Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are Your Images Up To Speed?

Pagespeed as an important ranking factor is an urban myth. Just because 10,000 bloggers squawk about how critical it is (if you want high rankings), it ain’t necessarily so!

So no need to get into a flap

image04

What Google actually said, back in 2010, was that fewer than 1% of search queries would be affected by how fast a page was (pagespeed). That 1% figure means that average pagespeed is fine that a page has to be mighty slow before you have to worry.

It was silly to mention this in 2010. Why not factor pagespeed into the algo in 2000, when bandwidth was much slower?

Since then, mobile usage has exploded. And mobile bandwidth, although improving, is still slow compared to WiFi at home.

So Google has noted that pagespeed is a factor on mobile search. And they expect to increase its importance. Nevertheless, it’s still of minor importance compared to the relevance and quality of the content.

We expect that to remain true.

A Better Reason to Increase Pagespeed

Aside from pagespeed directly affecting search results, slow speed can affect user experience

If a page on your site is slow, users could abandon it before it loads, especially on non-WiFi mobile. A magnificent image is useless if folks won’t wait for it to load!

Result? Lower time on site and number of pages visited. Those are not only factors at Google they’re important for your business, period.

Compressing your image files while hardly affecting quality is the best way to give your visitors a speedy experience. And it takes you mere seconds!

Here’s How to Optimize Images

1) Head to TinyPNG, a free service that compresses .png and .jpg files

https://tinypng.com

2) Drag your images into the box

image01

3) Wait for the panda to do its stuff, then download each individual file, or the compressed folder containing all the files

image02

The space you save (64% in the screenshot above) is not insignificant. And to the human eye, there’s no telling the images apart. Judge for yourself

The before image is on the left. The compressed image is on the right. Can you tell them apart?

birds

Thought not!

Bonus hack: If you use WordPress, you have an automated option, the WP Smush image optimization plugin. Simply upload your images and WP Smush does all the file reduction work for you!

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Don’t stress about pagespeed as a Google ranking factor. It’s not nearly as important as it’s cracked up to be. That said

We’ve gone through ups-and-downs regarding speed. In the early years, pagespeed mattered. As bandwidth accelerated, it became less important. Now that mobile is widespread, speed matters again. But now it’s mobile bandwidth that’s accelerating!

Eventually, the Internet will be super-fast everywhere. Then our advice will be forget about image size – do what you like!

Until then, do nail down the basics – not least, shrinking needlessly bulky images.

Author information

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews

Cath is Head of SiteSell’s Content Team, where she writes on a wide variety of topics for new and experienced Solopreneurs. She lives between her homes in Italy and Scotland, and in her spare time writes prolifically for her two SBI! websites.

The post Are Your Images Up To Speed? appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Ten Difficult, But Really Important Words

Here’s What to Say When You Blow It

Many words in the English language are hard to get out. In fact, there’s even a Dictionary of Difficult Words. But none are more difficult than these: I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?

Many otherwise articulate people seem to have great difficulty in spitting these words out. They hem and haw. They mumble. They stutter.

They may get something close out, but they have a hard time slowly and deliberately saying these 10 simple words, none of them more than two syllables long.

Yet each one of these 10 words is important. Let’s break that importance down by sentence, then make time for a message from my wife.

1. I’m Sorry

Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. This is something we need to develop. It takes humility.

Too often, we are preoccupied with our own feelings. Empathy is the recognition that it’s not all about us. Other people matter. They have feelings, too, and those feelings are important.

By saying we are sorry-sincerely and with authentic humility-we validate them as human beings.

We are essentially saying, I know you are hurt, and I understand. Your feelings are valid, and I am sorry that I am the cause of them. I’m not sorry because I got caught or because you called me out. I’m sorry because of the hurt that I caused you.

2. I Was Wrong

This the most difficult sentence of all. Perhaps we live with the mistaken notion that we never do anything wrong. Or perhaps we just think the other person should give us a pass because somehow we deserve it.

The truth is, we all make mistakes. If we are not guilty of sins of commission (i.e., deliberately doing something that offends others), we are guilty of sins of omission (i.e., failing to do what we ought and thereby offending others).

Religion can help prime the pump here. One of the great things about being a Christian is that I have been released from the need to pretend I am perfect. I am a sinner, and I need forgiveness-from God and from the people I offend.

3. Will You Please Forgive Me?

This is one of the most powerful sentences we can ever utter. By phrasing this as a question, we acknowledge that forgiveness is not an entitlement. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We are asking for their mercy and forbearance.

This also acknowledges that it is a choice on the part of the other person. They may withhold their forgiveness. Perhaps they are not ready to make up. They may need some space.

Yet in my experience, almost always the other person says, I forgive you. With this simple sentence, both of us are healed.

We may be tempted to take shortcuts. We could simply say, I apologize or Sorry. But nothing is quite as effective as saying all ten words. It may seem awkward or artificial at first, but with practice it gets easier.

