Hello all! It feels like an age since I published my last progress update, but it has only been just over three weeks. Time moves slowly in the world of niche sites when things aren’t going your way…
Up until an hour ago, I was not particularly looking forward to writing this. Although there was a quick jump in rankings shortly after publishing my last update, during the last three weeks, Modeling For Kids has remained stubbornly in 13th position in Google for it’s primary keyword. However, just a couple of hours ago, it moved up 11th place – just one spot off the front page! I must admit that I was rather relieved to finally see movement.
Now then, on with the vital statistics…
My Niche Site’s Key Statistics
- Site online: 52 days
- Total Visits: 693 (13 per day)
- Total Visits in last 7 days: 119 (17 per day)
- Google ranking for my primary key phrase: #11
- Gross income generated: N/A
Hang On A Second…
I’m sure something has caught your eye. Why is gross income “not applicable”? Simple – I do not currently have Adsense on the site. Why? Well, I was chatting to my pal Robert Dempsey about the site. He threw a few suggestions my way, one of which was to ditch the Adsense for the time being. This idea was borne out of a greater general strategy – that the site should be optimally “clean” for SEO purposes.
The proof behind this is anecdotal only as far as I am aware, but it does seem rather logical that a clean, tidy and well-presented site will rank better than a cluttered, ad-ridden counterpart. I also did a plugins clean-out – most of which I did not need (after all, why would you need any plugins for a site that is only attracting 17 visits a day?!).
So, the strategy for the time being is to hold off on unnecessary clutter until I establish myself and start to attract decent traffic.
One final thing – I changed the front page. Whereas before it was in a “typical” blog format (i.e. post previews displayed in reverse chronological order), I have now opted for a static, keyword-rich homepage. This was inspired by Pat Flynn’s Security Guard Training niche site – if it works for him, it’s worth me giving it a try! Now did the uplift in my rankings have anything to do with this change? Who knows…it certainly didn’t seem to hurt!
The Wonderful World Of Metrics
When your site starts to attract a bit of traffic, you can start analysing certain metrics. Take the screenshot below for example:
First off, I should explain that giant dip in traffic around July 4th. I managed to delete my traffic tracking code in the middle of my plugin purge. I got a bit of a shock when I saw the traffic die, and I was rather relieved to find out it was nothing serious!
There are three key metrics in the screenshot above that can be very useful for a webmaster. Let’s go into them in some detail:
This metric is defined incorrectly by many. Wikipedia defines it as follows:
[Bounce rate] represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and “bounce” (leave the site) rather than continue viewing other pages within the same site.
It is not anything to do with a user leaving before 30 seconds has elapsed, or anything similar (as I have read elsewhere). So how is bounce rate useful? Easy – it shows us how well your site converts. By conversion, I mean, when a browser hits a page on your site, do they explore further, or do they leave?
So what is an acceptable rate? Let’s turn to “Digital Marketing Evangelist”, Avinish Kaushik, for his opinion:
My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying. I stress that this is my personal analysis based on my experience, but hopefully it gives you a feel for what you are shooting for.
So, in his opinion, I should be slightly worried, with my bounce rate of 37%. At the moment I am not concerned – there are strategies I can put in place to improve my bounce rate, but that is not my focus at the moment.
Average Time Per Visit/Average Actions
These two metrics should be easy to understand. How long is a browser staying on your site, and how many actions do they take (e.g. clicking onto another page)? In my opinion, they go hand in hand – someone might spend 5 minutes reading a particularly long article, or they might spend the same amount of time reading 3 shorter ones – either way, the two metrics compliment each other.
I couldn’t find any reliable “average” data for these metrics, but I have a hunch that an average time per visit of 3m 37s and 2.6 average actions are pretty healthy.
There are a few interesting things to note from the screenshot above. A caveat first though – you shouldn’t rely heavily on such limited data (i.e. the number of searches is very low). My conclusions below are not set in stone and I am not using them to make any changes to my strategy. At this point, the data only serves to point me in a rough direction.
The most searches are for “child modeling”, when my chosen keyword is “modeling for kids”. This is likely due to the fact that “child modeling” is a much higher-traffic keyword – despite me ranking some 30 or so places lower down for that keyword, I am still able to get more visitors from it. When I rank highly for “modeling for kids”, the ratio should reverse.
“Child models” is the second most searched for keyword. I happen to know that this is a very high competition keyword, and it is in my sights for the long term.
There have been 5 searches total for “modleingforkids” and “modelingforkids.net” – the former search term was likely a user looking to get to my site specifically, and the latter term definitely was. This, along with direct traffic numbers, shows that the site is deemed worthy to return to by some – encouraging indeed.
