The Challenge: How to Build a Million Dollar Blog

One Million Dollars - Dr. EvilLast Tuesday Corbett Barr of Think Traffic announced his “Million Dollar Blog Challenge.”

The goal is simple.  His team will create a blog that will (hopefully) generate a million dollars over its lifetime.

With this challenge, he’ll show how to select a topic, build a brand, create content, and eventually – generate a sizeable income.

What’s personally interesting is Gene (my brother) and I are already working on a niche blog. Like Corbett, we want to show how to profit from an authority blog (outside the “make money” niche.)  To that end, we’ll provide full disclosure about this process.

For instance, we’ll cover:

  • Why we picked this topic
  • How to fully research a niche
  • Different ways to get content ideas
  • Strategies for building authority and presence in a niche
  • How to generate multiple streams of income

In short, we’ll show…step-by-step…how to build a profitable blog.  And not just one of those flash in a pan websites.  Our goal is to create something that will be successful for many years.

What About the “Go Large Project?”

Some of you might be thinking:  “Steve aren’t you already doing this with the Go Large Project?”

The short answer is YES.

My brother and I have experienced success with The Go Large Project.  Problem is there are many techniques I DON’T want to discuss on this blog.  That’s because I earn over 90% of my income from this particular niche.  Frankly, I don’t want to risk losing this money.  I know it sounds paranoid; but I don’t want someone to reverse engineer what I do online.

The Million Dollar Blog Challenge presents  fresh start.  I won’t worry about losing income because it’s a brand new topic in a brand new niche.  You really can’t lose what you don’t have.

Plus, this case study provides more value to readers.  I’ll give specific details about what we’re successfully doing.  And I’ll be open about what doesn’t work.  Overall this is a better learning experience for anyone who wants to build a profitable website.

What this mean for the Go Large Project?  I’m not going to blog about this topic.  Honestly I’d rather talk about this new blog.  But Gene and I are still working on the Go Large Project site.  So maybe one day I’ll post results for any major breakthrough.

Niche Site vs. Profitable Blog

What I like about Corbett’s million dollar challenge is he makes a big distinction between a niche site and a profitable blog.

Here’s what he said:

“Niche sites are usually based on topics where an opportunity exists to attract visitors through the search engines and monetize them through Google AdSense or affiliate marketing.

For this project, we won’t be constrained by keyword research in choosing our topic. We’ll hopefully choose something fun, something that we want to write about and have experience with ourselves. We won’t be using pen names, and the team members’ personalities may be part of the content itself.

Also, this project may rely on several different ways to make money and probably won’t focus on Google Adsense. Anything goes: affiliate marketing, advertising, developing products, services, partnerships, etc.

And finally, depending on the topic, we will likely rely on building relationships with the readers of our blog, so they keep coming back over time. With a niche site, often you’re trying to monetize traffic the very first time visitors come to your site.”

Why is this distinction important?

Frankly it makes more sense to focus on a single niche.  You’ll find it’s a better long-term strategy for building authority, creating content, and generating income.  You can’t do these things with a series of small niche websites.

With our million dollar blog we’ll start with the standard niche income strategies: Google Adsense, affiliate marketing, and advertising.

Ultimately though, it’s our goal to create an authority website in this market and build a loyal following.  Maybe we’ll even create a few information products!  There’s no limit to what we’ll do with this website.

Taking Action on the Million Dollar Challenge

Gene and I have already taken action on this challenge.  We’ve picked a niche (I’ll reveal it next time) and now we’re researching its profitability.  For instance, in the past week we’ve:

  • Researched keywords using the Google Keyword Tool
  • Used Market Samurai to check out competition
  • Examined the profit-potential of keywords in Google Adsense
  • Reviewed the Clickbank Marketplace for affiliate products
  • Checked out PPC ads to see what people are selling
  • Built a database of related blogs and authority sites

So far this niche is looking good.  There are people looking for information in this market.  The only unanswered question is – Are they buying stuff?  We won’t know the answer till we a fully research this topic.  (For more on this, check out my free PDF: The Affiliate Research Formula.

The important thing is to note is Gene and I have taken action. We are not just  sitting  around, sipping Latte’s and Mocha-chino’s,  talking about our incredible ideas.  We took that first step towards achieving a massive goal.  (We both prefer tea anyway.)

How to Build YOUR Million Dollar Blog

Now is the time for you to take action.  Go check out Corbett’s post on building a million dollar blog.  Then jump in and start your own.  What’s cool is you get to post the results on his Think Traffic site.  So you’ll get free publicity and a nice backlink.

