How To Handle Fake Reviews: A Manly Interview

How To Handle Fake Reviews: A Manly Interview

Isn’t there a danger for companies? Somebody is buying all these fake reviews. Can’t you just buy fake positive reviews and then we’ll have this mutually assured destruction kind of thing going on?Jeff Sieh

Throughout history, men who took it upon themselves to invent ever-greater means for fighting war would often state that their intentions were, ultimately, peaceful.

Wilkie Collins wrote in 1870, “I begin to believe in only one civilizing influence-the discovery one of these days of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation and men’s fears will force them to keep the peace.”

Yet history has shown the opposite, over and over again. The gatling gun. Dynamite. Rockets. None of these inventions were successful at forestalling conflict or resolving arguments.

When World War II ended and the United States began to square off against the Soviet Union, the concept of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) was born again, only this time with global ramifications.

While it can be argued that the proliferation of nuclear weapons did create pause in the minds of military leaders, and nuclear annihilation was indeed avoided, conflict in general certainly wasn’t.

Having and using the same weapons of war as their opposing nations did not create a peaceful society. It never does.

Likewise, stooping to the same nefarious tactics as your business competition will never result in positive business growth for you.

Specifically, we’re talking about Fake Reviews, and like Jeff Sieh asked in the quote above, we’re wondering what businesses should do when faced with such unethical behavior.

We know from our in-depth series that a fake review is, “designed specifically to give a false impression to consumers on the point of purchasing.” They can be either positive or negative, and are damaging to both the business and the consumer.

In this interview with Jeff Sieh of Manly Pinterest Tips, Mike Allton talks about the real issues with fake reviews, and explains what businesses can do to actually fight them. Effectively and ethically.

Watch the interview here, and read the transcript below:

Full Interview Transcript:

Jeff Sieh: Hello folks, welcome to the Manly Pinterest Tips podcast show. I’m Jeff Sieh and you’re not. And I am here with my good friend Mike Allton. So this is going to be a different show than normal, because Mike and I were talking, and he’s been having some issues with some things, and I wanted to make sure that we talked about them. Mike, why don’t you tell us your story real quick, and why we are talking about this today?

Mike Allton: For those of you who don’t know, I’m Mike Allton, blogger over at the Social Media Hat.

I’ve been a blogger a long time, social media consultant, but I’m also the chief marketing officer for SiteSell. I’ve been there for three years. SiteSell helps solopreneurs start online businesses. And a couple of months ago we found something that was troubling, was insidious. It was frightening in many respects. We found a couple of negative reviews, which happens to every business, but as we started to read these reviews, they seemed off a little bit.

They were talking about some criticisms that were either really old, like we don’t offer responsive designs, which hasn’t been true for years, or there were criticisms that were just flat out wrong, like we charge for customer support. Who does that?

So we were thinking, “these are weird, where are these coming from?” And as we got into it we discovered that there were a bunch of these negative reviews, and as we studied them we saw this pattern where, number one, they all had a very similar format, a similar style, sometimes the same tone, the same criticisms, and every single one of them always came around at the end to say something to the effect that Solo Build It! might be nice or horrible or whatever they had to say, our number one recommendation is Wealthy Affiliate. And we were asking each other, “What is this all about?”

Turns out these are fake reviews. They’re reviews written by people who either haven’t used our product, haven’t used our services, or are just copying and pasting information, so that they can recommend somebody else. So this is different from somebody who is unhappy and has written a negative review. Like I said, that happens to every business, and there is a certain thing you do when that happens. You try to work with that person.

So there’s a process you can follow to address a negative review, but what do you do about fake reviews? We didn’t know, so that’s what we had to figure out.

Jeff Sieh: I know restaurants have had to deal with bad reviews, and this isn’t something new, and there’s even been I’ve seen reports on restaurants when some competitor comes in and they have all their employees leave negative reviews on sites, but I’ve never seen it, I’ve never heard about it before for another product other than a restaurant where people are going in like this and leaving bad reviews. We’re not just talking about somebody going in and saying my sushi tasted funny, it’s somebody going in and making a fake review, for purposes to either promote themselves or cast a bad light on their competitor. Is that what you’re saying?

Mike Allton: Yes. What we’ve seen in our research is that there are basically two forms that fake reviews come. The first form is what you just said, where you’ve got major sites like Amazon or Google or Yelp, where people are leaving negative comments that aren’t based on their personal experiences. They are either angry or they were directed to do that, and there’s no other financial gain for them, maybe they’re paid to do the review and then that’s it.

What we’ve experienced personally is affiliates of a competing product creating negative reviews to sell that competing product, and they’re doing so based on our brand name space, they’re writing reviews about SiteSell, about Solo Build It!, so that they can turn that reader around into reading another review, a positive review about the competitor.

Jeff Sieh: So are they dropping their affiliate links in? How does this actually benefit them? Is that what they’re doing, are they dropping a special link in there?

Mike Allton: Yes, that’s exactly what they do. Almost every one of these reviews that you would look at follow a very similar format. This happens to other businesses, as we discovered, but in our case they’ll take you step-by-step through some features. Some of the reviews even compliment our product in one respect or another, but at the end there is always a paragraph that says, if you want to know my number one recommendation for building an online business click here.

The link isn’t an affiliate link though. It’s almost always a link to another review that tells them all about the product that they’re recommending, and then in that review there are definitely affiliate links.

Jeff Sieh: It’s kind of a bait and switch kind of a thing, you follow the trail.

Mike Allton: That’s exactly what it is.

Jeff Sieh: So this is kind of a troubling thing, because one, just like through the restaurant sites, you can’t go in and really… first of all let’s talk about why this is such an issue for businesses, because if this is happening in one industry, people are gonna think that it works, or they’re gonna have somebody tell them that it works, and they’re gonna try on their stuff, so why is this such a big deal and an issue for businesses?

Mike Allton: Yes, that’s exactly it. As we’ve been researching this and learning more and more, we’re becoming experts in fake reviews. We’re finding that it’s spreading into many, many other industries, because unfortunately it kind of works.

If you’re selling a service online in some respect, it’s pretty easy to get ranked for the term “Jeff Sieh’s service scam,” “Jeff Sieh’s service review.” It’s pretty easy to create that content, particularly if you’re given a formula and you’re told this is what you write and this is how you write it, and here’s a graphic that will show your readers the benefits and features and so on.

So it’s spreading. It used to be very focused on restaurants, like you said, and then it kind of spread into MLM, like Amway. We found some relatively old articles that talked about that issue, in that industry. Now it’s going into things like online businesses, pretty much anyone that has an affiliate program. A competitor that has an affiliate program is susceptible to this kind of technique.

Jeff Sieh: Well even Carlos here on the comments on CrowdCast said he’s a marketer and he does indoor management for physical products on Amazon, and he said just on Amazon the review problem is a nightmare, so there is a problem for businesses.

We’ve talked about that, and we’ll try to get into some solutions to combat that in a little bit, but why is this such a big deal for consumers? Is it because people aren’t taking the time to track this stuff down, they’re just kind of scanning and they see this product stinks so they’re just gonna go to the next one. Why is it such an issue for consumers?

Mike Allton: There’s a company called Feefo that helps businesses provide a third-party reputable, verifiable review system that lives on their own sites, because most of us aren’t Amazon, so we don’t have our own review system and we don’t have the ability to program that.

You can now have a service provide that you. Feefo is an example, they did a survey a year or so ago of UK online shoppers, a couple of thousand online shoppers, and they found among those online shoppers 74 percent said they were influenced by reviews. So the majority of online shoppers, again 74 percent, said they read reviews and that helped them determine what to buy.

Out of all those shoppers who were surveyed, 81 percent said that they actively looked for negative reviews, because, while most people may not consciously think this way, if they see a product that has 100 percent positive reviews, it’s just all five stars, they really don’t quite believe it, so they look for the negative experiences, the negative reviews.

Which means if your business has one or more fake negative reviews out there, people are actively searching for those negative reviews, and they’re going to find them, and they’re going to read them, and they’re going to be influenced by them.

That’s a little bit of the idea of the impact on businesses, but from an individual’s perspective, that means we’re going to make poor decisions, we’re going to buy something that’s maybe not legitimate, that we’re not going to be happy with, that isn’t what we thought it was. We are just simply misinformed, and that’s potentially wasting money.

It can even have longer impact. It’s one thing if you go on Amazon, and an author has bought a bunch of fake reviews, so now his is the book for that particular category. You buy it, it turns out to be a lousy book, and you’re out a few bucks, and however much time you spent reading it.

What about author number two, who had the number two ranked book? He missed out on a sale, and you missed out on whatever that particular author was offering in his book. Maybe it was genius stuff that could have really helped you. That’s a small issue right there.

You move on from that, but what if it’s something bigger? What if it’s a car, what if it’s a warranty, or a house? There are so many different things that we can buy today. There are reviews available out there for all of them. Positive, negative, fake or real, who knows. Those are all potential situations where we might be influenced incorrectly.

Jeff Sieh:Yeah, I do that. On Amazon I do the split where I can see the most negative review and the most positive review, and I read those to compare if that negative is going to be enough for me to not buy something. When I look for, let’s say, a new dishwasher, the first thing I do is type in the one I’m looking at, Samsung dishwasher review, and see what comes up and start reading. So I can see how this is going to be a big deal.

So what can businesses do about it, because sometimes there’s not even a place to comment for the business to do any sort of rebuttal. On some of them you can, you can answer the questions, and just like Jay Baer talks in his book, hug your haters. This is a great time to do some great customer service and management and those things, but a lot of times you can’t do that. It’s some weird commenting system, or it’s just a star system and their comments are there and you can’t do anything, how does a business handle this?

Mike Allton: You’re absolutely right, Jay Baer continuously provides great advice on how to deal with customers, but we’re not talking about customers, we’re talking about fake reviewers, people who probably aren’t a customer and probably have never been a customer, so they have a different mindset, a different motivation.

Oftentimes their reviews do have comments, because if it’s an organized system of fake reviews, commenting on each other’s reviews is part of the process, because that helps with the ranking, so there will be comments most of the time.

Now whether or not they publish your polite comment that refutes whatever’s incorrect or misinformed about their review, that’s a whole other thing.  They probably won’t.

That’s certainly an option, but the number one most effective tactic is to make sure that you have good, genuine, positive reviews coming out of your own customer base. Joey Coleman, who we saw at Social media Marketing World, another great customer service expert, he talks about making sure that you’re prompting your customers to leave a review to provide some feedback, at the moment they achieve success. Whatever that looks like for your business, whatever that looks like for the customer, at the moment they achieve success, that’s when you want to come in and say, “What did you think? How did you do?”

Which makes complete sense. So as businesses we want to make sure that we’re doing that on a regular basis, whether it’s giving them a link to go leave a review on Amazon, on Google Local, or through Google Merchant, or someplace on our own website. Google is actually encouraging businesses to self-post reviews and have a verification process in place so that you’re Self-hosting reviews from actual customers, that’s number one. Make sure that on your own site and out on the web there are reviews, genuine reviews, both positive and negative, as long as they’re genuine reviews from your customers.

