Tom: the following is a guest post by Henry Croft, the founder of a website you’re going to learn a lot about in this post. I’m seriously impressed with what Henry has managed to achieve in one short year – it just goes to show that blogging is far from dead as a means of making money online. Take it away Henry!
On March 17th, 2014 my fitness blog GymTalk celebrated its first birthday.
Over the last year I have managed to grow the website from something which started out life as a bit of a laugh into a profitable online business which can now support me financially – just about!
In its first year GymTalk achieved:
- 420,996 page views
- 2 Fitness Blogging Awards
- £9,300 (~$15,000) turnover
- 10,000+ followers on social media
Quitting my 9-5 job to earn a living online has been a tough journey full of missteps, sleepless nights and anxiety, but I do not regret a single day of it.
Although I still have a long way to go, the whole process has been a labour of love and doing something that I’m passionate about seven days a week has been a revelation.
The following is my story so far. Keep Reading
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently ().
~ Henry Ford
In my experience, a lot of people are under the impression that once you’ve “made it” as an entrepreneur (whatever that means), you stop making mistakes.
Well, I certainly haven’t. I’m probably making as many mistakes these days as I ever did. Fortunately, I’ve also had some success along the way to balance things out.
I don’t see failure as the enemy. Failure usually offers up huge learning opportunities. Furthermore, rarely is any failure a true “failure” in the literal sense of the word.
The failed project I am going to discuss in this post provides one such example of how beneficial failure can be. It has taught me an enormous amount and (to an extent) defined the direction of a major future project of mine. I for one am bizarrely happy that I was victim to such “failure.” Read on to find out why!
Recapping the One Hour Authority Site Project
The One Hour Authority Site Project was launched on 14th September 2012. At the center of the project was my authority site: Free Online Dating Advice.
It was originally intended as an experiment in producing content specifically for low-competition keywords in the hope of ranking for them without any backlinking necessary. When that experiment failed I decided to turn the site into a blog in the “traditional” sense, with a unique design, social media profiles and content that was more “bloggy.”
With a custom design and nearly 100 high-quality posts published, I consider Free Online Dating Advice a fantastic resource for anyone interested in online dating.
Not including this post I have written ten updates on the project here on LWB:
As you will see if you read through those posts, just about every aspect of my approach to the project has been documented in detail.
Just a few days ago, I decided to call time on the project. There were a number of reasons as to why I made this decision, but Free Online Dating is no longer an ongoing concern for me. I’m moving on.
In the twelve months or so that the project was ongoing, I learned a huge amount — mostly about what not to do when creating authority sites / blogs. Now I want to share those lessons with you.
1. Forget Google
I’m going to be frank about this: I am sick of talking about Google. Until I feel the need to feature another rant about search engine optimization, you are not likely to hear me talking about Google again.
Why? Because Google is unpredictable and still remarkably unsophisticated.
Glen Allsopp of ViperChill has recently written a bunch of posts on how Google still serves up low-quality results on the first page for popular keywords. To be honest, I do not have the inclination to keep up with the schemes of black hat scammers — especially when the efficacy of such schemes can shift from one day to the next.
But webmasters are not only fighting the scammers and spammers when attempting to rank — they’re also competing with bigger brands and budgets (regardless of the quality of the information on hand).
Consider for example the top five results on Google for the keyword “online dating advice”:
On the face of it you could argue that these results are reasonable — they are all relevant articles published by well-known brands. But there’s more than meets the eye.
First of all, each of the above pages links to an article on a site that is not specifically related to online dating. It’s just one article. In fact, to call some of them “articles” is a stretch: Channel 4’s page is made up of nothing more than a collection of online dating tips totalling just 450 words.
So where does my site — with nearly 100 articles featuring online dating advice from experienced online daters — feature in the SERPs for the keyword “online dating advice”? Let’s see…
There it is! Ranked 104th, below awesome articles like top online dating tips men women and lazer-focused websites such as Romance Online Dating Sex Advice Horoscope.
I believe that in terms of both quantity and quality, my site should be on the top spot for the keyword “online dating advice”. I have worked hard to make sure that the content is informative, helpful and actionable. When a good friend of mine told me last week that she has started online dating, I didn’t hesitate to recommend it to her because I believe in what I have created.
Yet Google clearly disagrees. And I can see why by their parameters — the domain is less than a year old and there aren’t many backlinks pointing to the site. I’m not arguing against that. But I am arguing that Google consistently fails to rank the best content in the right places. And I’ve got no interest in playing their game.
