It’s been some time since I have written about the state of my businesses and quite frankly I have been experiencing withdrawals from it.
One of the toughest challenges for me personally has always been where to spend my spare time. With a career and several income streams on the side, I frequently find myself negotiating between pushing the professional career forward or any one of my income streams.
To add to the dilemma, some of the more recent income streams have really started to really pick up and show strong promise, which inherently makes me want to focus on them. That said, something has to take the back seat.
With a limited amount time available to spread between initiatives outside my career, the frequency at which I get to work on side projects, including posting on this blog is significantly slower than someone working online full time.
I have been exclusively focused on creating more ebooks, audio books, iPhone apps, working on two larger authority type websites and experimenting with methods to revive websites that were penalized by search engine algorithm updates. I couldn’t help but break my momentum to share recent success I’ve had with penalized sites.
I have mentioned before that I started this blog to document the various projects I am involved in so that you can see how I was and still am to able to establish various income streams while maintaining a full time career with the idea to be able to replicate it as well if you wanted to.
While I will continue to do exactly that, albeit at a much slower pace than full timers, I want to share some recent success I have had reviving some sites that were impacted by the changes in search engine algorithms, most particularly the Google algorithm updates (Bing and Yahoo have held up for me for the most part).
I have haphazardly shared signs of improvement in traffic at random intervals in the past on my Facebook page. But I wanted to make sure that the success I had with this website was not an anomaly. I wanted to see whether I could experience the same success with other websites as well.
To date I have three websites that have successfully bounced back from the various penalties imposed on them by Google, as well as the impact on traffic due to the various algorithm updates we have seen in the recent past.
Here are some screen shots showing the traffic trends:
This is a site that started recovering in the August time frame. It was down to just a few hundred visitors per day – as good as dead compared to where it was during its hey days. The site is back to the mid three thousands of uniques per day.
This shows a site that started recovering around November. The site was penalized and was down to under 300 unique visitors a day. After several months of working on it the site is now just under 500 visitors per day. There is still some upside to recover but I’ve added 200ish visitors per day to it and I am happy about that.
Finally, this one shows a site that started recovering later in November. It was down to under 300 uniques per day. As I write this post traffic is up to just under 700 uniques per day.
Collectively this is a huge improvement in traffic, and my Google Adsense earnings are definitely reflecting the improvement.
If you’re curious how the traffic breakdown looks like on these, have a look at the pie charts below. Notice that most of the traffic comes from search engines. This is what I want ideally for these particular sites. These sites were created with the sole purpose of profiting from Adsense, information products and affiliate marketing.
Note: None of these sites are “spammy” in nature. I truly believe the content is valuable and of high quality. These sites were impacted by some of the traditional search engine optimization strategies I used to get them to rank higher initially.
You will notice the date ranges are quite varied. The reason for this is that I took my time experimenting with the methods with one site only until I was able to see some results. I wanted to let the results continue for a reasonable period of time before moving on to the next site.
I did the same with site #2 and subsequently site #3. I have a handful of other sites that were impacted which I am currently working on. These sites are larger in nature and were more penalized (I can tell by the number of “bad” back links they have coming into them).
Naturally, these sites will take longer to recover. I will post an update once these have recovered to hopefully further reinforce the methods I used to get the first three back on track.
Fortunately, not all of my sites were impacted. In fact, some of the sites continued to thrive amidst all the algorithm updates and changes and continued to generate a healthy passive income stream.
So here is what I plan to do. I will follow up with several posts and discuss each step I took in detail with the hope that you too can follow along if you’d like if you’ve had some sites that were impacted. The good news is that it didn’t cost me an arm to execute on these. The bad news is that it took a lot of time to methodically get through the exercise.
Considering the net results that I am seeing now, the bad news doesn’t sound bad at all now that I look back in retrospect. But because we are human, the challenge is that just like starting an online business for the first time, there are many unknowns and often doubt creeps in, making us second guess our decision because we don’t know whether it will pay off in the long run. The only way to truly find out is to try. But if we don’t try and take action, we eliminate all possible chances of success to begin with.