By saying we are sorry-sincerely and with authentic humility-we validate them as human beings.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

If you are like me, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice. And speaking of opportunities

A Word From My Wife

When Gail saw this, she had some additional things to say about how to stick the forgiveness landing. Often the more abbreviated version works, but she suggested a few more words as necessary.

One of those words is for. As in, Jane, I’m sorry for ________. (embarrassing you in that meeting. completely forgetting about your birthday. getting so upset and yelling before I even heard your side lying to you about where I was last night.)

This lets the other person know that you ‘get it,’ Gail explains.

Before I’m sorry, Gail suggests I know that hurt you to further own up to the specific pain that you caused.

Also, she pointed out that nonverbal parts of the apology are important to many people, including our tone of voice, eye contact, and body language.

Square up, make eye contact, say it like you mean it, and then shut up and wait for the offended party’s response. And one more thing.

Don’t be a But

When you are working to get these 10 difficult words out, there’s one word you absolutely must not use, or you will defeat all of your hard work.

The word is but. As in I’m sorry, but You might not even intend to blame shift here. You might be trying to call attention to some extenuating circumstance that in the normal course of things would matter.

That’s not how it will be heard by the offended party in the moment, so do not do that if you want to heal the breach. If your goal is to make things right, then do yourself a huge favor and stick to the script.

Question: Do you find it difficult to get these words out? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Are Your Images Up To Speed?

Pagespeed as an important ranking factor is an urban myth. Just because 10,000 bloggers squawk about how critical it is (if you want high rankings), it ain’t necessarily so!

So no need to get into a flap

image04

What Google actually said, back in 2010, was that fewer than 1% of search queries would be affected by how fast a page was (pagespeed). That 1% figure means that average pagespeed is fine that a page has to be mighty slow before you have to worry.

It was silly to mention this in 2010. Why not factor pagespeed into the algo in 2000, when bandwidth was much slower?

Since then, mobile usage has exploded. And mobile bandwidth, although improving, is still slow compared to WiFi at home.

So Google has noted that pagespeed is a factor on mobile search. And they expect to increase its importance. Nevertheless, it’s still of minor importance compared to the relevance and quality of the content.

We expect that to remain true.

A Better Reason to Increase Pagespeed

Aside from pagespeed directly affecting search results, slow speed can affect user experience

If a page on your site is slow, users could abandon it before it loads, especially on non-WiFi mobile. A magnificent image is useless if folks won’t wait for it to load!

Result? Lower time on site and number of pages visited. Those are not only factors at Google they’re important for your business, period.

Compressing your image files while hardly affecting quality is the best way to give your visitors a speedy experience. And it takes you mere seconds!

Here’s How to Optimize Images

1) Head to TinyPNG, a free service that compresses .png and .jpg files

https://tinypng.com

2) Drag your images into the box

image01

3) Wait for the panda to do its stuff, then download each individual file, or the compressed folder containing all the files

image02

The space you save (64% in the screenshot above) is not insignificant. And to the human eye, there’s no telling the images apart. Judge for yourself

The before image is on the left. The compressed image is on the right. Can you tell them apart?

birds

Thought not!

Bonus hack: If you use WordPress, you have an automated option, the WP Smush image optimization plugin. Simply upload your images and WP Smush does all the file reduction work for you!

Bottom Line Takeaway?

Don’t stress about pagespeed as a Google ranking factor. It’s not nearly as important as it’s cracked up to be. That said

We’ve gone through ups-and-downs regarding speed. In the early years, pagespeed mattered. As bandwidth accelerated, it became less important. Now that mobile is widespread, speed matters again. But now it’s mobile bandwidth that’s accelerating!

Eventually, the Internet will be super-fast everywhere. Then our advice will be forget about image size – do what you like!

Until then, do nail down the basics – not least, shrinking needlessly bulky images.

Author information

Cath Andrews

Cath Andrews

Cath is Head of SiteSell’s Content Team, where she writes on a wide variety of topics for new and experienced Solopreneurs. She lives between her homes in Italy and Scotland, and in her spare time writes prolifically for her two SBI! websites.

The post Are Your Images Up To Speed? appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

Ten Difficult, But Really Important Words

Here’s What to Say When You Blow It

Many words in the English language are hard to get out. In fact, there’s even a Dictionary of Difficult Words. But none are more difficult than these: I’m sorry. I was wrong. Will you please forgive me?

Many otherwise articulate people seem to have great difficulty in spitting these words out. They hem and haw. They mumble. They stutter.

They may get something close out, but they have a hard time slowly and deliberately saying these 10 simple words, none of them more than two syllables long.

Yet each one of these 10 words is important. Let’s break that importance down by sentence, then make time for a message from my wife.

1. I’m Sorry

Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and feel what they feel. This is something we need to develop. It takes humility.

Too often, we are preoccupied with our own feelings. Empathy is the recognition that it’s not all about us. Other people matter. They have feelings, too, and those feelings are important.

By saying we are sorry-sincerely and with authentic humility-we validate them as human beings.