Here’s how I see it: Google rankings come last. You create a great website, you work your ass off to get it in front of people, they start to link to it, and in time you get rankings in Google. At no point do you make a concerted effort to rank, but it will happen naturally. To engage in a focused effort to rank in Google above all other marketing strategies is to create an exercise in temporary success or total futility.
2. Only Write About What Other People Are Writing/Talking About
Online dating has come a long way in the past decade or so. It’s transformed from a closet interest into a mainstream activity. It is far less of a taboo than it was.
However, it is still something of a taboo. Although online dating is now a huge industry, you won’t find many high-quality online dating blogs out there. I would rank mine easily amongst the best, and thats with just ~100 articles published over twelve months or so.
However, competing with no one can be a bad thing. You see, bloggers typically thrive on reciprocation (not in the black hat Google sense, but in a real, organic sense). On LWB I’ll find an awesome blog post and link to it. Someone else will come across a post on LWB and link to it. These links spread across the web, then people browse from one blog to the next and stick to those that they like. It’s an effective system.
But if few people are actually talking about a topic (such as online dating), this “recycling” simply doesn’t happen.
Just do a quick search for “online dating blog” or even “dating blog” and you’ll see how woefully underserved the niche is. Far from this being an opportunity, it makes building an audience pretty damn hard. Unless you’re an SEO whizz and can rank for some decent keywords (let’s not go there again), your next obvious avenue is to reach out and network with other bloggers. If there aren’t any (or only a handful of questionable quality), you’re screwed.
I made a few connections in the dating/online dating niche and even had a couple of guest posts published. Those two guest posts sent me a grand total of nine visitors.
Furthermore, articles on online dating are not the kind of things that people will be keen to share. I said that online dating is less of a taboo, but it is definitely still taboo to an extent. While most people will admit that they are online dating, they’re not going to advertise it by sharing articles on online dating. If you want to build a successful blog, it helps if people actually want to share your content.
3. Be Exclusive
The common curse of the newbie blogger is to create a blog for everyone.
The best (or worst, depending upon your outlook) examples I see of this are those blogs that touch upon a number of broad topics. For example, a recent reader asked me to critique their blog on “Spirituality, Productivity and Personal Development.” What a confusing mess of topics.
In reality, successful bloggers should not only focus on a specific topic, but focus on a specific subset of people interested in that topic. To be vague in your approach is to melt into the background.
I made this mistake with Free Online Dating Advice. I didn’t make an online dating blog for men in their 30s or single mothers — I made an online dating blog for everyone. Because it was for everyone, it had a far smaller chance of resonating with anyone.
I’m showing how it should be done with my new blog, Healthy Enough. Here are some notes I have made relating to my target reader:
I got really specific with this — Healthy Enough is for a very particular type of person.
This will be to my benefit, as the above type of person will feel like the blog was made for him when he lands on it.
I’d like to make something clear though: being exclusive does not mean that you literally have to exclude everyone but your target audience. In an ideal world I would like everyone to love my blog, but that is not possible. So I’ve focused down on a subset, but in doing so, I will also be appealing to plenty of other people (both men and women) for whom the subject matter will still resonate with.
By targeting a specific type of person you include them wholly. However, you also include many other people partially — and that can be enough. For instance, a 25-year-old woman could match many of the above aspects of my target reader, and as such could still be interested in the blog.
This will result in a core audience of highly engaged visitors, surrounded by a much larger group of partially engaged visitors. Anyone else will bounce off your site, which is exactly what you want.
4. Create High Quality Content, Then Share It Liberally
The web is saturated with content. That means one thing: if you are going to make any kind of noise, you need to publish only your best content, then make sure that plenty of people see it.
If that means posting once per fortnight (or even less frequently) rather than twice per week, so be it.
A great example of how effective this can be comes courtesy of a blog called Forever Jobless. Its second post, How to Buy a Ferrari for $20k, has 240 comments, 143 Facebook likes and 40 tweets.
Not bad for a blog’s second post, right? It did so well because it was such a compelling post (bravo, Billy).
To go back to Healthy Enough again, that’s why at the time of writing I haven’t published a third blog post, despite my last post having been published eight days ago. I’m working on a post that requires a lot of research and a lot of work, and I’ll only publish it when I’m confident that people will get a lot of value out of it. Then I’ll spend the subsequent week sending it to everyone and anyone who I think could benefit from it or would be interested by it.