Jeff Sieh: Isn’t there a danger for companies? Somebody is buying all these fake reviews. Can’t you just buy fake positive reviews and then we’ll have this mutually assured destruction kind of thing going on? Is Google taking a stand on this? Because this can be a problem. This is almost going to be like buying fake followers, it can go back into the stuff that they were doing back in the day, the spam, buying links, all this kind of stuff, it feels like that, and Google eventually came in and slapped some people down with the algorithm. Is that coming? Have you heard anything? What are these big platforms doing about this?

Mike Allton: As an individual business, you don’t want to have anything to do with fake reviews yourself, positive or negative. You do not want to be encouraging, paying for, facilitating positive fake reviews, and you certainly don’t want to stoop to your competitors’ levels and be involved in creating fake reviews.

Don’t do that, because yes, Google, Amazon, and others don’t care if it’s a positive or negative review, they care whether it’s fake or genuine, because negative reviews are just as helpful to people as positive reviews can be, if they’re genuine. So they have definitely tried to crack down. They will continue to find new ways to eliminate those from search results and that sort of thing, which potentially could be damning to the business that’s facilitating all of that.

But there are two other issues that we touched on before. Number one, if I’m a customer and I bought your product or service based on a fake positive review and now I have learned the truth about your business, I’m unhappy. I don’t know what that is, but I’m unhappy and that’s a problem.

Worse yet, what if it comes out that you as a business have been buying fake positive reviews? I’ve read news stories about businesses that did that, so you’re risking some truly terrible bad press for what? So you got some fake positive reviews out there, why don’t you just treat your customers great and get some real positive reviews out there and now you don’t have to worry about that.

Jeff Sieh: We said not to buy fake reviews, by stooping to your competitors’ level, so do we just have to take it on the chin? Are there legal recourses you can do? This can really hurt small businesses that don’t have a big legal team. There won’t be any big press release of it, because it’s maybe two small-fry people who are doing this. It’s not going to be a big deal in the news even if it’s public. So what’s a small business to do? What actions can we take other than really working on getting good reviews to drown out those bad reviews? What else can we do as small businesses to combat this?

Mike Allton: First is to take a breath, because this is emotional. It creates all kinds of defensive anger responses as a business owner, particularly, as you said, if a small business owner, even a solopreneur, is a victim of this. It’s upsetting, and you don’t want to try to work the issue from that mindset, so take some time to chill out. You need to do that, that’s got to be part of the process.

Then follow a step-by-step process, as cool and unemotional as you can be.

Number one is to go gather, encourage positive reviews.

Number two is to leave a comment on each individual fake review, at least the ones that are ranking well if you’re facing a bunch of them. Make your comment factual, professional, polite and respectful. Do not try to get into arguments with these people, because that just feeds their whatever.

Step number three, contact the individual author outside of the comment, whether it’s a contact form or email. Use domain Whois to find that kind of information. Let the author know – again, factual, professional – this is what’s wrong about the review, here’s some supporting stuff, and he needs to either change the review or take it down. Tell them that in a very unemotional way, as much as you’re capable of doing.

Jeff Sieh: Do they even care though?

Mike Allton: That’s the thing, they might, they might not. It just depends.

Jeff Sieh: It sounds like these groups are sometimes getting together for nefarious purposes and almost copying and pasting copy that’s been given to them to slam this other company. It’s kind of like a grouping up bullying on the schoolyard kind of thing, so it may not even be worth time messing with those people, because they’re not going to post your comment, they’re not going to take time to answer it, so I guess you have to kind of play that by ear. Am I right?

Mike Allton: Yes. We found mixed results when we did this tactic ourselves. We did exactly this at SiteSell, and some people published our comments verbatim, including links that we put in there, some people stripped out the links but published the comment or edited it in some way, and other people didn’t publish it at all. Some people replied to the email, some people replied to the comment, some people just ignored everything completely. It’s interesting because while this technique we found, it’s called Astroturfing, is illegal. It’s illegal to organize people in this way.

Jeff Sieh: It’s actually illegal?

Mike Allton: It’s actually illegal. Like I said it’s called Astroturfing, which is fake turf. It’s illegal to organize, whether it’s positive or negative, people who are going to provide deliberately disinformation in this way.

What’s interesting is not everybody has the same motivation, and not everybody has the same realization. So while some people might be leaving fake reviews, knowing full well that they’re totally fake, other people, maybe they just don’t know, maybe they read everybody else’s reviews and thought that they were true, so they’re just regurgitating what they’ve been told without coming to the understanding that what they’re doing is wrong.

That’s why I said you might have mixed success as a business reaching out to these people individually. Some people, as we found, might actually be very receptive to taking the time to discover where they have gone off track, where they are now misinforming their readers. They might come to the realization that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea, maybe I shouldn’t be phrasing it that way, maybe I shouldn’t even have had this review published.

We’ve had mixed results. Some of the people we reached out to took down the review right away. Other people have edited them. Still others decided to figure out what’s true and what’s not.

But to get back to your original question, there is the fourth option, which is legal. That’s hard and it’s potentially expensive, and there are layers to it.

If it’s an individual person who has created a fake review that’s potentially defamatory of a business, a product or a service, that’s called trade libel. If it’s a group of people that have been organized to create this fake review system, that’s the Astroturfing that I mentioned before.

You have to be able to prove it. You have to be able to prove damages, and of course you have to be able to pay for the attorneys and that sort of thing. What you can do as an individual is report the fake reviewer to the FTC, or to whatever governing body. If the reviewer is from Canada, there’s a different organization. With a little bit of research you can figure out which country they’re from. There’s probably a governing body that controls what they can say, what they can’t say, what’s legal and what’s illegal.

Try to work it from that route. Like you said that’s hard, it’s time-consuming and it’s a very individualized process. It’s so much more effective to just work with your customers and have as many positive wonderful stories out there as you can get that push those negative reviews down in the rankings.

Jeff Sieh: I wanted to go back a little bit and ask, have you heard anything in your research about what Google is doing, and maybe even Facebook. I know there are reviews on Facebook. Are they doing anything to help with this? Are there going to be any tools? Is there a board you can appeal to, any of that kind of stuff? What have you found out about some of these big platforms?

Mike Allton: Big news from Google is that, for its merchant services, which allow you to process credit cards and that type of thing through Google, what they’re doing is they’re connecting their merchant account with some of the more well-known e-commerce platforms, so that they’re going to be able to verify purchases, and once that’s in place, they will automatically email your new customers a nice note, and a link to go leave a review of the verified purchase. So that’s going to help them demarcate whether or not a specific review comes from an actual customer or not. It’s very similar to what Amazon has been trying to do for a while.

Jeff Sieh: Very cool, so let’s say I’m an individual. I see a product that you guys have, and I’m doing some research. With so much of this going on, and I don’t want to spend a ton of time doing this stuff, how can I spot a fake review? I don’t want to have to dig down through links. What’s the best way to kind of do the smell test on some of these reviews that we see?

Mike Allton: Well the first thing, and this is actually why I’m doing the show, why I’m going to be writing about this more often, is simply having an awareness as a consumer that fake reviews are out there. It wasn’t on my radar. I kind of knew it happens, but I wasn’t aware that it could be happening virtually anywhere as a consumer. So that’s something we want to help people come to the understanding that anywhere you are, if you’re reading reviews, be aware that some of them might be fake. Just having that awareness is going to help you, because then it’s a lot easier for the fake ones to stand out, the ones that are disingenuous.

Once you have that awareness, the second thing is to watch out for clickbait trending keywords like “scam.” Regular people don’t use those words really when we’re writing reviews, particularly about a product that maybe we were unhappy with but that’s not to say that it didn’t do what it was supposed to do.

If I order a blender from Amazon, and it shows up and it’s not the color I ordered, so I send it back, I’m not going to call it a scam. It’s not a scam, but if you see a review that says this blender was a scam because it came red and I ordered pink, that guy is over the top. It goes both ways, I mean you read a review about the same blender from Bob that says it changed his life.

Jeff Sieh: That’s not real either.

Mike Allton: So watch out for those words. When you’re on individual sites, ask yourself why the author is writing this review, what’s the motivation, is there an affiliate link, are they being paid to do this, are they disclosing that? Those are the kind of things to watch out for on an individual basis.

Now, as you’re doing your research for a product, you’ll probably read through a number of different reviews. If you start to notice that they all read and look the same, very similar, that should be another flag. Ask yourself if it’s the case that this product had this impact and people noticed the same thing over and over and over again, or are they being directed? Are you reading a template?

As an individual, the best advice I can give you is to watch out for those fake reviews and ignore them or run away from them as fast as you possibly can. The more time you spend on them, sharing them even, linking to them, commenting on them, any kind of thing like that, actually does more harm than good, because those end up sending positive signals to Google.

Don’t share a bad review with all your friends on Facebook, and say look at this horrible review, it’s so fake, well you just sent a bunch of people to that fake review, and the fake reviewer doesn’t care, they just know that they got a lot of traffic from Facebook.

We noticed in our research, the authors of all these fake reviews are smart. They know they can’t link to the fake review, because now they’re providing link juice, unless they do some doctoring of the links, so all they can do is talk about the product they’re reviewing.

I’m not going to show you all the fake reviews of Solo Build It!, because I’d be sending traffic to those fake reviews, and I don’t want that. The best I could do is screenshots. We don’t want to do that as individuals.

But you can report them if it’s particularly egregious, or, if you’ve actually been harmed, and that’s a big point that I want to make, for viewers and listeners, if you’ve purchased something as a result of the fake review, you potentially have a legal case there as an individual. You’ve potentially been harmed, you’ve potentially wasted money. If you can demonstrate that at all the FTC is going to want to talk to you.

Jeff Sieh: Interesting. So is there anything now that SiteSell is doing moving forward to help mitigate fake reviews?

Mike Allton: Yes, a couple of things. It was really interesting to us, running through this whole process, that this particular competitor was claiming that what we do, they do it better. That’s what their affiliates said, that this was the best system out there. It was kind of cool for us, because as a business that helps create online businesses, it’s easy to compare.

We were able to look at the 17,000 active hosted sites that Wealthy Affiliate has, paying customers, compared to the 10,000 paying active hosted sites that use Solo Build It!. We looked at how they did, so this wasn’t just “Do you offer HTTPS, or do you offer multiple domain names?” Or some other kind of feature by feature comparison. We looked at actual customer performance, to see out of all of those people, who performed the best.

It was actually shocking. I mean we’re Solo Build It!, we’re SiteSell. We assumed that we would be doing better, but we didn’t realize just how much better. We used Alexa, SEMrush and Similar Web. These are three different sites that use different data points to gauge how much traffic a site gets, and then we compared them.

We found that if you’re looking at the top tier of traffic, like an Alexa rank of over a million, SBI! sites performed 33 times better. There are hundreds more Solo Build It! sites in that tier than from Wealthy Affiliate. If you’re looking at the median tier, it’s 10 times better. It’s really only at the bottom tier, where sites get no traffic, where Wealthy Affiliate wins – 87 percent of Wealthy Affiliate sites get undetectable levels of traffic.

So what this means is that the people who join Wealthy Affiliate are not doing well, and new people who join probably aren’t going to do very well. For us that obviously meant there was no basis to their claim. If there was, like I said before, that would be something we would want to look into. If you come to us and your platform is providing a better solution for solopreneurs than we can, first off, that’s not fake, that’s real, and that’s something we have to tip our hat to and say, “Okay, well, can we do better than you?” And if we can’t, we might actually talk to our customers, and our CEO Ken to his credit has actually said this to them, that if there’s another platform out there that’s dramatically better than ours, we would move our customers to that platform, because we care that much about our customers.