We are essentially saying, I know you are hurt, and I understand. Your feelings are valid, and I am sorry that I am the cause of them. I’m not sorry because I got caught or because you called me out. I’m sorry because of the hurt that I caused you.

2. I Was Wrong

This the most difficult sentence of all. Perhaps we live with the mistaken notion that we never do anything wrong. Or perhaps we just think the other person should give us a pass because somehow we deserve it.

The truth is, we all make mistakes. If we are not guilty of sins of commission (i.e., deliberately doing something that offends others), we are guilty of sins of omission (i.e., failing to do what we ought and thereby offending others).

Religion can help prime the pump here. One of the great things about being a Christian is that I have been released from the need to pretend I am perfect. I am a sinner, and I need forgiveness-from God and from the people I offend.

3. Will You Please Forgive Me?

This is one of the most powerful sentences we can ever utter. By phrasing this as a question, we acknowledge that forgiveness is not an entitlement. We don’t deserve forgiveness. We are asking for their mercy and forbearance.

This also acknowledges that it is a choice on the part of the other person. They may withhold their forgiveness. Perhaps they are not ready to make up. They may need some space.

Yet in my experience, almost always the other person says, I forgive you. With this simple sentence, both of us are healed.

We may be tempted to take shortcuts. We could simply say, I apologize or Sorry. But nothing is quite as effective as saying all ten words. It may seem awkward or artificial at first, but with practice it gets easier.

By saying we are sorry-sincerely and with authentic humility-we validate them as human beings.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

If you are like me, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice. And speaking of opportunities

A Word From My Wife

When Gail saw this, she had some additional things to say about how to stick the forgiveness landing. Often the more abbreviated version works, but she suggested a few more words as necessary.

One of those words is for. As in, Jane, I’m sorry for ________. (embarrassing you in that meeting. completely forgetting about your birthday. getting so upset and yelling before I even heard your side lying to you about where I was last night.)

This lets the other person know that you ‘get it,’ Gail explains.

Before I’m sorry, Gail suggests I know that hurt you to further own up to the specific pain that you caused.

Also, she pointed out that nonverbal parts of the apology are important to many people, including our tone of voice, eye contact, and body language.

Square up, make eye contact, say it like you mean it, and then shut up and wait for the offended party’s response. And one more thing.

Don’t be a But

When you are working to get these 10 difficult words out, there’s one word you absolutely must not use, or you will defeat all of your hard work.

The word is but. As in I’m sorry, but You might not even intend to blame shift here. You might be trying to call attention to some extenuating circumstance that in the normal course of things would matter.

That’s not how it will be heard by the offended party in the moment, so do not do that if you want to heal the breach. If your goal is to make things right, then do yourself a huge favor and stick to the script.

Question: Do you find it difficult to get these words out? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

From Funeral Poetry to 007 Speeches: An Extraordinary Work-from-Home Story

From Funeral Poetry to 007 Speeches: An Extraordinary Work-from-Home Story

How do you get invited to teach at a Technical University in Russia when you live in a small seaside village in New Zealand? Or to write a James Bond themed opening speech for a CEO hosting an international company event?

You take your passion online.

You write out loud, as Susan Dugdale would say. Family lore has it that Susan learned to read at three and hasn’t stopped since. Her love for the written and spoken word led her to a teaching career in high school level English and drama.

With the advance of the Internet she realized that she could bring her knowledge and skills to many more people than as a teacher. But it wasn’t until she tried without success to find an appropriate funeral poem to include in a eulogy that write-out-loud.com was born.

There was a place, she decided, for an eclectic gathering of ‘death-themed’ poems chosen to fit an audience similar to herself.

11 years later her website has grown into an online business that helps people prepare and give speeches for all types of life situations. It allows Susan to work from home, writing speeches for extraordinary people in extraordinary situations.

It even allowed her to assure her husband that there is income coming in despite appearing not to work.

But let’s hear Susan’s story in her own words

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

Deciding on my topic area was relatively straightforward. I knew it had to be something to do with words and using them because I’d been a teacher of English and drama for many years. It was the area I knew reasonably well and genuinely loved.

The precise niche within that sphere was trickier to nail down. I dithered around over whether it would be creative writing, as in short fiction, which I was initially drawn to, or public speaking.

Public speaking won out after a lengthy period of debate with myself and SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool. The numbers for short story writing, regardless of how I spun the keywords creative writing, short fiction etc weren’t encouraging. The area appeared over-represented already, and after looking at the top sites I decided I had very little new to contribute.

In contrast, the public speaking area was relatively open and on reviewing what was there I plunged headlong in.

Debating Team
Susan (in the middle) at a Toastmasters Debating Tournament, in Wellington NZ. Her team won the championship trophy.

TAKEAWAY #1: Many solopreneurs fail because they choose their niche solely on gut feel or what they want to write about. While having passion and knowledge for your topic is essential, it’s not the only factor to take into consideration. Other factors are demand, competition and monetization potential.

Susan knew the broad area for her business should be something to do with the English language, either around writing or speaking.

