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How to Systematically Build a Six Figure Website

Todays post is from Adam. He is an impressive guy who I have learned a bunch from on a topic I consider one of my strengths – systems! His focus on systematically building a six figure website in 2015 is fantastic. If you read this entire post you will get a good insight into the details of how the members of the six figure challenge are building profitable websites in 2015.

Get the free six figure attack plan we are following here & join the free public group here.

Adam so far has by far the most successful site…in a little over 1 month he has built a site in an extremely competitive niche that is generating HUNDREDs of visitors per day! He keeps sending the group success stories like this one…

adam-success

Likely if you are on my site you either use systems or want to use systems to build a profitable website. Well todays post we can all learn a lot from!

Take it away Adam…

My name is Adam Trainor, and I’m thrilled to be part of the Six Figure Challenge. Of all the people in the group, I think I’m probably the least tech savvy, and probably the newest to Internet marketing. However, I do have a lot experience when it comes to building a business from the ground up. I managed to orchestrate my own escape from the 9-5 several years ago by building my own offline business, a private tutoring company based in Boston, MA. The formula is actually almost identical for building an on-line business: start as a freelancer, build a client base, hire other service providers as you scale, and then transition from being a service provider to managing other service providers as you continue to build out your business.

All that to say, I’ve gotten really good at building systems that have allowed my business to continue to grow over time, and so systems are going to be the focus of my first contribution here.

When I started to mess around with learning to build some basic Adsense sites in my spare time, I think I made a mistake that’s pretty common in this space. I saw what I was doing as kind of a side project, more of an experiment or hobby than anything else, and I would say that my results matched my expectations- a few dollars a month here and there, but nothing substantial, and certainly nothing I would call a business.

While I’ve been successful in what I do in the off-line world, for whatever reason there had just been a gap in applying the same mindset to running an online business; I didn’t really think of it as a business. When I got involved in the Six Figure Website project, something clicked for me, and it pretty quickly became apparent that this mindset would have to change- I’d have to treat this on-line endeavor with the same structured approach that I apply to my work in the real world.

Adam Trainor

One of the basic principles in which I firmly believe is that there are a limited number of things that only I can do. (I think this is true for everybody, by the way.) In terms of the 80/20 principle, these are the 20% of my efforts that are going to yield 80% of my results. Since these are the areas where I can make the most impact, they are where I should be spending most of my time. Everything else should be outsourced.

Once you’ve identified the things that are really uniquely your area of expertise, you should have a pretty short list, which is great- it gives scope and definition to your workload, and helps to identify all the things that you shouldn’t be doing (which I would argue is way more important than its inverse.) Am I an expert at WordPress, or Photoshop? Not really. Could I become one in time? Probably. Is that the best use of my time? Absolutely not. The opportunity cost of the other things I could be doing with that time would be too great.

At the end of the day, we all have one of two major assets: time or capital. (Some lucky few have both.) For a project like this, you can choose to invest time, or you can invest money, and obviously this choice is dependent on your resources. For me, most of my time is already tied up by my off-line business, so it only made sense to leverage money to hire other people that could build this web business for me. Hiring other people would give me the freedom to focus on what I happen to be really good at, which is breaking down a large vision into actionable component pieces, and then breaking those components down into repeatable processes.

 

The Team

Six Figure Challenge Team

  • Project Manager
  • Web Designer
  • Graphics Experts
  • Social Media Experts
  • Writers
  • Various Virtual Assistants

The Project Manager

I knew that a really capable project manager needed to be my first hire. There is really a limit to the number of people that you can manage effectively, particularly if you’re short on time. I knew that I didn’t have the time to manage a huge team, so I needed someone I could speak to directly that serve as a buffer between me and the rest of my staff, and help to keep things organized and running smoothly when I was otherwise engaged. After interviewing several people for the position, I feel really fortunate that I’ve found an amazing PM that is helping me to fulfill the vision I have for this project.

To get the most out of your PM, you have to be really good at delegating. I think it was in The Four-Hour Workweek that Tim Ferris said that usually the reason your VA did a bad job is because you gave bad instructions. I think the three keys to really good delegation are:

  1. Make sure your own thoughts really well-organized
  2. Give clear instructions, with steps that are specific, measurable, and tied to a time-table.
  3. Maintain clear communication throughout the process, with regular check-ins on progress, and have the ability to flexibly adjust your plans based on actual results.