But that’s not what we found. It’s not even close to what we found, so we published that as this massive study. We published the results, and we published the methodology, so anybody in the world can go out there and reproduce the exact same study that we did. They’re going to get the same results, they’re going to see that one platform is outstanding for building high-traffic online businesses, real businesses, and the other platform not so much.

So we published that. And to wrap up your question, the next thing we’re doing is talking about fake reviews, and trying to educate people on this, so we actually have a three-part series coming out later this month that really digs deeper into these issues of fake reviews.

Jeff Sieh: Alright, cool. I want to be clear to anybody who’s watching or listening that I don’t have any skin in the game with this. Mike didn’t pay me to do this show, I’m not an affiliate for SiteSell or any of that stuff, but I thought this was a big issue, because I’ve heard it rumbling in the background for a long, long time, and it’s coming more and more to the forefront.

Mike, who is a friend of mine, and I talk a lot, we hang out. He mentioned this and I thought I needed to get this out there, because this doesn’t just affect one company. It’s going to affect a lot of companies, so I just want to make clear, I’m not getting any sponsorship or anything from this company. It’s just me trying to help educate you and bringing Mike on because this is a real issue.

I realized that maybe I needed to go check and see if there are fake reviews being written about me, and then oh my goodness I better do something about this because I did not know this was going on outside of the company, so anyway I just want to make that clear.

Mike, do you have any wrap-up statements you want to talk about fake reviews? We’ll make sure we drop those links to the studies that you have done in the show notes.

Jim [in the comments] says it’s a big issue along with all the negativity from trolls. Yeah, they’re much braver online than they would be face-to-face, that’s true, I call that digital courage, that’s what it is, yeah it’s horrible, and people will say stuff online that they would never say to your face. So it’s very good, and Jim also earlier reinforced what we were saying, negative can be offset by positive, positive, positive, and you need to focus on that, so that’s great advice Jim, thanks for coming by today.

Mike, you have anything to wrap us up with?

Mike Allton: That’s absolutely true. I mentioned the study because obviously there’s something else that SiteSell did, and we were able to do it, and it’s also partly why we’re so interested in continuing these conversations about fake reviews, because not every business could do that, not every business has the ability to use third-party tools to measure the success of their product or service, and compare it to another business, so we kind of lucked out in that respect.

So for everybody else, if you don’t have that as an option, there’s no way for you to have actual measurable proof, then it’s all about the stories, it’s all about the reviews. One of the really, really wonderful things that we are able to do every single week is publish another story from one of our customers. I share this because this is what you all should be doing for your own businesses – talking to your customers, interviewing them, allowing them to bring their stories out about what they’re doing with your products or services, the change, the impact, whatever the case may be. Those are great blog posts, fantastic content. This is something we’ve been doing every single week for months, and they are our most popular posts. People love them, they eat that stuff up. So do that.

Jeff Sieh: They want real-life stories. Real-life stories will win almost every time.

Mike Allton: We’re blessed, because they’re really powerful stories. One of our customers was a farmer in Zimbabwe. They had to leave the country due to a dictator, and they left with nothing. They had to start over, ended up building an online business, and now have a successful online business about Victoria Falls and how beautiful it is in Africa. It’s a really cool story, so those are the things that we’re blessed to be able to share on a regular basis.

Jeff Sieh: And be looking for those stories as a customer, you’re going to have to draw those people.

Mike Allton: You’ve got to ask.

Jeff Sieh: Yes exactly, so Mike, where can people find you online?

Mike Allton: I write at, and like I mentioned earlier, we’ve got that fake review series coming out, so definitely subscribe to the SiteSell newsletter so that you can get that, if you’re interested in this. If you want to know more, if you think this is a real issue for you or your business, definitely reach out to me. I’m happy to have some conversations about it.

We’re also looking for other people to partner with and collaborate with, because this is an issue that we stumbled upon, and there’s just no information out there, not enough awareness, so that’s what we’re trying to do to help our customers, you folks, anybody who might be potentially harmed or victimized by fake reviews.

Jeff Sieh: Very, very cool, and always, I’d love for you guys to go to, click on the sidebar, and subscribe to our email community so you’ll never miss not knowing about a great guest like we have with Mike today. We try to bring you stuff that you may not have thought of, and kind of breaking news in the digital industry as well, so thanks everyone for being here today, we will see you next time, because at Manly Pinterest Tips we’re always adding testosterone one pin at a time, see you next time everybody, thanks.

Wrapping Up

As was mentioned during the interview, we went on to publish a series of articles on fake reviews that stemmed from our research, and the obvious need for increased consumer & business education.

Part 1: What is a Fake Review, and Why Should You Care?

Part 2: Peeling Away The Dark Side Of Internet Marketing

Part 3: Spot ’em and Stop ’em!

Part 4: Tired of Fake Reviews? Let’s Steer a Different Path!

Part 5: Beat the Fake – How to Gather Authentic Reviews for Your Business

Make sure that you have educated yourself and prepared your business for this eventuality.

If you have questions, or have your own fake review horror stories to share, please leave a comment below.

Author information

Mike Allton

Mike is an award-winning blogger, speaker, and author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse where he strengthens relationships with social media educators, influencers and agencies.

The post How To Handle Fake Reviews: A Manly Interview appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.


How Do Solopreneurs Really Do Using WordPress? An In-Depth Look.

How Do Solopreneurs Really Do Using WordPress? An In-Depth Look.

The biggest challenge today that solopreneurs – and really any small business owner faces – is the need to focus.Neal Schaffer

Cut Through the Noise

There are roughly 3.3 million blog posts written every day.

Approximately 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook every day.

And over 500 million tweets are sent every day.

A constant flow of emails, instant messages, notifications and other communications rounds out the info-glut picture.  As a solopreneur, this avalanche of “choose me” hype makes it near-impossible to identify the platform that goes beyond hosting and sitebuilding.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about success.  How do you know what to read or listen to? What advice should you heed, and what should you ignore?  Most importantly, which service delivers your best chance at success?

That’s a big part of what our friend Neal Schaffer is referring to. He goes on to say that, “you are constantly bombarded with information that might not be relevant for you to run a successful business, and therefore it is easy to lose focus on the final objective.”

The “final objective” is, of course, your business success.  Your decision could lead to a rewarding, online business, OR pull you down to wasted time, energy and money (all of which are in short supply for the average solopreneur)!

This brings us to the point of this study, the 4th of its kind.  Previously, these “State of Solopreneurship” studies have performed rigorous, science-quality studies to determine the levels of solopreneur success at Wealthy Affiliate, GoDaddy and Wix vs. Solo Build It! (SBI!).  

In each instance, Solo Build It! members were building many times more (up to 100X greater) high-traffic online businesses.  As SBI! teaches, high-traffic is not the only “win” that matters. But it’s mighty hard to generate income without traffic.

Clearly, where you build your online business matters.  That raises the obvious question…

Why? What’s different about SBI!?  

Every company markets itself as being the best.  Wix builds “stunning websites” while GoDaddy sells reliable hosting and tools. None, though, talk about their success rates.  But what percentage of their customers actually succeed?

These first-of-a-kind studies not only reveal the numbers that matter. They give you the exact methodology to empower you to repeat the studies for yourself (just in case you don’t believe them)!

Why stop there?

Widening The Solopreneur Profile

After seeing how much better Solo Build It! solopreneurs perform,  compared to users of Wealthy Affiliate, GoDaddy and Wix, we decided to test another approach, the most widely used one… WordPress.

As we conducted these studies, we realized that we were actually building a profile of how well (or how badly, as it turns out) most solopreneurs are doing.  Each of these platforms markets to solopreneurs differently…

  • Wealthy Affiliate uses thousands affiliates to create fake reviews against competitors such as SBI!.  The goal is to rank some of them highly enough to mislead. This was the impetus for doing a direct head-to-head study.  The results surprised even us.  
  • GoDaddy is a typical web host, mostly focused on solopreneurs.  They also provide a site builder and other tools, along with articles.  It lacks, however, a dedicated focus on a winning process. While this type of provider tends to attract more sophisticated users, SBI! Significantly outperformed it, too.
  • Wix tends to attract less sophisticated solopreneurs, marketing itself a sitebuilding tool that builds “stunning” websites.  The comparison study with SBI! shows that the typical solopreneur needs much more than just a stunning site.

Each of the three studies compares SBI! to a product that represents a typical example of the major approaches used to attract solopreneurs

  • Wealthy Affiliate (a high-profile example of the “make money online” ilk). This category is loaded with false information from thousands of affiliates – WA pushes this beyond moral limits with false reviews of competing products.
  • GoDaddy (web hosting).  This category typically also offers an optional sitebuilder, other tools, lots of articles and the use of regular FTP, scripting, etc.
  • Wix (sitebuilders).  The marketing emphasis here is on the sitebuilder that builds beautiful sites.  Hosting is included.

WordPress, the most used product, adds tens of millions of solopreneurs.  This study gives us a view of the most commonly used approach of all, widening the solopreneur profile even further.

This study answers how well WordPress (WP) users do.  Its approach is different from the first three…

  • This popular blogging/sitebuilding software is free, highly regarded and extremely flexible thanks to the massive ecosystem of template and plugin vendors.
  • Users purchase regular hosting (or the more expensive “Managed WordPress Hosting”).  While WordPress does offer free hosting, you really do need your own domain and hosting to be considered seriously by search engines.

An extremely popular option, WP’s major disadvantage is the long learning curve for the software and the thousands of templates, plugins, etc.  It tends to attract more sophisticated users, so we would not be surprised to see this study generate the best results yet.

However, the #1 problem for most WP-using solopreneurs is the lack of focus on a winning process.  This, along with no training and little support, could compromise its success results. Interesting!  

This study analyzes exactly how well solopreneurs do with WordPress. And, at the same time, it widens our picture of solopreneur results.

Important:  Like the previous studies, this one also outlines the methodology in so much detail that anyone can perform the study to  check the accuracy of the results. We have discussed at length why this is so important, but in a nutshell it’s this…

Companies that market products to solopreneurs reveal everything but their success rates.   Success, though, is the only outcome that matters to the solopreneur.  While SBI! has long demonstrated and proven SBI!’s high rate of online business success, no one else has.  

And now, these studies go one big step further.  They are the first to provide head-to-head success rates and levels.  

Given the amount of over-hyped and unproven claims in this space, solopreneurs should insist upon objective, rigorous and reproducible studies that reveal actual success rates.

Let’s get right into the methodology and results specific to this study.

How Do WordPress Users Perform?

As mentioned, this series of studies cuts through all marketing claims and gets straight to the bottom line: success rates and levels.  You get an unbiased look at how often, and how high, each platform performs.

Who Uses WordPress?

WordPress powers close to 30% of the websites on the Internet. You can choose to either host at (free) or install WordPress under your own domain, with a dedicated web hosting service.

That means WordPress is both a free platform and a website builder.  Those who choose “free,” though, get very little traffic. Think about it – when was the last time you found a site hosted on WordPress?  The answer is near-zero. This fact impacts the structure of this study…

For this to be a fair, apples-to-apples comparison, we exclude all sites hosted for free by WordPress (the weakest).  Otherwise, the results would be highly lopsided (in favor of SBI!).  

