From a failed investment with the Income Store, to successful online Amazon FBA and affiliates sites, we'll hear about the importance of persistence – especially when trying to have success with online business! Blair Quane has many years of experience in business — both failures and successes. We'll also cover this week's SEO tip — placement of keywords in your blog articles and pages.
Overview – Persistence in Online Business
Links and Resources Mentioned
Bryon Brewer: Welcome. I'm Bryon Brewer. Welcome to the Building Online Empires podcast. Today we have a guest joining us with many years of experience operating online businesses from Amazon FBA to affiliate sites. So Blair Quane from the site emilyAndBlair.com will be giving us some great tips. And what I think are some important lessons. Being persistent, even when every venture you take on isn't necessarily a successful. And then we'll be covering this week's SEO tip on keyword placement. So where should I be putting my targeted or primary keywords in my articles for the best SEO value. So let's get started.
[00:00:51] Interview with Blair Quane
Bryon Brewer: All right. I want to introduce everyone to a Blair Quane. Blair is a long time customer of Human Proof Designs and has many years of experience in online business. And so we thought we'd bring him on today. Kind of let him give us a little bit rundown of some of his background, his experience, what he's been doing.
And then he does have a new venture emilyAndBlair.com that we want to talk about understand what it's about, what it does. So why, why is he's launched that venture? So welcome Blair.
Blair Quane: Thanks, Bryon. Good to be on.
Bryon Brewer: Good. So so yeah, so, you know, Blair, you've been working with human print designs for quite some time now.
And one thing I've always been impressed with you is the different ideas you come up with online businesses. And so what can you give us a little background of when you got involved with online business and why you started that?
Blair Quane: Yeah. Well I think my sort of the thing that I was doing before online was had a manufacturing business and you know, with staff, you know, we had 14, 15 staff and anyone that's done anything to do with manufacturing knows how stressful it can be trying to produce something physical.
And so went through that for about three years. Went through a bit of illness and decided that, that, you know, needed some significant life changes. So I was looking around, I really liked doing stuff online. And so basically look for online options to do. Initially I jumped into Amazon and Amazon FBA and yeah, got stuck into that.
That was kind of when it was really taking off I did about a year and a half, two years of, of Amazon and you know, it was pretty successful with it. I learned a heck of a lot about, you know, online selling, even though, you know, you're within Amazon's little platform, big platform. You know, you've got to stick to their roles and all the rest of it, which was kind of good because it sort of, it did kick things reasonably controlled.
And, you know, there was only a few ways you could do things which made it easy to get into. And I think that's what a lot of people like with Amazon. So I did that for a couple of years and then ended up selling those. I had two Amazon businesses, so I ended up selling those sort of done my dash with Amazon.
I'd wanted to have a bit more flexibility with what I was doing rather than sort of being constrained by them. So at that stage I went and bought a portfolio of businesses or websites that were, or are involved in the transportation. So in automotive category and we sell a digital product via those and we've got sites mainly in the Netherlands, but also in Canada and the U S as well.
So we basically set those up. I dunno, sort of run as a portfolio. They're reasonably passive which is nice. It's one of those hard to achieve words in online, but it gets thrown around a lot. So We were kind of keen to sit up you know, the background of, of portfolio of websites that would sort of keep us chugging along and allow us to do other developments in it's what we've been working with you guys on, which is the Emily and blair.com project, which we were doing.
Won't be doing it for just over a year, year and a half now. So yeah, it's been a good journey.
Bryon Brewer: All right. So you mentioned starting an Amazon FBA. So the, the online businesses you're running today, or you've been more focused on affiliate, or what model are you more focused on now.
Blair Quane: Yeah. So if I see an affiliate model, so we have these content websites obviously bring mainly organic traffic into them, provide them with information about the product we're selling and then you know, if they clicked through and they, they buy a report, that's a report, a digital report that we sell and that clicks through to an affiliate in. Yeah. And that's, and we get the kickback from them at the end of the month.
And it's a nice tidy little model that it's yeah. We like affiliate the affiliate model because it's you know, once you've got your content set up and you're ranking, well there is that element of income that comes along with that. And it's just a matter of updating the sites every now and again, you don't have to do a heap of work once you've, once you've ranking.
And so that, that kind of works with us you know, with the Amazon stuff, that was all very much physical products. So ordering product from China, having it shipped out, dealing with returns and all of that stuff. And so there's a real difference between that physical and digital products. And I definitely had a desire after doing those couple of years with Amazon to move towards more of a digital model than the physical product.
Bryon Brewer: Gotcha. So a lot of our customers and a lot of the audience listening today is focused really on English sites and the USA market. And you mentioned that you have some businesses that are focused on the Netherlands that we we've helped you work with.
