Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com Find Business Ideas, Niche Websites, and much more! Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:48:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1Things and Things and Things! Niche Pursuits no Niche Pursuits sample@email.com sample@email.com (Niche Pursuits) Sample Podcast about Sample Things Niche Pursuits http://www.nichepursuits.com/wp-content/images/niche-pursuits-podcast-cover.jpghttp://www.nichepursuits.com Richland, WA Podcast 55: How Brian Dean Grew a Thriving Blog with Less Content and More Promotionhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:48:07 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=5052 A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all. However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a … Continued

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A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all.

However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so popular).

I considered cancelling the podcast interview, but I’m sure glad I went through with it!  Brian provided a ton of very actionable tips for anyone starting a new blog or looking to attract more traffic and links to their existing sites.

Some of the most interesting takeaways that I had are related to how Brian was able to grow his blog so much in the past year.  He did this by blogging LESS.  By focusing more on quality posts rather than quantity, and then working actively to promote those posts, he’s been able to become a widely recognized expert.

We discuss the exact tactics Brian has used to grow Backlinko.com and how you can do the same.

Brian Dean Podcast Notes

Please note that this is not a full transcript of the interview.  Below is the shortened version of the questions and answers given.  Please listen to the entire podcast to hear the full discussion.

What were you doing before you started Backlinko.com?

I was basically a struggling affiliate marketer.  I was creating small 1 page niche websites with exact match domains.  I created 175 of these 1 page websites while I was freelance writing on the side.

I spent alot of time on the Warrior Forum.  At the time it was fairly easy to rank, and then Panda came out and wiped out my sites.  Then I moved onto 5 page sites and Penguin came out and wiped out those sites.

After that, I could see the writing on the wall and decided to change my ways.  I created a niche authority site that was valuable and promoted it using white hat strategies and it started to do very well.

After 3 months that more white hat site was doing $10,000 a month.

I then started to try and find blogs that were talking about these more quality link building strategies and I just wasn’t finding any…so I created BackLinko.com.

Would you say that you are grateful that Google came out with all their updates?

Absolutely! I would still be struggling if the Penguin update didn’t come out.

Why has the traffic to Backlinko.com grown so quickly?

There are 3 things that I followed and that others can follow to grow their traffic.

  1. I focused on publishing case studies. I realized there was an under-served community that wanted this type of content.
  2. I stopped publishing as often.  The first year I focused on publishing lots of content; however, in my second year I’ve focused on less content but higher quality posts.  This year I’ve only published 11 posts for example.
  3. I hustled really hard to promote everything that I published.

Are you still working on anything else other than Backlinko?

I’m focusing 100% of my effort now on Backlinko.com.  I do have a few other sites out there, but I’m not putting effort into them.

Backlinko is a lot more fun and rewarding.

How are you actually bringing in money with Backlinko?

I sell a premium training course called, “SEO that Works“.  That’s how I bring in all the money with Backlinko.

The course is currently closed, How often do you plan on opening it up?

Next year I plan on opening it a total of 3 times.

Are you willing to share any type of revenue or other details?

I would rather not give specific numbers.  However, I will say that each launch has brought in over six figures; and I’ve had a few launches this year.

The course is priced higher, and so I don’t need a ton of customers to bring in a significant amount revenue.

Is the course a go at your own pace?  Or webinars, etc?

A lot of the course is recorded and go at your own pace.  In addition there are live webinars that are Q&A where people can clarify anything from the course.

Then I also have email support and a Facebook group where members can interact with me and other members.

Do you have a secret formula for creating a interesting blog post titles?

For every post I have a keyword that I like to target.  I front load the keyword in the title, and then the rest I write about some specific value that can gain from the post.

For example, one of my blog post titles is: “Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors in One Day

A couple of resources to look at interested data:

How can people “up their game” to create more in-depth content?

Many people only skim the surface of a topic.  My rule is to think, “an inch wide and a mile deep”.  Instead of just a post about “how to get more subscribers”, you could write about how to create the best form for collecting the most email subscribers possible, that could be much more in-depth.

How can you write content about a topic even if you are not an expert?

You definitely don’t have to be an expert in everything that you write about.  Whenever possible you should use personal experience.  You don’t have to be an expert but you can just document your journey.

If you use the inch wide and a mile deep mentality, then you should never run out of topics that you don’t have some knowledge on.

How much time are you spending on your blog posts?

I would say that depending on the post, its usually about 20 hours that I put into each post.

Where are you coming up with blog post ideas?

I use a keyword approach.  So, I still look at how many times a month people are searching for different terms.  I look at keyword research first.  If I have a great idea, but I don’t see the keyword search volume around it, then I will pass on the idea.

I also look at the trends, if a keyword is new or trending up in search volume that could be a great target even if it currently doesn’t get a ton of search volume.

Do you have a search volume that your are looking for?

For me, I’ll go pretty low.  It really depends on the trends and cost per click.

In older markets the keyword volume is pretty accurate.  But for some keywords that are on the newer side, the search volume could be misleading.  For example one keyword I’m targeting is “Increase conversions” this shows only about 200 search per month.  But I suspect that’s not 100% accurate because its  newer search trending up.

For me, keyword research includes lots of different variables, and keyword volume is only one of those variables.

How much time do you spend promoting your content after it’s published?

I spend another 10 hours.

What are your steps to promote that?

I’m a big email guy.  This has given me the best ROI.  I like to do a “content roadshow” for my content.

I usually just Google keywords related to my content and find other bloggers.  Then I reach out to those people that come up in those results.

I will send an email and just ask if they want to check it out.  If they are interested, I’ll send the content and ask them what they think.  It’s very simple.

People will thank you and share it with their audience.

Do you ever specifically ask them to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or ask for Links?

No, never.  I just don’t think its good form and can backfire.

It may depend a little bit on the niche, but in the marketing niche, people know why you are sending the emails.

How many people do you usually contact for a content roadshow?

Usually about 100 to 120 emails go out.  It’s a lot of time and I have my assistant help me.

Do you use that strategy mostly for social shares or do you see residual links?

Sometimes you will get links straight up. So, you can get links from this strategy.

The other thing is you are creating mind share; you can be top of mind when other bloggers write their own content.  I don’t go in expecting links, but you can get some.

How do you generate links for each piece of content?

I have a method called the “moving man method”.   It’s a twist on broken link building.

Many times a page might be broken but is not returning a 404 response.  This is different than broken link building.  You can reach out to people linking to these broken pages and can leverage this strategy.

For this method, you can’t use a tool specifically.  It’s more about keeping your ear to the ground that will help you see these ideas.

A lot of these opportunities will almost just be serendipitous.  You just need to be paying attention and researching in your niche.

I’m also a huge fan of infographics, I’ve had huge success with these.

What additional marketing tactics do you recommend for someone without an audience?

Positioning is a big marketing strategy.  You want to figure out how your site will fit into what is already out there.

For example, I used to read NichePursuits all the time.  The positioning of Niche Pursuits is that its been very case study focused on very actionable content.

Another example is Steve Kamb of NerdFitness.com  Instead of talking about more body builder type things, he takes an analytic approach to fitness.

Do you have any additional words of wisdom that you would like to share?

One thing I hear alot is that people are concerned with how frequently they update their blog.  I would just advise that its not as important to publish as frequently as you might suspect.

If you are just publishing for the sake of publishing, you should perhaps think twice about that.

Where can people follow along with you?

Go to BackLinko.com and sign up for the newsletter.  I share alot of great tips on that newsletter that is not on the blog.

If you enjoyed the podcast, please leave an honest rating and review on iTunes right here. As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments below. 

The post Podcast 55: How Brian Dean Grew a Thriving Blog with Less Content and More Promotion appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-55-brian-dean-grew-thriving-blog-less-content-promotion/feed/ 17 A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all. - However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so... A few weeks ago I had strep throat.  Not fun at all.However, I also had a podcast interview scheduled with Brian Dean from Backlinko.com at the same time I started feeling sick.  I had scheduled the podcast over a month earlier (because Brian is so... Niche Pursuits no 57:57
How to Self Publish a Book on Amazon: 23 Steps to Launching a Kindle eBook That Makes Over $100 a Dayhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/self-publish-a-book-on-amazon/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 22:18:53 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4965 What if I told you that even if you don’t have an audience or email list that you could self-publish a best selling book on Amazon? Just a few weeks ago Perrin and I launched our very first Kindle ebook.  … Continued

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What if I told you that even if you don’t have an audience or email list that you could self-publish a best selling book on Amazon?

Just a few weeks ago Perrin and I launched our very first Kindle ebook.  Now it’s a best selling book in 3 different categories.

I’m about to show you how.

The book was released under a brand new pen name (as part of my authority site project).  We did all of this with essentially no audience, no email list, and no prior experience selling books as a self-published author on Amazon.

No joke.

What you are about to read are the step by step details of how we self-published a book on the Amazon Kindle store and how it has gone on to get 5,895 free downloads in the first 5 days and is now selling extremely well at $2.99.

To clarify, I DO have a large following on NichePursuits.com.  However, I’ve kept this side project of selling my first book on Amazon a secret until now.  I have not leveraged my audience or my name on Amazon.

I launched my book from scratch, the same point that any of you out there would start from.  If you DO have an existing audience, I’ll share how you can take advantage of that.

The best part about this business is that you can literally have something up and selling on the Amazon Kindle store in a relatively short period of time.

I’ll show you how with the 23 details steps below.

Let’s get serious about this.

First, Here’s Some Results

Before I jump into the detailed steps below, I want to share some results with you that display the success the book is having.

Also, please note that I will NOT be revealing the actual book on Amazon in order to prevent copy cats or other negative consequences I’ve seen from previous projects I’ve shared publicly.

I would make more sales if I shared the book publicly on my blog here, but I think that this case study is more valuable if kept a secret for now.

Overall, here’s some quick highlights of the results of our best selling Kindle eBook:

  • 5,895 free downloads in first 5 days
  • # 1 Best Selling book in 3 Different Kindle eBook categories
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 2,511
  • Made about $40/day during $0.99 period (7 days)
  • Currently making $100+/day – priced at $2.99

Here’s the graph showing the 5 free days of the kindle book (more details on this strategy below):

kindlefree

Getting 5,895 free downloads is great and I believe was critical to the success of our ebook; however, you only make money once you list it for sale.

Here’s what happened when we listed the book for $0.99 (more on pricing strategy below):

kindle99cents

This is the kind of chart you want to see!  When you are getting 60 to 70 units sold per day, even at $0.99 that is very good.  The KU/KOLL units are from the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library programs.  I’m told that these are worth about $1.31 a piece.

Overall, even with just a 35% royalty rate on a $0.99 Kindle book; we were making $40+ a day for the last few days in the chart above.

Not too bad at all.

I will just say that things have gotten even BETTER in terms of earnings once I raised the price of my book to $2.99.

kindlesales

The “Paid Units” (red line) are sales at $2.99, of which I get a 70% royalty share (about $2.07).  The KU/KOLL Units (blue line) are worth about $1.31 each.  You can do the math on your own, but our best selling book is now consistently making $80-$100+ a day.  Sweet!

And here’s the official screenshot showing the books Amazon rank and Best seller status in 3 different categories:

amazonbestseller

(Yes, I blocked out the categories the book is in…I’m just being extra cautious against copy cats).

Thanks to These People…

Before I go into the step by step process below, I have to share that I didn’t figure out this process on my own!  I’ve interviewed both 2 different people on my podcast that are kindle publishing experts: Jonny Andrews and Steve Scott.

I was able to ask both Jonny and Steve direct questions about how to build successful self publishing business on Amazon before I even considered writing my first book.

In addition, Steve has continued to write several excellent blog posts on his blog and has been willing to answer a few private questions via email.  One of the blog posts on Steve’s blog is actually a guest post by Nick Loper from SideHustleNation.com on how he launched a Kindle eBook and got 20,000 downloads in the first week.

Perrin and I followed the steps of Nick Loper’s launch process from that guest post pretty closely.  In addition, Nick also created a more in-depth Kindle Launch Course on Udemy that we purchased as well and followed.  (Nick is offering the course at a 75% discount right here if interested).

So, while many of the steps below do have our own unique twist, I would be remiss to say that Jonny, Steve, and Nick have not provided valuable wisdom in shaping our launch process.

Okay, let’s jump into actually how to make all of this happen!

1. Pick a Broad Niche

In order to pick a niche, I have just a couple of simple rules.  First you want to make sure that people are actually buying books in this niche.

In other words, try not to pick a niche that is so obscure that there isn’t already books on the subject.  You can see some of the best selling books by browsing all the categories of Amazon.

Second you want to pick a broad enough market that at least a few titles could be written in the niche.  A perfect example of a broader market is the market that Steve Scott has chosen “Habits.”  Steve picked the niche of habit development and has now written various titles in that niche ranging from Habit Stacking to Developing a walking habit.

Finally, I would pick a niche that you actually have some interest in.  Whether that’s parenting, camping, or business management; pick a niche that appeals to you and has a fairly large established audience.

2. Plan for Future Success

If you are looking to build a long term self publishing business, you don’t want to be a one hit wonder.  According to experts like Steve Scott and Jonny Andrews, you want to eventually build up your library of book titles.

Once you have a few titles all in the same niche, buyers of one book will browse other titles that you have and will many times buy if they liked your first book.

This is really just a classic example of finding your target market and selling additional stuff to them.  If all your books are on fishing for example, a person interested in catching Bass might also be interested in catching Rainbow Trout; so if you’ve written both these books you can get 2 sales instead of just one.

However, if you’ve written one book on Bass Fishing and another book on Sewing, the chances that the bass fisherman is interested in a book on sewing is very very slim.

So, you must absolutely plan for your future success by sticking in your niche!  So, before you settle on a niche think about whether or not you can see lots of additional book titles in the same market that will appeal to a similar audience.

3. Determine If Books Are Selling Well in Your Niche

If you want to make more than a couple of dollars a month with your new book, you need to make sure that the category you are targeting has enough buyers.  One way to see how well books are selling in your chosen category is to look at the “Amazon Best Seller Rank” of some of the top books in your niche.

This step is so important, and will either solidify your decisions made in steps 1 and 2, or may tell you to completely scrap the niche you’ve picked and try something else.

In a nutshell, I want to see the best sellers in my chosen category with an amazon best seller rank of at least 10,000; and finding titles under 5,000 is much better.  A lower rank means that the book is selling more copies.

