up to you. There are hundreds of great WordPress galleries on the web where you can search for templates but I believe the official theme directory is still the best place to start your search.
- Set correct PermaLink structure – Go to the permalinks page in the settings area of your WordPress admin panel. First make sure your htaccess file is editable so that you can update it from the WP panel. Then choose ‘Custom Structure’ and set your permalink to /%postname%/. This is more SEO friendly that the default ‘http://www.minisiteexample.com/?p=123’ and it does not mention the date either. This permalink structure will generate a URL similar to ‘http://www.minisiteexample.com/sample-post/’.
- Remove Comments, Trackbacks & the date – Some may disagree with me on this but I think it’s important to remove comments and trackpacks from a mini site. Comments & Trackbacks requires moderation and moderation requires time, time is something you don’t want to waste on a mini site after you have designed it. If you left comments on and switched moderation off then you will likely get a lot of spam. Save yourself a lot of time and energy and switch comments and trackbacks off. It might be worth removing the comment area and trackback coding from your template as well (depending on how good the template is).
Likewise, I think you should remove the date from your post area. Do you really want to highlight the fact the site hasn’t been updated in 6 months!
- Add Content – Most people agree a minimum of at least 5 good pages is needed for a mini site but I think you’re better having at least 10. Write an introduction article about the subject/product and then go into more depth in the other articles. Most SEO experts agree that you should keep the content on the page to underneath 1000 words so spread your content across your pages accordingly. I don’t recommend copying content from anywhere else, the key is to be original. If you are using some sites for reference then you should put the facts into your own words and feel free to link to the original source if necessary.
- Create a front page – I recommend using a dedicated front page for your mini site instead of just listing blog posts in chronological order. Place an image on the home page too. If you’re mini site doesn’t have many pages then you should link to them all on the home page. If not, link to the most important articles and link to the rest from a sub page or even a sidebar.
- Add affiliate advertisments – Adsense is one of the most used ad networks used on mini sites but you will make much more money if you advertise a related product or company on the site. Don’t just plaster ads everywhere, be smart about it. Write a review about a company you are recommending and deep link affiliate links into your content. If it’s done right many visitors will not even realise that you created the site specifically to promote a company.
- Get Incoming links – For this guide I will assume that you don’t have much money to spend on advertising so it’s important to get some incoming links (which helps with SEO too). Exchange links with related sites to get some traffic to your mini site. You should either create a links page or add a blogroll/partners section to your sidebar and place the links there. If you have other mini sites you should also place a link to your new site on them too (and vice versa).
You can also submit articles to blogs and article directories too. For information mini sites I prefer to keep that content on my own site rather than submit it elsewhere but this technique works well with product mini sites as the return is usually higher through targeted affiliate ads.
I could have added a few more steps but that’s pretty much it. Once you have developed a few you’ll get an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Although I do think you shouldn’t spend too much time on mini sites after you have developed them, you shouldn’t walk away from a good thing either. As I said earlier, mini sites are a great way to test the water so if a site is getting good traffic and making you money you might want to develop it a bit more and add more content and promote it more.
Mini Sites are a quick and easy way to boost your portfolio. They can bring in a little extra cash every month if they are developed right and you can promote and link to your other websites on them too.
As a blogger the biggest problem I have with developing mini sites is time. I’ve got several mini sites ideas which I hope to develop in the next few months however in the last week I’ve just not had the time to start them because of the time I spend on blogging and maintaining my other sites. Perhaps I should set aside one day a week to develop them, what do you think?
I do currently have a few mini sites and some of them are making over $50 a month. In the coming weeks I’ll maybe show you one of them to help illustrate how they work but if I’m completely honest, I’m a bit concerned that some visitors will not look at these sites as inspiration but will instead simply copy them , something which happens a lot unfortunately and a reason why many affiliate bloggers are very vague when explaining affiliate techniques (ie. most don’t show their sites which make money because they will get copied – monkey see, monkey do!!).
If you have any questions, as always, fire when ready 🙂