Overall, I think this is a great way to motivating tool.  Obviously not many people are going to make a million dollars from a single website.  But there’s nothing wrong with aiming for a lofty goal.

I’m definitely jumping into this challenge.

Are you?

Take Action. Get Results.

52 thoughts on “The Challenge: How to Build a Million Dollar Blog”

    • Eugene,

      Actually, It sounds pretty exciting to me too. (new projects often do) But I still want to set the groundwork first. This one is a little ambitious and I want to really make sure it is worthwhile before we pour unlimited hours into making a go of it.

      But still, I think even failures will have a hell of a lot of value with full disclosure.

    • Bryce,

      I think a fair amount of people are jumping on board. It is a cool idea to have so many people building sites from the ground up with full disclosure.

      Just following the progress of a few is really a master thesis worth of site building. (and learning)

    • Thanks Brock,

      Of course a Million dollars from a blog is ambitious. SO I will not make some cocky “10 years” statement. Getting to that level of revenue will take luck, but I do believe to some extent you can engineer your own luck with careful planning, research and hard work.

      Of course, being optimistic I would pull the “10 years” card since that would be a living wage for 2 people for 10 years. (before the government swoops in and grabs their share)

    • Peggy,

      Will do! Since this one will be completely transparent if you have anything interesting to say on the subject guest posts, links etc, would always be welcome. 🙂

  1. Hey Steve, buddy.

    I’ve got this going on, as well.

    I’ve already chosen my ‘industry’ (key term here) rather than a sub-niche topic. The competition is absolutely insane, one of the main competitors is spending around $20k a day on Adsense so that shows a bit of what I’m up against haha.

    The niche is a bit saturated but the vast majority of the websites aren’t content heavy which is really surprising; they’re using advertising over content marketing so that’s where I think I have an edge.

    The potential is huge and just you and Gene, I’ve already started to take action. I’m almost done writing a freebie and already have a few posts completed for the blog. I plan to do a lot of video work, audio and posts for the site – should be awesome!

    • Right on Murray, glad you are joining in with a new site too. Sounds like the competition in yours is fierce but that means the rewards are probably worth it.

      If all the use is adsense and advertising, I agree, I think you have a large advantage for grabbing those organic spots. All you have to do is put in the work. (which we know you can do)

      You are actually ahead of us… we are still finishing up the keyword research part. Making sure this is the right one. (raw traffic was a little disappointing… but adsense $$ part of it is nice and there are decent related products)

      • Sounds like it can be really excellent on the keywords if you can get the people to click the ads + with your knowledge of email marketing, I’m sure you’re bound to create some major engagement 🙂

        One thing that I’m going to be exploring, with my niche, is setting up a ‘mini-net’ of some sort. Right now, I’m using other web properties to write relevant articles on the topic and letting them get indexed in the meantime; once the site goes live, I’m going to immediately pop up a link wheel to the site to give it some much needed traction.

        I think I’m also going to work heavily with some of the major websites as I’ve done with an old site in the past. At one time, my friend and I were running a niche site and would hold interviews with small community websites and businesses but would humbly ask for an inclusion on their website or newsletter – one of the businesses that jumped on was more than happy for the exposure and ended up sending us around 6,000 visitors since their community was around 30,000 strong. Never underestimate these micro communities especially when the major blogs and sites seem to neglect them, ya know?

        • Murray,

          That really does sound like a great idea. (the mini-net) At the very least it gives you pretty quick ranking once you go live. so a lot less fussing around.

          It all sounds like you have one hell of a plan ready to go!

  2. I find really interesting that so many people are starting this kind of projects. Corbett, you and Gene, Bloggerjet and also Glen Allsop with Andrea Wren.

    It’s a great start of the new season. I’d like to join but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. I don’t want to suffer Shiny Object Syndrome.
    Also, right now I don’t have any hint about possible niches, which would make researching a little bit more difficult.

    On the other hand, there won’t be a better chance than this to start something.


    • Cristina,

      I think you are right. The large amount of people starting new projects is likely directly related to the new season. End of summer might be a better time to reboot than New Years. I know I have been bad. (Actually just finishing what should be my last trip until after Xmas now).

      Hopefully I am doing this as more than a bright and shiny hunt. I do know how tempting constant “new” projects can be. I have been thinking about this for months (in a vague way) so I hope not.

