Have you voted?
Unless you are brand new to Leaving Work Behind, you will know that my aim is to help you establish and grow an online business so that you can quit your job and work on your own terms.
In December 2011, after working at it for seven months, I was able to do just that. I want to help all of you do the same.
One thing is for sure – I wouldn’t be sitting in my home office on a Monday morning, sweatpants and all, without having gleaned invaluable advice from numerous blogs. And I am not going to be so proud as to tell you that everything you possibly need to know can be found on this blog. Whilst Leaving Work Behind is quickly turning into a top resource (if I do say so myself), there is a whole world of useful information out there – and I want to help you find it.
Introducing the LWB 100
And that is where the Leaving Work Behind 100 comes in. I am going to compile a league table of 100 blogs that can help you to leave work behind. The rankings will be based upon an objective analysis of publicly-available data (such as PageRank, inbound links, and comments).
In order for a blog to be considered, the majority of its content (i.e. >50%) must be actionable advice than can help you leave work behind (as I define it in my New? Start Here! page). So the topics could be far ranging – from freelance writing, to SEO, to niche site building, to affiliate marketing. As long as the blog in question can help you leave work behind, it will be accepted for consideration.
In order for me to compile this table, I need your help. If you want to see a blog in the top 100, it needs to be submitted for consideration. You can do so via the comments section in this post, the appropriate status update on my Facebook page, or by using the #LWB100 hashtag on Twitter. You are more than welcome to submit your own blog for consideration.
Voting will close at midnight on Sunday 5th February, and the table will be published on
Monday 6th Wednesday 8th.
Good luck to all participants!
Creative Commons image courtesy of Don Denver
During my first couple of weeks out of employment (and in business), I have found myself occasionally referencing my short term progress against my monthly and quarterly goals. I have in fact set myself a reminder to check my monthly goals at the start of every week, to make sure that I am on track.
And as I said in my recent post, Let’s Make 2012 A Game Changer, flexibility is key when it comes to goals. Even though I only published my first set of goals 20 days ago (of which I was on holiday for 10), some have already become redundant or subject to change. That is to be expected from a new business finding its feet.
So with that in mind, how have January’s goals relating to niche sites been affected, and what progress have I made to date?
Niche Site Mastery
As per my monthly goals for January, I did sign up to a niche site building course – Trent Dyrsmid’s Niche Site Mastery.
As you may be aware, I have some reservations regarding this product, as Trent barely makes any money from niche sites himself. In fact, I suspect (but cannot verify) that he is running at a considerable loss on his niche sites, as he is a huge advocate of using virtual assistants.
He made just $227 in December on AdSense sites, and I am sure that the setup costs of the sites were higher than the income produced to date. And before you mention asset value, the problem with arguing that the sites are all worth 20x their income is that the value is entirely theoretical until the sale completes.
I voiced my concerns on Trent’s December 2011 Income Report post in as neutral and non-accusatory manner as possible (because I am not in fact accusing Trent of anything). I asked Trent to reveal how much he spent on virtual assistants to build his sites. Unfortunately, he did not do so.
Furthermore, he asserted that I had “zero risk” as his product carries a 60 day money back guarantee. That would only be the case if his whole business model wasn’t based upon using virtual assistants – which it is. In pursuing his strategy, I am very much at risk of considerable financial loss.
Unfortunately, most of the people in the comments section of the post weren’t particularly receptive (which is unsurprising, given that it is his site), and my concerns weren’t really addressed. There was in fact only one chap called Mike who spotted that I wasn’t attempting to “undermine” Trent’s credibility (as Trent put it). I think everyone else thought I was just another troll.
Anyway. I have a lot of respect for Trent as a businessman, and my instinct tells me that he is an honest guy who wouldn’t put out a product unless it worked. He claims to have a system that can set you up for niche site success, and I am going to take a leap of faith in believing him. So I signed up to Niche Site Mastery. Only time will tell whether or not his techniques result in a healthy net income.
Just in case anyone is still in any doubt – I desperately hope that his course works. Not only would that be for my benefit, I also desperately want Trent to be who I think he is, and him producing a successful product would prove that to me. On the very limited basis that I have communicated with Trent, he seems like a great guy. I really don’t intend to start a war here.
Niche Site Building
Time to get back on track. The other niche site-related goal in January was to set up 5-10 sites. That is going to be a tough call, but I will give it my best shot.
With laser accuracy, I hope.
My original plan was to build little 2 page sites. I felt I could handle that kind of workload in January (along with everything else that I am doing). However, I recently read this article over at Niche Pursuits which leads me to believe that a two page strategy may not be advisable.
So I have now switched to a 5 page strategy, which of course is more involved. And that is why I am not as sure as I was at the start of the month that launching 5-10 sites will be feasible! I am aiming for 5 sites this month – I doubt I will have time to build any more than that.