It’s also important not to micromanage- that completely defeats the purpose of delegating. You need to be able to give a clear idea of what you want to be accomplished, and then empower your PM to get these things done- this is why you hired them in the first place. Giving more autonomy to a good employee also tends to yield better results- they feel more invested in the success of the project if it’s a direct reflection of their choices and efforts.

 

Systems of Success

system of success

My niche is in the health vertical, and what I wanted to see was an informational blog that would be monetized through AdSense and affiliate marketing. In the built to sell model, I wanted to start this project with the endgame in mind, and always find places where I can remove myself from the process. If you find yourself doing something more than once, come up with an SOP and see if you can outsource it. To start, I broke the major components of content marketing into 4 main phases:

  1. Research
  2. Production
  3. Promotion
  4. Optimization

These phases can each be broken down even further, essentially creating a sort of assembly line, where I can plug a content idea into the machine, and my team can take it from idea to a successful piece content.

 

How This Works

the way the system works

This whole assembly line process works with a team of virtual assistants.  It’s easier to train one person to be really good at one thing than it is to have them try to do five different things. It makes onboarding new staff much easier. Turnover with VAs also tends to be pretty high, and it’s guaranteed you’re going to lose someone along the way. If you’ve got one person (or a couple people) on each different task, then when you lose one person your entire operation isn’t going to fall apart.

It All Starts With Me

The one thing I haven’t really been able to outsource is keyword research. So my main role in this assembly line is to do the research to find content ideas that I think will be successful.

In the Hands of the Project Manager

I plug these topics into an editorial schedule, and from there my PM is responsible for assigning the content idea to a couple different VAs. He walks the content through the entire process from start to finish, so after I plug in an idea, the process is more or less hands-off for me.

  • First Step- Virtual Assistant Research – I have one VA whose only job is to go out and find articles similar to our content idea that our writers can beat. He then researches the backlink profiles of those competitor articles, and populates a spreadsheet with all of the target backlinks. Another researcher is dedicated to content research for the article that’s been assigned, to make sure that our writer has the ammunition to produce better content than what’s already out there.
  • Turing Ideas and Research Into Content – Once those two phases are complete, all the information gets sent back to my PM, who then gives the article assignment to the writer, and the graphics assignment is sent to the graphics VA. So for each article I’ve got great people working on graphics, extremely talented writers, and an awesome team of research assistants. Together they are putting together great pieces of content that can hopefully beat whatever else is out there.
  • The Final Stages – When we’ve got the final piece, it’s the job of the PM to proofread and request any necessary revisions. He then monetizes it through the use relevant affiliate links. Once the final project is polished and appropriately monetized, it gets published to the site.

 

Content Promotion

content promotion

Now, you can produce the best piece of content in the world, but if nobody knows about it, it’s pretty much worthless. So once we’ve gone through the publication phase, it’s time to move into the promotion phase. There are different kinds of promotion depending on the type of content, but the main categories I’ve broken promotion down into are:

  1. Social Promotion
  2. Email Promotion
  3. SEO Promotion

I’ve broken these three categories down further into separate roles. I’ve got a social media manager who’s responsible for coordinating social outreach across all the social media platforms. Email promotion is something I handle personally. I want to build a personal relationship with my audience, and to do that authentically, I really want to be involved in the direct e-mail communication.

In terms of SEO outreach, there are a couple of different roles that go along with this part of the whole campaign. I have one VA whose job is send e-mails using a template I designed to each website owner on the target backlink list, asking them to check out our content, and to consider sharing or linking to it.

I’ve got another VA who is responsible for regularly commenting on other blogs in my niche throughout the week. This is all done under my name and is intended to start a network, creating a deeper sense of community between me and other bloggers. I set it up so that any blogger replies go back to my personal e-mail, so that I can interact directly with the blogger.

When it then comes time to publicize my own content, I’ve already got this network of people that I’m connected to through blog commenting and other social media sites. This gives me a chance to say kind of say “Hey, check me out, check out my post.” I can let them know I’ve mentioned them or have something they might possibly be interested in. Once this relationship becomes stronger, I can ask them to please share it or link it back to their own site, and explore guest posting opportunities.

So far these processes are bringing in a few new backlinks each day (a few of them DA 50+), and I’ve also already gotten 2 guest posting opportunities, and my site’s been live for less than a month.

 

An Automated System

automated system

What I’ve got in the end is all these systems that are more or less automated. All I really have to do is press play and the machine takes care of itself. Then, I can simply check in with my PM throughout the week and make sure things are happening and running smoothly. Of course, it would be disingenuous to suggest that I didn’t have to troubleshoot occasionally. While everything is still in relatively early stages, I trust that in time I’m going to be able to hand off even more of the responsibility to other people under me. If this “machine” proves effective, it should then be relatively easy to take this team I’ve built, and apply them to new projects.

