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I get questions about how to create profitable websites from subscribers to my Unusual Ways (To Make and Save Money) Newsletter. I do have some experience in this, after many years building an online business that produces far more than any job I've ever had. Here are some of the common questions along with my answers.

Q: How many sites do you have?

A: My wife and I have at least 30 websites, but we only actively work on and maintain a dozen or so.

Q: Are they all decent money making websites?

A: No. In fact, even after five years of doing this I can;t predict which sites will take off and which will never quite catch on. Some sites that I poured a lot of time into make less than $50 per month, while others that I barely look at for months on end make hundreds per month. Our two sites that make the most (more than $1,500 per month each) are about real estate and brainpower. I suppose the lesson here is to create at least several sites, in case some don't so well.

Q: How do you make money with your websites?

A: Three basic ways. First, we have pay-per-click advertising. This is the easiest way by far, since we can just forget about a site for a while and collect as people click. The second way we make money is with affiliate programs. To be honest, even the best one out there only nets us a few hundred dollars monthly, and many of them don't make $20 for us. There are experts on affiliate marketing - I'm not one. Finally, we do okay selling my own ebooks. I have about 20 that I've written, and they sell for $5 to $27 at the moment.

Q: If you had to start over again, what's something you would do differently?

A: I would create sites based on niche markets that will always be around and on subjects that don't change much over time. My site on how to remove carpet stains is still very relevant, for example, but my pages about real estate from 2004 seem pretty out-of-date. I don't like having to rework a site continually.

Q: If you started now, what niches would you target?

A: I would still target most of the same niches as we have. I would probably identify ten niches that were most interesting to me, because it really helps to have an interest in what you're writing about. But I would concentrate on the three out of those ten that had the most profit potential. That would include a money-related site, of course.

Q: How many visitors do you need to a site to make money?

A: That varies tremendously depending on the niche and the nature of your site. We have sites that make as little as a couple cents per visitor (thankfully they have high-traffic), and some that make five or six times as much. We rely on volume, which is not the best plan, but it works for us. Some sites make over a dollar per visitor because they target good niches and sell high-dollar items through mailing lists. They would love to have our hundreds of thousands of visitors per month!

Q: If you were to ignore your interests and just try to systematically make a website that made the most money, what would you do?

A: First find a niche that serves high-value visitors. You can do this by opening a pay-per-click advertising account to see what you need to bid for certain keywords. If advertisers are paying two dollars for a certain keyword, for example, then it makes sense that each visitor they get must be worth that much. Go to the sites of those advertisers to see what they sell. Sell that or something similar.

Delegate out the writing and have dozens of pages targeting all the related keywords, but especially those that indicate buying intention, like "review of..." or "where to buy...". Get articles written for you to distribute, to promote the site. Pay for help with a link-building campaign. Have a newsletter or other mailing list that visitors are encouraged to subscribe to so you'll have many opportunities to market to them.

Develop a site that makes an average of a dollar or two per visitor, and then optimize it. If you can get even a few thousand visitors monthly, you can make some decent money. If you can make two dollars per visitor and get ten thousand of them every month, you'll make almost a quarter of a million dollars annually. That's how you create websites if you don't care what they are about. Otherwise, list the niches you actually like and just choose the one that has the most profit potential. That gives you the best of both approaches.

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