If a book is ranked 5,000 on the Kindle store, that means it’s probably selling anywhere from 20 to 40 copies a day (this is not an exact science but just a best guess based on my own book).  A book with an Amazon best seller rank of 10,000 or higher is most likely selling less than 10 copies a day (and perhaps much less just depending on where it ranks).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to write a book that only sells 1 copy a day.  I want something that can potentially make 4 figures a month!  By looking at the Amazon best seller ranks, you can know if your chosen niche/category has any chance at all of selling that many copies.

Let’s look at a couple of examples.

First, go to the Kindle Store on Amazon Here.

kindlemenu

Now you need to scroll to your category by clicking on either “Kindle eBooks” or “Kindle Short Reads”.  I suggest clicking on “Kindle eBooks” to get the best idea of the general market size.

By going to the Kindle Short Reads you will only see the books selling well that are under a certain length.  This can be an interesting category to compare what other short kindle books are doing on Amazon; however, for research purposes, looking at the overall eBooks section is sufficient.

For example, let’s click on Kindle eBooks, and then “Science & Math”:

ebookscience

Now under Science and Math, there are lots of subcategories.  I want to find the subcategory that most closely matches the book that I plan to write.  So, let’s dig a bit deeper:

riversbestseller

If you wanted to write a book about Rivers…this is the category you would want to check out.  The #1 bestseller in this sub-category is “Blue Mind”.

Once you click on the book, you can then see the actual Amazon Best Sellers Rank by scrolling just below the “Product Details” section.

river1

This book is the #1 Best Seller in the Rivers category, but only has an Amazon Best Sellers Rank of 27,888 overall in the Kindle store.  This is way above the 10,000 threshold that I mentioned earlier.  I also checked several other titles in this category and all of them are well above 10,000.

As a result, I would NOT consider writing a book on Rivers or one that fits into this subcategory.  There just isn’t enough interest from buyers on this subject.

A Better Example

Now let’s find a category that would be worth pursuing.

If we go to the “Crafts, Hobbies, and Home” category and then “Animal Care and Pets” this is what we see:

dog1

I clicked on the Dogs subcategory and can see the “How Dogs Love Us” is the #1 best seller.  How is it’s Amazon best seller rank?

absdogs

This book is ranked #849 overall!  It’s selling REALLY well.

As I look at this book and others in the “dogs” category, many of them are well under the #10,000 sellers rank.  This category would give you lots of potential to sell a lot of books in.

By using this research method, you will know if a category is a good market to go into or not.

4. Brainstorm Book Topics

Now that you have chosen a niche that has a lot of potential for future success and found a category that sells well, it’s time to start brainstorming for the topic of your first book!

My process for brainstorming book topics is to write down about 10 different potential topics in my niche (from previous steps).  So, if I were to going into the Dogs category, I could see that any book related to how Dogs and humans think and communicate is something that people buy.

I’m sure I could come up with a few random titles for this category…

  •  How to communicate with your dog
  • How to Organize Your House with a dog at home
  • Children and Dog relationships
  • etc.

I’m just making this all up at this point, but you get the idea.  Just do some free flowing brainstorming on your specific topic and you are sure to start coming across some topics that could perform well.

By using your own intuition and seeing what books on similar topics are selling well, you can quickly narrow down what the actual subject matter of your book should be.  Unfortunately there is no software where you can punch in your potential book title and see how many copies it will sell.

However, you can use the real world data on Amazon to help you get as close to an accurate estimate as possible.

5. Create a Great Book Title

The title of a book is so critical.  I know that the old saying says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

However, the reality is that people DO make snap judgements about not just the cover, but also the title and overall feeling they get when they read it and the book description.

The title is your chance to capture the attention of a potential buyer and intrigue them enough to buy the book.

The principles for writing a great book title are very similar to writing a great blog post title or email subject line.  If you study what great copy writers have advised, you are sure to increase your chances of creating a winning book title.

This is not an exact science, but here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.  And to clarify, these are tips primarily for non-fiction books.  Although I’m sure most of these principles can be applied to fiction books as well.

a. State Promise in Main Title

Try to make it clear right away what the reader is going to get from the book.  For example, Dave Ramsey’s best selling book is called, “Total Money Makeover“.  The promise is clear.  Read this book and get a total money makeover.

Another example is Steve Scott’s book, “Wake Up Successful“.  It’s clear the that book is going to teach you how to be more successful in the morning.

However, the sub-title’s of these books really close the sale…as we’ll see in a second.

b. Make the Primary Title Catchy or Memorable

Not every book is going to have a clear promise in the first few words of its title.  That’s okay IF you can make the title unique, catchy, or memorable.

If you can make both a promise AND “catchy”, that’s ideal.  Dave Ramsey’s book “Total Money Makeover” nails both the promise and catchiness.

For example, another Steve Scott book is “Habit Stacking”.  This doesn’t give a clear promise, but it DOES hit a home run on the catchy and memorable scale.

And as we’ll see below, Steve utilizes the subtitle to great effect.  I believe his title and subtitle are a huge reason why its been a best selling book for quite some time now.

c. Subtitle for supporting benefits

People want to know what they are going to get after reading your book.  The sub-title can help you state more clearly what they will get, how long it will take, or other benefits that you want to highlight.

If you want to sell your book, you need to use some marketing tactics…and the subtitle is a great chance to do that.

For example, Steve’s Scott book is “Habit Stacking” has a full title and sub-title of, Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take 5 Minutes of Less

That’s a winner!

See what Steve did there?  In the subtitle he made it sound attainable, “small life changes” in “5 minutes or less”.  The reader is now intrigued with what the small habits are but also knows that they are easily attainable.

Another example?  Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover has an excellent sub-title as well.  “Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness”

The supporting benefits are clear!  This is not just a random plan…this is a “proven” plan to whip you into financial shape.  (The plan on the “makeover” and “fitness” is also brilliant).

No wonder his Amazon Best Seller Rank is 451!

Okay, there’s more to it than a title…but the title IS part of it.

d. Numbers Can Work Well

Numbers in your title or subtitles can work very well.  Hubspot released a blog post with 74 compelling title formulas.

Out of those 74 options, over 50 of them had numbers in the title.

People are drawn in by facts and figures.  If you can include a number in your subtitle, it can be a great way to go.

(Notice that I did the same thing with the title of this very blog post).

e. See What’s Working for Competitors

If you want to know what book titles sell well, why not just go over to Amazon and start browsing the best sellers in various categories?

I’m not advising that you copy anyone; rather you can see the types of titles that work well.  This type of research can really help solidify your ideas as you search for the best possible title for your book.

f. Follow the experts

So much as been written by copy writing experts on writing great book titles, blog post titles, and more.  Here’s a few great resources where you can further your education on writing great book titles.

6. Outline Your Book

Phew!  Now that you’ve done your research and finally settled on a good title, it’s time to actually start writing your book!

That’s right, I think you should create the title before you write the book.  At least for me, this helps guide me in the writing if I know what the end benefit I’ve already promised to the readers.

Writing an outline will help further flesh out the content of your book.  You should write an outline so that you know the content that will be contained in each chapter.

The outline is not meant to be in depth, but rather just the general ideas and main points to be included in each chapter.

Once this outline is complete, the actual writing of the book will be much easier.

7. Write the Book

Once you have created a great title with a promise and outlined the main points of the book, the rest is just filling in all the details.

That’s doesn’t mean it’s easy to write a book, it just means it’s much better than staring at a blank page.  I want to stress that it’s VERY important that you create a valuable book!  We are not in the business of churning out books that no one wants to read.

If you create an extremely valuable book that people want to read AND follow the marketing tactics listed here, then you’ll be much more likely to have a winning combination.  In addition, Amazon knows how long people spend reading your book and how many pages that actually look at.  I strongly suspect (as do others) that Amazon uses this time spent reading a book and pages viewed as a ranking factor in Amazon.

For our first book on Amazon (that is currently a best seller), we followed a fairly simple format for writing the book.

At the beginning of each chapter we mentioned the main point or the most actionable tips right up front.  Then we used the rest of the chapter to provide supporting evidence for why that tip works well.

In addition, if you can provide personal stories from your own life or others to support those main points, your book will be much more interesting.

People love stories.  So, don’t just tell them that they should brush their teeth for 2 minutes to avoid plaque buildup.  Tell them how after you brushed your teeth for 2 minutes each day you met the love of your life after she noticed how white (and plaque free) your teeth were.

You get the idea…don’t just give dry facts; make it real to people.

As far as length, you are in complete control.  However, if you are targeting the kindle market (like I am) you will likely want to write a book that is 10k to 25k words in length.

However, the length of book really depends on your overall goals and strategy.

8. Hire a Proofreader or Editor

After completing your book, you should hire someone to proofread it.

For our book, we just went over to Elance.com and found someone for about $50 to read through our book and make minor edits.

You could also work with a family member or friend that you feel has the skills you need.

9. Insert an Offer to Collect Emails From Your Book

Did you know that your Kindle eBook can also act as a lead generation tool?  Unfortunately Amazon doesn’t allow you to have the email addresses of everyone that buys your book; however, you can put a free offer in the front of your book.

If someone is interested in your free offer, they will click the link, go to your opt-in page, and give you their email address.

Here’s an example of a free offer in the front of Nick Loper’s “Work Smarter” Kindle eBook:

worksmarteroffer

Clicking the link will take you to an opt in page where Nick is collecting email addresses.  This is smart indeed!  Here’s what it looks like:

worksmarteroptin

If you would like another example, I’ve got that for you too!

Here’s the offer in the front of Steve Scott’s Habit Stacking Book:

IMG_2353 (2)

When a reader decides to click on the link, they are taken to a LeadPages capture form.  It’s pretty simple, but effective.  Here’s what it looks like:

leadpagehabit

Being able to build leads AND make sells is one of the beautiful things about this business.  If you don’t have an audience for your first book, you can have an audience by the time your second and third book comes around.

So, if you are capturing these leads and following the other marketing steps I’ll cover, your additional books should be easier than your first.

If you don’t have a free opt-in to give away, you can consider going to master-resale-rights.com where you can buy private label rights ebooks for very cheap.  Not all of these are able to be given away for free, but many of them are.

The best option is to write something up yourself or create some other kind of free gift (video, course, or anything enticing to your audience).

10. Get a Professional eBook Cover

People DO choose books based on their covers sometimes, so you need to make sure yours looks professional.  Luckily, there is no need to learn Photoshop and do everything yourself.

With so many talented freelance graphic designers, it’s very easy to find someone that will create a fantastic ebook cover for you for relatively cheap.

For our book, we just went over to Elance.com and hired someone for $150 to whip up a great looking cover.  Done!

I don’t have any specific advice other than to say, look at what other best selling books are doing and decide what covers you like.  If you can provide some examples of styles you like to your designer, I’m sure you will get something you are satisfied with.

11. Format Your Kindle eBook

Unfortunately, you can’t just upload a word document or a PDF to Amazon.  Your book needs to be in the special Kindle format.

You could go out and learn how to format the book yourself; however, there are a lot of quirks and it’s very simple to just hire someone off Elance to do it for you.

We hired someone for $50 on Elance to get our book in the proper format to upload to Kindle.  It’s that easy.

However, if you really want to learn the steps for formatting your book to the Kindle format, you can go to the official Amazon Kindle Simplified Formatting Guide Here.

12. Write and Format Your Book Description

Now it’s time to actually head over to Amazon and start getting your book ready for sale!  You will list your book at kdp.Amazon.com.

I think its important to put some time and thought into your title and book description before you actually start uploading anything.  The “Book Description” is your best chance after your title and subtitle to close the sale.

In fact, you have up to 4000 characters to give both a more in-depth description of your book and entice the potential reader with the benefits they will receive after reading your book.

bookdescription

Unfortunately, when I look at some books on Amazon, many of them only have a sentence or two under their book description.  And they are often not very good!  You need to focus this message on the reader, how will this book benefit them?

This is your chance to put your copy writing skills to use!

For additional tips on sales copy writing, read these articles:

Formatting

You will also want to format your book description so that it looks good.  Amazon has a good resource on what HTML is supported right here.

And here’s another great blog post that shows what the different formatting options look like and how to apply them.

I personally recommend using the H2 tags for your headers, rather than the larger H1 header.

13. Choose Categories and Contributors

Now you have the chance to add “Contributors”.  This is the author or authors of the book.  This could be your real name or a pen name.  I used a pen name on my first book.

categories

Next, you will need to select the categories that your book most accurately fits into.  This can take a little bit of hunting around to find the perfect fit, but you should find a category that works well for your book.

You are allowed to select 2 categories total.

The only strategy here is to pick the the category that targets your books subject matter as much as possible.

14. Research Amazon Keywords

Amazon allows you to input up to 7 keywords or keyword phrases that your book will show up for.  Your book will also naturally show up for other keyword searches just depending on how well your book is performing and other factors.

Keywords in your book title and book description will already show up in Amazon, so you don’t necessarily need to repeat these keywords.  Although for keywords that your really want to show up for, you probably should have them in your description and as a selected keyword.

But what keywords do you target?  Luckily, you are able to change your keywords at any time, so you are not “stuck” with your initial selections.

It can take some time to learn all the ins and outs, but a great way to start is to use the auto complete function on Amazon as suggested by this great article on GoodReads.com.

So, let’s say you are writing a book on saving money.  You can think of a few phrases people might type in to find a book about saving money.  One of those is likely to be, “How to save money”.

Here’s an image of the suggested searches on Amazon:

savemoney

As a result of these suggestions, you might want to select “how to save money on groceries” or “how to save money at home” as a couple of your keywords.

In order to get additional keyword ideas you can use the Google Keyword Planner or Long Tail Pro (I created Long Tail Pro).  Obviously, I prefer Long Tail Pro because it’s much easier to use and organize the data.

By using Long Tail Pro, you are able to generate up to 800 related keywords to your seed keyword (“how to save money”).  Here’s a few of the suggested terms:

ltpamazon

Long Tail Pro shows the search volume under “local searches” for how many times each month people are searching for these terms on Google.  Obviously the search volume is different on Amazon, but it can give you an idea of what terms are searched for more than others.

My quick test on Long Tail Pro came up with a few good terms that I would consider putting as keywords if I was writing a book on budgeting; like “tips on saving money” and “best ways to save money”.