So What Next?
Well the clear aim remains to rank 1st in Google for my keyword phrase. I will continue with my backlinking strategy and remain patient.
However, I will ultimately look to branch out. I have been looking at the competition for the keyword phrase, “child modeling”. As you can see below, the competition isn’t too horrendous, and the potential traffic is higher than “modeling for kids”. I am already ranking 47th for this keyword without even trying (although that ranking is bouncing all over the place day by day).
The combined traffic between these two keywords, in addition to the varied long tail keyword traffic that I receive, would be fairly considerable.
This is a strategy often employed by experienced internet marketers when it comes to creating authority sites – target a low competition keyword first, and as the site grows, get more aggressive with your keyword targeting. As long as you are going about things in the right way, the ability to rank for more competitive keywords should increase as your site matures.
As For The Long Term…
I have a lot of exciting ideas for Modeling For Kids. However, there is no point implementing them, or even planning them in detail, until I have a good level of traffic. So I will continue to play the waiting game. Patience and persistence are my friends…
Read The Whole Series
Pat Flynn has enjoyed another stellar month. His gross income for June was over $30,000 (and before you think otherwise, his overheads are not very high).
Now when you checked out Pat’s income report, one of two things probably crossed your mind:
How inspiring – Pat is, by his own admission, just a regular guy. It just goes to show what is possible.
Some people get all the luck.
Now what you thought in that instance, believe it or not, can have a huge impact on your potential for success.
The Mindset of The Majority
There is very unhealthy mindset amongst the majority – it seems to be a natural human defence mechanism. Apparently, it is much easier to moan about how lucky someone has been, rather than accept their achievements as a result of their hard work and determination. We all know these people, or worse, we are one of them.
In order to battle this debilitating mindset, you need to do two things.
- If you know people like that, you need to limit or exclude them from your dealings (as Amber Rae recommends).
- If you are that person, then you need to change your way of thinking.
Luck Does Have A Part To Play, But…
Everyone is lucky at times, and by its very definition, luck is indiscriminate. But if it could somehow be quantified, it could be proven that some people are luckier than others. Despite that, luck is not the defining factor in people’s ultimate success or failure. A factor yes, but one that on the majority of occasions, takes a back seat to good old fashioned hard work and endeavour.
Hammering The Point Home
I cannot undersell how important mindset is to success. A positive mindset is what pulls you through the difficult times when so many give up. Just take Pat for example again. His blog was very slow to get started, but with a positive frame of mind, he persisted, and look at him now with his 20,000+ subscribers. If you have ever given up on a blog that at one stage you truly believed in, take a moment to mourn what it could have been. Now make up for it, and don’t make the same mistake again.
You can learn a lot from the success stories out there. But the best thing those stories can do for you is spur you on to emulate or exceed them. After all, why the hell not? At the root of every success story is a mere human, just like you.
So What Is Your Mindset?
Do you admire, or look on jealously? And how do you think it affects your ability to succeed?
Photo courtesy of Eleanor Ryan
Losing enthusiasm for your blog is a common curse. There are many potential causes, but the underlying theme is typically a distinct lack of desire to write. And if you stop writing, you no longer have a blog.
So often, someone with a genuinely good blog and huge amounts of potential gives up. If only they had fully appreciated that it is more a waiting game than anything else. Persistence is your best friend in the early months. I strongly believe that if you create quality content, employ sensible marketing strategies and persist in your efforts, you cannot fail to succeed.
I am willing to bet that many of the most successful bloggers out there have considered giving up. In my experience, the majority admit to just that. That comes as no real surprise — it is a funny old business. Success in blogging does not follow a steady curve. It only takes a mention from a high-traffic fellow blogger to kick-start your ascent to popularity.
I am sure that many six figure internet marketers have at times considered their endeavours fruitless. Now they are hugely successful. They were once in your shoes, and now they have moved onwards and upwards. What is to stop you from doing the same?
A Call To Action
If you are reading this then you may already be running on fumes. In order to fill the tank back up, we need to explore two key issues:
- Why have you lost your enthusiasm?
- How can you get it back?
Any battle-hardened blogger out there will tell you that blogging can be a thankless task. There are thousands of articles on the internet that offer advice on how to attract traffic and build a loyal readership. However, all of that advice is completely irrelevant if your perspective is out of whack.
There are three broad areas that I want you to explore: internal adjustments, external adjustments, and practical adjustments. I will go into all three in detail.
1. Internal Adjustments
In approaching the many situations you face in life, you will have a certain mindset.
