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A Website For Solitaire Making $10,000 Monthly

Making $10,000 monthly running a simple solitaire website

“One day I decided to try it out and earned around $1000 the first month. That gave me the boost to spent time improving the site, optimizing speed and improving SEO.

A couple of years later, the site is now earning $10k+ a month ."“

What is the business and who’s behind it?

Hi there! My name is Holger, a designer-turned-developer from Denmark, and I'm the creator of Online Solitaire. I've always had a fondness for solitaire games and have been in the business of creating them for over 10 years.

Online Solitaire is a website that allows people to play games related to solitaire online like Klondike Solitaire, FreeCell and Spider Solitaire.

Ever since I made my first solitaire game for the Mac App Store and experienced how happy people were with them, I've been hooked on making the best possible version of these card games.

In January 2020, Online Solitaire was making around $1,500 in monthly revenue. By Feb 2022, the site has reached $10,000 in monthly revenue.

How was the business started?

According to Holger, he started building a solitaire game app for the Mac App Store more than 10 years ago while still working full time:

“I created my first solitaire game 15 years back. It was an that I made for the Mac App Store. I created the app as a fun little project that would allow me to learn a new programming language with the hope that it would generate some income on the side. And I didn’t do anything special when I released the first app. I simply went through the review process, the app got released, and then I hoped for the best.

I didn’t have too high hopes, so the day after, when I saw that 100 people had downloaded it and it had generated $20, I was thrilled. That doesn’t seem like much, but for a young man who was just doing a fun little project on the side, it felt great!”

The app remains a side hustle for Holger as he has a full-time job as CTO for a startup. He only truly focus on building Online Solitaite after quitting his corporate job:

I’ve worked in a lot of different places, but I’ve always had my solitaire game as a side hustle. I ended up traveling to New York to co-found a startup, a marketplace for sneakers and streetwear, where I had the role of CTO. I ran that company for three years, but in the end, we got beaten by our competitors.

After that, I was kind of burned out, and that’s when I decided to focus on my solitaire game for a while. So I designed and programmed my games again from scratch and that’s how Online Solitaire was born.

However, the site wasn’t bringing in any money for a good few years.

Holger admitted that he didn’t believe he would be able to make money or earn a living from the site.

It was only after giving it a try of running banner ads and earning “around $1000 the first month” that he decided to double down on improving the site and running it like a business:

“I kind of thought that no-one earned money from banner ads anymore, so I didn't even bother with them.

One day I decided to try it out and earned around $1000 the first month. That gave me the boost to spent time improving the site, optimizing speed and improving SEO. A couple of years later, the site is now earning $10k+ a month ."

He also attributes his success to the fact he “chose to build an "unsexy" app that I felt pretty sure had a market rather than a "sexy" app where the market wasn't as clearly defined.”

What are some of the marketing strategies used?

“Search has, by far, been the best way to get people to visit my site. Search from Google, search from people in the Google Play Store, the Chrome Store and other places.”

Holger shared that his main marketing strategy and focus has always been on search, saying that “Solitaire is one of those things people search for, so making sure that my site pops up when they do is one of my main jobs.”

Here are some examples:

Holger spent most of his days trying to “rank better on Google.”, doing marketing tasks such as updating all the written content on his site, “making a much more thorough guide on how to play solitaire, optimizing the content for specific keywords, and implementing as many SERP features as possible.”.

SERP features

Holger explains:

“Adding SERP features is a smart way to get boosted to the top of Google for certain search terms and to draw more attention to your site in search results. Going through the different SERP features and implementing whichever makes sense for your site is an easy win.”

I spend most of my time these days on SEO-related stuff and the most difficult part of SEO for me is link-building. One of my best strategies so far is to reach out to people and hear if they'd want a custom solitaire game on their site: https://online-solitaire.com/embed. But it's definitely hit and miss.”

Keyword Optimization

Holger uses Moz’s on page ranker to optimize his website’s pages so that users can discover Online Solitaire whenever they search for solitaire-related search terms.

He shares his process:

“Moz's on-page ranker is a life-saver when it comes to keyword optimization.

I use it every time I want to optimize my site for certain keywords. I find the keywords I want to try and rank for on Ahrefs, and then I use Moz to optimize my pages for those keywords.

The on-page grader gives you all kinds of great suggestions on what you can improve, what you're missing and what you're doing wrong.”

Interested in more growth strategies?

Check out this extensive database of over 300+ growth strategies from various indie founders.

With this database, you would be able to find out stories of:

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  • who went from merely hundreds to over 200,000 monthly search impressions implementing just this one strategy

  • how this creator went from 0 to 2,500 email subscribers in just 30 days

  • who generated 6 figures from a digital product in just 2 weeks

How does the business make money?

Online Solitaire generates revenue through both ads and subscription, with the vast majority of the income is through ads.

The site is monetized with ads through the Freestar ad network, after initially started with Google Adsense. Holger said that: “They(Freestar) basically connect you with 10+ ad networks (including Google Adsense) and then all the networks will compete for your ad space each time an ad is shown. In my experience the revenue is a lot better.”.

He also charges people money for removing ads while playing on his website, with the first 5 games being ad-free, sharing the following:

“I ended up integrating Stripe to let people remove the ads. For a blog that might not make sense, but for a solitaire website where some people play an hour or two a day, it makes sense.

I think the lowest pricing I had was a one-time fee of $5 and basically no-one uses it. I'm super surpriced how few people use it. But if you won't pay for playing, you're gonna get ads . And from what I can see, people are fine with this arrangement.”

What are some other advice shared by the founder ?

Holger’s best advice: Don’t go all in

If you can start your business as a side hustle, that’ll be a much safer path. I’ve tried to both quit my job and gone all-in on my business and run a business as a side hustle until it could sustain itself.

There’s no right or wrong, but in my experience, it’s financially less stressful to start your business as a side hustle and then go all in once you’ve reached a certain level.”

“The best advice I can give is to try and make success happen when you still have room to fail. If you have a day job, then making $30 extra a day feels like a bonus and not a disappointing daily revenue.”

Where can we go to learn more about this business?

Online Solitaire official website: https://online-solitaire.com/

Online Jigsaw Puzzles official website: https://online-jigsaw-puzzles.com/

One last thing from Holger:

One more thing. I've recently purchased World of Card Games, where people can play classic multiplayer card games such as Hearts, Spades, Euchreand many more with each other.”