Serious solopreneurs don’t use free hosting.  Therefore, for the purpose of this study, we only include those who choose their own domain name and install WP on a (paid) web host (e.g., GoDaddy, 1&1, HostGator, etc.).

This constraint is favorable to WordPress because many beginners start with the free WP option.  SBI! owners range from raw beginners to sophisticated individuals who have yet to succeed online.  So one of the questions that this study will answer is the following…

Does SBI’s approach overcome the higher level of sophistication and the highly touted flexibility of WP?

WordPress starts, too, with a second advantage…

Large Businesses On WordPress

While SBI! members (SBIers) are 100% solopreneurs, WordPress has many larger customers. So we should expect another bias in favor of WordPress – larger businesses, overall, have the resources and built-in reputation to build more traffic.  

They also have the resources to build traffic using pay per click (PPC) advertising to sell products. Few SBIers buy ads, because they build so much traffic organically.  This also tends to favor WordPress sites.

We chose to accept these WordPress-favoring biases, too, in order to keep the study simple.  Overall, though note that, WordPress starts with some “built-in” traffic advantage due to solopreneur sophistication and the presence of larger companies (with their greater resources).

The study asks 2 questions:

  1. How successful are solopreneurs who use WordPress as their website builder?  The answer will help round out the typical solopreneur experience, too.
  2. How do these results compare to the suite of services included within Solo Build It! (process and training, domain name registration, hosting, website builder, ongoing education and auto-updating, tools, community)?

Let’s proceed to the study, its data, then the analysis.

WordPress Data and Analysis lists 23 million domain names for sites that are built with WordPress.  Its detection process most likely misses some of the most invisible sites, yet another advantage for WP.

The study randomly selects 10,000 sites from this universe of WP sites.  As we have seen in the GoDaddy and Wix studies, 10,000 is a sufficient sample size to deliver statistically significant results. In other words,  the 10,000 sites are a fair representation of all WordPress-built sites.

To keep this study “apples-to-apples,” the process needed to do even more filtering to achieve “apples-to-apples” comparison…

  • Eliminate parked domain names, sites “under construction,” sites that have no content, etc.  SBI! has few of these types of sites, so their elimination yields a fair comparison. A final constraint…
  • Selected sites also had to have a home page and at least five links to internal pages on the same domain name.  The study’s random selection process used these criteria to choose 10,000 “Real Effort” sites.

We use the term Real Effort to designate websites that have a certain level of site-building effort. Filtering out “non-effort” sites yielded the first surprising result…

We had to parse through 24,000 WP domain names, just to find 10,000 Real Effort WP-built, hosted websites. Only 41% of WordPress websites fulfill the Real Effort definition.

As a comparison, GoDaddy and Wix were at 5% vs. SBI!’s 10,000 Real Effort site percentage of 92%.

Conclusion so far?

WP users seem more serious and sophisticated than GoDaddy and Wix users.  But Solo Build It! members still get started more effectively, likely due to the clear, step-by-step Action Guide.

They advance through the early steps significantly better. While there are more conclusions to come, it’s hard to underestimate the importance of this finding…

Effective early progress is one of the most important online success factors.

You have to fine tune your ideas and focus in order to make everything work. You can’t do everything and be everything all at once.Peg Fitzpatrick

WordPress Site Distribution

We conducted a manual review of 500 randomly selected Real Effort WordPress websites (out of the 10,000) to double-check whether this filter had selected similar populations for comparison.

The review confirmed that. It showed this distribution:

  • 442 solopreneur content sites (blogs, infopreneurs, etc.)
  • 30 service sites (lawyers, dentists, service sellers, etc.)
  • 8 local sites (local restaurants, schools, etc.)
  • 7 online stores (small to medium retailers)
  • 7 junk sites (sites with poor content / no real effort)
  • 6 brochure sites (company sites with products/services)

The Real Effort criterion successfully narrowed the study’s focus to legitimate, business-oriented, solopreneur-built websites. Some exceeded “solopreneur” size and scope (i.e., larger companies), but we accept that and other skews in favor of WordPress in order to keep the study simple and reproducible.

Armed with a sufficient “apples-to-apples” sample of active websites from WordPress, we were ready to compare them against online businesses built by solopreneurs using Solo Build It!.

WordPress vs. Solo Build It! – The Results

We’ll review how WordPress and Solo Build It! Real Effort websites performed for each of the three traffic metric tools. First, we summarize the overall results:

  1. SBI! websites are 9 times (9X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than WordPress.

    “Outstanding – Excellent” is defined as being among the top 1,000,000 sites on the Internet (<1M at Alexa, SimilarWeb, SEMrush).

  2. SBI! websites are 3.6 times (3.6X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than WordPress.

    “Medium” level of traffic is defined as websites having traffic that places them among the top one million to ten million websites (1M – 10M at Alexa and SimilarWeb).

  3. 76.4% of WordPress Real Effort websites are Invisible. Solo Build It!’s “Invisible” rate is only 40%.

    “Poor to Invisible” is the lowest traffic category. WordPress nearly doubles Solo Build It!’s lowest traffic range (called “Invisible,” these sites get no detectable traffic).

These results are the averages of all three tools.

Now let’s break down the results of the 10,000 Real Effort WordPress websites versus Solo Build It! websites.

Results – Alexa

First, let’s look across the entire range of website traffic according to Alexa. Alexa ranking ranges appear on the Y-axis and the % of sites in each of those ranges on the X-axis.

The bars on the chart below indicate, of the combined total number of websites that fall within each range, what percentage are WordPress (red) and what percentage are Solo Build It! (blue).

Alexa % Total Website - How Do Solopreneurs Really Do Using WordPress? An In-Depth Look.

Note: The lowest Alexa numbers (rankings) have the highest traffic. For example, #1 ( has the most traffic, so would be included in the 1 to 100K range. Traffic decreases as we move down the graph from the top (i.e., increasing Alexa ranking reflects decreasing traffic).

A clear pattern emerges in the highest traffic category (1-to-1,000,000). SBI! massively outperforms WordPress at each of the 10 ranges. For example, within the best possible Alexa range, 1 – 100K, there are 23 Solo Build It! websites and only 9 WordPress websites – 72% SBI! (23/32) and 28% WordPress (9/32).

This continues until we reach the Alexa ranking range of 1M – 2M (the higher traffic end of “Medium”). From 1M – 2M until 9M – 10M (“Medium” ranges), SBI! continues to outperform. The gap narrows at a fairly steady rate along these ranges until we reach the “Poor to Invisible” ranges.

As we approach “Poor to Invisible,” the gap narrows, with the percentage of low-traffic SBI! sites decreasing rapidly, while increasing with WordPress.

Next, let’s use bar charts to look at the total number of sites that fall within each of the three major categories of traffic (Outstanding – Excellent, Medium, Poor to Invisible).

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 1 – 1M “Outstanding – Excellent”

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 1 - 1M
Solo Build It! sites are 4.91X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 1M – 10M “Medium”

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 1M - 10M
Solo Build It! sites are 2.79X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

An interesting pattern appears here. The ratio of SBI! to WordPress effectiveness is highest at 1-2M (the highest “Medium” range), leveling out at the lower levels of 7-10M. The consistency is striking, with an obvious conclusion…

The SBIer has higher odds of success, and those ratios are highest for the best results. The difference narrows until we reach poor results, which is where the majority of WordPress sites reside.

We can see the continuation of this pattern in the “Poor to Invisible” ranges, where WordPress surpasses SBI! in delivering poor results. The worse the result, the more WordPress “dominates,” as shown here:

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 10M – 20M+ “Poor to Invisible”

Count of websites vs. Alexa Traffic rank of 10M - 20M+
WordPress sites are 1.44X more likely to achieve these poor traffic levels.

Results – SimilarWeb

Here’s how the spectrum of websites ranks according to SimilarWeb:

% Total Real Website Ranks - SimilarWeb

Like Alexa, SimilarWeb ranking starts with #1 at the top and goes “down” from there. As you move down the chart, the SimilarWeb rank increases, reflecting sites that get less and less traffic.

The bars on the chart indicate, of the combined total number of websites that fall within each range, what percentage are WordPress and what percentage are Solo Build It!.

For example, within the best possible SimilarWeb range, 0 – 100K, we found 18 Solo Build It! websites and 5 WordPress websites that fit our criterion for Real Effort. That equates to 78% Solo Build It! (18 websites out of 23 total) and 22% WordPress (5 out of 23).

Next, let’s look at the total number of sites that fall within each of the three major categories of traffic (Outstanding – Excellent, Medium, Poor – Invisible).

Important: Note the identical patterns in the SimilarWeb and Alexa results, a strong confirmation because the two metrics systems generate their numbers differently.

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 1 – 1M “Outstanding – Excellent”

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 1 - 1M
Solo Build It! sites are 5.18X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

This is comparable to the Alexa multiple. While the overall chart results ramp up for SBI! sites, it remains relatively flat for WordPress sites. Only Solo Build It! delivers this level of results at this rate.

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 1M – 10M “Medium”

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 1M - 10M
Solo Build It! sites are 2.96X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 10M – 30M+ “Poor to Invisible”

Count of websites vs. SimilarWeb Traffic rank of 10M - 30M+
WordPress sites are 1.36X more likely to achieve these poor traffic levels.

Results – SEMrush

Finally, here’s how the spectrum of websites ranks according to SEMrush:

Spectrum of websites ranks according to SEMrush

SEMrush presents absolute traffic counts, not “traffic ranking” (as Alexa and SimilarWeb do). So 0 means no organic search traffic.

Note, too, that these results are specifically search traffic.  Search accounts for most of the traffic of most solopreneur sites.  Analyzing this backbone gives us a clean look at the backbone, search traffic.

The bars on the chart indicate, of the combined total number of websites that fall within each range, what percentage are WordPress and what percentage are Solo Build It!.

For example, within one of the highest possible SEMrush ranges, 90K – 100K, we found 27 Solo Build It! websites and 2 WordPress websites that fit our criterion for Real Effort. That equates to 93% Solo Build It! (27 websites out of 29 total) and 7% WordPress (2 out of 29).

You can see how SBI! (blue) dominates at the high-traffic portion of the chart while WordPress (red) takes an increasingly large share as traffic decreases.

Note: In the SEMrush bar charts below, traffic increases as you move down, reflecting more and more traffic from search engines.

Note: In our Wealthy Affiliate study, we performed an analysis that correlated SEMrush organic search traffic numbers to Alexa’s and SimilarWeb’s traffic ranking…

  1. SEMrush traffic of greater than 5,000 was the equivalent of being in the Top 1M sites (“Outstanding to Excellent”)
  2. 100-5,000 was equivalent to “Medium” (1M – 10M)
  3. 0-100 was equivalent to “Poor to Invisible.” (>10M).

We don’t chart these here, but search traffic correlates well with the total traffic of Alexa and SimilarWeb. In fact, the above chart shows the same patterns described in the overall Alexa graph at the change from Top 1M – 2M to 10M and with a sudden burst in percentage of WordPress sites at 0 (no search traffic).

Next, let’s look at the total number of sites that fall within each of the three major categories of traffic (Outstanding – Excellent, Medium, Poor to Invisible).

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 5K – 400K+ “Outstanding – Excellent”

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 5,000 - 400K+
Solo Build It! sites are 17.16X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 100 – 5K “Medium”

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 100 - 5K
Solo Build It! sites are 4.96X more likely to achieve these traffic levels.