In the next post I will discuss how to first confirm whether your site was penalized.
Have you been able to successfully recover a site from Google penalties and algorithm updates? I’d love to hear about how you did it in the comments below. Even if you haven’t fully recovered yet, I’d love to hear what you have tried so far and what you plan on doing in the future?
The single biggest contributor to my financial success with online business has been the amount of profitable niche websites I’ve been able to develop over time.
I currently own over 20 profitable niche websites, each of which generates income from a variety of sources such as contextual ads, private placement ads, affiliate product sales, sales of my own products as well as lead generation.
Although I have been working on what would be considered an “authority” website (outside of this blog), most of my online income is generated by the portfolio of niche sites I have established.
In this post I will discuss how I was able to quickly develop several profitable niche sites, and how you can do the same if this is a business model you want to replicate or simply add additional income streams to your portfolio. (Note: If you are interested in starting a web based business venture, consider looking for vendors with experts who can advise you on the legal ramifications associated with start-ups. One such example is SunDocument Filings.)
I started establishing niche websites while I was employed in a fairly demanding profession. I came across the SBI platform, which really educated me on how to take a topic I am passionate about and turn it into a successful online business.
When I first started, I set aside my weekends for content creation. Once I saw some success and understood how the business model works, I started to explore options through which I can expedite the process, starting with the concept to creation to marketing and all the way to monetization.
Fast forward a few years, through a rinse and repeat method, I was able to establish several profitable niche sites and in the process was able to sell a few as well for a healthy five figure sum as well (I have built and owned more sites than what I have now).
How was I able to do all this in a relatively short amount of time?
By learning the process, trying it out and proving it for myself, systematizing and automating as much as I could and then outsourcing most of it. It’s interesting how easy I am able to summarize it all in just one sentence, but the truth is that it takes time to do and really understand how all of that works and flows methodically. It is truly a method, much like an assembly line in a manufacturing business.
When I worked on my first website, I did everything myself. This is the best way to learn the process in my opinion, and really determine what works and what doesn’t. I am not saying that you have to do the same. In fact, many successful internet marketers outsource the entire process from start to finish without having done it themselves. That route can also work, but is not the route I personally prefer.
For me to be able to successfully facilitate a project, I need to be fully comfortable and confident in what I am doing, and the only way I can achieve that comfort level is by doing something myself first.
So let’s break down the process of developing profitable niche websites in 5 steps.
Topic Research – The first step in the process is to research a topic that you want to establish a website on. When I established my first niche website, I made sure the topic I chose was something I was personally interested in. This is critical if you want to develop, hone and grow your business yourself.
Many people chase numbers and end up giving up the project because the passion is just not there. If and when you begin to outsource the process, passion for the topic becomes less important. That said, the content you develop for the website still has to be superb.
Topic research involves evaluating your competition online, conducting keyword research to determine what keywords to focus on that will bring the visitors / search traffic, assessing the commerciality of the topic (is there money to be made / are people paying for products and services), etc.
Personally, I like to research new profitable topics myself, but this process can be fully outsourced because it is not subjective. In other words, you can research and conclude whether or not the topic can be profitable based on factual numbers.
Website Development – I am not technical and by no means a programmer. However, the tools we have today make it easy for anyone to get up and running online quickly without being technical at all. Here is an example of a tool that allow anyone to create a free website within minutes. Although I know how to create websites rather quickly now, this is one part of the process I almost always outsource.
Content Creation – Content creation is another one of my favorite activities, but only for topics I am passionate about. I can only force myself to write so much about profitable topics which I have no interest in. This is an area that I have heavily outsourced throughout the years.
Marketing – Successfully marketing a website is the most challenging part of the process in my opinion because there is so much that goes into it. There are several internet marketing strategies out there and a lot of noise that goes with them. Marketing can also get rather tedious, redundant and frankly boring.