If you have a healthy mindset then you needn’t be reading this article, as you already have great enthusiasm for what you are doing. However, if not, you will need to make some internal adjustments so that your mindset is correctly calibrated.
Consider the following:
- If you lack direction, then how do you know at which point you will be satisfied?
- If you lack realism, how will you ever be satisfied?
Where are you going and why? Have you laid out a clear path that you intend to follow? If you are blogging aimlessly, then you are bound to lose enthusiasm. You have to know your endgame and you have to set goals, otherwise you will never have a sense of forward motion.
So, if your endgame is to quit your job, I suggest that you consider starting by creating a blog that centers on your passion in life, whatever that may be. That would certainly be a step in the right direction. So set that as a goal.
Once you have reached that goal and your blog is up and running, it is time to set the next one – let’s say, to reach 1,000 subscribers. Chris Guillebeau believes that 1,000 subscribers gives you a great launch pad for your first paid product. Create that product. That’s your third goal completed. Keep going.
The above doesn’t have to be your path — it can be whatever you want it to be.
If you break down your Endgame into manageable, shorter term goals, everything will seem so much easier and your enthusiasm will be self-sustaining.
There is absolutely no point in setting goals if they are overly-ambitious.
Don’t get me wrong – I am all for ambition. I love ambition. But your ambition has to be tempered by a healthy dose of realism in order to bring about a positive effect.
For instance, if your first milestone is to grow a 20,000 strong email list in three months, then quite frankly, you are almost certainly doomed to failure before you have even started. A lack of realism is as big a cause of a loss of enthusiasm than setting no milestones at all.
So temper your ambition with realism. Set big goals, but make sure that they are actually within touching distance.
2. External Adjustments
External adjustments are all about setting up social checks and balances to ensure that you do not stray from your desired path. These are a little more intimidating than internal adjustments, but can be very powerful. I would recommend that you employ them all, and screw the consequences.
“But I already do!”, you might say. Of course you do – but I am talking about a specific type of socialising. I want you to introduce yourself to your niche. Get involved with people. Search out the top blogs and start commenting. Make yourself a known entity.
The fact is, you do not have to be alone in your endeavour. There are many people out there who:
- are trying to do the same as you, and
- want what you have to offer.
The first group does not need to be your enemy – make friends! Your blog needs to be all about what you bring to the table, which is exactly what nobody else can replicate. If you execute that well, then you have no competition, as no one can be you.
Sign up to Twitter, Facebook and forums, and find likeminded people. Introduce yourself, but don’t force yourself on people. I never advocate forced marketing on social media or blogs. Simply make yourself known, add value, and good things will come of it.
There is nothing quite like accountability to galvanize you into action.
It can be employed in all walks of life, from dieting, to fund-raising, to learning a foreign language. Tell people what you are aiming to do, and you will be far more determined to do it. That is exactly what I am doing with this blog.
So, set an Endgame and goals as above. Then tell everyone – friends, family, your dog — what you are trying to do.
Yes, this can backfire. But hopefully, if you have employed realism, then it will not. And the massive benefit will be the increased drive to reach your Endgame. I don’t know about you, but I value highly my ability to follow through on things, and as such, accountability provides me with a great deal of motivation.
If you want a real boost in terms of accountability, consider creating or joining a mastermind group.
3. Practical Adjustments
These are tangible actions that you can start on right now. And if you are feeling underwhelmed by your situation, I suggest that you do.
Take a walk to clear your head. Even if it’s raining. Especially if it’s raining. Have a swim. Or sit down in a quiet room and think. Just get away from blogging.
The activity needs to give you time with yourself. You will be amazed at what kind of positive thoughts can surface when you give yourself the opportunity to clear your mind.
Generate Enthusiasm With The Passion Of Others
There are resources all over the internet that can galvanise you and set you back onto the path of enthusiasm. I couldn’t tell you what they all are. However, if your field is internet marketing and/or blogging (which it likely is if you find yourself on my blog), then I can happily recommend the following:
Be sure to ration these out. In my experience, reading more than one of these in a sitting tends to leave you feeling rather overwhelmed!
Talk to someone who you trust. Explain your situation – your frustrations, your lack of enthusiasm and drive. Getting someone else’s perspective on your situation can often be very revealing.
If You’re Still Struggling…
If you still lack any enthusiasm for blogging, I would advise that you take a few days off. By that, I mean that you do nothing connected with your online presence at all. No blogging, no tweeting, no reading of other websites connected to your interests. Get away from it all.
