I probably knew this a while ago but it just punched me in the face last night
Every Monday night, I meet-up with three other guys producing websites for my Master Mind Group Meeting. Each week, a different member is in the “hot seat” where he shares a problem or project he is currently working on. It was my turn last Monday. From time to time, I have a spark in my mind and the urge for creation haunts me down until I build a new site.
These urges have created sites such as my EMT resource. They are relatively small niche sites generating roughly $30 to $50 per month. I put about 25 hours of work on it and I’m getting 1 hour per month worth of my time back since then. It’s been a year, so I’m still short on this project. Not sure it’s the right way to do business though… Anyways, back to my Monday Master Mind Story:
My project of the week was one of those sparks resulting in another small niche site project. I had researched keywords using Market Samurai, built the site structures (topics, categories, etc) along with traffic and monetization strategies. The discussion went well until we hit the nail; my traffic and monetization strategies were obsolete.
I’ve been in this industry for too long I guess. Long enough to have experience, but so long as to get cozy in a single business model without looking outside of it. I have been using pretty much the same strategy for the past 6 years on most of my websites and this is probably killing my business.
I’m well diversified and the business model has been proven to be stable. However, I have lost the connection to the “new waves” and am realizing that I’m falling behind. Most people talk about link building, keyword research, web 2.0 properties and other SEO strategies. The trick is that everybody uses the same strategy and Google knows it.
So if you are starting your site today, all the reading you do and the courses you take won’t lead you to anything. It will definitely work over a short period of time but your site will crash and burn upon a Google update. Therefore, most link building strategy is probably useless over the long haul. It is useless because Google will sooner or later find your pattern and then, your site will be penalized. Their latest techniques were based on looking at an abnormal amount of exact keyword match use for anchor text. When you think about it, what are the odds that 200 links to your site all use the same 5 keywords? So much for link building, huh?
The traffic building techniques are changing and the monetization strategies have evolved as well. The no brainer ways were to optimize your adsense blocks, write a few affiliate reviews hope to make conversions. It is still working (I’m still making a lot of money with these techniques), but this is not where the money is.
Ahhh…. That’s a great question… which I don’t have a direct answer for yet! But this is what I’ll be working on in the next few weeks! I’m not out of resources for the moment and I’m already working on other ways to make money so far…
I’ve been repeating this for at least a year now: the money is in the list. The main reason why I focus so much on my newsletter strategy is because I can attach my reader to my site without the help of Google. My subscribers follow my blogs and will come back to read an article each time I send them an email. The key here is to catch as many readers as possible that come to my site through Google the first time.
This is another of my projects that will look like a “real business model” and a more classical way of making money. I still have the target to launch my membership website by the end of the year. It will be coupled with another investing book which I should finish in the next six weeks. Using Amazon has been a great strategy to boost our income in 2012 and we will continue on this route.
Instead of focusing on keyword research and link building strategies, I’ll try something completely different for my future sites: create an awesome user experience. This is how I can make sure my readers will come to my site, bookmark it, subscribe to my newsletter and follow my suggestions for affiliate programs. Instead of trying to make a quick buck from Adsense and have visitors leave as soon as they come in, I will try to make them stick around and read 3, 4, 5 pages of my sites and have them take an action. I’m not reinventing the wheel here but I think the future of making money online will go there.
Another important point is to use search engines other than Google. Using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Podcasts are all ways to generate traffic towards a site that are independent of your keyword ranking abilities. We got our mic and software to do screen captures so we should be entering into the production phase shortly.
I’ll probably start with a 5 minute market review podcast for my investing sites. Since I follow the markets with passion, it won’t be hard to produced a 5 minute show weekly! I hope to build my brand and gather more loyal readers that way.
So this is where I’m standing at right now. I don’t have a clear answer nor a clear strategy but I’ll be working on my structure first and then, implement different things. What are you doing different now for your sites? Have you used any of these strategies yet?
Google+ Comments: 7 Read More
I have complained a lot about Google lately on my blog. I didn’t appreciate how they run their updates and algorithm. I’m not saying that my blogs should be ranking for all keywords. All I am saying is that some of my blogs don’t rank anymore and that’s not fair either. You are going to tell me it’s because Google is all about content quality. And I’ll answer that some of these blogs don’t rank, but their scrapers with my articles copied without rights rank in the top 10 for the same keywords. Where is the quality then? That is a good question.
