A summary of all my online revenue generation experiments from college days. All sections are actually immense experiences and stories in itself.
Period 2007-2008. As with any college student, money was a scarce commodity. Like a mouse scouting for cheese, I was always on the lookout for avenues to generate some cash. Starting with 2007, I had some luck in making money online. They being:
In early 2007, blogging was a craze amongst many. They were blogs on personal opinions and experiences. In May 2007, I decided I’d blog too. But I surely didn’t want to write personal experiences and/or poems back then. I wanted to monetize. Started off a tech blog: Blogulate.
Wrote a couple of articles and organically got 20-30 visitors a day. Meh. Lame! I then spent time on creating good, unique content and did some SEO experiments on the blog. It took off. Like a rocket. From close to 30 views a day, it jumped 100X to 3500+ visitors (5000+ pageviews) per day. It was now in the ‘monetizable’ league. This was the best time to experiment with ads and any possible revenue generation opportunities.
Blogulate had its glory days peaking at ~150,000 visits per month. They translated to 200-400$ cheques each month. For a 20 year old guy trying out stuff from his room, this was beyond awesome.
The last thought on my mind before hitting the bed would be opening AdSense in the morning the very next day before the getting-ready-for-college rush. (Yeahhh… 2007. No smartphones or Internet 24×7). On a good day, the dashboard looked something like this:
Google Adsense ~ 19,000 $
Other AdNetworks: Kontera, InfoLinks, Chitika ~ 1,500 $
2008. Blogulate was now fully on auto-pilot in terms of visitors and revenue. I realized that the bounce rate (% of people exiting a site after viewing just one page) was on the higher side for my sites. I also found that a vast majority of site exits were by clicking on links to some other site, and not by closing the tab.
This meant showing an ‘intermediate’ redirect page would increase the pageviews and revenue potential.
I coded outlinkr.com in a week in mid 2008. It was a link-shortner plus link-monetization app. I was super-proud of myself for making it. Complete with user profiles, Ad revenue sharing, link ‘clusters’ and authentication. This was before the popularity of link-shortners like bitly and goo.gl.
I ran ads on Blogulate’s site-exits and outlinkr.com generated over 500$ additionally for Blogulate’s site-exits.
Parallelly, I made it open-for-all and allowed others to monetize their site exists. People started using it for sharing links on forums to generate revenue for content they would have put up on forums anyway. This site could not use AdSense (It’s contextual: works only on sites with good content). I resorted to CPM AdNetworks (paid per 1000 impressions) and did a rev-share for every interstitial page.
Affiliate Marketing: Amazon Associates, Clickbank, FriendlyDuck, Commission Jn ~1,700 $
CPM AdNetworks: SMX, Axill, TribalFusion, MediaShakers ~ 700 $
This one actually dates back to Nov 2006. Metacafe came out with “Producer Rewards”. They paid 5$ per 1000 views for original content.
Of course, I tried my luck here too. Made my first tutorial-ish video “Lightning Fast Browsing Trick For Internet Explorer and Firefox” which explained how to ‘hack’ settings on a PC for boosting browsing speeds.
For some reason unknown to me, this was a hit. Maybe because it actually works ;)
Overnight, I made over 700 $ for that upload. Most of that night was spent refreshing the stats screen every few seconds to see the $moolah$ slowly increasing.
In 2007, I had a loaded Payoneer Card that I could use online, and any place MasterCard was accepted! Woot!
Video Views ~1,300 $
Early 2007. There was a website that gave 2 cents for every conversation/comment/image upload you did over there. There were manual screenings for the content posted, which meant the content had to be relevant to the topic, and not gibberish.
I created a bot that (pseudo)smartly figured out topics, parsed google for relevant information about the topic, fetched the first paragraph online and added that as the description for the image upload and discussions. Of course, it did the uploads and posting too.
In 40 days, the bot made me richer by ~2,000 $
2009-2010. Before WordPress was what it is today, it had a lot of bloat. Something as simple as saving options were not optimized.
I did a lot of work behind making a dynamic theme framework that optimized code (theme/options/cache) and then built themes upon that framework.
I did not market this properly. The WordPress marketplace was on the verge of booming and I was right there. Bad move.
All in all, just made close to 1000$ by selling WordPress themes.
WP Theme Sales ~ 1,000 $
Q2 2009. While mostly everyone were super-busy with Infosys’ training, I was figuring out what to do with the new language (.NET) I learned. I’m a pure open-source guy when it comes to the development stack and hence loathed .NET, but was forced to learn it on campus. So decided to make a commercial software and make the best of it.
I discussed the idea of a cryptography software with John. OmniHide was its name. It could encrypt and hide any file INSIDE any other file and be passed around secretly. It excited him and he completely took over coding the windows app. This freed me to focus on licensing, branding and marketing.
The licensing system we developed for OmniHide was a startup idea in itself.
OmniHide did some sales independently – priced at 29$, and after a year I finally decided to list it on CodeCanyon for 7$ to make away with the marketing overhead.
It’s also worth a mention that the freeware version of OmniHide at Softpedia has a 4.97/5 user rating and has over 15,500 downloads!
Software sales ~700 $
Lastly, I registered domain names, created brands and made them available for sale. This was purely an experiment and I never took it seriously. The cost was ~10$ per domain, plus time and effort spent on designing the brand.
Managed to somehow sell three parked domains (out of six), each for more than 10 times the cost price.
Branding ~400 $
What’s the scene now?
I became employed and slowly everything started fading away one by one. There was no focus. By 2010, all the revenue generators were either dead or close to dead, generating no significant revenue (~100$ in a whole year!)
2007-2009: This will always be a period I shall cherish as these were my first experiences of exhilaration and achievement, fueled by almost-sleepless nights.
- Only the revenue-generators have been mentioned in this post. I have lots more not-so-commercially-successful, yet very dear ;) websites and pet-projects from the yesteryear
- During this period there was a steady increase of the exchange rate of the US$ – from approx INR 41 in early 2007 to INR 47 towards the end of 2008 (against approx INR 67 today)
- I tried to replicate some of the blogging/SEO techniques again in 2013, but they did not fly as good
- Some sites mentioned in this post are still online, but they’re not actively maintained. Their existence is solely for posterity
That’ll show her
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