It's been a while! I've just been reading back through some of my previous 6-Figure Challenge posts, trying to figure out where I left off with the updates, and I realized how much has been going on since then.
Unfortunately it's mostly been the HPD side of the business that has been keeping me busy, but I do have some things to update and talk about with regards to the 6-Figure Challenge. Either way, if I go too long without updating people, it will just be like all those other case studies that seem to just peter out after a few weeks.
Here's a basic update of what's been happening and what I've learned so far.
Getting Through The Dip
No matter whether you have a small niche site or a big authority site, there's going to be a dip where you feel demotivated, the novelty of the new project has worn off, and you basically haven't yet experienced any results.
Your project suddenly just feels like another thing taking up your time, and you can be reluctant to invest much more time or money into it.
There's definitely been a dip in the challenge members' respective sites, but we're all still involved and moving along.
Fortunately, most of us have been here before and we know that it just takes time and effort before things turn around again.
On a personal level, I had some pretty good progress over the last couple of weeks, so I feel like the skies ahead are bright again. More on this later.
I actually wrote a blog post recently about getting through the dip, so if you're experiencing something like this, it's worth giving that a read.
UPDATE: We've recently began investing into websites and have written about our core strategy here.
The Importance Of A Team
I have to admit that while I was quick to hire writers and some other team members, I didn't build the rest of my team quick enough and once you've lost some motivation, it can be hard to bring yourself to get systems in place. It's all too easy to think “I'll hire a project manager later,” but if you don't do it, you end up just thinking “well I don't really need one now anyway.”
By getting the systems in place and running well without a lot of your input, you can ensure that they keep running while you're in the dip.
Of course, the downside to that is you'll have a higher expenditure rate and will need to see some income sooner.
The Sandbox Sucks
Those of us who are focusing purely on organic traffic are noticing that the sandbox is lasting longer than expected. It might be relatively easy to get traffic from social networks, but Google is being a mean mistress with traffic. I've posted 3-5 articles a week for 4 months and am still not seeing much long tail traffic. We're talking a couple hundred organic visits a month only.
I have just started noticing that my main keywords are starting to move up the rankings at last though, so I'd say the sandbox is starting to end. Give it another one or two months and things should be great.
Take Stock And Re-Structure
A lot of us have been using this quiet time to analyse where we are and what we could do differently. Some people have stopped being as aggressive with PPC as before (I never even started), and others have been focusing more on a certain post type or traffic method.
For me, I've been focusing on backlinks/outreach and in particular, guest posts. I've managed to secure 3-5 new posts in about 10 days which is fantastic, all of them are from sites with great metrics too. I'll talk about this below.
The lesson that I'd like to pass on is for you to let things go on autopilot slightly, and try to figure out what is and isn't working. At the 4 month stage it's too early to abandon anything completely, but you should notice patterns emerging.
It can definitely get frustrating if you've not seen much progress after 4 months, but that's another reason why it's important to approach the challenge the right way.
Jon was pretty clear in the first few weeks that it would take a while, which is why we set our target for 1 year in the future. However, I think the Google scene has changed a lot since Jon first did this, and we're all learning and testing different things.
In the beginning we all raced out of the blocks and tried about 5 or 10 different methods for traffic. Things like reddit, forums, social media marketing, link bait, ego bait, etc etc etc.
I think that IS a pretty good method and it's the best way to find out what might be working for you, but it's not really sustainable, so figure out what worked (or appeared to work) the best, and focus more on that until the organic traffic starts to trickle in more.
Partner Up And/Or Get A Mastermind
The greatest thing about all of this is being in a mastermind. Every week when we give our updates, we also say one thing that we're struggling with the most. Every time I've done this, I've had some solid suggestions back, and the same can be said for everyone.
While a lot of us have similar skills, every individual also has 1 or 2 unique things about them that the rest of the group can learn from. I've learned a ton from some people, and it's affected my whole business, not just this one site.