She then used SBI!’s keyword brainstorming and analysis tool (Brainstorm It!) to dig deeper. Brainstorm It! brings back hundreds of keywords (aka topics) related to your niche concept. For each keyword, it tells you how many people search for it (demand) and how much competition there is (real supply).

With smart filter and analysis functions, Brainstorm It! helps you decide if your business niche is too broad, too narrow or just right. It considers several factors, including how much time you plan to invest in your business.

In addition to comparing the numbers that Brainstorm It! revealed for her two niche ideas, creative writing and public speaking, Susan also looked at the major player in these fields. Which of the two topics was covered more extensively already, with many good quality sites ranking in Google’s top spots?

This additional, qualitative research confirmed what she already suspected from the numbers: public speaking had less competition and more room for her to establish herself as an authority than creative writing.

Does this kind of in-depth research sound too daunting? Fear not. The SBI! Action Guide walks you through it, step-by-detailed-step.

Unlike 99% of solopreneurs, Susan executed this all important preparational phase well, except for one part, which she admits below

And now we get to the part I feel embarrassed to admit. I didn’t know whether public speaking had any business potential. It didn’t occur to me to find out! I was far too consumed with the process of researching keywords, writing, learning about how to build a page, upload an image and so on to have room in my mind for anything else. Traffic was what I thought was king visitors.

I didn’t seriously consider the money making potential until I had hundreds of unique visitors per day.

If I was building the site again I would do it differently assessing the business possibilities alongside content development.

It’s very good to see the increased awareness of the importance of monetization in the newer SBI! material.

TAKEAWAY #2: We totally get it. When you are so excited about your topic and brimming with content ideas, the last thing you want to do is spend more time researching. You simply want to get started and bring those words to (digital) paper.

However, if there’s one piece of advice we hear time and again from our most successful solopreneurs, it is to follow the Action Guide diligently. DAY 4 of the Action Guide is dedicated to investigating and planning the most suitable monetization options for your niche.

You’ll use a handy monetization planner worksheet to work your way through seven monetization possibilities. For each one, you’ll assess how feasible it is for your topic, interest and time availability. If, at the end of this evaluation process you realize that there’s not enough profit potential in your niche, you have two options:

  • Option 1: Go ahead with your chosen topic anyway. Passion for a niche can bring its own rewards. Just be aware that it may never earn you much income.
  • Option 2: Go back and restart the research and brainstorming process to find a more profitable niche.

What happens if you don’t evaluate the business potential of your niche, as Susan did? You can still be successful, but it will take you longer to get there.

Susan in her Garden
When she’s not working on her online business, Susan loves to develop the grounds around their newly built home.

2. Your SBI! site, www.write-out-loud.com has a beautiful design. Did you create it yourself?

I am glad you think it’s beautiful. I believe that every solopreneur and webmaster likes to be told how attractive her or his website is a bit like how a mother enjoys being complimented on her baby. This applies even more to SBI! members who tend to put so much of themselves into their sites and online businesses.

My site was given a major overhaul a couple of years ago by Will Urbanek from Clickstream Designs. It was my design, interpreted and implemented by him. He did an amazing job curbing my misplaced enthusiasm for over-the-top fonts and steering me safely past faddish temptations.

I have a lot to thank him for. For instance, at the same time he redesigned the look and feel, he also set up the mobile version which these days gets more traffic than the desktop! Today I have a site that I’m happy with and feel proud to show friends and family.

TAKEAWAY #3: When you start with Solo Build It!, you can choose between over 100 professionally created site designs, optimized to perform well on all devices: computer, tablet and mobile. With SBI!’s easy-to-use Site Designer you can modify any of these templates to your heart’s desire and create a professional looking website even with limited design skills.

However, doing a major make-over for an older site is a different challenge. You can still do it yourself, of course, but the learning curve is rather steep. Time is a solopreneur’s most precious resource, so you may be better off to outsource a one-time task like redesigning your site to an expert.

As an SBIer, you’ll have access to the SiteSell Professionals, a team of highly qualified webmasters, designers and online business owners who can help you with design and business building tasks. Will Urbanek, who redesigned Susan’s website, is part of that team.

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

My idea of what makes good content is fairly simple. If I searched and opened a page from my site would I like it? Would the page answer my question or solve my problem? For example, if I was a classroom teacher looking for activities for my public speaking class, would I find what I wanted if I landed on one of my public speaking games pages?

I try to put myself in the shoes of the person looking. I don’t always get it right but it’s a good start.

Brainstorm It! 4I use a mix of strategies to try and figure out what people want. I fiddle around inside Brainstorm It! (Version 4 just launched Your Next Generation Partner in Business) trying out all sorts of combinations of keywords and phrases. I check out existing material and ask myself if it measures up with what I thought I’d find.

One example for this kind of research: Teachers Pay Teachers, a marketplace for teachers to sell their resources to colleagues, helps me find out what is selling well in my niche. Is it lesson plans? What format is being used? It’s great as a reference point.

