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How to Make Money Online & Build a Passive Stream of Income

Now that my extended family has come to know about some of my niche content websites, I am often asked at house visits how I am able to build these in my spare time, including questions like “what made you choose that subject?”, “do you know programming?” and “how does your website make money online?”

When I put myself in their shoes, I can totally see why they would ask such questions. I would too if I didn’t know what I did today. And while the answers to those questions can be months’ long discussions, I have attempted to melt it down to the crux of the matter.

The short answer is to find a problem, address it with a solution and then use technology (the Internet) to automate the revenue generating process. The Internet is all about answering the basic questions Who, What, Where, How, When.  So find a popular question and the best answer(s) for it and you should be alright.

What’s In It For Them?

Think about this for a second, why do you go to the Internet?  You go online when you want to find something out right?  You either have a question, curiosity or a problem you are looking to solve.

Similarly, so is everyone else.  What are some of the popular questions or problems people have?  Do you have a solution to their problem or an answer to their question? Can you establish a website or blog that is targeted just to that particular segment of the population?  This segment is what I call a “niche” and hence a niche content website or blog.

Because most people are consumers and only a few producers, the fewer the supply of information is on the internet (the number of niche websites), the better your chance of making money in that particular niche or subject matter.  You make less money as competitors enter the market (or start supplying more information), a concept called market saturation.

How to Stand Out From the Crowd

The smart entrepreneur will either come up with a unique proposition that sets them apart from the rest, or simply move on to another profitable (less competitive) niche.  I will discuss how to research and find a profitable niche in future posts.

By finding a less competitive (but profitable) niche, the smart entrepreneur can get more bang for effort (i.e. more financial return relative to work put in).  You can climb the ranks of search engines faster in less competitive niches, and establish your footprint before the herd moves in.  There is a significant advantage awarded to “first movers” by search engines, providing your website or blog is not junk.

The Niche Content Website Model in a Nutshell

I have written about you can benefit from a niche content website in the past, and I plan to write about it extensively in detail, breaking down each component and step within the process in more detail in the future.

But for now, the fascinating online business model called a niche content website allows you to build a business around your passion, providing that one of the topics you are interested in has a market (enough demand to support monetization).

This business model allows you to automate its operations once established, thereby creating a passive stream of income for you.  The best part of this business model is that it is 100% “replicable”.  If you can do it once, you can do it again.  You can keep repeating the process and build several streams of passive income, each generated by one niche content website.

A Practical Example

Just to have a point of reference, let’s go through the Dubai Information Site which is a niche website but not as niche as I’d like a website to be.  This is an exception to my portfolio of income generating websites because it really started out as a hobby website.  My wife is from Dubai in case you are wondering about the link.

Anyhow, the only difference between this website and any other niche website that I own is that this one is a lot bigger (and I mean exponential more content), is not really a narrow niche that I would have pursued strictly from a strategic perspective and one that took a lot of hard work to make it a success.

The differences are irrelevant and ones that I can talk about endlessly if you are up for it (feel free to comment below).  What I want to do is to focus on the core concept, which is universal in nature, and one that is rather simple.

What’s So Special About My Website

There is nothing extra ordinary about this website.  In fact, it is a very basic, plain vanilla and boring looking website. No flash, no fancy imagery, nothing.  But try typing “Dubai Information”, “Dubai City Information” or “Dubai Information Site” in any search engine and notice the results.
Dubai Information on Yahoo

Dubai City Information on Bing

Dubai Information Site on Google

I used three different search engines to offset any search engine bias.

Notice the “supply”, or number of competing search results (circled in red), and notice the placement of my website of all the competitors? How can the site be on Page 1 for all three popular keywords on three different search engines?  Is it magic?  It isn’t.

The amount of money your website or blog will generate for you is directly correlated with your website traffic. The higher you are ranked for popular search terms, the more “organic” or free search engine traffic you will get.

How is the website ranked so high for such a competitive niche? It is through detailed keyword research, proper search engine optimization and proactive internet marketing strategies.  In addition to writing about researching profitable niches, keyword supply and demand, I will be dissecting each of these three components in detail as well in future posts. For now, suffice it to say that the website ranks on page one of Google for thousands of key terms the last I checked.

Another thing to note here is that the web content is written in first person active voice. Kish and I are not speaking about the reader, at the reader, or about others to the reader, rather we are speaking directly TO THE READER in first person active (not passive) voice.

Who cares you say? Believe me, it makes a world of difference.  Because this website is written in the way it is, it is able to generate serious revenues through affiliate commissions.

Let’s prove that out in just 2 minutes.  Go ahead and read the home page, and then click on any other page and read it.  Do you feel that this is a commercial website that is built just to sell, sell and sell some more? Or do you feel otherwise? What is it that you feel?

I will also be writing extensively about the concept of soft selling, or pre selling, one that involves building trust, credibility and at the same time warming up your audience. This is the single biggest success factor of my niche content websites, one that is most often neglected either because of lack of awareness of what it can do, how it is done or simply ignorance.