I definitely think that any success I have with this project will be largely down to being in the group, so I recommend you to at the very least, find some people that you hit it off with (join G+ groups, Facebook groups, forums, other bloggers) and learn to bounce ideas between them.
My Site's Progress
I'll have to admit that in terms of traffic, I expected to be double or even triple where I'm at. It's not a pretty sight:
I'd like to point out though that my results aren't typical of the group. Others are way ahead of me in terms of income and traffic, and that's largely down to them investing more time into the project.
I'm definitely going to be one of those people who lets things marinate for a few months and then sits up and starts hustling once the traffic comes. This is partly due to my workflow, and partly due to my experience. I've found in the past that no matter what I do with a site in its infancy, you just have to wait for the traffic to come.
Yes, I could be more active with social traffic and promotions, but the tests I did with converting this traffic in the first few months didn't really work well, so I let it slide in order to focus elsewhere.
Hopefully my more “leave it alone and come back later” approach will work as a good example for those who are also busy, perhaps due to having a full-time job. Maybe I'm just trying to justify laziness though? We'll see.
Here's what I've played around with so far:
– Regular Posting
Since the site started I've been posting regularly. Whether that's been 5 or 3 posts a week has varied, but there's always been new posts going up. Right now the site has 60 published posts. This is a decent size, and “back in the day” I would have got more long-tail traffic by now as a result.
Whenever I share a post on Reddit (Which I try to do not too often, for fear of banning), I get a lot of hits, but not much else. Reddit can definitely work for the right post, but I've not seen enough signals to tell me I should stay there.
– Social Media
I DO have a VA sharing my posts and pages when they go live, and growing my social accounts, but right now I'm wondering if it's worth it. I don't seem to be getting much social traffic as a result of his efforts, although social signals to the site are always nice.
I'll look at this in the next few days and see if I need to change strategy. It's most likely that I'm just doing it wrong, as I'm normally more hands on than this.
– Blog Commenting
I had some good results with this, with my comment VA getting about 80% of her comments published, and building good relationships. As a result we've had about 3 or 4 guest post offers.
Based on the plan above, you could say that I haven't exactly been very hands on with the site, and I could probably train my VA's better to be more involved. It takes a lot of hustle to grow a site's traffic outside of Google, and I was starting to realize that I needed to either be more involved, or hire someone to be.
Latest Development – Full Time Outreacher
After my “feature” on Entrepreneur.com, I got a lot of new subscribers and people reaching out to me. One of them told me he was an expert in outreach. We bounced a few emails back and forth and I soon realized that he'd be excellent for my 6-Figure site.
He started last week (Friday the 17th) and has already secured 4 guest post offers. If we keep going at this rate, the site's fortunes will turn around in no time.
What I like about him is that he already knew the best way to go about outreach and securing links, and I didn't have to train him. I'm paying more for this privilege, but I'm learning at the same time, so it's well worth it.
Essentially what he does is:
– Populate a list of sites relevant to the niche.
– Go through the list and analyze which ones are good enough to stay on the list.
– Sorts those sites by best method for getting a link (Guest post, resource page, paid link)
– Figures out the best way to get that link (Build relationship first, fill out a guest post form, etc etc)
– Goes ahead and starts the process.
As it's only been about 10 days, I'm pretty sure that the next few weeks will show even more results, as he finds more sites, builds more relationships, and generally does his thing. I'm pretty excited about this so far.
So there's a lot to take in here and I'll try not to leave it so long before giving my next update.
Here's what I've learned and the advice I'd give:
– Think long-term, because these early months are dark
– Analyze what is and isn't working
– Focus on outreach and relationships for link building (and referral traffic).
Here's what I'm going to do next:
– Keep guest posting
– Change up my social media posting
– Add some more ego and link-bait posts
– Get back on track and be more involved.
I know a lot of you are also doing some big authority projects, so I'm curious what your thoughts are on all of this, and I also want to know what methods have and haven't been working for you!
P.S Please note that these results only really reflect my experience. Other members of the group have had great results with the very things I've failed with, so it really depends on how you do it, and what niche your site is in.