It's a job

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I'm 27 years old and have had a couple side projects for the last 4 years. My first attempt was a local cleaning business where I subcontracted cleaners and used the website to generate customers - it functioned perfectly fine as a business and made a small amount of money but I was too inexperienced to deal with the cleaners and/or customers. The whole thing makes me cringe when I think back.

The second was my first affiliate site which was based around hobbies (sports, gardening, hydroponics, etc) with the idea of becoming a resource for how to start hobbies and where to buy products. Kind of like Meetup but just info-based. Firstly, I didn't give it anywhere near the attention it deserved and, secondly, it was too big a project for me (also it was built on Joomla... Grim). I wanted to steer it in the direction of self-improvement for mental health and almost like a real-world application for dating/relationships - better yourself by becoming genuniely interesting to get the girl/guy (anti-Tinder?). I think there is definitely a gap in the market for something like it, alas, it just won't be me filling it. Think you need money and manpower to have a decent crack at it. Neither of which I have.

I was talking to an acquaintence who bought a property in the centre of town, doid it up and put it on the market for £2 million so he's doing alright for himself. I mentioned that although I hadn't succeeded in the projects I enjoyed it and it was fun to me blah, blah. He said "Nah, fuck that. You have to treat it like a job". That was in October and it shifted my perspective.

I initially started these projects because I wanted to get out of the rat race before I'd even entered it. I didn't have any understanding of what having a 9-5 job actually meant so I didn't have that grounding in place to utilise for motivation - you know what I mean if you've had to do it. I wanted money so that I could make the most of my time whilst I'm alive but now my motivations have changed somewhat from living a life of luxury to my own self-improvement. I don't want to the "had so much potential" anymore and want to be someone that realises their potential.

I have come a long way mentally in the 4 years and I feel like if I stop this journey before I get that proper yes, look what I've created then I'll never forgive myself.

Foreground
This now brings me onto my current project which I began at the end of last year but if you remember google was de-indexing pages randomly for some reason so nothing was indexed until about April. The niche is pretty large which may prove my SEO downfall but it's popular enough that I should be able to produce content in a lot of areas.

Recently I've found a writing style that I think is pretty great but I've only written info posts really, I wanted to try and gain some sort of following before monetising began. My biggest weakness is promotion, I get super anxious about it. Before starting something like this, you don't realise the emotional energy it takes to create even basic articles/websites - it feels that way for me at least.

I wasn't getting anywhere with SEO so to combat both this and the anxiety of promotion I set out a goal on the 1st July that I'd have 1000 new users (87/week) and 50 new subscribers by the 1st October. Currently 368 new users so I'm 100 over my weekly target so quite happy with that, no subscribers but this traffic is mostly through Reddit so I'm hoping that other traffic sources may be more generous with their email addresses. This week I'm going to start dropping links in Quora and see if I can sort out some HARO submissions if anything comes up as I don't have any decent backlinks yet.

Pinterest is something I've been trying to master but nothing's taken off even though this niche is ideal for Pinterest. I read Pinterest case studies about people generating like 40,000 monthly visitors and I get a solitary tear running down my cheek at the possibilities. Going to try and get my follower count up so I can get on some group boards.

Currently in a good place mentally when it comes to this project. I would say that my determination is relatively strong at the moment. I come back from my job and work until about 12am, chipping away. I've promised myself I won't start anything new until I can objectively say this website has succeeded. I haven't put anything concrete in place for determining that but I think you know what I mean. The niche is large enough that traffic can be generated and money made, it's just a case of finding out how and doing it.

Anyway, think that's plenty of words now so hope that was suitable.

Catch you on the flip side.
 

CCarter

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I've promised myself I won't start anything new until I can objectively say this website has succeeded. I haven't put anything concrete in place for determining that but I think you know what I mean.
You need a solid number/goal. Otherwise $1million or $1K might fall into the same "vague" range. That's where projects fail, they don't have proper KPIs (key performance indicator) to measure. Realistically the most important KPI is revenue, that literally should be #1. Another good one is traffic and subscribers. However since you didn't start off with revenue it means you are subconsciously staying away from it, I've seen this thousands of times.