      At least with so many people doing it there will be company to compare with. 🙂

  3. Heya Steve

    Good luck on your new challenge – be watching with interest! In some ways I’d love to start up a new site….but barely keeping up with the two I have! And until I really add the business side to One Spoon and start generating revenue I can’t drop that ball and put a new one in the air. (That business side starts in about 6 weeks though….eeekkkkk! – be interesting to see how that pans out exactly!).

    Are you planning to monetize the new site with Gene via Affiliate stuff or are you planning to create your own products?


    • Paul,

      We are still not 100% decided on the topic. The main one we are looking at would probably be a combination of adsense, on page advertising with some affiliate marketing (already have found what looks like 1 good product…with a few more ideas). It is a little more of a one visit type site rather than the type to build a loyal following.

      Starting a new site is something that is exciting, but I am breaking my own rule: Write for a topic for more than 3 years before you think about starting something new. I have done SSS for far less than 2 years. BUT I do think the examples from this will dovetail nicely with SSS and I like the idea of complete transparency this can afford me.

      To finally answer the question (if we do the one we are high on now) there will likely be no products for a LONG time. Except maybe something design for email capture give away. (you know I love my email marketing)

      Looking forward to more info on your business side of One Spoon. Let me know If I can help you out with a post or anything.

      • One other thing to consider, Steve, is the benefits of having an authority website that could act as a lead generator.

        I’m sure it’s crossed your mind at one point; build up a secondary authority site where, although it’s in a different niche, you could leverage the hell out of your assets and also bridge them together which could lead to consulting or freelancing opportunities.

        The site I want to do will essentially get me aligned with businesses (without exposing too much) which puts me in a position to lead people to the freelance site I’m also working on, ya know?

        • Steve

          Been meaning to shoot you an email about the business side of One Spoon – literally haven’t stopped since hit the UK on Sunday night.

          I’ll try and get a mail to you this week….


        • I hear ya,

          That is “sort of” the way the GLP gained traction so fast. I was able to give a couple links from relevant, decent PR blogs I own in the same niche.

          Leveraging existing assets really helps. I am sure even linking from this blog..though it will not be relevant will give some decent traction to the new site.
          Things really do get a little bit easier when you get a few web properties under your belt. (in many ways)

  4. I don’t know how long ago they launched that, Steve, but it already has an excellent Alexa rank.

    Interestingly, I am kind of new around even this blog Steve, so I haven’t heard of “The Go Large Project” as of yet.

    But, I did follow your link and I saw some really interesting titles under that tag.

    I will definitely be reading some of these…:)


    • Yeah, It looks like there is really a ton of interest out there. I bet 50% or so drop off after a few weeks. But still that is a lot of people experimenting with new building new sites.

      If they are all transparent with their efforts that is a lot of info.

      just FYI, GLP was something my brother and I tried here. It was a new site in a niche I am already in. It did pretty well pretty quickly and I detailed some of the results and methods.

      But one of the problems I had was that it WAS in a niche I had experience with so I was able to link from established blogs (which helped it along) AND I did not want to be 100% transparent because of the possible reverse engineering I mentioned.

      This may be similar…but it is a far better test/example I would think.

      (At some point I will be checking out your spin backlinking too)

  5. Now this sounds really interesting Steve and I’ll definitely be following what you and Gene are doing here. If for no other reason then to help my readers as well when they throw certain questions at me that I’m not able to answer. Yep, I’m still a work in progress and probably always will be.

    Looking forward to this so will have to subscribe to your RSS feed so I can read your future posts.

    Thanks for sharing and for stopping by my place for a visit. Always appreciated.


    • Thanks Adrienne,

      I appreciate the comment and you dropping by. Hopefully there will be a lot to learn (even for veterans not just from MY efforts but from the heaps of other people doing the same here.

      With so many people trying to create new sites it is almost like a case study on site building)

  6. Hi Steve
    This sounds terribly exciting and I wish I would join in to push myself to another level..but being in the internet marketing game, I now hate to be held down to something..

    I like getting out of bed whenever, not having any appointments, and never having to be anywhere.. You have all this yet you still lock yourself in for more work??

    I admire that you set yourself a challenge and go for it! I thought I was a multitask-er but then I came across you!

    • Mitz,

      Really it shouldn’t be too bad for me. I have put in my “years” of efforts on my first (money) site. I wouldn’t say it runs on “autopilot”. but it doesn’t take nearly as much work as this one (that is still in “building” stage.