Unfortunately, complaining about Google search engine ranking is like complaining about taxes; there is nothing we can do and we are going to pay for it anyways! This is why I’ve decided to completely ignore Google and concentrate on improving traffic without the big G. How is this possible? Can you really grow a website without Google? I’m 100% confident you can.
My partner and I took on a challenge for the next six months. We have picked two sites each among our network and looked at the average unique visitors for the past 6 months. The rules are simple: take any means to increase traffic over the next six months. What’s the prize? $200 to spend in the restaurant of our choice with our wife paid by the company. Pretty motivating, huh?
In order to win this challenge, I will not count on Google to help me. In fact, I’ll do 0 keyword researches, link building and other SEO strategy. I’m taking a whole different route. Here’s how I will do it.
If you are a TFB subscriber, you probably noticed that I haven’t sent much stuff lately. I was busy working on other projects and I truly put the TFB newsletter aside. I’m coming back with a full plan where I will be sending newsletter more often. I’ll create incredibly good content and send it to you via my newsletter.
I experienced it with another mailing list and I’m now able to generate additional traffic with a simple click. My eBook is almost ready to be launched and will be offered to my subscribers only. I’ve sent it to some people and they told me I should sell it. Imagine how good it is .
I’ve stayed away from Facebook, Google +, Twitter and other social networks since the beginning. I’m not a big fan of these networks but I realize that I’m missing a big part of the internet because of that. Considering that Google will close Google Reader, the RSS feed may be on a downtrend as well. Counting on my feed burner services to reach my readers is not realistic anymore. But people open their Facebook daily. This is why I have to be active on these networks!
My two Facebook Pages are up:
You can find me on twitter here:
And on Google +
I’ve noticed that 25% of my visitors are coming from mobile devices. This is HUGE! The problem is my site is not “mobile friendly”. In fact, it’s pretty hard to read an article or to navigate on my site with a smartphone. I’ll be working on this issue in the upcoming weeks. The funny part is that it will obviously be my partner who will work on that since I’m techno retarded . Therefore, he will help me to win the challenge against him… hehehe!
Those are probably the two oldest practices to increase blog notoriety. Comments are great to create bonds with readers and other bloggers. By commenting on other blogs, chances are that people will be commenting on mine as well. I read several blogs every morning but rarely comment on them due to a lack of time. I’ll change my morning schedule to read less and comment more.
Doing guest posts is another great way to attract new readers. I have a few great ideas where I can provide great value to other blogs and potentially attract new readers this way. On top of that, this is also a great technique for link building. While I ignore Google in my strategy, some help wouldn’t hurt, lol!
Yeah… I’ve been thinking about doing videos for a while now. It’s been more than a year that I have this “dream” of creating my own videos. However, due to my job, it was quite difficult. I want to make sure there is a clear distinction between my day job and my blogs and putting my face on my site is not the best idea to separate both activities!
However, by using screen recorder software, I’ll be able to show people things I do on my computer without showing my face. In a few months, you should be able to hear my lovely voice on TFB.
Who knows, I may even go for a podcast at one point!
I think this is the key; be everywhere. My plan has more to do with being all across the web so Google doesn’t have any other choice but to take my site into consideration again. I hope this evil plan will work out!
What do you do to improve your site traffic? Have you tried any of these strategies?Google+ Comments: 5 Read More
Last week I started my piece on 25 thoughts on blogging for 25 years of life. Check out the list if you didn’t see how I started. Today I’m going to finish off with my random lessons and thoughts on blogging.
If you’ve been blogging for a while. I would love to read your input. Thanks in advance!
Let’s continue on with the list…
14. Start a newsletter.
I regret waiting so long to start a newsletter. If I could do it again, I would start one sooner. A newsletter is where your readers sign up to receive exclusive emails from you. This is more intimate than a blog post.
What are the benefits of a newsletter?
I suggest that you go through Aweber and get rolling! Don’t wait to start your private mailing list.
15. Cross into other niches.
Have you thought about entering a new niche? I’ve done this. I started a site on freelancing (Start Freelancing Now) because I really wanted to explore new niches. I plan on getting into fitness next. I really believe that you should try out a few niches so that you don’t get burned out from writing about the same topic over and over again.
16. Don’t worry about Twitter and social media.
What’s the value of Twitter? It’s good to get instant news and to stay in touch. Nothing else. If you’re just getting started, I feel that it makes more sense to focus on your content. Social media is great, but not king. Content trumps everything and always will.