The Necessity of Capital Investment

capital investment

The one downside of all this is that yes, it is costing me money. Right now I’m probably running at a burn rate somewhere between $1000 and $1200 a month. Not bad for 60+ hours per week of labor, but this obviously isn’t sustainable for the long run, so the goal is to reach some sort of critical velocity as soon as possible.

I think it’s a solid model, although it does require a pretty big upfront investment of capital, which may not be practical for everyone. Which is fine- when I first started the tutoring company, I was easily grinding out 80-100 hour weeks. Sometimes, when you’re starting out, all you have to leverage is time. However, once you’ve got the money to spend, I think that it’s completely possible to create a business that can run more or less without you. Even in my real world business, I really try to replace myself whenever possible. My most valuable asset is my time. If I value my time at X dollars per hour, then if I can outsource something for less than that, I’ve automatically made money on that time, and I’m free to go work on the next project. I’m having a lot of fun so far, and can’t thank Jon enough for inviting me in to be a part of this project!

Happy to answer any questions in the comments.

About the Author Jon Haver

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Haver, Online Entrepreneur

Leave a Comment:

37 comments
Tung Tran says February 12, 2015

Awesome stuff! Thanks for your great article Adam. I have a couple of questions regarding hiring a PM.

1) What do you think is a good rate for a PM? How much are you paying now?
2) What’s a good set of criteria to look for when hiring a PM? Do you hire only US-based people?

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Thanks Tung! To your points:
    1.) The cheapest I could find with the skill set I needed was for $10/hr…though I just heard about someone else in the mastermind that has someone that sounds terrific for only $5/hr. The majority of candidates with the qualities I was looking for were $15/hr+.
    2.) I prefer someone with project management experience, and it’s important that they are strong, responsive communicators. For me, I really need a PM that can take initiative and creatively problem solve. Editorial experience is also a plus, though not 100% necessary (though you may find yourself having to hire a separate editor down the line.) In terms of technical skills, proficiency with WordPress is a must, and some level of SEO saavy is preferable. A native English speaker is ideal, but not necessary, though they do need to be fluent.

    Reply
      Tung Tran says February 13, 2015

      Thanks Adam! One more question.

      Do you or your PM handle the training for new employees?

      Reply
        Adam Trainor says February 13, 2015

        I created the tracking systems/templates, but my PM is responsible for onboarding new employees and explaining the systems.

        Reply
Mauricio says February 12, 2015

Very well documented. I love the systemic approach. A couple of questions:

1) Where to you find your freelancers? I assume oDesk. Do you pay hourly?
2) How many post do you get like these a week for $1000 (including all the steps you described)?

Thanks!

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Mauricio-

    1.) Primarily Odesk, though in the past I’ve used the Elance platform as well. I’ve also heard great things about http://www.onlinejobs.ph/, though there is a $50/month fee just to be on the platform. I generally pay hourly, though some jobs are fixed price. I usually cap allowable hours per week, and have my PM monitor costs to make sure we’re on budget.
    2.) I post at least one new article daily. (not including guest posts)

    Reply
Prateek says February 12, 2015

Great Article. I am also doing the same. Thanks alot for making the things so simple.

Reply
Prateek says February 12, 2015

Great Article. I am also doing the same. Thanks alot for making the things so simple. But if you can also mention how much are you spending at every stage, we can get more insights..

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Prateek0

    Rough breakdown:
    PM: $10/hr
    Writers: $1/100 words
    Graphics: $3-5/hr
    Research VA’s: $3-5/hr
    Social/Blog Commenting: $4-5/hr

    Reply
      John says February 13, 2015

      You are finding quality writers at .01 per word?

      Reply
        Adam Trainor says February 13, 2015

        Yes, and I usually publish 800-1000 word articles.

        Reply
Yaro says February 12, 2015

Great strategy Adam! And you have many people working on one website.
How is progress so far? Do you have any stats that you can share? Like:
What is DA of your website?
Percentage of traffic comes from organic, social, referral ?
Are you getting Adsense and Affiliate income? If so, can you share the numbers?
Are you collecting emails? How big is the list?
A lot of questions and i think people will be interested to hear them.
Thanks,
Yaro

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Yaro-

    1.) According to Ahrefs this morning, the domain rank was in the low 30s. Currently 30 recognized backlinks, 18 of which are dofollow, all DA 20+.
    2.) Search traffic really just started to trickle in this week (3-5 visits per day), traffic breakdown is about 70% social, 30% referral.
    3.) Lots of Amazon clicks, but no purchases yet. 🙂 Adsense is starting to pick up, a little over $65 so far in Feb.
    4.) E-mail capture in place (installed optinmonster about 10 days ago) 45 subscribers so far.

