Stop doing projects that are rehashes of what everyone USED to do...

Steve Brownlie

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#1
Since I'm not writing anywhere else any more I'm going to be contributing a few newbie-friendly articles here this next few weeks as and when I have ideas.

This one is I think pretty pertinent to BuSo as almost all the threads about what people are up to are very similar. And I made the exact same mistake with what I chose to start doing last year... boo!

And what's more they're all very similar to what people who are very successful used to do.

What's worse is many of them start out by admitting they got onto the MFA/sniper site/super niche site etc train too late when they previously tried to build something. That's what the successful people had already moved on from at the time many were attacking them. Too late, and missing the new gold rush.

Don't Miss The New Gold Rush

The new gold rush was mega authority type sites - many of which have sold for huge numbers and continue to do so. I jumped on board (late) and the realization came to me that I'd fallen into the exact trap the late-to-MFA guys made.

Clients of mine sold for millions --> ooh I'll do that type of thing in a different niche --> of course they're not doing it again they're off doing something new/smarter/different.


Coming to that realization led me to (see my case study thread) hand the project off to my team and just let it flow. It's a 'done' model. Good writers + good linkbuilders + a good editor to oversee the strategy and lots of patience may see them work out.

But it's not something I can get passionate about. It's not something where someone is going to share one of those sites and say 'ooh check out this new thing...'. It's an old idea, maybe done better, and maybe done for newer niches but they'll just be 'another site' that either sells well or doesn't sell well when the time comes to flip them.

Finding Opportunities - Follow the Winners Into Their New Projects!

One of the hardest parts about all this is the old things - MFA or 'authority sites' or whatever publishing based model you copied - it was easy to come up with a niche or idea. Just search 'everything' you are vaguely interested in until you find one with money, interest and not as much competition. Get cracking. Everyone knows how to write about something they enjoy.

Of course, some people did it better. Brian Clarke (copyblogger) didn't just make some authority site about blogging and watch the adsense roll in. They built Authority and various other membership sites to really print the cash.

And sure, you can see similarities in his new 'Rainmaker' brand - there is a course, there are conferences. But he's made something real. The Rainmaker Platform.

I think, if he were 15 years older, Russell Brunson would have had authority sites and just private communities (he has some of those things anyway). But he's already in the new world and also made something real. ClickFunnels.

The mystical @CCarter could probably have chosen to turn the TrafficLeaks brand into a mega authority site about marketing. Instead we have SerpWOO shaking things up for the incumbents there and a new SAAS on the way.

Gary Vaynerchuk, despite being at the helm of the fastest growing ad agency in the world, is already talking in some of his videos about wanting to bring some kind of Facebook marketing SAAS to market for smaller businesses.

SEO companies are rapidly investing in other things - I've seen everything from cloud marketing tools to influencer marketplaces coming out of that space this last year or so.

Even Your Authority Site Competition Is Moving On

Even if you're wedded to the idea of being a content publisher and running an authority site - scraping 1/1000 of $50 for each visitor out. Your competition is building 'real things' to hit the same market:

https://studentloanhero.com/

That's what an authority site looks like in the student loan space now. They haven't even made it to page 1 (I see them top of page 2 for a bunch of stuff) for all of their big terms and yet they're already slaying it for traffic. The guys with just a blog homepage with 'tips to repay your student loan' will be under pressure really soon.



How To Even Get Started

Russell Brunson's story seems to be that he started and made his money as a marketer (selling everything from potato guns and vhs courses...) then paid to get development for his SAAS done. He's a 'marketing' founder not a technical founder. So you could go that route - do consulting, sell products, whatever you can do for immediate income and put 40% of it aside to pay for development of your idea.

BUT... many, many SAAS projects don't have to be built from scratch. Many are standing on the shoulders of the giants that are the open source community. Think of Rails, Django and all those powerful frameworks that let n00bs like me build our entire CMS and back end system for my linkbuilding agency in Django after doing two short courses:

https://learnpythonthehardway.org/book/
https://docs.djangoproject.com/en/1.10/intro/tutorial01/

Oh and it all looks passably pretty because of Bootstrap... one of the easiest ways for non-designers to make things functional. There are also a TON of awesome design kits you can buy to make it even prettier/more functional.

