If you were starting all over again, what would you do differently?

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For those of us who have been running websites for 10 years now, if you were launching a new venture, what would you get into? If you were launching a new site, what would you do differently? Pursue a different niche? Optimize for social rather than SEO? Different content strategy?

I ask because when I first came into the BUSO community, I had 5+ projects. I sold (or shuttered) all of them except my biggest site. Now, years later, I am ready to move on. There is a panoply of advice out there on the "best businesses to start", but I cant see the scams for the real viable businesses out there.

So if you had to start all over in this environment, how would you and what would you do?
 
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I haven't worked with this for 10 years, not even 5. But I hope I can contribute anyway.

I would still do SEO, like I do now. My "mistakes", that ended up being valuable lessons, were that I:

- Followed my interests instead of the money
- I did informational posts instead of money posts
- I didn't educate myself enough about keyword research

Basically what I did was I created magazine-type of sites with very broad topics. Instead of aiming for money keywords, I wrote meaningless articles like "how to small talk better". It could probably bring in some dough through adsense in US, but I work in a small country where these type of keywords have like 60 searches a month. I tried to sprinkle in affiliate links in these articles, but it of course didn't work.

I'm looking forward to see the other guys perspectives in this subject.
 

Ryuzaki

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Simplify Everything
Remove as much friction as possible everywhere, because friction and complexity are the enemies of scaling. Create a general post template type for your site and stick to it. Make sure image posting and formatting is simple, interlinking is simple, headings are simple. Everything must be simple and similar. Because...

Outsource Heavily
By this I mean scale right off the bat. Because everything is simple, you can get content written and posted easily and fast. And you can train people to do every step along the way for you. This will let you focus on big picture tasks that inform the simple, scalable tasks.

Start at the Conversion
Don't start a site and then figure out how to make money. Figure out how to make money and then start the site. Build everything around that conversion, whatever it is. This also needs to be simple, for you and the user. If you're going to demand a lot out of yourself and the user, then the revenue per conversion needs to be astronomical. This will interfere with scaling unless you dominate that friction through more outsourcing and automation. Otherwise, make the conversion simple so you can focus on scaling.

Are you better off making $25 RPMs at 100,000 visits a month, or $100 RPMs at 30,000 visits a month? The latter is more money but how long did it take to get there and how close to your traffic cap are you? I'm doing the earlier version this time around so I can keep things simple. Because everything is narrow in focus and simple to do, all I have to do is focus on scaling content production.

Link Acquisition Sucks
I grinded my last site out to a current DR 50 from a freshly registered domain. Screw that. It doesn't guarantee a thing in today's SERPs. Shortcut that and buy a non-dropped, aged domain with juicy links. Then you don't need to worry about links and when you start to need to worry about it, you'll be getting them naturally from SERP exposure plus your other marketing you're doing.

Buy Interested Traffic
Social media is where the traffic is, and you want it on your site. You can play around trying to do organic marketing or you can just use the PPC platforms to buy the traffic. If you did everything else right, you should be able to get an ROI, which means you can print money. If you do it real well it's almost like arbitrage. This mass exposure will net you links too.

Have Milestones, Track Metrics
You have to know where you're going. This also stops you from getting distracted and off-course. You need to track the metrics from everything so you know what's effective so you know what to scale and what to stop spending time on.

Forget Interest, Seek Money
Since you're barely in the trenches due to all the outsourcing, who gives a damn if you care about the topic. Get paid. I don't even care if the writers care, they're getting paid to get the work done, not care. When you care, you start being a perfectionist and completionist, which will interfere with scaling.

Scale Hard & Fast
Competing is absurd when you can dominate completely. You can do this by outpacing your current competition, grow past them, and then double down even harder. Your output should be so monumental that they get exasperated, panic'd, freaked out, and despondent, which leads to them lowering their output. Later you can even buy them out. But you can't do this without coming out of the gates like a mad man and keeping that pace forever, never slowing down.

Invest, Invest, Invest
All this outsourcing means investing. Go deep into the red at the start. Pour the revenue right back in for a while. Do everything you can to hit where you normally would in 3 years, but hit that in 3 months. You might lose some money, but you saved 2 years and 9 months finding out it doesn't work sooner than losing all that time which you can never get back. And since you're not a complete bafoon, you'll eventually re-coup your money on the project anyways. It may just not be the one you can sell for a million, but you can probably sell it for $250k after you get back your investment. It'll be a win regardless.
 