I can assure you that if you measure revenue magically that KPI will start growing since you'll focus your mindset to work on things that drive revenue and not necessarily increase in traffic or subscribers.

Really ask yourself - by Oct 1st what would you rather have, revenue or traffic? You want to treat this like a job, you have to treat this like a brick and mortar business. Having foot traffic into your store means nothing if no one is buying anything. Use revenue targets as your goals and you'll end up a lot happier versus these "just SEO" projects that never get anywhere because people are worried about the weak KPIs instead of the one KPI that ALL business need = Revenue!

Welcome to Buso.
 
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You need a solid number/goal. Otherwise $1million or $1K might fall into the same "vague" range. That's where projects fail, they don't have proper KPIs (key performance indicator) to measure. Realistically the most important KPI is revenue, that literally should be #1. Another good one is traffic and subscribers. However since you didn't start off with revenue it means you are subconsciously staying away from it, I've seen this thousands of times.
Thanks for the reply. That makes a tonne of sense and I will have a rethink about my 1st October goal, it will also be a good indicator if my new writing style works to actually convert people into buying customers. Awesome.
 

Ryuzaki

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One thing I see people get backwards constantly is thinking about "how much traffic can I get," which is meaningless.

I learned this lesson as a young lad when I boasted about how I was making $2k+ a month on this one education / rehab / addiction site on like 3,000 visitors a month, if I recall correctly. I tried to stunt on this guy that had like 50,000 visitors a month and was making ~$500. It was silly banter for fun, but he pointed out that we were in different niches with different styles of websites. His was a tech forum with banner ads, mine was a lead gen property.

Later this lesson was expanded when I started getting out of pure SEO and into real marketing. I found out real fast that chasing massive traffic meant nothing if the quality of the traffic was super low (like "hacking" the mind of Reddit users to get a click to your site). Even though I had Adsense and even a crafty Amazon link to drop cookies, when I hit #1 on r/all and got like 30,000 visitors in a 24 hour period, it only turned into about $800 and that was because I was dropping Amazon cookies on thousands of people and getting commissions on random stuff they were buying and the very rare Adsense click. If I had gotten 5,000 visitors on a more targeted sub-reddit to a page meant to convert sales, I'd have made way more money. I only managed to make any money due to baiting them into clicking the Amazon link.

But if I was using CPM ads I'd have gotten paid for every page load and I could be pulling down trash Reddit and Facebook traffic all day long. Lots would be out of the primary advertising regions but it'd still be fat cash and I wouldn't have to worry about targeting their intent or state of mind during the click.

I said all that just to come back to the main point, which is not to worry about swinging your e-peen based on traffic numbers. What you want to do is start at the money conversion. You want to design your site around it, design your content around it, so that everything leads to the conversion, whatever that may be. Then, when you start promoting your content, you naturally are promoting it to people that are going to convert. That might mean they pick up the phone and dial your number, they type their info into your lead generation form. It might mean they have to do nothing but load the page, in which case traffic quality doesn't matter (but the curse is you need gobs of traffic to make real money).

Most people start at the top of the funnel and chase traffic and then try to figure out how to make money on the traffic.

"Start at the conversion and work backwards" is the best advice I ever received.
 
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What you want to do is start at the money conversion. You want to design your site around it, design your content around it, so that everything leads to the conversion, whatever that may be.
Thanks very much for your reply, really appreciated. I'm definitely going to modify my approach.

Please could you explain how you would have done this for one of your old sites? I know it's basic but I often complicate things more than is necessary. For instance, do you just think to yourself I need to write this kind of content to get people to click on this link and buy the product. For this post I need to target these people. Do you have a framework, or something similar, or is it more intuitive once you've got experience of the niche/business in general?
 
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For instance, do you just think to yourself I need to write this kind of content to get people to click on this link and buy the product. For this post I need to target these people.
I'd just add, related to what @Ryuzaki and @CCarter have said but from the point of view of content and concept, what is the point of pain that you are addressing?

Your website is an online business, whether sales, lead gen, affiliate referrals or information. What problems can you address which your potential viewers are unlikely to be able to do online (or only by overcoming what they perceive as hurdles)? Are all the things that they might need available to buy online? Are they able to find all the services that they need online? Are they able to find trustworthy information and recommendations about their needs online?

