Big Sites Rules, Small Sites Drool

It’s one of the most asked questions about internet site building; which is better, one big site or a bunch of small sites? Many would be Google Whores tend to favor the multi-site strategy because they believe that diversification is safer. On the surface, that sounds logical – the more spread out your income sources, the less chance of you losing your shirt if a few goes down. If you have just one site and it takes a hit, there goes your mogul lifestyle. However, this is not how things work in a real life.

If you look at every successful site owner, you’ll see that they did it with 1 or 2 sites, and not 100’s of site, or even a dozen. Even if they own dozens of sites, like Tyler Cruz does, a closer examination of their operation will show that nearly all the money is made by just one or two sites. The same goes for me. I hold a bunch of domain names, have a few small sites that makes about $1,500 a month and one huge site that makes the $1,500 look like tip money. So now the question; should I keep developing new sites in hope of matching/beating the income from the big site, or do I concentrate on the big site? The answer is simple – stick with the big site. The question is why? Here are the answers.

Big Sites Makes More Money

I have stated many times that the site wide effective CPM for Laptop Gamers and Digital Grabber are no where near what The TechZone can do. This is because The TechZone has access to direct advertisers that the smaller sites can’t get. Even if I had enough small sites to equal the traffic of The TechZone, it still wouldn’t help me because direct advertisers like to deal with big sites. They have to do the same amount of paper work to do an ad buy on a 10 million page view site as they do on a 100,000 page view site. They rather file 1 paper work for one big site than do 100 times the amount of work to buy 100 small sites.

Big Sites Gets Special Deals

These deals range from higher revenue shares to custom ad sizes to personal managers. For example, my deal with Vibrant Media gives me a flat CPM instead of a percentage of CPC. I am also allowed to limit the number of links and change the link color to something other than that ugly green.

Big Sites Gets More Perks

More money isn’t the only advantage of having a big site. As the owner of The TechZone, I am showered with gifts from manufacturers wanting exposure for their products. These gifts range from being invited to company parties to all expenses paid trips. This year, one company will be paying for my flights and hotel from Vancouver to Taiwan so I can attend Computex. Afterwards, they will fly me to China to take a tour of their factory. The total cost of this trip works out to over $5,000. I would have never gotten the invite if I didn’t run a big site. I estimate I get $10,000 to $15,000 a year in perks and free stuff.

Big Sites Open Locked Doors

I get requests all the time from other tech webmasters asking how they can get Intel, AMD, ATI, etc. to send them their latest and greatest hardware. My answer has always been “Get Big.” This creates a huge problem for new tech sites. If they can’t get review products, they have no content. No content = no traffic, no traffic = no content. This is why I don’t hide any secret about The TechZone. I’m not afraid of anyone trying to copy it because it’s pretty hard to copy. Sure, they maybe able to copy the layout, style, feel, etc. But how are they going to get manufacturers to send them anything to review when they’re brand new and have no traffic? This is not to say it can’t be done. However, it’s a lot easy to unlock doors when you’re big.

Big Sites Are Easier To Promote

It’s a lot easier to get exposure for your site when you’re big than when you’re small. Since I started Laptop Gamers and Digital Grabber, I have not been able to get them any coverage by any tier 1 media. By comparison, The TechZone has been featured in The Globe & Mail, trade and business magazines, and I’ve been interviewed on the Dotto Tech TV show.

Big Sites Are More Sticky

The bigger your site, the more sticky you are – meaning people bookmark and stick around your site more. Big sites can create their own brand with much better reach. I remember walking through the Aladdin hotel in Las Vegas once and some people stop me because I was wearing a TTZ T Shirt. They said they read my site and recognize me from photos published on it.

The sticky factor is answers the question “What happens if your big site takes a hit?” When they say hit, they’re talking about Google re-ranking you to a lower position. However, big sites don’t depend on Google as much for traffic. When your reader base is that big/loyal/stable, the chances of the site going under is very slim. Only sites that rely on Google for traffic need to worry. Live by the Google, die by the Google.