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Your output should be so monumental that they get exasperated, panic'd, freaked out, and despondent, which leads to them lowering their output.
Man, just reading this sentence makes me panic because I know that sooner or later I'm gonna have to compete with someone like you. But it's good panic, the "get-your-shit-together"-kind. Great post.
 
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Why are you getting out of your main site?

Or just looking for a 2nd to start?
Its a political site. Need I say more? LOL. And not necessarily politics I agree with. I was just trying to cash in on the Ron Paul revolution and now that train has left the station. And politics exhausts me to be honest.

This was based on an interest of mine, but as @Ryuzaki said "Don't start a site and then figure out how to make money. Figure out how to make money and then start the site."

Simplify Everything

Outsource Heavily

Start at the Conversion

Link Acquisition Sucks

Buy Interested Traffic

Have Milestones, Track Metrics

Forget Interest, Seek Money

Scale Hard & Fast

Invest, Invest, Invest
As always, @Ryuzaki drops gems that make you sit back and re-examine your whole existence lol
 
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I spent a few years (yes, years) goofing off with shiny object syndrome.

I had to learn the hard way what lack of focus does to your results.

Spinning my wheels with this and that. Making some cash along the way. Not big $$$ though.

My game in life stepped up once I stopped listening to all the noise. It's a bunch of hypey garbage usually. Bloggers' versions of clickbait. The beast that is the entrepreneur/marketing news cycle is kinda like a sports announcer on the sidelines calling the game. These people don't know shit. They just write about events later on with 20/20 vision. Get a lot of these marketers & journalists in the arena and they won't know wtf to do. I know many of them personally and I'd never partner with them on a venture.

The Man In The Arena

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." -- Theodore Roosevelt, US President

One of my biggest lessons was once I figured out who is good to listen to and who is a waste of energy. Find a few golden sources of info and ignore the rest. Focus on getting your biz better 1% every day and the rest takes care of itself.

Information is THE most important part of this game. Many will (sometimes purposely, sometimes accidentally) lead you to the wrong information. Arming yourself with a model of what success actually looks like is far more superior than a skill like coding/designing/marketing/copy/etc.
 
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If I was starting all the way over, I wouldn't. I'd buy a powerful domain, or better yet I'd buy a site that's already chugging along but can be better optimized and monetized.

When you find yourself in the position of starting over, you need to leverage all of the experience you've gained so you're not only not starting at ground zero but you're moving way faster than you ever could have before. This can be done with confidence if you choose the right properties to buy. You can lower risk and deploy more cash to ramp things up faster.
 
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You have to know where you're going. This also stops you from getting distracted and off-course. You need to track the metrics from everything so you know what's effective so you know what to scale and what to stop spending time on.
This may be a dumb question, but whay millestones are most important? How do you track them?

Shortcut that and buy a non-dropped, aged domain with juicy links.
Another potentially dumb question, how do you check the backlink profile of a domain? How do you differentiate between a good backlink and a detrimental one?
 

Ryuzaki

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This may be a dumb question, but whay millestones are most important? How do you track them?
Your milestones will entirely vary based on the goals of your project. Just as an example:

If you're an eCommerce site, you'll want to be watching ROI on PPC, how many carts get filled, cart abandonment rate, conversion rate, average purchase value, customer acquisition cost, rate of returning customers, email marketing efficiency, retargeting numbers, etc.

A SaaS might be interested in similar metrics above as well as customer retention time length, churn rates, upgrade rates, monthly recurring revenue, etc.

An affiliate site might be concerned more with click through rates on affiliate links, conversion rates after the click, heat maps and link locations, split testing buttons / tables / colors / calls to action, etc.

A mass publishing content site might care the most about the amount of content they're publishing. CPC and CPM rates on display ads, when the average piece of content breaks even, which authors are pulling their weight, what geo-locations their traffic is coming from, PPC campaigns on social media, viral media success rates, etc.

It depends on what your goals are. The idea being you need to know what those goals are, and then have enough data to begin optimizing your time, money, and efforts, dropping out or fixing tactics that's aren't working for you, and doubling down on the ones producing the bulk of your results.

