This story is highly correlated with the cryptocurrency bull market of 2017, when a tremendous amount of money was flowing towards the market. Building the exact same side project right now wouldn’t be so effective.
But let’s start at the beginning, the story begins in may 2017, I had just left the company I was working for as a Node.js developer and was trying to build a project that would earn enough money to allow me to live as a digital nomad, like Pieter Levels or Adam@surfcoderepeat(Which Twitter feed I was reading every single day. I was obsessed with the digital nomad lifestyle back then).
At this time, I was heavily involved with cryptocurrencies, and one day, as I’m trying to figure out on which platform I can buy some OMG (omisego) tokens, I discover the “Markets” tab on CoinMarketCap (cmc).
Basically, for any cryptocurrency, you can go to the “markets” tab on cmc, and you’ll find a list of platforms on which the coin/token is available to buy.
At this point, I think to myself:
“If I am looking on where to buy some OMG tokens, I’m pretty sure others are too, so I could write a guide based on the CoinMarketCap results”
Now, most of thoses platforms have a referral program (Which means that I get a % of a sale if I refer a user to them). Thoses are my referral links:
So I create an account on each platform, and write a mapping file on vscode studio between the platform and my referral link.
I then buy a domain name, and launch a website, let’s call it example-website.com.
I write a Node.js scrapper to fetch the top 1000 cryptocurrencies on cmc, their markets tab, and to automatically generate a HTML page for each cryptocurrency with the following template:
In the OMG token case:
The HTML page itself displays a little bit of description text and then the list of the platforms on which you can buy the token/coin, with my referral code of course.
How did it work out then? Insanely well
- 1,68M pageviews
- 61k clicks
It turns out a lot of people were googling “where can I buy OMG”, “How to buy ETH”, and my website was ranking very well for those keywords.
The screenshot above shows how insane the traffic was during the cryptocurrencies bubble peak (from December 2017 to January 2018).
At that time, I was receiving more than 2300 clicks a day from google search alone, and for every user that signed up on a platform from the list above, I was receiving a share of the revenue.
The revenue from this little side-project was enough to cover my expenses for months, and it allowed me to live as a Digital nomad in Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bali, India and more…
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and as the 2017 cryptocurrencies bubble popped, the traffic tanked rapidly.
As a conclusion: When building a successful side-project, you must not assume that it will last for ever, the market can change, you revenue can disappear overnight
Feel free to reach out on Twitter if you have comments or questions.