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#1369429 by ken-admin
Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:49 pm
Hi to all,

Sometimes my rambles go a little, well, overboard.🚣🛶

You may have noticed? ;-)

So when one of my favorite companies and Mike and I talked about writing a post for them, we were thinking along the lines of something tight like, oh, "the state of solopreneurism, today and in the future."

The company is Social Quant. We'll be telling you more about it and its tool, and how to use it, in The Twitter Action Guide - it's an advanced technique, to be employed when you have found your voice and have discovered what works.

But back to solopreneurism...

I could write whole books on that topic!📚📕

So we cut it down to "Why Every Solopreneur Should Succeed (And Why Most Don’t)."

I told myself, "OK, Ken, keep this nice and tight."

Their guest posts are usually a few hundred words, up to 1000. Their head of content, David Boutin, knew that I'd have trouble sticking to 1,000 words, so said that "a bit more than that would be OK."

THAT told me that 2000 might be OK. ;-)Image
We are building friendships with influencers in what I call "MikeSpace" It reminds me of the affiliate marketing space of 15 years ago.

Folks in the more modern areas of Net marketing (social media, mobile, etc) are busy honing their craft and learning - pushing the envelope. They're working to be the best in their spaces, much like folks like Danny Sullivan and Allan Gardyne did "way back when."

They're the type of people we want to work with today. Sadly...

I'll be posting a series on the dark side of affiliate marketing, something I first touched on over 10 years ago as a potential problem. It's becoming such a problem that they are on consumer groups' radars, with pressure for much tougher legislation, not just for affiliates who write fake reviews, but on companies that encourage it.

It's important for 2 reasons...

1) FOR YOU - There's content about how to keep it real, earn income ethically by serving your reader's interest first and foremost. It may earn you less than an inferior company that increases its price so it can pay you more. But you'll last forever if you accept less money by recommending the best for your readers.

2) FOR US - I've had it with unethical marketers in our space. I'm not talking about IEDs ("Irrationally Exuberant Detractors"). They were as far from honest as it gets and the motivation was anger.

Now we have a new group doing the same, but with a different motivation. This one is "just business" but it's a dirty business. If they made honest claims, I'd accept it as good, aggressive marketing.

But when they claim that this product is way better than ours, well...

We'll be publishing about a rigorous, detailed study comparing our results to theirs, apples to apples., comparing results at Alexa, SimilarWeb and SEMrush. I don't want to be the spoiler, but I can say that only thing they do better than us is failure (Alexa > 30,000). They do that 4x "better."

It's one of the only ways we can deal with this. You've never seen a study like the one that we're about to publish. The outcome is so clear, I wish we had thought of doing this before. Here's the thing...

We're at a substantial disadvantage because these folks have sites about affiliate (and other types of) "make money" marketing. Their motivation is to "make money online," period.

Some of them, I'm hoping, don't know how they've been taken for a ride. We hope to open their eyes with flat-out facts and bar charts that show the truth. If they still want to recommend a product that they'll soon learn is way inferior, that's on them.

We are also at a disadvantage because you, to my great pride, have stayed out of "make money" niches. You are in niches that you know and love. You generate your income honorably - value for value.

"Make Money" affiliates (the few who succeed) suck money out of suckers (or is that "suckees"?). Not only is it non-productive, it's immoral.

OUR problem, though, is that visitors to your niche are not looking to start a business online - not at the time of reading, anyway. So there's no financial reason for you to talk about SBI!, which leaves the field wide open for the fake reviews to dominate search results.

But all that's for another day in the near future.

Suffice it to say that our focus is on building WIN-WIN relationships with good people, influencers with kindred spirits and similar values, who are great in spaces that have not devolved the way older areas have. In short - honorable people.

But I digress (which is why I "invented" the Sidebar, though... ;-)

As promised, the article answers "Why Every Solopreneur Should Succeed (And Why Most Don’t)." AND it also discusses, um well...

"the state of solopreneurism, today and in the future."

So yeah. I sent them 9000 words!

There's that.

What would they do with it?