17. Stay in touch with peers.
“Friendship… is not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.” — Muhammad Ali
Your friends make you. I try my best to stay in touch with my peers. I attend conferences and chat on Twitter. I love to bounce ideas off my blogging buddies. I suggest that you build a few strong blogging connections.
18. Research keywords.
While I wouldn’t suggest that you write SEO-heavy content, I really believe in the benefit of solid keyword research so that you guarantee search engine traffic to find your blogs.
19. Stay on top of trends.
Writing about trendy topics has really helped me gained new readers over the years. Writing about a trendy topic will keep you current and allow you to branch off once in a while.
20. Break the rules.
Screw “set rules.” It’s your site. Do whatever you want. I delete comments, curse, and cover new topics. You don’t have to follow any blogging commandments.
21. Blog after a few drinks.
You ever write after a few drinks? It can be pretty entertaining. I once read that you should write drunk and edit sober. We all also know that a drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts. Give it a try. See what magic you create.
22. Attend blog-related events.
As mentioned above, I believe in attending blogging events. These are a great way to learn new tips, put faces to names, and stay in touch. I actually wish that I could attend more events. Here’s to hoping that more blogging conferences come to Toronto.
23. Become an expert.
Are you an expert in your field? It’s okay to be a jack of all trades and master of none, but it’s hard to build authority without results.
How do you become an expert in your blogging field?
24. Keep a real job.
Please don’t quit your blog to be a professional blogger just because you read some article that told you to “follow your passions.” It’s great to do what you love. It’s even better to pay your bills on time and not be a homeless ghost. Working a real job will force you to balance real life commitments with your side business. This is the best lesson in time management that life will ever teach you. I bet you that some of your favorite bloggers still hold day jobs to this day. Don’t quit just yet!
25. Have fun!
Have fun. You have nothing to lose. Everything is a work in progress. You can always delete blog posts and edit later. There’s no need to stress over every little detail.
Bonus tip. Alway over-deliver.
I do my best to go above and beyond. Those bloggers that take the time to respond to comments, reply to emails, and add a little extra to their posts, are often handsomely rewarded. Try to go over what’s expected.
Those are my 25 random thoughts on blogging. What are your random thoughts?Google+ Comments: 8 Read More
I’m officially an old man. I turned 25 yesterday! Well, actually I feel on top of the world. And truth be told, I wrote this article in advance because I’m likely feeling under the weather today. You know how that goes.
I wanted to share 25 thoughts on blogging from my 25 year old perspective. I’ve enjoyed blogging for the past four years and I feel that I’ve picked up enough knowledge to at least pound out a solid article on the topic.
Let’s go with 25 blogging tips from a 25 year old…
1. You have to write X amount of words per day.
We overestimate what can be done in one day and underestimate the power of time. If you get into the habit of writing X amount of words per day, you’ll become consistent and your site will have plenty of content. My personal goal is to type up at least 1,000 words per day. How many words will you type?
2. Theme doesn’t matter.
It’s nice to have a theme that’s easy on the eyes. It’s not essential that you stress about theme. Content is much more powerful. Uniforms don’t win games. Focus on content first. Worry about the theme when your blog actually has readers.
3. Understand some basic SEO.
Do you know anything about SEO? I recommend that you at least try to write one piece per week or so that’s heavily focused on a specific keyword. The point of this is to ensure that new readers can find your articles through search engines. It’s really a win-win situation. You don’t want your blog to be a ghost town.
4. Be bold.
What are you afraid of? Throw yourself out there. It’s just a blog. It’s just criticism. Don’t be afraid of being bold. This ties into the next point…
“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” — Aritstotle
5. Try some videos.
I did something bold in 2012. I started posting videos. What took me so long? I was just afraid. I made up excuses and avoided what I really wanted to do. I’m ashamed that I waited so long.
I urge you to create your first video today. Don’t wait. Bust one out today and let the world see that you’re not afraid of putting yourself out there.
6. Guest post as often as you can.
How are others supposed to find your blog? Aside fro SEO, guest posting is the next best strategy. I’ve been guest posting ever since I started. I love it because it gives the main blogger a day off and it allows me to present my content to a whole new audience.
Just remember to make life easier for the blogger that you write for. Don’t create any extra work for them. Proof read, optimize for SEO, and keep it relevant. Don’t be foolish like me. I’ve cursed in guest posts sent to religious bloggers. Oops!