Progress To Date
I don’t really have anything to tell you at this stage regarding my progress. I have already set up one site in full, have one under development, and I also have another keyword picked and ready. All things being well, I hope to complete three niche sites this week, which leaves me with just one more to build on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
I built the first site myself entirely, and started doing the same with the second site. However, I quickly realized that I simply do not have the time to do the content creation myself (and in addition to that, it is pretty boring work).
This is me after writing six articles on a topic that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.
So I have turned to Text Broker (which comes recommended by both Trent Dyrsmid and Spencer Haws) for my content creation. At around $8 per article (which would take me around 20-30 minutes to write), it really is a no-brainer.
Link building will also be outsourced. I will be experimenting on different link building strategies across the sites, to see which ones are most effective (and most economical). I currently have two strategies in mind – one is based upon this post, and the other is simple link building via BuildMyRank (or a comparable private blog network).
Without wanting to state the obvious too overtly, all of the above costs money. I am prepared to risk a proportion of my cash reserves in pursuing this project, but as with any business, I must keep tight control over my cash flow. Which leads me to…
You may have seen my quarterly cash flow projection for my business that I revealed in this post. It shows me as being relatively comfortable up until April 1st, at the least. And in fact, due to positive advancements this month, my cash flow projection is now even healthier (all will be revealed in January’s income report). A healthy cash flow allows me to set aside some money for niche site building.
At this stage, I have made some provisional projections as to how my niche site project might offer a suitable return. There are two key factors to bear in mind when making an investment such as this:
- When will my gross income, week by week, start exceeding my expenses?
- When will I break even (i.e. when will my total amount invested be equalled by my total gross income)?
In an attempt to answer those questions, I put together this spreadsheet:
As you can no doubt see, there are 4 factors that affect the accuracy of this spreadsheet:
- The number of sites produced per week
- The cost of building a site
- The amount of time it takes a site to start generating income
- The average income per site
At this stage, there is only so much I can do with regards to projecting income and making investment decisions off the back of my findings. I have control over the 1st factor, and I have partial control over the 2nd factor. However, I have no control over the 3rd and 4th factors, the numbers for which are largely based on guesswork.
I have set a rather arbitrary 13 week gap between a site’s inception and its first money-generating week. It took me around 90 days to hit top spot with my first niche site back in 2011, so I am roughly following that time period.
Yeah…I am basically crossing my fingers and hoping for the best on that front.
The income per site, per week, is based on two reference-points. The first is this post, which I use to project my gross income per site. (like Spencer, I am extremely analytical guy – in case you hadn’t noticed!). The second is an average of the projected gross income across the 4 sites I have already built or am in the process of building.
This is what my income projection per site looks like (the totals are monthly figures).
You’ll note from the above that I separate the 1st page of Google into three bands. In reality, estimating the organic SERP click-through rate is a crap shoot, so I believe that separating the CTRs into three bands is a sensible compromise.
So let’s assume for a minute that my estimates are accurate. If I build two sites a week, I will have to spend a net $3,720 (and wait until July) before I start making a weekly profit. Furthermore, I will have to wait until December before I break even on my investment. On the face of it, those figures are not pleasing, and at this stage, I am willing to invest a maximum of $1,500 on this endeavor.
If you focus on those facts alone, my plans do not look particularly promising. However, I am hoping for two possible game-changers to emerge:
- A higher average income per site than anticipated
- Early niche site sales fueling future investment
Either outcome would be extremely welcome, but I am really angling for the second one. As you can see from the income projection I showed earlier in the article, I will reach a net investment of $1,500 at the start of March. At that point, I will either need to sell one or more of my niche sites to continue funding the project, or reassess how much in startup funds I am willing to invest.
With the above in mind, I will go full steam ahead with my niche site building until March at the earliest, and hope that the additional data I gather over the next few weeks will provide me with the kind of information that can shape my long term plans. Only time will tell, and you guys will of course be the first to know!
Creative Commons photos courtesy of Fábio Pinheiro, LOLscientist, Ð…olo, Campanero Rumbero and kygp
Or a clown. I could call myself a clown.
The title of this article may have a few of you confused. After all, newsletter signup forms have been up on my blog ever since it launched in June of 2011. So what’s the deal?
I am an idiot; that’s the deal. Yep – I was a fool last week, and I am an idiot today. I must learn to be less abusive to myself!
Whilst my email list is rather modest at just 393 strong (at the time of writing), it represents 393 people who want to hear what I have to say. And I have been largely ignoring them – just occasionally sending out a notification when I have published what I consider to be an interesting post. That is no way to treat people who have shown an interest in your blog, is it?