I rarely read my own writing once I've let it go. I cringe too much when I see spots that I'd like to improve. But I wanted to see how much they chopped, out of the almost 9000 words that I sent them.

The answer... none. I couldn't spot anything important, so I did a word count on both documents. They were within 50 of each other.

I was sure they were going to chop it down to ONE topic that they liked. And we'd use at least half of it for our own blog.


And then Yuki called, asking if I had seen what their CEO had to say about the piece... "Check your email, Dad."

Now, I have to say, and I hope it doesn't come off as bragging, but as I read this piece before seeing that email, I thought it did a really great job. It pulls my most recent thoughts, the way that I think about solopreneurship and where it's going online, all together into one article.

For 9000 words, it's a good "summary" of where we are heading. It's some of my best stuff.

Now, you'll already know quite a bit of it, but you haven't seen it all organized into one, cohesive piece like this. Please do read it - it's well worth the 15 minutes...



Anyway, so I checked my email, per Yuki's suggestion. And sure enough, CEO Mike Kawula, in his email today, said this about the post...

It’s NOT a hodgepodge of tips and advice to get you jazzed about some fad or chasing the newest shiny marketing tool.

It IS an invaluable resource that will fundamentally change the way you think about your online business.

Ken is also giving away a 3-year membership to Solo Build It! ($997 value)

In my honest opinion, Ken is a genius when it comes to entrepreneurship and has an amazing entrepreneurial history of success in various businesses.

I’ve respected getting to know Ken the last 2 years here at Social Quant and his advice has been some of the best I’ve received (so I know you’ll love this 8500+ document you’ll treasure from him).

P.S. Seriously, read today's post, it’s one of our best I truly believe.

Wow! That's over-the-top generous. I'm really glad they liked it and that we had a chance to get our message out to a wide audience.

And, oh, did you notice the chance to win 3 years of SBI!?...


While you're there, please like and share the post, please?


On the lighter side

You know, we all need a little recognition from time to time. And I ain't no exception. So Mike's comments meant a lot to me...

My only complaint?

They asked for a photo so I sent them three to choose from, something more recent and, well, dressed the way I usually do now (t-shirt and shorts). They went out and found that old suit-and-tie photo instead, from the office in Montreal.

Those clothes, the office and its location are long left behind...

Can't win them all. ;-)


Let me know how you liked the piece? Leave a note over there, perhaps adding a bit about your eperience with SBI!? With a little luck, it'll help generate some ongoing SE traffic.

We need to be doing a lot more of this to get back to building WIN-WIN relationships with people who I respect. Of course, they can't all be 9000 words and CMO Mike (well-respected in this field - voted in the Top 10 Social Media Bloggers) will be doing most of them.

Or I'll collapse! ;-)

Onwards and upwards (with your help)!

All the best,

P.S. We also announced the post in...

Our FB account...
https://www.facebook.com/solobuildit/po ... 8888406377

SBI! Twitter...
https://twitter.com/SoloBuildIt/status/ ... 7961948160

Spread the word, bird!🐧 (Is that still a saying?)
#1369461 by Mary from Mico
Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:27 am
Congratulations Ken!

And "Good eye!", Yuki.

'Commented and left it up for more tomorrow. Well, today now that midnight's past.

Must quit reading and "do". :-)

#1369780 by ken-admin
Wed Apr 26, 2017 4:50 pm
Thanks everyone! :-)

To those who haven't seen the current article, it's at...



It's good to take the pulse of solopreneurship every now and then. We all get too absorbed in the minutiae of the day-to-day. So it's fruitful to take a step back and look at the big picture.

That's what that article does. The bottom line of it all boils down to this...

Solopreneurs (well, SBIers anyway) should do better and better in the coming years. Here's why...

- a leveling off of the total number of sites coming online (Netcraft's web survey)

- the increasing importance of Google RankBrain - better content will be better rewarded. Poor content from BigCo's that get "automatic links" will slowly erode due to that AND due to the concomitant decreasing importance of links in Google's algo.

- the solopreneur's natural advantage, and the opportunities of, social media.