As you get more advanced, you can go a step further and actually figure out how competitive these keywords are on Amazon.  After all, just because you show up for a keyphrase doesn’t mean people will find you.  If all the keywords you select are extremely competitive you might end up on page 50 or 60 because the first page results are dominated by best selling books with hundreds of reviews.

So, it might be worth your time to research what books are showing up for your potential keywords to see if any “weak” books are showing up.  If books with a lower Amazon Best Sellers Rank are showing up, that’s probably a good sign that your chosen keywords are less competitive.

This can be a lot to take in, I know.

But just take a deep breath and remember: you can change your keywords at any time.  So if your book isn’t performing as well as hoped at first, you can always change your keywords and try again.

15. Choose a Pricing Strategy and Upload Book

Now it’s time to choose a pricing strategy and list your book for sale!

If you don’t have an audience, I highly recommend that you list your book for free the first 5 days. If you enroll your book in the Amazon Kindle select program (which you probably should), you are allowed up to 5 free days every 90 days.

This is the strategy the Steve Scott and Nick Loper recommend.  In fact, we followed Nick Loper’s launch strategy VERY closely throughout the entire process. So if you want even more details, I highly recommend checking out Nick’s course right here that is currently 75% off.

Here’s the pricing strategy that we followed when launching our book, and it has worked extremely well:

  • Free – first 5 days
  • $0.99 – 3 to 7 days after your free days
  • $2.99 – after your $0.99 period

Listing your book for free should help you climb to the top of a few categories within Amazon.  People love free stuff, so your book will get downloaded.  And if you do the additional marketing that I suggest below, you should get LOTS of downloads.

After the first 5 days, your book should be performing well if all goes according to plan (again, see below).  Then when you list your book for $0.99 it’s really the first time you can get some market validation for your book!

Are people actually willing to pull out their credit cards and hit the “buy” button?  Pricing at $0.99 will only earn you a 35% royalty rate from Amazon which is pretty terrible, so you won’t want to leave it here permanently.

However, this discount period can get your book listed not only in special sections of Amazon, but also on other 3rd party deal sites that regularly list kindle books priced at $0.99 (like BuckBooks.net). Then by the time you finally switch your book over to the $2.99 price the sales will continue to roll in from the momentum you’ve built up.

The reason for the $2.99 price is that is the 70% royalty threshold.  Amazon finally gives you a bigger piece of the pie when you list your book at $2.99 or above.

Here’s a quick look at the the downloads and purchases during my books free, $0.99, and $2.99 periods:

kindlefree

As you can see, our free period did very well.  And thankfully that carried on to our $0.99 and $2.99 periods:

amazonpricing

The $0.99 period solidified the fact that people were willing to buy the book.  And even though we got between 60 and 70 units ordered for a few days, we didn’t make tons of money those days.  Each unit at $0.99 in only worth about 35 cents.

The blue line is Kindle Unlimited and Kindle borrows.  These are worth about $1.31 each.  So, I’ll let you do the math if you want to know how much we were making each day!

Once we switched the price to $2.99, the units ordered dropped dramatically.  This was my first kindle book, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew it would drop, but didn’t know if it would be that much.  However, I’m told that this is very normal.

So, even though our units orders is much less, our overall earnings is MUCH more than the $0.99 cent period thanks to the 70% royalty.  Again, I’ll let you do the math, but some of the days on the above chart are over the $100 per day mark.

16. Launch to Your List First

The next few steps of the process are all about how to launch your book during that free period to make sure you pick up the momentum you need to perform well when your price goes up.  I want to again re-iterate that much of what I’m about to share in the next few steps is taken directly from Nick Loper’s suggestion from this blog post and his course.

The first step is very simple.  If you have an audience on an email list, tell them about your book!  This is going to be the best way to get initial downloads and reviews.

If you don’t have a “business” list, you can let your friends and family know about your book to get a few downloads.

17. Get Reviews During Free Period

Reviews are so important for your book to do well.  A big part of Amazon’s algorithm is determined by the number and rating of your book reviews.  Get more book reviews and your book should perform better.  Get more high ratings and your book should perform better.

Conversely, if your book starts getting lots of negative reviews, your book will not perform as well.

In addition, a Verified Purchase review is more valuable than a review from a non-verified purchaser.  This is why getting reviews during the free period can be so advantageous.

Someone that goes through and downloads your book during the free period is still considered a verified purchaser!

Here’s the deal, you should really try to get at least 10 to 15 reviews during the free period.  This is going to be the easiest time to ask people for reviews because well it’s free.  Getting as many as 20 reviews during the free period would be excellent!  The more the better.

You should have at least 10 to 15 friends or family members that you can ask to download and review your book. When Perrin and I launched ourbook here’s what we did (and you can do the same):

  • Emailed about 30 people
  • Asked them to download the book
  • Asked them to read it
  • Asked them to give it an honest review

About 50% of the family and friends we emailed actually gave it a review.  So after, the first few days we already had 15 reviews!  Perrin’s aunt only gave us 4 stars, but we’ve gotten over it. :)

We also picked up a couple of other “natural” reviews during the first week or so.

18. Reach Out to Relevant Groups and Blogs

Reaching out to both Facebook groups and relevant blogs can be a good way to jump start downloads of your book.

During your free days, here’s a list of the 5 Facebook Groups that we submitted too (and the one’s that Nick recommends):

These are all groups that promote free books, so they welcome your submissions.
Certain niches could have good success reaching out via email to bloggers that are relevant to your book.  Ideally you can do this ahead of time before your launch to have the most impact.
I’ll admit that Perrin and I tried reaching out to several bloggers but had almost no success in getting mentions.  Luckily, that didn’t seem to matter as we still ranked very well naturally in Amazon’s ecosystem with the other marketing efforts that we did.

19. Post to Free eBook Sites

Did you know that there are websites out there that do nothing but list and promote free Kindle eBooks? The websites accept submissions from people, so you should let them know your book is free!

Sarah at SarkEmedia.com provides 72 places you can promote your Kindle eBook when it’s free.  Below I’ve just included the 35 free eBook sites suggested by Sarah.

Here’s a list of 35 free eBook sites:

  1. http://www.pixelofink.com/sfkb/
  2. http://bargainebookhunter.com/feature-your-book/
  3. http://ereadernewstoday.com/category/free-kindle-books/
  4. http://www.freebookdude.com/p/list-your-free-book.html
  5. http://authormarketingclub.com/members/submit-your-book/ (you have to be a member, but membership is free)
  6. http://blog.booksontheknob.org/p/about-this-blog-and-contact-info.html
  7. http://www.freebooksy.com/editorial-submissions
  8. http://www.thatbookplace.com/free-promo-submissions/
  9. http://snickslist.com/books/place-ad/
  10. http://addictedtoebooks.com/submission
  11. http://www.kindleboards.com/free-book-promo/
  12. http://indiebookoftheday.com/authors/free-on-kindle-listing/
  13. http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php
  14. http://digitalbooktoday.com/12-top-100-submit-your-free-book-to-be-included-on-this-list/
  15. http://thedigitalinkspot.blogspot.com.es/p/contact-us.html
  16. http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.co.uk/p/tell-us-about-free-books.html
  17. http://www.freeebooksdaily.com/
  18. http://www.freebookshub.com/authors/
  19. http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,97167.0/
  20. http://www.frugal-freebies.com/
  21. http://www.ereaderiq.com/about/
  22. http://freekindlefiction.blogspot.co.uk/
  23. http://www.mobileread.com/forums/ (membership required)
  24. http://flurriesofwords.blogspot.co.uk/
  25. http://askdavid.com/free-book-promotion
  26. http://digitalbooktoday.com/join-our-team/
  27. http://ebookshabit.com/about-us/
  28. http://www.ereaderperks.com/about/
  29. http://thefrugalereader.wufoo.com/forms/frugal-freebie-submissions/
  30. http://www.goodkindles.net/p/why-should-i-submit-my-book-here.html
  31. http://www.blackcaviar-bookclub.com/free-book-promotion.html#.UXFB27XYeOc
  32. http://www.totallyfreestuff.com/
  33. http://www.icravefreebies.com/contact/
  34. http://uk.hundredzeros.com/
  35. http://freedigitalreads.com/
  36. http://readingdeals.com/

You can do the submissions yourself, or you can hire someone from FancyHands.com like Nick Loper did. We used FancyHands, it it worked out very well.

Finally, there are also tools out there that can help you submit even faster and to more sites.  BookMarketingTools.com has a submission tool to free Kindle sites right here.

This free period is your chance to really get on the map!  You need to utilize all the marketing avenues that you can to help give your book the best chance of ranking well in Amazon naturally.  Once you start ranking naturally in Amazon and if you book truly is valuable to readers, you should continue to sell well once you switch from free to paid.

20. Ask Others to Email For You

If you don’t have an email list, why not ask others that do have an email list to spread the word about your book?

This can be a little more difficult to do if you don’t already have relationships with people in your niche, but it is possible.

For example, Perrin and I were able to contact someone in our niche that we knew had a large email list and we simply asked them if they would tell their audience about our free Kindle book.  They agreed.

We asked this person to email their list when there was only 24 hours left before our book went to $0.99.  We did that to drive up the free downloads on the last day, but to also get some sales for those people on the email list that missed the free download deadline.

We were clearly getting lots of free downloads before this email went out, but the last day was definitely our biggest free day.  See this chart:

kindleemailblast

I think our book would have done just fine without that email blast (we had over 1500 free downloads the day before); however, it certainly didn’t hurt.

21. Get More reviews

I know I already mentioned it, but getting reviews are SO important if you hope to gain traction in Amazon’s huge marketplace.  As a result, you shouldn’t just stop trying to get reviews when your book is no longer free.

Once our book went to $0.99 we were able to reach out to friends and family and get a couple more reviews.

Although we haven’t tried it yet, you can also reach out to top reviewers on Amazon to see if they are willing to read and review your book.  Here is a list of the top reviewers on Amazon.

Chris Guthrie also has a tool called AmaSuite that helps you find top reviewers and their contact information more easily.  The software has only been privately released at this point, but it will be publicly available soon I’m told.  When its available, you can go to this page to check out AmaSuite.

22. Create a Print Version and Test Pricing

Some people want their books in digital format and others want the physical book.  Luckily, it’s easy to turn your Kindle book into a printed copy using CreateSpace.com.

This is a print on demand service owned by Amazon…so don’t worry about stocking and shipping any physical books on your own.

The printed version can also create a nice price anchor to help your kindle version look like a better deal.

printprice

When people see the $6.99 price this increases the value of the book in their mind.  This is an age old marketing tactic.  People will feel like they are getting a $7 book for only $2.99…what a deal!

So, the only purpose of creating a print version of your book is not to only sell printed copies.  A big reason is to make your Kindle price look like a better deal and sell more copies of the Kindle version.

As you go forward, you should test and tweak pricing on both the printed and kindle version.  Your final price doesn’t have to be $2.99.  If you can sell almost as many copies at $4.99, then you will be making much more money.

I have not had a chance to test different pricing strategies with my book just yet, but it’s certainly on the to-do list.

23. Launch Another Book!

I have been told by multiple successful self-publishers that the real scale of this business comes when you start releasing additional books.  Readers of your first book will start to browse your author page and your additional book titles.

The more quality books you have, the more likely that your current buyers will be interested in something else you have written as well.  Steve Scott attributes a lot of his success (makes over $40,000 a month from Kindle books) to building an audience and having multiple books in the same niche.

So, now that you’ve had some success with your first Kindle eBook, it’s time to leverage that success by creating more and more books in your niche.  This can take a year or two to build up a significant library; however, the business potential is very real.

Perrin and I have already sat down and brainstormed our next book.  We’ve chosen a topic, title, and have started the outline.  We expect to launch our second book in the next 30 days.

Let’s Discuss…

Overall, Perrin and I are extremely happy with the success of our best selling Kindle eBook.  My only disappointment is that I didn’t start sooner!

In fact as I see the huge success and now the huge business potential as we add more titles, I honestly can say that I haven’t been this excited about a new business venture in a long time.  Is the success of our first book out of the ordinary?  Absolutely.

But did we follow some very specific steps (as outlined above) to try and achieve exactly what we did?  Absolutely.

The business potential of becoming a self published author on Amazon is very real, and hopefully some of you are able to achieve the same kind of success that we are currently seeing as well.

I would love to hear any comments or questions that you might have below.  Let’s discuss some of the finer points of the process in the comment section and hopefully we can all learn from each other.

The post How to Self Publish a Book on Amazon: 23 Steps to Launching a Kindle eBook That Makes Over $100 a Day appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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Podcast 54: Link Building Tactics for 2015 and Beyond with Jon Cooperhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/link-building-tactics-2015/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/link-building-tactics-2015/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 23:28:23 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4999 When it comes to link building experts, Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO.com is right at the top of the list. For that reason, I wanted to bring Jon on the podcast for a second time (hear the first time here) to … Continued

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When it comes to link building experts, Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO.com is right at the top of the list.

For that reason, I wanted to bring Jon on the podcast for a second time (hear the first time here) to discuss link building tactics that are working right now.  In particular, Perrin and I got a chance to ask about our authority site and actually get some personalized advice for how we should approach our link building.

What I’ve always loved about Jon’s advice is that it is not just short term tactic based.  He truly tries to find the best way to acquire and attract links in a way that will last long term.  These are strategies that really should work in 2015 and beyond.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jon has documented all of his link building strategies in an excellent guide: The Point Blank SEO Link Building Course.

I’ve been through the course myself, and have referred to it many times over the past couple of years.  Jon keeps this course up to date and the tactics are white hat strategies that really don’t change much anyway.

I asked if Jon was willing to give a discount on the course to my readers and he agreed.  You can get the link building course for 20% off…but only for the next 7 days.

Get the Link Building Training Course Here for an Exclusive 20% Off!

That is basically the check out page.  If you want to see the full sales page before you get the discount, go here.

Podcast Interview Notes

Perrin and I enjoyed interview Jon, and below are most of the questions we asked.  The answers are really only in an abbreviated format below, this is not a transcript.

What is your current business?

I have an SEO blog specifically on link building that I’ve built my business around. I’ve been focusing the last 6 months on just my SEO agency.

I do still have my Link Building Course that I keep updated.  And then I also have an Advanced ecommerce link building guide.

How did the launch of the Advanced eCommerce Link Building Guide?

It went pretty well, but not quite as well as I had hoped.  I may re-open it but never allow more than 500 total people buy it.

Why would you limit the sales to 500 copies?