Another potentially dumb question, how do you check the backlink profile of a domain? How do you differentiate between a good backlink and a detrimental one?
You need access to backlink databases. The more, the better, to mix together and de-dupe. Metrics will be a guide but you can't make decisions based on them. You have to get in there manually and dig. You want links from big sites with big metrics in order to get trust and authority going. Links from real, but small sites, are also great. There's no decent and real domain out there without some bad links. You can disavow them. But what you don't want is so many that you can't get a good grip on how much the spam is contributing to the metrics versus the good links.

You also want to look at the spread of the links, as in what pages they're aiming at. Homepage links should have mainly URL and brand anchors. Inner pages should have natural anchors describing the page. Watch out for over-optimized anchors, because that could be why the domain isn't being used any more.

Also, of course, you're wanting a bulk of these links to be dofollow. Some nofollow even on the big sites is expected and may be counted in the near future by Google, but you don't want to risk inflated metrics from nofollow links, only to not have as much power as you thought you did.

At the end of the day, it's a gamble. Avoid domains that have fully dropped and been re-registered. You want ones that were picked up before fully expiring in the after-market so that the registration birth date is still old, and not refreshed.
 
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An affiliate site might be concerned more with click through rates on affiliate links, conversion rates after the click, heat maps and link locations, split testing buttons / tables / colors / calls to action, etc.
This is my goal. Knowing that are there two or three I should prioritize?
 

darkzerothree

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Learned to code. It’s not a sexy or fun as sales/marketing but now I can’t imagine a more practical skill.
This times 100.
Worked as a dev for ten years, but switched to project management.
Really wish I would have dived in fully into coding.

Learning now, in depth and truly.
 

CCarter

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I do not agree with learning to code is a smart move towards the FUTURE. However if you had a time machine and can go back in time than yes, that was a great profession.

Selling and Marketing are always every changing and will evolve - those are 2 skills that will still be needed, but programming has become commoditized. You can got to Fiverr for example and hire coders for $5-20 per PROJECT to complete complex code in any programming language needed. Basically it's become a race to the bottom in terms of value and price.

The reality is there are no $100K a year salary jobs for just "PHP" - there is a reason for that, it's because there were so many damn PHP developers that you didn't need to pay someone $100K a year.

Now a rare language that is still being used by major financial institutions on the backend that needs to be maintained like COBOL - which banks still use to this day, will get you over a $100K a year job easily, cause there are very few COBOL developers. This was the scene 10 years ago.

If you think in those lines, unless you are coding in a rare language, sorry Ruby on Fails is not a rare language, you are just turning a bit into 1 or 0, it's gotten to the point the programming language doesn't even matter, as long as you can turn that bit into a 1 or 0, and since every 3rd world country has hundreds of thousands of programmers - Asia, Africa, South America - all have millions of coders that write GREAT CODE, that can be hired for the same amount of money as a $5 1000 word article. That's what you are competing against when you try to become a coder.

Unless you are strictly working for the US government where they want in-house developers (and government jobs are pretty low in terms of salaries), most coding operations are a guy that manages a team and a project and the majority of the "team" is outsourced labor to countries that have very low wages.

So if you become a coder NOW - you are competing against THAT environment. A race to the bottom. We talk about this more within this thread: What language should I learn?

Now if you learn to code for your own projects - again it's better to understand the macro level, then outsource the raw coding for extremely cheap.

I know proficiently 10 programming languages, I've mastered 4: C, Perl, PHP, and JavaScript. Trust me outsourcing is 10x easier and cheaper than it has ever been. You have to still find the right coders granted, but once you get them then paying $5 for this function or $20 for this script when you are drowning in work becomes extremely easy. But as a career, not a good idea.
 
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Selling and Marketing are always every changing and will evolve - those are 2 skills that will still be needed, but programming has become commoditized. You can got to Fiverr for example and hire coders for $5-20 per PROJECT to complete complex code in any programming language needed. Basically it's become a race to the bottom in terms of value and price.
I agree. I tried learning beginner Python and realized that my time is better spent elsewhere.

Learning to code is no joke. It'll take you months of hard work before you become a crappy coder. It'll take you a year or more of hard work to reliably do what that $5 - $20 Ukrainian programmer can.