Social Media is the only area that SBIers are what I'd call "solopreneur-average." We want to change that.

We're working on the creation of Action Guides to change that. Two are waiting for my detailed review - just need to find the time because "it ain't read-and-approve." ;-)

The SM articles are solid, but that's not the point. We know all too well that articles don't get the job done for BIG initiatives. A step-by-step PROCESS, from optimal setup to basic to advanced levels, in the form of Action Guides is a must.

As usual, it's about optimizing the use of your time so that you nail the 80-20. It's not to learn as much as a social media pro.

- emphasis on showing you how to monetize better. This is an ongoing priority. Speaking of which...


I have already learned a ton by helping Jacki with sponsorships (and we're just getting into it!). Working with her showed me that she needed more detailed step-by-steps.

Most of the AG is very detailed. DAYS 2-4 are hyper-detailed. There's a good reason for that - the less we leave you to figure out, the more you can focus on the business end of getting it done right.

It goes back to the 80-20. The "20" are details that aren't worth the time. The "80" is the 80% benefit you get with 20% of your time - nailing THOSE details down is full value.

SBIers do business-building better, from the earliest steps to monetization better than any other group in the world.

That's not overstatement. The full study comparing us to another company, whose affiliates promote it (all over the place, now!) as superior, is coming out the week after next.

The difference in success rates is beyond belief. Literally!

If I were to just tell you the difference, you wouldn't believe me. But it's all backed by a solid methodology and data.

We even provide the methodology for anyone who wants to do the same study. The conclusions are inarguable. Watch for my announcement on that one - we'll need YOUR help to spread that study.

But I digress (I'll pick back up on this topic in my next post).

Bottom line: Success is in the detail, but the RIGHT detail. It's all about nailing the "80" of "80-20."


Back on monetization...

The thing with active monetization is that it's, well, active. That means dealing with humans in WIN-WIN deals instead of putting up AdSense and affiliate links and waiting for the money to come in.

Don't get me wrong - it DOES come if you have the traffic. And passive income is good "starter monetization" because most of your time should be focused on laying the foundation of STANDOUT content (for search traffic) and then at least one active social account (for brand-building and some traffic (secondary)).

Once a site matures, is getting good traffic, and you have more time to "go active," though, you're leaving so much money on the table if you stay "passive." It's time to shift a good chunk of your time, the same way it shifted from research in DAYS 2-5 to site-building in later days and then social...

At some point, you should be putting more time into increasing your $-per-visitor, sharply working to increase that ratio, rather than starting a 2nd business.

One of my pet peeves is when SBI! critics say that you only GET 1 "SITE" with SBI!. Talk about missing the point!

Of course most hosts let you have countless sites. They don't care if 100 sites' traffic adds up to a negligible amount.

If we did that, though...

1) some would add more sites just because they can. It's free, after all (excluding the cost of the domain). Attention gets diluted, time spent on "2nd best" idea, etc.

It would go against some of our most fundamental advice, something we've spent much time to reverse in recent years...

2) we'd go broke on the bandwidth. Folks don't realize that when your traffic does grow to a certain level, hosts increase the price. We don't - even low-traffic sites (by our standards) are higher-than-the-average solopreneur.

Mostly, though, my pet peeve is about this...

Building an online business is NOT about "sites." Most solopreneurs still equate the two. Whenever I read that comment, it's almost always someone from 20 sites and no traffic (or someone with an agenda and who knows better).


No, you BUILD one BUSINESS. And if you do it right, that's all you should really have the time for.

It doesn't make sense to do multiple sites. For example, once you've built traffic to an authority niche site, increasing monetization makes 100x more sense than starting a 2nd site. I mean...

You already have the traffic. Why would you want to waste it by allocating time to building a 2nd site? Instead, invest that time in higher-paying income models.

The only exception? Starting a RELATED site. IF it's related in a way that you can pull over a good % of those who like what you've done so far, you can speed up the time it takes to build the 2nd business (yet one more reason to have a strong mailing list and social media - bring your most ardent followers over to the new site).

