Most people go through their lives without ever actualizing a million-dollar idea. When you ask folks, they often say they just don’t have the smarts to innovate their way to wealth. Valuable ideas like these, they think, must be incredibly complex. Sometimes we forget that a big idea can be as easy as creating a common-sense solution to an ordinary problem. Or a helpful digital tool to make a frustrating task easy. Epic innovations defined by conceptual complexity have their place, but so do handy devices that save time, ease stress, and help out with everyday situations. Why not embrace simplicity?
With this in mind, we compiled a list of over 25 websites that disprove the common misconception that a successful endeavor can’t be a simple one— to debunk the myth that common sense and innovation can’t go hand-in-hand. The data? Well, it’s illuminating.
The websites covered in this article feature tools that fall into a range of categories: practical assistance in both specialized and everyday varieties, games and game accessories, randomness generators, surprising niche success stories, and more. We’ll dive into the most interesting and successful projects from around the digital landscape. We’ll look at the numbers re: search traffic and direct traffic, the average visit duration for each user, bounce rate, pages per visit, global distribution of audience, and more. For some sites, we’ll even report their annual revenue. And for all of them, we’ll consider the unique challenges that might face that kind of project, and analyze what sets these success stories apart from their competitors.
Let’s dive in.
What does WordCounter.net do? It counts words. Copy and paste your text into the online editor and it will provide you with the count of its words. And its characters. Smartly, Wordcounter offers a little extra. Like a Thesaurus function to improve word choice and optimize your style, and options to test your work for grammatical errors and plagiarism. There’s also a “Blog” page that gives basic writing tips— practical for anyone whose work includes writing, as well as for students. For content marketers and copywriters, the text box tracks KW density. The processor also analyzes reading level, reading time, and speaking time.
Last month, Wordcounter.net hit 7.4M visits:
→ a pretty even split between search and direct traffic: ~55%-45%
→ a relatively short average duration of visit: 0:01:26
→ a high bounce rate: 81.23%
→ fairly low pages per visit: 1.42
→ 34% of its traffic coming from USA; 9.97% coming from India; 7.71% from England
DaFont.com is an archive of fonts that can be downloaded for free. You can browse fonts by popularity, by style, by creator / author, or by popularity.
What this site has over something like Wordcounter.net is that, just in virtue of its function, people are generally going to spend a lot more time on the site, often navigating more pages. It’s a good setup.
Last month, DaFont.com tallied 18.2M visits:
→ heavier on search traffic than direct: 64.5% vs. 30.6%
→ average time on site on the high end of this list: 00:04:25
→ nice, low bounce rate of 36.83%
→ impressive pages per visit: 6.7
→ USA 16.79%; Brazil 8.05%; Mexico 6.26%
→ $10-15M in annual revenue
Seems like DaFont.com has a lot of moving parts. The world of fonts is less static than you might think, and the intellectual property laws around different fonts are a headache— many on the site are only available for personal, non-commercial use. The site needs to store and efficiently organize huge swaths of data, and to make this all available to the visitor in a way that seems more low-maintenance than it is. Still, the results speak for themselves… up to $15M in annual revenue for a font database.
Alright. For the first time, we have something that is a little more selectively targeted. Students and academic professionals use CitationMachine.net to do their citation pages for them— always one of the most annoying, most dreaded parts of submitting work… and always right at the end when you’re already running out of time and patience. With that in mind, CitationMachine.net is a stroke of genius. Because of the desperation of the average user, CitationMachine.net can get away with coming at you hard with a wall of ads— but once you break through, its ability to create and check your citations, scan for plagiarism, and offer grammar analysis proves useful, reliable, and consistent.
Last month, CitationMachine.net saw 6.6M visits:
→ a pretty even split between direct and search traffic (43% – 48.4%)
→ average time of visit very impressive: 0:07:11
→ exceptionally low bounce rate: 18.05%
→ very high pages per visit: 10.67
→ USA 63.88%; Canada 9.38%; Philippines 5.33%
→ a clean $10-15M in annual revenue
Creating a site like citation-machine.net has a few unique difficulties. The whole operation depends on the functionality of a user-friendly data-entry interface that you can ensure will generate accurate, acceptable citations. Still, this represents a cookie-cutter solution to a chore that nobody wants to do— a surefire path to success once you get your algorithms down.