And of course those are Dutch. They bring a whole nother set of challenges. So can you, can you tell the listeners any, any hints or advice on and why you, why you decided to target a non – non-English.
Blair Quane: Yeah. I mean, I think it was mainly the opportunity of this portfolio that we bought. I've always been a person that's been you know, I don't see barriers.
You know, that are going to stop your business. And so I never, when I was looking for these websites to buy, I never really worried too much about the, the language they were in or the country they were. And I was looking for the opportunity and yeah, there are challenges with you know, the science being in Dutch.
And I think probably one of the biggest recommendations I'd make to people is that if you are going to you know, set up business and in a country that's doing a different language or even another country that speaks English. You probably, if you using you know, subcontractors or freelances, depending on what it is that you're using them for, you want to make sure that if it's very specific to the language set, it's content writing a lot of the time, it's best to use. So for us, it was best to use Dutch freelances because we've used you know, multiple different languages in you know, in, in different freelance countries to do these Dutch sites. And we've had had a lot of issues. Over the past few years. And I think, you know, any of the stuff we've done with you guys, you know, you've actually sourced a Dutch content writer for us, you know, and that's, that works really well.
I think that's the key thing that people need to be aware of is that you need to be able to deal with people. You know, who are based generally in Europe, in that country, your, your selling into. But, I mean, the, yeah, the, the other side of it too, is that you get to, you know, the us market is very, very busy in, you know, saturated and a lot of niches.
So I think one of the things that I liked about the Netherlands and in this heaps of other countries where there's opportunities is that you were not dealing with the level of competition that you would be. You know, setting up an online business in the USA or Canada or, or any of the other big English countries.
So, you know, for me, one of those smaller European countries was was a good way to go. And there's definitely benefits of doing that. Although, as I said, there are, there are sort of challenges to work around, but
Bryon Brewer: Yeah, definitely there's some nuances with the culture of the country that If you don't have somebody local that understands that market, you can miss very easily, but it is the niches you're in there are very interesting because they are way over saturated here in the USA, but in the Netherlands, you're really just competing against a few players over there. So you have a lot better chance of making a successful run of.
Blair Quane: I think it comes also back to the you know, my Amazon, I guess beginnings was that when I started doing Amazon, they were launching out into different countries. And so you know, whilst the U S market was starting to get very saturated on Amazon, a lot of other sellers was then starting to push into Germany in Spain, you know, in the, in the likes to, to get that sort of less competitive environment.
And I suppose that's probably I guess a wee bit of where I was coming from is that I'd already had experienced through the Amazon platform and doing that and the nuances involved and sitting up in a different country, although doing it with Amazon was reasonably easy because they have all the systems in place to do that reasonably straightforward.
Bryon Brewer: Yeah. So, so one topic that I think our listeners deal with frequently is you know, how to stay motivated and how to be persistent. With online business, everything that you do is not necessarily going to be a success and there's learning opportunities all through the journey. And you've had sites that you've worked with us that haven't been a great hit, some have.
So you know, tell us how do you, how do you deal with that? How, how do, what keeps you going? To stay persistent, which I have to say, Blair is one most persistent patient. He truly is. So I admire that about you. You just very persistent. You can keep on, even when you, you invest money in adventure and it just doesn't work out.
And then others, you, you keep at it and eventually you see it through and you do have success. You have any advice for our viewers?
Blair Quane: Yeah, I think it's tricky if you haven't had any success. You know, and you're just starting out in a, you know, you're going to take hits. That's just the way it is.
But you know, that's the same in any business, any bricks and mortar business, you know, you jump into that. You know, you jumping into another whole set of challenges. So I've I've owned a couple of bricks and mortar businesses before this, and you know, that the manufacturing business I was talking to you about, it was very much a business that unless I got stuck into it, it was gonna, you know, I bought it as a turnaround business.
Like I bought it for a cheap price in if I didn't do massive changes to it and grow quickly it would, it would have folded within, you know, two or three months. So. I think with me, I've always had that sort of persistent and sort of character, but also you've just got to realize everything is a long game.
Like people, you know, there's so much online about, you know, getting rich quick and all this sort of stuff. And it's very rare that that actually happens. So you want to make sure that your, you know, whatever you're doing, you need to be realistic and be realistic with your goal. So if you're starting an online business, you need to go, right.
You know, this could be 12 months before you make any money. And you might've spent 50 or a hundred thousand dollars, you know, it's, it's unlikely that you're going to be able to grab a thousand dollars in, go and spin that. And. Build you know, the business churning out $10,000 a month. Well then within two or three months, that takes time because you've got to invest to get money back.