      The great thing with the “new” site is that it really works in conjunction with this one. It gives me something interesting to talk about with concrets lessons. I probably wouldn’t do it otherwise.

      My philosophy has always been to keep at a specific niche for 3-5 years before you try a new one.. (which I did with my first one)

      So in many ways NOT being swayed into a new bright and shiny experiment is the “right” thing to do.

      It just so happens it came at the perfect time for me. (I have also been goofing off all summer…so it is a good time to buckle down)

  7. Hey Steve,

    I think your new project is a great idea of yours and I, like the rest here, understand perfectly that you want to protect what is working for you (Go Large Project, I actually knew nothing about it) but I guess it was due to the cause that I’m on a crazy learning mode right now as I write this (it’s a long story, you’ll be able to read about it soon if interested).

    I have been literally in a rollercoaster lately, have invested all I got into IM, including products, mentors, services, etc, and I’m about to launch in the next days in both languages (Spanish & English) and in some niches that I think I may be an expert.

    As a last note, I need to get in touch with you (hope you don’t mind) will email you in the following days.

    Take care and good luck with the new project!


    PS. Are you running marathons? I hope I can get successful quick as I want to try a few in the USA, actually my first ones! 🙂

    • Sergio,

      Sounds like you have one heck of a lot going on too!

      I can certainly understand the fast learning/action mode. It can seem a little dizzying at first.

      Feel free to contact me by email whenever. I am just finishing up my trip to NO so it may take a day to reply…but I will get back to you.

      I am not training for a marathon -right now- but I have run quite a few in the past. I have been running cross country since I was a high school freshman.. that is like 20 plus years running. I feel like Forrest Gump.


  8. Wow Steve, this is gonna be an explosion! I love case studies, especially when it comes from real successful people like you and Gene 🙂 Me personally, I like the idea of niche sites more than a big authority niche blog (maybe because I’m doing SEO with review pages and haven’t touched on blog yet). But I love this challenge. Best wishes for you two and this venture! I’m here for more LOL!


    • Nothing wrong with real tight niche websites and review pages. It is really a great way to start. In fact that is a lot of what my brother has been doing. I know he even has about 40-50 Squidoo lenses as part of his efforts.

      It all builds up.

      Thanks for your well wishes and good luck with YOUR niche sites!

  9. Steve,

    I can’t wait to see how this all pans out! I’ve been watching that Niche Dual on the “Smart Passive Income” blog for quite some time. You really can learn quite a bit from this. Good luck Mate!

    • Chad,

      Ya, I remember the very first day Pat announced that duel and thinking what a great idea it was.

      It should be a great learning experience for a lot of people. It has the added benefit of having so many people involved…which will really help to give a broad range of ideas and methods.

  10. Wow Steve! I’m certainly looking forward to this one. The fact that you’re going to “go public” on the niche is particularly useful to your readers who can really see what you are doing and the results. Fantastic!

    I’ve started a few sites up recently so I’m in there with you, buddy!

    • Thanks Rob,

      Ya, I like the transparency. The GLP was great and it did well. …but being in a niche where i already had relevant sites to link from helped A LOT.

      This will be a lot better because I can really show a average non MMO niche site can be created. (and hopefully create another strong revenue stream)

      I think this will really show quite a lot.

  11. Hi Steve, I’ve recently started what I hope will one day be my million dollar blog. As with all new sites the hardest thing is to get targeted traffic but once that is resolved I’m hoping it will turn into a real money spinner.

    I must take a look at the blog you mentioned to see what valuable information I can garner from it to use on my latest niche. I reckon I should also keep an eye on you to see what insights I can gain from your journey.

    • Sire,

      If you haven’t yet monetized the new site you should join in the challenge. At very least you gain a link on Corbetts site (which has high traffic) and some curious traffic from other people participating.

      Not enough of a reason (IMO) to start a new site, but more than enough if you have started one (or are going to)

      Good luck with your new site!

        • LOL,

          Tell me about it! Drives me crazy too. Specifically since I try to leave at least a half-way decent comment every time I comment. The disappearing comment drives me batty.

          Don’t worry here though, I check “spam” pretty religiously so I -should’nt- ever miss anything. As long as the comments seem “real” I approve them. Although I only look thru spam for nice shiny avatars.

          There has been an article since the one i originally linked where Corbett goes into more detail about what the “steps” are into it. I don’t think they are going to individually reply. Since like 400 people gave the “I am in” thing. Anyhow, Hopefully I will see you around in the contest. (and of course will be around your site again.

