Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags

Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags

The term hashtag (blue in the Google Trends graph below) first appears in the English language around 2009. It took two years to spread beyond pioneers to early adopters.

After 2011, its use grew spectacularly, first to online business folks and then to the average person on the street.

Hashtag Interest

Just as interesting, we see Internet marketing (red) and search engine optimization (yellow) in a downward trend since 2004, while social media marketing (green) has grown slowly since 2009. All show signs of plateauing.

Check out keyword (red) vs. hashtag (blue)

Keyword VS Hashtag

Search interest for keywords starting dropping at about the same time that it rose for hashtags.

None of this means that search engines are unimportant. Search traffic is as important as ever to most solopreneurs.

So What Does It Mean?

Google Trends measures how much any term is searched relative to all others. So the trend line tells us that the concept of SEO (as a detailed science to optimize search results) is dropping in importance.

To avoid confusion, we’re not saying that search engine traffic is not important. It’s still the #1 traffic source for most websites. But Google has become so dominant, and so intelligent, that the best SEO is to blow away your reader with great content.

Google will take it from there. And with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its algorithm, that day is closer than we realize.

More than ever, search results are determined by the offsite signals generated by the quality and relevance of your content. Excellent content drives those signals. Your readers reward you with the offsite signals that Google values so much!

What Does This Have to Do With Hashtags?

Solopreneurs think about content in terms of keywords. They consider how much search demand there is for a given keyword, as well as how many competing web pages there are about that topic. This, along with other inputs, helps determine which content to generate.

Turning our attention to social media marketing now

With hashtags, all the focus is on the number of posts that have a particular hashtag – in other words, the competition. The higher the count

  1. the harder it will be for your video to get into the Top group for that hashtag
  2. the more quickly you’ll scroll out of the chronologically sorted Recent group.

Here’s where search-engine-oriented keyword concepts become important. When writing a web page or blog post, you give consideration to more than just the number of pages competing with you for that keyword.

You also consider how often people search for that term. There’s no point in writing content for a term that has

  1. impossibly high competition. (Solopreneurs can’t compete for generic terms like travel, but can excel in tight travel niches – e.g., Puglia in Italy.)
  2. zero demand. If no one searches for it, your page about it is not going to be found! Simple.

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Hashtags are the keywords of SMM. Surprisingly though, most people do not optimize their choice of hashtags to maximize social engagement.

Avoid unwinnable hashtags (just as you avoid unwinnable keywords). Super-high-supply hashtags turn over too quickly and are used too much by popular sites for most solopreneurs to win with them.

And supply (i.e., competition) is only half the picture.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to get search demand. The real social demand won’t be exactly the same as Google Search, but it will give you a much better sense than using a hunch.

This approach will let you find Demand to Supply mismatches between competition and demand that you can capitalize on! High Demand and Low Supply hashtags are your big opportunity.

Few people think this way, but they will in 10 years. Take advantage now!

Did the part about artificial intelligence grab your attention? It caught ours too. Check out our recent article How AI Is Being Used to Make Solopreneurs More Successful to learn more about how AI is being used.

Author information

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell’s comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

The post Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

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Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags

Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags

The term hashtag (blue in the Google Trends graph below) first appears in the English language around 2009. It took two years to spread beyond pioneers to early adopters.

After 2011, its use grew spectacularly, first to online business folks and then to the average person on the street.

Hashtag Interest

Just as interesting, we see Internet marketing (red) and search engine optimization (yellow) in a downward trend since 2004, while social media marketing (green) has grown slowly since 2009. All show signs of plateauing.

Check out keyword (red) vs. hashtag (blue)

Keyword VS Hashtag

Search interest for keywords starting dropping at about the same time that it rose for hashtags.

None of this means that search engines are unimportant. Search traffic is as important as ever to most solopreneurs.

So What Does It Mean?

Google Trends measures how much any term is searched relative to all others. So the trend line tells us that the concept of SEO (as a detailed science to optimize search results) is dropping in importance.

To avoid confusion, we’re not saying that search engine traffic is not important. It’s still the #1 traffic source for most websites. But Google has become so dominant, and so intelligent, that the best SEO is to blow away your reader with great content.

Google will take it from there. And with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in its algorithm, that day is closer than we realize.

More than ever, search results are determined by the offsite signals generated by the quality and relevance of your content. Excellent content drives those signals. Your readers reward you with the offsite signals that Google values so much!

What Does This Have to Do With Hashtags?

Solopreneurs think about content in terms of keywords. They consider how much search demand there is for a given keyword, as well as how many competing web pages there are about that topic. This, along with other inputs, helps determine which content to generate.

Turning our attention to social media marketing now

With hashtags, all the focus is on the number of posts that have a particular hashtag – in other words, the competition. The higher the count

  1. the harder it will be for your video to get into the Top group for that hashtag
  2. the more quickly you’ll scroll out of the chronologically sorted Recent group.

Here’s where search-engine-oriented keyword concepts become important. When writing a web page or blog post, you give consideration to more than just the number of pages competing with you for that keyword.

You also consider how often people search for that term. There’s no point in writing content for a term that has

  1. impossibly high competition. (Solopreneurs can’t compete for generic terms like travel, but can excel in tight travel niches – e.g., Puglia in Italy.)
  2. zero demand. If no one searches for it, your page about it is not going to be found! Simple.

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Hashtags are the keywords of SMM. Surprisingly though, most people do not optimize their choice of hashtags to maximize social engagement.

Avoid unwinnable hashtags (just as you avoid unwinnable keywords). Super-high-supply hashtags turn over too quickly and are used too much by popular sites for most solopreneurs to win with them.

And supply (i.e., competition) is only half the picture.

Use Google’s Keyword Planner to get search demand. The real social demand won’t be exactly the same as Google Search, but it will give you a much better sense than using a hunch.

This approach will let you find Demand to Supply mismatches between competition and demand that you can capitalize on! High Demand and Low Supply hashtags are your big opportunity.

Few people think this way, but they will in 10 years. Take advantage now!

Did the part about artificial intelligence grab your attention? It caught ours too. Check out our recent article How AI Is Being Used to Make Solopreneurs More Successful to learn more about how AI is being used.

Author information

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell’s comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.

The post Maximize Social Engagement With Optimal Hashtags appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

How This Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle

How this Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle

I love to witness how these everyday people keep fighting for a better life. They inspire me to press through when I need a little motivation myself.

Doug Lee loves a good challenge. When the Internet came around, he was so fascinated that he could meet people in a virtual world that he started an online dating site.

A tech-savvy friend built him a fantastic looking website. Surely, it would only be a matter of time until his customers came pouring in. Eight long years later, Doug’s dating site was still not getting anywhere.

Doug wasn’t going to give up. Instead, he sought help at an organization called SCORE. From then on, the tide changed. Today, Doug is not only a successful solopreneur himself, he helps other people do the same.

Intrigued how he did it? Read on and hear the story from the man himself.

1. Doug, you have a long history in the online business world. Before finding Solo Build It! 10 years ago, you had already learned some hard lessons in failure. Can you tell us more about that?

I began dabbling with the web as it was called in those days along with online business in 1997. I was so intrigued that I could meet people on the internet, I started an online dating website.

I actually met my wife online in 2000. This was at a time when people thought meeting someone on the internet was a crazy thing to do. However, I’m a chance taker, and knew it was no different than meeting someone through a traditional setting.

I must admit that I grew frustrated, because I had already met two other ladies online, but nothing came of it. I had three personal profiles on three different dating sites and deleted two of them.

