Taking Stock And A 12 Month Strategy

Yes I am still here.

Thank you to all the people who’ve asked if everything is okay, and where I am. Your concern is appreciated, I’ve just been lying low.

Well, actually I’ve taken a little time out to take stock and decide which direction I’m going in this next financial year. I’ve now decided what to do and hopefully you’ll come with me for the journey.

This last few months I’ve deviated from what I know works, and I’ve been doing a lot of experimentation.

First of all, what do I know works? The answer to that is right at the top of this blog, “Product Creation, Traffic, List Building, Automation.”

You create a product, you get some traffic to take a look at your offer, you build your list, and then you automate the whole process.

Cool. I’ll carry on doing that this year.

In fact I’ll be concentrating more on list building than anything else this year, and I’ll be implementing it in everything I do. I’ve decided to make list building my “hedgehog” concept from now onwards. ie no project is pursued unless it builds a list.

Secondly, what have I been experimenting with?

At the beginning of November I was introduced to IPK. I immediately saw the untapped potential and so off I went full steam ahead and created the Price Comparison service together with a method of quickly building sites thrown in for free.

This also captured my wife’s imagination and attention and she started building mini sites to take advantage of the huge empty market that was out there. She also focussed on creating some hub sites, and two of those have just begun to pay off, with two of the sites making her a total of around £65.00 ($97.50) in the first 10 days of this month.

When the children go back to school next week she’ll be concentrating on adding more content to those hub sites to get them onto page 1 of Google.

Which raises another interesting point.

She’s made that £65.00 ($97.50) from just a few visitors a day – around 30-35 average – mostly from Yahoo, MSN and some ISPs own search pages. Google so far has hardly been in the running at all, sending only 1 or 2 visitors a day.

When she gets her sites off page 5-ish of Google and onto page 1, traffic will kick in big time and her earnings will soar.

She’s never done anything like this before, and I’ve been really pleased that 1) she really got to grips with the whole site building thing (the Site Builder makes it easy) and 2) she’s making money from it and can see that her income will grow in time as long as she sticks at it.

As a result of what’s been going on with the mini-sites I’ve also been experimenting with autoblogging, with some very pleasing and exciting results.

It’s funny. You know how some things just bubble around and are there in the background but nothing happens? And then suddenly they “come of age” and everyone’s paying attention to them?

Well, it’s autoblogging’s turn to stand in the spotlight.

I mentioned automation above, and autoblogging is a perfect example of this.

You set up a niche blog, you set up a pile of relevant articles from a free article site to be posted, and push the button. From that point on you forget the blog and move onto the next one.

Here’s a great and recent example. I set up an autoblog 5 weeks ago about petrol lawnmowers. I grabbed a load of articles and queued them up for gradual release over 6 weeks to see how it would do.

There’s no advertising on that site yet, and I’m due to revisit it in the next week to put on a huge pile of articles and also some monetisation. (No, I WON’T be using AdSense.)

So far there are 84 posts and with no links from anywhere I’m now getting 4 or 5 visitors a day for the exact search terms I want people to find the site by. Google has indexed 75 pages but the site isn’t yet in the first 10 pages.

Not a lot of visitors yet, but my plans are to shortly apply a linking strategy which will boost the number of back links and traffic to the site.

The next steps for that site are:-

#1 – Queue a whole load more articles which will appear over the next 12 months.
#2 – Apply a good linking strategy.
#3 – Monetise the site with a few “lawnmower reviews” and Price Comparisons, and also a few ads using AdSpurt and Amazon (and maybe eBay) widgets.
#4 – Link to my REAL petrol lawnmower site. ;-)
#5 – Forget about it.

Okay I won’t completely forget about it, as I’ll probably make changes to it as I like to experiment. Experimentation and a bit of thought and applied logic is what will make the site really pay off.

At the end of the day, this autoblogging site is disposable. Notice I said that I’ll be using it to link to my real site. Google likes it when related sites link to other sites. Not reciprocal links mind, just one way.

So if I apply a good solid linking strategy to both sites, and then link the autoblog to my real site, then the real site should do quite well. Especially if I create a couple of other related sites via autoblogging.

Finally, I’ll be automating the creation of my mini-sites by farming the work out to staff in the Philippines and Manila where the employment costs are much lower.