Any time you hear someone say, "I can't find decent ..." after an internet session is a point of pain and opportunity.

Welcome to the forums.
 

Ryuzaki

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Please could you explain how you would have done this for one of your old sites?
First let's detour and think about the sales funnel and how it might look on a content site:

What is a garden hoe?​
v​
How do you use a garden hoe?​
v​
What should I look for in a garden hoe?​
v​
The best garden hoe brands​
v​
The best garden hoes​
v​
Garden hoe coupons​
v​
The purchase​

With SEO, you'll find lots of sites that try to just be "best ____" and "____ reviews." This can work okay but Google also penalizes them with the "thin content" penalty. You'll see sites that skate by being just "coupon sites." Lots of advertisers don't like these because they don't add any value, they just skim off the top of an "already done deal." Some like it because they're coupons are selling points in a flooded market where they may not have gotten the sale otherwise (and have inflated their prices to have huge coupons).

That's how lots of people think about it when they're just doing SEO. But those are usually short-lived projects. We're looking to do something bigger.

Often you'll want to cover all of the top-of-the-funnel crap that doesn't really make you money directly, but it serves two purposes. It masks the fact that you're only there to make money from search engines and it disarms the users into thinking you're a bigger operation than you are, builds trust, educates, etc. This isn't a bad thing, it's a testament to how much one person can do online by grinding or outsourcing and automating.

I used to work in the rehab niche a bit. Take the case of lead generation through pay per call. It's one thing to slap your number in the header and footer and hope for the best. What I did (and this doesn't work that well anymore in these kind of YMYL [your money your life] niches), was to try to get closer to the bottom of the funnel where people are close to making their decisions.

So I found a bunch of publicly available data on rehab locations, mixed it all together and got organized, created a database that I could then turn into state-level (as in USA states) pages with every addiction treatment facility in the state. I figured people searching for "rehab facilities in NY" are pretty close to being admitted themselves or for a family member. I then listed the overwhelming number of options, the phone number prominently with a call to action about letting us help them determine which location is best for them based on length of stay, out or in-patient, insurance acceptance, detox needs, etc. Worked like a charm.

On the site I mentioned above that was making $2k on 3k pageviews per month, it was in the same niche but for people wanting to be on the employee side. They needed degrees, certifications, all that stuff, so I wrote about it all. But what I didn't do was tell them where to get the degrees and certifications, but I stressed how important it was (it was mandatory). Guess where that information was to be found? In the advertisers websites that were targeting me using Adsense and paying $5 a click. And when you do this right, (content compulsions and ad placement) you get a very high click through rate too.

That's two examples from my past about building around the monetization method, plus some general ones you'll see people in the SEO industry trying to do. It's what we're all trying to do, but the question is how well do you do it, and can you get qualified traffic to the pages. That's often SEO traffic, but if your ROI is high enough you can break into PPC campaigns and start printing money. I knew a guy who stopped caring about his pay-per-call site and started running Adwords ads with click to call ads on mobile, direct to the advertisers. He made enough money doing that that he turned it into a physical vaping shop, which did so well he basically forgot about the pay-per-call and let it die (should have paid someone to keep it running).
 
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Your website is an online business, whether sales, lead gen, affiliate referrals or information. What problems can you address which your potential viewers are unlikely to be able to do online (or only by overcoming what they perceive as hurdles)? Are all the things that they might need available to buy online? Are they able to find all the services that they need online? Are they able to find trustworthy information and recommendations about their needs online?
Hey, thanks for the message.

The website is in the interior design/home decor niche. The main issue I'm trying to solve is people not understanding how to style their homes, confidence in their ability, where to get certain pieces of furniture from, etc. That's really the basis of it. Plenty of styles, plenty of furniture and the majority of it will be bought online.

I'm confident money can be made as there are obviously some big players but the information is often presented in dull formats. Hoping to stand out by changing this.

First let's detour and think about the sales funnel and how it might look on a content site:
Awesome, thank you very much for the reply. I've been doing this to a better extent with this current website compared to the last one. Something I think I need to change about my content production strategy is producing the funnel in one go rather than jumping onto a different sub-niche and different part of the funnel. Thanks again, definitely food for thought - improvements on the way!