I think it was about time that I introduced yet another post dripping with liquid gold from the silver tongued blogging devil that is Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn is a smart operator having previously been a highly paid architect; he was laid off during an economic slump. His trials in producing a method of revising for the “Green” exam helped him start on the road to making money online. In recent months he has been earning upwards of $80,000 which in Brit Bucks is roughly £47,904. Quick maths should inform you that he is making well over half a million a year although bear in mind that Pat’s income is variable and can go up as well as down (just like an investment).
I’m not trying to put Pat on a pedestal or oversize his ego. I just think that Pat has got a lot to offer and his visible signs of success should encourage you to think a bit more Pat.
10 sites versus 1 site
Pat introduced a topic almost 3 years ago on a simple question about whether having 10 sites making $100 is preferable to 1 site making $1,000. He opened out this question to the floor and I am basing this article almost entirely off how the audience reacted.
Before getting deep into this I would like to point out that there isn’t a definitive yes or no. No one method is good or bad. Pat has not suggested which of these strategies is better. This question was free-flow and left for Pat’s audience to answer however they chose. Very little was set in the way of parameters, the floor was literally wide open.
For information I’m talking about Smartpassiveincome.com
The post I am exploring can be found here (this link opens in a new window)
Source: Smartpassiveincome.com by Pat Flynn
Before analysing this further, the question should be asked to you.
Which is more preferable? 10 sites making $100 or 1 site making $1000?
Can you manage 10 sites as effectively as 1. The answer is no. You can’t maintain multiple sites single handed to the same standard as you can with 1. You can’t generate the focus to multiple sites that you can to 1.
Getting down to plain statistics (the bit I love)
I’ve been through the entire cornucopia of answers. There are 5 types of answer that commonly fit this question
- Support 1 site to make $1000
- Support 10 sites to make $100 each
- Sitting on the fence
- Answering the question with a revised question
- Wandering off topic entirely (AKA the idiot answer)
Here is how these answers pan out in terms of their slice of the pie.
I sampled the first 230 responses to produce this pie chart.
This topic attracted a lot of comments, something that Pat is famous for. He is “pro comment” which is something I value just as greatly.
Low value comments
Low value comments always creep in. With 417 comments on this topic there is bound to be a percentage that are garbage for one reason or another. If they don’t answer the question and don’t advance thought, they are worthless.
I counted 19 idiot comments in my sample but undoubtedly there will be more.
For a single site earning a princely sum
For the vast majority who opted to stand in favour of a single site, they cited ease of maintenance burdens, lower overheads and a better focus of time and passion as the reasons behind opting this way. The fact that at $1000, this site outperformed 10 individually at a factor of 10 was what swayed them over the line.
For 10 sites with a modest return
The slim majority voted this way but were often ridiculed by the opposing side for losing the “focus”. Many opting this way were of the micro niche variety. The most common analogy used by this camp was the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Algorithm change (of Google inclination) was cited as the major reason why you’d want to split your resources to fend off market changes. Many people shaped Adsense and Adwords as their ways of making money but were often challenged by the naysayer camp on this.
The liberal on the “fence” count
In fairness I’ve never been a big fan of liberalism. It’s got some popularity in Europe at the moment but being liberal is the equivalent of being a proverbial “woolly jumper”. I referred to it as fence sitting. Now this question has given room to sit on the fence. If the question was between two websites that make $500 each and one making $1000 the amount of fence sitters might reduce.
My sample perhaps under represents the liberal sentiment of some. I’ve made a determination that someone fits one way or another when what they actually meant was quite different and set them right down the middle.
Why this determination?
Pat has been smart in a way by asking this dividing line question. In order to compare whether 10 is effective versus 1 you would have had to have run 10 sites to speak with authority.
Very few people can honestly weigh in with a for comment when running multiple web properties because 10 is more than a lot of people would be happy to run with at once.
For me, coming up to my first year, and knowing how much effort has gone into my site galvanises my thoughts on 10 versus 1. Many are for multiplicity in these numbers but I am very much not.
My optimum number of properties might be a maximum of 4. I don’t think I could happily go beyond this without having a sturdy support staff. If you ran a chain of hotels, you’d have a manager for each one. If 4 of those hotels were in Florida and 6 were in New York, you’d have a regional manager in Florida and New York.
How I would tackle this answer
I am a fan of metaphor and so for me the best way to visually represent this is with a sheep farmer.
A farmer of 1 sheep collects enough wool to fill one sack each season.
Another farmer of 10 sheep fills enough wool to fill one sack in the same time.
- The first farmer pays 1 tenth of the feed cost to maintain his flock.
- The first farmer pays 1 tenth of the vet bills.
- The first farmer can keep an eye on one sheep all of the time, he doesn’t even need a sheep dog.
- The second farmer pays 10 times the feed and vet bills of the first. The farmer requires a sheep dog to keep an eye on his flock.
- The first farmer cannot afford for his 1 sheep to be out of action at any time. The second farmer can afford to lose a few of his sheep and still turn in a reasonable sack of wool.
So if wool is your profit, many who have answered Pat’s question, seek this contingency route of the 2nd farmer.
Where is the threat?
Many people cite algorithm changes as the cause of this terror, this inability to make money.
My counter argument is that if you are using “Black Hat” techniques which are getting you penalised by Google when they make these changes you are doing something wrong. Plain and simple.
The concerns of those who cry on this subject, smacks of people who don’t know how to craft quality. These are the people that pump out the sort of garbage that isn’t worthy and go about it in means that are underhand.
Should you only rely on one input channel to help you make this money. Answer = Hell no. Yes, Google has a monopoly on search traffic at the moment. Bing and Yahoo are small potatoes in comparison.
However, in my experience I haven’t been horribly beaten up by Google and changes made to its routine. I haven’t lost earning revenue so my views differ to those who feel they’ve been cheated. I don’t aim to belittle those who have suffered at changes but I do question the rigidity of the methods they used to get where they got. We have often heard of empires built on sand.
The other threat is a lack of general interest. Many niches can operate on an ebb and flow basis, can be trendy one minute and dead the next. If you are operating a single blog on a dead topic then you are not doing yourself the best service. It might have been doing well in the beginning but either your competitors (both new and incumbent) and/or contributing factors may conspire to dry up your spring of traffic.
Perhaps the most interesting part about Pat’s article was how he managed to get over 400 comments on this simple question. He offered nothing more than a random winner a t-shirt and in return received tons of comments and in turn, tons of social signals.
And guess what…
The fire is still burning on that post. People are still making comments several years after he released it. It still rests in his top 10.
Of course, he stirred up this competition and the question in his social media circles. Anybody following Pat for a long time knows that he favours Facebook and Twitter. I sent him a Facebook comment on how his old design website allowed the comment number to squeeze off the edge, especially when he had exceeded 3 digits. I found his response fun and friendly just like the character. Yes, he’s a busy man, but he’s still that helpful guy that you can rely upon. That is something you should keep in mind when you get into the big leagues.
So hopefully you’ve learnt that:
- You can turn a comment rich article into a fresh dissection of a topic i.e. what you are reading now.
- You can produce a very capable way of producing a heavy social signal hit just by posing a popular and open question which splits public opinion (all you need is an incentive, in this case a t-shirt).
- A question of 10 websites making $100 each versus 1 website making $1000 is a more complex question to answer than you might think.
So to ask that question one more time, 10 sites or 1?