(I’m reliably told that there’s a technical college in Manila where the undergrads speak good English, are well-educated and like to make a bit of cash doing web work.)

So there we have it. My strategy for the next 12 months.

#1 – Continue to create new and useful products for my own business and sell them. Make list building my “hedgehog” concept.
#2 – Create niche mini-sites (monetised with Price Comparisons) using a combination of WordPress and my Site Builder service. (Build niche lists.)
#3 – Create niche autoblogs where I both monetise them and also use them to link to my real niche mini-sites in #2. (Build niche lists.)
#4 – Pay other people to do #2 and #3 for me.

I hope you can see that having a good strategy and knowing just what you’re going to be doing and how, is well worth taking some time out to decide.

Maybe you’ll decide that my strategy or at least parts of it are good ones and will work for you too.

I’ll share more with you as it happens, IF I get feedback that’s what you want me to do.

-Frank Haywood


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9 Comments

  1. Amin says:

    Hi Frank,

    funny you mention about outsourcing. I’ve finally come to the point that I just don’t have enough time to do everything I know to do – and need to do – and I’ll kill myself if I try to work 18 hour days. I’m not 21 anymore…

    So I’ve just started some outsourcing trials with some workers from the Philippines. Low cost is a bonus, but from what I’ve learned the workers in the Philippines are very trustworthy so that’s a real plus.

    And I’ve also started taking Sundays off, which feels weird. Not to turn a computer on for a full day is is quite an odd feeling.

    The re-investment of profits into building a business is such an important part of growth. I’ve worked for many a self-made man in the past who couldn’t grow his business any bigger because he thought he was the only one who could do something right. I was falling into that trap myself, with my own stuff.

    Product Creation, Traffic, List Building, Automation? Yup, but the automation part is what turns one man and his dog into a serious force to be reckoned with.

    Amin

  2. Vincent says:

    Hi frank,
    Good luck with your strategy. Don’t forget to include the new tag for canonical URL’s to avoid duplicate content slap.
    http://yoast.com/wordpress/canonical/

    I also hope you will find space for us SmartDD users, and bring out the enhancements we’ve talked about :-)

  3. Dave says:

    I used to look forward to reading this blog because I knew I would hear something useful that I could use in growing my own on-line business. I purchased Smartdd, Adspurt, and your Help Desk software and integrated them into my business. All of these products made it easier and more efficient to run my business.

    lately, over the last part of the year, your blog and e-mails have turned into sales pitches for other products. I bought IPK and had no luck with it, zero, zilch, nada except for one site that made a few sales. As soon as you started with IPK, that is all your blog contained. Gone were the useful information and new business related products. Instead, we got price comparison services for IPK, site building for IPK, etc.

    I hope you decide to dedicate more time to running your business the old way which seemed to me to be working quite well for you. Your unique identity is better served by producing and selling quality products rather than selling (hyping???) other peoples ClickBank products.

  4. Ray La Foy says:

    Frank,
    Glad to hear you are alive and still kickin’

    I do not see a mention of the membership platform you had mentioned earlier this year?

    My, I call them Amazon sites using a IPK variation, are a steady stream of visitors with good conversions 2-3%. The ones I have built videos and articles for are doing better then the ones I have not given that link juice to.

    Getting the biggest bang out of articles – where I have selected the better producing sites and am writing an article per week per site.

    From a pure traffic point – the sites I have put up over the last 12 months – the wordpress sites would appear drive more traffic and have
    better pr’s then the standard sites (even though the standard sites do have feeds). Just an observation.

    Due to adsense new rules I am rebuilding some older sites that did not contain privacy policies – as a general rule I am using wp to rebuild these older sites.

    Having some success with the auto-blogging. – Speaking of which there is a wp plugin now that auto blogs Amazon products – just set up so not sure how the results will perform.

    Looking for keyword content? – I built a tool that turns keyword lists
    into tags. I am using this for content on regular websites as well as wp sites – se do like
    http://www.keywordstotags.com

    Onward and Forward
    Ray

  5. Roy Kuruvila says:

    I also using autoblogging in a different way. Others will write in my blogs and they will get a backlink, and I use these blogs to link to my main site.
    Regarding monetizing, do you have any comparison for infolinks vs Adspurt?