Before I could take the third profile down, I received a wonderful email from the lady who would become my wife. One of the things she said was I know you live an hour away, so if you’d like to call me you can call collect. Wow, this must be a wonderful person to make such an offer, I thought to myself. Long story short, I did call my wife to be (not collect). We met and the rest is history!

Back then, most dating sites were free to join. With my own dating site, I chose a different route. The type of service I provided was very niche-oriented and only for a small group of people, to whom I sold membership packages.

I didn’t know anything about website design in those early years. Luckily I had a childhood friend who had an incredible talent for creating dynamic-looking sites. He designed a beautiful site for my dating venture. I sold some memberships. I would get very excited when a sale would come, but it was always short-lived.

Dating Site V2
Doug’s first venture into the online business world. Remember, this was in 1997, 20 year ago. For that time, this was state-of-the-art website design.

I mention this, because when the site sold a membership package, it could be several months before the next sale would come through. I would check my email several times every day hoping for a sale, because I really needed the cash.

What I didn’t know back then was that a website needed to have lots of targeted traffic to ultimately become a success. Yes, the site looked fantastic, but looks don’t equal sales.

Unfortunately, I ended up traveling down the road of low traffic and struggling to succeed for eight long years, before the tide would turn.

Although my dating website didn’t succeed, I hit the jackpot when I met my wife online!

TAKEAWAY #1: Looks don’t equal sales. Doug learned this profound online business lesson the hard way. You may have the most stunning looking website, but if no one finds it, what’s the point?

Doug goes on to say that you need to have a lot of targeted traffic (i.e., visitors interested in what you have to offer) to become successful. Correct. Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. So, how do you generate all that traffic?

With high quality, unique and well written content. Fine, you say, but how do I know what content to write? Great question! You’ll know because when you follow the SBI! Action Guide, you will spend the first 5 DAYs (one DAY can be a few hours, a week, or a few months) researching and planning your online business.

This includes keyword research, building a content blueprint, creating a customer thumbnail, selecting your design, deciding about the best domain name, and much more.

Doug didn’t have all that guidance. Solo Build It! didn’t even exist back then. But hey, his dabbling on the Web brought him a lot of street experience and his wife. That’s a pretty big step forward. Let’s hear from Doug what happened next

2. Your turning point came when an organization called SCORE recommended SBI! to you and your wife. What does SCORE do and why did they suggest that you build your online business with SBI!?

In 2007, after many years of failing with the dating site, I wanted to give the whole online business idea another try. But this time, I opted to receive professional advice before getting started.

SCORE is an organization that offers free business advice to small-business owners and up and coming entrepreneurs. They also offer a variety of seminars, training workshops and webinars.

My wife and I wanted to ensure we were going in the right direction this time, so we sat down with a SCORE mentor in our local area. During our session, I inquired about getting a business loan to have a website designed.

My SCORE mentor gave me a piece of advice that would change my life forever.

She said before you pay thousands of dollars for a website, I want you to check out a company called SiteSell. She mentioned their flagship product Solo Build It! (SBI!), an all-in-one system of tools, training and support that would teach me how to build a successful business online.

My only regret was waiting three weeks before watching the SBI! video tour. When I finally viewed the 30 minute video, I was blown away and couldn’t wait to get started.

As I recall, our SCORE mentor had previously worked with another client who had a great experience using Solo Build It!. I am so grateful that my SCORE mentor recommended SBI! to me and led me down the right path 10 years ago.

I’m also honored to have become a recent SCORE success story! It’s been a life changing journey I’m still traveling to this very day!

The great thing about SCORE is they offer free business mentorship through both their local chapters and online!

TAKEAWAY #2: There’s no shame in making mistakes as long as you learn from them. Doug approached his second business attempt differently. He didn’t simply jump into a new idea. He sought professional advice.

Fortunately, for Doug and his wife, his SCORE mentor recommended SBI! to them. SBI! is, hands down, the best way to generate income and build equity through an online business you can be proud of.

Don’t take our word for it. There’s plenty of proof from everyday people just like you. They realized their dreams of personal and financial freedom by building an online business with SBI!. The best part? They love what they do.

3. You then went on to build two niche businesses with child-related topics, which you later sold. How successful were these businesses and why did you decide to sell them?

My wife and I started two websites between 2007 and 2008. I don’t recommend working on two sites at the same time as we did. Although SBI! is the best way to get started, building an online business requires hard work.

Having said that, my wife and I were a great tag-team duo and we made it work. Our son was two years old at the time. We would drop him off at preschool and hurry home to work on our businesses. The short preschool day was less than three hours, so we only had a limited amount of time to work kid-free.

My wife created a toddler niche site for mothers with small children. My site was for parents having child support and visitation issues. Both sites generated a decent monthly income that greatly helped our family. At one point, the income from Google Adsense alone had gotten up to almost $800 per month. In addition, we sold an e-book and made money through affiliate marketing.

Both our niches lent themselves well to visitor questions. SBI! has a fantastic tool called Content 2.0 to manage and respond to visitor questions. Each question and its answer generates a new content page, where you can even add images or embed a video. Other visitors can comment on that page, so it becomes interactive.

Between our two sites, we received hundreds, if not thousands, of Content 2.0 submissions over the years.

About 5 or 6 years after creating our two child-related online businesses, we felt that it was time to let go and sell them. Our son JeNoah had grown out of the toddler stage and we had developed other business interests.

We sold both online businesses and made thousands of dollars. Still, letting them both go was bittersweet. Creating those sites was exciting. I cherish the years we spent working on them. We sold both businesses nearly five years ago, and they are still currently online.

I will admit that I do take a peek at them every now and then for old-times sake. It makes me smile. I am proud that our hard work and memories live on.

It’s funny, you know. I had been online since the late 90’s. So, in the back of my mind, I thought it was too late to start an online business in 2007. I am so glad I was wrong.

TAKEAWAY #3: Some great business lessons in here from Doug:

  1. Focus on one business at time. You wouldn’t launch a barber shop and a hardware store at the same time, would you? It seems easier online, as you don’t need to rent premises, buy inventory or hire people. But you still need to invest a lot of your most precious resource – your time.

    Doug and his wife worked together as a team and chose related niches, so they succeeded in creating two businesses at the same time. But if you’re just one person, stick to one business!

  2. Make it easy for your visitors to interact with and contribute to your site. At a minimum that means enabling commenting on your web pages, for example with Facebook’s commenting tool. Better yet, let your visitors contribute complete pages, either to ask questions or to share their story.

    SBI!’s Content 2.0 (C2) module is the perfect tool for this. For fellow SBI! member Steve Kazella, the thousands of visitor-generated C2 pages on his site played a major role in helping him grow his online business to a 7-figure income.

  3. Your online business, if built the right way, doesn’t just generate income. It builds equity, i.e., value that other people will pay top dollar for, should you decide to sell it (as Doug and his wife did).

4. Another milestone in your solopreneur career was winning the first prize in SBI!’s Offline Affiliate contest back in 2010. Can you share your top tips about affiliate marketing for people who may be considering this as a way of monetizing?

I started selling SBI! as an affiliate in 2007 shortly after getting started with my site. SBI!’s Affiliate program is a great opportunity and I immediately saw the income potential. As I worked on my online business, I would share SBI! with family and friends; over time, the sales started to trickle in.

I learned so much from the Solo Build It! Action Guide that I was able to launch an offline business helping small business owners and solopreneurs. I originally started off by charging a small consulting fee, educating business owners on how to expand their local reach online.