Sometimes I use my newsletter list to ask a specific question. For example, I asked my readers whether they would consider using and paying for tutoring via Skype. They said yes. So I created a page to offer my Skype coaching service.

It’s always better to ask your audience rather than presuming to know what they want. Otherwise you run the risk of creating content or even a product that nobody is really interested in.

Take my PDFs about impromptu speaking topics for example. I wouldn’t have put these together without learning they were wanted. They seemed too obvious, too simple to me. However they solve a problem for some people enough to make putting them together worthwhile.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same about my sponsorship sales page on which I lavished hours and hours of my time creating graphics and writing copy. This page has drawn zilch interest over the two years it’s been online a state of affairs I don’t expect to change!

Obviously while I might think being highlighted on write-out-loud.com is utterly desirable, it’s a solo presumption. Mine, and mine alone a sad, solitary lesson.

TAKEAWAY #4: Susan’s content philosophy contains 4 invaluable lessons:

  1. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Whenever you create a new page, take a step back and look at it from your reader / prospective customer’s point of view. Does it fulfill what the reader expected? Does it answer her question or solve her need?

    In other words, does your page satisfy your visitor’s search intent?

  2. Continuously research your market and your competition. If there is no niche specific marketplace as in Susan’s example, browse Amazon for bestselling books in your niche. Or participate in relevant Facebook groups and forums. Even Wikipedia can be a source for new content ideas!

  3. Ask your audience. This is a no-brainer. If you have a subscriber list, Facebook fans, Twitter followers or loyal Instagram base, ask them about what they want or what’s missing on your site. This is especially important for product development decisions, which brings us to lesson Nr. 4.
  4. Decide based on data, not assumptions. Creating a product or launching a service takes a lot of time and if you outsource parts of it money. You better be sure that this is something your audience is willing to pay for before you commit to it.

4. You provide lots of information and resources for free. How do you upgrade people from being free content seekers to paying customers?

Upgrading happens in several ways.

My pages about public speaking activities and games are very well visited. And I know that teachers and group leaders want to download these games. So this was a logical place for me to offer my downloadable games packages.

People can buy the most popular of them separately, as a threesome or in an ebook of 28. They are buying the game instructions as well as the resources needed to play it.

Speaking Games
Speaking Games offered on Susan’s website for sale.

I have multiple how to write speech pages of varying sorts eulogies, birthday speeches, weddings and so on. These draw lots of people in. Some of those would much prefer to hand over the responsibility of writing the required speech to someone else me. Consequently, these pages are the ideal spot to offer my speech writing services.

I am also planning an app which will offer a simple automated speech writing service. I am confident that the app will be very popular among the people who visit the how to pages and want a speech immediately without expending either a great deal of effort or money!

TAKEAWAY #5: Susan’s upgrading from free content seeker to paying customer is SBI!’s Content Traffic PRESell Monetize strategy in action.

Well researched informational content, presented in your unique been there, done that voice attracts targeted visitors to your site.

Your visitors value the information you provide; they interact with you on social media, or comment on your web pages. They subscribe to your newsletter. They begin to trust you as a respected authority in your niche.

Your PREsold visitors keep coming back for more. Repeat visitors become even more PREsold, which leads into monetization, both via passive methods (e.g. advertising, sponsorships, affiliate programs) or active methods (e.g. selling eBooks or your own services).

The important thing to remember? Monetization comes last when building a profitable online business. Speaking of which, let’s hear more from Susan about how she monetizes

5. You offer speech writing services and Skype coaching. Are these your main income streams? How else do you monetize your online business?

The speech writing makes up a significant amount of my income. I love the work. It’s so varied and comes in from people all around the world. For instance this week I’m working on a maid of honor speech for someone in California. I’ve just finished a best man speech for someone in Canada, and a tribute speech for someone from Barcelona to deliver in Tel Aviv.

The coaching pulls in a similar variety of people, and although it doesn’t provide a great deal by way of income, it certainly provides interest! I get to meet and work with amazing people. Its both humbling, and an honor.

To summarize my present income streams:

  1. Adsense: This was the first revenue collecting method I put on my site once I had sufficient visitors to make it worthwhile. Over the years it’s given me thousands of dollars, literally. I have been, and am, most grateful to Mr Google despite the fact that there have been fewer ups and an increasing number of downs over the last couple of years. These days my monthly Adsense payment is significantly less than it was 18 months ago.
  2. Other online advertisers: I have two other small income streams from advertising networks similar to AdSense: Sovrn and Kumma.
  3. E-products: I sell an ebook of public speaking games and several other pdf products impromptu speech topic cards and 3 public speaking games. The ebook sells very well, far outstripping the others.
  4. Affiliate income: I have links to several products and when visitors buy them I am paid part of the purchase price.
  5. Speech writing
  6. Coaching

The three biggest earners on my site are my products, speech writing and AdSense.

Teachers at the Izhevsk State Technical University
Teachers at the Izhevsk State Technical University, Russia, where Susan led a 5 day workshop for teaching English.
TAKEAWAY #6: Susan has developed a solid monetization mix for her online business

  • Selling digital products
  • Selling her coaching and speech writing services
  • Advertising income and
  • Affiliate income.