Derek Halpern put it really well in a recent article on Social Triggers:
If you spend time writing a piece of content, and that content only gets 1,000 readers, chances are there are one million other people in the world who can benefit from what you wrote.
Why, then, would you spend more time creating content when you already have something that your ideal customers can benefit from?
It’s smarter to find another 10,000 people to consume what you’ve already created as opposed to creating more [content].
Or, in other words, create content 20% of the time. Spend the other 80% of the time promoting what you created.
Derek’s nailed it. If you truly spend four times as long promoting a piece of content as you did writing it, success is all but guaranteed (on the assumption that your content is suitably compelling).
5. Have a Striking Personality
Speaking of Derek, if you’re familiar with Social Triggers, you’ll know that he is a frank and (dare I say it) rather brash character. It works well for him, as it has for many others: Johnny B. Truant, Ashley Ambirge, Dave Navarro, et al.
I’m not saying you should be frank and brash, but you should be something. To blog without character is to serve up lifeless and uninspiring content. Even if you provide compelling content, if it reads like a college essay, the masses are unlikely to engage with it.
This is as much about clarifying who your target reader is as it is about not being afraid to be yourself. You’ll need to combine both pieces of the equation in order to create characterful content.
Let’s look yet again at Healthy Enough. The second post I wrote was 10 Ways You Know You Should Be a Healthy Enough Reader, and it pulled no punches.
The featured image and first line of the post is in itself enough to turn plenty of people off:
However, there are a group of people who will resonate with my (admittedly immature and slightly off the wall) personality. If you like pulling stupid faces, toilet humor and Family Guy (oh, and being healthy enough), you’ll love the blog. If you hate those things, you’ll hate the blog.
Dividing opinion with a strong character is part and parcel of building a successful blog. Leaving Work Behind has become a popular on the blog in part because I have always been utterly honest and forthcoming about both my success and my failures. I have promoted a personality of utter honesty and transparency (one that is rare in the “make money online” niche) and people have appreciated that. However, I’ve also published my fair share of forthright posts that not everyone agree with (such as this).
In short, don’t be afraid to piss a few people off. Just make sure that you’re also resonating with a bunch of other people.
So What Next?
In a beautiful stroke of irony, the day I finally decided to call it a day on Free Online Dating Advice was also the day when a new article on the blog hit the front page of Reddit, bringing in a few hundred visitors:
However, that changed nothing. A blip of low-quality traffic wasn’t going to transform FODA’s fortunes.
At the time of writing I have a further nine posts (i.e. nine weeks’ worth) scheduled, so the site will actually rumble on for a while yet. After that, new content will cease and the site will be dormant.
I’m not going to do anything rash like shut it down — for those few people who actually come across the site, I hope they get a great deal of value from it. The published content is the result of a lot of hard work and I believe that it can help anyone interested in the world of online dating. But unless something drastic happens, FODA as an active project is over for good.
Healthy Enough has now taken FODA’s place as my active non-LWB project and I am seriously excited about its prospects. I feel like after just over two years of blogging, I am really starting to get a handle on what is really needed to create a highly successful blog. Most of what I have done with Leaving Work Behind has been trial and error — Healthy Enough is my opportunity to start from scratch and apply all of my experience from the very beginning.
If you have any questions or comments relating to my lessons learned from a failed authority site project, please do not hesitate to leave them in the comments section below!
Image Credits: Brett Jordan and Ilker.
I got back from my vacation at 3am this morning so I am just trying to get through the day without falling asleep, but in the meantime I have an awesome guest post for you from one of my best online friends, Greg Ciotti. Enjoy!
Recently, as more and more smart folks have pointed out that Google is quite a bit different right now than in 2-3 years past, I find myself increasingly interested in niche sites.
Considering that I am already the full-time marketing guy at Help Scout, a B2B software startup, and the sole author of a blog approaching 30,000 newsletter subscribers, you could say that I don’t have much time left for many side projects on my lazy Sunday afternoons.
Anything I do spend time on, therefore, needs to produce a great return on time invested.
You might be surprised to hear that niche sites (or “authority sites” if you prefer a grander scale) are actually a great way to supplement your freelance (or full-time) income, as long as you avoid a few common mistakes that I think everyone has made at some point in their career.
