Making Progress with SBI

It’s been months since I started working with SiteBuildIt, and I’m sure that you’ve been keeping uptodate with the posts and pictures of my site(s). But I haven’t really told you much about my experience of the program, and the different phases I’ve gone through.

The Basics

It took quite a while to digest the material from the SiteBuildIt program from the purchase date, and that’s not a surprise, really. I didn’t start building the site until I was comfortable with the initial steps of the program, and had completed my basic keyword research.

The Action Guide in SBI is crucial to the whole learning process, and you can read much of it yourself, though it may not always make much sense if you don’t have access to the tools mentioned! But it’s a thorough treatment of the basics of business building, and one that many new members skim through as they race to Chapter 6.

It’s in the first few chapters that I wrestled with the choice of my site concept:  blogging, coffee, or Taiwan. In reality, I could have chosen all three of them, and (if I have time) I may well pursue the others, the numbers all turned out to be really good.

So in the first three months, I decided that my concept had legs, and was in some demand using the numbers provided by the BrainstormIt Tool. Then I worked on the keywords choice, and came up with a basic siteplan that really helped propel me to answer the question: Can I make money with the concept?

Can I make money with the concept?

Actually, the question is really a lot different from the typical  yes or no questions you might expect. Even lower keyword demands may be profitable if you have the right skill set, and so it was actually not such an obvious to answer.

But I did identify several methods by which I might generate some revenue: Display Ads, Affiliate programs, and Display Links, of which I anticipated that I might make more money from Display Ads at first, but that Affiliate products may be better and more profitable long term.

False Starts

So I went ahead, all eager and registered my first domain; started work on the Look & Feel of the site, and wrote my first articles. Unfortunately, I discovered that I had registered a name with hyphens that had an active unhyphenated variant on the same subject.

It took a while to come to the painful decision to start over, but I’m 100% glad that I did. I did lose a little traffic, and some money but I felt that removing the sword of Damocles was the responsible thing to do.

In January, I refounded the site, diverted all traffic from the original domain, and redid the entire site. It also coincided with some technical problems at SBI that needed fixing, but within about four days, I redid the entire site, and it started building from there. I only had about 25 pages at that point, most of which was policies and boring stuff, totally not related to the subject I chose.

Where now?

It takes a while to build content that is worth reading, but the biggest and most important tactic is finding the keywords for articles that you need to write. You need to find keywords that have sufficient demand and limited supply for you to have any chance at having realistic traffic levels.

I actually spent quite a while trawling sites with traffic issues, and was confident enough with my choices to realize that it was perhaps the MOST important choice you could make.

Choosing a word with sufficient demand and limited supply really is matching a product in demand with a market! But it’s amazing how often website owners fall down on this basic step by selecting keywords that had outsize competition, and limited traffic. In other words, the owners are going to have an invisible placement because there’s just too much choice in the market place.

Commercial Intent?

The second issue is one that I also failed to grasp properly for my first few websites: commercial intent. In other words, my good buddy Steve who’s developing his business niche very nicely now wrote:

"Commercial Intent – Are people buying in that niche (check Big G’s keyword tool to see if people are spending on Adwords). Search your keywords and read the Adwords and see how others are monetising the niche." – personal email.

But having some tools to assess commercial intent really REALLY helps a lot! I found my education sites really weren’t what people were spending money on, at least with the keywords I chose. I guess checking people’s wallets to see what they really do vs. what they say they do is paramount!

Knowing that people are looking for things to BUY really made a lot of sense, instead of chasing customers with things to sell that they didn’t particularly need, had no interest in, or didn’t trust you enough to buy through you.

10% of $1 is not much: 1% of a million is a lot!

The third issue that I’m now facing is choice of market: I opted to choose a market with a lot more demand, but in doing so, I may have chosen a much smaller pie to get a share of than I could otherwise have chosen.

However, I have resolved to build out the site as much as I can, co-opt the more lucrative keywords and try to take a chunk out of the larger market. I’m not sure that I will be successful, but I have already set myself several long term goals with the site:

I would like to get 7500~10000 page views a month at the end of phase IV. I hope that I will have about 10c per unique visitor meaning that I should earn about US$350~500 potentially. At that point, I guess I may have a site with about 200 pages or so of detailed, relevant coffee related materials.

So where are we now? I mean, NOW!

Phase I: the goal was to create 51 pages including 35 pages of content, get to about 20 uniques per day, and have a good set of keywords with potential.

In fact, I reached that goal around March 22nd, though I have yet to tidy up a few articles properly. Traffic has been building well, so far.

Phase II: this phase is just an interim phase. But I figure it’s pretty important to the site’s overall success: I want to improve the content of my existing pages ( I don’t necessarily mean rewriting the content, though it’s possible). I want to:

  • Improve the meta information, esp. the choice of secondary keywords, and change the meta description to something much more engaging. I’ve already changed four pages, and partly changed a fifth.
  • Improve the on-page features to create a page where readers will linger a little longer to watch a video; look at pictures; read a related article or search for an additional article to read. The pages on the top of my sidebar already meet most of those criteria.
  • Build out the backlinks to the site by carefully selecting directories, websites, blogs, article directories, and other relevant locations so that I can get some decent in-pointing links. I will also expand some outpointing links to other sites, but I’m very picky about those.
  • Beginning Monetization: I’ve already selected three or four candidates for monetizing the site, including Adsense,  Infolinks, and Popshops which I will experiment with. The most crucial in the short term is demonstrating that it is POSSIBLE to make money with the niche I have chosen. To that end, I’ve added Adsense to about 10 pages that are the most visited T2/T3 pages or that are linked from the sidebar.

Even in Phase II, I’ll be adding some new content occasionally but it will be some time before I complete Phase II properly … I still have over 40 pages that need revised, and I only have a little time each day to do the entire project, so it’s going to take some time!

Phase III, IV, and further…

Once in Phase III, I’ll be expanding the content to over 100 pages, and I hope to have that completed by the anniversary of the site on December 21st, 2010. I’ll also be expanding C2 options, soliciting more aggressively for submissions, and so on. I’m hoping that by that point, I’ll be earning $50.00 per month for at least the second month, but I’m not confident about monetizing the site properly yet.

Phase III is much clearer than Phase IV at the moment, so I’m going to worry about Phase IV only when I’m nearing completion of Phase III! This site on SBI is the most ambitious project I have ever undertaken, but with good competition out there, I feel I could really achieve something superb, rewarding, and remunerative in the long run.

Wish me luck.