Dang, I love this. This site perfectly captures what I’m trying to get at with this article. Such a simple concept. 1000logos.net is a massive database of logos- some have said “all of the logos in the world”- with information about the logos’ histories and meanings. Of course, all logos are available as downloadable png images of these logos.
Last month, 1000logos.net saw 1M visits:
→ a whopping discrepancy between direct and search traffic: 13.77%-84%
→ very brief time spent on site: 0:01:01
→ high bounce rate: 68.53%
→ pretty low pages per visit: 2.28
→ USA 29.3%; India 9.36%; UK 5.35%
So long as you navigate the copyright law carefully and have the space for all the required data, a site like this should be a relatively smooth operation to run (once you figure out an intuitive UI). For projects like this, you’ve got to start with the assumption that users are mostly in and out. Quick and dirty. Download what they came for and go. Kudos to the team for their efforts, but the written histories of the logos, etc. do not seem to be keeping folks around for more. Oh well. It’s still a gem of a site.
This is an incredible idea that is very efficiently executed. In just five seconds, remove.bg automates the process of removing the background from any image. One click. Love to see it. This is about as far from the hyper-specific niche market as this list gets— who hasn’t wanted to crop out a background at one time or another?
Last month, remove.bg saw a massive 51.5M visits:
→ relatively even breakdown between direct traffic vs. search: 57.1% – 41.6 %
→ strong average visit duration: 0:03:25
→ great bounce rate: 37.81%
→ solid pages per visit: 3.00
→ India 13.95%; USA 10.92%; Brazil 8.26%
→ $2M – $5M in annual revenue
Setting up a site like remove.bg demands some knowledge of machine learning and image processing. To be able to properly identify and remove backgrounds, you’d need the ability to perform some pretty complex algorithmic manufacturing and maintenance. But, if you do have an advanced skill set that can be utilized, this is exactly the sort of service you should be trying to utilize for your million-dollar site.
Is there a more classic simple site than TimeAndDate.com? Equipped with a world clock, digital and printer-ready calendars (for multiple years), and other vaguely time-and-date-related services, this comes across as a very low-maintenance concept. But the devs get pretty creative, including a feature that helps you decide on web meeting times across time zones, countdown clocks and stopwatches, and more. There’s also info about sun & moon cycles, weather, and somewhat-relevant fun facts and apps. You’ve gotta admit, they stretch a thin idea out pretty far. It shows in the results.
TimeAndDate.com attracted 54.6M visits last month:
→ heavy toward search traffic > direct: 62.10% – 33.02%
→ very short average duration of visit: 0:01:43
→ high bounce rate: 62.75%
→ decent pages per visit, given the concept: 2.72
→ USA 40.9%; UK 7.58%; India 6.54%
→ founded in 2005, the site earns $2M- $5M in annual revenue
TimeAndDate.com is feature-rich enough that a simple concept becomes a complex operation. It doesn’t have to be, but the fact that the average visitor is more likely to visit 3 pages, rather than 2, is evidence that the TimeAndDate.com team’s attempt to get beyond the landing page is effective. The bounce rate is not low, but given the simplicity of the concept, you might actually expect it to be higher.
We live in an age where everyone has at least one calculator on their person at basically all times. And yet Calculator.net continues to thrive. I would be surprised if you’d never been through Calculator.net… I for sure end up there from time to time. Usually just for quick calculations. Still, on closer look, the site also offers math, finance, fitness, and other calculators of many varieties.
Last month, Calculator.net tallied up 44.5M views:
→ massive disparity between direct and search traffic: 18.98% – 78.62%
→ not the shortest average duration, but not particularly long either: 0:02:49
→ really good bounce rate: 38.37%
→ pages per view is strong: 3.5
→ USA 48.79%; India 11.07%; Canada 5.13%
→ $10-15M in annual revenue
In terms of website concepts, it doesn’t get much more basic than standard arithmetic. For any successful site, you’ll need a degree of competence or even expertise in UI design, DB management, and general web development. Still, this comes in as a particularly simple but notably well-executed site. That fine execution is reflected in the annual revenue— $15M / year for calculator.net. Let that inspire you.
Name-Generator.co.uk gets a decent amount of action. Basically, it creates first and last names. Pen names, pet names, band names, baby names, middle names, character names, blog names. Names!