Including doing the courses it took 6 months. And I'm now on to building something commercial for others to buy/use as a SAAS based on what I learnt building for my own business.

Making something useful like SLH has the shortest learning curve in history thanks to the way software development has gone. Now sure I'll spend thousands after launch on a more experienced security and technical consultant to iron out the kinks and tell me off for the mistakes we make in our rookie beta development BUT it's a far cry from being able to do nothing yourself without becoming an expert coder first, and having to build everything from scratch in PHP.

Anyway - there is a new gold rush going on. And it's just people doing what successful people used to do...

PS -
This isn't advice to just bin the project you've put blood, sweat and tears into. If you look at the discussion in my last post (https://www.buildersociety.com/threads/how-long-does-seo-take-for-newbies.2864/) you can see that things take time and you could hit that hockey stick right after the point you give up if you quit too early. Sometimes you've invested enough, and it's worth closing that out and selling properly before you move onto the new thing. But if you're sat here working out what to start or are just selling up and ready for something new, hopefully this was a useful post for you.
 
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darkzerothree

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#2
Actually. there was a thread by "the mystical CCarter" on WF, where he talked about how to create an authority site.

One of his cornerstones was exactly what the studentloan guys are doing.

MAKE TOOLS!

With the internet getting more and more interactive, and the boundaries between "a page on the net" and "a program" or "an app" are blurring for the normal user... THIS is where you have to go. THIS is what you got to do.

Pure informatipon ain't cutting it.

Make the information interactive, usable, turn it into a tool.

So, in short:
ADD VALUE.
ADD AS MUCH VALUE as the channel lets you.

PS - This isn't advice to just bin the project you've put blood, sweat and tears into. If you look at the discussion in my last post (https://www.buildersociety.com/threads/how-long-does-seo-take-for-newbies.2864/) you can see that things take time and you could hit that hockey stick right after the point you give up if you quit too early. Sometimes you've invested enough, and it's worth closing that out and selling properly before you move onto the new thing. But if you're sat here working out what to start or are just selling up and ready for something new, hopefully this was a useful post for you.
The advice should be - add interactive tools / calculators, etc... to your projects.

Got a diet website?
- Add a BMI calculator
- Add a calories counter
...

Got an investments website?
- Add a "how much money will you earn in x years?" widget
...
etc etc
 
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#3
Completely disagree. Don't worry about what other people are off to next. Look at what's going on in the marketplace and see how you can compete better. I'm not really sure what an authority site is, never understood the obsession with it and I've been going at this for over a decade.

Saas is sexy now but it's a mind numbing hard slog that seems to get overlooked because we all read hacker news....all we see are the people doing 300k in mrr but not their overhead or the years of suffering it takes to get there.

Finally, passion is over rated. Execution trumps (pun accidentally intended) everything. Be passionate about systematic execution in business.
 
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#5
Anyway - there is a new gold rush going on. And it's just people doing what successful people used to do...
Steve your post is some of the best advice I've heard in a long time, it's lit a fire under me. Subconsciously I already knew what you said, but maybe I didn't want to admit it or whatever, but now I know what I need to do or at least where to start looking for my next project and not what to do.

BUT, your quote above, doesn't that contradict your whole point? If successful people were doing authority sites how can that be the new gold rush?

Actually. there was a thread by "the mystical CCarter" on WF, where he talked about how to create an authority site.
Good a link to that thread handy mate? Can't find it!
 

Ryuzaki

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#7
BUT, your quote above, doesn't that contradict your whole point? If successful people were doing authority sites how can that be the new gold rush?
I think that's the whole point. "Gold Rush" is not a positive term.

In the gold rushes, people flocked to sift through dirt in order to find the magic rock. And some made it, which only made other people want it that much more. You never really hear though about the 99% of losers.

The people who really got rich were the ones selling blue jeans (durable pants), sluice boxes, pick axes, etc.