TAKEAWAY #4: More than once, the training and education you receive with SBI! has been compared to getting an M.B.A. degree (for a tiny fraction of the cost!). While the Action Guide is focused on building a business online, what you learn easily translates into the offline world.

Take Melissa Makris, for example. She and her husband launched a massage therapy practice and made it profitable from day one. She says

Even though I had no experience running a local business, I felt confident enough that I could create a website that would bring clients to us. With all of my experience from SBI!, we started bringing in new clients our first month! That is the power of SBI! when you apply it to offline businesses.

Read Melissa’s full story. Back over to Doug and his experience in the offline business world

So, in addition to getting paid a consulting fee, I would also earn an affiliate commission when I sold SBI! to the business owner or entrepreneur. It was a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

Here’s a powerful true story that happened during a session. I was charging $20 per consultation, until one day a patent attorney utilized my services. At the end of the session, he told me he was skeptical to meet with me, because my fee was so inexpensive.

He said: Doug, for the information you just presented, I would’ve happily paid at least $150 for your services.

Can you guess what happened after this session? My prices went up, and I never looked back.

Doug's Desk
Doug uses his many years of experience as an online business owner to help small businesses expand their local reach online.
TAKEAWAY #5: Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure you deliver the best possible service, product or information to your client, and charge accordingly.

We repeatedly hear from SBIers that they feel uncomfortable asking for money. However, as long as you offer value for value, there’s nothing wrong with your visitors knowing that you make money, or with charging your clients an appropriate price.

If you follow the SBI! Content Traffic PREsell process, you’ll arrive at the monetization stage automatically. There’s no need for pushy sales strategies. Your visitors love what you have to offer. And your clients may even tell you that your fee is too low, as Doug’s story shows!

By 2010, I had worked my way up to selling more SBI! subscriptions, due to being hired to conduct seminars and workshops in my local area. I was selling so many subscriptions, I was contacted by Erin, SiteSell’s Affiliate Manager.

She informed me of SBI!’s Offline Affiliate Marketing Contest. The prize for first place was $2,500. I thought there was no way I could win. Nevertheless, I poured on the sales, and to my surprise, I won the contest!

Winning the Offline Affiliate Contest was a huge milestone for me. I’m telling you, receiving the $2,500 cash prize was amazing. I was overjoyed, sent my wife on vacation and even made a copy of the check!

So, here are my top tips for affiliate marketing:

  1. Pick great products and services to market and sell.
  2. If you’re in the business of helping others succeed online, I recommend signing up for the Solo Build It! Affiliate Program. SBI! and its sister product for WordPress (SBI! for WP) are the best in the business and the commission payouts are extremely high.
  3. Don’t be too pushy in your selling approach. Sales people expect you to buy, but good affiliate marketers have a different approach. They present excellent information in a manner where the end user will ultimately want to buy.
TAKEAWAY #6: Let’s expand a bit on Doug’s tip number 3. The approach he refers to is called PREselling.

It’s as important for affiliate marketing as it is for any other way of monetizing. Many affiliate marketers believe they can just put some banners and links up on their site, send their visitors directly to the affiliated merchant and voil, the commission rolls in.

Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. Instead, you need to deliver customer-focused content around the product or service you’re recommending. You provide value on top of what your visitors may find on the merchant’s website. Your content answers their questions or concerns and gives them a better sense of why they might want or need that product.

PREselling through valuable content establishes credibility. Once you have that, your recommendations carry more weight. The difference in conversion rates between visitors who arrive PREsold to your merchant’s site via an in-context text link versus an out-of context banner can be as high as 20-fold.

5. Doug, it seems that your biggest passion is helping everyday people achieve success as online business owners. How do SBI! and SiteSell enable you to follow this passion?

It’s been a tremendous blessing working as a full-time sales person on the SBI! Advisor Team. When I speak with people locally about my profession, they’re amazed I have the flexibility of working from the comfort of my home.

I love what I do here at SiteSell. I’m extremely passionate about helping people understand how they can create a successful online business. Maybe it’s because so many of them remind me of myself. They are everyday people who have a dream, want to generate income and truly have a desire to succeed online.

These solopreneurs come from different ages, backgrounds and ethnic groups. They tell me how much they appreciate the time I spend talking about their individual situation and needs. With so many get rich quick scams and internet marketing schemes, it’s gratifying sharing the truth about online business as a whole.

There’s so much credibility behind SBI!. No other company provides the kind of proof that we do.

A lot of the people I talk to have tried and failed at succeeding online; that includes SBI! members. I’ve been told countless stories of previous SBIers who never got their online businesses off the ground.

Life got in the way. Sometimes it was health issues, a divorce or other challenges we all deal with. But the amazing thing is, these solopreneurs always find their way back home. They reach out again at a better time in their lives, ready to move forward.

I love to witness how these everyday people keep fighting for a better life. They inspire me to press through when I need a little motivation myself.

Even my journey of becoming part of the SBI! Advisor Team wasn’t straightforward. After I won the 2010 Offline Affiliate Contest, I thought getting hired on the sales team would be a sure thing. However, it took two years of persistence, before I was finally brought on board.

Persevering is the Solo Build It! way. I’m thankful SiteSell gave me the opportunity to help others succeed online!

TAKEAWAY #7: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Your first attempt at building an online business failed? So what? It took Thomas Edison thousands of tries to get that lightbulb to work.

As he once famously said, I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

You have one huge advantage compared to Thomas Edison. You have SBI! by your side. With its proven process, integrated tools, helpful community and 24/7 support, you have the best chances to succeed. All you need to bring is perseverance and the will to succeed. We like to call it BAM: Brain, Attitude and Motivation.

What if you start and for whatever reason can’t continue building your business? Simply come back when you’re ready. We’ll be here for you. Just browse through the Introduce Yourself forum to see how many aspiring solopreneurs have returned to SBI!, sometimes after years of absence for a multitude of personal reasons.

6. In your role as Solo Build It! Advisor, what are the top 3 concerns or questions you hear from the people who contact you?

From the many concerns I’ve heard over the years, these are the top 3:

Concern #1: How long does it take to build my website / online business?

What people really want to know when they ask this question is how long it takes to start making money from their online business.

I explain that there are many factors that influence how long it takes. Among others, It depends on how much time you can devote to your site and what niche you chose. I also remind them that they’re building a true online business and not just a website. This takes time and hard work.

I’m very honest in my consultations, which people seem to appreciate. Yes, it takes time and effort, but if you follow the SBI! Action Guide, you have the best chances of creating a successful business online.

TAKEAWAY #8: The key term in Doug’s advice above is business. When you realize that you’re building a business, and not just putting up a website, you’ll manage your expectations about how long it takes to become profitable.

There’s no instant gratification in the business world. Ideally, you have another form of income (e.g., via your day job) while you start your online business in your spare time.

Concern #2: What if I don’t have a topic that I’m passionate about?

I never allow anyone to get off the hook with this concern. Instead, I let them know that everyone knows something about something. This gets them thinking. By the end of our conversation, every single person comes up with at least one or two things they really are passionate about.

To this day, I find it amazing that so many of the people I talked to couldn’t think of a single passion before our conversation, and that I could help them uncover at least one.

TAKEAWAY #9: Finding your perfect business niche starts with making a list. Observe your daily life and write down everything that comes to mind your skills, experiences, daily life activities, books and magazines you read, movies and TV shows you like to watch, topics you just can’t stop talking about, things that upset you or make you feel good.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a niche on your own, SBI! provides a tool (Seed Generator) that helps you do that, based on what you know.

