How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert -- Part 1

So you thought you’d come to this article to read about how to write a stunning sales page. Think again!

The first in this series of three articles is not about writing a sales page. Not yet.

I can hear some people saying “Thank goodness – I hate selling” and others saying “wait – isn’t this a series about writing a sales page?”

Writing Product Reviews - Bottle of Prosecco if it rainsYou’re talking to the world’s worst salesperson. I feel guilty asking people for money. We used to rent out our house in Italy in the summer – I’m the person who gives guests a bottle of Prosecco if it rains…

So selling is not going to be our main focus. Our focus is going to be firmly on our customers.

And please note: anyone who utters the word “prospect” will have a virtual bucket of ice-cold water dumped on their head immediately.

Why? Because we’re talking about people. Living, breathing people with thoughts and feelings – particularly feelings. It’s the feelings we need to concentrate on most.

At Solo Build It!, we place a lot of emphasis on building up trust. We call it PREselling. So we’re not going to ruin that hard-won trust by doing a “hard sell” to our audience. Nor are we going to sell them a product we don’t believe in.

Because the kind of “sales copy” we’re going to write is not about trying to sell. It’s about talking. It’s about spending a little time with people, and finding out how we can help them.

It’s about trying to make their lives a little better, a little easier, a little happier. It’s about getting to a point where we’re comfortable that what we’re selling will have a positive impact on people’s lives.

Now that, I can live with.

Is This All Going to Get Too Complicated?

The process and techniques we’ll use here can apply to any product review. They apply to digital and hard products, to affiliate products and your own, from the very expensive to the very cheap.

It’s right to say that for some, it will seem like overload. After all, if you’re selling a glitzy Easter ornament from Amazon for $9.99, you may not want to go into as much depth as you would writing a page about your e-course that you’re selling for $500.

But the principles are exactly the same.

So don’t despair when I say we’re not going to start writing our pages right away. We need to do some work before we get to that.

Part 1: Where’s the Pain?

The overall point of a product review / sales page is to show that we understand where our customers are at now, and demonstrate how our product can help them get to where they want to be. When we start to write, that’s what we’ll be focusing on.

Writing Product Reviews Barrred DoorThink of it like this: your customer is on one side of a door. To her, the door looks closed and barred. She has no idea how to get through it.

Your job in writing your product review is to start where your customer is, unlock the door and lead her through.

So before we even choose the product we’re going to review and sell, we need to focus on what our customers want or need.

Not what we want, and not what we think they want.

One of the most important things to understand about purchasing is that it tends to be emotionally based. Even buying something as practical as a new vacuum has its emotional trigger: “I can’t stand being surrounded by dust any more.”

The psychology of buying suggests that people buy a product not so much for its features as for what benefits it has for them – how it will directly improve their life. Purchases are generally made for one of three reasons:

  • To solve a problem.
  • To fill a need.
  • To fulfill a desire.

Potential customers are more likely to buy if the issue is a pressing problem to which they need a solution. It’s simply more acute, generally, than a need or a desire. The impetus to buy is stronger.

So what we’re selling is much, much more than a “product” or a service. It’s

  • a solution
  • an outcome
  • an experience
  • a life-enhancer.

Which is where today’s task comes in.

Step 1: Your First Task Is to Define the Problem

1. If you already have a product in mind for your review, use whatever time you can put aside today to think about…

  • What is the single most pressing problem for your potential customer?
  • If this isn’t about a problem, what’s her (or his –I use “her” for brevity) single most pressing need or most heartfelt desire?
  • How does this specific product help solve that problem, or fulfill that need or desire?
  • What will be the one main benefit of your product for the customer? How will it make her feel after she’s bought it? How will her life be improved?

2. If you don’t have a specific product in mind at the moment, even better. Ask yourself the same questions, in a slightly different way…

  • What is your customer’s single most pressing problem, need or desire?
  • What product can you offer – whether it’s your own or an affiliate’s – that will best solve that problem, or fulfill that need or desire?
  • What will be the one main benefit of your product for the customer? How will it make her feel after she’s bought it? How will her life be improved?

Step 2: Find Out What Your Customer Needs

No idea what your customer’s most pressing problem, need or desire is? Or think you may know, but you’re not really sure? Time to find out!

How?

  • Ask! Use your newsletter, questionnaires, social media platforms, forums – any way you can think of to talk to your specific customer group.
  • A very useful question to ask is: “What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you started [in my case] keeping chickens?” Try it – you may be surprised at the patterns that emerge. It gives a great insight into what troubles people most.
  • Take a look at the social media (particularly Facebook) posts of your competitors. What seem to be the most common issues for followers? Which questions are most often asked?
  • Use your own experience. What was your major problem when you started out? What would have helped you solve it?

Top Tip: Think Creatively

Try to think outside the box. Here’s an example.

I have a site about keeping backyard chickens. One of my most popular (and lucrative) products at first sight seems totally unrelated to chickens.

Writing Product Reviews - Electronic Rat TrapIt’s an electronic rat trap. I sell upwards of 20 of them a day, and they cost around $35 each.

Why so popular?

Because I discovered that one of the most critical problems for chicken keepers is rats. Where there’s grain, there are rodents. I discovered that when I had an infestation. Suffice it to say it was not pleasant.

When I looked for solutions, what I found was many, many complaints about rats in the chicken run, but no long-lasting solutions.

So I asked for advice from some real live rat-catchers (who had fascinating stories to tell), and then I wrote a series of articles about it: how to know if you have a problem, how to tell mice from rats, how to go about ridding yourself of the problem…

That led to the product review which is, in effect, a sales page. There’s even a downloadable checklist about rats which, naturally, gets people on my mailing list.

So, think creatively, particularly if you don’t have a specific product in mind. Find the most pressing problem. Find a solution. Write about it. Done.

Take some time now to work out how you’ll identify the most pressing problem, need or desire for your audience. Keep notes. We’re going to come back to this – it’s one of the two most critical parts of this series.

Part 2: Express Your Customer’s Pain

Let’s start with this thought:

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

From Steps 1 and 2, we have some information about what’s in your potential customer’s heart – where she’s at, what her problem or need is. Now we need to look at how she’s feeling about it.

Why is that necessary? Because…

“Feelings + thought = purchase.”

Reach out to the pain point. Next, let your customer know you understand her pain, or need. Then, and only then, describe the product.

“Feelings + thought = purchase.”

Step 3: Learn to Identify Your Customer’s Pain

We’re going to continue with the “feeling” part of the equation by looking at how best to speak to your customer in language to which her heart will respond.

To do that, we need to examine the kind of language she uses when she’s recounting her problems.

Why? Because using some of that same language makes our product review / sales page more likely to resonate. “This person understands exactly how I feel” is the reaction we’re looking for.

Case Study

I’m going to use an example here to illustrate exactly what I mean.

Meet Megan. Megan is a daycare provider. She has some fabulous books to sell – her own products – but she isn’t getting many sales.

Writing Product Reviews Daycare FoodHer books are about what to feed children in daycare. She used to have a sales page that simply described what the books were about – healthful, easy-to-make recipes, together with a shopping list for each one.

It’s a great idea – the books should have been jumping off the shelves! But her words weren’t resonating with her audience.

Let’s take a look at a couple of daycare provider forums and hunt out threads related specifically to food. We don’t need to ask them anything nor enter into conversation. We’ll just lurk for a while.

Now we can see the kind of things people are saying about feeding children in daycare. These quotes are genuine, taken from a real, live forum. Note particularly the “feeling” words the providers use.

How To Write Product Reviews - Emotivs

Look at those emotive words and phrases: “panicking”; “driving me crazy”; “at a loss”; “chaos”; “stressed out”…

From the outside, some of it may seem funny (“I feel like all I give is bananas, grapes, raisins and cheerios”!) but to those daycare providers, we’re talking serious stress.

What’s the solution they’re looking for? Could Megan’s books be part of it?

Most of them really don’t know what they need. They’re just expressing their feelings. It’s the way they’re describing the problem that gives us a clue as to where they are now and the emotional state they want to be in – where they want to get to.

Reflecting these words back to the customer in our product review will immediately resonate with her…

“Are you at a loss to know what to feed your daycare kids?

Does lunchtime feel like chaos, every day?

Feeling stressed out even trying to decide what to have for lunch?”

And the feeling that will engender in our potential customer? “Thank goodness – someone who understands exactly how I feel!”  

Now let’s look at the flip side. Other providers in the same forum have a clearer view of how they’d ideally like to feel and what the ideal solution would look like…

How To Write Product Reviews Language

Again, look at the language:

“Calm and focused”; “time for discussion / reflection”; “organized.” And in among it, there’s the very idea for a product that Megan has already created!

How do we use this?

Put it together with the earlier “problem-focused” language:

“Are you at a loss to know what to feed your daycare kids?

Does lunchtime feel like chaos, every day?

Feeling stressed out even trying to decide what to have for lunch?

“If you wish you could feel organized, calm and focused at mealtimes, if your heart’s desire is to be able to sit down, family style, and eat healthful foods with different tastes while having time for discussion about the afternoon ahead…

“I have exactly the answer you’ve been looking for!”

See how it works?

It doesn’t always work out as clearly as this. Sometimes you have to dig more deeply. But the greater the problem, the more likely you are to discover an intensity of language that you can use to good effect.

And maybe you’ll stumble upon ideas for future products in the process.

Does It Feel Manipulative?

Writing Product Reviews ManipulationIf so, you may need to reset the way you think about products. What you’re actually doing is matching up problems your audience has with a solution they really, badly want – and are saying they want.

Is that manipulation? No. It’s serving our customers. We’re not going to sell them a product they don’t want. We’re going to talk about any drawbacks of the product as well as its benefits. We’re not going to deceive them about how the product will change their lives in the sense of making them rich / beautiful / successful overnight.

But we are going to tell them how our product, whatever it may be, can help change their world for the better – a little at a time.

Step 4: Learn to Speak Your Audience’s Language

Your second task, and the final one for this part of the series, is to learn to speak the same language as your audience. The aim is to foster rapport and credibility.

You may already have your own “voice” for your blog or website. What we’re looking at here is not changing that voice. It’s about using some of the language your potential customers are using. It’s about identifying their pain points, and empathizing with them.

So go learn your new language!

  • Have some fun with this. Use forums, blogs, social media posts – wherever you can think of that potential customers hang out – to examine how people in your niche describe their problems, needs and desires.
  • What exact words do you see being used repeatedly both to describe the problem (or need / desire) and to describe how they’d feel if it were solved for them? What kinds of solutions are they asking for?
  • Don’t try to second-guess this. Don’t think that your customers “must” use the same language you do. The likelihood is, they won’t.
  • There’s a downloadable template/worksheet (sign up below to receive it) for you to use for this exercise. Use it if it helps, to keep a record of what you’ve discovered so far. Refer to your notes when we start writing our review.

