The domain I’ve owned the longest (over a decade) is a search engine for a specific creative niche and the very first iteration of it was the pay per click model. I wish I could remember where I obtained the script, but whatever it was, I’m sure I found it searching the pages of Hot Scripts. I used to love searching that site for a suitable piece of software when I’d come up with a new website idea.
The more I became comfortable with WordPress, the less I wanted to deal with the one off commercial software scripts. I eventually moved this site to the open source WordPress software, so my new Hot Scripts is the Envato network; Codecanyon 1 for the plugins and Themeforest 2 for the themes. Plugins and themes are a lot easier to handle compared to posting ads on the old Scriptlance site (acquired by freelancer.com) looking for customizations.
The pay per click script was pretty plain out of the box. It had all the functionality and almost no design, so I had to add my own finishing touches with some rather archaic html I learned screwing around on a WebTV (remember WebTV?) back in the late 90’s. It had separate advertiser and publisher logins, and a step by step wizard to create and pay for ads too. At this point in my life I had never spent this much time and effort on any other project. I was really proud of this one.
Once I had it looking half way decent, I was ready to launch. I hooked it up to a couple of other search engines so the search results wouldn’t be a barren wasteland. I was also an affiliate of those search engines, so if users clicked on certain results I’d also get a small kick back. I set up my own accounts at larger search engines to advertise, and I also starting reaching out to a handful of the larger sites in my niche to inquire about procuring some monthly banner advertising slots.
I really put a lot into this site, so when it wasn’t producing after quite awhile, it was a bitter pill to swallow. I decided to try and expand the sites foot print by adding something to attract more users. Article directories were very popular at the time, so I created one for just this niche. It worked pretty well to get more people to the site, but the pay per click idea was just a bust.
I don’t know if it was the wrong market for such an idea, or if it was another situation where I had all the ambition in the world and no business sense, but I threw in the towel on the pay per click idea after a couple of years. I ended up finding a search engine script called Sphider and rebuilt the entire site. (Sphider up front with everything else WordPress) This software even came with its own crawler so I could pick only the sites I wanted to index. My little search engine became highly specialized.
I like it better with more content control anyway, but there’s no revenue generation on the site other than a few Adsense ads, so it’s hard to stay motivated and keep up with it. Websites change too, and I constantly have to re-index them so the search results don’t become obsolete. This isn’t a site I’m willing to give up on just yet, but the pay per click thing was another failure for me.