This is my least favorite part of the process, though arguably the most important for your websites to get the exposure they need to succeed. I currently outsource 95% of all internet marketing initiatives related to my niche websites (under my close direction of course).
Another approach is to focus on creating superb content and a lot of it and let the marketing happen automatically. Let others find it compelling to link to you over time.
Monetization – Ideally you want to know how exactly you will be monetizing your website before starting on the project. I am not comfortable outsourcing this aspect of my business mainly because I enjoy implementing the different monetization avenues once I have a website where I want it in terms of the traffic it’s generating.
You likely picked up on this already from reading the above but the way I was able to expedite the process by which I established several successful niche websites over time is by leveraging competent resources who I outsourced the bulk of the work to.
What to outsource and to who?
Topic Research – I often don’t outsource this part of the process, but I have. If you are going to outsource this process, I recommend hiring a VA (Virtual Assistant) and training your VA to conduct research exactly how you do it yourself.
Most VAs are highly competent and are able to take instructions and fly with the task. This training is best conducted face to face via programs like Skype, coupled with a short bullet point instruction list. In my experience, the best resource to find a VA capable of this tasks is Odesk.
The output of this exercise is a road map to how the website will be built and what keywords will be used to create content and later promote the website. This output, or deliverable, becomes the main “guiding document” for the rest of the project.
Web Development – This is something I almost always outsource. I have found the best resources for development through freelancing platforms such as Odesk and Elance. A VA can also do this for you. I like to get the shell up and running and go back later to add the beefy content once it’s created. This gives your domain URL a chance to starting aging.
Content Creation – This is usually all me for topics I am passionate about, but when I am not developing it I like to use a VA from Odesk or a freelancer from Elance depending on the specific topic I am considering. When I get content outsourced, I review it and make modifications as needed and then provide it to the web developer to include on the website.
Marketing – Once you have your website complete, up and running, it is time to promote it. I have a couple approaches to marketing. Some of my websites are being promoted by my VAs following instructions I have specified for them, while others are being marketed by a specific SEO agency overseas who has delivered superb results in the 3 plus years I have been working with them.
Their fees are a bit steep, but worth the results they have delivered, mainly because I have them promoting some of my higher profitability niche sites. Since I recently started a local SEO firm, I am still evaluating how we can take over the promotion of these sites internally and still deliver the solid results we have been enjoying on these sites.
Monetization – Monetization is something I don’t recommend you outsource. This is a strategic business decision that is better made and implemented by you, the business owner. I discuss several means of monetization on this blog such as contextual advertisement, private ads, promoting affiliate products, selling ebooks and other digital products and more.
If you want to expedite your success, you will have to engage help at some point, especially if you are a working professional with limited amount of time. If you can learn what it takes to become successful, you can outsource the bulk of the execution process so that you are working ON your business and not IN your business. My business really took off when I finally grasped this concept.
Before concluding, I’d like to share some tips that have helped me along the way, many of which I have learned the hard way from the mistakes I made. I hope you can avoid the same mistakes by learning from my own experience.
I have found that technical tasks are best outsourced overseas to professionals from India. When I say technical I am referring to coding, graphic design, etc. Similarly, softer skill sets such as communication skills are best found overseas in the Philippines (at least in ways where you can take advantage of the cost of doing business). That said, there is good talent everywhere. These are just some of my takeaways based on my experience.
If you want to replicate what I’ve been able to do, the 2 biggest suggestions I have are:
1) Learn the process inside out, get comfortable with it and try it out yourself first
2) Outsource, outsource, outsource. The sooner the better. You will (as I did and many others) look back to your success and think to yourself that you shoud’ve outsourced sooner.
Everyone I know who has tried this says this. I understand that there are fears of the unknown to overcome, and one really has to be mentally prepared and conceptually ready to start outsourcing, but it really works wonders as you will see when you finally get there.