Go Big Or Go Home

Laptop Gamers and Digital Grabber are fun little side projects. Whether or not they get to the size of The TechZone remains to be seen. In the mean time, when I am faced with which sites to give my attention to, the answer is simple – anything The TechZone wants, The TechZone gets. And you know what? That’s how advertisers and manufacturers see it as well. Bigger is better.


15 thoughts on “Big Sites Rules, Small Sites Drool”

  1. BoozeB says:

    So how much money does The TechZone make you? 😛

  2. John Chow says:

    The TechZone does OK money. However, my definition of OK and your definition of OK might be a bit different.

  3. Slashdotter says:

    If you say having a big site is bigger than having smaller sites, how do you define the business model of CMP Media, Jupitermedia and IDG, which all have over 200+ publications? Are you saying that that business model is not effective?

  4. Tyler says:

    I’m totally against Aspen and Mook-Jon’esque sites, even though they are doing insanely well. I think they are the exception to the rule.

    However, I must disagree a bit with Mr. Chow here, but just a little. I think, ideally, it’s best to have around 3 massive sites, preferably all in different genre’s/niches. Diversifying is indeed critical, especially in such an environment as the Internet.

    One site/niche gets unpopular or advertisers dwindle? You have two others to back up on.

    The only reason I build other sites is because I hope for one (or more) of them to become a ‘big’ site. It’s basically like buying a bunch of lottery tickets, except you have better odds and a much better ROI, with +EV.

    The sites that don’t end up growing, I sell, with a profit, and put that money either into new sites, or into existing sites.

    I think 3 is a good number for large sites, as large sites don’t stop growing and will always need maintenance and attention, so limiting the amount of work you will have to do is important, so that you can keep the quality up. Two is still a bit unsafe, but I think 3 would be ideal.

  5. John Chow says:

    Well, ideally it’s best to have a ton of massive sites but this simply doesn’t happen in the real world. However, having that one big site does give you a lot of freedom to fool around with other sites to see if you can strike lighting again.

    That is what Google is doing. They have their money making search engine and dozen of other service that are all money losers. They’re hoping one or two will become profitable before the losses take up too much of the money making search engine.

  6. Tom says:

    Actually, I would think that Google is only releasing services for two reasons:

    1. To figure out a new revenue stream (unobtrusive) from other services (for example, Google News)
    2. Google wants to attract users, even those that don’t do a lot of searches or click on advertisements. It’s a way to build brand equity. Google, or any other business for that matter, don’t have to make money on everything it does.

  7. montana says:

    Having one big site and a couple of side liners vs. Having three side liner sites…hoping to get big….
    Well both of you are right. But every site out there on the web…has had its humble beginings. A business is like a child or children (if you have more than one business), you have to take care of your business – feed it, water it, invest time in to it, upgrade it…etc…etc…like you do with kids.
    I don’t know much yet in this internet game…but what I do know in the brick and motar world, is you start a business…and GET IT BIG! Some may say turn it into “The Cash Cow”. Then with the cash from the cash cow – you diversify. With a CASH COW for $$$$ flow there is room for mistakes on your side line business ot just money to help the other site or business to get big, but with out that home run site….your just in the small leagues…trying to get big.

    1. Hawaii SEO says:

      On the other hand… If you have 25 websites that average as little as $10 a day… You are making $91,250. per year!

  8. Nathan says:

    There was a thread on sitepoint.com around a year ago about laptopgamers.com. Someone was bragging about their huge amount of traffic after just launching. I guess that was you.

    I remember everyone asking you how you got so much traffic in such a short amount of time. I was wondering the same thing. Now it makes sense.

  9. Ismu Surizan says:

    I wonder how you can get traffic. I desperately need it 🙁

  10. Ed says:

    Isnt the main deciding factor for number of sites, the amount of automation you have got going for you? I was reading that Yahoo have just launched a massive site that is basically just scraping content off the internet, auto formatting it and making big money. Probably takes less manhours to keep it going than my one not so hi tech blog!

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