Prior to the Google Panda and Penguin updates, you could easily create a small website, usually under 20 pages slap some affiliate or AdSense ads on it, built a few crappy links through Internet directories and bingo, you could start making money. Not a great deal, but certainly enough to make it worth your while.
Now Google (and other search engines) have made it so difficult to rank, that small independent websites may even struggle to cover the cost of the domain name and web hosting, let alone actually make a profit.
Why? Google has always leaned towards giving big and established websites priority in their organic search results, while smaller and new sites have been pushed all the way back where they receive little or no traffic.
A key to getting small young sites to rank in Google in the past was to build backlinks from other websites. That, however, all changed when Google introduced their Panda and Penguin (and other) updates. This search engine algorithm effectively targeted small websites who had built too many backlinks from directories and social bookmark sites, et cetera, and those who had too much duplicate and thin contents, and penalised them to the point they received next to no traffic from Google.
Despite Google being around since 1998, it still uses a very primitive way of ranking websites, i.e. the number of links pointing to it and its age. This is fine for all the big established websites because they have thousands sometimes millions of links and age on their side. Even big, aged websites that have a large percentage of duplicate contents are usually immune from any Google penalty.
Now that link building and duplicate contents has essentially been clamped down on by Google, the only way small independent websites can get a decent amount of traffic is by creating quality, unique contents. And I'm not talking about 10 or 20 short unique articles, but a comprehensive website with well-written, detailed articles, backed up with quality, naturally obtained backlinks. And even then there's no guarantee that you will get a significant amount of traffic, especially if your articles are about something that has already been covered by numerous other big websites.
I've mostly come across these websites advertised on forums and eBay, where the seller is claiming they can make you hundreds if not thousands per month for just a small investment (usually under $100). These sites are usually advertised as micro niche websites, websites that focus on a small micro subject. This sounds great because you'll get a website that is about something that the big boys haven't already covered, which means you won't have to compete with them. However, Google has also clamped down on micro niche websites, especially those that are of a poor quality or contain large amounts of duplicate content.
That's extremely unlikely and here's why. While browsing these forums, I decided to contact a handful of sellers and asked them for a few sample websites. These sample websites should be the best of the best and showcase the seller's work. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of these websites were absolute pure junk. They were either extremely poorly written, or contain like-for-like duplicate or spun contents. These websites would never rank, and even if they did for a short period they would never pass a manual inspection.
One seller I came across was advertising their service at just $50 for one micro niche website that would make you a whopping (wait for it) $3000 per month. $3000 per month? Wow, it's hard not to get sucked in for just a $50 investment. Actually, the magical $3000 per month claim was based on a unspecified amount of websites, though the sales page gives you the impression your $50 investment is going to start making you thousands per month. Overall, the seller sales page was fairly vague and didn't give you any specific details other than you would need to buy your own domain name and web space to start making up to $3000 per month.
Upon contacting him or her and asking for more details, the only thing they were offering was 5 articles at around 500 to 1000 words each, a WordPress theme and a couple of logos. Yeah, so this individual thinks that a small but unspecified number of websites that contained 5 crappy articles, a WordPress theme, and a few logos is going to make you $3000 per month as long as you do a little bit of search engine optimisation.
Another thing I will point out is that these ready-made website sellers will copy and paste lots of positive reviews from what they claim are genuine customers, though there seems to be a complete absence of negative ones. Come on, even the best companies get negative reviews. Most of these reviews are also very old, sometimes years, possibly before Google clamped down on these low quality websites.
Upon mildly questioning one of these ready-made website services on a well-known Internet marketing forum, I was issued with a warning and my comment was swiftly deleted by a forum moderator. It just goes to show you that these forums that sell their advertising space to these shady ready-made website sellers essentially do not care whether their service is of a high or poor quality, and censors anybody who questions them.
Most of these ready-made website services come from individuals living in poor regions of Africa, Asia and South America, which probably explains why they offer their "too good to be true" services at such a cheap price. Making $50-$100 now and again must be quite a big incentive for them, and is exactly why they offer their ready-made website packages.
Even if you come across a seller, which you believe offers a quality service, you have to remember that nobody could keep on writing quality, unique articles without compromising on quality and will eventually end up either copying or spinning the contents they sell to you.
From the research I've done one thing I've noticed with these cheap ready-made websites is that you won't get many options when it comes to actually choosing the subject of your website.
For example, if you wanted a small website that featured reviews or specifications of the latest Lamborghinis you're probably not going to get it. Instead, they'll probably fob you off with some BS story that Lamborghinis don't have a high search volume and therefore the site they'll sell to you will have a subject of something like "best solar panels of 2016" or "best herbal birth control", et cetera.