Alternatively, talk to Doug. He’s renowned for not letting you off the hook until you’ve discovered your passion.

Concern #3: What if I don’t have a product to sell?

It’s a common misconception that you can only have an online business when you sell your own products. I explain that there are other ways to monetize, for example with advertising, affiliate marketing or referrals.

In fact, most SBIers start without their own products or services, and still generate income. To give the folks that contact me an idea about the various monetization methods, I like to show them our results page. There they can browse through 500 successful SBI! online businesses, in a wide variety of niches.

TAKEAWAY #10: When you research the business potential of your niche, SBI! provides you with a monetization planner worksheet. You’ll work your way through a number of monetization possibilities, from fully passive (contextual advertising, affiliate marketing) to fully active (creating and selling your own products or offering your own services).

For each monetization option, you’ll assess how feasible it is for your topic, interest and time availability.

Then you’ll pick your primary monetization model, which you’ll implement as soon as you have a certain number of pages and a steady stream of visitors.

When your primary monetization model is well underway, watch for opportunities to add secondary income streams. These, too, should be pre-planned. You should know the big picture of monetization in advance. The details and twists present themselves as you go.

7. And finally With all that experience under your belt, what’s your best piece of advice for someone just starting a solopreneur career?

My best piece of advice for anyone starting a solopreneur career, would be to DO IT! Don’t allow fear or other negative thoughts to get in the way.

It’s been a wonderful 10 year journey for me and my family. It started with a simple but impactful recommendation from my mentor at SCORE. I’ve never looked back. I don’t have a college degree, nor did I further my education. I am a minority in the country where I reside.

My first online business didn’t work out as planned. But I just kept going; I was determined to succeed.

Now is a great time to start a rewarding solopreneur career. SBI! is bigger and better than ever. If a guy like me can create a successful online business, so can you!

What’s holding you back? I’d love to talk to you personally about how SBI! can help you succeed. Please reach out to me via question.sitesell.com.

Author information

Doug Lee

Doug Lee has had a sales and freelance entrepreneurial background since the early 90’s. He’s created successful websites and is also an online business consultant. In 2011, he completed the Building a Successful Business Using the Internet course and is a certified instructor through SiteSell Education. Doug has hosted online visibility seminars for the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce. His current website venture is MyOnePageSite.com. Doug takes pride in his role as a Solo Build It! Sales Advisor. He has a passion for helping solopreneurs succeed online, and he enjoys his friends, family and faith.

The post How This Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed

Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed

As you may have heard, Google is increasingly pushing all websites to move to a more secure structure. This is to keep your personal browsing information and history safe.

In January 2017, Google updated Chrome so that all Chrome users would see a Not Secure warning whenever browsing a website that included password or credit card information fields.

Now, Chrome (version 62) has expanded the warning to include:

  1. when users enter data on an HTTP (non-secure) page
  2. on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode

Eventually, Google’s Chrome browser will show that Not Secure warning to all HTTP pages regardless of incognito mode. Like this:

Google HTTPS Not Secure
Treatment of HTTP pages with user-entered data in Chrome 62

That’s just one of the reasons why this is an important consideration for any website and online business owner. We’ll walk through what the various terms mean, what the ramifications are for switching or not, and what that might entail.

What Do All These Terms Mean?

Here are the common terms and phrases that you’ll see used throughout this article and other resources:

HTTP Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It’s the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.

HTTPS Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. It’s simply the secure version of HTTP.

SSL Stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.

Specifically, SSL is a certificate installed as part of your web host. It makes your site secure. It ensures that all data passed between your site’s server and a user’s browser is encrypted and protected.

When browsing a secure website, you’ll see a SECURE label to the left of the site address in your browser. You can click on that label and view information about the site’s certificate, as well as confirm that any information you may send to that site remains private.

Google HTTPS Secure Address Bar Example

What Exactly Is Google Requiring?

While Google eventually wants all websites to install an SSL Certificate and use HTTPS, the current focus is on any site where information is actively collected from a user.

We’re not talking about aggregate visitor information, such as page views or bounce rate, but rather form fields that you might fill in with information. Such as:

  • Credit Card details
  • Passwords
  • Street Address
  • Phone Number
  • Mother’s Maiden Name
  • Income

And so on.

If your website has any form fields of any kind, as of Chrome version 62, visitors will see a label that your site is not secure if it isn’t using HTTPS.

Here’s a segment from the Google Chrome Dev Summit 2016 talking about the need for HTTPS:

Should Online Businesses Be Worried?

You might be tempted to think that this isn’t a big deal. Who really looks at that label area in the browser anyways, right?

Let me persuade you otherwise..

While you might be right today, over time, more and more Chrome users will be conditioned to think about the security of their data and will be paying attention to whether or not a site is secure.

Eventually, we’ll all come to expect that sites we visit are marked ‘green.’ Which means that your site, if it’s not secure, could begin to have a negative impression on visitors.

What’s more, Google has said since 2014 that the security status of a site is a strong ranking signal. That means, all things being equal, that a site using HTTPS will outrank a site still on HTTP.

And it’s been shown that websites running the HTTPS protocol actually load faster than sites on HTTP!

Combine a negative impression on potential site visitors, a poor Google ranking signal, and a slower performing site, and you have a recipe for search engine disaster.

That’s definitely something to worry about!

What Should Website Owners Do?

Unfortunately, switching to HTTPS may take a bit of work, and it’s not without risks.

SSL certificates can be acquired inexpensively, even free in some cases, and installed relatively quickly with the assistance of your web host. But it’s likely you’ll have more tasks to work through, depending on your website.

First, understand that your website’s URL will now be https:// instead of http://, and that is considered a completely different site. While web traffic (anyone who clicks on a link elsewhere) will go to the https:// version of your site if 301 redirects are used, this change has a number of ramifications.

Images that you have embedded throughout your site, for example, may need to be updated. If the image code used the full http:// URL for the image file, you will need to update that code to use https:// instead.

Similarly, any scripts or CSS files that your site might use must be updated.

If you do not update, Browsers will warn visitors that your website may contain non-secure resources. Why? Because it sees that the site uses HTTPS but some of the images or scripts are called using HTTP URLs.

Second, since HTTPS is a different URL, some of the social networks you’re displaying social proof (share counts) from may be affected.

Some of these share counts might change with HTTPS.

If you’ve had a lot of success with some of your content on social media, losing that visible proof of success may be troubling. Individual network support for HTTP vs. HTTPS, as well as whether they display share counts at all, is changing rapidly. So you’ll want to look up whether your preferred networks will be affected at the time as you consider switching.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, backlinks to your site from other websites may be lost.

If they linked to your domain name, like www.sitesell.com, it will be fine. But if they linked to the full URL of http://www.sitesell.com, that’s a problem. Even though it’s Google that is forcing encouraging the change, they have not integrated this basic knowledge into their search engine.

Since only the owner of a domain name can install an SSL certificate for that domain name, there’s no reason why HTTP and HTTPS links should be treated differently. But they are.

Which means you may be looking at a significant loss of backlinks when transitioning to HTTPS, and that may impact your search rankings and traffic.

Of course, if you don’t switch to HTTPS, you’re very likely facing a loss of ranking and traffic, so it’s really a question of how soon do you want to bite the bullet and get it done.