Link building is a zero sum game.  So, if everyone becomes an expert link builder some tactics loose potency.

What kind of clients are you looking for in your link building agency?

I could do a lot to get more clients, because I only want the certain amount of clients.  We weed out potential clients based on the types of links we build (lots of resource pages and broken link building right now).

Are you still involved in the eCommerce site that we discussed on our last podcast?

Yes, I’m still involved there.  However, I’ve shifted my focus a bit because I’ve been getting so many link building leads through my blog.  So, I’ve decided to focus a bit more on where some of these opportunities are.

It’s difficult to grow a new business and still pull yourself in multiple directions.  By picking one primary business, its had a huge impact on my bank account.

We have an authority site and want your link building advice.  What are some link building tactics we should implement?

First, you should realize that there are not lots of “new” link building tactics out there.  Pretty much every type of link building has been talked about and well documented on the internet.

You guys mentioned that you have created a scholarship page to attract links.  If you business doesn’t apply to an academic area in a very specific way, you probably shouldn’t create a scholarship.  Getting links from just general scholarship pages just aren’t doing much.  There isn’t much link juice on these pages anymore.

If you find that your business is relevant to an academic area, then it’s okay to use a scholarship page.  Then you would only try to get links from scholarship pages that are relevant to that particular academic area.

Without the relevance, it doesn’t have a lot of merit.

What else would you advise for link building?

I think it’s important for alot of people to realize that the impact of link building 5 years ago to today is much different.  I’ve found more and more that you can’t hide bigger issues on-site.

You will be really disappointed with your link building efforts if you don’t fix the on-site issues first.

What are the biggest on-site issues that you see?

It could be the architecture of the site?

eCommerce site; making sure you have decent content on your category and product pages.  Sites that get it right from the beginning are at a big advantage over those that had issues and try to constantly fix those.

It could be duplicate pages or lack of unique content.

What tips do you have for getting good links in general?

Strategies can be very different depending on the niche that you are in.

For example, if you look at beekeeping supplies. A lot of the best links for sites ranking well in this niche are just resource pages.  There is a lot of low hanging fruit because they sell the supplies.  These links are super easy to get.

Contrast that from payday loans; there just isn’t that many quality pages that you can get links from.

So, depending on what niche you are in will really determine how easy you can get links.

You can look at different sub-niches below you and your competitors and find out what types of links they are getting.  I spend a lot of my time doing competitor research.

Relevance is almost like the new PageRank as well.  So, make sure you are getting links from relevant pages.

What’s the most efficient type of link building that people should focus on?

You should focus on one large content asset.  However, if you don’t have the time, still try to create a resource that you know you can get links to.  Then you should manually reach out to people that are likely to link to this resource.

I would personally focus on a large content asset.

The more time you spend on less content, the better chance you have that that content will get shared and linked to.  You really need to be in the top 1 or 2%.

There are a couple of types of articles that are naturally link worthy.

First is just breaking news.  If you can share something new, it will get linked to.

The other type of content is the Ultimate guide to XYZ.  For example, I did this on PointBlankSEO with my Link Building Strategies page.  These types of guides may not immediately get tons of links, but over time they have great potential to.

What tools do you use to reach out and get links?

I use BuzzStream.  My entire business is built around using BuzzStream.

This one tool helps me keep track of all the emails, leads, and links that I’m trying to acquire.

BuzzStream keeps track of response rates and more.

How many responses do you get when you do outreach for links?

I’m very focused on success rates.  We’ve had ranges of success rates from 4% to 18%.

Is your point blank SEO course still up to date?

The Link Building course has been updated and its how I train my team.  So, its definitely still up to date.

The information if very much white hat; it’s not the kind of stuff that changes with Google changes.

Where should people follow along with you?

Blog: PointBlankSEO.com

Twitter: @PointBlankSEO

Final Thoughts

Overall, Perrin and I really enjoyed doing the interview!  Hopefully, you are able to get some valuable link building ideas from the podcast.

As a reminder, Jon was kind enough to offer the Niche Pursuits audience only a discount of 20% off his Link Building Course.  You can see what the course is all about here (but only buy from the discount link below).

Use This Special Page to Get a 20% Discount on the Point Blank SEO Link Building Course

This offer does expire in 7 days.

Perrin and I have been implementing several of the tactics from the course and this interview to our new authority site, and we will be sharing more results in the near future.

As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you may have about the interview in the comments below.

The post Podcast 54: Link Building Tactics for 2015 and Beyond with Jon Cooper appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/link-building-tactics-2015/feed/ 25 When it comes to link building experts, Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO.com is right at the top of the list. - For that reason, I wanted to bring Jon on the podcast for a second time (hear the first time here) to discuss link building tactics that are wor... When it comes to link building experts, Jon Cooper of PointBlankSEO.com is right at the top of the list.For that reason, I wanted to bring Jon on the podcast for a second time (hear the first time here) to discuss link building tactics that are working right now.  In particular, Perrin and I got a chance to ask about our authority site and actually get some personalized advice for how we should approach our link building.What I've always loved about Jon's advice is that it is not just short term tactic based.  He truly tries to find the best way to acquire and attract links in a way that will last long term.  These are strategies that really should work in 2015 and beyond.As I've mentioned before, Jon has documented all of his link building strategies in an excellent guide: The Point Blank SEO Link Building Course.I've been through the course myself, and have referred to it many times over the past couple of years.  Jon keeps this course up to date and the tactics are white hat strategies that really don't change much anyway.I asked if Jon was willing to give a discount on the course to my readers and he agreed.  You can get the link building course for 20% off...but only for the next 7 days. Get the Link Building Training Course Here for an Exclusive 20% Off! That is basically the check out page.  If you want to see the full sales page before you get the discount, go here. Podcast Interview Notes Perrin and I enjoyed interview Jon, and below are most of the questions we asked.  The answers are really only in an abbreviated format below, this is not a transcript.What is your current business?I have an SEO blog specifically on link building that I've built my business around. I've been focusing the last 6 months on just my SEO agency.I do still have my Link Building Course that I keep updated.  And then I also have an Advanced ecommerce link building guide.How did the launch of the Advanced eCommerce Link Building Guide?It went pretty well, but not quite as well as I had hoped.  I may re-open it but never allow more than 500 total people buy it.Why would you limit the sales to 500 copies?Link building is a zero sum game.  So, if everyone becomes an expert link builder some tactics loose potency.What kind of clients are you looking for in your link building agency?I could do a lot to get more clients, because I only want the certain amount of clients.  We weed out potential clients based on the types of links we build (lots of resource pages and broken link building right now).Are you still involved in the eCommerce site that we discussed on our last podcast?Yes, I'm still involved there.  However, I've shifted my focus a bit because I've been getting so many link building leads through my blog.  So, I've decided to focus a bit more on where some of these opportunities are.It's difficult to grow a new business and still pull yourself in multiple directions.  By picking one primary business, its had a huge impact on my bank account.We have an authority site and want your link building advice.  What are some link building tactics we should implement?First, you should realize that there are not lots of "new" link building tactics out there.  Pretty much every type of link building has been talked about and well documented on the internet.You guys mentioned that you have created a scholarship page to attract links.  If you business doesn't apply to an academic area in a very specific way, you probably shouldn't create a scholarship.  Getting links from just general scholarship pages just aren't doing much.  There isn't much link juice on these pages anymore.If you find that your business is relevant to an academic area, then it's okay to use a scholarship page.  Then you would only try to get links from scholarship pages that are relevant to that particular academic area.Without the relevance, it doesn't have a lot of merit. Niche Pursuits no 46:30
Podcast 53: How to Earn Over $12,000 Per Month Selling Physical Products on Amazon with Chris Guthriehttp://www.nichepursuits.com/selling-physical-products-amazon/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/selling-physical-products-amazon/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 00:49:39 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4943 Chris Guthrie and I have known each other for a long time.  Back in the day Chris was out building Amazon affiliate sites and I was building Adsense affiliate sites.  I’m not sure where we first crossed paths, but we’ve … Continued

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Chris Guthrie and I have known each other for a long time.  Back in the day Chris was out building Amazon affiliate sites and I was building Adsense affiliate sites.  I’m not sure where we first crossed paths, but we’ve been in touch now for probably close to 5 years.

I had Chris on my podcast over 2 years ago.  However, now his business has evolved so much that I wanted to have him on to discuss his latest business venture.

Chris is now actively involved in selling physical products on Amazon through the Fullfullilled by Amazon (FBA) program.  In his first few months with his very first product, Chris has built his monthly revenue to over $12k per month with this business! (Profit is about 50% of that).

I know that sounds almost too good; however, Chris has been kind enough to privately show me his Amazon account with earnings and the product that he is selling on Amazon.  It’s a legit business.

So, Perrin and I sat down with Chris to get all his tips to start selling a physical product on Amazon.

In addition, Chris has created some software tools that can help you find great products to sell on Amazon.  That software is AmaSuite.

Live Webinar

Finally, Chris and I are hosting a live webinar this Thursday (December 4th) at 6pm PST to talk about building a business on Amazon selling physical products.  If you want more in-depth strategies for starting an Amazon business, I hope you’ll join us Thursday evening by registering right here See Webinar Replay Here.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below you will find the general questions and responses that were given during the podcast interview.  This is not a transcript, jut the abbrieviated notes about what was covered in the podcast.  For the complete podcast, please listen to the recording…enjoy!

Where are you spending most of your time in your business right now?

Currently, I’m working on lots of wordpress plugins for Boost WP.  In addition, I’ve been getting more involved recently with Fulfulled by Amazon…selling physical products on Amazon.

What kind of recent success have you had selling a physical product on Amazon?

I’ve just started selling the past 4 months or so on Amazon.  My last full month of October 2014 I made just over $12,000 in revenue and about half of that is profit.  Those numbers should just continue to increase with the Holidays coming up.

How much time do you put into the Amazon business?

So, I don’t even check my stats and for the most part, there is not much ongoing effort.  Once you source the product and get it up; I’m only spending about 30 minutes per day.  I spend most of my time finding new products that I can launch on Amazon.

What is selling a physical product on Amazon all about?

The way that I make money from selling products on Amazon is by sources products from China. Then making some basic tweaks to the product and putting my own label and brand and then sell.

I use a freight forwarding company that takes the product from China and ships to US.  Then those products get shipped to Amazon FBA.  Amazon then ships the products to customers when they buy.  Amazon provides all the customer support, returns, and more.

The key is really using Amazon’s warehouse.  I don’t need to go to the mailbox or have a warehouse.

I have acquaintances that are doing six figures a month and more.  There is huge potential for scalability.

What are some examples of products that people are selling on Amazon?

First you need to start by looking at what is selling on Amazon currently.  You should just try to find what products are already selling well by looking at seller ranks and product categories and then replicating that.

If you go to Amazon.com/bestsellers, you can see what the best selling products are right now.  They break down these bestsellers by category.

I like to go after the products in the 500 to 2000 bestseller rank in the category.  Then you can avoid quite a bit of the super-competitive products.

So, when you click on the individual product you can then see what the products best seller ranking is.

After you find a product that is selling well, what else are you looking for?

You want to look at the reviews and the product listing page and whether you can make it better.  Many times companies do not optimize their product sales page very well because Amazon is only one avenue that they are selling on.

So, if you can improve on the listing and optimize better (better images, better description, better use of keywords), you can potentially sell better than the competition.

What other factors go into picking a product?

Once you’ve picked a product, you need to find a manufacturer that can make the product.  You need to also make sure there is no patents involved.

If you go to Alibaba.com and search for the product. You should consider the size of the product, if its too large this can make things more difficult.

How long has the supplier been around?  Have they been verified?

Look at the volumes that they report for revenue.  However, you should usually try to talk to them.  I usually contact them on Skype after 4pm.

Are you looking at the product pages from an SEO standpoint or a copy standpoint?

You want to look at both.  So you look at the quality of the sales page and if you can improve the copy.  But you also want to see how well the pages are ranking within Amazon.  You can rank for different keywords within Amazon.

What do you ask a manufacture, to make sure they are legit?

I like to talk with them on Skype (text-chat).  I look for their responsiveness and their ability to understand the project.  Then you want to order a sample; preferably with your logo already put on it.

This will help you see the overall quality of their workmanship.

Do I want to change or improve the product from what is already on Amazon?

Another stage is to look at the negative reviews on Amazon.  This can help you find ideas to improve upon the existing products.  This might be adding padding, improve quality, change colors, or do something else to make the product a little bit better.

Because Amazon is very review driven you want a product that is high quality.  If you just go with the lowest price option from Alibaba, you are likely going to get slaughtered in the reviews.

The risk is different if you create something 100% unique or just something that is a twist on an existing product.

How do you get your products to the US and then how to get it Amazon?

Some manufacturers will ask for really high MOQ (minimum order quantity).  Once you are ready to order, there are several ways to pay.  If you do mass pay through Paypal its only $20 for international payments.

You can find a freight forwarding company that will have an office in China that can pick up your order for you and then send it to the US for you.  Then the freight forwarding company will then send it onto Amazon.

How do you get initial sales and reviews?

You can do a follow up email sequence to people that have purchased and ask for a review.

To drive initial sales, I like to price low organically. Sometimes you might need to do promotions of your product through other deal sites or other methods.

AmaSuite is tool that I built to help with this.  The software will help you find the top reviewers in your category and their review rating and contact them.  This is a way that you can get simple reviews.

AmaSuite has been around since 2012.

How do you ask top reviewers for reviews?

You pretty much send them an email and then go from there. Some of them are very used to reviewing product so its often as easy as giving them a free product.  Now this should be disclosed in the review, but these initial reviews can really help.

AmaSuite can also help to automate the process of researching best seller rankings and much more.

Have you done any paid traffic to your listings?

I’ve only done some sponsored results on Amazon, but not very much.  I very rarely look at and not much time or money is spent on that.  Some people claim that there is an organic rankings boost for those that are spending money on sponsored ads.

What other marketing tips do you have?

If people have any additional questions, they can ask those directly in the comments below and I will answer.

A podcast that I did that answered a lot of questions about the business can be found at: EntrepreneurBoost.com/podcast22/

If you want to follow along with Chris and his business, you can go to EntrepreneurBoost.com

Live Webinar and Your Thoughts

Because Chris has had so much success with this business, we’ve decided to host a live webinar in just a couple of days about selling physical products on Amazon.