Because these ready-made website sellers essentially rely on keyword popularity services to find a micro/obscure subject or just browse and copy articles from article directories, which then ends up going through a spinning program so it doesn't look like obvious duplicate contents, that's the reason you'll end up with a very uninspiring website subject, simply because that's the best they could find, or haven't already made it for a previous customer.
These ready-made website sellers make a complete mockery of themselves when they they claim their ready-made website packages can make you hundreds or even thousands per month for just a tiny investment. Think about it, they want you to believe they put in hours/days of gruelling work designing and adding quality contents to a website, but rather than publish the website and reap the rewards themselves, they want to sell it to you for an unbelievably low price of $50-$100!
These people are either unbelievably bad at maths or outright scammers.
Another thing that makes me laugh about these cheap ready-made website packages is that they are often sold as a publish and forget website that will make you a passive income without lifting a finger. Umm, no, a key to a successful website is to regularly update it with fresh useful contents, not to let it sit there hoping it will magically climb the search engine ladder with contents that never gets updated.
Those who do not sell their ready-made website packages as a publish and forget site will often claim they are laying down the foundations for you to build an authority website. Really? So, for $50-$100, they'll provide you with a few crappy spun articles, but it's up to you to take your site to the next level.
That's a bad deal.
These ready-made website sellers will boldly claim that you can make hundreds/thousands per month through your AdSense or affiliate account, yet they will fail to mention you run a real risk of having your account suspended or banned because of poor or duplicate contents.
Amazon, in particular, have been pretty ruthless in identifying and banning the use of their ads on poor quality sites that offer no original contents that is beneficial to the website visitor. Google AdSense may initially give you the benefit of the doubt and allow you to improve your website, yet if things don't improve, and your website is clearly made up of nothing but poorly written or spun contents, then a suspension or outright ban will be inevitable.
The days of slapping AdSense or affiliate ads on a poorly made website are truly over, and anybody who does really is playing with fire. That's why you should be extra, extra careful if you did ever buy a ready-made site by doublechecking the contents is up to scratch and won't be violating any of the terms and conditions of the ad network you're planning to use.
Short answer is no. There are, without a doubt, some quality website creators out there, but that will cost you a lot more than $50-$100. 99.9% of these cheap ready-made websites are pure rubbish, that either spin contents from other websites which will result in a site that reads like gobbledygook or simply scrape products and their description (from Amazon, et cetera). And even if you get lucky and get a decent site, ranking it in Google is a massive challenge in itself.
The problem with so-called ready-made/micro niche websites is that it has given scammers a perfect platform to prey on people who know very little about making or running a website online. Unlike most online scams where scammers essentially tricks you into handing over your money for a quick but false moneymaking pipedream, only for you to realise within days that you've been scammed, a ready-made/micro niche website seller will deliver a website with the impression that it will make you money, but only after X amount of time.
By the time you realise that ready-made/micro niche website you bought is a damp squib, the timeframe to make a chargeback via your credit card company or PayPal has expired. That not only means that the scammer gets to keep your money, but continues selling his or hers misleading/fraudulent service.
You should also take into account that genuine website creators are predominantly used by small local businesses who want an online presence to promote their business or services, but don't have the time or knowledge to create a website themselves. Genuine websites creators don't usually offer "made for money" websites because, as previously stated, nobody in their right mind is going to sell you a hugely profitable website for a tiny fee, and any genuine individual or website creation company is not going to jeopardise their business by selling you a false pipedream.
If you do decide to take a gamble and buy one of these cheap ready-made websites, do yourself a favour and make sure you do your homework thoroughly. Ideally stay away from Internet marketing forums and auction sites such as eBay and instead focus on those who have a physical website and contact details. Make sure you ask for samples websites or a portfolio of sites they've already sold and thoroughly inspect the quality and uniqueness of them. Also ask questions about ranking and if those sites require hundreds/thousands of hours of SEO work from yourself.
If the seller is claiming you can make outrageous amounts of money, such as hundreds or thousands of dollars per month for just a tiny investment then you can be pretty confident it's an outright scam. Also, be wary of the seller's location. For example, places such as India and Pakistan are notorious for bad ready-made websites and search engine optimisation packages.
In my honest opinion, if you're serious about starting your own website, then do it yourself and build it up over the years. It isn't easy, and it's a constant learning curve, but if you persist, the process becomes easier and more enjoyable over time. Ideally, don't focus on a subject that you think is going to bring the highest number of visitors, but focus on one that you're passionate about. You never know, after several years you may have an established and authority website that makes you a nice wad of cash on the side.