Steve, forgive me for speaking for you and being inaccurate while doing it, but I think he's saying that by the time YOU hear about the gold rush and go for it, all the gold in them thar hills is gone.

Basically, by the time the guru bloggers are pretending to have made it so they can sell you the $7.99 ebook and $9.99 subscription, The OG's already took their share, then told their buddies in the secret chat groups who then plundered it, then the forum bosses plundered it. You're like 4th and 5th generation by the time you hear about it from a blogger who caught wind way too late.

In the sense of authority sites though... it's not even remotely too late to get in that game. TheWirecutter is a baby and just sold for over $30,000,000. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It's kind of like Fulfillment By Amazon. Anyone starting today is late, but there's still gold in them hills, even by copycatting and white-labeling stuff. God forbid you build a real brand though, which is why authority sites are still king and will remain so for as long as the net exists. It's always been the case. The ones that never manipulated or chased "methods" are still killing it. The ones that screwed up still cashed out in a big way.

I feel like the message here is to stop jumping from today's big method to the next. Forget "methods" and build something of value. Mix all the methods, whatever. But stop boxing yourself into what other people are telling you about something they've never achieved.

The cutting edge isn't what everyone is currently talking about. You don't have to be there to make millions, but if you want to make a billion or more in tech you better be innovating. By definition that means not doing what someone else did.
 

Steve Brownlie

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#8
I feel like the message here is to stop jumping from today's big method to the next. Forget "methods" and build something of value. Mix all the methods, whatever. But stop boxing yourself into what other people are telling you about something they've never achieved.
Thanks @Ryuzaki I think this sums up what I was trying to say way better than I actually managed! You can tell I'm rusty at this whole full-length editorial thing. Need to tune up the band and get my thoughts nice and tight before the next one.

With the internet getting more and more interactive, and the boundaries between "a page on the net" and "a program" or "an app" are blurring for the normal user... THIS is where you have to go. THIS is what you got to do.
Yes, thank you for adding that. I really didn't mean to say everyone should go build a SAAS but I can see from my selected examples I only included one variation on that. Your comment captures what I felt when I saw this shift (a billion years after all those people who're already doing it successfully) - stuff that 'does things' even if it's just something simple is very powerful and more useful than even a pretty long blog post.

We've all checked out some epic content on someone's site, and sometimes we subscribe, sometimes we go back but... a lot of the time it's just another thing we bookmarked, read and moved on from.

Builder Society is an example in itself of a site that 'does something' and we all keep coming back to.
 
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#9
Thanks for the additional explanations guys.

  1. What's SLH?
  2. Your list of well-known people had me thinking what happened to Shoemoney? He did the whole "I've made it now I'll sell you stuff to do the same" thing, then had his PAR program which didn't seem to go well (his SAAS or actually building something thing) and now I've no clue what he's doing. Gone very quiet.
  3. Why is the end game with authority sites always selling? If you know something will continue and you don't need to put much time in each week, why sell for only 2-3 years revenue or whatever the multiple is? Cashflow can be good too.
 
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#10
by the time YOU hear about the gold rush and go for it, all the gold in them thar hills is gone.
I'd like to expand on this. In this day and age, the fundamentals are easy. Content is easy. The technical application of design and functionality is easy. Everyone has tools. Everyone has apps. More and more have their own SAAS. What's easy and widely available also typically is of less value. People often waste focus in one or more of those areas, when the reality is, those aspects may be nothing "special" in their respective marketplace.

At its core, however, effective and extremely successful marketing and business development strategies usually excel at perceiving and exploiting the sociological and psychological concerns of the marketplace. To put it more bluntly, they innovate at mindf**king their consumers, in such a manner that the consumers love them for it. In other words, people see the "gold rush". They think, "Man, how can I learn to see the next gold rush before it happens?!" In reality, the focus should be, "How can I learn to think in the manner that will create those opportunities?" It's even more fundamental, and often requires a great deal of introspection to develop those abilities. Most will never achieve it, and rightly so.
 