For example, if Nori were to start [Domain Private], she'd be able to leverage off what she has accomplished in Anguilla. They'd WANT to know what she discovers on the other islands.

Downside: You can't neglect your first business. So she'd need at least 1 full-time person, and that person would have to be superb, to manage Anguilla Beaches.

OK, wait... I just thought of a 2nd exception. If you simply HATE the idea of moving to active monetization, dealing with humans to cut deals, even the simplest of processes such as sponsorships, that could be a 2nd reason.

But realize the trade-off. You're "paying" (losing) a lot to avoid going outside of your comfort zone. Push yourself and grow personally, too. :-)

ONE business. That's my best advice for most people.


I know that advice hurts our own business. So be it! The existence of SBI! is sheer serendipity. I was retired and golfing. Then I heard about this interwebs thing. ;-)

Hobby > Experiment > MYSS! > SBI!. That's the 4-word summary and what a journey it's been. "Playing with toys" had been fun enough.

Don't get me wrong. A business needs to be profitable to grow, but it's never been about the money.

So yes, "1 business only" should have been in the AG from the beginning.

Heck, if it had been a core part of the Action Guide from the get-go, we would never have had so many people with 5, 6, 7+ sites who got banged up by Panda.

They were all "making money" in those "crazy easy" years, but my own thinking had not matured enough to realize that...

1) the quality of those sites could not possibly be high enough for traffic rankings to LAST. Google would eventually catch up with that. We didn't get hurt in the early rounds of Panda, but 2.5.2 took its toll, the first algo change to ever impact SBI!.

We've now trimmed down from 60% with more than 1 site to 20%. And most of the 20% have trimmed down, too.

Despite these excesses, we weren't impacted as badly as other high-traffic solopreneur sites, but that was small solace at the time.

The saddest part was, between Panda and Penguin, losing SBIers who could have recovered. Recovery has been terrific, peaking at that 40% gain with Panda 4. I'd love to see that type of jump every time, but Google is done with "sudden impact."

As I said in mid-2013, it's going to be a steady upward trend line. The smarter RankBrain gets, the better you'll do IF your content OVERdelivers.

2) a "site" is not a "business."

That entire line of thinking started as a seed, I'm not even sure how many years ago. It slowly started to grow a few years ago and has been picking up steam in recent years, signified recently by the rebrand to "Solo Build It!"

If you've missed previous posts on that, skim "Ken's posts" for that topic (it's important)...


Or read the summary in the TNT HQ article...

http://sbitips.sitesell.com/importance- ... ndset.html

On Making the Transition

Sometimes it takes hands-on experience to modify important lines of thinking. And most recently, it has taken hands-on to remember something I had long forgotten...

When I first made the transition from ER doc to business person, I was more trusting. No one lied to their doctor, after all. Now I guess you could say that my philosophy, when dealing with others, is...

"Trust but prevent. And when you can't prevent, verify."

That's one small example of the fact that I was certainly not a "business person." I had to learn it the hard way, had to learn to negotiate, build relationships, etc. And on that note...

Business sense can't be instilled by an MBA or by reading books on business. You have to get your hands dirty and just get started.

However, that learning curve CAN be accelerated by providing more detailed "how-to" instead of feeling that the rest is obvious. It's not - not if you have never "done business" before.

It CAN be helped along, too, at a higher level, with mentorship - helping you learn to think in a more business-like way. That's the point of those "business mindset" posts, for example.

It's all pretty obvious - but only after you've read AND done it.

Bottom line for monetization coverage -> assume lower level of knowledge, which means less "figuring it out" (like the rest of SBI!).

So, as an example, you'll be seeing (in the next few days) more how-to detail showing up in the sponsorship section. Cath, our head of Content, has been auditing the emails to and from Jacki and will be integrating the nitty-gritty into our coverage of sponsorship..


Nori's sponsors have been an excellent source of income for Anguilla Beaches, compared to Google Ads, as has her own simple little product, The Anguilla Card. BOTH of those active models have been helped in a big way by her social presence.