And when you are ready, there are fantastic resources available online today that you can use to find exactly the type of business partner you want to work with no matter what business model you are into. The three best resources I personally use and recommend are Odesk, Virtual Staff Finder and Replace Myself.
I have written a little bit about each one of these in my previous post on outsourcing. In addition, here are two other posts I have written about why you should hire a VA, as well as how you can leverage a VA to boost your business.
Finally, keep a spreadsheet with the entire process mapped out so you can easily go from one phase of the process to another as you progress in your business. I maintain such spreadsheets for each of my projects, and simply update them as the process moves forward.
If you are hesitant and reluctant to pursue outside help, I can understand how you feel as I was once there too. But I will tell you that doing so will tremendously impact your business in a positive way. You will grow leaps and bounds, and the sooner you engage help, the sooner your business partners will get to know about you and how you like to do business.
The relationships I have established have only gotten better over time, and as a result business has been streamlined and seamless. I hope that you can experience the same for yourself. If I can help address any questions, please let me know in the comments section below.
I am a user and an affiliate of all the platforms and services mentioned in this article. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have if you are contemplating using either one of these.
Finally, a very Happy New Year to you and your loved ones. May 2013 bring more health, wealth and prosperity for you. Set your goals now, get out of your comfort zone, try something new and take bold action. Cheers to your success in 2013!
Do you have any experience outsourcing? What’s the experience been like? Is this something you feel you want to pursue? Do you want to read more about this topic? Please provide your thoughts in the comments section below.
Few months back I emailed a few thousands readers on my list for some feedback. I wanted to survey readers to find out what everyone is working on and what challenges they were running into that was stopping them from making progress.
I could have used Survey Monkey for this survey but I decided to go the old fashioned way because I wanted some insights that a push of a button cannot give. It’s taken me some time to go through each and every response.
So after going through all the responses, the number ONE barrier to progress IS….
LACK OF TECHNICAL EXPERTISE
followed very closely by “I don’t have enough time”
I was shocked that the number one barrier to progress is technology. In fact, several readers mentioned technology is the reason they have not even gotten started. Some mentioned intimidation as the key driver, while others mentioned the lack of desire to spend time and resources to learn the necessary (learning curve).
I was mainly shocked because technology is foreseen as the main barrier to entry even when we have countless turn key tools available over the counter today. Can you imagine how difficult it may have been to enter this space several years back prior to these tools?
In any case, it is what it is.
Trailing second was the lack of time issue. I wasn’t shocked about this because I have been there and done that. I started building my online businesses while working a full time job.
Many readers of this blog are also in the same boat, often times successful professionals who are looking to build additional income streams on the side to expedite the wealth creation process.
Although I may have already responded to you personally, I want to document my response to this issue on this blog for everyone’s access.
No one is born technical. We all have to learn certain things if we are to use them in some way. I have no idea how to program, but I can set up a WordPress blog because that’s what I chose to learn and do. Similarly, a top notch programmer may not have a clue about WordPress, but can learn the needed if they decided to use it.
Technology is not a reason to be intimidated and not make progress toward our goals. Rather, it is an enabler. It enables us to do unprecedented things faster and better, especially today when we have immediate access to tools that help us do pretty much anything we want to.
In addition to the tools we have available to us today, technical outsourcing has never been easier and cheaper than today. There is no reason why technology should impede progress in my opinion.
“But I don’t want to spend the money” many say….
Others say “I don’t have the time”…
This is an interesting challenge. Can you think of anything worthwhile that you have achieved in life that has not cost you time or money?
You don’t necessarily have to pay other than the basic start up expenses which can be well within $100 for most online businesses that I discuss on this blog. But you have to put in the time and effort.
If you don’t want to put in the time and the effort, then you have to pay some amount of money for certain tools, outsourcing and coaching/training that will help expedite your progress.
If you are not willing to do either, then perhaps doing business online is not for you?
Look at it this way, you have options! That’s the best thing you can ask for. YOU get to pick what you want to do and how you want to do it. You can spend time time, or spend the money.
