Happy New Year!
I wanted to start the year off by sharing with you all a success story from one of our customers, Brad. Many people ask for more customer testimonials, and even more people ask what kind of work is required to have success with a site.
Furthermore, I'm constantly telling people not to expect to make immediate sales from your site. Due to the nature of Google, and the difficulty with other traffic methods for beginners, it can take several months to start seeing a return. Brad managed to get his first sale after only 8 weeks, which isn't the fastest we've ever seen, but it sure is encouraging for anyone who is thinking of starting a niche site.
Whether you are one of our customers or not, Brad's story will be helpful to you all, so I asked him to share his experiences below, and he very kindly agreed to do so. He does reference some of our training videos, which are only accessible to customers, but regardless of this, you'll all still benefit from reading.
Incidentally, at the time of publishing this post there are still 10 new sites available for purchase.
The rest of the post is written by Brad and you can find his one-year-after update here.
After getting bogged down with keyword research and site design, I purchased a Human Proof Designs site. After only 8 weeks my first commissions came in, search engine traffic is increasing, and I am motivated to keep going.
This is a summary of all the actions I have taken over the first 8 weeks.
Beyond watching and implementing the training in the videos under the “Basic Introduction” heading, (particularly setting up hosting, EasyAzon, and Clickbank) these are the things I did:
1. Setup password management tool to keep track of all the logins you will need to create; one example is: https://lastpass.com/ ; or just use the password management app on your phone, or open a dedicated login info Google Doc.
Rather than linking through my personal accounts, I used the above address to create logins for social media accounts. My eventual goal is to outsource the weekly work on my sites as soon as it is earning enough to hire part-time. The site is a side-gig for me, so I don’t have the time to devote to it that I would like. For now, the goal is to find the tasks that contribute the most to the income of the site, and systematize those tasks to the point they can be delegated.
3. Set up Hootsuite. The free version allows you to post across up to 3 social networks; I use Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. The paid version can post across 6 different platforms for the same amount of work.
I use the Pro version ($9.99/month) which allows me to use a spreadsheet to create posts (up to 350 posts) and import into Hootsuite. This makes it so easy, it’s almost cheating! Other services exist, such as Meet Edgar, but I find with the bulk scheduling, the number of social media sites and posts you can schedule, Hootsuite is pretty unbeatable at $9.99/month. Plus, many social media VAs are familiar with it and you can just add them as a user to Hootsuite rather than have to give them separate logins for all your social media sites – this in itself is worth more than $9.99/month!
One tactic that I used:
Hire a Social Media VA on Fiverr, or Upwork and have them schedule 3 months of content for you using a spreadsheet; For example, you could specify the following:
- Evergreen, niche-relevant content (so you can recycle the content; pay them once to find the content, and use it over and over)
- Certain types of posts for certain times of the day; for example:
- 9:00 AM – Inspirational quote/shareable graphic
- 12:00 PM – Instructional video (find a non-competition video on YouTube)
- 3:00 PM – Link to post on your site
- 6:00 PM – Free (or low-priced) Amazon E-book link (to get Amazon Clickthroughs; be a little careful with this though, you can eliminate your commissions if too many of the items that you recommend are free e-books)
- 9:00 PM – Funny Video/Image
- Have them send you the links in a .csv file properly formatted (Hootsuite offers a downloadable template) so you can check them before they go live. It is also ideal to have them send it to you in this format so that you can just copy and paste the same content over and over spaced out throughout the year. This is a great way to amplify the efforts of the one time hire Social Media VA.
- You can always add/edit/update, but this will give you a running start in social media without having it constantly nagging you to be more consistent, better content, etc.
- Watch training video #9 (included with site purchase) for a brief intro to outsourcing.
1. Your site probably has All-in-one SEO installed already, but I like the Yoast SEO plugin because I am comfortable with it and I love the red/amber/green light feature that lets you see at a glance which of your posts need some SEO love. It has a handy real time checklist that scans your posts as well, so you can see immediately what effect your tweaks are having.
2. Go through existing content and set up H2 headings, edit any wording issues that might be present, and tweak layout, etc. for maximum clickthroughs. Check this post for more info. Watch the Thrive Content Builder training video and create that money post.
3. Watch the “How to use the Keyword Pack” training video and use the included Keyword pack to brainstorm 3-5 article titles; research Amazon to find great quality items that will fit inside these articles; use Bestseller lists if possible, or search by 4 stars and up.
4. Watch video #8 “Types of content to add”.
1. Get logo designed; there are many services out there, but Fiverr is good enough for me for a start. I was able to get a decent logo, with Youtube, G+, TWTR, and FB covers and images for $25. Very happy with that!
