Making Money With Wallpaper Domains… ish

Hello readers :)

As some of you may know, I am a domain fiend. I actually have no idea how many domains I own right now, but it’s somewhere in the low double figures. Most are pipedream projects which either never saw the light of day, or did but failed due to lack of effort on my part. But I’m not going to talk about the failures today.

I’m going to talk about the very modest success I’ve seen in an unlikely place: Wallpaper domains.

In this post I’m going to walk through exactly what I’ve put in and what I’ve got out of these domains, and maybe I’ll reach some clever way of quantifying whether it’s worth it or not.

I’m going to tell you right now up front: We’re talking £45 profit over two years here. This is not a story of overnight success.

In January 2009 I registered I collect Swiss army knives, and was at the time a regular user of so I saw a lot of nice pictures of knives, put two and two together and ended up with a fun hobby wallpaper site.

I’ve made about £40 per year in adverts on knifewallpapers. It’s not enough to retire on. But it is profit; the total monetary cost is about £10 per year registration fees; the hosting is negligible and fits into my ‘unlimited’ plan on dreamhost. In terms of time, knife wallpapers is difficult to quantify because I did enjoy adding the pictures. No more than 30 minutes per picture processing and writing time. Multiply that by 42 posts is 21 hours of work.

So then I bought in November 2009 and put 12 posts on it within a week or two. Adverts were added in October 2010 and have made £10 in the past year. Not such a great return – in fact that’s a loss of £10, but there are fewer adverts and fewer posts on it than Knife Wallpapers. Surprisingly, it actually gets twice the traffic of knife wallpapers, so I feel that if I tweak the adverts it should be able to generate a profit. Knives provide higher paying adverts than geeks. Also the geek crowd are probably more likely to block and spot ads (untested but sensible-sounding theory).

Then there’s which has made £5 in the last year (so £5 loss). There are also some other domains like which I have done nothing at all with, and so I’m ignoring those in the following calculations. If I’d put any kind of site up on them I’d be including them.

Note that all of these domains were simply available when I bought them – I didn’t buy them from some domain reseller at exorbitant prices, I just had to do a bit of leg-work researching good keywords and checking them.

Total monetary investment: £50 – assuming £10/year which is actually a little higher than I paid on average.
Total time investment: ~32 hours – very difficult to assess. I’m using 30 mins per post as a guide but in fact towards the end I could knock a post together in minutes; I wrote a PHP script to automate the creation of different sized versions of the wallpapers and generate the HTML for me. But I’ve no idea how long writing that script took, it was nearly a year ago. Important lesson learned: Log my use of time better! (there’s an app for that, no doubt).

Total monetary return £95
Total monetary profit £45

That means I’m working for about £1.40 per hour on the wallpaper domains (32/45 ~= 1.4)

And this is the key figure to pay attention to. In effect with a £50 investment over two years I’ve built a project which pays £1.40 per hour.

This doesn’t sound too impressive. But consider the extremely low investments. £50 and 32 hours. That’s a weekend project in effect. And another thing: I have not touched any of these domains at all in nearly a year. They run themselves, and there’s a strong feeling that if I put more time into them, the profits will grow. Traffic is on the increase so even if I continue to leave them, they will keep providing meagre profits.

Well, that’s the story of how I made £45 in two years. I did warn you it wasn’t very impressive!

What’s the point of this post? Certainly not to brag, it’s a pitiful profit. No, it’s mainly been to collect my own thoughts, devise some kind of metric and decide if it’s worth revisiting these wallpaper domains and trying to boost the profits in 2012, or whether to let the domains lapse and decide my time is worth more than £1.40 per hour.

Hopefully you’ve found it interesting to see how I think about my projects, and maybe you can apply some of the same thinking to your own projects to see if it’s time to pull the plug, or if it’s worth giving it another chance.

I’m going to give the wallpaper domains another year, and aim to put in at least 100 hours. If this time next year I’m not seeing at least £140 then I think it’s time to let them die. It’ll be fun, and I have a suspicion that I’ll actually see a lot more profit than that. My theory is that profit per unit of time is exponential not linear. Let’s see!

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  1. #1 by rutherford on February 3, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    Nice idea to value the projects in terms of £/hr.

    As perhaps a lot of people buy knives based on seeing one they like and not necessarily knowing in advance the brand, I’d guess if you used affiliate links to featured knives it would increase conversion ratios.

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