See how you feel after that. You may come back refreshed, in which case, you should then action the above things, to reinforce that fresh enthusiasm.
If you’re still lost at sea, then fortunately I can still help. Check out my article, Thinking Of Giving Up? Read This. And of course, you can always contact me. You are not alone!
Just a quick note before I start – the photo in this article has absolutely no relevance to the subject matter. It is just AWESOME, and needed to be here. Enjoy!
If you have been following this blog closely then you may have noticed that I have not yet offered anything in the way of strategic advice relating to internet marketing. This might seem rather odd to you, given that Leaving Work Behind is geared towards making money online.
But it is not actually odd at all. I will offer advice on such topics, all in good time. I will do so only when I feel I am sufficiently experienced. There are far too many people out there whose “advice” is not matched by the requisite level of expertise. I have pledged to myself (and now to you) that I will never fall into the trap of offering unqualified advice.
What you can find on my blog at this time are musings on success, mindset, attitude, and so on. Things I know all about. I may not yet be a six figure internet marketer, but momma didn’t raise no fool. I have learnt a thing or two in my life about the topics I blog about, which is why I blog about them.
There is no shortcut to success. You need to read, take action, then rinse and repeat. But be sure not to fall into the trap of just reading – the best form of experience is by your own actions. The sooner you realise this, the quicker you will progress.
The more I delve into the world of internet marketing, the more I realise that there are 101 ways to do everything. Two respected internet marketers may disagree vehemently on a particular strategy. So who is correct? Perhaps neither of them; perhaps both. The only way you will know is you test their arguments and learn for yourself.
Success will probably come to you more quickly if you devote half of the time you currently spend reading, to action. Even if you read the best method of website promotion ever, it won’t be of any use to you until you take action.
And do not be afraid to fail. If failure leads to you giving up, then you haven’t got your head screwed on straight. Failure is one of the greatest teaching tools available. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it.
In broad terms, the difference between ultimate success and failure is defined simply by those who give up, and those who don’t. Be sure you are in the second category.
So, what is my “killer tactic”? Well, it isn’t a one liner, that’s for sure. It is everything that I have said in this post. But for ease of use, I will summarise:
- Trust your own experience above the advice of others
- Read, but more importantly, act
- Embrace failure and the experience it brings you
Now do something, right away, that benefits your business. Once you are finished, feel satisfied that you have taken one step closer to success.
Photo courtesy of kire
Everyone aspires to greater things. Maybe you want to be a millionaire. Maybe you want to spend the rest of your life doing what you love. Or perhaps you want both, and more (that’s me – sorry for being greedy).
If you have ambitious aspirations, considering how to achieve them can be overwhelming. After all, how on earth do you actually become a millionaire? Despite what many of the snake oil salesmen out there would like you to think, no one has yet written an instruction manual.
In order to make sense of your aspirations, you need to map out a clearly defined path. That path will change as your journey develops, but the vital thing is to know at any point, in which direction you are heading, and why.
Success Is Like Learning To Play Guitar
Have you ever tried to learn to play the guitar? At first, it seems impossible. There seems to be no possible way to contort your fingers in the appropriate manner in order to produce a pleasant noise. However, you persist, knowing that many others have done it before you. If they can play guitar, why can’t you?
At some point, after a great deal of persistence, it begins to click. You can string together a few basic chords. Whilst it previously seemed to be nothing more than a chore, practice starts to become rewarding. With momentum on your side, you practice more and more, and your skills improve exponentially.
Over time, you might settle into a groove, happy with your ability. Perhaps you are perfectly content to just be able to bash out simple three chord songs. To maintain that level of skill is now easy.
Alternatively, you might decide to up your skill set. At this point, a new journey begins – you may be great at your three chord songs, but the “Stairway To Heaven” solo seems a long way off. But again, you know it can be done, and understand that all it takes is practice, time, and application.
Learning to play guitar provides a great analogy for the path to success.
How To Understand The Path To Success
If you are going to try to succeed at anything, you need to be aware of some key realisations:
- It can be done
- You can do it
- It is a process
If you understand and execute these three realisations in the correct fashion, you will succeed.
Accepting the first two realisations is based on having the correct mental attitude, and I am not going to discuss them in this article. What I am focusing on in this article is the process.
Make Sure The Cracks Aren’t Chasms
If you want to be successful (by whatever standard you hold yourself to), then it is vital to be able to visualise how you are going to get there. Many people fail in their aspirations because there is too far a gap between one progressive step and the next.