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 0 – 100 “Invisible to Poor”

Count of websites vs. SEMrush Organic Traffic of 0 - 100
WordPress sites are 1.87X more likely to achieve these poor traffic levels.

The big picture conclusion here is that SBI! Is particularly effective at driving search traffic, the best traffic of all because it is free, it is targeted, it sustains and it constantly delivers new visitors to you.

Final Analysis

Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the data, let’s come back up for some air. The data (averages of all 3 traffic metrics) shows, in a few different ways, that online businesses started with Solo Build It! get more traffic than those built with WordPress.

Let’s revisit the conclusions (average of Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush) that we shared earlier:

  1. SBI! websites are 9 times (9X) more likely to achieve “Outstanding – Excellent” levels of traffic than WordPress.

    “Outstanding – Excellent” is defined as being among the top one million websites on the Internet (<1M at Alexa and SimilarWeb).

  2. SBI! websites are 3.6 times (3.6X) more likely to achieve “Medium” levels of traffic than WordPress.
  3. “Medium” level of traffic is defined as websites having traffic that places them among the top one million to ten million websites (1M – 10M at Alexa and SimilarWeb)

  4. 76.4% of WordPress Real Effort websites are Invisible. Solo Build It!’s “Invisible” rate is only 40%.

    The “Poor to Invisible” is the lowest traffic category. WordPress “beats” Solo Build It! in the lowest traffic range within this category (called “Invisible,” these sites get no detectable traffic).

The first two conclusions are based upon the total number of Solo Build It! and WordPress sites within each range, averaged across all three traffic metric tools. You are 9X more likely to develop a high-traffic site with Solo Build it! than with WordPress, 3.6X for a medium-traffic site.

If you look solely at SEMrush, Solo Build It! websites outpace WordPress sites by a whopping 17.16X! Why is this so important?

Organic search traffic is important to solopreneurs, who tend to be constrained by money (not just by time!). Whether you monetize passively (where you really need high traffic to earn well) or actively…

More targeted traffic = more income = success.

Final Thoughts on the State of Solopreneurship

We continue to see substantial differences depending on which platform the solopreneur chooses to build her or his website. Once again, SBI! is the difference, and by a large margin, between likely failure vs. a solid chance of success.

SBI! is an all-in-one package of step-by-step process, software tools, comprehensive guidance, 24/7 support and “auto-updating” that enables solopreneurs to build profitable online businesses.

The Action Guide is the step-by-step guidance for executing SBI!’s core process. That process has evolved over 15 years but remains based on the concept of Content Traffic PREsell Monetize (C T P M), automatically updated for significant new changes.

The beauty of C T P M is its simplicity and its evergreen nature. The core business concepts are universal to all businesses. They were valid 500 years ago and will remain valid during these fast changing times.

C T P M is so simple and flexible that it easily integrates major changes as the Internet evolves. Therefore, as search engines become more sophisticated, as the Internet continues to grow more complex, we expect the SBIer’s advantage to grow, not just due to the approach, but also because we constantly simplify and update what’s important.

It makes sense that a service like WordPress would pale in comparison. It offers some great tools and services, but none of the other essential aspects – in particular, the process and the guidance – that help Solo Build It! members achieve so much.

This helps SBIers save an enormous amount of “figure it out” time. Solopreneurs, by definition, have a limited amount of time to invest. They have no time to read extensively (to learn and keep up), for trial and error, nor to make mistakes.

Time is the solopreneur’s biggest enemy. SBI! optimizes its use, giving the SBIer a significant edge over other solopreneurs. Saving time enables SBIers to focus 100% on building their business.

We have also seen how SBI! is especially strong at growing search engine traffic. However,, we focus very little on the details of SEO, proving that it’s the process (and the deep understanding of it), not the tools, that accounts for the results.

This Study also shows, dramatically, that what a site looks like has very little impact on its success. Clearly, you need more than WordPress’s promise of infinite templates (for “a beautiful website”) if you want to build a real online business that generates traffic and revenue.

We’re thrilled with the success that so many of our customers achieve. Those numbers translate into real people. Read these real-life success stories to see what we mean.

It’s more important than ever to help everyday people cut through intense and contradictory noise so that they can focus their time and energy on what’s important – becoming extraordinary.

But what if you’re one of the tens of thousands of would-be solopreneurs who haven’t yet joined Solo Build It!? You have a critical decision to make.

Do you want to start a new online business? Have you been tempted by celebrities or Super Bowl commercials talking about how “it’s easy” to start a website?

It’s critical to remember this:

You’re not starting a website. You’re starting an online business.

There is a world of difference between the two.

You need more than a shiny site builder.

You need more than a promise to have your site up in 5 minutes.

You need more than detailed hosting specs and tool features.  Benefits such as “unlimited domain names” are hype – one serious business is all that most people ever need or have time for.  When solopreneurs succeed, they need to hire more people, not create more websites! And yes, we cover that topic, too.

Bottom Line?  You need and deserve more than “being sold.”

You need to be able to see the real differences between platforms – data-supported results.

Who cares which one offers more domain names or storage space?  Which one offers proven processes that are going to help you succeed?

You need to have access to real reviews and real proof from real people about a company’s track record of success.

Not more marketing hype and fake affiliate claims.

You need a business-building platform and a partner that’s going to do everything possible to help you save your most precious commodity…


We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth exploring further…

Time is the ever-growing challenge facing solopreneurs today. Content Shock is simply another symptom, right alongside Social Media Overload and News Fatigue.

We bring you only the small number of important changes that will help grow your business. This ongoing auto-updating is critical…

Countless voices scream to snag some of your precious minutes. You cannot afford to waste time on anything less than the proven best.

If you’re serious about creating an online business based on your knowledge and passions, one that offers real opportunities for online business success…

The State of Solopreneurship?

As we widen our studies to include more of the most common ways that solopreneurs choose to grow a business, a clear pattern of failure emerges.  We don’t expect that to change until companies start to take your success more seriously than merely selling a product.

The head-to-head studies, when taken together, start to give us an estimate of how solopreneurs do in general. The answer is that the true status is poor, but the odds of success can be multiplied by 30-100X (and more) with SBI!.

Sign up for the Solo Build It! newsletter to be sure you catch all future studies, plus weekly articles to help solopreneurs like you.

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The “solopreneur industry” creates a rosy picture that’s not supported by actual results. We hope that serious companies see this and pick up the pieces and dedicate themselves to truly helping you succeed.

If you insist, they will. If that happens, we’ll enter a new era for solopreneurs – one that fulfills the promise of the Internet.

Yes, that means we’ll see our first serious competition for Solo Build It!. We not only believe in solopreneurs and what they can achieve through online business success, we know that there’s lots of room for way more folks to succeed. In short…

We welcome anything that helps more solopreneurs take advantage of this unique time in history, when the individual can seize control of his/her life by starting a business with so little risk.


Wix / GoDaddy / Wealthy Affiliate / WordPress vs. Solo Build It!

As we complete each study, it’s helpful to compare the results to all previous studies as there are new conclusions that can be reached.

For reference, here are the key charts:

Wix - Percent of Total Real Effort - Alexa Rank Ranges
View the whole Wix Study.

GoDaddy - Percent Real Effort - Alexa Rank Ranges
View the whole GoDaddy Study.

Wealthy Affiliate - Percent Real Effort - Alexa Rank Ranges
View the whole Wealthy Affiliate Study.

WordPress - Percent Real Effort - Alexa Rank Ranges
View the whole WordPress Study (you are here).

These comparisons detail the percentage of each platform’s sites within the Alexa traffic ranges.

Clearly, choosing Solo Build It! means that your chances of building a successful site that drives serious traffic are significantly higher than if you use Wix, GoDaddy, Wealthy Affiliate or WordPress.

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.

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Why Do Millennials Remain So Optimistic – And How Can You?

Why Do Millennials Remain So Optimistic - And How Can You?

As a brand new season awakens with the coming of Spring, small business owners are working hard on their new year goals to optimize growth and success in 2018.

New research from SCORE, mentors to America’s small businesses, shows that overall, 69% small business owners are optimistic about their growth over the next six months. For Millennial business owners – those younger than age 35 years – the optimism is even greater. As many as 82% report feeling very or somewhat optimistic about the year ahead.

This Spring-like positive sentiment remains true for micro-businesses (0-5 employees),  businesses in both rural and urban settings, both on- and offline, and across a diverse group of entrepreneurs. There’s no statistical difference when comparing business owners’ ages, ethnicities or genders.

It’s not all a bed of roses, though. Small business owners report having some serious concerns when it comes to growing their businesses in 2018. The similarities and differences  can be summarized in SCORE’s infographic:

Why Do Millennials Remain So Optimistic -- and How Can You?

Those differences apart, the overall mood is an optimistic one. Great news for entrepreneurs and solopreneurs alike!

So what is it, exactly, that creates an aura of optimism? Why does it matter anyway? And how might we all, as online and offline business owners, learn from it?

Let’s take a look.

Optimist or Pessimist: Which Are You?

Let’s imagine a situation. If you’re new to blogging, it’s one that might be familiar to you.

You’re quite happy with your blog about raising cockatiels. You’re adding content to it several times a week, and you seem to be creating a nice following both there and on your related Facebook page. People leave you nice comments!

Then, one day, you come across another blog, also about cockatiels, and covering other kinds of parrots too. This blog is wonderful! So colorful! So much good content! She has 25,000 followers on Facebook! And she’s written – gasp – an ebook!

Which of these responses is you?

  1. Well, that’s it. I might as well give up now. I can never compete with that. I have no idea about other types of parrots, and I don’t know anything about writing ebooks. And my Facebook community is nothing like that big.
  2. Wow! That’s a nice site. I wonder what I can learn from it? Cockatiels are my passion so I don’t want to stray into other parrot types, but her section on the problems with incubating the golden-collared Macaw has given me some ideas about raising cockatiel babies… Maybe she would be interested in my becoming an affiliate for her ebook – and we could share each other’s Facebook posts.

DespairFor most of us, we might swing from one to the other. Our immediate reaction may be a sweeping feeling of overwhelm – even despair. “That looks perfect and mine isn’t!”

Then, when the initial shock wears off and we think about it, a less pessimistic stance takes hold. Perhaps I could learn. Perhaps we could work together.

The question is, how do we move ourselves from one to the other more quickly, so that our business doesn’t suffer from our overwhelm freeze? What can we learn from the optimism of the Millennials?

And why does it matter, anyway?

Let’s start there.

What Happens If You Lose Your Mojo?

There is a saying in Tibetan:

Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties, no matter how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.Dalai Lama

Sometimes, life sucks.

In our working lives, jobs are lost, income is reduced, roles change to something we never wanted.

If we’re fortunate enough to be solopreneurs or entrepreneurs, our businesses may struggle, our staff cause us problems, the changes in business legislation seem never-ending and utterly incomprehensible.

As the infographic demonstrates, barriers to growth at times seem overwhelming.

In our personal life, people move away from us, fall out with us, get serious illnesses, die. Tragedies happen. Floods. Hurricanes. Earthquakes.

Often, the only control we have in life, and in business, is how we deal with those things.

Have you ever spent time with a pessimist? Have you noticed what your own feelings do in their presence?