Most people running websites don't need to code. Functions.php snippets are available online. HTML/CSS is good to know for whipping up a quick content box or something, but you can do it with plugins (Elementor etc.). And if something serious comes up, you can easily outsource it.

I say everyone should learn Excel instead. Get good at the formulas. You'll be able to automate so much stuff with it. Concatenating text, extracting substrings, checking if keyword contains "x", keyword lists, outreach tracking with Scrapebox inputs, finances...
 
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I'm kind of lucky because back in the day I originally fell into it rather than it being a conscious decision, but looking back one thing I would have doubled down on is unique defensive capabilities. In other words, what makes you different from and more valuable than any other website owner (including people like Google and social media) who wants to attack your space? This changes over time and with technology but should always be a part of anyone's awareness.

On a personal level, I let my instinctive loathing of social media (and Wordpress) influence my business decisions for far too long.
 

mikey3times

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On a personal level, I let my instinctive loathing of social media (and Wordpress) influence my business decisions for far too long.
Same. i deleted Facebook about a year ago, but I’m actually thinking of starting a new account. It would be pure business, though.
 
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Same. i deleted Facebook about a year ago, but I’m actually thinking of starting a new account. It would be pure business, though.
From the user side Facebook is a dumpster fire for mouth breathers to gawk at. From the business side it's a mine to be mined. For the near future I think it's still viable at least for my niches.
 
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I do not agree with learning to code is a smart move towards the FUTURE. However if you had a time machine and can go back in time than yes, that was a great profession.

Selling and Marketing are always every changing and will evolve - those are 2 skills that will still be needed, but programming has become commoditized. You can got to Fiverr for example and hire coders for $5-20 per PROJECT to complete complex code in any programming language needed. Basically it's become a race to the bottom in terms of value and price.

The reality is there are no $100K a year salary jobs for just "PHP" - there is a reason for that, it's because there were so many damn PHP developers that you didn't need to pay someone $100K a year.

Now a rare language that is still being used by major financial institutions on the backend that needs to be maintained like COBOL - which banks still use to this day, will get you over a $100K a year job easily, cause there are very few COBOL developers. This was the scene 10 years ago.

If you think in those lines, unless you are coding in a rare language, sorry Ruby on Fails is not a rare language, you are just turning a bit into 1 or 0, it's gotten to the point the programming language doesn't even matter, as long as you can turn that bit into a 1 or 0, and since every 3rd world country has hundreds of thousands of programmers - Asia, Africa, South America - all have millions of coders that write GREAT CODE, that can be hired for the same amount of money as a $5 1000 word article. That's what you are competing against when you try to become a coder.

Unless you are strictly working for the US government where they want in-house developers (and government jobs are pretty low in terms of salaries), most coding operations are a guy that manages a team and a project and the majority of the "team" is outsourced labor to countries that have very low wages.

So if you become a coder NOW - you are competing against THAT environment. A race to the bottom. We talk about this more within this thread: What language should I learn?

Now if you learn to code for your own projects - again it's better to understand the macro level, then outsource the raw coding for extremely cheap.

I know proficiently 10 programming languages, I've mastered 4: C, Perl, PHP, and JavaScript. Trust me outsourcing is 10x easier and cheaper than it has ever been. You have to still find the right coders granted, but once you get them then paying $5 for this function or $20 for this script when you are drowning in work becomes extremely easy. But as a career, not a good idea.
This is so interesting coming from you since you own a SaaS company in the SEO industry where both founders wrote the early versions of the code to get it up.

I agree nursing is probably better if you want a $100k Job, Tai Lopez said something like 80% of Millionaires & Billionaires started in sales.

I'm in favour of learning coding as a secret weapon... makes bootstraps & prototypes cheaper and maybe quicker (most importantly you know what's possible :cool:). I guess there is a spectrum from Tech Savvy - Coder where you experience diminishing marginal returns on effort to learn

My list will be
1. Think Audaciously Bigger
2. Get good people skills/psychology (sales, dating, observing trends)
As an introverted male, I particularly got a slow start to realizing environment & relationships a r a big factor in high-performance... i just sat down indoors with newspapers,books and later TV & Internet to accquire intel
3. Coding
4. Get started where the market is absolutely fucking soft even retards are winning

1&4 might be the most important
1 -> there are possibilities of big wins which outmatch whatever effort u put
4 -> quick wins get you going, confidence boost, survival
 

CCarter

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This is so interesting coming from you since you own a SaaS company in the SEO industry where both founders wrote the early versions of the code to get it up.
Yeah that's my point. Stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a manager will get things done a lot faster.