From where I’m sitting, the single biggest issue is the confusion between keyword/traffic volume and purchase intent — in other words, the all too real fact that not all traffic is created equal.
This problem is typically alleviated by building a site focused on a single, profitable hobby.
Hobbies work well for niche sites for a variety of reasons, which I’m going to outline below.
What Makes Hobby Sites Work?
Hobbies, by definition, are activities that people are interested enough in to spend money on, with very little expected in return other than entertainment.
Unlike many other keywords out there, hobbies attract people with the inclination to buy and browse products. This makes hobby sets that are set up in a blog / eCommerce hybrid style perfect picks for an affiliate site.
Some of my favorite folks in SEO tend to miss this bit of advice. I’ve seen people recommend certain keywords because of the volume and low-competition, but the plan to make money is often left up to methods I don’t like (ads and making crappy information products).
With hobbies, however, you can sell quality goods and services as an affiliate and help people pick up the best product for them, and help newbies get started with an interesting side activity; no spammy Clickbank products necessary.
Qualifying a Hobby
While most of us recognize that a great hobby will be one with an irrationally passionate audience who are head over heels in love with the activity, the analysis cannot end there.
The key to finding a profitable hobby is to identify an activity that limits user participation to those with an abundance of discretionary income.
In other words, picking out activities that contain far more “buying” hobbyists over onlookers and “info seekers”, who are the equivalent of a window shoppers in the online world. In this regard, I find that it is better to target activities that interest post-college adults and baby-boomers.
I also need to warn you about your new arch-enemy should you be interested in building hobby sites: geeks and nerds.
As a guy that loves his video games (my Super Nintendo is still hooked up), you will likely never see me building a website about video games.
It fails as a profitable hobby for a number of reasons, but the #1 reason is that it is a space dominated by geeks and nerds.
Allow me to count the ways why I wouldn’t start a gaming site:
- Geeks and nerds know how to set up websites. Since that’s the case, they are the most likely to take their irrational passion online, which is why it’s nearly impossible to compete with the endless amount of gaming, tech, and other geeky hobby websites that have existed for 10+ years.
- For gaming specifically, while adults do play video games, the target market is too crowded with young people who don’t have enough discretionary income. It is for this reason why so many games are pirated: broke high school kids don’t want to pay for things, so they won’t.
- Purchase intent for video games isn’t as direct as many other hobbies. That is, gamers are often window shoppers, and while they might read a gaming related site for reviews and news, they generally already know how to use Amazon, so why would they come to your site to buy?
It’s the same reason why you won’t see me trying to promote nearly any marketing products from Clickbank — not only do these products almost always suck, but every WarriorForum dweeb ever has tried setting up a review site for the top sellers, padding them in the search results with 10,000 shady backlinks.
Non-internet hobbies, non-business hobbies, and non-geeky hobbies are often wide open for this very reason: despite their passionate following offline, there are fewer people with the skills (or the motivation) to set up a site around these interests.
How to Find a Great Hobby
Besides browsing Wikipedia’s giant list of hobbies (just remember who linked you ;)), one of the best ways to find interesting hobbies online is through a method I call “thread fishing.”
A “thread” is simply another term for a topic on a message board. Using mult-interest sites like Reddit and Quora, I’ve searched, browsed, and noted a huge number of interesting hobbies. The best part is that the responses often contain vote talleys, so many of these threads will show you a common pattern of which hobbies are actually popular, all before you do any keyword research.
Take, for instance, this thread on Reddit’s AskWomen page, which asks the ladies about what hobbies they are really emotionally invested in.
You won’t find any typical marketing nonsense here, just genuine, interesting hobbies outside of the tech/geek space that could more amazing websites. Here are just a few I found interesting:
- Rock climbing (the gear is expensive)
- Pole dancing (get ’em!)
- Adult intramural sports (handball, kickball, tennis, etc.)
…and that’s all from one thread, which only asked a small section of a site and only generated responses from women!
You’ll find just as many interesting responses from other threads that ask guys, such as motorcycle maintenance, cigars, and blacksmithing (you should see all the products on Amazon, I was shocked).
Once you’ve compiled a list of some notable topics, it’s time to ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there a wide array of products you can review and discuss?
- Does the hobby lend itself to “higher price, lower volume” purchases?
- Are there affiliate programs with good commissions?