Never put all your monetization eggs in one basket. There are many ways to monetize your niche. Passive models (ex., AdSense and affiliate programs) have been paying less well for all solopreneurs in recent years.

Adsense, in particular, seems to have hooked solopreneurs with high payouts in its early years, but is gradually paying less for valuable real estate on your sites.

Susan’s highest earner is in line with what we recommend. Develop your own products. It’s far more do-able than most people realize, especially creating digital products.

But even developing physical products is not as hard as you may think. One section of SBI!’s resources, Make It!, enables you to conceive, source, market, sell, ship and support hard goods, even if you have no prior knowledge in that area at all.

6. How long did it take to start earning income from your online business? Is it a full-time or a part-time income?

I began earning from the site as soon as I put Google AdSense on it just a little literally pennies/cents per day. I remember the excitement of finally earning enough to receive my first monthly payout. It took 3 months to reach the $100 threshold!

Nowadays, over ten years later, I earn what could be regarded as either a very good part-time income or a low full-time one. I am working on making it larger.

TAKEAWAY #7: The excitement when the first cents are rolling in from your online business any solopreneur reading this can surely relate.

Owning and building a business, whether it’s online or offline, takes work, especially in the first few months. It doesn’t come with instant gratification. Develop what we call The Winning Solopreneur Mindset.

Realize that you invest time (at less than minimum wage) and energy upfront now to build what will be a thriving business that yields long-term, evergrowing dividends later. You are not a 9 to 5 employee, sitting in your safe little cubicle, earning your safe little paycheck (although it’s a good idea to keep that job while building your online business).

The harder and smarter you work, the sooner will your business yield profits. Long-term profits that grow steadily and that ultimately enable you to quit that day-job and earn you more per hour than you could have dreamed.

7. What has been your biggest challenge so far as a solopreneur?

The biggest challenge is always the one in front of me right now. So today it’s dealing with a hump in the app development project.

About a year ago, I outsourced the app development to a programmer in Pakistan. I chose this person because a fellow SBI! member had had good experiences with him. Part of the task was to implement a PayPal payment system.

But after a year of working on the app, the programmer now told me that he can’t finish the development because PayPal is banned in Pakistan (well, I wish he had told me that before he started!). So it looks like I need to find another programmer to complete the app!

If I stand back a little from the day to day concerns, my biggest challenge is time making the most of what I have, i.e. making good, non-dithery decisions and acting on them. I can be prone to paralysis becoming stuck in a what if no man’s land and unable to move forward.

TAKEAWAY #8: Susan’s experience with the app developer is a prime example of the kind of challenges a solopreneur faces. At some point you’ll have to outsource certain tasks or even hire help in order to keep growing your business (assuming that you want to grow it beyond the level you can handle on your own).

The reasons to hire help fall into one of these two scenarios:

  1. There are simply not enough hours in the day to do everything yourself. In this case, you could look into hiring a Virtual Assistant.
  2. The task requires a skill set that you don’t have and can’t or don’t want to learn.

Scenario number 2 is the trickier one. Why? Because you’ve never done the work you outsource yourself (e.g. developing an app). This makes it more difficult to evaluate a potential freelancer and to describe exactly what you want him to do for you.

Our advice to Susan? Take a break. Do some gardening. Blow off steam or ask for tips in the SBI! forums. Then come back to the problem with fresh eyes and a calm mind to find the best solution.

Langs Beach in Northland, New Zealand
Langs Beach in Northland, New Zealand. A beach just up the road from where Susan lives. Beautiful for walks and surfing (which her husband does). No wonder Susan enjoys working from home!

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

My life has changed immeasurably. I could never have imagined what I do now when I was much younger. For a start the Internet didn’t exist then! Neither did computers!

So to have access to the means to build something that will allow me work from wherever I am, provided there’s an Internet connection, is truly amazing.

Through write-out-loud.com I’ve been able to leave full time 9-5 employment.

I’ve been able to assure my husband there is income coming in despite appearing not to work.

I’ve been invited to teach in Russia (see photo to the right).

I’ve written speeches for extraordinary people in extraordinary situations the 007 themed introduction for a CEO hosting an international company anniversary event is memorable!

And lastly, what this online business has done is show me, and my family, that freedom from the regular workaday world is possible. That’s huge!

TAKEAWAY #9: Having an online business equals freedom. Time and again, we hear this simple truth from the solopreneurs we talk to.

How you define this freedom exactly, is up to you. But we bet that it contains at least one of the following:

  • Quitting your day job
  • Answering to no one other than yourself
  • Doing something you love
  • Learning something new everyday
  • Setting your own work schedule
  • Working from wherever you want
  • Generating income despite appearing not to work (thanks Susan for the chuckle )

So, if you’ve yet to reach that kind of freedom in your life, starting your online business is the crucial first step.

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

Get the monetization plan sorted alongside deciding on your niche. It will save you so much time and effort later!