7. Differentiate between a hobby and a business.
Do you have a hobby or a business? Free is not a business model and the sooner you realize this, the sooner that you’ll be in the winning column. Running a business means that you have to make money. You can’t be afraid of making money or promoting products.
8. Respond to comments.
Someone took the time to write you a comment. Are you telling me that you can’t take a minute to respond? You better or else you’ll see your community dwindle down. While I’m not the best at blog comments, I try to respond as often as possible.
There’s nothing more exciting than engaged reader or those readers that keep you on your toes.
9. Watch what your competitors are doing.
I try to keep track of what my competitors are trying out because you never know what would work for you. This strategy is also critical for finding blog content. Your competitors should be the number one inspiration for future articles.
Do you know what your competitors are doing?
10. Create some competition.
What if you don’t have any direct competitors? Start a friendly challenge with bloggers that you interact with regularly. This could be a challenge for who could write the most words, create most content, or increase traffic. There should be something at stake just to make things interesting.
I’ve entered many friendly challenges. I love to be held accountable in a public forum. It sort of kills all of the excuses.
11. Don’t give up.
I once read a stat that most bloggers give up within 6 months. In my own circle of friends, I’ve had three friends give up on blogging within less than 6 months. They barely got off the ground. They couldn’t understand why their first post generated no attention or revenue.
Blogging sucks if you want a quick buck. Go make a sex tape for easy money. You need to be in it for the long run here. Even then, there are no guarantees. Blogging isn’t for everyone. Those that survive, will thrive.
12. Don’t be afraid to spend some money.
You eventually have to invest some money into your blogging just like you would with any other business. Don’t be afraid of this. You should eventually consider the following expenses as a blogger:
13. Try a giveaway.
Giveaways are an excellent strategy for building short term traffic. I’ve spent my own money on these in the past. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have companies sponsor giveaways. My biggest giveaway to date was when HP had me giveaway two laptops. That was huge. My inbox flooded for the first time and I had to create a brand new email for the competition.
The only trick is to ensure that you find a way to get these readers to stick around. You might want to collect emails or highlight your best posts for them so that they don’t run away.
Sorry but you have to wait until next week to see the rest of the list. Stay tuned! The list just gets better and better. I promise.Google+ Comments: 3 Read More
At the very beginning of the year, I wrote an article entitled 2012 Blogging Goals The Pass or Fail Ultimate Test. For the first time in four years of existence, I thought that 2012 was the breaking point for our company to become the ultimate making machine or simply remain a great sideline. I thought that after 2012, I would know for sure if my online project is a company or a good sideline that will never pay the bills. There is only one month left of 2012 and I already know the answer about my sites. But let’s look at my 2012 blogging goals first:
Our very first goal of the year was to successfully launch an eBook and sell over 300 copies. Let’s be honest, I didn’t give myself all the chances of succeeding in this one. Instead of publishing my book in April as planned, the book was launched the last week of September. Therefore, instead of having eight months to sell 300 copies, I only had three left! Fortunately, apart from the bad timeline for this project, the rest of the plan was solid. It was so solid that I didn’t even need three months to achieve my goal. As of yesterday, I’ve sold 325 copies. Sales have slowed down over the past three weeks but I’m still selling over 1 copy per day.
In 7 to 10 days, I’ll be launching the paper copy for both version (Canadian and U.S. edition). I’m just waiting to receive my copy for review and I’ll be all set to click on the publish button. Using my network (and huge newsletter), I’m expecting to rake in an additional 50 to 100 copies in December. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reach over 400 copies by December 31st!
It was a really good decision to go with Amazon for publishing as the “Amazon machine” is selling books by itself while I can continue to promote my product from my website as well. We have learned a lot during this process and I can already tell you that we will be launching another book in 2013 and we’ll save a lot of money and time in the process. It’s a good thing that the book is already profitable after 2 months as it gives us hope to create a more profitable product in 2013.
Our second goal was determined way before I got my first kick in the nuts (read how many kicks I’ve got so far here and have a good laugh!). With our recent progression (from September 2011 to January 2012) back then, I thought we could increase our revenues by 50% for three consecutive months. The plan included the following strategies:
- Increase our traffic and reach an average of 3,5K/month with Adsense (currently at 2,3K)
- Growing our niche websites and make 2K/month (currently, we make about $500/month with them)
- Keep our private advertising income at 6K/month (this is about an average month for us with peaks at 8K)
- Grow our advertising management service to income of 2K/month (we are currently making about $600-$1000 per month with it)
- Grow our affiliate sales to a steady 2K/month (this greatly vary from month to month right now)
- Sell our Dividend Growth eBook (hopefully make over 3K in sales for 2012)
- Buy 1 or 2 websites and generate 1K/month from them (we are currently hunting, so let us know if you want to sell yours!)