  6. Frank Haywood says:

    Amin: Yep, time is the great leveller isn’t it?

    I’ve dabbled with outsourcing up to now with varying levels of success, and now I think it’s time to get myself a virtual assistant that I can offload to. There are far too many tasks that I’m doing myself that are just not the best use of my time.

    It’s a bit of a hair puller but the first thing I need to do is sort out the tasks that take most time and which I can define properly. Once I’ve defined how they should be handled I can pass them over for someone else to deal with.

    Bill Gates said “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

    I’m not going to argue with that.

    Once I’ve defined the tasks, then comes the testing and selection process to find someone who is capable of doing them. My first thoughts are that it would be another me, but there’s bound to be someone out there who’s much better at it.

    On the definition front, one of the first tasks to define is the handling of support questions which is becoming a real time sucker.

    Then the next task to define is the process of finding new staff to do the tasks. ;)

    Vincent: Hey thanks for that link. I think in my case it’s partially handled by my settings in the All-In-One SEO plugin where I’ve set it to use NoIndex for categories, archives and tags. Not perfect but I think I’m covered.

    You know what? I’ve been gradually getting a little concerned with WordPress releases recently, due to the huge amount of code generated. I have my suspicions that there may even be an unintentional “WordPress penalty” in Google despite what most people may think about the SEO capabilities of WP.

    Without having tested this yet, my gut feel is that hand built sites get indexed faster and ranked higher than WP ones. By hand built, I also include my Site Builder in this.

    At the moment if this is so (and I won’t know until I’ve tested), I suspect it may be due to the high code overhead that’s generated on a WP page.

    I could be barking up the wrong tree with this of course. ;)

    Dave: Hey I’m sorry if you think I’m changing for the worse, but I always go with what works for me. So I experiment a bit, try something new out and if it works out I tell everybody else about it and I’m happy to do so. Most importantly I do it with a clear conscience.

    As a result, the things I actually tell you about are few and far between. You *never* hear a dicky bird from me about all the stuff I test and products I try which don’t work out.

    I actually sat down and checked the other day what promotions and “sales pitches” that I’ve done in the last few months.

    Promotion #1 – I promoted IPK in November and again in December with a $28 discount on the $107 product so you could have grabbed it for $79 (which you did). I also then created a cut price Automated Price Comparison service and Site Builder so that my subscribers could use that to build their IPK sites instead of the “official” IPK Site Builder (no auto price comparisons with that either).

    Yep IPK is a great product and I’ve discovered ways of making it better, so watch out for my own version in a few weeks time. If you bought IPK with my link you can have a copy for free.

    Promotion #2 – I promoted Graham Cox’s Ultimate Footer Ad (UFA) twice last month by email with a discount of $20 so you could have grabbed it for $27. (Offer now over.) UFA is awesome and increased the number of sign ups to this blog by almost 250% in just 1 week.

    So. Two promotions for other people in 5 months. I’ve also run 3 or 4 promotions for my own products at a heavy discount this year…

    I’ve also now just gone back over my blog posts to check out what useful content I’ve added in the last few weeks and I can see there’s some good free stuff there.

    #1 – There’s a video on how to do market research.
    #2 – I’ve talked about a useful WordPress theme called Mandigo which is visually very flexible and has some nice features including “HTML inserts”.
    #3 – I’ve come up with a mathematical method of identifying good niches / keywords, which on the face of it is IPK related, but can be used in any niche research situation.
    #4 – I’ve discussed the importance of testing and tracking.
    #5 – I said how well my wife was doing using the Price Comparison service and shown some results. (Okay I guess that’s a plug. Guilty.)
    #6 – I’ve written about autoblogging and how easy and useful it is to do.
    #7 – This post which I hoped would inspire people to kick back and take some time out to think about their own business.

    I think I have the balance right, or at least I thought I did until your comment which I think is very fairly made.

    My wife has said to me on more than one occasion that my subscribers like to buy stuff from me and not so much other people which is one of the reasons why I don’t do many promotions and why I’m very picky.

    I can’t deny I maintain this blog to make money. That’s why we all do it, right?