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#11
Developing based upon existing ideas isn't wrong, however it depends what you make different compared to the masses. That's what makes you grow further.
I can't fully agree with the claim that what everyone does is bad because at some extent it isn't. You're supposed to learn from your own mistakes just as well as from the mistakes made by your competition.
 

darkzerothree

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#12
@MalinC

True.

We can look at other industries or businesses to see that.

Flower shop
Sure, open a flower shop, do it like everyone else and you might do OK.
Open a flower shop with an extremely talented florist, offering hard - to get exotic flowers (which only you know how to grow in hydroponics), streamlined biz operations and the KNOWLEDGE that those flowers are coveted by the ladies... You'll do more than fine.
 
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#13
Yup and on the long run it all breaks down to trial & error because there's no other way. If you wanna innovate and hit the jackpot you gotta fail a couple of times so you can learn and understand what you did wrong.
 

CCarter

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#14
Radio Optimization

I think the problem is within the "IM Community" or more so the "SEO Community" people don't truly understand the role they play and consider "SEO" a business as if it is what they do (putting a side SEO consulting for a moment). The problem is people just concentrate on "ranking in Google" as if THAT is their business, when in fact their website should be their business that drives revenue from customers they get. Satisfying those customers and getting them to repeatedly buy should be the #1 objective like a real business.

Indulge me for a moment. Instead of calling it SEO, Let's call it "Radio Optimization". We'll go back in time 30 years. So some marketers realized that people listen to the radio for entertainment, news, and information based content. The same elements exist today with the exception that with online it adds two way communication and now you can connect with other people on the internet medium.

So going back, marketers started advertising on the radio with commercials. Then overtime things got saturated cause the Big Brands started also buying Radio spots. The good times were over - or so they thought. The easy money of placing your spot on the Radio started getting more crowded. So now marketers had to do Radio Optimization to find the perfect time period to play their Radio Ad. Maybe right in between the "Dr. Who" show since so many people listened to it.

ROs (Radio Optimizers) started using rudimentary analytics to figure out when the best time to play their spots, during what shows would be best to play their dish-washing soap commercial, and what times to sell their football jersey collector items (probably during a football broadcasting). And slowly RO became more and more sophisticated. More and more big Brand started crowding the field, and driving the little guy out that couldn't survive. Eventually ROs realized that they could do product placements within the Radio shows themselves (guestposts), and do guerilla marketing campaigns like having the character in a show talk about their product in a highlighting the benefit manner (product placements and guerilla marketing).

So then ROs started A/B split testing different sounds and ways to get people more engaged and then some blackhatter realized they could turn up the volume on all commercials by over 100% of what the current radio show was at. So when the Radio Show played it was whatever sound the consumer had it at, but when THEIR commercial played the volume was turned up on the audio by over 100%. Those ROs started raking in money left and right, but it also caused complaints.

Now here is where things get really hilarious and eerie - The FCC had to step in and create the CALM Act (Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act - https://www.fcc.gov/media/policy/loud-commercials) that forced all Radio, TV, and other broadcasting to not put the volume of commercials over 100% of what the current programming was. Here is the kicker - this was enacted in 2011 and went into effect in 2012. The FCC is 30 years too late. When was the last time you sat in your living room listening to a radio program?

But anyways, in that instance the government stepped in to regulate those Blackhat ROs screwing up everything for everyone else.

The problem is you don't really see anyone walking around talking about they are ROs now a days or even want to mention it. If you own a business you aren't suppose to just concentrate on Radio Ads to drive in traffic. You do TV Ads, mailers, flyers, billboards, sponsorships - even guerilla marketing tactics to get the word out about your business and in front of your target audience.

So now you figure out you can't be just an RO and make it, unless you go down the RO consulting route, eventually with regulation (Google updates) and more competitors there are few and few ways to "optimize" for the radio. So you open up your own mom and pop store and use RO to get customers.

The problem is if you didn't do this soon enough you are WAY too late to the game. The big brands have swallowed up the other mom and pop stores in your niche, they've got advanced Radio Optimization Analytics and create their own RO in-house team to dominate the Radio waves. Any other survivors are authority stores that are local that were able to keep up with the times.