We focused on Adsense earnings with such success that we reached a record month of over $4,000 back in September. Unfortunately, we got penalized right after and our Adsense payout has dropped down to $2,800 – $3,000 per month. It is still higher than it was at the beginning of the year so it’s good news.
I wasn’t able to put as much emphasis I wanted on our niche websites. The result is that I didn’t really work on them throughout the year and they continued to make roughly $500-$600. I can’t really say that we improved this revenue source but at least, it’s pure passive income and it didn’t go down.
Private advertising was definitely hit big time as you know already. I wanted to maintain $6,000 in revenues from this side of our business and it had dried up to almost nothing. To be honest, if private advertising was still a healthy business model, I would have been making over $15,000 per month for a while! I’ve literally spent the year working on diversification to compensate for the losses of income from private advertising!
Along with the private advertising, our brokerage services have dried up as well. While we are still offering this service and still making money from it, we are far from the $2,000 we used to make in the “good old days”.
Affiliate sales have been increasing steadily with several successful campaigns throughout the year. We get regular checks along with peaks during mailing list campaigns. I’m sure I can do more but I’m very happy of all the funnels I’ve created in 2012 to ensure a stable income from affiliates.
I’ve already covered the book at the beginning of the article. The funny part is that I won’t be seeing the color of my money until January. Amazon payment system is not the fastest on earth so I have to wait 60 days after the first month I reached the trigger amount to generate a check. I expect my first payment in January. The good news is that I should be able to get a check each month after that.
As for the site to buy, we did it early in 2012 and took our time to integrate them perfectly in our business model. So far, it has been a great transaction where little work is involved and a lot of passive income is generated!
Overall, we weren’t able to increase our revenues this year. This is a major disappointment. At the same time, we are in line to only have a slight decrease of our revenues even if 60% of our business has been thrown in a garbage can. If private ads weren’t dead, we would have killed our objective.
The site is launched but the energy and work is yet to come. Dividend Stock Analysis was officially launched on TFB back in September during the Authority Site Duel. We are happy with our start since the site is already making money while we haven’t pushed the promotion of the site very much.
We can say that the site is launched but it’s not a site of major importance yet . However, the early response from our existing readers is great and we expect to grow this site in the upcoming months. We already started to get more links towards this new site and will host a contest in 2013 in order to grow our newsletter base rapidly. We have over 100 subscribers already and I want to finish 2013 with over 1,000. This will be another awesome customer base for any investment related product.
We have kept close attention to our costs throughout 2012. We were able to diminish them while we were growing. Today, we have more sites and more projects rolling with a smaller budget. We will also attack our interest paid in 2013 in order to reduce this additional cost.
Our system allows us to run multiple blogs and other websites without having to stay up all night. The key is always to focus on added value actions and outsource the rest. I can say that our “fixed” expenses are roughly $4,000/month while we added at least $3,000 in debt repayment per month. The rest goes for variable expenses (and taxes! Lol!).
The answer is not as clear as I thought it would be at this point of the year. I’ve called that 2012 was a “pass or fail” test as I wanted to grow my revenues to a level where it could compensate totally my income. This is not the case yet but I don’t consider it as a failure either. All external factors contributed to put pressure on my revenues this year. None of the things we control helped us out to boost our company.
Nonetheless, we were able to find other sources of revenues and keep our objectives in line even if we had to delay some projects. Our “recent” focus on debt repayment also influenced the way we managed the business this year. In order to gain in flexibility in the future, we decided to restraint our expansion this year. A cash rich company could definitely be profitable in a few years and will allow us to do even more things.
I think that our diversification translates into several doors opening in front of us that will lead us to even more revenues in 2013. We used to have two major metrics to push in order to increase our revenues (private ads and Adsense). We now have several other metrics we can push at the same time. Our revenues are not only more stable from month to month but offer also a wider range of improvements. Products combined with an upsell system will also be a great fit for 2013.
For now, I’ll continue to consider my online empire as a company and think that it could grow significantly in the upcoming years. What’s your take? Do you think I have a good sideline or the possibility to eventually create a real company with my websites?Google+ Comments: 11 Read More
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