After I wrote my post about hobbies, people showed an interest in how I create websites to earn myself some passive income (the wealth hobby).
As most of us here are writers, I believe that it is something you can do to earn some extra money. Sure, there are no guarantees or promises and it is hard work and you need to be in it for the long-game. There are no quick wins.
You will need to learn a lot of processes to be successful.
We could do a deep dive around the mindset you need to succeed in this area, but I will try to keep this post as simple as possible and link out to relevant sources at the end where you can read more information if you so desire.
So... what the hell am I talking about?
Put simply, to earn some passive income, you will be creating a website around a niche topic, genre or subject. You will attract readers to your website from search engines like Google, creating articles that people want to read, where they will value your knowledge or opinion, where you are seen as an authority. This website will contain a mixture of "types" of articles that either you can write, or you can pay someone to write for you.
Informational articles - "How to" type content that provides value to your readers.
Money pages - Product reviews, top 10 lists of the best products in your niche, eg: Top Handheld Vacuum Cleaners.
In my experience, it is best to have a 50/50 split of these types of articles. If your website is seen by Google as existing just to make money, they can take action to hide your website from their search results.
In the "Money page" articles, you will add links to other websites such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart or Alibaba where if one of your readers clicks through and buys it (based on your recommendation) you get a percentage of the sale price.
You will need to apply to become an affiliate for these companies and there are lots of rules to abide by. The affiliate companies each have different percentage earnings, ways to link to them and tools you can use to work better with them.
Before you apply, you need to have the website up and running, ideally already getting some visitors. Some affiliate programs such as Amazon, require you to make some sales within a month of applying to them to pass the first test for approval.
So, how do you know which articles to write?
One of the skills you will need to learn to create an affiliate website is called "keyword research".
This is the art of finding terms that are popular enough that people search for them in Google regularly, but not too "competitive" that there are already lots of people creating websites for these keywords. Finding the sweet spot is not always that straight forward.
Ideally, you also need to understand the "search intent" of the keyword to ensure that if people are searching for your keyword that they are looking to buy something or at least make a qualified decision on which product to buy.
Once you have found a keyword that meets the criteria, you write an article "targeting" that keyword, using some on-page SEO skills to help Google understand that it is good quality and relevant. Using the keyword in the page title, headings and several times in the body text is good. Also using synonyms and related keywords in your article in the same way is also useful.
Keyword research and on-page SEO are whole industries of their own and there are many ways to approach it, many tools that can be used or methods to implement.
Building the website
For this part of the process, you would need to learn how to set up and use Wordpress. This is the most commonly used platform for building websites and there are many themes and plugins available that can make your site look good and work well.
You don't need to go over the top with your website or buy expensive Wordpress themes. Just make it look nice, get a logo, use images and style your articles and pages nicely for your readers. Don't just create walls of text which people will click away from within seconds.
Apart from providing your readers with information they need, you also need to keep their attention and look professional too.
Other options and a warning
Of course, this is just one way of building a passive income website. There are probably hundreds of ways of doing it. For example, you could just write on topics that you like and then apply to the Google Adsense program and put ads on your pages. When people click the ads, you get some money! Simple. But you really need a high number of visitors to your site first before this becomes worthwhile.
If we had these sorts of ads here on 200WaD, they could be a way for us to earn money but would also be annoying for the reader.
One thing you will need to watch out for are the "gurus" in the "Make Money Online" space. They are everywhere and will happily fleece you of your cash in return for them revealing their "Secrets" to keyword research or making money.
Learning to spot these kinds of people is hard - because they are good at their job - but most of what you will need to learn to build a website like this, is available online for free. Sure, there might be some gurus who have some tips they can share, but experience and earnings can be faked, so think twice before playing $7 for an eBook that promises to earn you ten times are much back.
Further free reading, or getting started:
I have tried to list some good resources from people or companies that I trust here to get you started.
The Digital Strategy Crash Course at BuSo - a great forum and a good way to learn the mindset of affiliate marketing. You might just need to read these threads.
The "KGR" Keyword Research Technique by Doug Cunnington - A quick and free method to initially find some good keywords to target.
An on-page SEO guide by Ahrefs - how to set up your web-pages properly for Google to find and appreciate them.