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.
No, certainly not another “the money is in the list” token email marketing post on Aweber. Don’t worry this is not that. In this post I want to focus on the multiple uses of email autoresponders for various types of businesses.
What I want to demonstrate is that no matter what business you are in, you can and should leverage email marketing to improve your sales, customer satisfaction and overall business results.
Email marketing is the most cost efficient and effective way to promote your business, hone and maintain customer relationships as well as track results to know what is working and what isn’t, something traditional media like TV and radio ads cannot tell you.
When executed manually, email marketing is free because it doesn’t cost money to send an email. However, businesses prefer to use email autoresponders as an email marketing tool because they are cheap, very effective and most of all save businesses gobs of time in executing their email marketing campaigns.
Much of this can be self explanatory, and may be something you already know about. But just in case you don’t, email marketing is the use of people’s email addresses to communicate and build a relationship with them in conjunction with promoting your business at the same time. It is an increasingly popular marketing method because businesses, large and small, are realizing how effective this marketing method is.
Why is it much more effective? Email marketing is the more preferred method of marketing because it is more effective than traditional and social media. A person’s email address is very personal and people guard their emails with their lives. Think about your own email ID. Would you just hand it to anyone just like that? Communicating with someone over email is more personal and repeatedly proven to be much more effective.
An email autoresponder is a tool used by businesses through which they conduct email newsletter marketing. Email autoresponder programs are web based programs that enable businesses to capture customer email addresses electronically or manually, correspond with them seamlessly and automatically, track various statistics such as email open rates, clickthrough rates (readers clicking on links embedded in the email newsletter) and various other analytical attributes.
The business intelligence you get with an email autoresponder is invaluable. You can use the data to split test different approaches and continue to optimize your marketing campaigns to achieve your business objectives. This is particularly important if you are trying to sell through your emails or bring customers and clients in your business.
You can set up email autoresponders to “auto respond” to your customer list, scheduling newsletters way out in advance to go out at a particular time now or in the future. You can also send a broadcast email message to your list anytime you’d like.
So the next time you get an email message from one of the email lists you are subscribed to, it could be a message that was written months and years ago to be scheduled the day you received it. It likely also went out to several others – but it certainly doesn’t look and feel that way does it? Not when it addresses you with your name at least.
You can segregate your email list in various ways so that certain messages only go to certain people, and similarly perform various tasks that allow you to slice and dice the information you have to better target your customers and clients and customize your communication approach and method depending on who you are reaching out to.
If this sounds somewhat confusing and overwhelming right now, a quick read about email marketing and email autoresponders can further help explain this marketing method and the program used to execute it.
Why am I writing about this today? Because understanding how email autoresponders work and its various applications can help you tremendously with your business. It will not only help you make more money, but more importantly automate the customer relationship and marketing aspects for you, saving you tons of valuable time in the process.
Whether you are solely operating online, offline or a combination of both, email marketing utilizing email autoresponders will enable your business to flourish. That is exactly what this website is about, to help you expedite wealth building without adding much incremental demand on your day to day life.
Here are just a handful of ways email autoresponders can be used in a variety of businesses. I have personally used these methods in the businesses that I am involved with.
Freelancers – Freelancers like tax accountants and wealth managers can leverage email autoresponders by scheduling out email distributions during critical times of the year such as tax deadlines.
They can also use the system to pre schedule value added messages such as tax saving and wealth management tips on a monthly or quarterly basis. Wealth managers can send out quarterly reminders to rebalance portfolios to their email list. The possibilities are endless.
Niche sites – If you own niche sites and have either your own or affiliate products to sell, you can use an email autoresponder series to automatically engage with your readership as they subscribe to your email list. I use email autoresponders to promote various affiliate products and my own ebooks on several niche sites that I own. Here is an example:
Sales – If you are in sales and you want to gather customer feedback to see how you are doing and what you should do to improve your business, you can send out an email blast with a link to a survey, or simply ask the survey questions within the email blast itself. Want to know what products and services your clients want? Send an email to the entire list and find out. This is exactly how I obtain feedback from my readership.
E-commerce websites – Keep your customers in the loop of new product launches, special offers, discounts and important company news. Use your email list to send out coupons, or seasonal reminders relevant to your business. I heavily used an email autoresponder when I was operating my e-commerce business.
Blogging – The use of email autoresponders is very much prevalent in the blogging industry. Many internet marketing bloggers will tell you that the “money is in the list”. In other words, in order to make money, you need an audience to sell to. An email autoresponder is a great way to seamlessly build an email list of potential customers and clients. This is how I use email autoresponders on my blog:
Brick and Mortar Businesses – This is where I see email autoresponders way too underutilized. I have done several consulting engagements for small local businesses and one of the quickest ways I add value is by setting them up on email autoresponders to start building their email list.
For example, hair cut salons can set up the system so that it automatically emails male clients to come in each month for a hair cut, or it can help dentists send out bi annual reminders for teeth cleaning. My dentist sends me a postcard. Can you imagine the time and resources, not to mention the cost, it takes to do that for each and every patient? God forbid the temp forgets? A computer certainly wouldn’t.
An oil change garage can send out automated emails every three months reminding folks to come in for an oil change. People have busy lives, both consumers and service providers/business owners. Why not leverage technology to better streamline everyone’s lives and operate more efficiently?
I also use an email autoresponder in my Dry Cleaning business, for example, having automated reminders going out to each customer right before winter to remind them to bring in their jackets and blankets. Similarly, one message at the end of winter to remind them to do the same before they stash the winter stuff away in a box.
Personal – Heck, you can leverage email autoresponders to send out an email to your entire list / email database wishing them a Happy New Year! Saves the manual process of having to remember who to send what to.
The beauty of email autoresponders is that it automatically plugs in the name of the person you are sending it to. So although one pre scheduled autoresponder email may go out to 10,000 people, each of those will feel you had sent it to them individually. How thoughtful. It’s magic 🙂
As you can see, there are many uses of email autoresponders, and this post merely scratches the surface. There is so much you can do with an effective email newsletter system, all within your fingertips and without incurring significant costs.
Aside from tremendous cost savings, there are several other advantages to using email autoresponders. You save a ton of time in marketing your business, you stay fully organized and for website owners you diversify your traffic resources.
Search engines are fickle and can turn their backs on your at any time. With an email newsletter system, you can ensure a certain amount of repeat traffic coming straight from your email list.
And perhaps the biggest advantages of all are that you get to build an email database or list of all your customers and gather business intelligence to understand what they like and dislike, and how they interact with your emails.
People guard their email addresses closer than anything else today. When you have someone’s email ID, you can develop a closer and more effective personal relationship with them. You can also ensure that you can stay in touch with them, with or without the existence of your business, website or search engines.
I personally use Aweber, a very user friendly system that you can get for only $20 per month. It is the cheapest and the most effective email marketing tool I have utilized in my businesses. If you don’t know much about email autoresponders and what they can do for you, I highly encourage checking Aweber’s website out and going through the material. It can be an eye opening experience.
So as promised, not a token post on creating an email newsletter with Aweber. That said, is there a need for one? What information would you like to read more about? I am an affiliate of Aweber and would be happy to answer any questions if you are contemplating using it in your business.
What are some other uses of email autoresponders? How are you using email marketing in your business? If you aren’t, why?