Remember me mentioning online businesses a while back?
It has been months since those initial posts and I have not mentioned it again ever since. But behind the scenes, I have been
hardly working working hard on a side business with a friend!
I was thinking about the future a few months back. Actually, I think about it every day.
Anyhow, I was contemplating on where I was at in life and projecting possible futures for myself. I like where I was at (still do) but I wanted to diversify myself in terms of finances.
I was definitely making enough with my software development job but it is never good to put all your eggs into one basket. This is when I began searching for ways to increase and diversify my income.
Somehow, my search narrowed in on online businesses. I believe this is in part due to my fascination with technology and also because I had a perception that online businesses were easier to build and manage.
In reality, that idea is incorrect and, perhaps, online businesses are even more difficult than their counterparts.
After a lot of research and talking with a friend, I eventually reduced my options to either a website that would utilize Google Adsense or one that would use the Amazon affiliate program.
Now that I think about it, an online business involving a website fits my bill quite well given my interest and experience with web technologies.
I eventually decided on building a niche website that would (hopefully) generate revenue using Amazon's affiliate program.
Somewhere between my decision and taking action, the friend I had spoken to earlier presented an opportunity to work with him. He was thinking about purchasing a website in the health niche and improving it to increase revenue.
The deal was that he would put up the money up front to purchase the website and he would receive the current revenue the site was generating. After this amount, we would split the additional revenue.
This was a huge opportunity for me as I would not have to spend any money up front. Even more appealing was the fact that I would get to work on a site that was already ranking and generating revenue.
During my research, I discovered that building an Amazon affiliate site from scratch would be quite difficult. This is in part due to the "Google sandbox" period where a site would not rank for the first few months.
This makes sense as Google would like to filter sites to make sure they are providing valuable content to visitors. On the other hand, this makes it extremely difficult to know if you are on the right track when starting out.
Anyhow, I took my friend up on his offer!
As previously mentioned, our website is in the health niche. I am choosing not to reveal our exact site for privacy and security. Never know what my 0 readers will do to our precious site! 🙂
I have learned a lot during this short time of co-managing the business. In the following sections, I will discuss some of my thoughts on the processes we have gone through to improve the site.
But before we get into the super awesome techniques we used, let's go over how the site is doing.
We purchased the site back in April and it was generating around $200 a month purely from Amazon affiliate sales.
We have been consistently making 2x that amount for about the last 3 months. We are on an upward trend and are hoping to make 2.5x that amount this month.
We would like to think that this increase is completely due to our intervention and smart decisions. I definitely think that we have improved the site considerably but as always, correlation does not imply causation.
Anyways, we are extremely excited to see how well the business does over the holiday season (and beyond)! We are both confident that this could be a four figure site (and maybe more) eventually.
We are both in agreement that reinvesting all the revenue (and then some) at this point will help the site grow faster and increase revenue later on.
While it may seem that this belief will result in a never-ending loop, you can only reinvest so much before the returns are exponentially diminished.
Delayed gratification is the name of the game.
Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule) roughly states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts.
When we first acquired the site, we knew that we could increase revenue by updating several aspects of the review posts. However, we also understood that it would not be the best path to update every single post at the moment.
We decided to include these changes in future posts while only updating our top revenue generating posts. The idea is to focus our energy on what would make the biggest difference.
In the following subsections, I will discuss some of the techniques we used to increase revenue.
As previously mentioned, most of the strategies we deployed follow the pareto principle. We are also applying the most effective techniques (in our opinion) in all future posts.
While we have seen an increase in revenue, we cannot fully state that these additions caused that change. Make your own judgement if you wish to apply these procedures!
One thing we noticed with the site was that the previous owner did not put a lot of effort into tables.
Tables are basically a TL;DR version of product reviews. A table can improve the conversion rates tremendously because it provides visitors a quick way to see all the products that are recommended.
As a result, we decided to move tables to an earlier point in the post to improve the experience for readers who just want to check out the products on Amazon.
Furthermore, we decided to order products in the table hierarchically based on our perceived value that it would provide to customers.
From research and my own experience, only the first few (top) products in a review post are checked out unless the reader is searching for a specific product.