    Reply
      Yaro Park says April 27, 2015

      Hey Adam,

      More than 2 months past since you wrote this article.

      I am curious how is the website/project is doing now?
      1. What is DA of website right now?
      2. What is avg daily traffic? And percentage spread by sources (organic, direct, social) ?
      3. How it the earnings so far?
      4. Did expenses increased or decreased?
      5. And how is so far ranking?

      Thanks,
      Yaro

      Reply
Doug says February 12, 2015

Awesome post, Adam! Have you had any major issues with any portions of your system? Have you made any adjustments?

Is the traffic converting well? You mentioned affiliate links – how is the site monetized?

Thanks!

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Doug-

    There have definitely been a couple- I’ve had to hire a copyeditor (a role that I had initially hoped the PM could fill). Finding and retaining talented writers is always a challenge, definitely an ongoing process. It’s also challenging to outsource blog commenting affordably, particularly because they’re impersonating me, so they need to not only be a native English speaker, but also be knowledgeable about the niche. And I guess my major issue would be your second question- since the majority of my traffic at this point is social, it’s not really converting very well. That being said, I’m more focused on building a community than income at this point. I think for the first few months my focus needs to be on building a strong community, and then once I have that traffic, I’ll worry about about converting it. Right now the site is monetized through Amazon links and Adsense, but we haven’t really published very much review-type-designed-to-sell content…the focus has been on link building. Actually starting next week we’ll be publishing our first in a series of product reviews, so I’m really curious to see how those perform.

    Reply
Paul says February 12, 2015

Hi,
I have a couple of questions. I assume your affiliate marketing product(s) will be the big income generator. Did you choose the products before you selected the niche or did you select niche and then hunt out the affiliate products?

Second question is on the team – where did you go to hire the project manager and then the VAs?
Thanks
Paul

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Paul-
    I chose the niche because A.) I’m very personally familiar with it and B.) I knew going in that there were a plethora of affiliate opportunities. I also scoped out the affiliate partners that my competitors were using, and I’m going to be contacting many of them once I have a bigger audience.

    Most of my team is on Odesk- I like it, and it’s also easier to have everyone on one platform, because I can then set my PM up as a team manager on Odesk, and he can track, hire and fire for me.

    Reply
Neil says February 12, 2015

Epic post – this is the first time I’ve really started to understand how you outsource as you have broken down the tasks so well. Few questions –
1. Do you choose to hire people from different countries for different roles? In other words possibly hiring someone domestically for a PM role and say Philippines for assistant researcher?

2. Where would you recommend hiring from? Odesk, elance, etc

3. How do you ensure your VA commenting on blogs is adding value and not just leaving you looking bad

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Hi Neil, good questions!
    1.) Yes- though I make my decisions based on price rather than nationality (or course there’s usually a correlation.) My PM, writers, blog commentor and social media VA are all native English speakers. The rest are from all over the world, and English fluency is not necessarily a priority. Even with my link building VA’s, I found that by writing a template myself for them to use (they only have to change a couple words each time to personalize it) I’m able to get away with cheaper VA’s there too.
    2.) While I’ve used Elance in the past, lately I’ve had more success in terms of the best combination of value/competency on Odesk.
    3.) They are required to copy and paste each comment left into a tracking sheet, which also includes all the info on the site they commented on…my PM spot checks.

    Reply
Alan says February 12, 2015

Nice post man. I enjoyed reading it even though I was waiting for the kicker about the costs of running this system. I myself wouldn’t be in a position to put up this capital but got some nice ideas for a system that would involve me to a greater degree but still leave me with enough time for my other projects.

Best of luck over the next few months.

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Thanks Alan! I definitely think this system can exist on a spectrum, from completely automated to completely hands on. My biggest expense by far is my PM…I was running the show myself it would be a lot cheaper. I think that the key to doing this on a tight budget would be to figure out what are the 1-3 biggest time consumers that can be easily systemized? I would speculate that it’s probably the link building…you could probably find a single VA that could research backlinks (or broken links for that matter) and just send out a ton of messages using a template of your own design. The VA wouldn’t need to be a native English speaker, so you could do it cheaply…the process is very time intensive and repetitive, and there’s a huge ROI.