Here’s some of the things Chris will cover:

  1. What a private label product is and why it’s the single BEST strategy for profiting off the multibillion dollar Amazon marketplace
  2. How to uncover private label products to sell that most people aren’t even aware of that are selling
  3. How to find a supplier to provide your products AND how to stand out from the competition while you do it

This is a webinar for my audience only, so join us for the live event and bring your questions!

Watch Webinar Replay About Selling Physical Product On Amazon Right Here

Overall, I hope you guys enjoyed the podcast, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you have any specific questions for Chris, he’s agreed to answer those in the comment section below.  So, if you have anything you would like clarified about this business, now is your chance to get your questions answered.

The post Podcast 53: How to Earn Over $12,000 Per Month Selling Physical Products on Amazon with Chris Guthrie appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/selling-physical-products-amazon/feed/ 90 Chris Guthrie and I have known each other for a long time.  Back in the day Chris was out building Amazon affiliate sites and I was building Adsense affiliate sites.  I'm not sure where we first crossed paths, Chris Guthrie and I have known each other for a long time.  Back in the day Chris was out building Amazon affiliate sites and I was building Adsense affiliate sites.  I'm not sure where we first crossed paths, but we've been in touch now for probably c... Niche Pursuits no 1:02:03
Podcast 52: How to Value, Buy, and Sell Established Websites with Jock Purtlehttp://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-52-value-buy-sell-established-websites-jock-purtle/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-52-value-buy-sell-established-websites-jock-purtle/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 17:13:35 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4935 About a month ago I was able to attend a conference called Rhodium weekend.  While I was there, I got to meet lots of really interesting people, including Jock Purtle from DigitalExits.com. I asked Jock to come on the podcast … Continued

The post Podcast 52: How to Value, Buy, and Sell Established Websites with Jock Purtle appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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About a month ago I was able to attend a conference called Rhodium weekend.  While I was there, I got to meet lots of really interesting people, including Jock Purtle from DigitalExits.com.

I asked Jock to come on the podcast and discuss some of the insights that he has on buying and selling websites.  You see, Jock has been buying and selling websites for his own portfolio for a long time.

In addition, he is a website broker selling websites for his clients through his company, DigitalExits.com.

This interview definitely focuses on buying and selling more established websites.  The type of sites that Jock and his team work with tend to be valued at $100,000 to $5 million.

So, if you are ready to up your game and start buying or selling larger sites, this interview will have plenty of great tips for you.

Podcast Interview Notes

Below I’ve included the majority of the questions that were asked during the interview.  However, I did not document the full answers, these are more like cliff notes.  To get the full value from the interview, please listen to the podcast.

How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

I’ve always been an entrepreneur.  My parents owned businesses and so I got started early.

I use to buy and sell garden plants, run BBQs, and have always hustled

What was your first business that allowed you to live off the income full-time?

Probably when I was in University, I had a personal training business that made enough to pay rent and food.

What is your business now?

DigitalExits.com is an online business brokerage that helps people selling their business find buyers.  Every once in a while he does work with people looking to buy sites.

What’s the price range of sites that you are usually selling?

Usually between $100k to $5 million.  Most of the sites they sell fall in the range of $100k to $1 million.

How did you get started in the brokerage business?

I bought an Adsense in late 2008 for about $15,000.  I held onto the site for 9 months and then sold it for $20k.

Now I’ve been buying and selling sites ever since.

In 2011 I did my first brokerage deal.

My family owns a business valuation company.  So, I already had that skill set to understand the accounting and valuation side of the business.

What’s types of sites are worth more?

The difference between the smaller and larger sites is that one is not yet a business and the other one definitely is a business.  A $5 million site is going to have its own LLC, operation manager, etc.

Sites in the $1million to $5million range are typically going to be software businesses or eCommerce sites.  Sometimes we have service based businesses that get up to that valuation.

Typically a drop ship site is never going to get to $1 million valuation.  The margins and scalability are just not going to be there.  In addition a content based site is not usually going to get to a $1 million valuation either.

Are you looking to buy any sites yourself?

Yes, I’m looking to buy a new business.  We’ve been looking for the past year and a half.  I’m actually about 3 weeks away from closing a deal on a business I’m purchasing.

What are elements of a good deal?  Particularly for larger sites.

I start with my own criteria.  I want to buy a very specific site.

  • For example, I wanted something that had monthly or yearly recurring income.
  • I wanted the business to be at least 5 years old.
  • I wanted it to be in a market that be around 10 years from now.
  • I wanted there to be some opportunity for growth through SEO.
  • An existing team in place running business.
  • At least 10% yearly for the last 3 years.

I’m happy to sit on my cash for a year in order to find the right deal.  Because you make your money when you buy, you know you’ll make more money when you find the perfect deal.

Why buy a business in the first place?  Why not just create a new business?

Some businesses are better to start than to buy.  However, you need to make sure that the economics work out.

In the majority of cases, I’m a fan of buying because I’m good at it.  And economically it’s usually in both terms of time and money a better ROI.

What’s the process of finding a good business to buy?

I use broker listings to cheat.  These listings give you a good idea of the market: margins, profits, and types of sites that are good.

These listings can lead you to related products in the niche.  Then you can go out online and hunt for sites that are necessarily for sale.

Contact the owners and try to get on the phone and make them an offer.

How do you improve the value of a site once purchased?

Try to improve the conversion rates.  That’s the number one thing I look at.

I try to increase the rankings for product pages.  For a software business, I try to improve the ranking of the primary keywords.  So, its not about blogging; it’s more about acquiring links to increase the rankings.

How can you make sure that you are getting a fair price?

You look at what the market is paying and then make a judgement based on that.  Value is derived when a transaction occurs.

Let’s use real estate as an example.  If a house is selling for $300k to $340k.  So, if you buy the house under $300k you are getting a good deal.

What are the standard multiples for buying bigger sites?

For a large business, like a corporate transaction; you’ll use a discounted cash flow method.

A business in the $100k to $5million is usually going to be a multiple of seller’s discretionary earnings.  A seller’s discretionary earnings is what they take home at the end of the day.

The multiple is typically going to sit in the 2 to 3 times annual net income.  The reason its higher than the Empire Flipper guys is that there is typically less risk with a larger and more established business.

What tactics do you recommend for contacting people that don’t have their websites for sale?

You can basically just email them and try to get them on the phone.  When you get website owners on the phone, they will likely give you more information about their business rather than just through email.

Are you looking to just flip the business that you buy?

Yes.  I come with a private equity mindset.  After I’ve added the value to the business that I can, then I will sell it.

What other ways do you grow a business that you purchase?

I look for massive levers.

  • Conversion rate optimization
  • SEO
  • Selling more of the high margin products
  • Increase sales
  • Decrease costs

How do you go out finding a buyer for a large property?

If you are selling in the sub million dollar range; using a broker is going to be the best route.  However, if its getting larger and can be acquired by a small private equity or other company; it might makes sense to engage a small mergers and acquisitions company.

Unless you can sell the business strategically yourself, you are most likely going to get the best price by going through a broker.

How does Digital Exits bring in buyers to look at your listings?

Its actually very easy to find buyers.  There are lots of hungry buyers and very few sellers.

We rank for keywords in search engines; so SEO brings in potential sellers.  We speak at events and get referrals as well.

What else should we have covered?

I think the main thing is having the mindset that you can’t find a great deal in a weekend (unless you are just spending $1,000).

If you make a bad deal it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to get that capital back.  So, you need to take your time in finding the right deal.  Look at all the downsides before you ever make an offer.

Where can people follow along with you?

DigitalExits.com

Digital Exits Podcast on website and iTunes.

Your Thoughts

As always, I would love to hear any thoughts or questions that you might  have about the interview.

The post Podcast 52: How to Value, Buy, and Sell Established Websites with Jock Purtle appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-52-value-buy-sell-established-websites-jock-purtle/feed/ 5 About a month ago I was able to attend a conference called Rhodium weekend.  While I was there, I got to meet lots of really interesting people, including Jock Purtle from DigitalExits.com. - I asked Jock to come on the podcast and discuss some of the... About a month ago I was able to attend a conference called Rhodium weekend.  While I was there, I got to meet lots of really interesting people, including Jock Purtle from DigitalExits.com.I asked Jock to come on the podcast and discuss some of the insights that he has on buying and selling websites.  You see, Jock has been buying and selling websites for his own portfolio for a long time.In addition, he is a website broker selling websites for his clients through his company, DigitalExits.com.This interview definitely focuses on buying and selling more established websites.  The type of sites that Jock and his team work with tend to be valued at $100,000 to $5 million.So, if you are ready to up your game and start buying or selling larger sites, this interview will have plenty of great tips for you. Podcast Interview Notes Below I've included the majority of the questions that were asked during the interview.  However, I did not document the full answers, these are more like cliff notes.  To get the full value from the interview, please listen to the podcast.How did you get started as an entrepreneur?I've always been an entrepreneur.  My parents owned businesses and so I got started early.I use to buy and sell garden plants, run BBQs, and have always hustledWhat was your first business that allowed you to live off the income full-time?Probably when I was in University, I had a personal training business that made enough to pay rent and food.What is your business now?DigitalExits.com is an online business brokerage that helps people selling their business find buyers.  Every once in a while he does work with people looking to buy sites.What's the price range of sites that you are usually selling?Usually between $100k to $5 million.  Most of the sites they sell fall in the range of $100k to $1 million.How did you get started in the brokerage business?I bought an Adsense in late 2008 for about $15,000.  I held onto the site for 9 months and then sold it for $20k.Now I've been buying and selling sites ever since.In 2011 I did my first brokerage deal.My family owns a business valuation company.  So, I already had that skill set to understand the accounting and valuation side of the business.What's types of sites are worth more?The difference between the smaller and larger sites is that one is not yet a business and the other one definitely is a business.  A $5 million site is going to have its own LLC, operation manager, etc.Sites in the $1million to $5million range are typically going to be software businesses or eCommerce sites.  Sometimes we have service based businesses that get up to that valuation.Typically a drop ship site is never going to get to $1 million valuation.  The margins and scalability are just not going to be there.  In addition a content based site is not usually going to get to a $1 million valuation either.Are you looking to buy any sites yourself?Yes, I'm looking to buy a new business.  We've been looking for the past year and a half.  I'm actually about 3 weeks away from closing a deal on a business I'm purchasing.What are elements of a good deal?  Particularly for larger sites.I start with my own criteria.  I want to buy a very specific site.For example, I wanted something that had monthly or yearly recurring income. I wanted the business to be at least 5 years old. I wanted it to be in a market that be around 10 years from now. I wanted there to be some opportunity for growth through SEO. An existing team in place running business. At least 10% yearly for the last 3 years.I'm happy to sit on my cash for a year in order to find the right deal.  Because you make your money when you buy, you know you'll make more money when you find the perfect deal.Why buy a business in the first place?  Why not just create a new business?Some businesses are better to start than to buy. Niche Pursuits no 45:16
I Just Sold My Pinterest Site! Income Report and Lessons Learnedhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/just-sold-pinterest-site-income-report-lessons-learned/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/just-sold-pinterest-site-income-report-lessons-learned/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 22:55:27 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4918 I began 2014 with several goals, including a goal to spend $25k on buying sites.  I accomplished that goal earlier this year as reported here. However, the real goal I suppose is to get some of that money back now! … Continued

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I began 2014 with several goals, including a goal to spend $25k on buying sites.  I accomplished that goal earlier this year as reported here.

However, the real goal I suppose is to get some of that money back now!

If you have been following along with my buying and selling websites case study this year, you will know that I’ve purchased 4 sites total.  I’m now happy to report that I recently sold one of those sites!

Today I want to jump into my journey with this site, why I sold it, and how much money I made.  In addition, I throw in a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way.

1 site down, 3 to go.

Let’s do this.

A Quick Background on This Pinterest Site

I bought a website on Flippa back in January of this year for $2,100.  The main reason I bought this site (and others) was to learn the ropes with a smaller site, so I could then move up the value chain and potentially purchase larger sites.

The site I purchased is in the crafting niche and gets most of its traffic from Pinterest.  Out of respect for the new owner, I will not be revealing the domain.

The site was monetized with Media.net (and a other smaller networks) because the site was banned from Google Adsense before I bought it.  (I knew it was banned before I bought it, and you can read my discussion with Google Adsense here).

The site also never performed well in Google.  Most of the content is curated and not very unique.  As a result, the site never got any traffic from Google.

We attempted writing original content for a brief period, but we saw no results…no love from Google.  Instead, I decided to just double down on the Pinterest marketing and let it ride.

Basically, I hired a guy for very cheap to curate content and pictures, and then to pin those images on Pinterest.

The site regularly got 2k to 3k visitors a day.  In fact, here’s a Google Analytics screenshot:

pinall

The traffic has remained fairly constant for the most part, and so has the earnings.

In my last income report, I shared that the site had made a total of $2,050.87 through the end of September.  I’ll jump more into the numbers you want to see below.

Overall, I just didn’t feel good about putting a ton more effort into such a low earning site.  I wasn’t seeing a huge increase in earnings and so I felt like I had learned my lesson and wanted to just sell it off.  So, I did!

How I Sold the Site…and How Much

It should come as no surprise that I decided to sell the site through the Empire Flippers Marketplace.  I’ve sold one other site previously through their marketplace and I got full asking price in under 24 hours.

The process was very smooth with my second site as well.

Basically, the Empire Flippers ask for income data and screenshots over the past 90 days, access to Google analytics, and ask a few other questions.  Once they manually review the site, they get it up and listed for 20 times monthly earnings.

So, after calculating all income and expenses, my Pinterest site was listed for $4,221.

I had several people interested in buying the site right away, and answered a few questions from potential buyers.  After only a couple of days, the site was sold!

After fees and everything, my take home amount was $3,587.35.  I was very happy with that price!

The Empire Flippers also make the post sale very easy.  They transfer the site for you and take care of everything!  I just had to answer a couple of short emails and basically wait for my wire transfer to come in (a couple of days).

I’ve now had 2 successful site sales through the Empire Flippers and I plan on doing more in the future.  The process is fairly easy and the service is great.  And at the end of the day, both of my sites have sold quickly for full asking prices, so it works.

Did I Make Any Money?

Now I want to share the income and expenses from this site and determine what the actual net income from this site was.

First, let me share what the earnings and traffic has been like since my last income report.

earningsfinal

As you can see the income for October was up a bit, and November was shaping up to be a great month as well.  The site was sold during November, so these are only partial numbers for the month.