    And I see other people coming up with great products about which I feel envious that I didn’t think about them in the first place. ;)

    What I could do (and I sometimes do so) is not mention them at all, and put them on my list of future product ideas. And sometimes I just decide to go promote them.

    It’s inevitable that while I continue to create my own products, I’ll also promote (a few) other people’s products too. (And I do have some new products in the pipeline, with one I hope to get out in the next 7-10 days. Via a nickel sale probably.)

    So if there’s something specifically that I used to do but don’t do so much anymore, then please let me know and I’ll try to correct it.

    I thought I was doing the same kind of thing with a bias towards more content, but maybe I’ve got the balance wrong. Let me know what you need me to do and I’ll fix it if I can.

    Ray: There’s so much to do on CMS Anywhere to make it more appealing to marketers that I can’t see it being released until next year. Maybe Paul will surprise me. ;)

    However, we’re still working on memberships, subscriptions and a decent affiliate scheme for SmartDD v4. Pencilled release of June but don’t hold me to that.

    I’d also like to release a derivative we’ve been talking about for a long time called Site Flow Manager and which I promised to some people a (long) while back.

    So the product line up would be entry level SmartDD, then up to Site Flow Manager, and finally CMS Anywhere. All of them based on the same code, all with differing levels of functionality. SmartDD is actually based on the ecommerce code from CMS Anywhere and always has been.

    That’s really interesting what you say about the WP sites. Like I said above my gut feel is that hand built sites do better faster. Do you think that might be the case but that longer term WP sites win out?

    BTW we’ve now added auto-generated RSS feeds to the Site Builder sites (which now also validate, ahem) so they can be submitted to all the RSS sites.

    I’ve just searched for and found that Amazon plugin you mentioned and tried out the free version. It crashed after creating 7 posts with a fatal error, but the posts it has created look completely natural, so thanks for that.

    I think I have to create a few plugins of my own. ;)

    Roy: I’ve not tried Infolinks, but it seems to me that these services don’t give you enough control over the keywords that generate the ads, or the content of the ads themselves. They also take a cut of the revenue.

    AdSpurt is totally standalone and you get full control and all of the revenue.

    -Frank Haywood

  7. Dave says:

    Frank, thanks for the reply! Wow, you really gave it some thought!

    I purchased the Ulimate Footer ad and those are the products which I think most of the people who subscribe to your blog really look for. Products and services that help them grow their business.

    I guess what really turned me off was all the hype and blog posts praising IPK. Personally, I thought it was just another SEO product and as I said, I have had no luck with it at all and actually spent more on domains and stuff than I made. But hey, if you don’t try, you never get ahead.

    I really like SmartDD and hope that you will get the next version out quickly and include membership capabilities to it as well. That product is the heart and soul of my on-line business and as that gets better, so does my business!

    I guess I was also frustrated that your efforts ( and the efforts of your developer) were being spent on IPK price comparisons software instead of on other projects.

    For example, I purchased RAP from your link well over a year ago and was supposed to get your Site Flow Manager script free when it was released. To date, you have not released it but have had the time to release IPK stuff during that time! To some people, that damages credability.

    I enjoy the blog, your own developed products, and the focus on building and operating an internet business. Other subject, and the occcasional promotion of other focused products is OK and even good, but you should not alter the focus of what has brought you success to date.

    If it is no longer a profitable niche for you, that is fine. No one expects anyone to continue something that produces little income. But I do feel that most of your subscribers own and operate on-line businesses and signed up for your blog, and buy your products, for that reason. Perhaps the best thing would be to start a second blog for those interest in IPK and products pertaining to that product.

    Plus, it would provide another backlink too, right!

    I look forward to your next product releases!

    Dave

  8. Vincent says:

    I would have also expected a plugin for linking SmartDD with twitter by now ;-)
    There are so many ‘viral’ scripts out there that ask you to tweet there special offer in return for a free download, but their pages are not protected.

    Go on Frank, you know it makes sense. We’d love it, and it would also drum up new interest for all your products.

    Bet yur man can knowck this up in no time as 95% of the code is available. Just nee to link-in with SmartDD

    By the way, don’t make it restricted to free products. Allow any product, or a discount code?
    thanks for now, I look forward to seeing your response.

    - Vince

  9. Vincent says:

    Hey Frank,
    Hope you are OK and we hear from you soon :-(

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