Working on SEO/Digital Marketing for more than a decade, I've found myself trying to get some extra cash with small side projects related to the industry. I don't have the time, budget, or energy to pursue them now, but maybe I can inspire you with some ideas.
Public Link Profile Directory
I created this project and managed it for a few months. It was this very simple setup:
- A small VPS running 24/7 SEO Spyglass (with proxies)
- A very long list of domains to analyze.
- An HTML export template of the link analysis
- A domain where I uploaded all HTML reports.
The idea was to create a public directory of the link profile of many websites. The website has Adsense in the right places and the chance of adding your domain to the list for U$1. It could be free, but spammers would take the site by storm.
I redirected some expired domains to the main domain to get a little authority. Since the website was pure HTML+CSS, the need for hosting/bandwidth was minimal.
I uploaded around twenty thousand URLs and got a few thousand visitors and some clicks on the ads. Nothing impressive, but good enough as a MVP.
I discontinued the project because I wasn't able to improve the template of SEO SpyGlass (options were insignificant at that time, I do not know if they changed this), and it required some technical skills I lacked to automate the entire process.
Other monetization options could be affiliate links (in the ads or a newsletter) or promoting other SEO services. For many SEOs, U$1 for a link report is pretty decent (even if it is not instantly obtained since the request goes to the Spyglass queue, but let's be honest: you can wait for 10 minutes).
I think this is a very doable project for any medium-level developer.
Dashboard SEO for Journalists
Most journalists are not aware of any good SEO practice. They just write content, and, in some cases, an SEO specialist rebuilds the article (headlines, metas, internal links, etc.). The value for them is more in the investigation process, not the optimization.
The idea -never got to the MVP phase, just proof of concept- was pretty simple. When the journalist is creating an article, the interface will ask for some initial topics/keywords (ie. "Angela Merkel" and "Inmigration", or "Mexico" and "Quetzalcoatl"), and the tool would suggest keywords to add to the article, internal links (from the same website or a pool of selected sources). It could provide some real-time data (from Google Trends, Twitter Trending Topics or similar) to add some extra value.
Such a tool should be straightforward to use, making (probably) all SEO training for journalists unnecessary, and using just one API to pull all the data from Ahrefs/Google Trends/Search Console, etc., saving money and avoiding dealing with dozens of accounts.
With a handful of developers, some money, and a willing media website to try this out, this could be a hit.
Linkbuilding Agency (not what you think!)
There are many freelancers and agencies out there selling links. So, what's the angle here? I'll tell you.
Most agencies are based on a specific country. But many of the biggest clients willing to pay are located in a different one. Adding a new provider is a prolonged and bureaucratic process. They need to have a local vendor (for tax and payment purposes) with a local physical address and local support. I can assure you; many good agencies are getting less business than they could because they are located in just one country.
If you have the chance of opening a business in several countries, you will have to manage agencies and buy links to them and resell everything with a 40%-50% extra fee to big companies. You will be adding value by buying from a big pool of sellers, getting discounts (because you will be a significant stream of business for them), and paying them on time (please keep in mind that big companies can take up to 180 days to pay).
If you have this approach, I can immediately send prospects from LATAM willing to buy decent links.
Selling high-level SEO analysis and reports
Sometimes I am bored and would start looking at websites with absolutely nothing to do with anything that I am doing. Of course, after a couple of hours, I end up with a lot of information and insights just for me, but since I am not working for them, it is pretty much useless: I learn things that maybe could be useful in a hypothetical future project.
So, I could analyze an entire industry (let's say, home insurance in USA, or retail companies in Colombia, or OTT for Brazil), create a beautiful report (probably with a visual designer's help), and sell it for a few thousand. Not for a specific customer, but for whoever is interested. I know that other companies are selling these kinds of reports for a lot more money. But you have to be a big brand to get that level of money, so maybe that isn't the best approach. I don't know.