But I think one of the key things that I would say in something that I'm sort of pushing forward with more this year with myself is to Is set up systems in be organized. So just because you're working for yourself and you know, there's that heaps of stuff online just sort of takes your attention away from what you should be doing.
So, one thing I've started to do is block out certain blocks in the day. And I'm not talking about sort of eight hours a day. I'm talking about a couple of two hour blocks, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and that's probably three days a week. And I leave the other two days for random stuff that I have to do, which just pops up.
And in those blocks I'm doing regular reoccurring stuff each week. And the point of that as these are growth oriented tasks. And if I keep doing them for six months to 12 months or, or whatever, the timeframe I know I'm going to see the results I want. And so I think that's probably the key, I guess, suggestion or tip that I'd give people is set up a system that works for you, whether that's calendars or whatever, but have a regular reoccurring sort of list of tasks.
Doing each week because that's the best way to get growth consistently, because if you're just going about it, right. I'm going to do some content this month and then, you know, look at a bit of, I don't know, backlinks next month or whatever, you know? You're just not consistent enough to be hammering away at the algorithms.
Like you need to be, you know, if you're doing it each week, you're going to get noticed.
Bryon Brewer: Yeah. That's that's great advice. Okay. I have found myself sometimes getting caught up with you know, reading articles and researching the industry are other tasks that before I know my day's gone. And so this year I've made a more dedicated effort before lunch is operations of Human Proof Designs and all the work that goes into just running a company. And then after lunch has to be marketing and growing because too much of my day had always been spent in operations and just dealing with the day-to-day work of a company. And, and then you leave, you have no time for marketing and growth and what you do, you need to grow the company.
So so having a system in place is hugely important. And I, I liked that. You said it's a long game. A lot of people need to hear that. Cause it, you know, it's easy to you know, write a bunch of great articles and put content up there. And a month later you're not seeing what you thought was going to be on page one of Google and you get, you know, very disappointed.
But but it, it, it takes awhile and any kind of online business takes a while to grow. So. So that persistence is really important. And so you had, you had some knock downs, too. You got you were an investor in the the Income Store. And of course, most of our listeners know that company went under many people lost most, if not all of their investment from that, how do you, you know, what, w how did you recover from that? You know, what, what did you do after that to move on?
Blair Quane: Yeah, I think the Income Store was an interesting one because And I think one of the key lessons from it is that old saying, trust your gut. And my gut was sort of churning that whole year before that you know, that business collapse and I, I was actually you know, I was actually able to, I had a couple of portfolios with them and I actually sold one of them about a year before because of that feeling.
I was just like, it just didn't. Yeah, I just wasn't getting the results that I was after. And, you know, I'm quite I can be quite pedantic about following up with certain things. And these guys just weren't giving me the information back. I was getting a lot of excuses and things, so I yeah, I think, I think the key thing was, you know, it, it was the, the income I had invested in it wasn't you know, Critical to my lifestyle in terms of, you know, it wasn't a loan that I was, you know, having to pay back to someone or a bank or something. So for me yeah, like it was a disappointment. I mean, we lost a significant amount of money through that. I mean, I've, I know a lot of other people that were investors in it, you know, there was a whole group of us that kind of went through a few conferences and, and, you know, and sort of got the sale and from Income Store and sort of the same time. I think there's about 800 of us. And so, you know, there's a lot of other guys there and girls that have lost more than me. So mine was, you know, it was survivable. And so I think the, the thing that I would look back on and go, right, you know, if it seems too good to be true, it generally is.
And the returns that they were giving were really good returns and. Very little was shown up front for the actual work they were doing. So I think that's, that's the key thing for people to do is, you know, and particularly like, you know, online, if you're looking to buy online business, you know, because I think they'll be, this is what they were doing.
They were buying websites and putting them under your portfolio, so to speak. You know, if you're going and looking at a website or a business to buy. You've got a dig in deep and trust you gut and look, try and look for those really, really key points that are possible red flags and if it doesn't look good, walk away, you know?
So for me, yeah. I guess a big decision after Income Store was to move on to a new project. And that was where EmilyAndBlair.com sort of came into the picture and, and through Emily and I wanting to do project together. And yeah, I mean, that was the easiest way to do the life is just a move on and, you know, you won't forget about it, but you know, there's no point in dwelling on it, learn from it and yeah then invest and better things. Yeah.
Bryon Brewer: Yeah. Excellent. Good advice. So Emily and Blair, so tell us about that. That's. So that you launched I believe last year. And can you tell us what it is, what that site's about?
