SBI Updates:

With 65 pages, an average of 98 visitors a day, and I’m earning a few nickels a day (average) on Adsense, my coffee site is coming along.

I’ve just announced some new goals: "Phase II- improve content/structure and Increase links – very slow! Phase III – build out the site to [b]100 pages and 200 visitors per day[/b]! The new goals! At 65 pages, I’m 2/3rds done. +1 more + 1 rewrite."

coffeebeans homepage

So where are we?

Well, after finishing the initial build-out of the site, traffic blossomed to 80 visitors a day or so. But with no revenue, there is still some way to go.

On entering Phase II, I revised and revamped much of the Tier 2 content, including the most frequently visited pages to include additional elements. I’m hoping that visitors will stay a little longer, search for more articles, read related stuff, and eventually click away with my Most Wanted Response.

There are still many pages to be revised (at least 30), and occasionally I found one or two pages that doesn’t have Analytics code, meaning that I’ve not been tracking my visitors properly! There are also 3 pages that need extensive re-writing, too.

So I’m choosing my priorities: finish the rewrites – 3 to go, redesign the top pages – I think I got most of them, find more inbound/outbound links – slow!, get included in a couple of decent directories, and get the content to 80 pages. I’m finding now that some of my Tier 2 pages may need to be redone, giving me extra material that I can move to Tier 3.

Also, with the extra rewriting, I may be able to start my EzineArticle marketing campaign which would bring extra traffic, PR, and visitors. Revenue efforts have started with several programs including Adsense, CommissionJunction and PopShops. But results are very mixed. Only Adsense is generating something. Early days so I’m not worried. I will only have two ad boxes for the time being…

With no subscribers to my newsletter, I’m placing this in a Phase III goal. Phase III isn’t clearly thoughout yet. But it could be a couple of months before I get there.

I also have a second site that is still on the drawing board. I tried to buy another site and repurpose the content as a kickstart, but the price was a little ‘expensive’ for what there was. I will just spider the site and rewrite the content myself in my own voice! So much to do. Not enough time.

how to sell your website: SBI Advice

As a regular on this forum, I am putting together some suggestions on selling your site and how to make it seem like a good thing. The original posting by Jim is pretty helpful. But it is a locked thread, so I thought I would add my own experience here.

First, and foremost: think like a buyer.

If you are buying a site, what would you want to know? What would you need to know if the site you are looking at is for sale? Of course: content (what content do you have?), traffic (how much? what kind?), links (where? how many?), monetization included (if any? how much? what kind?), what else is INCLUDED in the sale. What is excluded, if anything.

Examples, make sure that the site you are selling has the rights to transfer photographs, esp. royalty free photos may not be transferable (it depends).

Also, if you are using specific accounts with the sale, such as a merchant’s account, advertising account (adwords), etc.

Second, is it a viable niche?

I do think sellers need to go a little further than just these basics, to make a successful sale you need to show that you have a viable niche. Why? Because you want to make the case that your site has a lot of interest in its niche, if you are to be able to sell the domain.

share with us, your potential buyers, exactly what value your site has to your audience, or an audience, at any rate. It’s easy for us to check out the niche values (remember your brainstormit tools, …) to determine whether a niche is winnable or not (AG day #2).

Third, answer your email/contacts.

So many threads feature the same problem: contacts that are never answered; emails that go missing. People frustrated because they want to contact you but can’t reach you.

Using email: set up a filter (in Google) to stop email going to the wrong place. Use a keyword from your original ad to help your filter work properly.

Using contact forms: check the forms database to make sure your replies are all received. I think that not all contacts made via SBI contact forms get through for whatever reason. So check your DB.

Fourth, site valuation

No, it’s not a science. Unfortunately. But nor is it a mystical art either. It may not be objectively possible to value what your site is worth. Be aware that, when you sell your site, buyers may have price points in mind, such as multiples of monthly earnings, traffic levels, amount of content, domain name valuation, etc..

You should really try to explain to your possible purchasers why you think your site is not just worth the asking price, but actually represents a good deal for them: suggestions – you could say you’ve developed a target mailing list, you’ve got a great domain name, you’ve got a unique E-Book, great list of keywords in the BrainstormIt Tool, … .whatever.
Also, there is no theoretical maximum to the price a site is worth. BUT there is an actual minimum price: the value of a site subscription * (x months)/12 where x = the number of full months to site renewal date. This minimum price is also affected by the pricing of the full subscriptions (typically $299 pa).

Don’t make your buyer work TOO hard!

Remember the harder you make your buyer work to buy the site, the less likely you will be able to sell the site because they may find it not worth it or too difficult to pursue. Worse, by the time you do get in touch with them to answer their question, they’ve already purchased another site.
Over the past few months, I’ve participated on the "Have you heard forums…" and regretted not purchasing TWO sites in particular during that time because I didn’t understand what I was looking at or was too late to see the posts… these sales can go F-A-S-T.

But more often I’ve noted sites that were being sold here that didn’t include basic information, or didn’t follow guidelines, or were blatantly copied, or were blank sites (on two occasions), or that didn’t include decent contact information, or were selling SBI accounts (and weren’t permitted to)… or didn’t answer questions quickly (or at all)…

On some occasions, I’ve tried to help by asking pertinent questions from the OP to explain what they thought they were selling, etc, this being a discussion forum and all that… Unfortunately, when I ask or point out these flaws one by one, I seem to get called out on asking them. Whatever. In at least one or two cases, where I’ve seen a wonderful site for sale, I’ve actually written to ask the person to reconsider selling what was a great money making and fulfilling site.

I hope this post helps people to sell their sites more effectively, that buyers will get better disclosure upfront, and that people won’t have to repeatedly ask for the basics.

Caveat emptor, Caveat venditor.

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.