How Does My Website Make Money Online?

If you are still on the home page of the website and scratching your head wondering how does this piece of $%&* makes money, go ahead and click on any other page of the website.

What do you notice? Do you notice some Ads by Google?  Do you see affiliate products and services?  Scroll down and have a look at the right hand side column.  Do you see books and guides? Some of these are my own, and some are affiliates.

Scroll down to the footer.  Do you see the Donate button? Yes we do get donations. Many resent this approach to monetization, but I simply see no wrong with it if you are providing high quality information. Apparently all the donors don’t either.

A big chunk of this website’s revenues are generated advertising, both public and private placements.  A good chunk comes from generating leads and affiliate marketing commissions. Finally, product sales and donations make up the rest for this website.

Carefully Planned Approach

I didn’t simply slap any and every monetization method I could find under the sky.  The work executed in planning, building and monetizing this website was very carefully thought out at the onset and implemented in a specific, step by step manner.

The first task was building the website’s infrastructure, which involved researching the website concept, keyword research, domain name search and registration, building the website blueprint (the skeletal system similar to your house’s architecture design) and inter-page interlinking.

Building the website and hosting were taken care off because we used SBI to build this website.  The domain name, keyword research tool, search engine optimization tool and website blueprint tool also came with SBI.  I know that many of these terms may be foreign to you at this point.  However, I promise to discuss each one of these in detail in future posts.

Once the website was completed, Kish and I focused on internet marketing strategies that brought us more visitor traffic over time. These involved search engine submissions, article marketing, press release marketing, blog marketing, commenting on forums, social network marketing, social bookmark marketing, deep linking, link wheeling strategies and YouTube marketing. Again, many foreign concepts, which I promise on covering one by one in future posts.

Was it simple? Yes as always.  Was it easy? He$% no. This website did not make a single penny in its first 11 months of operation, but when it did, it poured and still hasn’t stopped.  I haven’t touched the website in well over a year and God willing for another few decades.

Concluding Thoughts

There you have one of my niche content websites in a nutshell.  A lot to digest I know. Seems overwhelming I know. It really isn’t. Wait till you try it step by step.  It all comes together very nicely, and your second one will be significantly faster. If you continue doing it, it becomes second nature I kid you not.

The key is to find topics that can help people, have a demand large enough to make the effort profitable for you, and one that is also fun for you.  Most of my niche content websites are on topics that I have expertise in (that I may have developed after learning about the niche), some level of interest (or have developed it) as well as passion for the process of researching, establishing, growing and monetizing a niche website.

I like to generate income from activities that also provide value to others, and I specifically love it when it relates to areas of my expertise and passion. By providing value, I am also helping myself, fueling my passion for what I enjoy doing (the process from start to finish). The money generated is simply a byproduct of the process.

Now compare this to someone who is selling their soul behind the cube. The lack of passion is exactly why so many people get bored out of their minds and remain corporate slaves their entire lives, struggling, hating their jobs, not moving up and simply demoralized.

It is a fact that most people do not enjoy what they do for a living, and that they simply do it to feed the family.  Think about all the successful people you know in Corporate America who are happy in their jobs and you will notice one thing they all have in common, and that is passion for what they do.

I know that this post is about making passive income online and not about life lessons, but I can’t ignore this tangent that has formed itself. Whether you are in the corporate world, or out on your own, doing something that both addresses a need in society and at the same time is aligned with your own interest and passion is the “secret” recipe to happiness and success.

And to bring all together, simply take whatever it is that you are doing that fits the bill and implement it online (if possible – most things are), and thanks to the operational nature of the internet you can start to establish automated and passive streams of income online.

As I’ve often said, there are many ways to slice bread, as well as generate income from online endeavors.  This is one of my favorite ways to do it.

How do you like this particular method to make money online? Would you be interested in details on how to execute this process step by step?

Here is a brief list of alternative avenues to make money online.

Previous: How to Get Paid to Try Products and Services

Next: Earning a Higher Return on Investment in CD / Fixed Deposits

33 Responses to “How to Make Money Online & Build a Passive Stream of Income”

  1. Allie says:


    You can sell this post as an ebook! It is the most comprehensive and easy to read post I have ever written on niche sites.

    I am looking to start niche sites. And I kept banging my head on the wall about “what” to write about. I completely forgot to start with what I love and go from there.

    Thanks for this amazing post! Looking forward to more!


    • Sunil says:

      Most welcome Allie and appreciate the comments – niche sites is my “forte” – I’d be happy to discuss if you’d like. Please keep me posted of your moves.

  2. Dedication, dedication and dedication, it all boils down to this at the end of the day, don’t give up and post!

  3. Jeff S. says:

    Hi Sunil,

    I’ve recently subscribed to your feed, downloaded your free ebook, and have found more information and inspiration from you than other ebooks and courses I have paid for.

    Keep up the awesome work!


  4. Janet says:

    It is always a pleasure for me to read your posts. They are always informative, to the point and with good content.

