It’s scenario time.
What does it take to start and build a site worth $1 million?
There are many different avenues. I’ll discuss one avenue which is in line with my approach.
Please, please, please keep in mind the following is a hypothetical. It’s within the realm of possibility in that folks have met or exceeded such growth. But there’s no guarantee.
The reason for this “site plan sketch” is to put some concrete numbers out there to give you an idea of what’s involved to grow a site to $1 million valuation.
All hypotheticals are based on assumptions. This is no exception. Here are some assumptions based on my experience.
Revenue per 1,000 visitors: $25. I realize this might seem high, but it’s not for many niche sites. In fact, it’s low if/when you get in with high-paying ad networks and incorporate some affiliate promotions. If you think this is way too high, adjust it downward for your own calculations.
Website valuation multiple: 42 times net monthly income. Again, while this might seem high, it’s actually what many content sites are selling for these days. Again, adjust downward if you believe this unrealistic. FYI, I just sold 6 sites at a 45X multiple so it’s not a stretch.
Average visitors per article: 375. This is not some number I pulled out of thin air. This is the average I have across three niche sites. Many sites can perform better than this so it’s fairly conservative.
With those three assumptions, here’s the formula for a $1 million website:
Number of published articles: 2,600
Why 2,600 articles?
2,600 at 375 monthly visitors each (average) earning $25 per 1,000 visitors equals $24,375 per month.
$24,375 times 42 = $1,023,750.
You can play around with all the assumptions above. That’s just one of many different models.
For example, if your site averages 600 visitors per month, you either don’t need to publish as much content or you’ll hit the $1 million valuation faster.
How long: 6 years.
It’s definitely doable in 5. Four years is possible. Three would be amazing but unlikely unless you were able to publish a lot of content up front.
The key is getting good content published as fast as possible. The more content you can load up on the front end, the sooner it will rank and earn.
Keyword strategy: Low competition, especially during the first two to three years.
If you invest in building links, you could speed up the process but it adds long term risk. My MO is to grow one site white hat and ramp up the risk for other sites.
Once your site hits mid-authority status, you’ll start ranking for more competitive keywords. Once your site hits high authority status it will rank for some amazing keywords.
Sample publishing timeline
I’m assuming you have no funds to hire writers so output is limited. I also assume you will reinvest revenue into content (and/or links). If you go the links route, less content is needed.
Year 1: 100 articles (that’s one every 3.5 days or 2 per week). I know folks who have far exceeded this. It’s conservative if you go to town writing.
Year 2: 150 articles (assumes reinvesting the revenue into content that is starting to trickle in)
Year 3: 300 articles (assumes reinvesting revenue into content)
Year 4: 700 articles (assumes reinvesting revenue into content)
Year 5: 1,000 articles (assumes reinvesting revenue into content)
Year 6: 350+/- articles until the $1 million offer comes in.
TIP: In year one, if you’re strapped for time and cash, focus on content that’s easiest for you to write and is still good. Save the more complicated stuff for hired writers down the road. I still cherry pick articles for myself.
Note that your 375 monthly visitors per month will not materialize until year 2 or 3. Content takes time to start hitting its stride. Another thing to keep in mind about the average visitors per article number is it includes newer content that hasn’t had time to hit full potential. This means the average is skewed downward slightly (less and less so as your site ages because a larger percentage of your content is aged the older the site is).
If this is not your first rodeo and you have a chunk of cash lying around that you don’t mind risking, you could invest in content up front which would speed up the entire process considerably.
For example, if you have $20,000 to invest, you could seed the site with 200 articles in month one. That would likely shave at least a year off the timeline to hit a $1 million valuation.
In reality, most folks don’t have $20K sitting under a mattress or if they do, aren’t going to hand it to writers, so this strategy may have to wait until the first site is sold.
Is the above realistic?
My second largest niche site I’m working on is following that timeline somewhat closely. It’s well into year 2 and has 421 published articles. It gets 375 monthly visitors per article. It now earns around $3,000 to $3,500 per month and is climbing fast. This makes for a decent content budget. Its current value is $3,000 times 42 = $125,000 to $150,000. I do plan to sell before it hits $1 million though.
My biggest niche site grew at an even faster rate. It hit a $1million valuation at the 4-year mark (to the month) with around 2,000 long form articles (if memory serves). This site also averages around 375 monthly visitors per article.
Both sites earn slightly more than the assumed $25 per 1,000 visitors though.
For both sites, I focus on lower competition keywords.
I had and have three advantages:
First, I’ve been able to work on both sites (and others I’ve since sold) almost full time. Fat Stacks takes up a chunk of time but I’ve not lacked in time to devote to these sites.
Second, I had been involved publishing content sites for a couple years before starting these sites and was familiar with a fair bit which sped up the process.
Third, I’m able to get smaller sites into AdThrive which earns very well with ads. For example, the video ad alone earns $10 per 1,000 visitors. Higher revenue sooner means more revenue to reinvest during earlier stages.
Speed up your process: Learning this stuff takes up time. I’ve bought dozens (probably hundreds) of courses over the years. EasyWins.io is one of the better ones. In fact, it’s the only info product of its kind in that it’s a very simple to follow checklist process. After many years in this business, I learned a handful of tips to apply to my sites.
The power of compounding applies to websites
The first thing you learn about personal finance is the power of compounding interest and returns. The concept is simple. You reinvest all returns so that it compounds upward and over time you end up with more than you think.
The same concept applies to niche sites in two ways:
First, the more content you can get published the sooner, the better. Content takes time to rank and earn so the faster you get it published and working for you, the faster it will grow in value.
Second, the more of your site’s revenue you can reinvest, the faster you can grow it. When you get to $10K per month, instead of buying a beemer, double down on Ramen and reinvest in your site.
Years of experience not included in the calculation
When I launched what is now my highest earning site, I had blogged and done affiliate marketing for a few years. While I had lots to learn, I knew a fair bit which helped.
The same definitely applies to my newer sites.
Regardless, unless you have $50K to throw into content out of the gates, growing new sites from scratch takes time. No matter how good you are at writing or ranking content, SEO takes time. There’s no getting around that. You have to muscle through the long lull.