All in all, if you’re expecting to get a significant amount of search traffic in the next few years, you should plan on switching to HTTPS.Neil Patel

Solo Build It! Has Members’ Backs

Fortunately, if you’re a member of the Solo Build It! community of solopreneurs, SiteSell has you covered.

When Google announced this move toward 100% HTTPS usage, Solo Build It! developers began working on a solution for our members – one that would make it as easy as possible for them to secure their sites, while mitigating as much risk as possible.

Solo Build It! HTTPS Conversion ToolIn September, we released a Site Check tool that allowed members to quickly run a report that identified any potential issues or tasks they should be aware of prior to converting to HTTPS.

For instance, if you had embedded an image using the full http:// URL, the report would let you know that.

Then, after extensive testing, the ability to enable HTTPS was provided to all members! With a click of a button, each member’s site has a free SSL certificate installed and configured, including automatic 301 redirects of all existing HTTP URLs to HTTPS versions for optimum search engine compatibility. (New SBI! members automatically have HTTPS enabled when they register their domain name.)

Additionally, Solo Build It! automatically addresses the following:

Your Site’s URLs

  • Any URLs on your site that reference your own domain name are switched to HTTPS. This includes the RSS feed and XML sitemap.

Google

  • Google Custom Search
  • Google Fonts
  • Google Translate
  • Google Maps

Youtube

  • Video URLs

JQuery

  • JQuery scripts loaded from many popular third-party sites like Google API

Sitesell Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates Program

  • 40 domain names used for the Amazon Associates program (including .co.uk, .ca, .de, .fr)

Affiliate Programs / Advertising Networks

Subscriber / Mailing Lists

  • getresponse.com
  • forms.aweber.com

Social Sharing

  • Twitter Cards
  • Add This

RSS Feed Tools

  • Feed2js.org

Additionally, numerous articles and forum posts were provided leading up to this change to help educate and advise members.

While other services may provide free SSL certificates and an easy way to enable HTTPS, none offer this level of service and ease of conversion!

Wrapping Up

If you haven’t already converted your site to HTTPS, now is the time to consider doing so. The longer you wait, the more likely your site will be negatively impacted.

Think through all the possible scenarios regarding traffic and income. Then base your conversion go or no go on what you determine is the best course of action right now. If you decide to wait until a particular time, take a moment to schedule a review in your calendar.

If your site is seasonal, and your big season is in the next 2-3 months, you may want to hold off on converting to HTTPS until that season ends. On the flip side, if you don’t convert, and there are order forms on your pages, those forms will be flagged as not being secure. So some of your visitors may be scared away from ordering from you.

Solo Build It! members, head over to the forums and Site Central to run the Site Check tool and begin preparing to convert your site.

If you’re hosting your site elsewhere, contact your web host for more information on how they’re supporting Google’s HTTPS requirement.

Want to learn more about everything else Solo Build It! does for our solopreneurs? Start here.

Author information

Mike Allton

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

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

The post Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

How This Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle

How this Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle

I love to witness how these everyday people keep fighting for a better life. They inspire me to press through when I need a little motivation myself.

Doug Lee loves a good challenge. When the Internet came around, he was so fascinated that he could meet people in a virtual world that he started an online dating site.

A tech-savvy friend built him a fantastic looking website. Surely, it would only be a matter of time until his customers came pouring in. Eight long years later, Doug’s dating site was still not getting anywhere.

Doug wasn’t going to give up. Instead, he sought help at an organization called SCORE. From then on, the tide changed. Today, Doug is not only a successful solopreneur himself, he helps other people do the same.

Intrigued how he did it? Read on and hear the story from the man himself.

1. Doug, you have a long history in the online business world. Before finding Solo Build It! 10 years ago, you had already learned some hard lessons in failure. Can you tell us more about that?

I began dabbling with the web as it was called in those days along with online business in 1997. I was so intrigued that I could meet people on the internet, I started an online dating website.

I actually met my wife online in 2000. This was at a time when people thought meeting someone on the internet was a crazy thing to do. However, I’m a chance taker, and knew it was no different than meeting someone through a traditional setting.

I must admit that I grew frustrated, because I had already met two other ladies online, but nothing came of it. I had three personal profiles on three different dating sites and deleted two of them.

Before I could take the third profile down, I received a wonderful email from the lady who would become my wife. One of the things she said was I know you live an hour away, so if you’d like to call me you can call collect. Wow, this must be a wonderful person to make such an offer, I thought to myself. Long story short, I did call my wife to be (not collect). We met and the rest is history!

Back then, most dating sites were free to join. With my own dating site, I chose a different route. The type of service I provided was very niche-oriented and only for a small group of people, to whom I sold membership packages.

I didn’t know anything about website design in those early years. Luckily I had a childhood friend who had an incredible talent for creating dynamic-looking sites. He designed a beautiful site for my dating venture. I sold some memberships. I would get very excited when a sale would come, but it was always short-lived.

Dating Site V2
Doug’s first venture into the online business world. Remember, this was in 1997, 20 year ago. For that time, this was state-of-the-art website design.

I mention this, because when the site sold a membership package, it could be several months before the next sale would come through. I would check my email several times every day hoping for a sale, because I really needed the cash.

What I didn’t know back then was that a website needed to have lots of targeted traffic to ultimately become a success. Yes, the site looked fantastic, but looks don’t equal sales.

Unfortunately, I ended up traveling down the road of low traffic and struggling to succeed for eight long years, before the tide would turn.

Although my dating website didn’t succeed, I hit the jackpot when I met my wife online!

TAKEAWAY #1: Looks don’t equal sales. Doug learned this profound online business lesson the hard way. You may have the most stunning looking website, but if no one finds it, what’s the point?

Doug goes on to say that you need to have a lot of targeted traffic (i.e., visitors interested in what you have to offer) to become successful. Correct. Traffic is the lifeblood of any online business. So, how do you generate all that traffic?

With high quality, unique and well written content. Fine, you say, but how do I know what content to write? Great question! You’ll know because when you follow the SBI! Action Guide, you will spend the first 5 DAYs (one DAY can be a few hours, a week, or a few months) researching and planning your online business.

This includes keyword research, building a content blueprint, creating a customer thumbnail, selecting your design, deciding about the best domain name, and much more.

Doug didn’t have all that guidance. Solo Build It! didn’t even exist back then. But hey, his dabbling on the Web brought him a lot of street experience and his wife. That’s a pretty big step forward. Let’s hear from Doug what happened next

2. Your turning point came when an organization called SCORE recommended SBI! to you and your wife. What does SCORE do and why did they suggest that you build your online business with SBI!?

In 2007, after many years of failing with the dating site, I wanted to give the whole online business idea another try. But this time, I opted to receive professional advice before getting started.

SCORE is an organization that offers free business advice to small-business owners and up and coming entrepreneurs. They also offer a variety of seminars, training workshops and webinars.

My wife and I wanted to ensure we were going in the right direction this time, so we sat down with a SCORE mentor in our local area. During our session, I inquired about getting a business loan to have a website designed.

My SCORE mentor gave me a piece of advice that would change my life forever.

She said before you pay thousands of dollars for a website, I want you to check out a company called SiteSell. She mentioned their flagship product Solo Build It! (SBI!), an all-in-one system of tools, training and support that would teach me how to build a successful business online.

My only regret was waiting three weeks before watching the SBI! video tour. When I finally viewed the 30 minute video, I was blown away and couldn’t wait to get started.

As I recall, our SCORE mentor had previously worked with another client who had a great experience using Solo Build It!. I am so grateful that my SCORE mentor recommended SBI! to me and led me down the right path 10 years ago.