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Summary

In this first of our three articles about writing a stunning product review, we’ve looked at our potential customer, her problems, needs and feelings, and the language she uses to express those issues and feelings.

The next article in the series will take a look at making sure the product we’re about to sell is one that improves our customer’s life, so that she will not just buy from us, but also shout her recommendation from any available rooftop!

Author information

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews is Solo Build It!’s Content Team Lead. She describes her day job and her online business, Raising Happy Chickens, like this: I get paid by a company I love for doing what my mother calls “playing on that blasted computer all day.” And that’s basically how it feels. I love the freedom it gives me, to be home with my dogs and work in front of a roaring fire in the winter, or take my laptop into my Italian olive grove in the summer. I love the joy it brings me, writing about things I’m passionate about. But more than that, I love the satisfaction of being able to help other people reach their potential. That’s what gives me the most sense of achievement. When I need a break, I “commute” fifty yards to visit my chickens. Then I “commute” back to the house again and write articles about my chickens for my website. Sharing my rather weird passion and, most of all, knowing that other people benefit from my knowledge, gives me goose-bumps. And goose-bumps are as important to me as the money my online business makes.

The post How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1 appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

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54 Solopreneurs Share How Solo Build It! Helps Them Achieve Online Success

54 Solopreneurs Share How Solo Build It! Helps them Achieve Online Success

When my colleague hit the send button on December 13th, 2017 (no, it was not a Friday!), an unexpected series of events was set in motion.

The intention was to send a reminder email to the same sample of about 200 SBI! members from our Results Page whom we had invited to a survey a couple of days earlier.

Due to a wrong filter setting, the email went to all our customers instead. We quickly followed up to clarify the error. But the replies to this unintentional mail-out kept coming in.

What started as an error, turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It brought us more insights, from an even wider pool of people, into the key ways in which SBI! helps solopreneurs succeed online.

Here’s the question we had asked:

What are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to your success?

The first set of answers, which we published here, came from SBI! members (“SBIers”) who have already made it to the top. Their Alexa rankings, supported by actual traffic numbers, place them into the top 0.5% of all active websites.

The second set of answers, which we are about to reveal now, come from SBIers who are diligently working their way to the top. Their traffic numbers are below the strict requirements for our “Results Page.” However, “success” can mean different things to different people. Financial success is but one aspect (although an important one).

Would their key factors for success be vastly different from the first group of people, we wondered? That’s what we are about to find out.

First though, let’s meet our 54 “accidental” survey respondents.


Sidebar: You’ll see terms like Brainstorm It!, BlockBuilder, Analyze It! and others mentioned in the answers. These are some of the tools that come with every SBI! subscription. Each tool is explained in depth here, but it’s the lessons that matter.

As a matter of fact, you can replace most of the tools with plugins if you use WordPress. SBI! for WP enables WordPress users to follow the exact same process, and have access to the same great community. You do exactly the same thing – the only difference is that we help you master the WordPress ecosystem, too.

Harriet Adams

Harriet Adams

www.abc-oriental-rug.com

I am so grateful for the day I decided to try SBI!. Someone living a few miles from me had been using it and had great results so I decided to try it. I read every bit of information on the website and have been using it continuously with great success.

To answer your question:

  1. The amount of content was wonderful and easy to understand, especially the videos. I was familiar with the computer but not website building.
  2. The support I have requested and have been given has always been outstanding.
  3. The knowledge that your company keeps up with the latest information, for example http vs. https, and always informs me through emails and forums is so comforting. All I have to do is continue to add content.

I did fine with BlockBuilder 1 and was able to change all my pages to BlockBuilder 2 on our business website. I had to put my other website on hold but I have plans to get back to it and revise it.

All in all, my experience with you and your company has been A+ and I deeply appreciate all the work that goes into doing what you all do.

Saqib Ali Ateel

Saqib Ali Ateel

www.personality-and-aptitude-career-tests.com

This is a difficult question because success can be different for different people. However, I have no doubt that SBI! has done a lot for me.

In 2004, I had started looking at different website building methods, but I was just wasting money on various projects. My offline job, which I still love dearly, was not paying me enough. I needed a permanent source of income to add to my salary.

I was lucky to stumble upon SBI!. I didn’t have enough money to purchase the package. I asked my friends for a loan which they gave me; so I was able to pay the subscription for the first year.

I had several problems which were hampering my efforts to make money online, which SBI! helped me overcome:

1. I had started to learn about computers a bit, yet HTML, Javascript, etc. were alien words for me. SBI! helped me to jump over technical hurdles easily. Now, having owned a website for 13 years, I have forgotten all the technical stuff forever.

2. I had a full time, highly demanding job, so free time to work on my site was scarce. SBI! provided me an environment where I could work at my own pace. It wasn’t surprising that I published only 30 pages during my first year.

Periods came when I completely gave up working on my site, but it continued to generate me money like a loyal cow. I didn’t write a single page during 2010-11 when I was studying for my second Masters Degree at Harvard.

3. It was impossible for me to go through all latest developments on the internet. SBI! provided me not only with the latest tools but also ‘the ONLY’ information that was essential for me to grow my online business.

I am very grateful for the regular income that I have been making during all these years from my site. I didn’t have to compete for success and still performed better than sites of many big players. It would not have been possible without SBI!.

Kenth Bender

Kenth Bender

www.fine-art-bender.com

I found SiteSell in the beginning of 2000, but at that time I had no need for a website. Over the years, however, I kept up to date with developments (of SiteSell and SBI!) and when the need eventually arose, the choice was quite easy thanks to the following:

  1. Validity

    Just read the Action Guide, or if you prefer the “wizard’s actions,” and you understand the level and the adequate quality you will meet.

  2. Reliability

    Solo Build It! is the program that works to build, develop, apply and enjoy. Outstanding support if needed but it’s rare, very rare, everything just works.

  3. Credibility
  4. All kinds of updating take place continuously. This applies to tools, features and educational material.

  5. Development

    I am impressed by the ongoing development of the whole idea of ​​Solo Build It!, an idea in itself that never seems to end.

  6. The Price

    Despite the constant development of the details and the whole, the price is kept at the same low level. Hurray!

Sandy Bergstrom Mesmer

Sandy Bergstrom Mesmer

www.about-small-dogs.com

  1. SBI! helped me set up my website so that it matched exactly what I wanted to accomplish. The 10 day system (Action Guide) allowed me to do everything in proper order. I didn’t even pick a website name until Day 5.
  2. Using the keyword tool Brainstorm It! I was able to find the right keywords to write about and adjust the content of my pages so that they matched what most people were asking for on that subject.
  3. By doing a quality check on each page before publishing I was able to optimize for best SEO impact. This is done with a tool called Analyze It!.
  4. Having an SBI! subscription is like having the library of Alexandria – at least in relation to growing and maintaining a website – at my fingertips. I feel like I’ve had a college education on the subject!

Albrecht Bracher

Albrecht Bracher

www.psoriasis-causes-and-treatment.com

  1. The Action Guide, which I am still using to this day.
  2. The great and very helpful people in the SBI! forums.
  3. Motivation to keep going all the time and never give up, even if some days it’s not easy to do.

Building my website and online business for me is to keep contact with the “outside” world because once you’re retired, most people don’t ask you anymore for your experience of life in general or in a particular subject.

My site is my “baby.” It’s still growing and I do my best that it turns into a “great adult.”

John Burch

John Burch

www.drburch.com

As you know, I am a lifelong fan of SiteSell and SBI!. My biggest hits are LoveShift.com and DrBurch.com, but I have several others. The top 3 ways in which SBI! contributed to my success are:

  • Ease of use
  • Automatic SEO and submission to the search engines
  • Reliability

By ease of use, I mean how using SBI! is like a filling in a database. The templates make everything easy, and there is no “cPanel” to wrestle with.

By automatic SEO and submission to the search engines, I mean the fabulous way SBI! keeps everything moving forward, with proper amounts of attention to the visitor and the web spiders. This translates to free, organic traffic, which has been very helpful to me.

By reliability, I mean the complete quality of the company, the platform, the support and the system as a whole. No down time, never a mistake, everything done at a state-of-the-art level.

While I make a living as a dentist, my first love is the world, humanity and the earth. We are a single, multi-form community of beings, with a common destiny, which, unfortunately, is not guaranteed.

SBI! has allowed me to reach MILLIONS of people through the pages I have built, videos I have made and posted, other content I have curated – and my YouTube channel, which has over 850,000 views and 700+ subscribers.

All of this would have been impossible for me without SBI!. I am very grateful to Ken, the entire SiteSell company, and all the wonderful programmers and staff who have made this possible.

P.S. One out of every 4000 humans on earth has seen content, in one form or another, from my small LoveShift team, via SBI!, YouTube or my Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter profiles, where I always share new content.

And, as one last note, I am a regular commenter to the New York Times. Probably have over 200 comments approved so far, AND have included links in my posts sometimes which (drumroll…) are generally never allowed, and which often direct a reader to one of my SBI! sites or pages.

For example, during the escalation of rhetoric with North Korea, articles or posts would appear that we have no choice but to bomb them, or go to war with them, or whatever.

Wait a tic – I would write –  please visit https://alternatives2war.com/list.html. “There you will find over 60 alternatives to the use of force and violence to resolve conflict, with videos, articles, links and other resources that number is over one hundred.” After such a post, my SBI! traffic would soar, for the site or particular page I have referenced.

Talk about leverage! Maybe that should be my fourth value I have gotten from SBI!  LEVERAGE!!!

P.P.S. Just a final note, regarding functionality. I made a little site called Flag of the World. On it, I posted an image map of the flags of over 200 nations. I hand-coded this, and then used my nifty little javascript to make the flags, upon hover, describe themselves. And, (still unfinished) I made some of the flags a click-through to a separate SBI page showing off the people from that country, with some of their values and other information.

Want to see it in action? At the site, find the flag for Canada, hover, then click. Voila! I showed the Flag of the World map on a computer to my 5-year-old granddaughter and she was mesmerized. A kindergarten teacher I know suggested a physical flag of the world should be hanging in every elementary classroom in every country, with the electronic version up and ready to guide young minds to becoming global citizens first.

I used this same technique at https://loveshift.com/sixteen.html to make a Thinking GRID, which gives hover information and click-through functionality.

With SBI!, anything is possible!!