If so, you may have noticed feeling increasingly tired. Drained, even. The negativity is like a dark hole that sucks your energy. Your heart sinks when you see that person approaching. You dread the “day from hell” when you’re in a meeting together.

If you spend too long in their presence you start to feel even more stressed. Burned out. Apathetic. Their negativity becomes part of your mindset.

Maybe you eat more. Drink more. Get headaches – migraines, even. Succumb to illness.

Because yes: pessimism can be a killer.

And how will that affect your business? Those around you?

Let me give you a clue. It will not be a positive effect on you, your family, your colleagues or business partners. Pessimism tends not to lead to growth. It blocks development, hinders  self-improvement.

Simply put, as a species, we are innately vulnerable to “catching” other people’s emotions.1

And other people are vulnerable to “catching” ours.

Which is why…

Being Positive Matters to Business

Choose to be optimistic. It feels better.Dalai Lama

What happens to businesses whose owners are optimistic?

People around you are infected by your energy. You make people feel better. Employees enjoy working with you. Customers are charmed by you. For the online solopreneur, your vitality shows in your writing. Your passion shines through. Ideas flow more easily. Sales are likely to follow.

Just being around positive people can be energizing, motivating, and inspiring and is likely to help you work more effectively as partners or as a group.1

Can it really be that simple, though, for online businesses? Could people in the virtual world really be affected by how we’re feeling on any given day?

Christakis and Fowler’s study, published in the British Medical Journal2, found that:

Happiness spreads through social networks, much like a virus, which means that you can be infected with the happiness of someone you’ve never even met, and vice versa.

So yes. It can happen. Being positive, even online, can lead to a positive business outcome.

In Solo Build It!, we call it “BAM.”

Bring BAM to the table, pair it with the right tools and process, and you have success.

5 Steps to Remaining Positive

To remain indifferent to the challenges we face is indefensible. If the goal is noble, whether or not it is realized within our lifetime is largely irrelevant. What we must do, therefore, is to strive and persevere and never give up.Dalai Lama

“As the SCORE infographic demonstrates, a solopreneur’s life is not all a bed of roses. Getting out of bed in the morning and repeating a positive mantra isn’t going to cut it. There are daily issues, both personal and professional, that all of us must face.

Sometimes they can seem pretty overwhelming – insurmountable, even. Sometimes we seem to be able to climb that mountain with relative ease – and maybe the use of an ice-axe or two.

So what makes the difference? And when we feel the mountain is just getting higher, how do we rise above it?

Here are 5 key areas where you can make sure your positivity is at least equal to that of those Millennials – no matter what your age!

1. Be aware of emotional contagion.

Pay attention to your emotional and physical health. Recognize and act on the effects of pessimism – and optimism – on you, and on the people you work with.

It may not be possible to get rid of all the negatives that impact your life. It would be hard never to speak again with your pessimistic parent who’s convinced your business will fail. Business contacts who consistently complain about the state of the nation have to be dealt with.

And, although alcohol is a depressant, sometimes the occasional glass of bubbly is just a necessary celebration of the week’s end!

But you can pay attention to your own emotions, and the impact on you of the emotions of others. Awareness is critical in planning strategies to deal with those situations before they ever arise.

Your aim? To get the best out of those who surround you, whether they’re business contacts, family or friends. And to minimize the damage to your own health and well-being.

Suppose you realize that you’re tensing up at the thought of a telephone call with your pessimistic parent. Is it something you could address directly, without laying blame (for blame will only create a defensive reaction)?

How about this? “I know you mean to look out for me, but sometimes when you’re criticizing the path I’ve chosen, I feel myself getting really tense and unhappy.”

Sometimes, people don’t even realize the impact their own emotions have on others. Drawing it to their attention can be all it takes.

So: minimize the damage done by pessimists. And at the same time, increase the positivity in your life.

Happy PeopleSurround yourself with happy people. Have contact with social media friends who are generally positive in their outlook. Meditate for 15 minutes a day. Drink enough water. Get enough sleep. Go for a walk in the fresh air during your lunch break (you do take a lunch break, right?). Play with your dog. Or cat. Or chickens.

This isn’t rocket science. You’ve heard it before. This time, do something about it.

Make a pledge to yourself about decreasing the negative and increasing the positive parts of your life.

And always remember: your own approach to life will have an impact on your business.

Which leads us to…

2. Listen and learn.

The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.Paul Coelho

Value people who have an impact on your business. Your team, employees, contacts, partners, suppliers, mentors – all rely on you to lead them. So do it by example.

As a solopreneur or entrepreneur you generally wear many hats. During the course of a day you might move from being CEO to marketing manager to content writer to cleaning the bathroom…

And often, in among the busy-ness of business, the important things like relationships, particularly listening to others, get left behind. Far quicker to get on with the work, spurred on by your own vision, your own doctrine.

You may have strong convictions – the best leaders do. But strong convictions can border on stubborn. Great leaders temper convictions with the ability to listen and learn – to compromise, when necessary.

Your customers play an important role here, too. A positive approach and a tone of compromise can convert an angry customer to a lifelong fan.

The result? Those who rely on you feel empowered. Your willingness to listen to and learn from others, to value their skills, knowledge, experience and ideas – no matter how off-the-wall they may sometimes seem to be – creates a positive energy that’s contagious.

Sometimes that will involve taking risks. And, as Robert Kennedy once said:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

But risk-taking can be scary. It can lead to some not very optimistic thoughts. “What if…”

Which leads us to consider how to…

3. Be less than perfect.

As an entrepreneur or solopreneur striving for success, you probably have a purpose in mind…

  • To create the best online resource for visitors to Italy3.
  • To become the most successful vegan cookery coach4.
  • To provide the most effective investigation and security services company in Maryland.5

Creating a legacy is often what inspires business owners, both on- and offline. It makes you want to be the best. The most significant. To have the single most excellent product in your niche.

Which is great. Striving for excellence can create an energy in everyone around you.

As long as you remember: it’s the striving that’s important. The outcome may never be quite the perfection you dream of.


Trying to attain perfection can be a hindranceBecause trying to attain perfection can be a hindrance. Entrepreneurs/solopreneurs who are perfectionists are never satisfied with their own work. Nor are they satisfied with the work of others. Perfection leads to procrastination, and that in turn can cause not just delays in production but frustration in relationships.  

It can lead to a poor balance of work and life. At its extreme, it creates a workaholic who is never quite there, can never quite get that e-book published or that course advertised.  

Not until it’s “perfect.” Except, it never quite is.

And therein lies the road to despair. Unless…

Know your limits. Plan ahead, for sure. Hunt out people who can help and advise you. Do the research.

And then – launch your product, whether that’s an e-book or a blog page or a new method of extracting teeth.

Know it’s not perfect. Know that you can improve it as you go along. Take that risk, and then, listen. Take feedback from customers, colleagues, friends. Aim for continuous improvement, not perfection.


One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn’t exist. Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.Stephen Hawking

…but we, and our business, can always be improved upon.

4. Say “yes!” to your dreams.

If you don’t talk happy, and you never have a dream, then you’ll never have a dream come true!”Rodgers and Hammerstein

It may sometimes seem that only Millennials have dreams. But that’s simply not true. If you’ve lost sight of yours, spend some time finding them again.

Become a Millennial again. What were your hopes and dreams then? And how can you get back to that place?

Remembering, or visualizing, our long-term dreams can revive a flagging positive outlook. Had a bad day at work? Go home, settle down with a cup of your favorite beverage and close your eyes.

Think about where your business could lead. What does success mean to you? Often, “success” is not defined financially 6. It might be…

  • Helping customers solve a problem or fulfill their dream.
  • More time to spend with your family.
  • Learning a new skill (how to build a successful online business, for example!).
  • Meeting like-minded people from all over the world.

Those goals might seem a long way in the future from your current vantage point. How can you make sure you achieve them?

  • See an opportunity in everything by saying not “why?” but “why not?”
  • Test that opportunity. Does it stack up? If not, why not? How could you make it work?
  • Focus. Don’t get distracted by the latest bright shiny object.
  • Let the dream settle in your head for a while. Ask your brain to work out a solution for you. Doing this last thing at night can often have startling results!
  • Find a way of making those dreams come alive. A mentor. A process.

And let that process become your passion.

So, finally…

5. Have fun with your passion.

Don’t think of fun as a reward. Think of it as a responsibility.Sir Richard Branson

Click To Tweet

Sir Richard says it all.

If you have no passion for your business, if you find you don’t care what happens to it, you’ll find it harder and harder to sustain your optimism. The fun that should inspire and motivate your path to success will diminish.

You won’t want to get out of bed that extra hour early to write a new blog page. Your willingness to leave your comfort zone and call that potential joint venture partner will dwindle.

And in those circumstances, pessimism has a nasty habit of taking hold.

So, make sure when you start your business, whether it’s on- or offline, you have a passion for it.

Because when you follow your dream and find your passion, not only optimism but success will follow in your steps.

It’s one of the basic tenets of Solo Build It!: the passion of ordinary people, creating extraordinary successes, every day.7

When passion happens, you’ll be ready to strive for – not perfection – but fulfillment.

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.

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How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 3

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert - Part 3

The 3 Parts:

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 2

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 3 (You are here)

Today’s the day – we’re going to start writing our product review. Excited? Good. Let’s get into it.

If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ll already have gathered invaluable information about…

  • What your potential customer’s pain points, needs or desires are, and the language she uses to express them.
  • How your product can become the key that offers a solution, fills a need or fulfills a desire.

…and you’ll know that…

  • When writing a product review, you’re concentrating on how its features can bridge the gap between where your customer is now, and where she wants to be.
Remember: your sales page is the door through which you lead your customer – the missing link between her strongest problem or desire and your (or your affiliate’s) product.

It’s important to get the product review page right, so let’s take this slowly, one step at a time, and incorporate everything we have already discovered into our content.

Part 1: Where to Start

Here, we’ll:

  • Choose a keyword.
  • Create a main headline.
  • Create subheadings.


Writing Product Reviews - KeywordsIf you’re selling an affiliate product, remember to check the brand name if there is one. Solo Build It!’s “Brainstorm It!” (BI!) helps SBIers research the most popular keywords.

For example, adding “Fontanini,” the name of the snow globe manufacturer I mentioned in Article 2, turns out to be not much use. But BI! reveals “Fontanini snow globe” and “Fontanini nativity set” both have the perfect combination of keyword search demand and low competition.

Main Headline

Here’s an interesting fact: 8 out of 10 people who click across from search results will read your headline. But only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

That’s how important your headline is.

The aim is simple: to get the reader as far as the next sentence.

So it goes without saying that the headline must be compelling, suggesting something the customer will find of great value.

This is where we refer to the information you’ve gathered in your templates, because your headline should address your customer’s biggest problem, most desperate need, or most wanted desire.

That’s what will make her read on!

Questions (to which you know the answer will be “yes”) are a good way to start. And it doesn’t need to be complicated.

Remember I mentioned in Part 1 that one of my best selling products is rat traps?

“Got rats?” is all I use for the headline of that product review. It’s all it needs, because people who have the problem instantly react.

Suppose you’re offering a program for your customer to cut down on her sugar intake. If you know that what she’s searching for is “sugar detox” then the question “Been eating too much sugar recently?” will hook her in.

Task 1:  Choose your keyword, decide what your hook is going to be, and write your page headline.