I’m also honored to have become a recent SCORE success story! It’s been a life changing journey I’m still traveling to this very day!

The great thing about SCORE is they offer free business mentorship through both their local chapters and online!

TAKEAWAY #2: There’s no shame in making mistakes as long as you learn from them. Doug approached his second business attempt differently. He didn’t simply jump into a new idea. He sought professional advice.

Fortunately, for Doug and his wife, his SCORE mentor recommended SBI! to them. SBI! is, hands down, the best way to generate income and build equity through an online business you can be proud of.

Don’t take our word for it. There’s plenty of proof from everyday people just like you. They realized their dreams of personal and financial freedom by building an online business with SBI!. The best part? They love what they do.

3. You then went on to build two niche businesses with child-related topics, which you later sold. How successful were these businesses and why did you decide to sell them?

My wife and I started two websites between 2007 and 2008. I don’t recommend working on two sites at the same time as we did. Although SBI! is the best way to get started, building an online business requires hard work.

Having said that, my wife and I were a great tag-team duo and we made it work. Our son was two years old at the time. We would drop him off at preschool and hurry home to work on our businesses. The short preschool day was less than three hours, so we only had a limited amount of time to work kid-free.

My wife created a toddler niche site for mothers with small children. My site was for parents having child support and visitation issues. Both sites generated a decent monthly income that greatly helped our family. At one point, the income from Google Adsense alone had gotten up to almost $800 per month. In addition, we sold an e-book and made money through affiliate marketing.

Both our niches lent themselves well to visitor questions. SBI! has a fantastic tool called Content 2.0 to manage and respond to visitor questions. Each question and its answer generates a new content page, where you can even add images or embed a video. Other visitors can comment on that page, so it becomes interactive.

Between our two sites, we received hundreds, if not thousands, of Content 2.0 submissions over the years.

About 5 or 6 years after creating our two child-related online businesses, we felt that it was time to let go and sell them. Our son JeNoah had grown out of the toddler stage and we had developed other business interests.

We sold both online businesses and made thousands of dollars. Still, letting them both go was bittersweet. Creating those sites was exciting. I cherish the years we spent working on them. We sold both businesses nearly five years ago, and they are still currently online.

I will admit that I do take a peek at them every now and then for old-times sake. It makes me smile. I am proud that our hard work and memories live on.

It’s funny, you know. I had been online since the late 90’s. So, in the back of my mind, I thought it was too late to start an online business in 2007. I am so glad I was wrong.

TAKEAWAY #3: Some great business lessons in here from Doug:

  1. Focus on one business at time. You wouldn’t launch a barber shop and a hardware store at the same time, would you? It seems easier online, as you don’t need to rent premises, buy inventory or hire people. But you still need to invest a lot of your most precious resource – your time.

    Doug and his wife worked together as a team and chose related niches, so they succeeded in creating two businesses at the same time. But if you’re just one person, stick to one business!

  2. Make it easy for your visitors to interact with and contribute to your site. At a minimum that means enabling commenting on your web pages, for example with Facebook’s commenting tool. Better yet, let your visitors contribute complete pages, either to ask questions or to share their story.

    SBI!’s Content 2.0 (C2) module is the perfect tool for this. For fellow SBI! member Steve Kazella, the thousands of visitor-generated C2 pages on his site played a major role in helping him grow his online business to a 7-figure income.

  3. Your online business, if built the right way, doesn’t just generate income. It builds equity, i.e., value that other people will pay top dollar for, should you decide to sell it (as Doug and his wife did).

4. Another milestone in your solopreneur career was winning the first prize in SBI!’s Offline Affiliate contest back in 2010. Can you share your top tips about affiliate marketing for people who may be considering this as a way of monetizing?

I started selling SBI! as an affiliate in 2007 shortly after getting started with my site. SBI!’s Affiliate program is a great opportunity and I immediately saw the income potential. As I worked on my online business, I would share SBI! with family and friends; over time, the sales started to trickle in.

I learned so much from the Solo Build It! Action Guide that I was able to launch an offline business helping small business owners and solopreneurs. I originally started off by charging a small consulting fee, educating business owners on how to expand their local reach online.

TAKEAWAY #4: More than once, the training and education you receive with SBI! has been compared to getting an M.B.A. degree (for a tiny fraction of the cost!). While the Action Guide is focused on building a business online, what you learn easily translates into the offline world.

Take Melissa Makris, for example. She and her husband launched a massage therapy practice and made it profitable from day one. She says

Even though I had no experience running a local business, I felt confident enough that I could create a website that would bring clients to us. With all of my experience from SBI!, we started bringing in new clients our first month! That is the power of SBI! when you apply it to offline businesses.

Read Melissa’s full story. Back over to Doug and his experience in the offline business world

So, in addition to getting paid a consulting fee, I would also earn an affiliate commission when I sold SBI! to the business owner or entrepreneur. It was a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

Here’s a powerful true story that happened during a session. I was charging $20 per consultation, until one day a patent attorney utilized my services. At the end of the session, he told me he was skeptical to meet with me, because my fee was so inexpensive.

He said: Doug, for the information you just presented, I would’ve happily paid at least $150 for your services.

Can you guess what happened after this session? My prices went up, and I never looked back.

Doug's Desk
Doug uses his many years of experience as an online business owner to help small businesses expand their local reach online.
TAKEAWAY #5: Don’t sell yourself short. Make sure you deliver the best possible service, product or information to your client, and charge accordingly.

We repeatedly hear from SBIers that they feel uncomfortable asking for money. However, as long as you offer value for value, there’s nothing wrong with your visitors knowing that you make money, or with charging your clients an appropriate price.

If you follow the SBI! Content Traffic PREsell process, you’ll arrive at the monetization stage automatically. There’s no need for pushy sales strategies. Your visitors love what you have to offer. And your clients may even tell you that your fee is too low, as Doug’s story shows!

By 2010, I had worked my way up to selling more SBI! subscriptions, due to being hired to conduct seminars and workshops in my local area. I was selling so many subscriptions, I was contacted by Erin, SiteSell’s Affiliate Manager.

She informed me of SBI!’s Offline Affiliate Marketing Contest. The prize for first place was $2,500. I thought there was no way I could win. Nevertheless, I poured on the sales, and to my surprise, I won the contest!

Winning the Offline Affiliate Contest was a huge milestone for me. I’m telling you, receiving the $2,500 cash prize was amazing. I was overjoyed, sent my wife on vacation and even made a copy of the check!

So, here are my top tips for affiliate marketing:

  1. Pick great products and services to market and sell.
  2. If you’re in the business of helping others succeed online, I recommend signing up for the Solo Build It! Affiliate Program. SBI! and its sister product for WordPress (SBI! for WP) are the best in the business and the commission payouts are extremely high.
  3. Don’t be too pushy in your selling approach. Sales people expect you to buy, but good affiliate marketers have a different approach. They present excellent information in a manner where the end user will ultimately want to buy.
TAKEAWAY #6: Let’s expand a bit on Doug’s tip number 3. The approach he refers to is called PREselling.

It’s as important for affiliate marketing as it is for any other way of monetizing. Many affiliate marketers believe they can just put some banners and links up on their site, send their visitors directly to the affiliated merchant and voil, the commission rolls in.

Sorry. It doesn’t work that way. Instead, you need to deliver customer-focused content around the product or service you’re recommending. You provide value on top of what your visitors may find on the merchant’s website. Your content answers their questions or concerns and gives them a better sense of why they might want or need that product.