2. Install all the covers and logos.
3. You don’t have to do this of course, but I wanted to give Facebook ads a try. You can get really targeted with them and set a minimal budget. There are several different types of ads you can run, but the best one to use when just getting started is the “Promote your Page” ad; you can also choose to promote your website, but I feel like it is better to get fans on your page that you can continually put new content in front of, rather than a one time website visit at least at the beginning.
4. Write at least one article this week!
1. If you haven’t outsourced your social media posting, now is a good time to do a bit more research to find more relevant content and schedule it.
2. If you plan to build an email list, sign up for Mailchimp. It is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month; By then you should be making some money to pay for an upgrade!
3. Install the free SumoMe Plugin and go to the Sumo Store; activate:
- Listbuilder – if you plan to gather an email list; this email doesn’t have to be anything super fancy at the beginning, you can keep it as simple as just sending the list your new posts when they go live.
- Share – This is a really good looking share bar that I have seen all over the place – Bryon uses it too :). I just noticed it on other sites that I was visiting and it was one of the only ones that didn’t mess up the viewing of the site when using mobile.
- Discover Traffic – SumoMe’s description: “Discover gets you more traffic. We connect you to 150,000+ other SumoMe sites to send free visitors your way. Other SumoMe sites promote your content on their sites, and you promote new content for your visitors on your site.”
- There are several other ones that might be of interest to you as well, but these are the 3 I am sticking with for now.
1. After watching training video #10, I ordered a Hoth Mini package and submitted my homepage and 2 of the posts that were laid out the best (using naturalized anchors). Maybe the results still have to come in, but I have not yet noticed the needle move (a second order was placed in week 9).
2. Watch training videos #1-6 to get a good overview of the different types of outreach. Select the one you think will be the easiest for you, and go for it.
3. Blog commenting seemed to me to be the easiest to start with and a good way to go about this is to find related, and ideally non-competing sites and read through some of the comments. Find a well-thought out question that doesn’t seem to have been answered well and do a few minutes of research to answer the question, leaving your home page in the website field (not the comment body).
5. Outreach, or link-building, or whatever you prefer to call it, is really the main thing to focus on once you have good content. My wife has a very large site and has gotten almost 4000 backlinks without paying or asking for a single one. If you provide great content and post thoughtful helpful comments on other sites in your niche, the site owners will be clicking through to your site and this is how they begin to know you. Then they start sharing your stuff and away it goes. This is one of the most effective traffic generating strategies.
If you choose just blog commenting and make a goal of commenting on 3 blogs per day for 3 weeks, you will see an increase in traffic and the resulting clickthroughs. Especially if you have an exact match domain, you don’t even have to refer to your domain in your comment, but people will see it and click through.
After making my first sale in week 8, it was WAY easier to motivate myself to keep going. This is what I will be focusing on for 2016:
1. Outreach, or link-building, or whatever you prefer to call it, is really the main thing to focus on once you have good content. If your content is good, people will be happy to share it – this is something that took me a bit of time to realize. The days of ranking (and holding that rank)by posting keyword-stuffed, spun content are over and knowing that this is true is a huge help even though the work is harder.
My wife has a very large site and has gotten almost 4000 backlinks without paying or asking for a single one. If you provide great content and post thoughtful, helpful comments on other sites in your niche, the site owners will be clicking through to your site and this is how they begin to know you. Then they start sharing your stuff and away it goes.
If you think about it, it just makes a lot of sense…you probably share things on Facebook and you’re happy to share something that is of value to you, or made you laugh, etc. Same thing goes for other site owners. They are all looking for content to post that their audience would be interested in; even one link will make a huge difference.
2. Looking back, I would have been much more careful in choosing the niche, and would have chosen something that I can get more excited about. The ideal way to use HPD sites is to find the one that is right in line with your passion (or have it created); the price is well worth it to get the ball rolling. It cuts down on so much of the initial phase and you can do all the learning while the site is climbing the ranks. The way I looked at it was like the training itself was worth what I paid for the site – so I get the site “free” on top of it!
3. The motivation I use on myself is that even if an article costs just over $20 when using a service like Dom’s and I look at the 10 year return on this, I need to earn $2 per year on that article to get my money back.
4. Don’t get bogged down with content creation only, and don’t wait for Google to send people your way. Apply the 80/20 rule to content: 80% promotion, 20% creation. This is intuitive as well: you could have a goldmine of rich content but if you have no visitors, there is no return.
So this is a pretty comprehensive overview of what I did in the first 8 weeks of my site; I hope it is a help to you, and if you have anything to add, please comment below!
Brad Vandenberg is a husband, father of five, Production Manager at a manufacturing firm, Convention Coordinator for a large (1200+ attendees) annual convention, and internet entrepreneur (Amazon niche sites, digital products, blogger, Amazon FBA) during the kid’s nap times on Saturday and after they go to bed each night.