Considering how rare it is that life calls on us to generate a name at random, this site does pretty well for itself. Last month, namegenerator.co.uk had 2.1M visits:
→ primarily search traffic, far less direct: 80.61% – 15.9%
→ considering the function, reasonable average visit duration: 0:02:15
→ pretty solid bounce rate: 40.18%
→ strong pages per visit: 3.53
→ USA 35.7%; Indonesia 6.7%; UK 5.7%
Name-Generator.co.uk is an interesting one. You’d have a database to manage, and the initial algorithms demand some complexity, but comparatively developing a site like this could be pretty simple. It also does not serve an obvious practical purpose. And yet millions of people end up there monthly, and the UI is friendly enough that people stick around for a few minutes and visit a few pages. Something to be learned from this, surely.
WheelOfNames.com is another of these sites that I have a bit of experience with. Teachers use it all the time. So do over-zealous group chat members. It’s a Wheel of Fortune-esque way of doing raffles. There’s no real necessity, but there’s still a demand. Fun site, and does well for itself.
Last month, WheelOfNames.com attracted 10.7M visits:
→ very even distribution between search and direct traffic: 51.25% – 47.10 %
→ fairly short average duration: 0:01:48
→ predictably high bounce rate: 73.15%
→ predictably low pages per visit: 1.77
→ US 40.6%; Philippines 7.3%; UK 5.4%
Look, a site is a site. Technical and design skills are always going to be required. So is sensitivity to user experience. And, of course, SEO. Still, compared to many others WheelOfNames.com is super basic and sweet. A randomizer algorithm + smooth and fun interface design + a beautifully simple concept = 10M+ visits per month? I’ll take it.
Pickerwheel.com is similar in function to WheelOfNames.com. But it generates far less traffic (4.0M vs. 10.7M). Let’s compare the two:
→ similar search > direct traffic ratio: 41.6% – 55.9%
→ similarly average visit duration: 0:01:33
→ almost identical bounce rate: 73.66%
→ ever-so-slightly higher pages per visit: 1.98
→ USA 50.9%; India 5.3%; UK 5.2%
Interesting to note that Pickerwheel.com, compared to Wheel of Names, provides an almost identical service, and uncannily similar analytics— other than the fact that it generates under 50% of the traffic. Speaks to the value of SEO? Maybe.
Here’s a site that takes randomness seriously, making a firm distinction between “pseudo-randomness” and “true randomness.” Random.org proudly offers the latter. Turns out this means that Random.org uses atmospheric noise to generate a random number, rather than typical algorithms. Free of charge, the site offers dice rollers, coin flippers, card shufflers, all sorts of number options, lists, strings, maps, and more. There are also some paid services, like Random Drawings.
Random.org serves up true randomness— last month, 6.0M visits dropped in for some:
→ direct traffic > search traffic to a substantial degree: 64.29% – 31.12%
→ standard average duration of visit: 0:02:35
→ mid-range bounce rate: 55.24%
→ pages per visit makes sense: 3.33
→ USA 34.9%; Russia 6.1%; Vietnam 4.7%
→ $10-15M in annual revenue
Random.org is a specialized version of a standard service. It’s a little niche. Not everyone is going to know about (or care about) “true” vs. “pseudo” randomness. But anybody who does care? You’d think they’re coming to the true generator of randomness— it’s clearly superior, even if I really can’t wrap my head around why…? Anyway, this is an example of high-level specialized knowledge bringing something novel to the table. The result? $10-15M in annual revenue.
The Crossword Solver niche is one of those beautiful things that only the internet could bring us. Wordplays.com offers all sorts of game-adjacent services, like Scrabble word-finders, Words With Friends help, and tools for Sudoku and Anagrams. Also, there’s a basic Dictionary function— may as well stick with the theme.
The site’s traffic speaks to the popularity of these word games in the English-speaking world— 15.4M visits last month:
→ search traffic substantially outweighs direct: 64.1% – 34.8%
→ average visit duration quite high: 0:06:54
→ good bounce rate: 39.66%
→ solid pages per visit: 4.4
→ USA 48%; UKA 19.3%; Australia 10.3%
→ $2M-5M in annual revenue
One thing to keep in mind with a project like this: lots of daily upkeep. It’s one big picture thing to keep up to date with the gaming & puzzle industry. And then a whole other thing to make sure all the daily database updates are clicking. So, this type of operation presents some unique challenges. Still, for up to $5M in revenue, that type of hands-on time investment seems more than worthwhile.