Now for the big reveal, let’s look at the cumulative earnings and traffic stats for the entire time that I owned the site!

pinfinal

In total, the site earned $2,517.43 while I owned it.  This is more than the $2,100 that it cost me to buy the site…so I was already doing pretty well before I sold it!

So, when you take into account my cumulative earnings AND the income I generated from the sale, my total revenue for this site was: $6,738.43.  Not bad for a little side project.

However, as you know there’s more to the equation than just revenue.  Let’s take a look at the expenses.

In fact, I broke down all the income and expenses in a nice little income statement.

Here’s the income statement:

netincome1

After the cost to purchase the site, virtual assistant cost (content curation and pinning images), and selling fees…my total net income is $3,698.98.  It’s always nice to come out on the right side of that equation.

I’m super happy that I was able to earn a little bit of money with this site, and it’s moved me further along the process of becoming even better at buying and selling sites.

Now, I can already hear a few of you saying, “But that’s not your true income…what about your time costs??”

Yes, I had to put in some of my own time.  If I were to guess, I would say I put somewhere around 10 to 15 hours of my own time.  Perrin probably put in 20 to 30 hours.  So, at the high end Perrin and I put around 45 hours of work into this site.  That’s feels high to me, but let’s go with 45 hours.

If we divide $3,698.98 by 45 hours, that will give us how much money we earned for each hour of work.  That calculation shows that Perrin and I earned $82.20 per hour.

Last time I checked the real world, that’s a pretty decent hourly wage.

Overall, I’m happy with the little bit of money made, but more importantly I learned a couple of valuable lessons.

Lessons Learned

First, I learned that the amount of time required on a small site vs. a medium sized site is not much different.  Because this site was never a big earner, I never wanted to put a significant amount of time into it.

In addition, little tweaks like changing the theme and ad layouts took just as much time on small site like this as it would on a larger site.  In other words, my time would have been better spent if I was working on a site that had more significant revenue.

Second, I learned that it’s difficult to scale in areas that you are not familiar with.  I’ve never owned a site that got most of its traffic from Pinterest before.  I had never pinned an image in my life!

As a result, I found it difficult to learn Pinterest marketing quickly and effectively enough to make a big impact on this site.  I hired a VA to do all the pinning for me, and that seemed to keep the traffic at least steady.  However, any significant growth in traffic would have required a much greater effort on my part.

Now I know that I should stick with the types of sites that I’m more familiar with.  In addition, I’ll focus on sites with higher revenues.

Your Thoughts

I do have 3 other sites that I purchased this year.  I may sell off another one before the end of the year; I’m not sure.

However, my experience so far with buying and selling sites is encouraging!  Despite a couple of setbacks (like getting hit with the PBN update), I still feel like I’m going to turn a profit overall.

I’ll keep you posted as I decide to sell any additional sites.

As always, I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions that you guys have in regards to this site or anything else.

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6 Ways to Create Content that Engages and Convertshttp://www.nichepursuits.com/6-ways-create-content-engages-converts/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/6-ways-create-content-engages-converts/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 20:24:47 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4898 For all the things I totally stink at, I can at least write! I’ve been a professional writer for about a decade. I’ve published over 1,000 monetized articles online. A good chunk of those made money for me (and even … Continued

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For all the things I totally stink at, I can at least write!

I’ve been a professional writer for about a decade. I’ve published over 1,000 monetized articles online. A good chunk of those made money for me (and even more, I’m sorry to say, made money for other people!).

I also worked at a global consulting firm, where I worked on content teams writing all sorts of stuff for some of the biggest brands in the world. We’re talking 7-figure content contracts here. Those are high stakes, man, and if you’re not writing stuff that moves people to action, you aren’t doing your job.

When I started applying those techniques to niche sites, learned a really valuable lesson: great content doesn’t just attract links; it seriously boosts both engagement and conversion.

With my first niche site, aPennyShaved, 40-50% of my overall traffic clicked affiliate links, and some pages had conversion rates that were even higher—up to 70%.

I was also generating shares, comments, likes and tweets. And really, a lot of sites do that, but keep this in mind: my site was small, monetized niche site with affiliate products on every page. Engaging an audience with that type of site ain’t easy, my friends.

I’m not trying to brag here.

Just saying… writing’s my thing. And I wanted to give you guys a small guide for writing killer content that engages and converts.

Really, Perrin? Why should I be THIS worried about content?

Here’s the business case for great content.

Whether you’re outsourcing your content or writing it yourself, getting highly engaging content on your site is one of the highest-value activities for any business.

It’s probably a lot more important than a lot of the things you’re already spending time on.

Most of the time, amazing content that converts visitors into customers will be much, much more valuable than any link, Facebook post, or tweet.

Think of it this way: It’s much more valuable to convert 40% of 100 visitors than it is to convert 5% of 500 visitors. And because it’s much easier get 100 visitors than it is to get 500, great content can drastically strengthen your bottom line, especially at the early stages of a business.

In other words, writing A+ content is one of the best ways to boost your revenue per visitor.

I really can’t stress this enough. I see lots of sites from lots of Niche Pursuits readers. A good chunk of these sites have great traffic but aren’t making much money. With these sites, it’s almost always the case that the content—in some form or another—just isn’t up to par. Bad content is one of the most common reasons sites stagnate.

Why? Because if you have crappy content, people won’t trust you. It’s like going to the doctor’s office and seeing the staff in tank-tops. It’s a massive, loud signal that says, “I’m not a professional.”

So let’s make a long story short here. If you have great content, you’ll convert a lot more visitors, and you’ll probably build a loyal audience at the same time. If you have bad content, people will run away from your site and never come back. Easy choice, eh?

In a nutshell, here’s what a great piece of content looks like…

I’m going to dig into each of these (and more) in detail below, but if you’re a little impatient, and you’re itching to create some stellar articles, here’s a quick checklist you can use.

Good content should…

  • Look great
  • Be highly skimmable
  • Be highly relevant
  • Appear ruthlessly professional
  • Have a fun casual tone (most of the time)
  • Be very visually interesting
  • Use data
  • Employ calls to action
  • Be A/B tested—a LOT

That’s a super quick and dirty version. Feel free to bookmark this page, so you can pull up that list the next time you (or your writers) sit down to draft an article.

Let’s dive into some of these.

LESSON 1: Your content (and website) should look clean and well-designed.

When Niche Pursuits changed its site design, our conversions increased by almost 200%. Seriously.

It bums me out so hard when I see people skipping this. Some people just don’t care how their site looks. Don’t be one of them!

I can’t tell you how many niche sites I’ve seen with the default WordPress theme. I’ve seen even more with green and purple color schemes.

I’m not kidding.

I really want you to take this seriously. If you have an ugly theme, a crappy header from Fiverr, a wackadoo color scheme, a logo done in Microsoft Paint, and a layout that doesn’t make sense… your site might just be ugly. And, while you might make some money, you probably won’t be making the heaps we all dream about. Unbecoming sites are hard to scale.

Why? Same reason as above: people don’t trust ugly sites.

Here’s why it bums me out so hard: there’s just no excuse to have an ugly website in 2014. Buying a premium theme from ThemeForrest is only $47.

Buying an entire suite of incredible, beautiful themes from ThriveThemes is only $120 per year. So even if you don’t have any design expertise, please… either buy a good theme or turn your site over to a qualified Web designer.

I’m not going to show any example of ugly sites, since I don’t want to hurt anyone’s business. But here are some examples of beautiful, functional sites from Thrive:

 

Nice blog 1

 

Nice blog 2

 

Nice blog 3

Nice, huh? These weren’t one-off designs done for some big brand. You can just go buy them right here. There’s no excuse NOT to have a professional site!

LESSON 2: Your content should be highly skimmable and formatted for readers with short attention spans.

As much as I love to think that there are a bunch of people coming to my blog to read my fantastic writing, it’s just not the case. Well, some do. But most don’t. That’s typically not how internet searchers work (depending on the market of course; some audiences love to read all the juicy details).

Most people, when searching for something in Google, are looking for something. When they find it, they’ll click to the next thing and move on. My writing is very low on the list of things they care about.

That’s not to say that the actual writing isn’t important; it is. The point is that you have to be speedy about giving searchers what they want. You do that by making content skimmable.

What does “skimmable” look like? Here’s how I do it.

Skimmable content has a top-down structure with important information up top. If you’ve ever read a newspaper or taken a journalism class, you’ll know the structure I’m talking about.

When you read news pieces at major publications, the most important point of the story is in the first paragraph. You don’t usually need to go that far, but you should definitely be putting your main point in the introduction.

Is your article about using yoga to combat insomnia? Then in the first few paragraphs, you should at some point say something like, “Doing yoga for a long time both exhausts you and releases melatonin, which can help you sleep” (I have no idea if that’s true; this is just an example).

In the article you’re reading right now, I do that in the fourth paragraph, when I say, “great content doesn’t just attract links; it seriously boost both engagement and conversion.” Shortly after (and also near the top), I also provide a checklist for people who don’t want to read this monster.

Skimmable content should tell a story in its headings. When most people skim an article, they’re going to be looking almost entirely at the headings. Then, if they find a heading that catches their eye, they’ll stop and read that section in more detail.

Obviously, for this reason, you need your headings to make sense. Beyond that, though, it’s good if your headings actually tell the story of your article.

I don’t mean this literally. Like, if someone were to only read your headings, they would make a literal miniature story. Not like that. I meant that people should be able to follow your thought process only by reading your headings.

So, as a general rule, I like to make my headings full sentences. You don’t have to, but I usually feel like it creates a better feeling of movement for people reading through an article—and even more of a sense of movement for people skimming it.

Skimmable content has lots of breaks. Readers on the Web have short attention spans, and you have to work around that. The good news is that this is really easy to do. In fact, there are basically three things to keep in mind here.

First, you want to keep most of your sentences short. You don’t want them all to be short, or you’ll end up sounding like a robot. But you want about two thirds of them to be on the sort side.

If possible, it’s a good idea to break content up with visual elements (more on this below). Not only does it help a reader skim, but it also makes your content feel about a thousand times more interesting.

Finally, you want your paragraphs to be short. This is probably the most important one of the group, since some markets aren’t conducive to lots of images, and some markets require detailed, technical sentences. Paragraph length can make up for that. As a general rule, keep them under 5 lines.

You can also add tiny one-sentence paragraphs for emphasis.

Here’s a good example of all this stuff: I’ve always approached formatting from a best-practices standpoint, and these are habits I developed over 10 years of writing for the Web. I’ve never specifically tested formatting and skimmability, though.

If you want to see how drastically formatting can increase the value of a page, go read Gael Breton’s post about formatting on Authority Hacker. He increased the traffic to his page by a whopping 9,275% only by reformatting it.

Here are some more great examples of posts with excellent formatting from people who truly understand it (I just went to their blogs and grabbed random posts):

LESSON 3: Your tone should be casual, friendly and personal.

This is one of the reasons content services aren’t worth it.

It’s very difficult to achieve a truly personal tone unless you (or a great, dedicated writer) are writing the content. It’s also why you should spend time and money hiring a great writer.

And I’ve had plenty of arguments about this. Some people think that different markets require different types of writing. For example, say your site is about plumbing supplies. Don’t you just want to give the facts and get out of there? Who cares how personal your tone is?

In my experience, it absolutely does not matter what you’re talking about. It does not matter what you’re selling. It does not matter how much jargon your audience uses.

Someone talking to you like a friend is always going to be more engaging. I’d rather read a blog about plumbing supplies written by a funny plumber who comes across as genuine, friendly and trustworthy than a plumbing supplies blog written by a faceless, generic Fiverr writer. Wouldn’t you?

This is just sales, guys.

It’s building rapport. It’s empathy. It’s showing your audience there’s a human back here behind the curtain.

Plus, you’ll have a lot more fun writing this way.

Writing in this kind of tone is often just an approach—a feeling—than a bunch of rules. However, you do need to keep in mind that a good tone includes these elements:

  • Friendly
  • Respects the audience
  • Uses the first and second person (“I” and “you”)

Lots of the bloggers you probably already read are doing this, but if you want to see a really amazing example of impeccable tone, read Mr. Money Mustache’s blog. He takes something typically “boring” and makes it an absolute riot to read.

LESSON 4: Your writing should include strong, relevant, interesting visual elements—and especially calls to action.

Visual elements are one of the most important elements in any blog post.

Even in markets in which visual elements don’t seem as important, you should be including them. For example, our new authority site is in an extremely information-heavy market. Lots of data. Lots of dense, technical sources. We still try to pop in a couple great visual elements.

Why? First, great visual elements make you appear much more professional. Just a few elements instantly makes any blog post look like it’s been crafted with a lot more care than a text-only post—and this is especially true for elements that obviously took you time to create. It shows effort, and it makes you look like you do this for a living.

Secondly, it drastically boost engagement and sends quality signals to google. Adding good visual elements improves all kinds of good metrics, but especially time-on-site and bounce rate.

Here’s a list of good visual elements you can use (just make sure they make sense):

  • Featured images with text overlays
  • Product tables
  • Content boxes
  • Call outs
  • Video
  • Visual quotes and testimonials
  • Infographics
  • Charts and graphs
  • Maps
  • Image-based section dividers

Usually, unless your site is already making tons of money, no one blog post is going to be important enough to hire a designer. So you should use whichever of these (1) makes sense for your blog and (2) is easy for you to find and create.

For example, to create great featured images, just find buy a good stock image for a few bucks, pop it into PowerPoint, and add a few text boxes. For infographics, use a tool like Piktochart. For charts and graphs, either use Excel (Spencer’s favorite!) or find ones already created and credit the author.

For stuff like content boxes, product tables, visual quotes and testimonials, I usually use Thrive Content Builder. It’s literally drag-and-drop, and you only need one plugin.

Since I’d never be able to do it justice, here a video demo of some of the insane things you can create with Thrive Content Builder:

If you’re interested, the guys at Thrive set up a discount for Niche Pursuits readers here.

Before moving on, I want to make a quick note about calls to action. There are lots of different types of calls to action, and I’ve seen plain old links work really well. However, most of my hyper-successful colleagues are using more visual calls to action, like those above.

But you really have to test what works for you blog. For example, plain old text links seem to work really well for aPennyShaved, but pop-ups seem to work really well for sites like Quicksprout. You get the idea. You need them, but it’s something you’ll have to test, which brings us to our next lesson…

LESSON 5: A/B test the crap out of your pages—especially the profitable ones.