  5. Great post Sunil. I love to hear about how others monetize their endeavors.

  6. Sunil,
    I am curious about the donate – from a tax perspective. Do your donors get a tax deduction? Do you have to send out letters or tax forms of any sort?

    • Sunil says:

      Hi Marie – good to hear from you.

      I am not a non profit and don’t have reporting obligations from a donations perspective. This is a private cause and my donors donate because they find value in the information the find. For tax reporting purposes, I report income from Donations as Miscellaneous income.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Danny says:


    This is a great post! Can’t wait to see what you write in your newsletter.

    I’ve been trying to come up with a niche idea and this will help.

    My first website is more service oriented and hard to market. I’d like to find something that is more content oriented and this blog is certainly going to help my brainstorming.

    Thanks and please keep up the good work.

  8. LaTisha says:

    Great post, especially with all of the references to further information. This is one I will have to bookmark.

  9. ian says:

    hai sunil,
    i’ve love this blog, easy to understand, nice interface, and easy navigation inlink too. many information about niche blog i get in here.
    thank you and keep up your blog sunil

    note : i pleasure be one of your surbcriber and i’ll follow your newsletter.

  10. Excellent, well written overview, Sunil. Good stuff here.

    Looking forward to more details and specifics as you get time, especially website infrastructure and internet marketing strategies.

  11. Well done, Sunil!
    This article really had me on the edge of my seat for every next detail!
    The processes you describe are fascinating, exhilarating and extremely interesting.
    I cannot wait to read more, thanks!

  12. sutha says:

    Dear sunil

    i bumped on your website through Yaro. i know Yaro always provide quality stuff to his readers and he did it once more . thanks Yaro. Sunil your postings are awesome for beginners like me. oops sorry to introduce me. My name is sutha and from malaysia and i’m going to add your blog as must read blog everyday.!

    Just a question, do i need to have a paid domain or i can use free domain like blogger or wordpress. what is significance for both. sorry newbie questions i guess . any way keep to good work rolling.

    see you at the top !

    • Sunil says:

      welcome to the blog Sutha and thank you.

      you do need your own domain and hosting because you cannot control what other hosted solutions like blogger do (many people have lost a lot of websites and their incomes). you can view a list of the resources I use here, including the domain and hosting of choice.

      another alternative is SBI – you can read about it in the above link as well. it doesn’t only provide domain and hosting, but also a keyword research tool and other tools and training programs that will help you build an online business step by step. many of my niche sites are built using SBI.

      please let me know if you have any other questions along the way. it’s good to see you getting started. it’s good to see you here.

  13. eric says:

    Great Information! Niche Websites are a lot of work! I have built three sites now. Two sites are on the second page of google, but not making money. I like your first part about “What’s in it for them?” – I made that mistake of slapping up a site with the purpose of making me money and not the main purpose of helping other people. What a wake up call that was! People will only go to your site if it helps them with something or makes something easier for them or solves their problem. Good luck with all you do. Thanks for putting up this helpful site.
    I was the first to facebook like this and share it. : )

    • Sunil says:

      welcome to the blog Eric. your comments are dead on. SEO will get you the traffic, but then it’s up to you to engage and convert (call to action). looking forward to getting to know you better

  14. Sunil,

    another great post.. Thank you so much for this.. I’ve visited the Dubai website and is indeed very informative..

    Which are the top 3 web pages from this website that generates you the most money from adsense ? I am very curious about this.. It would be great information if you could share this.. 🙂

    • Sunil says:

      good question – I have not gone back to check Analytics in a while, but in the past the mix has changed, partly due to the Google updates. I really should do more analytics than I do

      what’s your name?

  15. My name is Thomas i read your sites quite a lot..

    It would be very interesting to check your stats and tell us about this..

    I am looking forward to it..

    • Sunil says:

      I have contemplated income reports in the past, but my businesses are more complex and interrelated than might seem on the surface. I will get my hands around it one day. I know that it will help readership tremendously, but then again anyone can say they make $X online, which is one reason I have posted images of checks received from merchants instead.

      what do you think?

  16. Aero says:

    Good article and very easy to understand. I have been blogging for three years now but the income really not impressive. please take a look and Write your sincere comments on my blog. Thanks.

    • Sunil says:

      would help more if you detailed out your objectives, what have you done to date and where you want to go with it…

      • Aero says:

        Hai Sunil,

        I want to drive more traffic, more members to my blog and have more clik on my advertisement by adsense because for the time being this is the only way I monitized my blog.

        my objective is to have passive income stream from my blog and to bring this to a level where it can become my full time work that can substantially provide me with 6k of income per month.

        What can I do to achieve this goal?

        Thank you in advance for your advice and guidance.

        • Sunil says:

          Aero, this question is very broad. if you want to make $6/mo in Adsense revenue, you need a massive website with a TON of content that is frequently updated (these days that is what it takes). there are several other alternatives though I recommend you consider. one is simply mixing in other income streams such as affiliate commissions and sales of your own products.

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