Elvira

Elvira

www.istanbul7hills.com

  1. SBI! has definitely been my one and only source of intellectual challenge. As a stay-at-home mom, that challenge means the world to me.
  2. The SBI! team keeps being creative which inspires me to new heights all the time (even though I haven’t earned a dime on my site yet).
  3. Thanks to SBI! I can stay on top of things in the infopreneurial world and be sure I can perform without worrying about the technical side of building the website. With a background in management and low technical proficiency, it’s a relief that tricky technical questions are being taken care of by SBI!.

Sherese Chrétien

Sherese Chrétien

www.first-class-dirt-cheap-vacation.com

What are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to your success?

  1. Realistic business model with step-by-step instructions (which I followed to the letter).
  2. Honesty in managing expectations, think turtle vs hare. (I have 30+ years brick & mortar business development expertise. After EXTENSIVE search on the internet, SBI! literally is the only system that underpromises and overdelivers.)
  3. Solid marketing tools I rely on again and again.

George Christ

George Christ

www.engine-transmission-additives.com

Thank you – for the ingenious way you figured out how to meet the needs of those who want a website that pays – in many ways, not costs!

That would be my high level opinion of SBI! and SiteSell. In more concrete terms, these are the ways SBI! helped me:

1. The Action Guide

This 10 day figurative walk gives you more than an edge. It is parenting in the form of literally grabbing you by the hand, pulling you away from dangers to the left and right, on this tough – don’t exactly know where you’re taking me – walk.

Your instructions and thoughts right from the beginning keep me confident that I’ll get there with each lesson, as you keep the big picture always in view.

2. The SBI! Tools

There are so many, and each is shown and explained. I tell others that these tools, when mastered, are like strokes, like a pedal, moving you up river to clicks. Few believe, but I do. And that belief you give us is a powerful competitive advantage. It’s more than an edge!

In 10 years no competitor has figured out the secret to traffic you teach us to employ.

3. The whole SBI! system is really like an amazing human body-like organization. So efficient you forget how complex.

Gail Coleman

Gail Coleman

Editor’s Note: Gail builds SBI! sites for others. Here’s an example:  www.arcdesign7.net.

What are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to your success?

  1. Built-in framework that does all the heavy lifting with the search engines.
  2. Amazing tutorials on EVERYTHING ever needed to build an online business (NOT just a website) … and under one umbrella.
  3. Staying current and preparing us for potential changes with Google, etc., ways to mitigate the damages … the list goes on!

William Collins

William Collins

www.spraypods.com

As an owner of 6 different SBI! sites, one of which dates back to 2006 (I think) I am thankful that you guys are always asking the right questions in order to continue to make this the best SoloPreneur platform on earth.  

Here are my three main reasons for using SBI!:

  1. Because I can design, build and modify the websites myself, I am able to rapidly change our message. This is critical because I run a spray technology company, and our products, services and markets are constantly changing.
  2. I love the keyword feature when building my pages with BlockBuilder. It’s stunning to me how effective that can be to drive my keywords to some of the top pages in our industry and also the ability to stay there.
  3. Finally, the ability to really run my own online website and not have to hire or use a 3rd party to do that work is worth a heck of a lot more than $300/year.

Simon Davies

Simon Davies

www.careers-advice-online.com

What are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to your success?

  1. Showing in a convincing way how to build a site properly, e.g. with high quality content.
  2. Ken Evoy’s example of a strong work ethic.
  3. Authenticity, like seeing Ken on the forums telling some that they need to change their ways if they are to succeed. This is the real world; SBI! does not sugar coat or lie to you about how success really happens.

Kate Davies

Kate Davies

www.weddinginvitationdesigner.com

So, in answer to your question, it’s very difficult to narrow it down to three things as I feel I wouldn’t even have my own business if it wasn’t for SBI.

Firstly the Action Guide; without it I wouldn’t have even known where to start. Although I have a background in Graphic Design I had never come across any website building terminology before starting on my web building experience.

The fact it’s written so clearly, with such easy to follow steps meant I didn’t feel overwhelmed at any stage. I still refer back to it when I make changes to my website but could probably do with watching it through again to keep track of the changes/updates you’ve implemented over the years.

Secondly, the Forums have also proved themselves invaluable to me and my business. I’d say I’ve used them most to get help on particular things (usually website design focussed) but I also find, when I do delve in, there is a wealth of knowledge about the wider aspects of running a business.

I can spend hours reading through posts and following topics, and it’s all relevant in some way. And the people are so helpful. It’s simply an amazing resource.

Thirdly, I want to just say that the skills I learnt through following the Action Guide, asking questions and reading answers in the forums have together resulted in me being able to build a website which gets organic traffic.

Learning the correct way to building pages, writing content, correctly tagging images, keywords, long tail keywords, etc. have all contributed to my business being where it is currently.

I actually dabbled with the idea of switching to a full WordPress website last year. I went so far as starting to build a new site with a view to redirecting my SBI! site to it. After about 6 months, with 100’s of pounds spent getting help it still looked crap and didn’t work in the way I wanted it to.

The learning curve was completely different to what I’d experienced when I started using SBI!. I felt lost and most of all nervous that what I was doing wasn’t correct. Google wouldn’t find my new site, I’d lose the traffic which was reaching me organically and it was all a bit of a mess.

I pulled the plug, revamped my SBI! and felt instantly happier with my decision. I didn’t want to have to worry about plugins causing my site to be slow or updates which might cause everything to disappear. SBI! takes all that hassle and worries away. If I do need help with something, the forums or support are there quickly and efficiently.

I feel like I haven’t really answered your question but it’s difficult to pinpoint three things when really it’s the whole package of SBI! which I love and which I feel has enabled me to run my own business.

I also feel I’ve only just scratched the surface of what my website and business can be. 2018 is going to be my year of growth and I’m excited to have the support of SBI! along for the ride.

Thanks again Ken and the wonderful SBI! team for creating and continually improving such a life changing product!

Michael Day

Michael Day

www.motorcyclingflorida.com

The top 3 ways SBI! has contributed to my success are:

1. It’s affordable. Less than the price of a cup of coffee per day.

2. No need for special training. I’m a retired trucker. If I can do it anyone can.

3. The Action Guide takes me step by step through the process of building my website. Brainstorm It! was incredibly helpful.

Tina Dean

Tina Dean

www.ourcontainerhouse.com

What are the top 4 ways (sorry, couldn’t keep it to 3) in which SBI! has contributed to my success?

1. SBI!’s ‘Keep it simple attitude’ to learn ‘step by step’ and build a website with your own knowledge of a subject to achieve what many don’t.

2. SBI! Pros experience has certainly helped me out several times to get a clear understanding or answer of what I have asked about.

3. Before starting my first website with SBI! I had several websites with other companies who just supplied the site and gave no help whatsoever. Finding information about SBI! in 2010 was amazing but of course I was still unsure about it.

I kept going back to the information about SBI! and SiteSell many times and kept reading the pages. Eventually Ken Evoy convinced me that it all made sense, and that it was for real. Now I have 3 SBI! websites!

4. The Action Guide is what sets SBI! apart from any other website building or hosting company. The Action Guide steers, assists and makes you believe you can succeed even though the competition may be strong. Many SBIers have proven that SBI! works and have done extremely well.

Michael Dougherty

Michael Dougherty

www.AnchorageMemories.com

Here are my top 3 ways that SBI! has contributed to my online and offline success – plus extra thoughts.

First, I’ve been a proud SBI! website owner since 2005. When I first started with SBI!, I knew nothing about building an online business. I appreciate SBI!’s continued focus on improving what they offer to their customers. SBI! is a total “win win.”

Second, the SBI! Action Guide is an unrivaled way for SBI! owners to learn the how and why of creating an online business. The SBI! Forums provide a fast way to find help as you continue to build your online business.

Third, once you join SBI!, you receive regular ongoing encouragement and vital information to help you achieve online success in the form of the Solo Build It! newsletter. All of this is worth its weight in gold.

Extra thoughts:

I’ve been with SBI! since 2005. It’s not “get rich quick.” Instead, it’s slow and steady wins the race through online ups and downs. Fortunately, SBI! is right there with you 100% of the way. That’s a powerful online partner to have in your corner.

Steven Gary

Steven Gary

www.esdevelopmaintenance.com

What are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to my success?

1. The SBI! dashboard and platform tools are awesome. I can fine tune every part of my website in minutes. When time is critical, and there are important other jobs I need to do, I can prioritise these tasks to get the website admin jobs done daily very quickly.  

2. The Action Guide helped me get straight into the nuts and bolts of what is needed to get my site focused. It’s all well laid out. There are handy checklists within the SBI! Action Guide to keep me moving forward. The brainstorming tool helps me to build pages that my visitors are interested in, so they keep coming back for more information everyday.

3. I hope my website inspires people with an entrepreneurial spirit and every day businesses to use SBI!. They are not alone in building their business. For example, the forums are great for getting answers quickly.

I also like my visitors to see how I run my own online real life business using the SBI! platform as an example. This shows them that to think big but start local works. We can all achieve great things from our very own neighbourhood.

Scott Gese

Scott Gese

www.ropeandwire.com

I have 5 top ways how SBI! has contributed to my success for you:

1. Ease of use

From the day I first heard of SBI!, I knew this was for me. My website was originally built on a platform that became obsolete. At an expense I really couldn’t afford, I had someone move the site for me. I was told the new Content Management System it was now running on would be easy to learn.

Unfortunately I’m not a rocket scientist or extremely tech savvy. The new “easy to learn” CMS turned out to be difficult and problematic. It quickly turned into a dismal failure. I was ready to throw in the towel when I happened upon SBI!. The more I researched it, the more it looked like something I might be able to do on my own, so I went for it.

Not only did I discover my site was easy to build using SBI!, I also came to realize how easy it is to maintain. That’s a big issue with me.

2. Help when you need it.

Transferring my site to SBI! wasn’t all sunshine and roses for me. I had questions along the way. No matter how simple or complex, if I couldn’t find my answer in the SBI! forums, I emailed support for help.

They have always been on the spot and spot on with their answers. They walked me through a couple of tough areas as I transferred my site and made sure I was 100% satisfied with the results before they signed off.

3. The Forums

I always check the forums first when I’m looking for insight or answers. I can usually find what I’m looking for as most of my issues and questions aren’t unique to me. Most have been asked before. If I can’t find my answer, I’ll ask a question.

Rarely will I get less than a couple of excellent and in depth replies. The forums rock!

4. The Action Guide

Talk about in depth and easy to follow instructions! From finding your niche, setting up your site, monetizing and everything in between, the Action Guide is the SBI! bible. Even now, I refer to it constantly.

5. Brainstorm It!

Already having a business set up, I didn’t use Brainstorm It! to do my initial search for niche ideas. But I have consistently used it for researching keywords to help me improve my site.