Blair Quane: Yeah, so Emily Emily is my fiance. She's from Manchester in the UK. I'm in Christchurch, in New Zealand.
So we're on, we're on opposite sides of the world. She moved down here with me well, just over a year ago and we wanted to do you know, a joint project where we could both work from home, something she could be involved in something that I could use sort of my expertise with business on and something that she could sort of you know, use her expertise around sort of health and wellbeing and sort of connect the two together because I think that's key things about, you know, anything I've found on with my businesses that working by yourself and, and, you know, owning your own business, you need to balance that lifestyle and health with the stresses of, of, you know, launching and running a business. So we wanted to put together a, a web resource, which was Based along the lines of being able to provide a lot of content to people for free, they can come in and look at the overall process of how to start a business online. And so we sit this up with 13 steps effectively. So starting from right at the beginning, what you need to do to what, you know, what, why you should start an online business and what it's good for and who it's not, you know, because you need to ask yourself those questions before you jump on and right through all the steps, you know, sitting up a website or sitting up eCommerce store or, you know business model you want to run through in a right through to growing it, getting traffic and the right to the end of effectively selling it. So this is a resource that people can come to and they can use for free to step by step, go through it. And we really wanted to go step by step.
So then, you know, people can jump in at any stage that they're at and still use the website without sort of having to get stuck within a journey that's non flexible. So we, we wanted to do there and then also provide a long sort of side, all of those that journey we wanted to provide a whole lot of information and other stuff that you just need when you're starting business.
So like we've got a, you know, an education course pages. So if you need to upskill on through any education sites, you can go to that page and, and, and, you know, learn how to do SEO, learn how to do coding and things like that. You know, we wanted to provide a resource pages where, you know, there's you know, a whole heap of resources there that you can go and use. The coaches page, so you can have a look at what, some of the key sort of coaches that we've been involved with. And we would recommend. Books that we've read, you know, business books, you know, books about starting online and things. So that sort of things are, you know, right through products, you know, buying equipment for your home office.
Yeah, the list goes on and on and on you know, and the, but the key couple of other key areas was you know, providing some templates for people to use and make it easy for them. You know, if you're doing a business plan, we'll provide you with a free business plan template, download it for free and, you know, get stuck in.
And then checklists, you know, going through, and this is what. All about before using checklists to systemize your business and using checklists to systemize that journey that you go through as you're setting up your business you know, and then also providing a way for people to get connected with other people and that, you know examples of good podcasts to listen to good Facebook pages to join with, you know, a good YouTube channels to subscribe to it, you know, and the list goes on and you know, if your listeners can have a look at the site, they can go through and they can see all of this, but it was creating a big package of free information in resource for people to come to and be able to go through, to start a website or start a business online.
And we just, hadn't sort of seen that in the market, you know, these, these websites that give you this information, they give you this part of it and they give you that part of it, but it wasn't really anything that would give you the entire journey. And that was what we were kind of after, you know, being able to give back, but by, you know, providing that.
Bryon Brewer: Okay. So this side is really applicable for, for anyone even for affiliate marketers for Amazon FBA, for any type of way you might run an online business, right?
Blair Quane: Yup. Yeah. So it's universal it's you know, it covers all of the different business models like Amazon or affiliate marketing and you know, a lot of the things are all very relevant to whatever business model your own.
So these information about how to set up your, your company, you know, there's information about your legal requirements and tax and all that sort of stuff. So it's relevant across the board and that's what we wanted to do well. And to make sure that, you know, any of the customers or people coming to our site, you would find relevant information that was I guess, pertinent to where they were in their, their online business journey.
Bryon Brewer: Yeah, absolutely. And it, it, it does have a unique structure here that, that you know, the start your journey. And then as you go through that it, it steps you step-by-step into starting the business all the way through growing it branding it, monetizing it, getting customers to the exit to selling it. I think unique. You see a lot of sites, cover bits and pieces of this, but this really is the holistic view from start to finish. Which I think is it's a fantastic resource. If, if you're looking for any of these gaps and what you need to do with your business.
Blair Quane: Yeah, I think that was one of the key things we wanted to make sure was that, you know, as you can imagine, there's a there's a massive amount of content on the site. And so for us to make it easy and usable for people, we needed that navigator on the side and step by step and, and it just sort of breaks out open and opens up more indepth parts of each topic as you go through and you can click through from each article, you know, at the bottom, you've got, you know, a navigator as well. So it just had to be really usable for people to find where they were and know where they were in the process, as well as being able to jump into whatever stage they wanted to do.