No matter how busy we all are, and no matter what kind of lives we live, we can all find a little extra time and/or money for things that are truly a priority to us. If we “can’t” or “haven’t”, then we just haven’t committed to certain things as truly a priority in our lives. This is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned in my life.
It continues to sadly surprises me how many people keep spinning their wheels trying to figure out everything on their own in spite of being able to afford resources that would enable them to achieve their goals quicker.
Most tools and training available online for online business is not very expensive (relatively speaking). Think about how much just one course in a University costs today?
There is a common term in personal finance finance referred to as the “time value of money”. It refers to the value a single dollar down the road in the future. To make it fit the context of this article, how much are you loosing in the long run by not taking action today? This is in essence what that means. One can also look at it as the opportunity cost of not making progress.
I consume content like a mad man. I spent thousands of dollars each year consuming information products and testing out new tools. Why? Because I see this as the investment necessary in my personal and professional development to grow my career. When I look back, my investments have paid back exponentially over.
Another example of an exponentially large return on investment (ROI) is when I started outsourcing and hiring Virtual Assistants. My businesses took off in all sorts of ways when I took two deliberate and very specific actions, and paying for help was one of them.
I know for a fact that I am not the only one. Read around the blogosphere and you will realize that pretty much anyone who is generating a decent size income is hiring help at some level, may it only be a $5 gig on Fiverr.
How much are we losing out on in the long run as we drag our progress today?
As I’ve alluded, if you don’t have time or the appetite to spend money, then perhaps doing business online is not for you.
If you have both, then all you’ve got to do is pick a business model you are comfortable with and go at it with or without spending money on tools and resources.
If you just have one or the other, I’d like to propose a couple options to consider:
If cost of starting up is what is stopping you from experimenting with online business, why not start by publishing an eBook?
You can create, market, publish and profit from an eBook all without having to spend a dime. You can read how here.
In the broad scheme of things online, this is a relatively quick and much easier process than say establishing a long term and profitable online business. But, this does a few things…
So try this out for starters and see how you like the experience. Hopefully you can take your earnings from this project and reinvest it in your next one? You can rinse and repeat the process and write another eBook, or you can try something else like creating a website or blogging.
If you have a little bit of spare cash to spend on your online project but don’t want to or can’t afford to waste time doing so, consider paying for tools that can help you expedite your progress. Consider outsourcing some of the routine, mundane, technical and non interesting tasks. Consider paying for coaching guidance.
You can still accomplish your objectives despite doing any of the above, but just understand that it may take you longer to navigate through the forest of information and focus on the right and relevant stuff that applies to you.
Determine the type of online project you want to pursue, and then find a trusted resource such as a blogger who has been there and done that and see if they offer consulting or a training course. I love these options because they help you cut through the maze of information minutiae and get to the point.
Information marketers do not market a secret recipe or ingredient. In fact, all their information is already available for free online. For example, a blogger who sells a “learn how to blog profitably” course has likely already written about everything related to this topic, but going through their archives can be a time consuming and painstaking process. God forbid you have questions? Does the blogger respond to posts that are a year old?
Another factor is access. In a training program, you may have access to mentors in the event you have questions or have hit a stopping point. Simply reading articles is also not an interactive process, so if you are a better learner through audio and video, you may want to consider paying for a formal training course.
When you invest in your education, what you are REALLY paying for is personal guidance – a direct road map to where you want to get to that will end up saving you a ton of time and frustration, which based on the ROI discussion above may equate to a lot of money in the long run.
From personal experience, my investment in information products have paid me back in gobs. I am talking exponential returns.
For example, I first started to really see a significant amount of profits online was after I had purchased and gone through the SBI training program. I needed a teacher, a road map, a direct guide to where I wanted to get to. Several years, websites and all sorts of other things later, I still use their services.