  12. Steve, aloha. Quite a challenge you and Gene have set for yourselves. It will be fun to join you on the ride and see what happens.

    Your thought process in selecting the topic and how to monetize it should prove most enlightening. Thanks for sharing it will us. (BTW, I think it is a smart move on your part not to share the details on the GLP.)

    How nice it is that you and your brother work your business together.

    Best wishes to you both a terrific week ahead. Until next time, aloha. Janet

  13. Hi Steve,

    I am new to you and blogging. This challenge is interesting and stimulating. And you have also expressed great humility in wanting to see this through the long term. I like that mindset. Slow and steady to your millions.

    What are your thoughts on commenting for blogging success? Is there any other effective ways to blogging success?


    • Jimmy,

      Thanks for the nice words and comment. I appreciate it. I hope I see you here again!. Anyhow, I have expressed my views on blog success pretty in depth in this series in the past: As for commenting on blogs. Absolutely I think it is important. The newer a blog is the more important it is. When a blog is old and popular it becomes less important. This is because of networking. You want to go out there make connections and have people come to know you. (of course links help too). Over a long period of time the effectiveness of this wans in camparision to creating killer content. But AT FIRST I would say spending a lot of time commenting (and only leaving quality comments) may be amongst the most important factors.

  14. Steve,

    You’ve got me stumped with the HQ part. I want to but I don’t want to, haha. I’m glad the time has finally come though and I’m not tempted to jump ahead anymore – no thanks to you! 😛

    Nice site here! Let’s keep in touch. Can’t wait to see the progress of your blog for your chosen topic. When are you going to tell your audience what it is?

    PS. Do you use the same approach to a domain name choice as Corbett & Caleb?


    • Steph,

      Sorry to be the devil on your shoulder whispering bad things. 😉 . Right now my plan is to “go live” around Oct 1st, is I can get the content all done by then. (I want to have 8-10 good articles in place by then. And then write up my steps, thoughts up to date for this site by oct 7-10.

      Yes, the method is fairly similar. Since I am doing it with my brother we just tossed ideas back and forth during a trip from NJ to Washington DC until we found one that sounded good,had profit potential and was something we could both write about…and had lots of potential articles. Then It was just keyword research. Definitely want to keep in touch. I am very interesting in how/what others are doing to succeed in this upcoming contest.

  15. Hello Steve,

    thanks for sharing.

    Good luck on the new project ! I will follow with interest, may be to learn new stuff.

    It seems exciting.

    Competition today is great, but with creativity and passion you can achieve the goal of one million dollars!

    • Monja,

      Glad you have joined in. This challenge will not only be a lot of fun it will hopefully teach us all some good lessons and hopefully make a little money in the interim. Glad to have you on board!

  16. Wanted to say thanks for this article and providing a link to the blog post on Think Traffic.

    I’m a combat veteran and a single Dad to a 4yo little girl, so working from home legitimately has been a dream and goal of mine for a few years now. I’ve had success in my various little attempts over the years but recently began a full effort with a great group and a great site. So we’re having a little bit of success in our first couple of weeks and I see a lot of momentum – maybe I’ll enter and be one of the sites in the spotlight at the end. 😉

    Also, I am emailing you in two minutes, as I’ve mentioned your site and included a link to an article over here, in an article being published today on ComLuv. I really hope that’s OK!



    • Thomas,

      First of all, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your service to the nation!

      It takes a lot of effort to get the ball rolling on the internet career, Of course it helps a lot if you have prior experience. Short learning curve and all that. SO good luck and keep at it.

      You definitely should enter the contest. It is at least worth a little bit of free traffic and perhaps some nice links from a decently high PR site. there are a few hoops to jump thru like getting clicky and setting up an accountability log. But nothing too much. (both are things that help you succeed anyway)

      I appreciate the link love, man! I will be sure to swing by and comment when it is up!

      Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you again!

  17. Steve the timeline for this, as I understand it, is the “lifetime” of the blog. Are you thinking in terms of a specific amount of time versus something open-ended? Say five years? I would think some blogs could probably meet that goal. I bet this one could!

  18. The secret of building a successful million dollar blog is to know how to satisfy the blog visitors and what exactly they are looking for. If you could manage to know their requirements and fulfill it by providing them what they want, your blog will be full of potential visitors to whom you can easily make a customer.

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