Misadventures With Clickbait #1: Don’t Drink & Code Kids

by, mira

From Clicking The Bait To Baiting The Clicks

One fateful night after a little too much wine, I decided to see if I could make a profitable clickbait site. This idea was born from the continual frustration every creator faces at one point or another; seeing people make obscene amounts of money off of less than mediocre software, websites, & content.

I had scrolled through various social media feeds & clicking on far too many articles that were sub-par and clearly written only for the ad revenue they would generate with no discernable value to the reader. This kind of content seemed to be everywhere; my (very scientific) question was:

Are crappy ad-laden articles so prevalent because %90 of people don’t know how to make half-decent content or was this a deliberate practice that I could actually capitalize off of?

So I decided to find out for myself. Could I actually make a clickbait site that was profitable and that required only a minimal amount of effort to start up and keep running? So I purchased the domain clickbait.ninja and my new terrible creation was born.

The Chronicles Of Click Bait Ninja

This article is the methods and findings from moth #1, April 2018. Each month I’m going to make note of the different things I’ve tried to gain traffic & what the results are. Check back each month for a new update on this project.

Minimal Effort Setup

At first, I didn’t know anything about running a clickbait site, but what I did know was how to spin up a website and host it cheaply but reliably. So I put my new little clickbait site up with a free wordpress theme on my free google cloud server. Next I  sprinkled in some ads, and got to work creating crappy content with enticing titles and thumbnails.

My first masterpiece was titled “New Science Suggests That Jello Might Be Able To Read Your Thoughts“.

Clickbait Article

I ‘wrote’ that five months ago as of this post. I forgot about my little clickbait site for a while, but about a month and a half ago, I started really putting some work in, and it was shockingly easy to generate some initial traffic.

Driving Traffic & Spying On The Masters

So I set up some social media accounts for it and did some simple automation so that posts from my site would automatically post to my various social accounts; twitter, facebook, pinterest, reddit, stumbleuppon, and google +. I also tried out some gorilla marketing tactics such as:

  • tweeting out links to my articles with all the currently trending hashtags and topics stuffed in there.
  • Signing up for as many slack teams as I could and posting my posts everywhere that was just barely appropriate so that I wouldn’t get banned.
  • Signing up my clickbait site for dating profiles (I’ve gotten perma-banned from tinder twice now)

I started studying other clickbait sites and stealing their methods. Studying sites like buzzfeed, the onion, tech-crunch, clickhole, wired. I used ghostery & adblock to see what kind of ad platforms these sites were using. I also looked at what kind of tools they were using to track user behavior and analytics. Since I started implementing these various methods I’ve seen some growth:

Growth Chart

It’s a small audience, but it’s growing. I’ve also made $2.17 form google ads as of writing this. Currently, that is the only ad platform that I’m using, but I’m going to expand to others soon (because I basically broke all the goolge adsense rules and they’ll probably kick me off soon).

Revenue Goals

My main goal is to double my ad revenue each month. So far, it’s month two and I’ve already more than doubled my ad revenue form April which was $0.40. Now that might not seem like a lot of money but if I can keep up that amount of growth for one year I’ll have $819.2. If I can do that, I’ll have a profitable site. I plan on upping the quality of content once I start to turn a profit so that I can keep the growth going, but only time will tell if this will work or not.

Monetizing Profit & Minimizing Effort


One thing all the big clickbait sites do is write listicles with embedded content from other sources like Instagram and Twitter. A vast amount of content on sites like Buzzfeed are generated by embedding posts. This is genius for a few reasons: you don’t need to spend time making content if you just embed it. You can churn out more content in a shorter amount of time. This means more ads are shown to more users, and that means more money for you.

Affiliate Links

I started writing listicles of products you can buy off of amazon, but here’s the thing; every product uses an affiliate link that gives me money if you click on it and buy something off of amazon. No one’s bought anything yet, but I can dream.

Dark UI Patterns In Clickbait

You know that annoying little pop up banner ad that you get on mobile sites sometimes that seems like it’s positioned just right so that you click on the ad by mistake? Yea, I added those to my site, and I’m not sorry. Apparently there’s even a wordpress plugin that sets those up for you.


I made a clickbait site, pumped out crap content, posted it everywhere I could, shoved my listicles full of affiliate links, ripped off as much as I could from buzzfeed and others, and shamelessly monitized it all with ads.

Thanks For Reading!

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