TAKEAWAY #10: Before you register your domain and write a single word, research, prepare and plan until you are 100% satisfied with the business potential of your niche. Time spent there will save you a lot of time and headache later, as Susan points out. She speaks from experience!

We said it before, but it’s worth repeating: the SBI! Action Guide will keep you on the right track. All you have to do is follow it, step-by-step.

And very lastly, block your ears, put one foot after another and do it. If I’d listened to all the naysayers around me when I first started I’d never be where I am now because write-out-loud.com would not exist.

TAKEAWAY #11: Fantastic advice, Susan! Sadly, it’s often the people closest to us that try to pull us back down, either out of ill-advised concern or sheer envy that we might get ahead of them.

Mike Kawula, entrepreneur and CEO of Social Quant takes this even a step further. He recommends to slaughter the naysayers (figuratively of course), whether they are around you or inside your head.

Author information

Susan Dugdale

Susan Dugdale lives in New Zealand and was a teacher of English and Drama for many years. She’s also been, until very recently, an active member of Toastmasters International. Moving to a small seaside village without a Toastmasters’ Club put a stop to that. However the change has meant that she’s now got time for another love, gardening. She and her husband are building a new home and at the same time, developing the grounds. There are trees to plant, flower beds to plan – bliss! Needless to say she enjoys working from home, the freedom of being able to set her own hours and to take time out when she chooses to visit her son, his partner and her very beautiful grandchild who live in Europe.

The post From Funeral Poetry to 007 Speeches: An Extraordinary Work-from-Home Story appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.

The Secret to Negotiating a Better Deal

3 Ways to Put Yourself Exactly Where You Need to Be

Your boss suddenly resigns. You think his boss should tap you for the job, but that doesn’t happen right away. He calls you into his office and says that you’d be a suitable candidate, but he wants to think it over and consider his options, maybe bring someone in from outside with more experience.

This puts you in an awkward position, because you want the job but you also want the pay raise that comes with the job. And you wouldn’t mind holding onto your current job if the promotion doesn’t come through. What do you say?

Many moons ago, I found myself in exactly this pickle. You might be surprised how I got out of it.

The Least of These

Before I tell you what I did in this case, let me tell you a negotiating secret I gleaned decades ago from author James Dobson: He who needs the other person the least is in control of the relationship.

This was, quite frankly, the best piece of negotiating advice I’d ever received, and I’ve put it to use in countless situations.

I’ve used it to buy things, including cars and real estate. I’ve used it to negotiate on the job or when coming into new jobs. It even works in parenting, when necessary.

The trick is to really put yourself in the position where you don’t need the other person as badly as they need you. How do you do that? Three suggestions:

1. Be Aloof at First

Never fall in love with something you are trying to acquire-at least not at first. Be a little aloof. Don’t get emotionally attached. Kick the tires. (This point was underscored for me by Robert G. Allen, author of numerous financial books.)

2. Don’t Get Too Eager

In negotiations, the first person to name a number usually loses. So let the other person go first and pace your responses to theirs. If they take 24 hours to respond, set your clock for tomorrow at this time.

3. Give Yourself Options

This is important. The more options you have, the more you will believe you don’t need any particular offer. For example, want to sell a car at the best price? Get multiple offers for it. It will change your negotiating posture and put you in a position of strength.

Don’t fall immediately in love with something you are trying to acquire. Kick the tires.

-MICHAEL HYATT

Tweet Quote

Psychology Matters

You may think this is manipulative or unethical, but I don’t think you can afford to ignore the very real psychology that is at work in serious negotiations. Do so to your own detriment.

And if you are committed to negotiating win-win relationships, as I surely am, you can still do so this way. You’re ensuring that the other party doesn’t win at your expense.

Now for the Rest of the Story

When my boss said he was going to take his time filling the position and might not pick me, I was disappointed. From my perspective, it was a no-brainer. I was the logical choice!

In response, I could have pouted. I could have written a memo detailing my qualifications. I could have launched a campaign asking people I knew my boss respected to recommend me.

But I didn’t do any of those things.

Instead I just smiled and said, No problem. Take your time.

I went back to my office, maintained a positive attitude, and worked hard. A few days later my boss called me back in, told me he’d made his decision, and offered me the promotion.

I was thrilled (though I didn’t let on right away just how thrilled).

Question: What is your most effective negotiating tactic? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

How AI Is Being Used To Make Solopreneurs More Successful

How AI Is Being Used To Make Solopreneurs More Successful

Would you like to play a nice game of chess?

With this computer-generated, nonchalant invitation to play a casual, two-dimensional game, the entire control room at NORAD breathed a collective sigh of relief.

A computer had just brought the country to the brink of Global Thermonuclear War, only to be thwarted at the end by the young hacker who had caused the whole mess to begin with.

Game Screen for DEFCON
Image Credit: Wikipedia.org

Some of you may recall the 1983 film, WarGames, and how one of the earlier instances of Artificial Intelligence (AI) had shown such computer development to be unreliable even scary and threatening!