So now you the one-man operation are going to be force to work on the Radio waves on the outskirts of town which very few people get there and you'll be counting pennies, and it'll takes a year+ just to get some traction. How long do you think you can survive with just RO in that scenario? You'll have to employ multiple marketing channels and mediums to drive sales to the outskirts of town. Plus when you go inside your store none of your stuff is even unique, it's brands that you can get at the big boy store (Walmart.com and Target.com who kill it in RO), or at the local flea market (Amazon.com). You are an affiliate of all the brands inside your store so you make extremely little margins (affiliate commissions) for all your effort, and now you want to compete right there on front street with the big boys on Main Street - How?

It's also very difficult to be passionate while wasting years on the outskirts of town selling other people's goods for low margins waiting for Radio Optimization to kick in "one of these days". Maybe there are some people really passionate about SEO, but I didn't get into SEO to be passionate about it, it was one marketing channel that had huge Returns that drove in tons of traffic. Now a days the same huge returns can also being seen by social media platforms and other platforms that can be exploited with guerilla marketing tactics, traffic leaks, and other methods.

Now that I have products and services of my own I use SEO and other marketing channels to push it and I'm passionate about MY products and services and more importantly helping my customer achieve their goals - ensuring I'm around for the long run. However if you have no passion about customer service or talking to people - building a SAAS is the WRONG path to go down. It just happens that one of my products helps SEO and ORM cause I saw a void that could be filled, but I have other products that aren't marketing tools which service industries and niches with the same passion. I'm passionate about creating software and creating solutions for my customers - I love it. If you don't love what you do - how long can you sit there and do it?

And then if we really want to dig deeper into this analogy, your content which makes up the shelves of your store is flimsy at best - maybe it's even spun, jesus christ. So jumping in RO with all these bad cards and trying to compete is just wasting your own time in reality. You have to do more than RO, you have to also have better stuff on your shelves and your OWN products where people can't get anywhere else, and then create demand for your product - through RO and guerilla marketing and other tactics to gain brand awareness in your consumers mind. That way consumers will be looking for you.

And here is the real kicker, you can improve your overall performance or you can be one of those dying mom and pop stores that keep closing around town cause the Big Boys are expanding and the moms and pops refused to sell when it was the right time - they couldn't see the curve coming up ahead.

In this analogy the SAAS tools are the power, water, lights, garbage collections, and sewer plumbing to the business and homes around town which you can use them to run your business, optimize your radio spots or whatever the tools are needed to, but they'll be here a lot longer since when one business moves out another business can move into the same building and they'll need power, water, or lights as well.

If you can carve a corner so you provide a certain essential need for a town, an industry, or a niche, you won't need to waste time trying to become the best RO in the universe, you'll have people coming to you out of necessity. Also if you become a "Starbucks" where you are the only one that provides their product people will come to you because you built a name for yourself.

RO isn't about building a brand or a name, like SEO, it is a waiting game and all you have to do is see the problem with wasting time specializing in one medium like Radio Optimization - the curve is coming for EVERY THING - one day there might be no need for a search engine just like there isn't a need for Yellow Page Optimization (Recall why all those local companies start with AAAA and AAAAA - cause they'll be on the first page in the yellow pages - think about that for a moment).

It is also possible to grow a mom and pop store into an authority store (TheWireCutter) and big brand - Walmart, JCPenneys, Target and other all started out as one-man operations - the difference is they were willing to invest in their own future and success by trying different mediums. They were willing to get financing to fund their operation. They were willing to grow. Most mom and pop operations don't have the formula to grow - that's why the have the business owners writing their own content and doing all the leg work for years on end - that's not a scaling model, that's a mom and pop business that won't get anywhere until it gets clobbered when another operation with financing and funding comes into your side of town and takes over, and then your RO won't be able to do much then anyways...


Radio Optimization, Yellow Page Optimization, Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Optimization and all - they are all marketing channels to generate traffic to your business. What BUSINESS are you in? And hopefully you aren't just using one optimization plan to get your business off the ground, cause that'll take forever and death will come before Google sends you 10,000 visitors a day in traffic for simply putting up a flimsy affiliate site.