At the time, I knew I needed a classroom type learning environment that covered all aspects of doing business online. This is one of the best decisions I have made since I started doing business online. While I knew SBI provided the technicalities that would allow me to skip the learning curve, I learned more about the BUSINESS side of things than I ever have because of their comprehensive 10 day interactive training course. I felt like I had completed a college course when I was done.
I see so many people who attempt to do business online who are technically very savvy but not proficient on the business side of the business, which is just as important if not more given that technicalities can be outsourced.
If any of the potential solutions above resonated with you, here are some of the common reservations I used to have and ones that I’ve heard from many readers. If you have more, I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Clear Final Destination – is the value proposition clear? In other words, does the product or service clearly communicate where it will take you or help you accomplish? Does it truly cut your learning curve? Does it truly save you tons of time and effort scrolling through pages of content and figuring stuff out by making repeated mistakes?
Practicality – is the offering concrete in terms of “how to” information, or hands on and actionable enough for you to implement immediately after learning.
Mode of Learning – is the offering offered in the mode that you consume and learn best (audio, video, text, live)?
Testimonials – does the offering have any testimonials? Are the testimonials publicly displayed on the sales page? Do you recognize the names the testimonials are from? You can always ask to speak with others who have tried the offering in the past as well.
Help and Support – what kind of commitment has been made to help and support? It’s always a big bonus if you can speak to the owner/creator of the course.
Money Back Guarantee – how confident is the offering in its capability? Is there a money back guarantee? How convincing is it?
Payment Plan Option – cost can be a big factor for many. Is there a monthly payment plan so you can test drive the system and see whether you want to stick it through? Or are they requiring a full up front payment?
You can get clarification on all of these by contacting the seller of the products and services you are contemplating purchasing.
If you are contemplating trying SBI, I can tell you that they now offer a month to month option instead of the full price when I started, which makes it a lot more comfortable to work with them today.
You can read my review of SBI here, as well as a cost study I did comparing SBI to other options here.
If you decide to use SBI for your next online business initiative, I want you to know that I have been an SBI affiliate for a very long time and will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase using one of my affiliate links. And if you do, I thank you in advance.
I think I’ve killed this topic enough. All I want to reiterate to conclude this article is that WE need to decide whether we want to invest time or money or both in our entrepreneurial initiatives.
Success doesn’t grow on trees automatically, and we have to put in the inputs if we want the output on the other end. When we say we don’t have the time to work on our business, or the little bit of money to spend on the resources, are we really being honest? Or have we just not made our side gigs a high enough priority in our lives?
If you have the capacity to invest in your business and in your future, don’t hesitate to do so to save hours of valuable time. Start progressing toward your goals TODAY. Technology will come to you along the way. You will pick up bits and pieces over time that eventually will get you to a point where you no longer will have to pay for many things except the actual tools you need to build your business such as a domain name. But in the mean time, why loose time? Why not invest in your business and learn along the way as well?
Finally, if you are not able or willing to spend money on tools and resources, or have to or want to go at it alone by learning everything on your own, that is fine too as long as you put in the time on a consistent basis. Just understand that it may take you longer and your journey may come with more frustration than maybe you cant avoid.
As long as you understand what it takes and have a clear expectation of what’s to come, either route you select is totally fine. Remember, we are not racing against anyone here but ourselves. So if you can train yourself mentally to win those self provoking battles, I think you will be fine.
For the average reader of this blog who is a successful professional looking to establish additional income streams on the side to expedite the wealth creation process, that is why we call these our “side gigs”. That is why I don’t recommend you quit your job immediately to pursue entrepreneurship full time.
Yes, there is some money that is being left on the table, there are opportunity costs, and the time value of money is at work, but if you have a clear understanding of those expectations and know that you are not racing against anyone but yourself and can control your thoughts accordingly, you will be fine. But if you are in your own Tour de France, then perhaps it is time to quit your job and make progress full time?
What are your thoughts? What do you feel is the number one barrier to progress? Why? How can one best overcome that? Please shoot all sorts of holes through my rationale in this article. I am all ears. I want to know how you truly feel about this matter?