Admittedly, this is something I’m just learning about, but it’s already proving to be extremely powerful. I started to think about this way back in the day, when I was first look at all the data I was collecting from aPennyShaved.

I went into that project with all kinds of false assumptions. One small example was that images would produce more clicks than text links. In fact, that assumption was so ingrained into my thinking that I didn’t even consider testing it.

I found out I was wrong totally by accident.

Remember this post from Niche Site Project 2? If you scroll to the bottom, you find an image of a heatmap, which I installed on a total whim and out of complete curiosity. What I saw totally took me off guard…

APS Heatmap

Who would have thought people were clicking on text links in the tables! It seems stupid, but I was honestly dumbstruck. That was the first time I thought “Holy crap, I have to test this stuff!”

And I did.

I tested several different elements against each other and found what worked for my blog. And I ended up making a lot more money. I probably could have made a bunch more if I had realized the value of A/B testing basically everything on the page.

We’re going to release a podcast with Jock from Digital Exits. Jock makes a living buying or selling high-end sites (hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of dollars). When we were talking to Jock about what he does to improve sites that are already highly profitable, his answer was pretty simple: testing and optimizing for conversions.

In fact, he said that A/B testing and conversion optimizing is one of the highest-value activities you can do for any site.

And that makes sense, right? A/B testing allows you to make more money without adding content, building links or increasing traffic.

It’s a 100% in-house activity, and the ROI can be totally ridiculous.

Again, I’ve seen some great success from my own testing, but I’m not even remotely an expert. So, like a good internet marketer, I’ll just steal from the experts for my own benefit! Here’s a list of best practices from Dan Siroker, CEO of Optimizely, after running 177,000 A/B tests.

  • Define quantifiable success metrics (clicks, revenue per visitor, etc.)
  • Explore before you refine (basically, try crazy stuff even if you don’t think it will work because you never really know)
  • Reduce choices for visitors
  • Testing the words in calls to action have big impacts

If you want to watch the video I stole this from, you can do so here. I highly recommend it.

Usually, you want to be focusing your A/B testing on the most profitable pages. First, those pages probably have the most traffic, so you can test them faster and more efficiently. Second, it’s generally easy to build on something that’s already working than to figure out why something isn’t working.

When you do test those pages, you can (and should) test basically everything, including but not limited to this stuff:

  • Layout
  • Formatting
  • Calls to action
  • Tables
  • Pop-ups
  • Price

So how do you do it?

You’ll need some tools, of course. One easy tool is Optimizely. The major benefit of Optimizely is that it works for every site. It allows you total freedom in the testing phase, which can be very powerful. However, it’s $17 per month, and it doesn’t integrate with WordPress, since it’s mostly made for businesses who have in-house developers.

If you want to test for free, I recommend using Thrive Content Builder in conjunction with Google Analytics Experiments. If you’re not sure how to do that, watch this video.

And here are some excellent guides from people who know much more about this than I do:

LESSON 6: Be interesting at all costs.

I know, I know… I make it sound so easy. But it’s easier said than done, right? What if you’re just selling plumbing supplies.

You’re right. Being interesting is hard. And I’m not just saying that. It’s one of the things that takes the longest to develop as a professional writer.

But there are ways to (1) inherently increase the interesting-ness of any piece of content and (2) test to see if the article you just wrote actually is interesting.

In addition to everything we’ve talked about so far, here are some super simple tips to make any piece of content more interesting:

  • Add data. Data is always interesting as long as you’re not heaping it on. How many of you perked up when I mentioned above that Niche Pursuits increased its conversion rate by nearly 200%? That’s the power of data. Whether it’s a super interesting snippet or a big chart, it’s hard to go wrong with data.
  • Curate the opinion of experts. Odds are you’re not the foremost expert in blogging niche. None of us are. So go find those experts and quote them! Or link to their resources. Share their videos. Bringing in information from the best sources makes your article much more interesting. You can see I’ve done that a lot with this post.
  • Use personal anecdotes. Even if you’re not a true experts, people love to hear how other people think about things. And that’s easiest to get across with personal anecdotes. Anecdotes are tiny, self-contained story-example hybrids. I’ve used those a lot in this post, too. See if you can find them.
  • Asking great questions. Maybe you don’t have all the answers. Or maybe you only have some of the answers. You can be highly interesting if you ask a good question, especially if you ask your audience directly. Take a poll. Create a quiz. Ask for opinions. It’s definitely interesting.

If you’ve written a post, and you’ve used a bunch of those things, go back, look it over, and ask yourself: “Would I want to read this?”

A penny for your thoughts…

I’m just one guy, you know. There are plenty of people, especially in this audience, who have a lot more experience making money than I do. So chime in!

What do you guys think? What are your favorite content strategies?

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Podcast 51: How to Create and Launch Your Own Products with Shane Melaughhttp://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:27:19 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4889 Today, I’m excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes. Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen … Continued

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Today, I’m excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.

Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, he’s been entrepreneurial his entire life and by his own admission is probably “unemployable” at a traditional job.

Not only has he found a way to bring money in the door, but he’s become very good at creating products and building great businesses.

Perrin and I actually wanted to interview Shane because we first started using the Thrive Content builder.  We’ve been extremely impressed with how robust the WordPress tools are, but also how simple they are to use.

We decided to contact Shane after using his product and interview him about how he created and marketed Thrive themes. What you will find in this interview are the steps Shane takes to find great products ideas even in competitive markets (like WordPress tools is), how to launch these products, and how to continue to sell after the launch is completed.

Special Offer

I asked Shane if he would be willing to give my audience a special discount on Thrive Themes, and he agreed.  So, for the next 7 days, Thrive Themes is at a discounted price that you cannot get anywhere else.

To see what Thrive themes are all about and to see the discount, go here.

Podcast Overview

Below are most of the questions asked.  I jotted down the brief answers if you do not have time to listen to the entire podcast.  However, please be aware that there was more covered in the podcast and much more nuance than what is written down here.

Why did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Shane has always been interested in building things.  He wanted to build something that mattered.  And in fact he’s been involved in creating businesses since a young age and all throughout college.

He also realized that he wasn’t really employable.  He usually lost his jobs.

For this reason, almost out of necessity, he knew that he needed to make a living through business. The first time he made a commission online, he was ecstatic.

What was your first online business that supported you full-time?

His first successful online business was affiliate sites and doing ecommerce on eBay.

What kind of success are you having today?

Shane is now making all of his money from selling his own products.

Thrive Themes is his latest project.  They have over 5,000 customers and its growing at a good pace.

Almost all of the new products he’s created have been more successful than the previous one.

Potential success of affiliate sites vs. your own products?

The product business can be so much more successful.  Shane never really did more than 5 figures a month with small affiliate sites.

However, he’s now had six-figure product launches.

Why did you get into the WordPress tools business even though it’s so competitive?

Shane sees competition as a good thing.  This means there’s people spending money in the market.

He feels like he can go out and create something that is of a higher quality than existing products, even in a competitive market.  That’s always been his goal, to put in more work and create a better product than existing offerings.

In addition, for WordPress in particular, you can’t just look at the overall market.  You need to narrow what part of the market you are actually targeting.  As long as you can find a clear difference from other products in your chosen niche, you can make your mark.

Thrive content builder is a perfect example because it removes all the extra steps in the visual content editing steps when compared with the existing competition.

What type of marketing have you done to make Thrive themes so successful?

Affiliate marketing is one of the biggest marketing avenues they use.

Shane and his team put together big launches.  Basically for a certain period of time the product is available at a discounted price.

A big part of this is recruiting affiliates.  Shane approaches anyone that has written reviews of similar products or affiliate that have promoted his products in the past.

He will just reach out to them via email, and it’s a numbers game.

A launch is such a great way to kick off a product.  He wants the product to be evergreen and around for the long term.  The initial launch can give momentum that can keep the ball rolling.

For example, a launch that he did 4 years ago is still getting daily traffic…despite the fact that he removed the product 2 years ago!

How many potential affiliates do you approach?

Shane currently has about 2,000 affiliates on a mailing list that have promoted his products in the past.  So, he lets that existing list know.

Other than that it’s closer to 60 to 100 messages to attract another 20 or so larger affiliates.  So, 20 affiliates could have a HUGE impact.

What sort of discounts do you recommend for a launch?

If a discount is too big, it loses credibility.  Usually, Shane gives a discount of up to 30%, and very rarely up to 50%.

And after the launch, the price always just goes up as the product improves.

What do you use to manage and pay affiliates?

Currently Shane uses iDev a self-hosted solution, but he’s not real happy with it.  He’s also knows the owner of Zaxaa.com and its supposed to be a good solution hosted solution.

After a launch, what do you do for ongoing marketing?

They continue to add value on the product side. They get into a feedback loop by letting customers try out new features earlier and implement ideas from customers.

Another marketing tactic that works very well, is webinars for affiliates.  A live webinar tends to keep people’s attention for much longer as well.

What’s the most that you’ve made on one webinar?

On just webinar they were able to make $16k during the actual webinar.

What other tactics should people use to market their ideas other than using affiliates?

First, people with an idea need to act.  Too many people are often take too long to release their products.

Shane believes strongly in the lean startup model.

Shane’s challenge to listeners:

If you have a product idea, Shane believes you should set a deadline in 3 weeks from now to release something.  What’s the most minimal and still useful idea that you can release?  Figure that out, take action, and release something in 3 weeks.

What is Thrive Themes and what are the biggest benefits?

Their aim is to create tools that are conversion focused.  The tools that they create to accomplish this are WordPress themes and plugins.

Shane struggled for a long time to find WordPress themes and plugins that just got out of the way to allow you to create the website that converts like you want.

For example, the Thrive Content builder is a visual content editor for WordPress, but you don’t have to do it in the backend; you literally just look at your website and drop in buttons, actions, text, or whatever you want.

They also have several pre-built landing page templates and sales page templates.  This is all out of the box ready to use and looks professional.

Where can people follow along with you?

ThriveThemes.com is where Shane is right now.

Shane’s final thoughts:

Just pull the trigger and get something out the door.  Give yourself a 3 week deadline and just put something out there.  You have to do it to start getting some kind of momentum.

My Thoughts

Overall, I always find it interesting to hear how others are creating and marketing their products.  Shane has found a model that works very well in the internet marketing space, and I do believe much of this can be applied in other markets as well.

Shane also gave everyone listening a challenge and I hope some of you will take him up on that!  If you have an idea for a product, give yourself a 3 week deadline to launch SOMETHING!  We’d love to hear what your results are in 3 weeks.

Let us know in the comments if you decide to take this challenge.

In addition, Thrive themes is a product that Perrin and I are currently using for our authority project website…and we like it!

If you interested in checking out Thrive Themes at a special discounted price, go right here.

As always, I’d love to hear any thoughts or questions that you have in the comments section below.

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http://www.nichepursuits.com/shane-melaugh-interview/feed/ 16 Today, I'm excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes. - Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, Today, I'm excited to share with you the interview that Perrin and I did with Shane Melaugh of Thrive Themes.Shane is someone that has been involved in the internet marketing space for a number of years and has seen a lot of success.  In fact, he's... Niche Pursuits no 55:47
How I Used 1 Blog Post to Find and Hire an Excellent Employee for Long Tail Prohttp://www.nichepursuits.com/used-1-blog-post-find-hire-excellent-employee-software-business/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/used-1-blog-post-find-hire-excellent-employee-software-business/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 19:11:52 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4875 Long Tail Pro is a great business that I started almost 4 years ago. I’ve put in a great deal of time and effort growing the revenue to where it is today (not an insignificant amount).  However, as I always … Continued

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Long Tail Pro is a great business that I started almost 4 years ago.

I’ve put in a great deal of time and effort growing the revenue to where it is today (not an insignificant amount).  However, as I always have multiple projects going on (niche sites, authority site project, and more) I’ve hit a wall for how much more time I can personally put into growing the business.

I needed help.

After considering the pros and cons of bringing in a full-time employee to help me grow the business, I finally pulled the trigger and hired someone.

Today, I want to share how I used a simple blog post to attract and eventually hire my first full-time employee for my software company.  And of course, I want to introduce you to that new hire as well!

How I Started My Hunt

I had several different routes I could have gone to find a new employee.  LinkedIn, recruiter, online job boards, hiring agencies, or other avenues could have been used.

However, I really wanted to find someone that understood the culture of Long Tail Pro, NichePursuits.com, and me.  I wanted someone that was already familiar with the software and had used it on a regular basis.

In addition, I knew that my own email list and blog readers would be the best fit for that criteria.  So, I made the decision to post the job opening with a simple blog post and email my list.

You can read the original post about the job opening here.

I wasn’t sure how many applicants I would get or what the quality of them would be.  However, I had some precedent for this as I found Perrin (my full-time employee for Niche Pursuits projects), through an application process through my blog as well.

So, how did it go?

Within 48 hours I was overwhelmed with nearly 100 applicants!

How to Pick the Qualified Applicants

With so many applicants, I needed a process for narrowing down who I would actually interview.  I decided to make the application a 3 step process:

  1. Answer first set of questions (original application) via email
  2. Answer some additional questions via email
  3. Interview via Skype

The first step in the applications process was to answer these 2 questions:

  • Why are you and your experiences a good fit for this position?
  • How would you use networking and outreach to grow the Long Tail Pro business?

Getting past the first step was fairly straight forward, if the applicant followed the directions and the English was readable and there was at least some small inkling that I thought you could handle the job, I sent the second set of questions.

About 30 to 40 people out of the 100 applicants made it to step 2.  These are the questions I sent in step 2 of the application process:

  1. A big part of the job will be producing original posts for the LongTailPro.com blog and other posts as a guest.  Can you please come up with 3 original blog post titles that would be a good fit on the LongTailPro.com blog?  We are just looking for the titles only…so please make it relevant, intriguing, and overall something that would be shareable and desirable to be read by the target audience.
  2. Can you share specific online examples of networking you’ve done or links you’ve acquired through outreach?
  3. Can you share a link to one or two articles that you’ve written that you are most proud of and displays your writing skills?
  4. Please submit your resume or link to your LinkedIn profile if it’s mostly complete.

Based on those 4 questions, I decided to interview 8 people.

I just want to say how difficult some of these decisions were!  I was blown away by how many excellent candidates applied and were interested in working with me.