A Change In Approach
Some of you may recall that I made a rather ambitious attempt a few months back at creating a newsletter autoresponder series that offered a step by step guide to leaving work behind. Such an undertaking was ultimately doomed to failure, because there is no “one size fits all” guide to leaving work behind – it depends entirely upon your circumstances. So this time around, I have decided to relieve the pressure and produce an auto-responder series that focuses on straightforward and actionable advice relating to the topics I focus on here at Leaving Work Behind.
The material is unique to the newsletter and of a high quality (if I do say so myself). I am employing the strategy championed by Pat Flynn – a completely non-aggressive, non-salesy approach, which aligns perfectly with the reputation for honesty and transparency that I am trying to cultivate.
That’s me – transparent. Get it?
So What Are You Waiting For?
If you are not yet subscribed to my newsletter, please sign up now by entering your email address into the box below! Oh, and you get a free keyword research and competition analysis guide as well – did I mention that?
I am confident that you will not regret joining my list, and besides, what do you have to lose?
Just one more thing – I would love to get your feedback on the auto-responder series. Your opinions are incredibly valuable to me and your comments and feedback would be humbly received and appreciated.
Edit: it has been brought to my attention by my good friend Bon that the content of this article didn’t make it precisely clear as to what the “1 Reason” stated in the title was. So for clarity’s sake, I am talking about your auto responder. But not just about simply having an auto responder, but about using it in a well thought-out and structured manner to create and maintain engagement readers’ with your blog. “The money is in the list”, as they say, but the value of that list is only determined by how engaged newsletter readers are with your content.
Creative Commons photos courtesy of Carlos Octavio Uranga and Diogo A. Figueira
I always like to read previous updates in my niche site series when I write these posts, to see what my plans were, and how they developed. Fortunately, my previous plans for the new child modeling site were not nearly as ridiculous as those for my authority site.
But in light of what I have discovered from the Deal With Anxiety debacle (as I have decided to call it), circumstances do call for a fresh approach.
In my last update, I stated that I would be targeting 5 keywords. I have now reanalyzed those keywords and determined that 3 of them are not worth chasing (at least for the time being).
So I am left with two keywords, which offer a combined 12,500 exact match local visit searches per month. As I did with my authority site on Wednesday, I have calculated the potential return:
As you can see, the two keywords offer some reasonable potential. That potential however is matched by some relatively strong competition:
Domain ages are hefty, but the PR is manageable. Referring domains and backlinks to the root domains are all very high – I can’t compete with that. However, I can compete with some of the sites in terms of referring domains and backlinks to the ranked pages. Fifth spot looks especially vulnerable.
If I were starting a new niche site I wouldn’t touch this keyword with a barge pole. But I already have the site and content in place, so why not? The onsite optimization in the top ten is awful, so I am proceeding on the assumption that I can get ranked with a lesser backlink portfolio, but greater onsite optimization.
This set of results is longer because it contains listings for images. As with the first keyword, the onsite optimization is terrible, and there are a serious lack of referring backlinks pointing to most of the ranked pages. Furthermore, I actually ranked on the first page for this keyword with my original niche site. I know I can hit this page.
Most of the income is coming from the first keyword, which is actually my secondary one in terms of prioritization (as my site is not as well optimized for it). It will be interesting to see if I can establish a foothold on the first page for the first keyword.
My backlinking will follow that of the loose strategy I outlined in Wednesday’s post. There are 5 steps:
- Build a few Web 2.0 Properties
- Build a few private blog network posts
- Drip-feed links from mass article directories to each of the above pages (10 in total)
- Use Linklicious to ping each and every article produced from step 3, to maximize the number of indexed links
- Publish 50 private blog network posts over the next 4 weeks or so, targeting the two main keywords as well as a few more “generic” keywords (such as “click here” and “check this out”)
Steps 1 and 2 have already been completed. I have ordered the mass article directory submissions from Ian Maranon – I have used his services before and was pleased with the results. If you use his services, please let him know that I sent you.
Fiverr does offer a few gems.
Step 3 should be complete by the middle of next week. Step 4 will follow when I receive the article link lists from Ian. Finally, I am currently awaiting an email back from Build My Rank Posts, who seem to offer a very good deal of $1 per post.
As you can see, I am outsourcing the vast majority of my work. My time is too precious to be doing time-consuming work that can be done for very reasonable prices. If I value my time at say $50 per hour and it takes me an hour to manually spin an article and submit it via Unique Article Wizard, why wouldn’t I pay $5 for someone to do it for me instead?
The Waiting Game
Once all that is done, it is just a case of waiting to see how the rankings develop. I will not take any further action until the last private blog network post has been published (in probably 4-5 weeks time). Once I get to that stage, I will evaluate my progress and decide what to do next.
Edit: it seems rather silly that I didn’t include the most important piece of information in this article – my rankings! I am currently ranking 17th for my primary keyword, and 33rd for my secondary keyword.
Read The Whole Series
Creative Commons image courtesy of 96dpi