Due to Brainstorm It!, the Action Guide’s SEO training and the page analyzer, several pages and sections on my site have held top positions on several search engines including Google and Bing.

On a personal note, everything I’ve mentioned here has helped me move my site and business forward. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I have faith I’ll get there soon. My site has been growing steadily over the past six months with new records in visits, visitors and page views set each month.

I had my highest daily visitor count on Dec. 10th with 961. It’s only a matter of time before I break the 1000 mark for daily visitors.

Birgir Gislason

Birgir Gislason

www.mypeyronies.com

It’s been a while since I started my SBI! website and it’s now in kind of a “maintenance” mode. So I’m not fully up to date with all the latest SBI! changes. However, I believe the points that I found most helpful when I was starting are still valid, so here we go:

1. Passion

It is obvious that Ken Evoy and the whole SiteSell team are in this business with great passion. I believe it is important to be passionate about the topic of your website. Or at least like it. It is obvious when people are writing with their heart or just doing their work (for money).

2.The SBI! Ethics

One of the things I like most about SBI! is the emphasis on ethical practice. It is about being transparent (say who you are, do all the formal extra pages like disclaimers, etc.), about honesty (like linking to sources) and last, but not least, about not misleading people, not promising something that is not true, not mis-sell, etc.

Ethics like this is what builds trust with your audience. Trust is the most important asset in online marketing (because it’s so rare).

3. Original Content

The emphasis on creating quality, original, evergreen content is and will always be valid.

4. Customers Care

If you have customers (not only affiliate income) then you must treat your customers with respect and offer great customer service. Never forget who “puts the bread on the table”. In this SBI! leads by example.

5. Advice and Support

As my website is quite established in its field now I’m not up to date with the latest SBI! advice and support but I know it is there if needed. And I know Ken Evoy has his customers’ backs.

I had just started my website when Google’s Penguin and Panda algorithm changes took place. Ken and his team put in lot of time and effort trying to understand the changes in order to help and advise us SBIers. This is linked to point 2 and the result is trust.

This is the main reason why I have not moved my website to cheaper hosting. Because even though I’m not needing the advice and support at the moment, I know it’s there if and when I need it.

In addition, I very much like the ethics SBI! stands for. I find it rare in the online marketing world. It’s refreshing and inspiring, and I like to “support” that “voice” if I can.

Don Heggen

Don Heggen

www.dynamic-stock-market-strategies.com

Here are the top 3 ways in which SBI! has contributed to my success:

1. I’m not “techy.” I rely on SBI! to do the heavy lifting in the technical department, which allows me to focus my ‘BAM’ (Brain, Attitude and Motivation) on growing my website and business.

I especially appreciate the ability to own other domains with similar names (e.g. DynamicMarketStrategies.com, among others), which redirect back to my site, to keep away ‘poachers’  from stealing my traffic. Excellent!

2. The ability to publish a regular newsletter or “ezine” to my readers (included in the SBI! subscription). Sending a regular newsletter allows me to deliver more useful content to my readers.

3. I am an “Associate” (or affiliate) for other business related ventures which provide additional income opportunities for me.

If I ever have to cut back on my “budget,” SBI! is the last thing that’s going!

Diane Hoffmann

Diane Hoffmann

www.hofron.com

I like to work with SBI! (and have been for many years) because of:

  • the impeccable consistency of the system platform,
  • the high quality of tech service / support, and
  • the meticulous operation and communication with your clients.

Mauricio Jaimes

Mauricio Jaimes

www.buycolombiarealty.com

In terms of money making or my expectations about a constant income, I don’t consider myself a success, but I will give my top 3 reasons why my site is well ranked in Alexa.

  1. Site Maturity

    I think one of my important assets is the time my site has been online. I started my site in 2007 (this is my 10th anniversary). The first 5 years I created all the content it has now. Since then, I have not created content as often as the Action Guide says I should.

    In fact, I have not created new content for the past 3 years. However, here comes the second reason…

  2. Constant New Content from Third Parties  

    I created a directory with SBI!’s “Content 2.0” module. The regular submissions I get to this directory keep my site content fresh, which gets noticed by the search engines.

  3. Patience and Faith in SBI!

    In these 10 years, despite my frustration in not having a steady income or find better ways to monetize, I keep believing in the system.

Kathleen Kirsan

Kathleen Kirsan

www.sport-horse-breeder.com

The top 3 ways SBI! has helped me succeed are:

  • That I can edit and update material myself.
  • That I can easily view my traffic stats.
  • That it taught me how to write good copy.

Sheila Koester

Sheila Koester

www.mobilephonesresearch.com

The top three ways in which SBI! has contributed to my success are…

1. Excellent documentation, which helped me to create and establish my money making website.

2. The Brainstorm It! tool that helped me find keywords to attract the most organic traffic to my website. Also the help with the SEO component.

3. Other tools such as Content 2.0, Analyze It!, libraries, BlockBuilder, site navigation, site designer, traffic analytics and statistics, etc.

Kathy Landolt

Kathy Landolt

www.small-business-accounting-info.com

Even though I’m not in the top 500 sites anymore, here’s my top ways SBI! has helped me…

1. Action Guide – the roadmap.  

You have a map to follow to get you from a website to a small business. I had no idea what I was doing when I started this, about 8 years ago.  I’m the ultimate tortoise – a polite way of saying I’ve been very very slow.  LOL.

I’ll work at my site for a while; then, when life happens and I don’t have the time or energy I let it go for a while, then come back to it. I’ll go back and reread the Action Guide to refresh my memory, and start again.

2. Brainstorm It! – this helps me write content that reflects what is being searched.

I can target what I’m writing, and get more traffic. I’ve never paid for traffic. I’m not into social media either. All my traffic comes from organic searches.

3. Forums

I’m not on the forums much to post, but when I get stuck I search the forums for that topic and read what others have done in similar situations. There’s a lot of info in there.

4. I’m not sure what to call this one…maybe structure?  

I know very little about HTML or CSS but with SBI! I don’t have to. I can build a nice looking page, add pictures, headings, links, etc. all on my own. This saves a lot of time and confusion.

5. The Solo Build It! Blog

I love reading how others have made their site a success. It’s very encouraging. This spurs me on to keep working and maybe try different things.

I really don’t see my site as a success, because it’s still in process and it’s not earning me anything at the moment. But my goal for 2018 is to get my traffic back up, and to earn a steady paycheck from ebooks and ecourses.

Some background to my story (in case your readers are interested):

My traffic has plummeted this year, due to some changes I had made. I wanted to change my site from an informational site only with ads to selling my accounting services.

I hired a firm to help me set up a WordPress blog. They took a lot of my info pages down from my SBI! site. I went from 12,000 visitors a month to around 3,000 (mostly from my RSS Blog It pages). They told me it was more targeted traffic. The new blog was getting about 3 hits a day. This was crazy. So I shut down the WordPress blog and am putting all the information back onto my SBI! site.

My goal is to get my SBI! site back to where it was traffic-wise, and sell training manuals for small business owners who want to do their own bookkeeping (my own product). I may do a few affiliate ads, but no more Google ads. No money there.

Lesson learned: non-SBIers don’t understand how it works. And it works well. I didn’t get rich off my site, but I was earning a nice side income (before the big Google changes).

I was also asked to ghost write a book on small business accounting. I would never have had that opportunity without SBI!.

Victor Leppky

Victor Leppky

www.naturalremedy101.com

1. The best thing about SBI! is the all-in-one aspect.

2. The next best thing is that the tools are easy to use and when there is a little confusion, a little more looking or maybe asking SBI! support clears it up. Support is also first class.

No matter what others say about all-in-one, and I’ve looked at a few, none of them are nearly as complete or as easy to use as SBI!.

3. Also, it’s rare to see the little popups with recommendations for more resources when you are going through the SBI! Action Guide or in Blockbuilder. Strange that others can’t figure that out.

Carletta Lino

Carletta Lino

www.arizonaseniorrefunds.com

The top 3 ways SBI! has contributed to my success are as follows:

1.After stumbling across SiteSell’s Solo Build It!, purchasing the annual membership subscription and reviewing the detailed Action Guide on web business building, I realized that I did not have the complete skill set to build my website on my own.

What I read and saw in the Action Guide was pure genius. This motivated me to investigate SBI!’s custom work offered by the SiteSell’s Professionals (“Pros” for short). This is paying off big time!

2. The initial consulting/training questionnaire I submitted assisted me in revealing the passion I had for my website project which is on a topic I am the least fond of, taxes.  I developed it out of my own personal success story.

But what was the best way for me to make my online presence? Consulting with a Pro helped in evaluating my project to see if it was a fit for a website, ebook, blog, WordPress, or some other online format.

The consulting/training questionnaire also assisted me with identifying the goals I wanted to accomplish for my website.

3. My initial concern was getting started right with the CTPM process (no shortcuts). I wanted to build my website foundation properly from site concept research to site concept blueprint and working from there.

Working with the SiteSell Professionals further confirmed the niche topic of my website project on tax refunds for seniors in my state of Arizona. Since I wanted to be matched perfectly from the start with the right Pro, I may have done something a little unusual and off the norm: I requested to see a copy of my Pro’s bio.  

When I received it I was convinced the Pro assigned to me was the right person for me to work with and so it has proved to be. This gave me the full confidence I needed to move forward with my website project because I knew my Pro and I were on the same page and that we spoke the same language.

I have to give Sheri Frey all the credit for the successful development of my website, together with Mike Fulson, who provided the professional design and images. I also have to give credit to the behind the scene professional writers.

What a pleasure it is to work with all of these Pros. It was so unexpected. Everything, from start to finish has been handled in a very professional manner and I’m just so proud of the outcome! The only thing that has slowed me down is that I am in the middle of reorganizing after a difficult move. I hope to be able to continue the progress on my website soon.

Christine Loff

Christine Loff

www.sew-fashion-doll-clothes.com

Three ways SBI! has helped me be successful with my website:

1. I have learnt how to research and construct a really good website that gets traffic. By following “the system,” you are practically guaranteed to achieve success. I say “practically” because my first website with SBI! wasn’t very successful.

However, I think I learned a great deal, and it stood me in good stead when I built my second site. Sometimes you need a little experience with doing the wrong things to be successful!

For my present SBI! website, I not only followed the instructions to the letter, but I took a class offered over the web by SBI! – that was really helpful in understanding the finer points of the instructions and helped me a great deal. I wish you still offered these online classes.

2. I get website visits from all over the world – it is really amazing. I am able to provide advice on sewing doll clothes to people as far away as remote islands in the Pacific Ocean and Asia, as well as Europe and North America. It never fails to amaze me!