PREselling through valuable content establishes credibility. Once you have that, your recommendations carry more weight. The difference in conversion rates between visitors who arrive PREsold to your merchant’s site via an in-context text link versus an out-of context banner can be as high as 20-fold.

5. Doug, it seems that your biggest passion is helping everyday people achieve success as online business owners. How do SBI! and SiteSell enable you to follow this passion?

It’s been a tremendous blessing working as a full-time sales person on the SBI! Advisor Team. When I speak with people locally about my profession, they’re amazed I have the flexibility of working from the comfort of my home.

I love what I do here at SiteSell. I’m extremely passionate about helping people understand how they can create a successful online business. Maybe it’s because so many of them remind me of myself. They are everyday people who have a dream, want to generate income and truly have a desire to succeed online.

These solopreneurs come from different ages, backgrounds and ethnic groups. They tell me how much they appreciate the time I spend talking about their individual situation and needs. With so many get rich quick scams and internet marketing schemes, it’s gratifying sharing the truth about online business as a whole.

There’s so much credibility behind SBI!. No other company provides the kind of proof that we do.

A lot of the people I talk to have tried and failed at succeeding online; that includes SBI! members. I’ve been told countless stories of previous SBIers who never got their online businesses off the ground.

Life got in the way. Sometimes it was health issues, a divorce or other challenges we all deal with. But the amazing thing is, these solopreneurs always find their way back home. They reach out again at a better time in their lives, ready to move forward.

I love to witness how these everyday people keep fighting for a better life. They inspire me to press through when I need a little motivation myself.

Even my journey of becoming part of the SBI! Advisor Team wasn’t straightforward. After I won the 2010 Offline Affiliate Contest, I thought getting hired on the sales team would be a sure thing. However, it took two years of persistence, before I was finally brought on board.

Persevering is the Solo Build It! way. I’m thankful SiteSell gave me the opportunity to help others succeed online!

TAKEAWAY #7: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Your first attempt at building an online business failed? So what? It took Thomas Edison thousands of tries to get that lightbulb to work.

As he once famously said, I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

You have one huge advantage compared to Thomas Edison. You have SBI! by your side. With its proven process, integrated tools, helpful community and 24/7 support, you have the best chances to succeed. All you need to bring is perseverance and the will to succeed. We like to call it BAM: Brain, Attitude and Motivation.

What if you start and for whatever reason can’t continue building your business? Simply come back when you’re ready. We’ll be here for you. Just browse through the Introduce Yourself forum to see how many aspiring solopreneurs have returned to SBI!, sometimes after years of absence for a multitude of personal reasons.

6. In your role as Solo Build It! Advisor, what are the top 3 concerns or questions you hear from the people who contact you?

From the many concerns I’ve heard over the years, these are the top 3:

Concern #1: How long does it take to build my website / online business?

What people really want to know when they ask this question is how long it takes to start making money from their online business.

I explain that there are many factors that influence how long it takes. Among others, It depends on how much time you can devote to your site and what niche you chose. I also remind them that they’re building a true online business and not just a website. This takes time and hard work.

I’m very honest in my consultations, which people seem to appreciate. Yes, it takes time and effort, but if you follow the SBI! Action Guide, you have the best chances of creating a successful business online.

TAKEAWAY #8: The key term in Doug’s advice above is business. When you realize that you’re building a business, and not just putting up a website, you’ll manage your expectations about how long it takes to become profitable.

There’s no instant gratification in the business world. Ideally, you have another form of income (e.g., via your day job) while you start your online business in your spare time.

Concern #2: What if I don’t have a topic that I’m passionate about?

I never allow anyone to get off the hook with this concern. Instead, I let them know that everyone knows something about something. This gets them thinking. By the end of our conversation, every single person comes up with at least one or two things they really are passionate about.

To this day, I find it amazing that so many of the people I talked to couldn’t think of a single passion before our conversation, and that I could help them uncover at least one.

TAKEAWAY #9: Finding your perfect business niche starts with making a list. Observe your daily life and write down everything that comes to mind your skills, experiences, daily life activities, books and magazines you read, movies and TV shows you like to watch, topics you just can’t stop talking about, things that upset you or make you feel good.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a niche on your own, SBI! provides a tool (Seed Generator) that helps you do that, based on what you know.

Alternatively, talk to Doug. He’s renowned for not letting you off the hook until you’ve discovered your passion.

Concern #3: What if I don’t have a product to sell?

It’s a common misconception that you can only have an online business when you sell your own products. I explain that there are other ways to monetize, for example with advertising, affiliate marketing or referrals.

In fact, most SBIers start without their own products or services, and still generate income. To give the folks that contact me an idea about the various monetization methods, I like to show them our results page. There they can browse through 500 successful SBI! online businesses, in a wide variety of niches.

TAKEAWAY #10: When you research the business potential of your niche, SBI! provides you with a monetization planner worksheet. You’ll work your way through a number of monetization possibilities, from fully passive (contextual advertising, affiliate marketing) to fully active (creating and selling your own products or offering your own services).

For each monetization option, you’ll assess how feasible it is for your topic, interest and time availability.

Then you’ll pick your primary monetization model, which you’ll implement as soon as you have a certain number of pages and a steady stream of visitors.

When your primary monetization model is well underway, watch for opportunities to add secondary income streams. These, too, should be pre-planned. You should know the big picture of monetization in advance. The details and twists present themselves as you go.

7. And finally With all that experience under your belt, what’s your best piece of advice for someone just starting a solopreneur career?

My best piece of advice for anyone starting a solopreneur career, would be to DO IT! Don’t allow fear or other negative thoughts to get in the way.

It’s been a wonderful 10 year journey for me and my family. It started with a simple but impactful recommendation from my mentor at SCORE. I’ve never looked back. I don’t have a college degree, nor did I further my education. I am a minority in the country where I reside.

My first online business didn’t work out as planned. But I just kept going; I was determined to succeed.

Now is a great time to start a rewarding solopreneur career. SBI! is bigger and better than ever. If a guy like me can create a successful online business, so can you!

What’s holding you back? I’d love to talk to you personally about how SBI! can help you succeed. Please reach out to me via question.sitesell.com.

Author information

Doug Lee

Doug Lee has had a sales and freelance entrepreneurial background since the early 90’s. He’s created successful websites and is also an online business consultant. In 2011, he completed the Building a Successful Business Using the Internet course and is a certified instructor through SiteSell Education. Doug has hosted online visibility seminars for the Urban League of Greater Cleveland and the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce. His current website venture is MyOnePageSite.com. Doug takes pride in his role as a Solo Build It! Sales Advisor. He has a passion for helping solopreneurs succeed online, and he enjoys his friends, family and faith.

The post How This Online Business Pioneer SCORED Big After 8 Years of Struggle appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed

Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed

As you may have heard, Google is increasingly pushing all websites to move to a more secure structure. This is to keep your personal browsing information and history safe.

In January 2017, Google updated Chrome so that all Chrome users would see a Not Secure warning whenever browsing a website that included password or credit card information fields.

Now, Chrome (version 62) has expanded the warning to include:

  1. when users enter data on an HTTP (non-secure) page
  2. on all HTTP pages visited in Incognito mode

Eventually, Google’s Chrome browser will show that Not Secure warning to all HTTP pages regardless of incognito mode. Like this:

Google HTTPS Not Secure
Treatment of HTTP pages with user-entered data in Chrome 62

That’s just one of the reasons why this is an important consideration for any website and online business owner. We’ll walk through what the various terms mean, what the ramifications are for switching or not, and what that might entail.