And on that note...

Social media is not so much about direct traffic-building, more about the power of brand-building by building a large, ENGAGED base. The P of C Image T Image P Image M really helps drive "active" models, especially.

Once you start to have site, search and active monetization going, everything seems to reinforce each other in a virtuous circle.


If you have high traffic, AND if you have some recognized presence in your niche (all the better if a strong social presence boosts that), you are READY for site sponsorship.

Sorry, I seem to be in the mood for digressing. Let's get to...


The Bottom Line

The Social Quant article was a useful exercise, a pulse-taking review of solopreneurship, where it is and where it's heading.

The future for solopreneurs is bright, for the reasons given here and in the article. It's brightest for SBIers because...

1) Traffic: If you follow the AG diligently, you already do all the right stuff to benefit from RankBrain. Challenge yourself - is your content better than competitors who rank ahead of you for your important keywords? What about those who are 20 spots below you?

2) Social Media Few solo's in "real" niches do SM really well. So the potential is there to beat out competition both big and small. The SMAGs will enable you to do what the AG does.

What's a "real" niche?

I'm going to use this term more often, so might was well define it...

Folks who search on "real" niches are not looking for information to help them build an online business (e.g.., Caribbean cruising, exotic tortoises, debt consolidation). They are planning vacations or researching how to breed a specific type of tortoise or they want to know how to deal with debt.

All other niches are, one way or another, related to online business-building. These are among the hardest spaces to compete in and have different dynamics than "real" niches. NOT advised.

Nori is an example of someone who does do SM well. The goal of the AG is to enable you to become the same kind of star that SBIers are in generating traffic.

In the same way that Nori used to be one of the highest-trafficked sites in SBI!, I'd like to see many SBIers pass her by in their own niches within a year or two of releasing the "SMAGs."

If you think you won't have time, that's the point of the AG. Just follow it!

3) Monetization We'll be placing more emphasis on detailed execution of more active models. We're not leaving passive behind, of course. You're ready for "active" though, when you realize, "hey I could/should be generating more $-per-visitor.

The answer to that is going to be here in more detailed step-by-step that assumes zero experience in dealing with people - help you cross over in mindset until it's natural for you.


Again, if you have not seen the current article, it's at...


While you are there, please like and especially share it. It already ranks at #39 at Google. There are a ton of good links back to SiteSell, so that post could become a solid introduction to us, better there than if it was on our own blog. :-)

To those who enjoyed it, thank you. And to those who haven't read it, it's worth the read (please don't take that for bragging :-) ).

All the best,
#1369782 by Jacki from Macleod
Wed Apr 26, 2017 5:33 pm
ken-admin wrote:I have already learned a ton by helping Jacki with sponsorships (and we're just getting into it!). Working with her showed me that she needed more detailed step-by-steps.
I have a confession to make; I was ready to throw in the towel, thinking that I must be a total dunce not to 'get' what the next step should be. Huh. Guess it's just my non-conforming methods that are getting me in trouble here, along with massive resistance. That's a whole other book...
#1369844 by ken-admin
Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:37 am
As the old saying goes, Jacki...

"It's not you, it's me."

Except we're not breaking up, we're just getting going. :-)

Your last "please take a look at this Ken" email did NOT show me that you were a total dunce. It showed that I was because I had assumed knowledge and experience that I had no right to assume.

With keyword research, we started from zero-knowledge base. Although there are a lot of little steps, anyone who follows them all will emerge with a strong niche, set of topics to write about, where they fit within a 3-TIER site architecture, etc.

We didn't do that for sponsorship. It's a superb lesson for the content team - always assume the reader knows nothing. Even those that do, often know some of it wrong.

We'll all be better for it.

All the best,

P.S. Also...

Anyone who can build up to 6,000 visitors per day is, by definition, not a dunce. So there's that. :-)
#1369849 by Jacki from Macleod
Thu Apr 27, 2017 3:55 am
ken-admin wrote:always assume the reader knows nothing.
Totally! I'm not a business person, I'm a horticulturist. :D

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