3. The support system for SBI! is awesome! If you have a problem or question, you can post in the forums and get an answer from someone in very good time. You are never left hanging and scratching you head about what to do.

If things get really gnarly, the SBI! Support team is there for you and they answer your questions very promptly. You are never left alone when you use SBI!.

Mike Lyons

Mike Lyons

www.lyonsflooring-uk.com

  1. WYSIWYG format of building pages makes it easy to build pages (albeit with a learning curve).
  2. You have access to a limitless knowledge base.
  3. SBI! teaches you limitless ways to build and promote your online business.

Lakshmi Menon

Lakshmi Menon

www.induswomanwriting.com

When I wanted to start an online home business, I was looking for two specific things. Firstly, I wanted to learn building a website on my own and enjoy doing it at every stage.  Secondly, I wanted to get all the necessary help from one single place.  After a lot of searches, I finally found SBI! for this purpose.

Here are the top ways SBI! contributed to achieve my goal:

  1. SBI! Action Guide

    This most useful guide, explained in an uncomplicated way, taught me how to go about building my site and business, like a mother teaching her child step by step.

  2. SBI! Support Team

    When I am in any trouble with a technical problem of my site, the amazing support team comes to my rescue, until I feel comfortable, like a father protects his child with his strong hands.

  3. SBI! Forums

    The most informative and useful forums help me like a loving brother where I can get answers to any of my doubts and guide me in the right path in building and running my website.

  4. SBI! Newsletter

    All the important day-to-day news and changes taking place in the website building world, that are relevant to an online home business, are passed on to me in a very useful manner, like a loving sister, instead of me having to waste time in searching the web.

  5. Content 2.0

    I have hundreds of content rich pages submitted by the visitors and many with comments. They serve me like trusted friends because they drive a lot of traffic.

In brief, I feel most protected and safe in the trustworthy SBI! family.

Michael Monaghan

Michael Monaghan

www.woodstove-fireplaceglass.com

For myself, not being a very techy person, Solo Build It! helped me to understand the steps involved to be successful.

The “Day by Day” process of the Action Guide helped to keep me from being overwhelmed. It also helped me understand why I was doing the steps and the importance of content! LOL.

Understanding the process, watching the videos, reading the articles etc. really helped me a lot. For example, I learned why to build links and what kind of links. I learned why and how to build really good content, not just gibberish.

This is why I picked SBI! after studying the different options out there at the time. I think it may be a harder process, that takes more time, but the results are well worth it.

Charles Moorehead

Charles Moorehead

www.moneymagic1-2-3.com

  1. The introductory information was a great help in initially getting organized and knowing how to get started.
  2. The Brainstorm It! tool helped me determine what keywords appeared to fit my knowledge and satisfy the needs of my audience. This was another great feature that helped me get started in the right direction.
  3. After getting started, the traffic stats have helped me determine what topics are of most interest to my readers. This was another great way to know how to satisfy my readers.

<div id="LarryMorton" class="contri

Do What You Love, Love What You Do: Loving My Fire (An SBI! Success Story)

Do What You Love, Love What You Do, Episode 4: Loving My Fire (An SBI! Success Story)

By Rachel Bruner, lovemyfire.com 

Tell us about your website, www.lovemyfire.com. When and why did you start your site?

In 2011 I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas. Having little hands-on experience with e-readers and tablets before this, I was thrilled to learn all that my Kindle Fire could do.

I loved figuring things out and wanted to share my insights with others, but when I searched online the only resources specifically dedicated to this new tablet were a few forums and a blog.

Around this time I was seriously considering starting my own business creating websites for others. Although I had years of website experience, I wasn’t really thrilled with the idea but I wanted to keep working from home, I wanted to be my own boss, and I was definitely ready for a job change.

In February of 2012 while searching for tools to more easily create websites for others I stumbled upon an article that mentioned a company that helped you create a profitable website business. I didn’t clearly understand what the article meant so I went straight to the company’s website.

As I read about SiteSell and learned what SBI! could teach me, a light bulb started to flash inside my head and I began to feel very excited. I knew I’d finally found the missing pieces to help me create a successful and profitable website business of my own.

I immediately signed up for SiteSell and started going through their Action Guide. Being passionate about my Kindle Fire and knowing there wasn’t a website just for this tablet, I knew it was the perfect topic for me.

Although the number of people searching for specific “Kindle Fire” content was small, it was a new topic and my gut told me it would grow. I knew there must be other Kindle Fire owners out there who would love to know what I could share with them.

I decided to go with my gut, made plans for my online business, and on May 16, 2012 my website went live.

The well-known phrase, “If you build it, they will come” fit perfectly with my site, but the key to my success was creating a website around a topic that I’m passionate about, which made my “work” a ton of fun!

Are you working full-time or part-time on building your website / online business?

When I started my website business I was definitely putting in full-time hours, and continued to do so for most of the first year. Now, it depends on what I’m currently working on. Sometimes I work full-time, especially when I’m researching and working on a new article, but most of the time it’s a part-time thing, which I love!

I can easily put in as many – or as few – hours as I want. Of course, creating quality content takes effort, and I make sure that the time and effort I put into my site is useful for my site’s visitors.

So far, what has been the biggest challenge for you?

Surprisingly, the biggest challenge has been responding to all the requests for help from those who visit my website. This is obviously a good thing, as the more visitors you have to your site the more successful it is, but it has also been a huge challenge.

I believe having a technical topic probably brings in a higher percentage of questions than your average website, since people are often looking for specific help with electronic devices.

During the first year alone I responded to over 2,000 comments and questions posted on my website, social pages, and emails. During the second year I tried to keep up with the increasing demand but my health, sanity, and time with my family really suffered.

Eventually I realized I couldn’t keep up with the demand, not if I wanted to have balance in my life. I let my site visitors know that I loved receiving their comments and questions but that I wouldn’t be able to personally respond to each and everyone of them.

To help, I added an FAQ and some other resources to my site and then I prioritized which questions I would answer. Problems that would take extra time to troubleshoot were filed away, while I focused on answering those that didn’t take as much time and effort.

However, the demand for Kindle Fire support continued to increase, and in December of 2014 I was fortunate enough to be able to hire an assistant to help me out!

My amazing assistant now responds to most of my site visitors (on my behalf) and she does a fabulous job. Thus, my biggest challenge has been conquered and I’m able to once again focus my time and effort on other areas of my business such as updating content, creating new content, and other fun projects that are in the works.

What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner?

I love being self employed and owning my own business! I work when I want, for however long (or little) that I want, and I do it wherever I want. It’s given me freedom to work around my busy schedule, to raise a baby (who is now a busy toddler), and everything else that comes with the craziness of life.

However, I equally enjoy being my own boss. I LOVE being in control of what I work on. No one tells me what I can or can’t create for my website. If I want to create a specific resource then that’s what I do. If I really don’t want to do something, then I don’t.

Of course, I still need to work on some things that aren’t as fun as other stuff, but overall I’ve established a good balance between doing work that has to be done vs doing work that I LOVE to do.

Has your life changed since you started your site? Can you describe these changes for us?

My life has absolutely changed in many ways since starting my site!

Besides the changes mentioned previously, my site is financially profitable. It pays for our mortgage as well as other needs and wants, like my husband’s new truck and preschool for my toddler- which lets her learn and socialize while I get some toddler-free time to work.

Another not-so-obvious way in which my life has changed is my self-esteem regarding my education.

Although I’ve always done well in school, I never earned a bachelor’s degree. During my college years I went to a technical school where I received a two-year degree in Computer Information Technology.

Over the years all three of my siblings and each of our spouses received a bachelor’s degree. I was the only one without one, and I began to feel a bit lesser because of it.

However, about a year after creating my website business I realized something that changed the way I see myself: I had learned a marketable trade.

Most of my website experience is self-taught but with the business knowledge I learned from SiteSell I now see myself as a skilled business owner, because that is what I am!

Just like a plumber, electrician, or cosmetologist gains their skills from a specific trade school, I gained an education as a website business owner from SBI!

Why did you choose SBI! to build your website / online business?

Before starting my Love My Fire website I worked for 10 years as an independent contractor for a big website, and before that I spent a few years tinkering with a website selling my mom’s scrapbook poetry.

Although I had experience with website creation, and even made some money from these endeavours, I didn’t fully know how to create a successful website business.

When I found SiteSell I realized that this company had the missing pieces to the online business puzzle I’d been working on for so many years. It was clear to me that the benefits they provided were exactly what I needed if I was to achieve what I wanted.

Jumping in with both feet was a risk for me, as I quit my other job before my site even started earning money, but it was definitely worth it and I haven’t looked back!

With SiteSell I continue to learn and grow as a business owner. SBI! has provided priceless information, tools, and resources that have helped me get to where I am today and will continue to help me with my goals and plans for the future of my business.

What one piece of advice would you give someone who is just getting started in the online business world?

Well, I have three pieces of advice, if that’s alright.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do: Vegan Coaching and Cooking (An SBI! Success Story)

Do What You Love, Love What You Do, Episode 3: Vegan Coaching and Cooking (An SBI! Success Story)

By Patty “Sassy” Knutson, vegancoach.com

Tell us about your website, www.vegancoach.com. When and why did you start your site?

I started VeganCoach.com in February 2007.  At the time I ran a Personal Chef and Nutritional Consultant service.  And I loved it!

But there were a couple downfalls too.  If I wasn’t out there working, I didn’t make a paycheck.  Sounds silly, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that there were only so many hours in my day, and this meant a limit to my income.  Also, hubby Jeff (as a musician) traveled occasionally for gigs and I always went along.  I wanted a business that I could take with me wherever I went.

After some research, I found SBI and it seemed to be the answer.  I got started, worked overtime to get my website up and running, and was very happy when the income began because it was at that point I knew this idea could work for me.

Are you working full-time or part-time on building your website / online business?

More than full time.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do : Homemade Gifts (An SBI! Success Story)

Do What You Love, Love What You Do, Episode 1: Homemade Gifts (An SBI! Success Story)

Tell us about your website,www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com.

When and why did you start your site?

We  started our website in 2009. We’d always wanted to start a web business but never knew how. We just loved the idea of working together and we wanted to make a bit of extra income for travelling and fun, and in the longer term for starting a family and having some flexibility around returning to work.

At the time we found SBI we were both university research scientists which  is about as far from business as you can get. Tobias came across SBI through an email from blogger Steve Pavlina in 2008. We watched the SBI intro video and we both immediately thought “This is it!”. It was the first time that the process of starting a business looked do-able, even for people like us with no business experience.