Your subheadings also need to demand attention and convey value. They have a double imperative: to make clear why the text below is a must-read, and to stop your customer from scrolling endlessly – and leaving the page without buying.

They break up the text, and make reading much easier. They also help keep your reader’s eye moving down the page.

Specifically, your subheadings should relate to each of the benefits you identified in your product.

Task 2: Take each of your product’s benefits – and any negatives – and use them to craft a series of compelling subheadings.

Remember: this is not written in stone. This is a draft.You can always alter it if, when you come to write the content, the subheadings don’t seem to fit.

But writing them now will help keep your product review highly focused.

Part 2: Your First Paragraph

Writing Product Reviews - Falling Into placeThe first paragraph is the most important in the entire review. Your customer will decide that either you understand where she’s at and can do something to help, or you have no idea and she should look elsewhere.

It’s your job to make her not just want, but need, to stay on the page.

So grab your reader’s attention by appealing to her current emotion(s) – which you noted in your template – and expand on the promise you made in your opening headline.

Once you have her emotional attention, she’ll give you her intellectual attention so that you can lay before her all the benefits of this product that will make her life easier.

You’ve referred to her main problem in your headline. Now you’re going to tell her that you know how she feels, and that you know of something that can help. You’re starting to lead her through that door she thought was bolted.

Here’s where you tell your almost-customer what’s in the page for her. Give a clue here as to what the product can do to solve her problem or meet her need or desire.

Your aim is to be very focused on those people who are likely to buy your product. And that focus will likely put off people who are never likely to buy it.

So, go back again to your template notes. What is the biggest benefit you noted? There’s your first sentence.

Here’s an example: (Where the headline is “Got Rats?”) “This electronic rat trap is strong enough to help keep your chicken coop free from rodents – permanently.”

Problem (headline) = rats. Answer (follow-on sentence) = this amazing rat trap. End result: I will help get you, my potential customer, to where you want to be: rat free.

But don’t over-promise. People need more than a rat trap to keep rats away – note the words “help keep…”.

See how things fall into place when you’ve done the preparatory work? Simple, right?!

Task 3: Write your first paragraph.

Refer to your templates. Note which words from template 1 you could use, and the main problem / need / desire you’ve referred to in template 2.

Now write your opening section.

  • Address your customer’s main problem, need or desire. Focus on the one most important  benefit.
  • Refer to how she may be feeling. Use the words you discovered that she uses.
  • Tell her that you understand where she’s coming from because you’ve been there too (if you have!).
  • Summarize why she would find this product of help. Research has shown that using the word “imagine,” if you can do so without forcing it, helps the customer envisage how her world could change.
  • Your aim is to make your customer start to imagine how her world could look if she used this product or service. Help her to visualize the experience.

This opening section will lead into the remainder of the page, which will describe the benefits – and possible drawbacks – of the product.

Part 3: The Rest of the Content

General Tips

  • To be effective, the content of your review must focus on your customer, not on you. Seth Godin calls this “the only radio station people care about – “WII-FM”, aka “What’s in it for me?”!
  • Do not start your review page with the price of the product. You need to talk first about the specific benefits, until your customer feels she has no real option but to buy your product.
  • Remember: you’re not writing a thesis or a scholarly report. The way you learned to write at school or college is not necessarily the best way of connecting with people, unless you’re in a scholarly niche.
  • Keep sentences short. They’re easier to read and understand, and they improve the rhythm of the page.
  • Don’t worry about starting sentences with “and” or “but”, for example. If it’s the way you would talk to the customer if she was sitting in front of you, use them.
  • If you want to really draw attention to a particular feature, try adding in individual words. Take an example from Apple’s ad for the iPhone X…
  • writing product reviews - iPhone X Soon

  • This link is to a great (free) tool to examine your content. Don’t click on the green button, just delete their text from the page and add in your own. If you’ve never used it before, you’ll be surprised what comes up.
  • Don’t feel you have to satisfy it completely though – sometimes it can tell you to do weird things. Use your judgment and your knowledge of the style your customers like.
  • Write so that the potential customer feels like you completely understand her situation – you’ve been there, done that, found the solution / fulfilled your need or desire. Remember, your overall goal is to make her think “Yes! That’s exactly how I feel! This is exactly what I need!”
  • And finally, remember the mantra about not writing a sales page.

Don’t sell to a customer. Talk to a friend.Click To Tweet

Task 4: Write the rest of the content.

Your content sections are now more or less written for you, based on the information you gathered on the templates you downloaded previously. Don’t have the worksheet yet? Sign up to receive it!

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Download the Product Reviews Worksheet


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Leave this field empty if you’re human:

Try to write your product reviews at a time when you’re feeling energetic and positive. Those feelings tend to communicate themselves in our writing.

If you feel unwell one day, schedule your review for the next. But do not use this as an excuse to avoid writing at all! Every day you put off writing is a day’s potential income lost.

Here’s what you’re aiming for:

  • “I feel your pain” – reflecting where your customer is.
  • “I understand” – been there, done that, know where you want to be!
  • “I bet you’ve tried this” (if you know from your research that she’s likely to have tried other products, which haven’t helped).
  • “My solution worked” (or “my / other people’s needs were met”) – a story expressing a belief that your product can help.
  • “Here are the benefits of this product and exactly how it can help.”

So: take both templates, use some of the vocabulary you found your potential customers were using – particularly the emotive words – (template 1) and go through each product benefit you highlighted in template 2.

After you’ve written each section, read it and ask yourself…

  • Why should anyone read this?
  • Am I falling asleep reading this?
  • Do I actively want to read on to the next section?

Let’s Look at an Example.

Here’s the outline of my rat trap product review, told in pictures.

Writing Product Reviews - Told in pictures

… and these were the three main (emotional) benefits I told my potential customers they might expect…

Writing Product Reviews - Expectations

(“What’s that about toes?” I hear you ask. Rats nibble chickens’ toes when they’re roosted. And not in a friendly way. See how much you learn in our articles?)

What If You Haven’t Tried the Product?

We looked at this issue in Part 2 of the series. The same principles apply in the opening section:

  • Refer to the main problem, need or desire.
  • Refer to how your customer may be feeling.
  • Tell your customer that you’ve done research to find out what’s most helped other people.
  • Summarize why they found this particular product of help.

Part 4: Images, Testimonials and Ratings

Images: Although you’re communicating key messages in your headlines, subheadings and text content, images can help sell a product. They help break up the text, they provide an emotional connection, and they show what the product looks like and how it works.

Remember: feeling + information = purchase.

Product images are always good, and if you can include yourself in the image unpacking, creating, holding or using it, so much the better. It helps create that personal connection – and shows it’s an authentic review.

Be creative! Do you make and sell your own products or provide a service? Take a photo of you painting / quilting / cooking / dancing / counselling / with a patient (don’t want to ask permission? Get your partner to play the patient, sitting with back to the camera so the focus is on you).

Remember: images are not only photos. Research shows that 90% of customers say that video helps them make purchasing decisions and 64% say that they’re more likely to buy a product online after they’ve seen a video of it.

Not able to make your own video? Check YouTube for an excellent video of the product in use and embed it in your sales page!

If you don’t have an image of your own of a product you’re selling from an affiliate, use theirs. If you’re not sure about copyright, write and ask.

What if your product doesn’t lend itself to an image – for example a Kindle book, or an online course? Share part of the product itself. You can do this by either allowing access to (for example) the first chapter / lesson, or by telling people in detail what it includes.

Task 5: Find some appropriate images or videos to use in your review.

Testimonials: particularly important if you’re selling your own product, but also possible if you’re selling an affiliate product.

Use testimonials to counteract any issues you found in the research stage that may reduce the likelihood of purchase. An example might be that it’s too expensive: find testimonials saying “Yes, expensive – but so worth it!” or “You get what you pay for.”

For affiliate products, take some comments from the “review” section of the affiliate company’s site. State that’s what you’ve done – something like “Here’s what some people who’ve bought [the product] on [Amazon] are saying.”

For your own products, it’s particularly important that you make clear that these testimonials are not made up! Yes, sadly, it happens a lot, and potential purchasers are wary of “fake reviews.” So wherever possible ask customers if you may use their full name and a photo. The more detail you can add, the better.

Task 6: Find two or three testimonials to use in your product review.

Ratings: Companies like Amazon and Expedia give stars when you review their products. It helps potential customers quickly know whether or not you’re recommending the product.

Ethical reviewsWhy not add this feature into your review? Decide on how many “stars” the item you’re reviewing merits – and be honest about it. If you think it merits five, go for it, but don’t be afraid to score it lower either. Remember: people can become suspicious of reviews that have no negatives.

Have some fun with this. Use stars if you want to – purchasers are used to that system – or make up your own.

On my chicken site I use a system of Golden Eggs – same idea, 5 for great, 1 for not so great…

I reviewed a “sonic rat trap” which supposedly frightens rats off with a noise no-one else can hear. It’s very expensive and it doesn’t work. I’m not even sure it emits any noise at all – who would know?

So I allocated it a rotten egg.

Task 7: What could your site use as its rating symbol? Use stars, or be creative!

Part 5: The Call to Action

You’ve written all your text, added your images, testimonials and rating, and now you’re ready to publish.

Except… you need a Call to Action.

At the end of your review, remind the customer about the benefits she’ll get when she buys and how the pain or inconvenience will go away when she buys, or how amazing she’ll feel when she has that lovely picture hanging on her wall.

Writing Product Reviews - GuaranteeIf you have your own product, consider reducing risk by offering a guarantee. People are terrified of being scammed and taken advantage of on the internet. A guarantee can take that burden off their shoulders. And the good will you’ll get will far outweigh the actual costs in the longer term.

Once you’ve done that, ask them explicitly to buy. You don’t have to do a “hard sell.” If it’s your own digital product, invite people to “download now,” for example. If it’s an affiliate product, “invite” people to click over to the company’s site if they need to see more reviews.

Task 8: Write a Call to Action!

And Finally…

All good things must come to an end, and this series of articles is no exception. Before we finish, here are some wrap-up reminders:

  • What if you write a great review but get no sales? Test, test, test! Ask your colleagues, family, friends, and your audience in your newsletter or social platforms what they think of the review. Your aim is not to get them to buy, necessarily (although they might!) but to see what they genuinely think.
  • When you’ve finished your page, look at it in preview and read it aloud. Does it sound good? Does it flow? Would you be persuaded to buy?
  • Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and her pain, problem, need or desire. Have you led her through that door she felt was barred to her forever, to a place where she feels she has genuinely been helped to a happier life?
  • Finally, probably the most important question to ask yourself when your article is written is this one: have you sprinkled enough unicorn dust over the content to make it a truly magical experience for your reader? In other words…

When I look at this product review page, am I proud of it?

If your answer is a resounding “yes!” then it’s a big “Congratulations” from me – your sales page is finished.

It’s been a genuine pleasure to work with you during this series.

The 3 Parts:

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 2

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 3 (You are here)

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 3 appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 2

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert - Part 2

The 3 Parts:

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 2 (You are here)

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 3 (Coming soon!)

Welcome to the second of three articles in this “How to Write a Stunning Product Review” series.

Let’s begin by recapping Part 1 of this series.

Article 1 is all about the customer: her problems, her pain, her emotions, her language.

  • We talked about a product review or sales page being not about making a hard sale, but about helping the customer.
  • We found that your customer has a critical problem, a need or a desire that she hopes you can solve or fulfill.
  • 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 a product review is to start where your customer is, unlock the door and lead her through.