As we conducted the interviews (Perrin was on the interview calls with me), it seemed like each interviewee was better than the previous one.

In fact, some of the applicants were people that had been following my blog for a couple years and I had interacted with them through blog comments and emails previously.  I felt like I already knew several of the final applicants and knew that a few of them would be a great fit.

At the end of the day, I had to make a decision based on the overall qualifications, body of work submitted by each applicant, and overall fit with Perrin and I.

The decision was not easy, but I am SO happy with the person I hired as the new Brand Manager for Long Tail Pro!

Say Hello to Jake!

jake

I would like to introduce you to Jake Cain, Brand Manager and Director of Marketing for Long Tail Pro!

Jake’s first day on the job officially was November 4th.  He has already brought a lot of fresh ideas and I’m excited about the future of my business with Jake on board.

Today, I wanted to give you a chance to meet Jake and get to know him a bit.  After all, he’s now an integral part of my business.

So, with that I am going to let introduce himself in his own words.  Here’s Jake:

Hey everybody! I’m excited to have this opportunity to work with Spencer and Perrin to help grow the Long Tail Pro brand!

I’ve lived in Cincinnati my entire life, except for the 4 years I spent at the prestigious Lee University in Cleveland, TN. My wife and I have 3 boys that are ages 3 and under. {Insert your joke about how crazy we are here}.

When I didn’t have kids, I thought that building successful websites was challenging. After all, you had to design, create, and research around a full-time job and a social life. As a parent, I’ve learned that doing keyword research is even more challenging with a small human hanging from your neck.

Jake

Keyword Research in My House

I started my first website in 2008 after taking a baseball road trip with my dad. The site was focused on helping people save money when they go to Major League games.

I learned a lot from that experience and some time later began reading Spencer’s blog and purchased Long Tail Pro. Since then, I’ve had a few other sites that have been successful and have found that I really enjoy the entire process of starting a website and watching it grow.

When Spencer posted a job opening for Long Tail Pro, it was a no-brainer for me. I had a great job, but the opportunity to do something you love and work with someone you really respect is something that doesn’t come along often.

I’m a big believer in the power of long tail keywords because I’ve seen it work first-hand. However, I know that the average small business owner has no idea what a long tail keyword is and how it can help grow their business. So I’m not working for LTP as a tech wiz on the cutting edge of the SEO industry. Instead, I’m here to communicate the message of internet marketing, and more specifically long tail keywords, in a simple, practical way.

We want new entrepreneurs and small business owners to “get it” and then show how Long Tail Pro can help them take the next step.

With that goal in mind, check out my latest post “What is a Keyword? What it Means for Your Business.” If you are reading this and are still figuring everything out, I encourage you to follow along with us at the Long Tail Pro blog and follow us on Twitter.

Your Thoughts

Overall, I’m thrilled to have Jake as part of my team now.  Not only has he already gotten a couple of great blog posts up on the Long Tail Pro blog, but he also managed to gain control of the @longtailpro twitter account that someone else had been squatting on for a long time. Woot!

Perrin, Jake, and I do our strategy calls together and it sure doesn’t feel like work to me at least.

I don’t know if using your own email list or blog will work as well to hire your first employee, but its worked exceptionally well for me.

Thanks again for following along in my journey as I grow my software business.  If you have any thoughts or questions that you’d like to discuss, let me know.  Otherwise, I hope you’ll at least welcome Jake as the newest member of my team.  Thanks!

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The Statistical Impact of Recording a Weekly Podcasthttp://www.nichepursuits.com/statistical-impact-recording-weekly-podcast/ http://www.nichepursuits.com/statistical-impact-recording-weekly-podcast/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 17:20:17 +0000 http://www.nichepursuits.com/?p=4843 I’ve had quite the journey with my podcast. I started recording the Niche Pursuits Podcast on April 23rd, 2012.  I’ll be honest, that I didn’t put a lot of thought or effort into recording my podcast. I started publishing a … Continued

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I’ve had quite the journey with my podcast.

I started recording the Niche Pursuits Podcast on April 23rd, 2012.  I’ll be honest, that I didn’t put a lot of thought or effort into recording my podcast.

I started publishing a podcast simply because it was something that other people were having success with and felt like was a natural extension of my blog.  I thought if it could bring a few new readers to my blog, then great!

I had no publishing schedule.  I had no grand vision.  I don’t even think I had a good microphone.  But I did have a professional voice-over from Fiverr!!  So, that should make up for everything…right?

Despite my lack of vision and effort, my podcast did…okay.

A few months ago, I started debating whether I should even continue my podcast.  I unintentionally started a hot debate about whether or not people should start a podcast with that post.

In fact, I got an epic 2 hour tongue lashing from the mighty Cliff Ravenscraft on his podcast on why I was wrong.

Cliff can be very convincing with his level headed statements, witting banter, and hug-able personality.  As a result, I decided to not only continue recording my podcast, but to get on a WEEKLY schedule!

I began with renewed vigor recording my podcast starting on May 9th, 2014 with Episode 28.  Through the end of October, I have now released a podcast each week for the past 22 weeks and reached my 50th episode overall.

I want to take moment to pat myself on the back for that accomplishment of 22 weeks!  You have not idea what a monumental task that is until you realize most of that was during the summer when I had all 4 children at home rather than in school.

I released podcasts while we were on vacation.  I had to shew my family away and lock them out of the house (but only if my wife gave me permission :) ).  In fact, there were a few moments that live recording had to be stopped and edited out due to “family” circumstances.

So, after releasing an episode for 22 straight weeks, was it worth it?  Did my audience grow?  What was the overall impact on my business?

Today, I’m going to dive into the stats and of course share my thoughts on what happened in my business after I started recording my podcast on a weekly basis.

The Podcast Numbers

I have plenty of number to share today, so straighten your bifocals and tighten those suspenders because it’s about to get nerdy up in here.

As mentioned, I released a new podcast episode for 22 weeks from May 9th to October 28th.  This will be important to remember as we start looking at the numbers.

First, let’s look at how many downloads the Niche Pursuits podcast was getting before May 2014.

Daily Numbers – April 2012 to April 2014

libsyndaily

Here’s the same time frame in monthly totals:

412-414

As you can see from the trend lines, my podcast was indeed growing at a slow rate for the first 2 years of its existence.

Average Downloads Prior to Change – 7,626

Overall, the average number of downloads per month I was achieving from April 2012 to April 2014 was 7,626.  This is either really impressive or not impressive at all depending on who you talk to or compare to.

Let’s just say it hadn’t changed my life yet.

Now let’s take a look at my downloads after I started publishing a weekly podcast starting in April 2014.

Daily Downloads – April 2014 to October 2014

414-oct

I left the stats from April 2014 in the above screenshot to show the increase that started when I began the weekly episodes.

Here’s the same time frame in monthly totals:

monthly4-14

As you can see, clearly the number of downloads have increased significantly.  I wouldn’t call it a mind blowing increase, but still a nice increase for sure in downloads and listens.

Average Downloads After Change to Weekly – 19,106

So, my average number of monthly podcast downloads before the change to weekly episodes was 7,626 and after the change it increased to an average of 19,106

So, I’m now getting over 2.5 times as many downloads per month as I was before!

Now, let me show you the entire stats from beginning to end to give you a clearer picture of what is going on.

Here’s the daily downloads from the inception of my podcast until end of October 2014:

totaldaily

You can clearly see the permanently increase that came after May 2014 when I started releasing the weekly episodes.

Here’s the monthly stats since the life of my podcast:

allmonthly

What are the Business Results?

Overall, the number of downloads are way up and significantly so since I started releasing a weekly episode.

However, as you may have guessed, I want to dig a bit deeper about what this all means.

I’m a numbers guy, and I want the numbers to tell me how the podcast is impacting my business.  As I mentioned 6 months ago in my why you should not start a podcast post, it’s not easy to get a direct correlation between podcast downloads and business income.

Did the traffic to NichePursuits.com increase? No.

Overall, I have not noticed any increased traffic to my blog due to my podcast.  In fact, my traffic has been fairly consistent for the past several months (I should probably try harder to improve that…).

npmonthly

I included March and April 2014 to show a couple months before the weekly podcast.  The amount of visitors to NichePursuits.com has been about the same every month.

September did see an usual spike in traffic to my blog.  But that was directly due to the blog post I wrote about PBNs, which gained quite a bit of popularity and mentions.

Did I make more sales of Long Tail Pro or anything else? No.

The short answer is no.  I have not seen any impact on the bottom line of my business due to increased sales of Long Tail Pro or anything else that I can tie to my increased podcast downloads.

The traffic to LongTailPro.com has been fairly consistent as well with no increase due to my podcast.

Did my podcast jump in the rankings on iTunes?  No.

I don’t have the exact ranking of my podcast on the management and marketing Itunes page; however, I know from memory that it was ranked around position 155 or so.

Now my podcast is ranked 142 on that page (as of today).  So, I’ve moved up 10 or 15 spots, but I wouldn’t call it a jump in the rankings.

Did it Improve My Business?

I’m trying to reconcile all the effort and the clear increase in number of downloads to what the impact has been on my bottom line.  At this time, I can’t find any solid numbers that I can point to and say, “Look, that improved my business!”

However, I’ve continued to realize more and more that a podcast audience is very different than a blog audience.  Some people may never read my blog that listen to my podcast all the time.

Podcast statistics and conversions are just harder to track by nature.  In fact, I may never know how many sales I can tie back to my podcast or how many email subscribers I gained from the recordings.

2 Positive Impacts on My Business

One thing that having a podcast is definitely good for is networking and building relationships with readers.

Because I have a podcast, I can reach out to virtually anyone and ask to interview them (like Neil Patel and Rank Fishkin).  They almost always say yes.

This is a less tangible results usually.  So far I’ve networked with some great people and learned from them by asking whatever business question I want.

I don’t see sales directly from these…just yet.  Depending on the relationship, these are people that I may stay in touch with and eventually do a business deal with.

I was able to meet up with Jordan Harbinger from the Art of Charm at Rhodium Weekend a few weeks ago, and he spoke on the power and importance of networking in business.

I agree, that tremendous things can happen when connecting and building real relationships with people.  This is one of the biggest tangible benefits of running a podcast for me.

The second positive impact is allows listeners to get to know me better; which builds trust.  Again, there is no trust meter out there for me to look at, so it’s tough to know if I’m building better relationships with my audience.

However, I do know that many people are listening to my entire episodes which last up to an hour sometimes.  This is much more time than people spend on my blog on average (a few minutes usually).

Again, its somewhat of a soft metric, but I know that people are listening to me for longer periods and that builds trust.

In addition, I have heard back from several people both in person and via email that have stated that they either found me through my podcast or thoroughly enjoy my podcast and hope that I keep it up.

Is it Worth It?

So, these are some great benefits and perhaps enough for me to carry on.  However, am I crazy to wonder, Is a weekly podcast still worth it?

Perhaps my overarching flaw has always been to think that having a podcast would increase the traffic to my blog or increase the overall sales of my core business.

At this point, I can’t point to any stats that show me that my income has increased due to my podcast.

I can point to increased downloads and clearly people are enjoying the podcast.  I can point to additional relationships built with both industry leaders and my audience.

But the stats junkie in me is struggling to see the direct impact to my business.

Don’t get me wrong though, I DO believe that the podcast is building my overall personal brand.  I do think that overall the long term impact on how people view me and my personal brand has been greatly enhanced by having my podcast.

However, if I start to think about my podcast as a separate entity from my blog; perhaps that is the more interesting discussion.

Podcast Listeners are a Different Audience

First of all, I’m fairly convinced that the die hard podcast subscriber is a different audience than the die hard blog reader.  I have 2 audiences.  Yes, there is some overlap…but I think its a healthy discussion to think about them separately.

When I start to think about them as 2 audiences, then I realize that I’ve actually asked my podcast audience to do very little.  I usually mention my blog at the beginning of the podcast, but I rarely ask them to take any kind of action.

I have no calls to action for my own products.

I have no advertisements or sponsorships in the podcast.

I haven’t asked my podcast audience to really do anything!

After all, when you look at some of the bigger podcasts in my niche like Entrepreneur on Fire, Ask Pat, or Mixergy they are monetizing the podcasts with sponsorships.

Perhaps I should be doing the same thing if I want to see a direct impact on my bottom line with this part of my business.

As you can see, after 2 years of running my podcast, I’m still not 100% sure how it fits into my business or even if its had a significant impact on my business at all.

I have plenty of indirect evidence that it has led to more business from emails, blog comments, and others that I’ve talked to; but unfortunately, these “sales” don’t really show up in any statistics that I can check.

At the end of the day, I’m extremely pleased that my downloads numbers have increased since I start doing a weekly podcast, now I just need to figure out what to do with all the additional listeners.

Plans Going Forward

As you can see, I actually took last week off from releasing a podcast episode.  After 22 straight weeks, I decided to take a break and do some analysis on what the impact has been.

Now that I’ve analyzed the numbers and shared those results with you, I will indeed continue on with my podcast.

Will I release a weekly episode?  Probably a good portion of the time; however, I’m going to feel free to take weeks off whenever I need a breather.  If I start to see some real earnings or other stats that show me the podcast is increasing my bottom line, then I will get even more ambitious about doing weekly episodes.

I can now clearly see that I have a large podcast audience, and they are different from my blog audience.  The podcast is a standalone business in a way; and if I want to make money from it, I need to change my approach.

Because of this, I will start exploring sponsorships, advertisements, or other ways to monetize my podcast.  This will be an ongoing experiment.  This may be as simple as doing a better job of trying to direct people to my email list or blog.  Or it could be more involved such as offering special discounts on products or booking sponsorships for the show.

Right now the stats are telling me that my podcast is growing; but it’s not directly impacting the success of my business.  Yes, perhaps it IS impacting my business in a big way with higher trust and relationships I’ve built; however, I have very little hard evidence that I can point to that proves that is the case.

Overall, the Niche Pursuits podcast will carry on!

The stats are telling me that I’m doing something right, but perhaps I need to pivot slightly to make the impact greater.

I share all these stats and my open internal thoughts to hopefully benefit you.  I’m a real person that struggles with many of the same issues that you may be having in your business.  Both of us need to decide where our time is best spent and what is having the greatest impact in our business.  I struggle with those questions just like everyone else.

I’d love to hear any thoughts, comments, or questions that you might have below.

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