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I am at a point with my online business that has me considering what strategy to follow to get me to the next level. Maybe you are at a similar point, maybe you are starting out. Hopefully sharing the details on my journey to making some money online and the directions I am considering for my business now will be useful to others.
I started online working to make money in 2007 while in College and have slowly built up online assets that bring in a modest monthly income, around $5k / month.
For several reasons including the birth of my son, taking 2 months off my online business for my day job and seeing the sites continue to grow it has me thinking about the direction of my online efforts.
To understand what direction to go it is important to understand my background.
Here Is My Online History Starting Online in 2007…
- Pre University – Side Hustles
- Lawn Cutting
- Selling Skis on Ebay
- 2004 Went to University
- 2005 – Bought International Edition Textbooks from India at 90% Off and Sold for 75% off to friends
- 2005 Started listening to AudioBooks and a few had significant impacts on how I thought about business.
- E-Myth Revisited
- Rich Dad Poor Dad
- The 4 Hr Work Week
- 2006 – Started a Bike Parts Company – Never Manufactured a Part
- 2007 – Started a TextBook Selling Website – Sold One
- 2008 – Got Engaged
- 2008 – Started a Small Membership Site That Organized Old Time Radio Shows – Cost $2,000 Made $150
- Learned about ODesk (blew my mind)
- 2008 – Built a Sales Page to Sell Excel Templates – Started making a few sales – $100/month
- Learned about article marketing
- 2009 – Built some “Feeder” WordPress Sites to Drive Traffic to Sales Page – $200/month
- Learned about SEO
- Learned about wordpress
- 2009 – Graduated with a Mechanical Engineering and Business Degree
- 2009 – Started Working in Project Management for an Oil and Gas Company
- 2009 – Started replicating the “feeder” sites and made them into money sites – $750/month
- Outsourced everything article marketing, web creation etc.
- The dream of a self growing fully outsourced system was strong!
- 2010 – Attempted to build a Facebook Team Gift app after coming up with the idea at my Bachelor party with friends– FAILED – $1,000 gone
- 2010 – Got Married
- 2010 – Built a team on ODesk to promote each website using Yahoo Answers and Blog Commenting – $1,250/month
- Built the team up to 15ppl
- 2011 – Stopped Being Profitable & Cut Back On Team To Become Profitable – $500/month
- 2011 – Started Building Private Blog Network and Testing Other Strategies to Improve Ranking and Drive Traffic
- Feb 2011 – Panda hit – No Impact on My Business
- 2011-2012 – Started focusing on lower quality exact match domains that required less work and my team was building 2/week – $1,500/month income
- Never used “automated” link building methods!
- Never used spun content on my sites (but yes I was one of them that used it on article sites)
- Apr 2012 – Penguin hit – Small Impact
- Doing some research and trying to think about SEO like Wayne Gretzky played hockey “go where the puck is going to be not where it is” translated into “give the search engines what they want not game the current loopholes”
- Summer 2012 – Decided to shift focus to build up my larger more useful sites – $3k/month
- Sites like ACLSurgeryRecovery.net grew to 800 visitors/day
- Aug 2012 – Decided to create a public case study through AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com showing how I was going to build PayMyStudentLoans.com
- Sep 2012 – EMD Update Hit – 15%-25% of my sites got killed(all smaller sites) – 5% of my earnings affected – $3k/month
- EMD update reconfirms I believe I am on the right path with larger more authoritative sites.
- 2013 PayMyStudentLoans.com averages over $1000/month for month 6, 7 and on track for 8 – $4k/month income
- TODAY – Business Direction Decision Time!
My Online Income Goal:
Make over $15k/month move my family to our hometown by the age of 35 – 6 years to go. Get more time with family, friends and experience the activities I enjoy. Solve real problems with my business.
How Am I Going to Get There?
It is time for me to either confirm I am on the right path and scale or pivot and test a new model.
Here are the requirements for whatever business model I choose:
- Limited Time – Due to time with my wife/son, a busy and unpredictable day job and other activities I don’t want to live without(sports and camping)
- Ability to Walk Away for Extended Periods – Like I mentioned above I need to be able to not work on the business for 2 month stretches. Outsourcing and systematizing is key
- Add Value(solve real problems) – I did the no value exact match niche sites and I am not willing to go down that route again. Whatever I do must add value to the internet – I believe it is the only way to build a sustainable business.
- Enjoy The Work I Do – I need to do work that I enjoy – luckily for me I really enjoy systematizing work and managing teams executing my strategies. Developing a strategy, setting up systems to have other people execute and then managing that process is definitely central to my business.
- Reliable Income w Growth Potential – If I do the things I mention above I believe the income streams will be reliable but it is important to make sure that the income is diversified and reliable. Exploiting a temporary loop hole in Google is not adequate. Transferring my online income into offline income generating assets(likely real estate) is also on my radar as a possibility.
- $15-20k/month – Relatively self explanatory, this is my target monthly income
Here are my potential strategies….
Option 1 – Build Authority Websites – Replicate PayMyStudentLoans.com
PayMyStudentLoans.com should be able to earn $1-2k/month within another couple months. If I replicate the work I have put in and build out 8 of these sites over the next few years I will get to my target income.
= 8sites x $2k/site = $16k/month
Option 2 – Build PayMyStudentLoans.com and 2 other sites into 6 figure annual earners
Build a “real” business around a couple of my sites and work them up to $5k/month income earners. This strategy would allow me to focus more on a few sites and really make them into sustainable winners. With this model I believe I would need to build a product or service offering around these sites and then build an outsourced team to fulfill the offering.
= 3 sites x $5k/site = $15k/month
Option 3 – Build AuthorityWebsiteIncome.com w Tools/Plugins/Coaching/Membership
I am not sure I want to be one of “those guys” but the experience of making a plugin was great and I have several ideas for others. Helping people with their desire to make money online is very rewarding but I just don’t think I am cut out to be a “guru”.
= $2k coaching + $5k affiliate income + $5k product/plugin sales + $3k training sales = $15k/month
Option 4 – Build More Smaller Niche Sites
Build out sites at a rate of 4 sites per month, taking some of the higher value SEO tactics used on the larger sites I have had success with. I would need to pick relatively easy keywords to rank for and use outsourced content to rank each site.
= 100 sites x $150/month = $15k / month
Option 5 – Physical Product Business
With my engineering background and my work experience in a high tech start up hardware company I would enjoy being back in this world. I have several ideas that I believe would help solve real problems both to consumers and businesses. The problem with this idea is the amount of time and constant attention it would require. It would be tough to systematize this business model, however very rewarding.
Within the next couple weeks I will pick a strategy to go with and start taking action.
Over To You – What Strategy Do You Follow? What Strategy Do You Think Will Get Me To My Goals?