I believe a skill that would be beneficial to all is to learn how to manage people and create work flows and work processes that are revenue oriented. That would remove a ton of headaches from people's lives.
 

EyesExist

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For those of us who have been running websites for 10 years now, if you were launching a new venture, what would you get into? If you were launching a new site, what would you do differently? Pursue a different niche? Optimize for social rather than SEO? Different content strategy?

I ask because when I first came into the BUSO community, I had 5+ projects. I sold (or shuttered) all of them except my biggest site. Now, years later, I am ready to move on. There is a panoply of advice out there on the "best businesses to start", but I cant see the scams for the real viable businesses out there.

So if you had to start all over in this environment, how would you and what would you do?
I know your exact feeling. I find it hard to want to stay with the same project for over 5 years.

Kanye West once spoke on reinventing himself and the need to create, I think I am of this same vein BUT , I'm not on the level of West. I dont have $100-millio-dollar worth nor most importantly, billions of dollars of connections.

But i need to re-invent.

Now, on to what I would do:

What I've Done:
- Owned several news blogs ( the most fruitful of all-time)
- Owned a re-curring billing club
- Owned a models/photo shoot project where images went viral regularly and we got paid for product placement & site ads
- Did the 'build and flip' niche domains game
- Was a YouTube/Social media owenr or part-owner of a few people ( most longevity )
- Affiliate marketing -(fastest money but requires work always)
- Sold links/SEO services forever
- eBay commerce, first made money with this bck in like 2000... selling dollar store arts/crafts i created with 'celebrity bills' , for crazy mark ups by pushing as a celebrity collectible before the web was big. trade on autographs and all
- Got into ebay drop shipping twice in recent years: Once with the Hoverboard b/c themarkup was too ridiculous... and then once when i lost it all, tring to find something new
- Owning my own Indie product/ecommerce store . Done this twice. Both times , very successful.


What I would do:
I can't do just 1 project. I would need 2. I've learned from all my hardwork, TEAMWORK is key and never to have all my eggs in one basket.

- 2 Project: News blog with App with staff & Fashion-related eCommerce store with a partner who likes handling shipping

Why?
  1. No physical product. Virtual management is easy. Just need money to invest. Earnings are limitless.....once you get the structure set up right.
  2. News Blog: These sell for big bucks. The only billionaire i met in life was buying these, pimping them out to max profits, millking them dry then selling them off after Google made their massive changes..... but now he owns the 'instacart' app among other things and is an angel investor.
  3. The Site App: Again, the only billionaire I know who would recognze me & hang out, is doing this. So I'm smart enough to get the hint. Without even having a direction yet.
  4. eComm store: No creativity or nothing needed. Just a sense for marketing and SEO and boom, watch it run. People sell 'air' now a days to people across the world. People sell farts in a glass. Shit is crazy, literally what people will buy (no pun intended).
  5. Ownership of all this can be sold/liquidated
Personal touch:
- I need to apply my personal touches to do things. My actual talents, beyond my innate need to earn and dominate, are WRITING and ART/DESIGN. I get to express myself in both forms by owning a news blog and then a product store, where I can do something from design fashions to product boxing/etc
 

darkzerothree

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If you have a course for this
There is a book called Growing Software that I can not recommend highly enough):
https://www.amazon.com/Growing-Software-Strategies-Managing-Engineers/dp/1593271832/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=growing+software&qid=1572189332&sr=8-2
(non-affiliate link)

I wish I could put an aff link right here. :D

Sneaky Edit:
I also really like the sound of that blog idea.
I do not know if you'd need to handle shipping, it might be possible to affiliate directly with a brand.
Sneaky edit 2:
One idea I was discussing with a friend was a recreation of a look (celebs, for example), but using lower priced items (H&M, Zara, etc..)

You affiliate with those.
 
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