What Do All These Terms Mean?

Here are the common terms and phrases that you’ll see used throughout this article and other resources:

HTTP Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It’s the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web.

HTTPS Stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. It’s simply the secure version of HTTP.

SSL Stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.

Specifically, SSL is a certificate installed as part of your web host. It makes your site secure. It ensures that all data passed between your site’s server and a user’s browser is encrypted and protected.

When browsing a secure website, you’ll see a SECURE label to the left of the site address in your browser. You can click on that label and view information about the site’s certificate, as well as confirm that any information you may send to that site remains private.

Google HTTPS Secure Address Bar Example

What Exactly Is Google Requiring?

While Google eventually wants all websites to install an SSL Certificate and use HTTPS, the current focus is on any site where information is actively collected from a user.

We’re not talking about aggregate visitor information, such as page views or bounce rate, but rather form fields that you might fill in with information. Such as:

  • Credit Card details
  • Passwords
  • Street Address
  • Phone Number
  • Mother’s Maiden Name
  • Income

And so on.

If your website has any form fields of any kind, as of Chrome version 62, visitors will see a label that your site is not secure if it isn’t using HTTPS.

Here’s a segment from the Google Chrome Dev Summit 2016 talking about the need for HTTPS:

Should Online Businesses Be Worried?

You might be tempted to think that this isn’t a big deal. Who really looks at that label area in the browser anyways, right?

Let me persuade you otherwise..

While you might be right today, over time, more and more Chrome users will be conditioned to think about the security of their data and will be paying attention to whether or not a site is secure.

Eventually, we’ll all come to expect that sites we visit are marked ‘green.’ Which means that your site, if it’s not secure, could begin to have a negative impression on visitors.

What’s more, Google has said since 2014 that the security status of a site is a strong ranking signal. That means, all things being equal, that a site using HTTPS will outrank a site still on HTTP.

And it’s been shown that websites running the HTTPS protocol actually load faster than sites on HTTP!

Combine a negative impression on potential site visitors, a poor Google ranking signal, and a slower performing site, and you have a recipe for search engine disaster.

That’s definitely something to worry about!

What Should Website Owners Do?

Unfortunately, switching to HTTPS may take a bit of work, and it’s not without risks.

SSL certificates can be acquired inexpensively, even free in some cases, and installed relatively quickly with the assistance of your web host. But it’s likely you’ll have more tasks to work through, depending on your website.

First, understand that your website’s URL will now be https:// instead of http://, and that is considered a completely different site. While web traffic (anyone who clicks on a link elsewhere) will go to the https:// version of your site if 301 redirects are used, this change has a number of ramifications.

Images that you have embedded throughout your site, for example, may need to be updated. If the image code used the full http:// URL for the image file, you will need to update that code to use https:// instead.

Similarly, any scripts or CSS files that your site might use must be updated.

If you do not update, Browsers will warn visitors that your website may contain non-secure resources. Why? Because it sees that the site uses HTTPS but some of the images or scripts are called using HTTP URLs.

Second, since HTTPS is a different URL, some of the social networks you’re displaying social proof (share counts) from may be affected.

Some of these share counts might change with HTTPS.

If you’ve had a lot of success with some of your content on social media, losing that visible proof of success may be troubling. Individual network support for HTTP vs. HTTPS, as well as whether they display share counts at all, is changing rapidly. So you’ll want to look up whether your preferred networks will be affected at the time as you consider switching.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, backlinks to your site from other websites may be lost.

If they linked to your domain name, like www.sitesell.com, it will be fine. But if they linked to the full URL of http://www.sitesell.com, that’s a problem. Even though it’s Google that is forcing encouraging the change, they have not integrated this basic knowledge into their search engine.

Since only the owner of a domain name can install an SSL certificate for that domain name, there’s no reason why HTTP and HTTPS links should be treated differently. But they are.

Which means you may be looking at a significant loss of backlinks when transitioning to HTTPS, and that may impact your search rankings and traffic.

Of course, if you don’t switch to HTTPS, you’re very likely facing a loss of ranking and traffic, so it’s really a question of how soon do you want to bite the bullet and get it done.

All in all, if you’re expecting to get a significant amount of search traffic in the next few years, you should plan on switching to HTTPS.Neil Patel

Solo Build It! Has Members’ Backs

Fortunately, if you’re a member of the Solo Build It! community of solopreneurs, SiteSell has you covered.

When Google announced this move toward 100% HTTPS usage, Solo Build It! developers began working on a solution for our members – one that would make it as easy as possible for them to secure their sites, while mitigating as much risk as possible.

Solo Build It! HTTPS Conversion ToolIn September, we released a Site Check tool that allowed members to quickly run a report that identified any potential issues or tasks they should be aware of prior to converting to HTTPS.

For instance, if you had embedded an image using the full http:// URL, the report would let you know that.

Then, after extensive testing, the ability to enable HTTPS was provided to all members! With a click of a button, each member’s site has a free SSL certificate installed and configured, including automatic 301 redirects of all existing HTTP URLs to HTTPS versions for optimum search engine compatibility. (New SBI! members automatically have HTTPS enabled when they register their domain name.)

Additionally, Solo Build It! automatically addresses the following:

Your Site’s URLs

  • Any URLs on your site that reference your own domain name are switched to HTTPS. This includes the RSS feed and XML sitemap.

Google

  • Google Custom Search
  • Google Fonts
  • Google Translate
  • Google Maps

Youtube

  • Video URLs

JQuery

  • JQuery scripts loaded from many popular third-party sites like Google API

Sitesell Affiliate Program

Amazon Associates Program

  • 40 domain names used for the Amazon Associates program (including .co.uk, .ca, .de, .fr)

Affiliate Programs / Advertising Networks

Subscriber / Mailing Lists

  • getresponse.com
  • forms.aweber.com

Social Sharing

  • Twitter Cards
  • Add This

RSS Feed Tools

  • Feed2js.org

Additionally, numerous articles and forum posts were provided leading up to this change to help educate and advise members.

While other services may provide free SSL certificates and an easy way to enable HTTPS, none offer this level of service and ease of conversion!

Wrapping Up

If you haven’t already converted your site to HTTPS, now is the time to consider doing so. The longer you wait, the more likely your site will be negatively impacted.

Think through all the possible scenarios regarding traffic and income. Then base your conversion go or no go on what you determine is the best course of action right now. If you decide to wait until a particular time, take a moment to schedule a review in your calendar.

If your site is seasonal, and your big season is in the next 2-3 months, you may want to hold off on converting to HTTPS until that season ends. On the flip side, if you don’t convert, and there are order forms on your pages, those forms will be flagged as not being secure. So some of your visitors may be scared away from ordering from you.

Solo Build It! members, head over to the forums and Site Central to run the Site Check tool and begin preparing to convert your site.

If you’re hosting your site elsewhere, contact your web host for more information on how they’re supporting Google’s HTTPS requirement.

Want to learn more about everything else Solo Build It! does for our solopreneurs? Start here.

Author information

Mike Allton

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

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

The post Last Minute Switch to HTTPS? 3 Urgent Reasons to Proceed appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

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When a high-performer encounters a startling career setback-perhaps getting fired or passed up for a promotion-the culprit is easy to predict. Nine times out of ten, it stems from a lack of self-awareness. Understanding your shortcomings is a prerequisite for correcting them. That’s why your level of self-awareness has the power to either slow your growth or skyrocket your success.