CrosswordTracker.com is a lower-maintenance version of the same idea. Unlike Wordplays.com, this sticks to a more basic task— it’s simply a crossword-solving search engine built to help you out of your puzzle struggles.
Makes sense that the traffic last month was substantially lower than Wordplays.com, but still coming through strong at 6.6M visits:
→ very heavy search vs. direct traffic: 82% – 15.5%
→ high average duration per visit: 0:05:54
→ decent bounce rate for a single-tool site: 58.8%
→ standard pages per visit: 2.7
→ USA 71.1%; Canada 14.7%; Australia 4.5%
CrosswordTracker.com shows that a simpler, single-tool site can still do solid numbers. We don’t have the exact annual revenue, but based on traffic analytics this is still a highly profitable site that requires daily updating and maintenance, though less than Wordplays.com. Keeping your scope smaller simplifies things, but also leads to less traffic and likely less revenue in this case.
Mostly, people come to fsymbols.com for text symbols, fonts, and emojis. The site is also a little dated… who says “emoticons” anymore? That’s a blast from the past. Anyway, there’s also a Font Generator and tools for QR codes and text art, but people mostly come for the various textual symbols.
Last month, the site had 4.9M visits:
→ traffic heavily-skewed toward search vs. direct traffic: 74.3% – 24.6%
→ short average duration of visit: 0:01:05
→ high bounce rate, visitors are in and out: 77.1%
→ particularly low pages per visit: 1.7
→ USA 24.8%; Mexico 5.5%; Brazil 4.5%
A site like fsymbols requires somewhat frequent database management, but nothing too crazy. The tools are simple and user-friendly. All things considered, people put together far more complex projects for a lot less monthly traffic than fysmbols.
It’s probably not a major surprise that Emojipedia.org does much bigger numbers than fsymbols. Founded in 2013, this emoji search engine is a reliable source of emoji-based news and info, as well as an inexhaustible storage space that makes it easy to find the emoji you need.
The difference in traffic is substantial, with 15.1M visits on Emojipedia last month:
→ still heavy on the search traffic, but does pretty well re: direct traffic: 60.6% – 29.4%
→ surprisingly high average visit duration: 0:02:27
→ respectable bounce rate: 52.7%
→ solid pages per visit: 3.14
→ USA 24.8%; UK 4.7%; Philippines 3.7%
15M+ monthly visits? That’s next-level. That’s a lot of traffic. If you’re successful enough to deal with the unique brand of problems that come along with that degree of success, that’s what we call a “good problem to have” and I wish you the best of luck (as if you need it 🙄*).
*found on Emojipedia
This bank of SEO tools generates more buzz than you might expect. Plagiarism Checker, Article Rewriter, Word Counter, Grammar Checker— these are the kinds of “Text Analysis” tools you’re going to find on SmallSEOTools.com. Tools for checking backlinks and tracking keyword positions are essential to the SEO. On this site, such tools are easily accessible (and free).
What’s surprising is that last month this site managed one of the highest total visit counts of any on this list at 8.5M visits:
→ substantially more search traffic than direct: 72.3% – 25.8%
→ average visit duration: 0:03:06
→ pristine bounce rate: 37.3%
→ pages per visit: 2.75
→ India 17.5%; USA 11.1%; Philippines 11.1%
→ $10M-15M in annual revenue
Here’s another case where the specialized knowledge required to run the site is what really provides value, rather than the technical complexity of the site’s tools.
es.PiliApp.com is a collection of basic web tools, but the most successful version of the site is in Spanish. Digital clock, calculator, random generators— many of the types of tools already mentioned on this list, but collected together (and en Espanol).
Clearly, there is significant demand for this, as PiliApp made its way into a very high echelon of traffic last month (17.6M visits):
→ almost-even split between search and direct traffic: 45.1% – 50%
→ short average duration of visit: 0:01:51
→ high bounce rate: 78.5%
→ low pages per visit: 1.78
→ Taiwan 14.3%; Brazil 9.4%; Mexico 5.6%
→ $2-5M in annual revenue
The wide range of tools makes PiliApp a difficult project to put together and maintain. The particularly high traffic on the Spanish version speaks to fulfilling a niche in one language that wasn’t exactly open to be fulfilled in another (the English version generates under 2 million visits monthly, though with a better bounce rate).