Because, you know, at the end of the day, you know, people coming to our site aren't necessarily always going to be just at the start, you know, they might be halfway through and they want to focus on getting more customers, for example. So they go, they can go to that stage.
Bryon Brewer: Gotcha. Well so tell us Blair before we wrap up here, what, so what activities are you doing to grow this site now that you have it?
And I know you have a podcast as well that you're, you're using to promote.
Blair Quane: Yeah. So we've sort of developed up a marketing plan, I guess you'd call it, which covers off having so a podcast, which we started last year. We did, we did 91 episodes last year, so it was a reasonable, reasonable, work and then we also did a You know, like a social media plan.
So we were using a automated system to upload to all of our social media platforms, you know, content and, and you know, regular content throughout the week. And so we're working through doing that and, and, and. More information out on our social media so people can see, you know, what we're about and, and, you know, come to the site.
And this year we're, you know, we're going to have a look at driving some paid ads and, and just see if we can play around with A bit more traffic in some more users to the site because we want, we want plenty, more eyes on the site. And that's, that's one of our main goals this year is to do that.
We're going to tweak up our podcast a bit this year and change the format to be more aligned – last year it was sort of just a bit sporadic around the topics. You know, we were just touching on different topics and we sort of group smaller subtopics together, but there was no real consistent flow.
So this year we're going to follow up from the start to the, sort of the start of, of starting a business online. And basically like our website does, we're going to go through each step as we go through the year. So people can just jump in and, and again, With podcasts- the great thing is you've got a directory list, so you can jump in whatever step you like and, you know, use the website and the podcast in conjunction with each other at the same time and sort of just keep, keep aligned that way.
As well as obviously getting various guests along to, to give us insights and, and you know, keep, keep the the interest going, I guess.
Bryon Brewer: Yeah. Well, I love it. It has so much good information. And with your background years of experience here with online businesses is great that you shared and created a resource like this for the community.
So thank you Blair for your time today. Appreciate it. Look forward to your success with EmilyAndBlair.com.
Blair Quane: Awesome. Thanks, Brian. Appreciate it.
Bryon Brewer: All right. Thank you.
Blair Quane: Cheers.
[00:29:43] SEO Weekly Tip
Bryon Brewer: So let's jump over to our SEO tip for this week. So we're what we're going to be covering here is where should I use my target or primary keywords within an article that I'm launching. So this is going to help you rank your articles better and higher in the search engines. But it's important to get these targeted keywords in the right places.
So we're going to talk about the web page URL, the page title tag, the meta description, the first 100 words of your content, and then the subheading place. So first the website, a URL. This is also in WordPress called the perma link. So you can see here in this article I have Valentine's day nails. That's my primary keyword for this article here. And so in the perma link I've got best Valentine's day nails as words within the URL. So this is going to help you improve your ability to rank there, make sure there's primary keywords or in the actual URL of the page. Then you're also going to want to make sure it's in the page title tag.
So this is typically going to be the heading of your article. The title of the article is what Google is typically going to use. Now, in this particular site here, I'm using rank math and rank math does let you optimize the title. That's appears in Google, separate from the actual title of the article.
So while I have here Valentine's day nails, fill the love with these top three desires. I have a bit different title here in rank math. The reason being is I'm using an emoticon, that little heart icon within the result, which yeah, Google does sometimes display the emoticons within the title.
And that can increase your click-through rates. So where it makes sense to be able to use that we would use it, although it's, it's probably only about 5% of the time that Google will actually insert that and include it within your title. But we do have some good results on this site in using that.
So we've done it here and optimize that in ranking. Then in your meta-description, so this is the snippet, the description that's going to appear in the search results for your article. And so you'll want to include that description. Here in rank math, you could see, we have a separate area here where we're going to put in the description.
You don't want it to be too long, a couple of sentences up to around 160 characters. And then you also want to include those primary keywords within the first 100 words of your content. This helps to emphasize the importance of those keywords. And then finally, we want to include it in the subheadings.
Now, in this particular article here, I included the primary keywords Valentine's day nails within the heading of the first paragraph. So with it there, I didn't want to include it in the actual first one hundred words since it's already part of the first heading. You don't wanna, you don't want to use it too much, which gets to kind of the, a big rule here is don't over optimize.
So this particular article here Valentine's day nails, we have those primary keywords mentioned four times in the article. So you see, we don't mention it a lot, but we certainly have it included there in all the important places. So if you jumped back up here, we've included in the webpage URL, we've included in the page title. We included it in the meta description, and then we included it in one heading or subheading. So for this article, that's sufficient. So that should give you an idea where you want to put these tags at. Keep in mind just don't over-optimize all right. That's it for this week. See you next week.