- Are people currently making money? (note: this also means any eCommerce competitors)
- Could you write (or afford to outsource) 50 articles on the topic?
If you can answer yes to these, you’re looking good. To clarify for #4, what I mean is that even if there aren’t any good affiliate examples, if you can find solid eCommerce sites ranking for this hobby (and affiliate programs available via Amazon or other sources), you should still be good to go.
Building a Great Hobby Site for Affiliate Sales
The typical hobby site won’t function as your standard blog (though you can certainly build them on WordPress). While folks like Tom and myself provide valuable ‘how-to’ content with no strings attached, hobby sites can be far more aggressive in pushing products, because hobbyists are actively looking for products to buy.
That said, typical blog posts still work well to break up the pattern and attract attention. Imagine a rock-climbing site with a post about “50 Breath Taking Rock-climbing Photos,” a post that also linked to some of the gear in each picture.
Or how about a post on “30 Creative Woodworking Projects that Will Amaze You”? Again, it’s BuzzFeed style content to supplement your other more affiliate heavy articles.
With a nice mix of your more vanilla blog content and eCommerce style review content, a hobby site will have articles that serve as entry points (interesting posts) and articles that power affiliate sales.
Here are a few other key rules to live and die by for a hobby site:
- Review posts are king: Review posts are a known affiliate tactic, but they are king when it comes to long-tail search for hobby sites. Again, picking a non-geeky topic will do you wonders here. There are thousands of reviews for terms like “BlueHost review”, but how many people do you think are reviewing specific blenders, or types of saws, or glass blowing toolkits?
- Affiliate link photos & use buttons: Buy now buttons are pretty slimy on a blog unless it’s a sales page, but on a hobby site nobody will care. In fact, if they want to buy, it will just make things easier! Also be sure to be photo heavy on a hobby site, as hobbyists love pictures of what they enjoy.
- Comparison posts do really well: Spending the time to scour the web and find the best products for a certain keyword (ie, “best yoga mats”) will serve you†so well on a hobby site. Read tons of reviews and really get a sense of what people love about a product, what faults it may have, and how it compares to other products. After flesh out a couple of these particular products, create a roundup and pick a winner!
- Email still works: Affiliate site or no, list building is still essential. They can also be used to promote holiday sales or hot times of the year (for seasonal hobbies), let alone the fact that you can create direct email campaigns for product comparisons, as mentioned above.
While you may never get to Digital Photography School levels (the lord of all hobby sites) with your niche site, just remember that there are plenty of non-geeky hobbies out there just waiting for a webmaster to create a site worth visiting!
Gregory Ciotti is the marketing strategist at Help Scout, the invisible email management software for online business owners who love taking care of customers. Get more content from Greg on the Help Scout blog.
The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!
As my income has increased over the past few months and I have started making more than I ever have before, my attitude towards money has begun to shift.
I bought solid wood furniture for my new home office. I took my girlfriend to a very fancy (and rather expensive!) restaurant for her birthday. I paid someone to decorate my living room. These are all things I wouldn’t have done a couple of years ago. I would have shopped at Ikea, eaten at Frankie and Bennys and picked up a paintbrush.
You may be wondering what this has to do with my authority site project. Well, it’s related to my attitude towards money. Now that my business is profitable I have an opportunity, for the first time, to invest financially in my future success. And that is exactly what I plan on doing — I will be investing a sum of money in my authority site with the hope that it will offer me a return.
In this post I want to share exactly what my plans are in order to make this site a success. If it doesn’t work I will draw a line under this project and move on. If it does work then the potential for future growth could be huge (both with this project and others).
Just a couple of weeks ago I was floundering a bit. I had no direction.
What I needed was a deadline, as my friend Steve Scott told me in one of our mastermind meetings. He was totally right. I set myself a deadline for both my upcoming book and my authority site and my attitude towards the projects changed completely.
But how do you set a deadline for a blog? By their very nature blogs do not “finish,” do they?
Well, the deadline is intended to be an exercise in commercial viability. I have been working on my authority site (freeonlinedatingadvice.net) since September of last year, and in that time I have done a great deal of work and achieved very little. I have a site with over sixty articles, but no one is reading them.
So I decided that I would create an environment by which success was required in order for the project to move on. That’s what the deadline is about — if the site is unable to sustain itself (i.e. create an income that matches its outgoings) by my deadline, or at least shows the potential to do so, I will cut my losses and move on.