A game by some margin, with 112.8M visits last month:
→ impressive direct vs. search traffic ratio suggests this is a site that’s made a real name for itself: 56.7% – 38.7%
→ speed of speed test results in decent average visit duration: 0:02:58
→ pretty solid bounce rate, all things considered: 46.2%
→ considering its single-button set-up, solid pages per visit: 2.44
→ strong international popularity: USA 12.4%; India 8.5%; Russia 7.6%
What matters most for Speedtest.net? Accuracy and reliability. This sort of project requires a high degree of technical proficiency and genuine commitment to updating and refining. While we don’t have an exact figure for the amount of revenue generated by Speedtest.net, the site is owned by Ookla, which was generating over $30M annually as of 2018. Speedtest.net is their primary product. Seems like a money-maker, IMO.
ManualsLib.com is the self-proclaimed “ultimate manuals library.” It’s a database of over five million instruction manuals, user guides, and other such things in PDF form. The site makes manuals available to download, read, or print.
Last month, ManualsLib had 16.4M views:
→ huge disparity between direct and search traffic: 80.1% – 16.3%
→ standard average visit duration: 0:03:21
→ solid bounce rate: 41.7%
→ impressive pages per visit count: 6.1
→ US 32.1%; UK 7.6; Canada 5.3%
→ $10M-15M in annual revenue, as mentioned on My First Million podcast (highly recommended, BTW)
This is another case of a project requiring continuous updating and an always-expanding database. That comes with its own set of user-experience-related fires to put out, functionality optimization, and design and layout upkeep. The site looks great, though, and at $10M-15M that’s a tidy revenue. Well worth the challenge.
mallPDF.com provides free-of-charge user-friendly tools for compressing, merging, editing, splitting, and signing PDFs. (Probably a few other verbs, too). It’s one of the more popular takes offering solutions to your PDF-related frustrations, with 23.6M visits last month:
→ traffic heavily skewed toward search traffic, rather than direct: 71.5% – 26.7%
→ average visit duration: 0:02:44
→ good bounce rate: 36.9%
→ pages per visit roughly as-expected: 2.97
→ India 14.3%; USA 8.9%; Brazil 6.2%
→ $2M-5M annual revenue
For a site that comes across as simple, the tech behind SmallPDF is most likely deceptively complex. Reducing the size of files and otherwise editing PDFs requires sophisticated compression algorithms. Offering this kind of service in a user-friendly manner while remaining free of charge? A bit of a delicate balance.
It’s not often an extension of a main site lands on the list. ILovePDF.com/pdf_to_word is the exception. At a whopping 122.2M visits last month, it’s obvious that this is an especially-appreciated tool:
→ relatively tight direct vs. search traffic: 66.03% – 39.7%
→ solid average visit duration: 0:04:28
→ very impressive bounce rate: 21.7%
→ right on the cusp re: pages per visit: 3.99
→ Internationally beloved: India 14.5%; Brazil 7.7%; Indonesia 6.5%
In a competitive niche, ILovePDF continues to benefit from its well-earned reputation for doing a complicated job with a high degree of accuracy. In the contexts where a tool like this is necessary- professional life, academia, etc.- having a reliable tool for a job like this is essential. Engineering a trusty algorithm that can perform this level of Optical Character Recognition, Document Structure Analysis, and Formatting to this degree of precision? Not a walk in the park. But, at 122.2M monthly visits, there are definitely fruits of this specialized labor, at least in this case.
Here’s another corner of the web that many have tried to dominate. There’s a case to be made that ssyoutube.com has done it best, continuing to offer a sound user experience. The site delivers on its simple task without adding too many extra features. As a result, it’s very popular, with 166.4M visits last month(!):
→ fairly substantial discrepancy between search and direct traffic: 67.5% – 32.1%
→ as expected, users are in and out re: average visit duration: 0:02:04
→ very good bounce rate: 34.5%
→ standard pages per visit for this kind of service: 2.50
→ USA 22.9%; India 14%; Brazil 10.4%
Another case of nailing one heavily in-demand service. The UI, server management, and technical maintenance are all geared toward the purpose of easy, safe, reliable, and fast downloading. One thing to watch out for when you’re dealing with tech giants like YouTube: copyright law and legal issues. If you can confidently offer an in-demand service dependent on a popular tech giant like YouTube without stepping on toes, go for it.