As we went through the SBI process we considered all sorts of ideas for sites. We narrowed it down to our top three ideas: homemade gifts, strength-training, or science for kids. Using the SBI process we evaluated the business potential of all three ideas and homemade gifts emerged as the clear winner.

It was hard to say no to the other ideas but looking back we’re glad we did, because building a site about homemade gifts has been lots of fun and really profitable. We both love making homemade things and it’s been fantastic to turn that hobby into a business.

Are you working full-time or part-time on building your website / online business?

We don’t have day jobs, if that’s what you mean.

How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?

How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?

“I’m not really interested in making money.”Steven Spielberg

Cincinnati-born Spielberg is a pioneer of the New Hollywood Era, has been creating gorgeous and box office-breaking films since Jaws in 1975, and has a personal net worth of more than $3 billion.

Yeah, clearly he’s not interested in making money!

I don’t know about you, but I am certainly interested in making money. Making money is what enables me to provide for my family and enjoy life. Making money online is what provides me with freedoms like being able to work from home, or anywhere else for that matter.

The trouble with an online business is that your revenue projections are nothing like a traditional 9-to-5 job.

When I worked for Litehouse Pools & Spas, I had a base salary plus sales commission, which meant that I knew what my paycheck would be every other week, and those paychecks started coming with the next pay period after I started work.

When I started my own online business, on the other hand, it didn’t work like that at all.

Let’s Get Real

Now, the purpose of this article isn’t to scare you or push you away from starting your own online business – far from it. However, we are not going to lie and paint some glorious picture that promises you’ll get rich quick. That’s not who we are, and that’s not what we believe.

Owning your own online business can be everything you dream of…

  • Spend your time doing something you love.
  • Take control over your life and future.
  • Create freedoms for yourself and your family.
  • Invest in yourself and reap financial rewards.

BAM!But it also takes tremendous amounts of time, energy and self-discipline.

Or, as we like to put it, BAM!

BAM is the necessary set of ingredients that no tool or platform or coach can provide. You have to bring to the table:

  • Brain: you know a lot about a niche (no need to be “brainy”).
  • Attitude: positive, optimistic, you know that ups follow downs and vice-versa.
  • Motivation: high level of determination, able to focus and “get it done.”

It’s your attitude and motivation that will drive the amount of time and energy you pour into your business.

It’s not easy, and it’s not quick. Trust us, we know. We’ve been doing this for over 20 years!

But it is possible. Thanks to Solo Build It!’s stunning track record of success, we see that every day. And we’ve also seen what it takes to succeed with an online business.

If you’re ready to learn more, and begin to set some realistic expectations for how soon you can begin to make money with an online business, keep reading.

Different Ways to Make Money Online

The ways that you can make money online fall into several general categories:

  1. Active – Selling Services
  2. Active – Selling Products
  3. Passive – Affiliate Commissions
  4. Passive – Advertising Earnings

As you might imagine, each method has its strengths and weaknesses, earning potential and investment demands.

Selling Services, for instance, can be quite lucrative, particularly if you have highly sought-after skills and experience. But it doesn’t scale – you only have so many hours in the day to sell.

Selling Products, on the other hand, can scale well, but requires more time to develop as a viable offer.

Affiliate Commissions and Advertising Earnings might see initial revenue faster, but require high traffic levels to make the same kind of money as more active techniques.

While there are variations and combinations of these methods, we’ll focus on these main categories so that you have a solid understanding and set of expectations for your new online business.

Why not start by printing out our free Online Business Monetization Worksheet. As we work through these tactics, use it to record your ideas and map out how you’re going to create a truly profitable business.

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checked=”true”> Online Business Monetization Worksheet

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Go ahead – print out that worksheet – print multiple copies if needed – and then proceed.

Active – Selling Services

Ana Hoffman - How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?“To make money online, you need one of two things (both are even better!): tons of traffic (to make a decent income from ads, for instance) or trust (to do just about anything else: sell product or a  service, or do affiliate marketing).

Either one takes time to build, no matter how you look at it.

When I first started TrafficGenerationCafe.com, I gave it my all in terms of building both traffic and trust.

So much so that this is what Dino Dogan, the founder of Triberr.com, said about my blog in those early days:

Even with a robust audience quickly building around Traffic Generation Café, it STILL took me about 6 months to start seeing income from affiliate sales and about the same amount of time to start selling a service – blog audits at the time.”

~ Ana Hoffman, TrafficGenerationCafe.com

The beauty of a monetization model that includes selling services is that it’s something you can potentially sell from Day One. If you already possess a skill and experience that others will pay for, this is a great place to start.

While you’re working on building traffic, ramping up passive revenue streams and developing products, you can keep the money flowing in by selling your time and expertise.

The key to being successful at selling a service – or selling anything – is to identify the pain that your service solves, and communicate that.

For instance, if you were writing copy for a social media management service, you might say:

Has it been weeks since you last tweeted?

To make money online, you need one of two things: tons of traffic or trust – Ana HoffmanClick To Tweet

Does it seem like it takes forever just to come up with something to say, only to get no engagement at all?

Don’t you wish your business could benefit from Twitter like everyone else?

It’s not about the number of tweets or posts per day – that kind of detail can come later. It’s about the pain your ideal client is experiencing, in this case, wasted time with no results.

As you begin to think about what your online business is going to look like, who are your ideal clients, and what pains are they experiencing?

Targeting - How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?You will see on the worksheet that there’s an area for you to begin thinking about and documenting what your target customer looks like. In other words, the kind of individual or business that you would love to see as a customer, and have a reasonable expectation that you can attract them.

Pick a name for this persona and begin to fill in some details. If you want to target more than one type of customer, that’s OK, just print out as many copies of the worksheet as you need.

Some of the fields you might not have a handle on, while others may not be relevant. Skip those and focus on whichever make sense for you.

The most important descriptors are the these:

  • Strengths – what is this person really good at?
  • Weaknesses – what does he or she struggle with?
  • Fears / Pains – what’s driving him or her to seek help?

And then, what’s your desired goal or result?

Taking the time to think through these attributes will help you tremendously in your writing and marketing, as well as your long-term business plans!

It will also help you to identify the best service(s) to offer. What are your strengths, to match the solutions your target customer is desperate to find? It’s finding that point where needs or desires = a solution your particular skills can offer which will help your services really sell.

Active – Selling Products

Rebekah Radice - How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?“One of the biggest misconceptions for entrepreneurs is that money will magically start rolling in from day one. The reality is that it takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work to make a living off your business, let alone build a successful and thriving company.

I’ve founded/co-founded 5 businesses, and while each was different, there were similar themes. First is the 6 month window when the planning, preparation, word of mouth, and build out is happening. Second is the next 6 months when your sales process really takes shape. You’ve tested, tweaked, and continued to formulate next steps.

During this time, don’t expect high dollars to roll in, unless you launch with an established platform, following, client base, or well-known name.

That being said, your first year will be the hardest, but it’s not smooth sailing until year 3. That is, as long as you’ve laid the proper groundwork. I’m a firm believer in doing the tough stuff now that sets you up for success for years and years to come.”

~ Rebekah Radice, RebekahRadice.com

While, traditionally, products are thought of as tangible objects one might purchase from the corner store, the Internet has brought us a variety of digital products that online businesses are uniquely suited to deliver.

This includes:

  • eBooks
  • Printables
  • Software as a Service (Saas)
  • Courses
  • Membership Communities

…and more!

While all of the above require at least some development time and effort (compared to near-none for “Services”), products scale better.

Why? Because if it’s just you, there are only so many hours in the day that you can book and sell to clients.

An eBook or printable, however, can be sold again and again once you have created it.

For instance, last year I put together a series of calendars and worksheets to help bloggers plan out their editorial calendars for the coming year. It took a weekend to create and then all I had to do was promote it to start selling them.

…your first year will be the hardest, but it’s not smooth sailing until year 3 – Rebekah RadiceClick To Tweet

That planner also serves as an example of how digital products earn revenue in proportion to their development time.

It’s been nice to sell a couple hundred planners for a weekend’s worth of work, but that’s hardly a replacement income.

But the more digital products I have, the more sales revenue I can generate. And if I spent more time developing the product, like an extensive online course, the more I could charge each member.

On your worksheet, give some thought to how much you think you’re going to charge for your product(s), and how many you’ll need to sell to earn your desired income level. Also estimate how long you will need before your first product will be ready to sell – that’s going to represent an initial gap in income.

Solo Build It! members gain access to specialized training that facilitates the creation and selling of digital products!

Passive – Affiliate Commissions

Ryan Biddulph - How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?“It took me about 6 months to make my first cent blogging.

I earned the cash through network marketing.

As for building a full-time income, it took me about 3 years of profiting through multiple online income streams like freelance writing, sponsored post revenue and affiliate marketing revenue.”

 

~ Ryan Biddulph, BloggingFromParadise.com

For some, thoughts of creating an online business come complete with sipping Mai Tai’s on the beach while affiliate sales roll in effortlessly. (And Ryan Biddulph of BloggingFromParadise.com does little to dissuade from that image!)

But the reality is that it can take years to get to that point. For two reasons.

First, selling other people’s products for a small commission is relatively easy, and therefore, you don’t usually receive a high commission. Most affiliate programs pay just 15-30% bounty on whatever is purchased.

So you will need to generate a significant volume of traffic to realize good earnings.

As for building a full-time income, it took me about 3 years of profiting through multiple online income streams… – Ryan BiddulphClick To Tweet

Second, because you’re referring someone else’s products, sales tend to happen at a slower rate. Instead of buying from “me,” you’re buying from someone I happen to recommend.

That puts an additional layer or step between the buyer’s ability to Know, Like & Trust, which can result in fewer sales.

Therefore, with affiliate recommendations converting less and paying less, you need far more of them to compensate. Which, as we’ve already seen, requires high levels of traffic. And of course building traffic requires time.

Are there brands or vendors in your niche that offer affiliate programs? If so, note them on your worksheet.

Take careful note of each affiliate program’s payout policy, too. Most affiliate commissions are paid a month or two after the sale, which creates another initial gap in income.

How will you cover that gap?

Passive – Advertising Earnings

Jeff Goins - How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business?

“It took 2 years. One year to build the audience. Another year to start monetizing and eventually replace my full-time income.”

~ Jeff Goins, GoinsWriter.com

The final method is to use advertising to generate revenue.

This is, perhaps, the easiest monetization method of all as it requires no direct information-giving or sales on your part. You don’t have to talk about or promote the ads in any way.

Simply place ads on your site and wait for readers to click on them.

If you use a service like Google AdSense, the ads will dynamically change based on your site content or the individual visitor’s past browsing experience. This level of customization tends to result in a higher conversion rate on ads.