The key point to remember is:

When writing a sales page, you’re not selling a product. You’re offering a solution, filling a need or fulfilling a desire.

When writing a sales page, you’re not selling a product. You’re offering a solution, filling a need or fulfilling a desire.Click To Tweet

Why are we bothering with this? Because there’s no point putting up a page of links to products and expecting them to sell. Anyone can do that – and a lot of people do – but it simply doesn’t work.

As Solo Build It! teaches, it’s all about the PREselling.

Product Reviews - DoorwayRemember: your sales page is the door through which you need to lead your customer – the missing link between her strongest problem or desire and your (or your affiliate’s) product.

You’re going to harness this and provide proof as to why this product is the one thing that solves her problem or satisfies her desire as completely as possible.

And it won’t look anything like the sales pages of a scammer. It will look and sound like you, helping your customer.

So let’s examine the product we’re about to write a review page for. How can we ensure that it provides a solution and meets our customer’s needs or desires?

Part 1: It’s All About the Product

Remember the formula “feeling + thinking = purchasing”? Today is the “thinking” part.

It’s important that the thinking part – the factual information about the product – links back to the feeling part. That’s where our work lies now.

We’ll split this into two: products you’ve developed yourself, or have owned, used and love, and products you wish you had the money to try but haven’t.

Finally, we’ll look at smaller products, for which this process may feel like overkill.

Let’s start with your own products, or affiliate products you’ve owned and used.

Step 1: Where to Start

There’s a template for you to use, if it would be helpful. Sign up below to receive it, if you don’t already have it!

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Download the Product Reviews Worksheet


<input name="INTERESTS[f908d9b992][]" type="checkbox" value="000bd48adf"

checked=”true”> How To Write Product Reviews Worksheet


Leave this field empty if you’re human:

It will be very important when you come to write your review that you have this information at hand. So don’t just think about it – write it down.

Today’s task is to sit somewhere quiet with a nice cup of your favorite beverage, and think through the benefits your product has.

If this is a product you’ve created yourself, or an affiliate product that you own and use, it’s a fairly straightforward process. You’re giving your personal, individualized feedback on the product: not just its features, but real, authentic information about how it’s helped you.

The template allows for 5 features and their related benefits. If you can only think of 2 or 3, that’s fine.

If there are more, that’s also fine, but bear in mind you don’t want to overload your customer with information. What she’ll want to know most is how this product addresses her (again, we’re using “she” and “her” as a shortcut) most pressing problem, need or desire.

Break this down into small parts.

  • Are there other, similar products your customer is likely to have tried?
  • What makes this particular product stand out above those others?
  • What are its 3 – 5 best features? How did those features work for you?
  • If your product is a solution to a problem, what specific problem does each of its features solve?
  • Whether you’re addressing a problem, need or desire, what are the specific benefits of each feature? List them individually.

Your customer is more likely to buy a product if she can see its features as direct solutions to her problem or an exact match for her need or desire.

  • How do each of those benefits meet the overall needs of your customer?
  • How do each of those benefits meet the emotional needs of your customer?
  • How to they make her life happier, more relaxed – whatever she wants her life to be?

Let’s Look at an Example.

I have a website about Italy, which is where I live. I sell a lot of electric pasta machines on my Italian site.

Product Reviews - Pasta MakerMy Italian friends cannot believe that anyone would want to buy an electric pasta machine at relatively high cost when a bowl, a table and a rolling pin do exactly the same job at less than one tenth of the price.

But the most obvious, and best, feature of the pasta machine is that it automates the process. Flour, egg and water go in. 35 minutes later, push a button and pasta comes out the other end.

And the greatest benefit of that for my customer is one we can all relate to: a saving of time. A working parent of two toddlers may want to give the family fresh pasta for dinner, but time is against her.

What does she feel about that? Perhaps frustrated. Guilty that she’s not able to be a “perfect parent.” Tired, if she tries to make pasta anyway… Stressed, because (at least in her mind) other parents seem to manage to provide healthful meals every day.

How does she want to be? Relaxed. Happy that she’s providing nutritious meals. Glad that her children are learning about, and eating, food that’s not processed.

What solutions does the pasta machine offer, and how will they help make her feel good?

  • The #1 benefit of automating the pasta-making process is that she has more quality time to spend with her two children.

The added, less obvious benefits of that? Perhaps improved relationships with the children. A more relaxed household.

  • A second benefit is that she’s able to feed them nutritious meals that taste good (if you’ve ever tasted really fresh pasta you would never want the dried sort again) and have no additives.

The benefit of that is for her entire family: healthier food means healthy children, an improved lifestyle.

Which may mean fewer doctor’s visits, less time off school, less stress…

And then there are lessons for children about preparing food with fresh ingredients…

See how each separate feature can lead to multiple indirect benefits, many of them emotionally based, which all lead back to how our customer wants to be?

Task 1: Use the template to think through your product, its benefits and, most importantly, how it will make your customer feel.

Step 2: Acknowledge the Negatives

Very few products have absolutely no drawbacks at all, and it’s important to acknowledge that in our reviews.

Why? Because there are too many fake reviews out there that praise products, making no mention of any drawbacks. That’s doing a huge disservice to customers – and will dispel any trust you’ve built up.

So, be honest.

As well as thinking about the positives, consider whether there are any negatives in your product. It may be a missing feature, or a high price. It may be something very specific to the product: for one of my chicken incubators, for example, it’s the fact that high humidity causes some of the moving parts to rust.

If you’re reviewing your own product and it’s already live, look at what your customers are saying. If they’ve not said anything negative, why not ask them? Questions like “how do you think this product could be improved” or “what’s the one thing you’d change about it?” are a good starting point.

If it’s an affiliate product and you can’t think of anything negative, have a look at some reviews. Amazon, of course, is a particularly rich source of information. Look at all the reviews: one or two stars are the obvious ones to read but sometimes reviews of 3 or 4 stars can give more nuanced problems people have come up against.

Are those issues going to stop your customer getting through that barred door? Are the drawbacks enough to put her off buying the product?

Take some time to think about your product drawbacks. How could you overcome them?

If you draw a blank, look for reviews from people who’ve used the product and found it lacking but have overcome the obstacles. Are their solutions something you could also offer to your customer?

Task 2: Think through the potential negatives of the product you want to review and consider potential solutions to those drawbacks. Don’t forget to use the template to keep specific notes.

Part 2: What If You’ve Never Owned the Product or Tried the Service?

Writing about a product we own and love is obviously the best way to write a review. But much as I would love to try out all of Italy’s best hotels to review for my site, I don’t have the money, the time or the inclination (well – maybe the inclination…).

We don’t always have the luxury of testing every product we think will meet our customer’s needs.

So, what then?

Ask other people.

Product Review InterrogationSometimes we can do this in person. Friends or family may have tried it. I know people who have tested out different hotels in Florence that I’ve never stayed at. I badger them for photos and have been known to interview them in horrendous detail.

Sometimes we can ask our most trusted customers. Have they tried this product? What can they tell us?

Be careful about this one. People’s memories can be very selective, and individuals have differing ideas about what’s a necessary feature. Not everyone thinks having six different kinds of tea in their hotel room is critical to their enjoyment of Florence.

Many times, we don’t have either of those options. In that case, the option we do have is to look at other people’s reviews.

Now, this one is tricky. Earlier, I mentioned the phrase “fake reviews.” Amazon, Yelp and TripAdvisor have struggled with this issue for years.

Why? Because reviewers have written reviews not to offer help to prospective customers but to make competitors look worse. It’s particularly prevalent in the hotel and restaurant industry.

(Want to read more about this? Take a look at “Fake Reviews: Peeling Away the Dark Side of Internet Marketing.”)

Some companies, like Amazon and Expedia, have become better at preventing this. They highlight reviews from people who have actually bought the product or stayed at the hotel. They’ve also prosecuted when they’ve found proven fake-ness – but the problem is still there.

So, what should you look for if you’re curating other people’s reviews for your review page?

  • A phrase like “verified purchase” or “by a verified traveller” is a good place to start.
  • This kind of comment:

I received this product for free or at a discount in exchange for my honest, unbiased review

may seem honest, and the intent may well be genuine, but research shows that even with the best of intentions, people who receive goods in return for a review tend to be less critical and more positive, and they give a higher rating than others. (See, for example, this study). Be careful of this type of review.

  • Look for reviews with personal photos. They usually confirm that the person has used the product, stayed at the hotel, eaten at the restaurant.
  • Don’t just look at 5 star or 1 star reviews. Go for the middle ground. Very few products have no flaws at all, very few are utterly dreadful.
  • Look for reviews that tell a personalized story. Some people relate how their family uses a product, or why their dog hates a particular squeaky toy and goes for their slippers instead.

Is This Tantamount to Writing a Fake Review?

Is this a manipulative way of writing a review? Some say it is. Clearly, having personal experience is the ideal.

But this is the real world. Do your research thoroughly and, critically, make clear in your review that’s what you’ve done.

Whatever else you do, do not, ever, make things up to suit your needs.

Your customer will trust your ideas, knowledge, passion, technique and understanding to make a difference to her life – to unlock that door and lead her through to a more contented life.

Abuse that trust at your peril.

Part 3: What About Small Items?

Is it really worth going through all this for a $9.99 ornament from Amazon?

Let’s take another real-life example.

Product Reviews -Italian snowglobeI love Christmas decorations. Love them. I have so many that they half fill our huge loft space (genuinely – just ask my husband).

So I love writing about them. But the fact that I love them doesn’t mean that everyone will. Unless I discover why people in my niche like to buy them (as opposed to why I like to buy them!).

One of my most successful small affiliate products on my Italian site is a $20 snow globe. I sell dozens as soon as we get to August (I know – August! – it’s like wishing your life away!).

Why so successful? It’s not a problem looking for a solution, after all.

It’s successful because it’s hand made in Italy. It’s robust enough to become an heirloom. And I know this particular section of my Italian site’s audience: they’re very proud of their Italian roots, and keen to keep those roots alive for their children and grandchildren.

So that’s where my product review page starts: with an appeal to emotional ties to Italy:

Looking for a unique and relatively inexpensive Christmas gift, hand made in Italy, that can be passed down your family for generations?

Whatever the product you want to review and sell, it all comes back to that issue we always come back to: putting yourself where your audience’s emotions are, using language that resonates, and finding a solution, or an item that satisfies their need or desire.

In terms of how much time to devote to researching and writing about smaller items, give as much or as little as you think your product is going to merit. You’ll be – quite rightly – more prepared to put additional time into thinking about the language to use for your $500 course than the $20 snow globe.

Let’s Summarize.

These are the last of our preparation tasks. If you’ve completed the tasks and used the templates, you now have the background material to help make writing your review a pretty straightforward process.

In the next article, we’ll write our product review pages. Don’t miss it!

The 3 Parts:

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 1

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 2 (You are here)

How To Write Product Reviews That Convert – Part 3 (Coming soon!)

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 2 appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

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!


  • 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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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.

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

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

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

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

  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

  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

As you know, I am a lifelong fan of SiteSell and SBI!. My biggest hits are and, 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 “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 to make a Thinking GRID, which gives hover information and click-through functionality.

With SBI!, anything is possible!!



  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

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

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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., 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  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

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

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

  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.

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