    Reply
John says February 12, 2015

the only downside i see on this is the amount of money burn every month, but with this system i believe you can have 2 to 4 projects with in 6 months or even 6 website projects in a year which if each of the niche site earns $$$$$$ then its a good deal..

and it saves you back and butt pains

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    That’s exactly right John- and I’m already seeing the benefits of synergy as I’m able to turn this team onto building the web presence of my off-line business. I also have a few other projects in the pipeline, and as you suggested, the incremental costs of adding another site are relatively low.

    Reply
John says February 12, 2015

Hello Adam,
Loved your article. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your experiences and systems with us.
Really interesting details.
Most of the questions I had were asked in comments above mine. So I’ll just wait for the reply 🙂

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 12, 2015

    Thanks John, I’m glad you found it useful! Let me know if I missed anything!

    Reply
Raweewan says February 12, 2015

Hi Adam,
This is amazing system. I would really want to know as other have asked.
1. How many people in your team?
2. How much do you have to pay for each role?
3. Where do you hire your VA?
Thanks for your answer. I build my website too, but I also need more money to invest hiring someone to help me. So right now, I’ve been busy with information products and course, which could gain some cash for me. Well, talk to you soon! 🙂

Reply
Dominic Wells says February 13, 2015

Great stuff Adam,

I think people will benefit from the cost breakdown you gave as an answer to one of the comments. It would be interesting to know, if you only had $500 a month to spend, which parts would you outsource first until you hit your $500 a month budget?

On top of that, at what point do you think things would reach a stage where you needn’t spend so much every month, and what are you planning to cut back on first?

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 13, 2015

    Thanks Dom-

    That’s a great question…I would invest my money as follows:
    Writers + Graphics (cut back to 5 articles/week) = $275/month
    Link Building (Research + Outreach @2 hours/day) = $225/month

    While I do foresee a future where the site becomes self-sustaining, I think the only way that I could really cut costs would be to try and replace my staff with cheaper options, which I wouldn’t really do because I’d be afraid of sacrificing quality. If the site gets enough traction, it’s feasible that I could attract other writers who would publish content for free just to get exposure, so I guess that’s theoretically possible. I’d actually probably just reinvest my cost-savings though to create even more content.

    I think a better way to conceptualize it is that once I no longer have to pump money into this site, and I have other projects running which utilize the same systems, I’ll see the benefits of economies of scale, and my costs per site will go down.

    Reply
Lacy says February 13, 2015

Love this breakdown..as this is currently similar to what I am working on at this point for a new authority website I’m in the process of building. Thanks so much!

Reply
Oscar says February 14, 2015

Hi Adam, awesome post!
How long do you expect to reach 6 figures? And break even? Because with the numbers you mention it is indeed a good business (1200 USD/ month = 14400 USD/year …. 6 figures is +100.000 USD/year)

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 16, 2015

    Hi Oscar- the goal of the mastermind group is for each of us to have a site generating 5k/month net income by the end of 2015. The six figure number comes from that site’s value as an asset (sells at 20x monthly net.) My hope is to reach break even within 6 months, and 5k net by 12.

    Reply
Bhavesh Sondagar says February 14, 2015

hi adam,
I enjoyed article. I would like to know about back linking strategy you use. I mean tier backlink or just commenting by VA is enough.

thanks for the great article.

Reply
    Adam Trainor says February 16, 2015

    Hi Bhavesh- So far VA outreach has proven to be enough- basically it’s an automated version of Brian Dean’s skyscraper method…if that stops generating new links, then I will definitely be exploring new link building methods (whitehat only).

    Reply
      Bhavesh Sondagar says February 17, 2015

      Hi Adam,
      Thank you for quick revert, Right now I am managing 12 websites in different niche but it is very hard to exhaust my self from my system. I mean I am unable to replace my self with other person and can not manage more than 12 websites, can you please let me know how do you systematically manage all sites from your end.
      e.g. Tracking Reports & income, work for writers, if finished or not etc. If work is incomplete by any team member, how do you track it?

      If you can share any example of excelsheet that you use to track multiple niche websites from your end, it would be helpful for me, and also I just became fan of you, since this post contains so many answers on system that I was looking for. Thanks for the great post as well and also let me know tracking method you use for mutliple blogs.

      Thanks in advance.

      Reply
Sameer says March 9, 2015

Loved this post. However, I tried to get your ebook on the 7 steps, but not getting mail. just FYI, in case you have to fix something.

Reply
Parker says June 28, 2017

Helping others succeed is how you build a brand for long-term success.

Reply
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