As I revealed in my last update, that deadline is Monday 12th August 2013. By then the site should be earning a minimum of $90 per month, which will enable me to hire writers on an ongoing basis to produce one post per week.
I am hoping that with the intensity of the project I will be able to surpass that goal comfortably, but I honestly have no idea of what the outcome will be. This is totally new ground for me.
Once I had set my deadline I needed to define a budget — the amount of money I would invest in that time to give the project the best possible chance of success.
To be honest the budget is likely to be a bit of a moveable feast — I have no benchmark to compare against and no real idea as to what would be a sensible amount to invest. Provisionally I came up with a figure of $500, broken down as follows:
10x posts @ $20 = $200
10x guest posts @ $20 = $200
Infographic @ $100
I know one thing for certain — the budget will not go beyond $1,000. That is mental cutoff point at which I would have to draw a line. I don’t think expenditure will get that high though.
My Content Strategy
One of the things that had been holding me back from taking this project forward was a lack of time to produce new content. In reality I had become a bit burnt out from writing so many online dating articles.
However, that situation has now changed entirely. The content for my site is now in your hands — literally. In my last update I made a job offer to LWB readers and the response I got was far greater than I anticipated.
I received around thirty applications for the role of which many were really top quality. Although I had originally planned to hire just one writer, I ended up with three:
They will share writing responsibilities over the next eight weeks or so, with a schedule of 2-3 posts per week.
Not only that, I received guest posts from no less than seven other talented writers:
My sincere thanks go out to all of those who applied — it was a seriously tough decision narrowing the field down and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to pick from such a talented pool of writers.
My final choice of writers was led in part by a desire to have different “voices” on the blog, and I think I have achieved that. I’m really excited to see what Gina, Nick and Dave produce in the coming weeks.
My Marketing Strategy
I am delighted with future prospects for content on the site and have no doubt that my writers will produce great stuff. It is the marketing of the site that is the great unknown — will I be able to do enough of the right things over the next eight weeks to enable the site to break even?
Well, I certainly feel like I will be pulling out all the stops. My strategy will be based upon the advice contained within the awesome Point Blank SEO course, which I would recommend to anyone who wishes to boost the visibility of their site (both in the search engines and in general).
My approach will be made up of the following elements:
- Reverse engineering of competitors’ backlinks portfolio
- Guest posting on related blogs
- Directory listings
- Inclusion on blog lists (like my own LWB 100)
- Mentions in links mashups
- Blog comments
- An infographic
I will be spreading out this work over the coming weeks. My intended schedule is as follows:
- Week 1: Guest Posts 1/2, Directories, Slideshare
- Week 2: Guest Posts 3/4, Blog Lists, Docstoc, Links Mashups
- Week 3: Guest Posts 5/6, Comments 1 – 5, Reverse Engineer Backlinks
- Week 4: Guest Posts 6/7, Comments 6 – 10, Reverse Engineer Backlinks
- Week 5: Guest Posts 8/9, Comments 11 – 15, Reverse Engineer Backlinks
- Week 6: Guest Posts 10, Comments 16 – 20, Reverse Engineer Backlinks
- Week 7: Infographic
- Week 8: Infographic
The infographic is intended to be the coup de grâce — it will be sent out to every single website, blog and social media profile that I can dredge up in the niches of online dating, dating and relationships, women’s and men’s interests, and so on.
I have no doubt that I will think of additional tactics that I will implement as I go on as I am determined to give this site the best possible chance of success.
What Do You Think?
As always, I’d love to get your feedback on my plans. Do you think that I have a chance of success? Do you disagree with anything I have planned or do you have alternative and/or additional suggestions? Please let me know in the comments section below!
The following is part of an ongoing series, The One Hour Authority Site Project. If you’d like to read more about it then click here!
I tend to get a little itchy when I’m not regularly publishing case study posts here on Leaving Work Behind.
After all, this blog was built upon a foundation of case studies — whether it was my first niche site, my first authority site, my information product, or something else entirely. It’s an area I don’t like to neglect, and yet I have been over the past few months.
Well, that’s about to change. This post represents the resurrection of my One Hour Authority Site Project and will be the first of several upcoming case study posts here on LWB. As always, I will be giving you a front row seat on every aspect of my present and future projects — including both my successes and my failures. Read on to find out more!
