ok, this is possibly an unusual one...

I have a friend who owns a shed-load of domain names, which he's always had the intention of setting up with full blown sites over time
he isn't a coder, but he is a really good ideas guy
Obviously, this means he is paying a load of money out each year for renewals, way too much, thousands!
At one point he had close to 3000 names, i think many lapsed but he still has at least a few hundred, maybe even a 1000!

So anyway, the here task is to find a way to put some kind of sites up really quickly, with the intention of making a small amounts of money from advertising, not so that he can make a fortune from them, but just so that each one can cover the renewal fee.

he wants to get some of the full sites developed as soon as possible but obviously can't do them all at the same time.
Therefore, As these quick sites are built, he wants to be able to make a bit of money off each to cover the domain renewal cost, and use that money (which was being used to renew) to have the full ones built and gradually snowball the development of the portfolio

so for the initial phase, i think the priorities are to look at having a fast, efficient way of getting sites online, being able to automate everything possible.
I know him well and he is not a spamming kind of person, but he needs to stop the outgoings and put that money into developing the full sites

his initial ideas (for the full sites) were good and in depth for each site.
Some related domains were to be used to point to 1 central site, like several satellites generating traffic for the main one in each area

he says as long as they are making the renewals then thats good enough at this stage

oh, and he hates Wordpress, so anything WP related is off limits

My skillset and preferences revolve mainly around Laravel, but I'm open to other non-Laravel solutions if thats what would be a better fit

so far, I'm thinking towards the following possibilities, but I'm open to critique on any of them, since I do not have the experience to tell what would work best

  • to find a way to create a fairly simple template and find a system to be able to upload multiple versions of it quickly.
  • I was interested in finding out more about laravel.hosting as they said they had a 1-click Laravel solution, but now I'm not sure if they would be the best people to use!
  • Maybe Forge could be a possible solution for quick deployment?
  • could I use subdomains running from one laravel base for this? I don't know if that is possible

  • use sass with variables for the colours, and on each iteration, have a different sass variables file which would give a different colour theme on each site.

  • research scraping to find a way to include content on each site. I've found possible solutions in Python, Rails, and a possible solution in Laravel by writing a scheduled command

  • group the domains into subject areas, so that different content can be added to one site, and then point related domain names at the one with the content

  • have (google or other) ads included to create Click Through income

Any ideas?

There's so much to comment on here that I feel that's the problem. Too many targets. Also I'm thinking

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

So why that quote? Because you can have vision but if it's too broad then someone needs to bring down the law.

OK, time to curb the enthusiasm as well as pull in the reins on a problem I see folk fall into. Ready?

First, when you have problems, don't fall for "best solution." You can needlessly fall into "analysis paralysis" or "Oh look, is this a better solution" when you are 98% complete on any solution.

Next, scale down the project. Forget you have hundreds of sites. Pick one or two to automate what you want and then practice on those. The person that takes on hundreds of sites will get swamped by the sheer magnitude of the work. Scale the job to what your team can handle. Once they do one or two, then you can look at how to scale up.

Finally, there are changes coming in 2018 that is going to put a crimp in companies with some hundred to thousand web sites. Many of those use a redirect system and that ends soon. Just bringing it up so you know to avoid that.

In parting there are plenty of ideas about revenue creating sites so I won't go near that.

If someone has as many domains as this, the sensible option is to group them into related sets
eg example.com, example.net, example.org, bigexample.com, bigexample.net, bigexample.org, otherexample.com, otherexample.net, otherexample.org

Then create one site for example.com and redirect the others to it.

Repeat this for some of the other sets, pointing at the one most likely to be searched on based on its name.

You could end up creating five or ten sites, which each cover eight or ten domain names - upto 100 domain names would be redirected this way. Then it becomes possible to earn small amounts that would cover the domain name costs.

As mentioned above, the sites don't need to be perfect, they just need to work.
You simply don't need a separate site for each domain name! It's perfectly common for a business to own five or so related domain names and point them at a single site. Having multiple sites with almost identical content just different styles as you seem to be suggesting is a waste of time, and google doesn't like duplicated content.

I do wonder how anyone can buy 3000 domain names and not get some of them online! How did he plan to benefit from so many domain names, unless he planned to sell them at a higher price.