Visualise your success as a series of cracks in the ground. If they are just small cracks, then you can step over them and in time you will reach your target. However, if those cracks grow into chasms, you can no longer move forwards. One of the keys to success is to eradicate the impassable chasms, so you can step over the cracks with relative ease.
So how do we translate these analogies into practical advice? There is a rather simple process you can follow. It provides the framework for success. I will apply the process to my aspirations, in order to provide you with a practical example.
Step 1 – Define Your Endgame
An Endgame is something which makes a major positive impact on your life. To discover what your Endgame is, see my article “What Do You Want?” You may feel that you already know what your Endgame is – be sure to check the article out anyway – you may surprise yourself.
Your Endgame represents a long-term aspiration. It should be clearly defined and serve as a motivator. Here are some examples:
- I want to earn a million dollars by my thirtieth birthday
- I want to quit my job within two years
Endgames should be what drive you. If there is no Endgame, then you either need to check your pulse, or you need to realise that you already have everything you want from life (in which case, congratulations). Progressing will be awfully difficult if you don’t know what are trying to progress towards.
So what is my Endgame? Simple – as explained in “What Do You Want?”, my Endgame is to serve a letter of resignation no later than 23rd May 2012.
Step 2 – Define Your Target
Once you have defined your Endgame, you can define your Target. Your target is typically what is required to ultimately facilitate your Endgame.
Therefore, my Target is to grow an online income that is sufficient enough to support my quality of life. That will allow me to quit my job.
Now a path is starting to take shape. I know what I want, and I know (in broad terms) what I need to do in order to get there.
Step 3 – Decide How To Hit Your Target
This is a little more difficult to work out, but far from impossible. In fact, your strategy might be quite implausible, but that is okay. At this stage you are setting nothing in stone – the key is to be aiming for something. If you realise at some stage that your aim is unrealistic, then you know that you need to adjust accordingly. It is this kind of objective thinking that will keep you on the right path. It is very easy to criticise those who chase their dreams, whilst you chase nothing.
So, how am I going to hit my Target? Well I have around 11 months left, so it is likely that I will start other projects, but my only active project at this time is my niche site (Modeling For Kids). As such, that project needs to allow me to hit my Target.
Therefore, I need Modeling For Kids to generate an income sufficient enough to support my quality of living.
I should bring up a caveat at this stage. Relying on one source of income is very risky, and is not something I would recommend. In fact, in the back of my mind, I know that I would not be likely to stake my livelihood on one niche site. However, it can be very easy to overcomplicate your Targets, so I am keeping it simple. If I got to the position whereby my niche site was generating a sufficient income, I would then need to decide whether or not that was enough to consider having reached my Endgame, or whether I needed to adjust my Target. As stated above, don’t worry too much if your aim isn’t perfectly practical or realistic, so long as it is a movement in the right direction.
Step 4 – Define Actionable Goals
Saying that you need to achieve “x” is one thing, but figuring out how is something else altogether.
However, if you have a fundamental understanding of your undertaking, it shouldn’t be too difficult.
So let’s use my niche site as an example. I need it to generate an income. Therefore I need traffic (who will buy), and a product (to sell to them).
Traffic will bring newsletter subscriptions. I can then develop a product that my subscribers want, and sell it to them. It sounds simple, and it is, in principle. The difficulty is in the execution.
So, actionable goals are as follows:
- Produce quality content on a consistent basis
- Reach 1st spot on Google for my key phrase
- Build a subscriber base
- Produce and sell a product
You would likely develop these goals so that they are more specific. For example, I will need a large enough traffic and subscriber base (x thousand) with which to sell enough copies of my product in order to produce a sufficient income.
Step 5 – Consider Your Actionable Goals And Execute
We’re now down to the lowest common denominator – what can you do on a daily basis in order to achieve your actionable goals?
Well, I am already carrying out step 1, by producing three quality articles per week.
I am working towards step 2 by building backlinks, submitting articles, and ensuring that my site is well optimised (amongst other tactics).
Steps 3 and 4 are on the backburner, as they rely upon the results of steps 1 and 2.
The key is, when I set my tasks for the day, I am doing it with my Goals, Target, and Endgame in mind.
Your Path To Success Is Definable
By now you should be able to, in principle, see a clear path to success. It is highly motivating to know that the steps you are taking on a daily basis bring you closer to your Endgame.
Now it is almost inevitable that you will hit stumbling blocks and will have to reconfigure your steps to success, but as mentioned previously (and it doesn’t hurt to repeat it), the vital thing is to know at any point in which direction you are heading, and why.
Knowing that every positive action you take, on a daily basis, is taking you one step closer to your Endgame, is extraordinarily empowering. Harness that energy.