You can also opt to work directly with advertisers in your niche who may want to pay to reach your audience directly.

It took 2 years. One year to build the audience. Another year to start monetizing and eventually replace my full-time income. – Jeff GoinsClick To Tweet

But note that ad-clicks pay even less than affiliate sales – sometimes just pennies per click – resulting in moderate income levels.

Which means, like affiliate sales, you’ll need high traffic volume to make it work.

Pulling It All Together – What’s Your Plan?

Write down all of the above ideas and estimate some timeframes. The goal is to help you put all of the pieces together into a cohesive plan.

How much revenue do you need, and which techniques are you going to use to get there? What do you anticipate the income gap to be, and how will you fill it?

For instance, if your plan is to build a business income based on passive advertising revenue, perhaps you plan to sell consulting services while you build up traffic and ad performance.

Or, perhaps you’ll keep your 9-to-5 while you work your new business as a side hustle.

Regardless of your plan, the next step is clear:

Solo Build It! - Make Money With an Online BusinessStart your new online business using Solo Build It!.

Why?

Virtually every monetization plan you can conceive requires website traffic. Whether you’re selling services or products or advertising, someone has to get to your site and see your offers to take you up on them.

Other platforms focus on how your site looks and, while that’s important, a good-looking website does nothing to drive traffic and real business results!

Only Solo Build It! includes everything you need to be successful, including:

  • Extensive Training on how to build an online business
  • Powerful Tools to research your business ideas
  • Supportive Community to help you reach your goals

And when the time is right (and Solo Build It! will help you know when the time is right!) you’ll find information, articles and forum posts dealing directly with which monetization strategies would best fit your niche!

Time and again we have studied alternative platforms like GoDaddy and Wix and found them severely lacking. While Solo Build It! members consistently achieve high-traffic results which drive monetization possibilities. Folks who use those other platforms, sadly, are at a disadvantage.

Want to ramp up your online business and start making money as fast as possible? Follow the #1 approach to building a business and developing high levels of website traffic.

Author information

Mike Allton

Mike Allton is the Chief Marketing Officer for SiteSell. He has spent years helping solopreneurs achieve success online through the precepts of content marketing: write great content, share that to social, and drive new leads & sales.

Mike’s focus is to reach people who have a passion for something and show them how it’s possible to turn that dream into a real online business and income.

The post How Long Does It Take to Make Money With an Online Business? appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Change the World? This Nature Loving Couple Does it One Website Visitor at a Time!

Change the World? This Nature Loving Couple Does it One Website Visitor at a Time!

Purpose/Mission – I think it helps to really think about how you want to change the world or what is needed in your community. What problem do you want to solve? What legacy do you want to leave?”

Jason Knight’s top tip for someone who is just starting a solopreneur career comes from his own experience. When he and his wife Kerry founded the Alderleaf Wilderness college in 2006, they had a clear purpose in mind: to inspire and empower people to become lifelong stewards of the natural world.

The tremendous growth of their business shows how much you can achieve when you know your “why.” Within just a few years, their team grew to 9 core staff members and 20+ guest teachers.

Hundreds of students take their weekend classes and certification programs each year. They even had to purchase additional properties for student housing.

When we asked Jason what he enjoys most about being an online and offline business owner, the first thing he said was “reach.” A surprising answer in a fascinating interview! Find out more about how Jason and his wife make this world a better place, one website visitor at a time.

1. Jason, you co-founded the Alderleaf Wilderness College in 2006. Can you tell us about its history, mission and why you chose Solo Build It! to market the college online?

Sure! Alderleaf began in 2006 as wilderness survival and wildlife tracking courses that I taught on weekends while I was working as a wildlife biologist during the week (I had also been teaching at various wilderness schools for over ten years by that point).

In mid-2007 we launched the Alderleaf Wilderness College website (using SBI!), expanded our weekend course offerings, added guest teachers to the schedule, and announced our coming flagship course, the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program (AWCP).

The AWCP is a comprehensive nine-month course for adults providing the training and certifications needed to apply nature skills in careers as wilderness skills instructors, wildlife field technicians, and sustainability consultants.

My wife, Kerry, had co-founded the school with me, providing logistical support, then helping run the office and admissions, and later becoming the campus/farm manager.

Jason, Kerry and their daughter Kaia
Jason, Kerry and their daughter Kaia

In 2007 we also refined Alderleaf’s mission, which is “To inspire and empower people to become lifelong stewards of the natural world.” We accomplish this mission by providing professional training in nature skills (wilderness survival, wildlife tracking, ethnobotany, naturalist skills, permaculture, and outdoor leadership) that participants can use in their personal and professional lives.

This ecological wisdom empowers our graduates to help educate, guide, and solve environmental challenges.

SBI! had been recommended to us by a friend. We decided it was a great option due to all the training in online marketing/outreach and because the Block Builder function would allow me to build the website without having to know coding.

I also felt the content strategy of SBI! would be a good match for our mission. Some of those who discover our content articles would choose to register for courses and everyone else would still be learning great wilderness skills that would enhance their connection to nature and grow their stewardship ethics.

In 2008 I left my wildlife biologist job (Kerry left her green home cleaning business) and we purchased our main campus property, added staff members, and began our first class of AWCP.

TAKEAWAY #1: To go from offering weekend courses to purchasing a campus and opening a college in just 2 short years is quite the achievement. Congratulations on your courage and determination, Jason and Kerry!

We are proud that Jason chose SBI! to promote the Alderleaf Wilderness College online. A well-structured, content rich niche website is the ideal vehicle to reach a targeted audience. Many service or product sellers start at the wrong end of the Content Traffic PRESell Monetization process.

Before you can monetize, i.e. sell your products or services, you need to a) attract potential customers (aka get traffic) and b) win their trust (aka PREsell). How do you do this? It all starts with creating highest quality content that addresses the needs or desires of your target audience.

Since 2008 the school has grown tremendously. We now see hundreds of students each year in our weekend courses. We’ve implemented numerous permaculture (sustainable living) projects on the main campus.

We teach about 50 students (split into two cohorts) in AWCP each year, and we’ve added an advanced program for graduates of AWCP. We acquired two additional properties for student housing (many students come from out-of-state to study at Alderleaf).

We’ve worked with the Discovery Channel on a couple of their survival shows, trained cast members for the movie Captain Fantastic, and provided customized survival training to many groups such as the WA State Department of Ecology and Seattle Mountaineers.

We now have nine core staff members and work with another 20+ guest teachers. We’re most proud of our alumni – AWCP graduates work at wilderness schools, permaculture farms, wildlife conservation organizations, and national parks all over the country!

TAKEAWAY #2: Most people we interview at the Solo Build It! blog start their business on their own, as “solopreneurs.” When their business grows, they might outsource certain tasks, or hire part-time help.

Being “solo” limits the amount of time for growing the business, which in turn limits size and income. The “true” solopreneur happily accepts that tradeoff – staying small means “keep it simple.”

Jason and his wife Kerry had a different vision. They knew that the type of business they had in mind required staff and logistics. On the spectrum from solo- to entrepreneurship, they are very much on the entrepreneurship end.

If you’d like to learn more about the differences between solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, check out Ken Evoy’s “The State of Solopreneurship” article.

One of the Alderleaf teachers giving a class about mushrooms.
One of the Alderleaf teachers giving a class about mushrooms.

2. How did you decide about your niche? How did you know it was the right topic for you and had great business potential?

There were two main threads that influenced the decision about our niche and showed us it had great potential.

The first is my own experience getting started in the field of wilderness skills education. Many years ago, in the 1990s, when I had finished high school, I knew I wanted to immerse myself in the study of nature skills. However there was no organized long-term program available.

I had to piece together various weekend classes, home study courses, and travel around the country to learn from various wilderness skills experts. I worked with a flexible college that allowed me to design my own degree around these studies. It was great, but very inefficient and a ton of work.

After I finished my degree and was teaching alongside some of my mentors, I kept running into folks like me who wanted to immerse themselves in the same way I had, but they knew they couldn’t organize it for themselves. I also knew of many wilderness schools that were often having a hard time finding qualified instructors to hire.

It was at that time that I realized that I was in a unique position to put together a comprehensive wilderness skills program for those looking to start careers in this field. I had a strong feeling that it had great potential, which was later confirmed.

TAKEAWAY #3: Have you heard the term “product/market fit”? Marc Andreessen, co-founder of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, coined the term in a 2007 blog post, defining it as “being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

Others have expanded on the term. Dan Olson, author of “The Lean Product Playbook” probably explains it best: “This means that your product meets real customer needs and does so in a way that is better than the alternatives.”

Based on his personal experiences, Jason identified the need for a well organized wilderness skills education program. And it wasn’t just his own experience. He kept meeting people who expressed the same need.

He knew there was a market, and that he had the unique skills to deliver a product that was better than the alternatives.

Do you believe you have a unique solution to a problem? Don’t jump right into starting a business. Verify your assumptions first. How? Talk to your potential customers, either offline (as Jason did) or online, e.g. in niche specific forums, Facebook or LinkedIn groups.

Asking about and listening to your (future) audience’s wishes and needs is what we call “The Solopreneur’s #1 Lifeline to Success.

The other thread is that Kerry and I wanted to bring together the fields of wilderness skills and permaculture at Alderleaf, as we believe they are two essential sides to a holistic connection with nature.

If you teach outdoor skills and love the wilderness, it makes sense to live a lifestyle that works with nature and reduces your ecological footprint (the aims of permaculture).

And conversely, if you want to do permaculture (sustainable living skills) well, it makes sense to become a good naturalist (because knowledge of nature is the foundation of good ecological designs). Combining these fields made Alderleaf quite unique and gives our graduates a valuable set of skills to offer employers.

A collection of wilderness survival crafts.
A collection of wilderness survival crafts.

3. Tell us about your philosophy regarding content. How do you know what your prospective customers are looking for? Where does this information come from?

We often look for the overlaps in several sets of information. We use SBI!’s Brainstormer / Master Keyword List tools to see what topics within our niche people are searching for in high volumes, where there aren’t too many web pages about that topic yet.

We then look at the various skills and information we teach and see where there is an overlap between those two lists.

We also survey our class participants, and occasionally our eNews subscribers and website visitors, to find out what they are interested in. Where there’s an overlap with all three lists, we feel is an excellent topic to develop a how-to article, video, or other content.

Sometimes we can also “feed two birds with one seed,” so to speak – where an instructor may need to do additional research for an upcoming course, and by researching and writing a new web article on that topic, they can also use the same information to make a great new handout for the class. That helps us be more efficient with our limited time.