My Authority Site Story to Date
I launched the One Hour Authority Site Project with ambitious intentions back in September 2012. From then until February 2013 I published nearly sixty posts optimized for extremely low competition keywords in an attempt to rank in Google without any backlinking. In short, it didn’t work — Google wasn’t interested.
With that first experiment behind me, I decided to build links to the site through a content marketing strategy based around guest posting. I revealed my planned strategy in a post, which was (briefly) as follows:
- Tweak the site’s design
- Publish some “bloggy” content
- Create a list of target posts to guest post for
- Comment on the top ten blogs in my list
- Guest post on each blog in my list
- Create and share an infographic
I got to (and completed) step four on my list before other commitments distracted me. Before long the site was all but abandoned, left in the shadow of other (more profitable) projects. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to give the site a fair chance; it’s just that life has got in the way.
But the fact is this: I still believe in the site. I believe that if more people were to find it, they would find the content genuinely helpful. I believe that it has the potential to generate an income. I just need to give it a proper chance.
Well, this post is my very public way of promising to give it the chance it deserves.
My New (Rough) Plan
The first thing I have done is set myself a deadline — a date upon which I will decide the site’s fate. That deadline is 12th August 2013.
At that time the site must be able to support itself (e.g. pay for a writer to regularly update it with fresh content) or demonstrate the potential to do so. If the site is not in that position by the deadline, I will cut my losses and move on. I believe that setting a deadline will allow me to better appreciate the task at hand and act accordingly.
Until then, I know I have my work cut out. The situation is complicated somewhat by my lack of available time — my freelance work coupled with this blog and the book I am currently working on (incidentally, you can expect a case study on that soon) takes up most of my working hours.
That is why I am turning to you.
I Am Looking for a Writer
Update 11th June 2013: please note that the writing positions have now been filled. Thank you to everyone who submitted a pitch!
While I am not typically in the habit of outsourcing, I am going to make an exception here. I want to give one promising freelance writer the opportunity to work with me in developing my authority site.
To put it simply, I want to find me, circa September 2011 — a hungry freelance writer who has raw talent but little experience. My offer to you is simple: the opportunity to earn some money and improve your blogging skills (and if the site takes off, who knows what else).
My initial plan is take a writer on board to write one article per week for the blog. I expect the job to expand from there but that is the baseline.
In short, I want someone who can take care of the content on the blog so I can take care of building links to the blog. Here’s my offer:
- A free copy of my guide to freelance writing (or a refund if you have already purchased it)
- A 30 minute Skype coaching call regarding your freelance business
- On the job training RE blogging best practice (i.e. headlines, style, structure, etc)
- $20 per post (500+ words)
I’m not just looking for any writer though; I’m looking for someone with very specific experience. Although I have been very keen to hide the identity of my authority site so far, I must now reveal it in the interests of explaining who I am looking for.
My Authority Site Revealed
So without further ado, cue the drum roll…my site is: freeonlinedatingadvice.net.
As someone who has dabbled in their fair share of online dating in the past (I met my girlfriend on Match), I thought the topic was both ideal for me to write about and also underserved in terms of quality content on the web. Furthermore, there are plenty of affiliate marketing opportunities with the commissions offered by the likes of Match and eHarmony.
My choice to reveal the site’s identity at this juncture is to make it clear what I am looking for in an ideal world: someone who has experience in online dating. That is my main consideration.
Of course, if no one comes forward with online dating experience I will have to to adjust my sights accordingly, so don’t feel put off if you are not an online casanova! I will consider all applications. Furthermore, if you do not think you suit the job but know someone that might, let them know or .
Here’s what I want from each applicant:
- A Pitch: i.e. why should I hire you?
- Samples: examples of your work.
- Headlines: three post ideas relating to topics that I have not already covered on the blog.
If nothing else this is an opportunity to test your pitching skills without fearing an unfriendly response — if you want me to critique your pitch then just mention it in your email; I’ll be happy to.
So what are you waiting for? Contact me now and let’s get the ball rolling!
I’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of building “organic” links, so it is important that content is sorted out with relatively little involvement from me. I am also excited about the fact that I can help a budding freelancer develop their skills and nudge them in the right direction.
I hope you’ve got plenty to say in the comments section below. Now that the site has finally been revealed, perhaps you have thoughts on the viability of the niche I have chosen. Maybe you want to know more about the writing opportunity. Or perhaps you have a completely unrelated question. Whatever it may be, fire away in the comments section below — I’d love to hear from you!