Because of the value of tables, we decided to make them even more appealing by adding links, images, and a column for aspects we think the readers would find useful.
The previous owner already added some information to each product in the table but each row was lacking images and links. The readers did not have an easy way of getting to the corresponding Amazon page for more information and more importantly, to purchase the item.
Before we acquired the site, there was some internal linking present through the common "read more..." or "you might enjoy..." sections.
This type of internal linking is not worthless but it is not great for readers and more importantly, the search engines.
Our goal is to improve the search rankings of all of our pages and a great internal linking structure would help facilitate this.
As a result, we are adding relevant internal links to and from each post we publish when it is appropriate.
This serves to pass link juice between all of our content while also decreasing the bounce rate (search engines also look at session durations).
Having a partner who has experience in this space is extremely helpful. It is like having a personal trainer to whom you can ask questions and also receive advice from.
My partner had some techniques he wanted to test so we decided to try them out on some of our top revenue generating posts.
In my opinion, these strategies made complete sense for increasing our rankings. However, search engines do not always like to agree with me 🙁. We are still experiementing with these techniques and studying their outcomes.
One of his suggestions was to do a general topic Google search with our site included to see what Google thinks is our most relevant content for that topic.
For instance, "ourwebsite.com skin care".
From the results, we would choose the page that we want to rank higher and link to that page from the other result pages. The idea behind this is to increase the topical relevance for that page.
This is another one of my partner's ideas. This one involves using SEMrush, a tool for doing SEO research.
In this tatic, we do a domain overview search on the page we wish to rank up. SEMrush will return the top organic keywords that our page is ranking for.
We then take a couple of long tail keywords from the results that are not already in our post and add them to it. We are currently experimenting with lower competition keywords (20 - 100 searches per month).
The idea behind this technique is to increase our page's relevance for the topic by ranking for additional keywords. As a result, the page should theoretically rank better for all keywords.
One thing that my partner (and some podcasts) have taught me is that I need to value my time more.
It does not always make sense to do something that you can hire someone else to do. Especially if your hourly rate is higher than the hourly rate of the service you will be utilizing.
I truly believe that time is the most valuable commoditiy that we will ever own. It is not something that we can gain more of (that I know of).
However, this is all relative and opinionated so something that seems worthless to someone may be priceless to another. All that matters is that you know what is important to you.
"What the... how does this relate to online businesses?"
Sorry, I got a bit distracted there. The idea behind this mentality is that you should outsource certain aspects of your business to focus your energy on the bigger, more important tasks.
In our business, this was producing content. We are currently outsourcing our content so that we can focus on other fronts that will help generate more revenue. I can envision us outsourcing the formatting of posts in the future as well.
However, I believe there is one big caveat to outsourcing. It may not apply universally but I strongly believe in not having someone else do something that you have not done yourself.
By not obeying this idea, it would be difficult to judge if a task has been done well since you have nothing personal to base your judgement on.
To be honest, I have lost motivation here and there while working on the business.
This is especially true when I was producing the content myself. However, I have no right to complain since I only created three articles while my partner created many more than that before he even saw results on his own site.
I suppose the following is more for myself than anything else. You need to trust the process and continue, especially when it is diffuclt to do so.
We do not grow when we are stagnant but only when we are uncomfortable.
Thanks for checking out my first post on "Business Ventures"! Let me know if you would like to see related posts more often!
I like to reread what I wrote multiple times before publishing and I noticied that I mentioned quite a bit of philosophical ideals in this post.
Get lost My apologies if you did not like that. You are in no way obligated to feel the same way as I do about life. This is what I currently believe in. Feel free to enlighten me about different beliefs as my interpretations are not perfect!
Anyhow, I hope that you were able to gain something useful out of this post. No matter if that was techniques you could apply or joy from reading what I wrote while having no idea what I was talking about.
If I piqued your interest with my discussion of online businesses and SEO, check out more on these topics with Matt Diggity. My partner follows him religiously and I may be a bit jealous.
Do you have any other passions or hobbies outside of software development (or your current career path)? If so, how do you balance the two (or more)?