TAKEAWAY #4: That’s an excellent mix of resources and methods Jason uses for his content decisions.

It starts with keyword research. SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool reveals a plethora of keywords (aka topics) that people search for in relation to a certain theme. It also shows how many pages already exist about that topic, or – in other words – how strong the competition is.

When you combine that keyword data with your niche knowledge and first-hand feedback from your target audience, you cannot go wrong. Visitors will love your content, because it’s exactly what they were looking for, which in turn pleases the search engines.

4. You offer wilderness courses, presentations, and programs of varying lengths. How have your offers evolved over time? Did you know from the start that you’d monetize with classes and certification programs?

Every year we analyze enrollment in our various courses to help plan for the following year. Where we had full classes with waiting lists, we add more dates for those courses. Where we had low enrollment, we reduce the amount of times we offer that course or cut it from the next year’s schedule.

We also review our program evaluations and surveys to determine what new classes might be desired. We probably test about two new classes each year.

We did know from the start that the Alderleaf Wilderness Certification Program would be our primary course.

TAKEAWAY #5: Planning your monetization plays a big role during the research phase for your online business. In fact, two full “DAYS” (aka chapters) of the SBI! Action Guide are dedicated to investigating and planning the most suitable monetization options for your niche.

Jason knew from the start that he would monetize mainly via offline courses. What if you are unsure how to monetize? The SBI! Action Guide provides you with a handy “monetization planner worksheet” to work your way through seven monetization possibilities. For each one, you’ll assess how feasible it is for your topic, interest and time availability.

Then you pick your primary monetization model, which you implement as soon as you have a certain number of pages and a steady stream of visitors. Many solopreneurs select passive models like Google AdSense or affiliate marketing as their first monetization model.

They are easy to implement and require little maintenance. On the downside, the profit margin is small, and you need high traffic numbers to make a substantial income.

When your primary monetization model is well underway, watch for opportunities to add secondary income streams and/or optimize your primary monetization model. Jason does an excellent job with this, constantly refining his course program based on student numbers and feedback. It also led him to expand from offline to online courses, as he explains below.

Group of students learning about stone tools.
Group of students learning about stone tools.

5. Your “Essential Wilderness Survival Skills” course is also available as an online course. How does this course do compared to your “real life” classes? What benefits did you see in the course platform (Kajabi Next) which made you choose it above others?

An online survival course has been our most requested class for many years. So many folks visit our website from all over the world and only a portion of those visitors are local or able to travel out to Alderleaf for an in-person class.

We spent many years building the online class which is based on our popular in-person weekend survival course. Within just a few short weeks after launching the online course in November 2017, we had over 120 people enrolled.

We chose the “Kajabi Next” online course platform based on a recommendation from a friend, again for its ease of use (no coding skills needed) and user friendliness for students.

We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from students taking the course. We’ve also been happy with the platform from our end and may upgrade to the New Kajabi next time around.

TAKEAWAY #6: There it is again, Jason’s guiding principle for his business development: listen to your customers! Build a product or service that your audience really wants, not something that you think they might need or want.

(On a side note, Kajabi is one of the third-party products and services that we feature in SBI!’s Resources Headquarters. From productivity tools to shopping platforms to membership software to free image sources, you’ll find best-of-breed vendors in the Resources Headquarters.)

6. You manage quite a big team, with 8 core staff members and over a dozen guest instructors. Can you share some advice with our readers about how to run such a team efficiently?

Jason shows students how to track a fox.
Jason shows students how to track a fox.

Gosh, this is a big topic. Good communication is essential. We have weekly core staff meetings to coordinate all the logistics with each other and check in. It helps that core staff work out of the same office building.

Bringing on highly competent folks who can be mostly self sufficient is very key – learn how to hire well (good job descriptions, thorough interviewing, background checks, reference checks, etc…).

I took a short series of night classes on small business with our local community college and one of the major sections was human resources (HR). It was incredibly helpful.

Have good systems in place. We have an employee handbook and an instructor manual. We keep lesson plans, lecture notes, master schedules, etc.

I’d suggest to try to give folks a lot of flexibility. Think about what things you did and didn’t like about working for different employers and try to emulate the good and avoid the bad. Don’t forget to do fun things together as a staff!

TAKEAWAY #7: Awesome and practicable tips from Jason for efficiently managing a team. We especially like the “learn how to hire well” advice. Another indicator that Jason is a true entrepreneur. In the above mentioned “State of Solopreneurship” article, Ken Evoy wrote:

Solopreneurs become entrepreneurs when they ‘snap’ into a ‘grow a big business’ mindset, when they learn to hire well and build teams that work… when they learn to lead.

Don’t feel intimidated by the ideas of leadership and big business goals. Few solopreneurs start with goals of this size. And many stay solopreneurs, accepting the lower profit potential for the benefit of having more free time. It’s up to you to decide how far you want to grow.

7. You told us that you recently had your “biggest launch ever.” We’d love to hear more about this!

We just wrapped up our first really intentional launch of a new course – for our online survival course “Essential Wilderness Survival Skills”. We followed Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula” (PLF) – a very specific way to get the word out about a new opportunity.

It included us putting out some awesome free video lessons on a few of our favorite survival tips leading up to the launch and sending a series of emails about the course.

It was a lot of work, but we also had a lot of fun getting it out into the world this way. And it seems like the folks who follow us really enjoyed it too.

I think the PLF approach lines up very well with SBI!’s tools, as you really need a good website and an engaged list of newsletter subscribers as a foundation before you can do an effective PLF launch. SBI! helped us do exactly that: we built an excellent website and a highly targeted, large list of subscribers.

TAKEAWAY #8: When you launch a new product or service, meticulous planning and preparation are key, particularly when it’s a higher price item ($200 or more). You want to tease your audience with free, bite-sized nuggets of information, to get them all hungry for when the “full meal” is released.

However, even the best launch plan won’t be very successful if you don’t have a “warm audience,” i.e. website visitors, social media followers and newsletter subscribers who already know and trust you.

Yes, you could try selling your new product or service to a “cold audience” via pay-per-click campaigns (AdWords, BING) or Facebook ads – if you have the budget. And even then, running profitable AdWords or Facebook ads requires a lot of learning, often with costly trial and error phases.

Jason did his launch the right way. By following SBI!’s C T P M process, he built up a large and loyal audience first. Based on feedback from this very audience, he developed a new product (an online course). Then he used a tried and tested process (Jeff Walker’s product launch formula) to get his new course off to an excellent start.

8. What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed you, your life, your family?

I think it’s “reach.” As someone who is passionate about the field of nature education it often feels like there’s so much work that needs to get done to change the world – and so little time.

I love that our mission of spreading nature education & stewardship is able to reach so many people through our website’s reach on the internet. It’s so rewarding to hear about the amazing things that our graduates are doing all over the world (and being online really helps facilitate those continued connections).

TAKEAWAY #9: To date, we’ve interviewed 55+ solopreneurs for the Solo Build It! blog. “Reach,” however, hasn’t come up yet as the most enjoyable part of being an online business owner.

It shows that for Jason and Kerry their business isn’t just a way to make money. It’s their contribution to making this world a better place, one website visitor at a time. They have their “why” pinned down, their true reason behind starting the Alderleaf Wilderness College.

When you start your (online) business, make sure to know your “why.” The financial rewards from a business are great, but if money is your only motivation, you are far more likely to give up when the going gets tough. And it will get tough. There will be obstacles and challenges you had never expected, for example a bear running through your property… Really, a bear? Yep. More on that from Jason…

It’s also awesome to work with such seriously passionate instructors and students who care deeply about the skills taught at the school. I feel like we all show up with a lot of creativity, passion, and drive to do the best we can for our students and the wider world.

Alderleaf is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s great to live on the edge of the Cascade Mountains wilderness and to not have much of a commute (I live on one end of the campus and walk across to work each day).

I get to spend more time on important work projects, more time with my family, and more time in the woods than if I had to spend hours commuting and sitting in traffic every day.

However, the other end of that coin is that you never really leave work either (we get knocks on our door at all times of day/night and weekends) and there’s also been plenty of stints with no days off for many weeks in a row and/or long work-days/nights, etc… for various projects or situations requiring our attention.

Oftentimes things come up that you would never expect – a student having an emergency, a bear running through the property, a water pipe bursting, etc. We like to say there’s never a dull moment around here. There are always at least ten things that need to be fixed and the buck stops at you when you’re the owner.

Discovering elk prints on a trail.
Discovering elk prints on a trail.

Though, in the end, the positives outweigh the rest. Our daughter gets to grow up in an amazing community and place, meeting all the incredible expert guest teachers that come to stay with us.

Kerry manages the campus farm where she gets to immerse in her passions of growing food and raising animals. I still get to to teach many of my favorite wilderness skills classes (like elk trailing, flint knapping arrowheads, and getting out on unique consulting projects).

We really are thankful for this great adventure we get to share!

TAKEAWAY #10: “Alderleaf is the best and hardest thing I’ve ever done.” When you can say this about your business, you know that you’ve made the right choice. You’ve found your life’s purpose. Yes, we know, it sounds corny. Doesn’t make it less true though.

9. And finally… What’s your top tip for someone who is just starting a solopreneur career?

Purpose/Mission – I think it helps to really think about how you want to change the world or what is needed in your community. What problem do you want to solve? What legacy do you want to leave?

Once you know what your purpose/mission/vision is, it will wake you up in the morning, propel you forward, it will drive you to work hard, seek out whatever you need to learn to make it happen, and ultimately provide fulfillment in your career.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  1. Know your “why.” What’s your real reason for starting an online business? Money alone isn’t a sustainable motivator.
  2. Base your niche and content decisions on a smart mix of resources: keyword research, audience feedback and your personal experiences.
  3. Eager to develop a new product or service? Listen to your visitors and customers. Is the product you have in mind really what they want or need?
  4. Remember that content comes first. Even if you already have a product or service to sell, you need to attract the right audience and get them to trust you. A content rich niche website is the best way to achieve this.

Author information

Jason Kinght

Jason Knight is the director, a co-founder, and an instructor at Alderleaf Wilderness College. He has taught nature skills for over two decades, with expertise in wildlife tracking and wilderness survival skills. He is a seasoned wildlife biologist and wilderness educator, having worked with conservation organizations, government agencies, and in the private sector. He consulted as a local wilderness expert for the “Coastal Catastrophe” episode of the Discovery Channel’s Dual Survival television program. He contributed photos to the field guide “Wildlife of the Pacific Northwest” and conducted fieldwork for the book “Tracks & Sign of Reptiles & Amphibians.” Jason also enjoys construction projects on the farm, spending time with his family, and playing guitar.

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