HAL 9000Over the years, Hollywood has returned to that theme time and again, from HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey to Skynet in The Terminator. Every instance another reminder that computers are getting ‘smarter’ and that humanity’s control over them is tenuous.

Yet, today, AI is all over the news and headlines in a very different way.

The fact is, AI is a very real, very positive development with uses and ramifications everywhere. Even here at SiteSell.

Putting Artificial Intelligence Into Business Building

For decades, the goal of SiteSell has been to connect with individuals who have ideas and a passion to pursue them, and put the proper tools and techniques into their hands to help them succeed.

And succeed they have.

Compared to other online business building systems & platforms, nothing holds a candle to the degree of success that solopreneurs have achieved using Solo Build It!

But it’s not good enough.

We want more of our dedicated solopreneurs to achieve the top tiers of success and we want those who are already there to improve even more.

One approach that we’re taking is to integrate the depth and power of AI into how our solopreneurs research their business niche and determine the focus of their business and content.

Brainstorm It! 4

It all starts with our Brainstorm It! tool, now in its fourth major release, which is on the threshold of an incredible series of developments.

Today, Solo Build It! users are now able to ask questions of Brainstorm It! and the wealth of keyword / site data that it has accumulated in order to surface conclusions that, before, would have been next to impossible to discover.

For instance, you can now ask Brainstorm It! Where’s the traffic? and the system will:

  • take a look at the keywords you had previously researched and targeted
  • compare them against predicted performance data
  • focus in on the ones where you’ve created relevant content but that content isn’t getting search engine traffic, and
  • sort the results so that the best, most profitable opportunities are listed first.

In other words, Brainstorm It! can tell you exactly which pages of your site are truly underperforming in search, and which to work on first.

Other questions include:

  1. Can Rank Higher?
  2. More Traffic?
  3. Quality Traffic
  4. Overused Keywords
  5. More Money
  6. Easy Money
  7. Most Money
You can also set up your own customized sets of filters and sorts to determine whatever it is you want, such as, what high value keywords have I not yet written about? These can be saved as tasks, and more pre-sets will be coming in future releases.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, Mike, that’s not really AI that’s just clever use of data and filters and sorts. And you’d be right, though I appreciate you not making a big deal out of it.

Actually, this is just the beginning.

With version 4.0 the groundwork is laid for future releases by bringing in additional data points and reports, and the kind of macro reporting tasks that can be set up like those 8 questions above.

What comes next is the kind of futuristic development that Arthur C. Clarke might have written about.

AI Beside You

In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the purpose for having the highly-advanced computer system HAL 9000 on board was to help monitor ship’s systems and mission status.

The Discovery was launched from Earth to investigate mysterious developments with Jupiter’s moon, Io. Due to the length of time it takes to travel that far in space, most of the ship’s crew was placed into hibernation with just Frank and Dave, and HAL, left in charge.

HAL-AE35

For instance, in one scene HAL reports, I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It’s going to go 100% failure in 72 hours. That’s the kind of preemptive warning you desperately need if you’re in space, millions of miles from Earth, and can’t afford to have critical systems shutting down.

So what might it look like if HAL was sitting beside you, helping you to run and monitor your business?

What if HAL could alert you when, say, one of the keywords you’ve targeted and written about isn’t performing as well as it should?

Nori, I’ve just picked up a fault with the topic ‘Anguilla Beach Rental’ and am showing a 82% lag in expected performance.

That’s exactly what will be coming in the near future for Brainstorm It! a partner for your business who will constantly monitor your site and targeted keywords, and give you smart alerts and notifications.

Instead of a tool that you use just when you’re getting started, Brainstorm It! will now provide you with new ideas and opportunities throughout your business lifetime.

In fact, the more content you create and the more search traffic you generate, the more value Brainstorm It! provides. In true AI-fashion, Brainstorm It! continues to learn and improve and grow, right alongside you.

The Future of Solopreneur Success

Never before have solopreneurs had so many and such a diverse array of tools and resources at their disposal. And never before have we seen so many solopreneurs achieve unheard of levels of success.

Yet, as we said earlier, that’s not good enough.

For every solopreneur who is able to put together a fantastic online business that brings in traffic and revenue for their family, there are many more who don’t make it.

Part of that is psychological, which is why we’ve shared How NOT to Fail At Business a primer on overcoming your own fears and misperceptions so that all of the barriers between you and success are swept away.

But the other part is making sure that you have the best possible platform and support system in place to help you.

That’s where Solo Build It! comes in.

Solo Build It!Solo Build It! is the premiere solution for everyday people who want to do extraordinary things. People, just like you, who have an idea for a business and want to create something for themselves and their family.

We encourage you to take a closer look at Solo Build It! and see how that unique combination of education, tools, community, support and auto-updating can help you achieve greatness.

Author information

Mike Allton

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

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

The post How AI Is Being Used To Make Solopreneurs More Successful appeared first on Solo Build It! Blog – Proven Real-World Advice for Solopreneurs.