A lot of what was said above applies here, too. There are tons of Instagram downloader options. What sets igram.io apart is its simplicity and user-friendliness. Plus, not all of its competitors have mastered the freedom to download all of Instagram’s content forms (videos, photos, stories, igTV content, and full albums). On the other hand, igram.io handles this well. The site also nails responsive web design, which is super important for a mobile app like Instagram.
Last month, igram.io hosted 94.4M visits:
→ direct traffic firmly outweighed search traffic: 52.6% – 44.52 %
→ strong average visit duration: 0:04:02
→ excellent bounce rate: 21.2%
→ good pages per visit count: 4.38
→ very even internationally distribution: USA 12.1%; India 12%; Indonesia 8.9%
Again, if you can manage a project like this without violating the major platform’s TOS? Fill your boots, man! Also worth noting: Instagram is notorious for changing its API, so you’ve got to keep up to date.
Save-insta.com is an interesting case, since it offers basically an identical service to igram.io, but compares unfavorably. For example, Save-insta.com only generates about ⅓ of the traffic (31.5M last month):
→ again, heavy direct vs. search traffic: 55.6% – 40.5%
→ less substantial average visit duration: 0:03:03
→ worse bounce rate: 45.8%
→ fewer pages per visit: 3.28
→ appeals to a different international market: Brazil 14%; Argentina 7.8%; USA 7.6%
So, this could be a case of superior user interface on the part of igram.io, except both sites look about equally slick. Could be better SEO, but it’s worth noting that both drive traffic directly more than they do from search. Conclusion: each gets a lot of return customers, but igram.io catches more first and keeps ‘em? Maybe.
When everybody’s already come in and staked up the good ground, you’ve got to adapt. In the case of StorySaver.net, the specialization is just downloading stories (plus story archives & highlights). How does it work out for them? Well, you could do worse than last month, which saw the site draw 22M views:
→ biggest pro-direct, anti-search discrepancy on this list: 69.1% – 30.2%
→ very low average visit duration (could have to do with shorter downloads): 0:01:36
→ non-ideal bounce rate: 64.5%
→ average page per visit: 2.24
→ even international distribution: USA 10.6%; Brazil 7.4%; Turkey 6.1%
Your takeaway should be that these secondary, specialized services can still fare pretty well. even in a highly competitive market. But also that the same legal and technical complications that apply to the other video downloaders need to be factored in here.
This is one way to monetize the moon. Super simple, Moongiant.com has been informing users about the moon since 2009. Relative to day, month, and year, the site offers the data as well as useful information on how to interpret it. It may not look like much compared to Insta downloaders etc., but Moongiant’s 1.1M visits last month is pretty impressive:
→ reasonable search vs. direct traffic ratio: 34% – 64.6%
→ average visit duration somewhat low: 0:01:17
→ mid-range bounce rate: 54.7%
→ considering the last two data points, strangely high pages per visit: 4.03
→ heavily North American / Western: USA 71.5%; Canada 4.1%; Germany 2.5%
→ a tidy $2M-5M in annual revenue
Once again, this is a site that requires the usual groundwork + some highly specific niche algorithms— in this case, astronomical calculations. To stand out and consistently deliver to a retained niche audience- to keep your people interested- it’d be smart to diversify your content… even if people are just coming in to see if they can blame a full moon for their recent bag fumbles.
If you’re anything like me, some of these sites were familiar. I can almost guarantee you’ve wound up on a few before. Maybe even recently.
But it takes a certified growth hacker to land on Time & Date dot com and realize that it’s a multi-million dollar operation. Just try telling one of the less entrepreneurial people in your life that www.calculator.net clears $10M a year. I doubt they’ll believe you, at least at first. So many of these concepts are practical, simple, and well-executed. Some hit up to $20M in revenue annually. Sometimes, a million-dollar idea reads like a basic one. But if it’s executed well, it might be your ticket to the big leagues.
Get the strategies, motivation, and in-depth interview with all the details every week!