1. Why is today an especially good time to be a solo-entrepreneur?
There has never been a better time to be a solo-entrepreneur than there is today for a number of key reasons. The first reason is that the workplace is less stable than it has been most of the time over the last two generations. Large companies used to focus more on growth as a way to drive profits. In this day and age companies focus on trimming costs and downsizing as much as they focus on growth. Your parents and grandparents had fewer jobs over their lifetimes as you will have. By running your own business, even if it is just part time, you create an additional income stream to ease the burden of losing your full time job.
Another reason why now is a good time to be a solo-entrepreneur is because government regulation in regards to employees is at an all time high. I experienced this myself as an employer. There is a tremendous amount of red tape involved with employing people. Yes, it is a way to get leverage to make more money, but there are many, many ugly downsides to employing people. If I listed them all, this interview would be very negative and discouraging. So, let's stick to the more upbeat stuff.
Another important reason to go solo in this day and age is because of the upside potential in running your own business. Working for another company usually means competing against coworkers for positions on a corporate ladder. Do you really want to do that? Even if you are good at doing that, your upside is still limited. You are only limited by your ability and resourcefulness when you are running your own venture.
2. I think a lot of people start a blog and follow the classic writing maxim of "write what you know." If you could offer a new maxim for people who want to see a website become a business, what would it be?
Well, I still believe in the "write what you know" mentality to a large extent because in order to provide really useful information or advice to people, you really do have to know what you are talking about for the most part. Don't you? I suppose you could research it and share what you learn. I think the most valuable information-based content online still comes from people who can speak from experience, though.
I guess if I could come up with a new way to put it I might say something like "Identify What Rare Knowledge or Gift You Have to Share with People and Write about That."
I do see a lot of bloggers who write about many diverse topics all on their one blog. That is okay if you are targeting a certain demographic with your blog, and that demographic has all the same interests that you are writing about. I think a better and more profitable approach (if that is your goal) is to separate those topics into different websites where you can capture your audience's attention more fully.
3. How did you personally get involved in online businesses?
Ever since I was a teenager I basically have had a non-stop flow of business ideas. It makes me tick deep down inside to think up these plans. I liken it to an addiction like a heroin junkie would have on his narcotic. My narcotic is dreaming up these plans. It has always been that way for me.
I ran a computer business for many years since the mid-1990s. During that time I was still getting bombarded with new business ideas. Many of them were website-based business ideas. The reason I like those ideas so much was because it was something that costs very little to launch and very little to test the waters out on.
I was fully committed to my computer business, though, as my primary source of income. So I didn't really act on any of those business ideas.
Around 2006 I started to see the writing on the wall in the computer industry. Computers were getting to be to inexpensive and becoming throwaway items. The margins on selling them were shrinking more and more. The margins on repairing them were also shrinking. So I knew that my business model had to change drastically in the coming years or I would see myself go under with the rest of my colleagues.
So I made some necessary changes in my computer business. And, I also started to get serious about some of my online business ideas. Most of my business ideas early on were total flops. One after another, flop, flop, flop, flop, plop, plop, plop, plop.... But you know what?
Even an old dog can learn new tricks if you are persistent enough.
The websites I had been building were pretty embarrassing, low quality sites that I would never have wanted to show my family or friends. They were really ugly and obviously created only to make me money. Funny thing was, they really didn't make much money. They earned chump change.
Over the years though, I got better and better at it. One day I decided I would build a new website to help me in my computer business. I was always getting asked the same questions by certain types of customers all the time. So, I built a website that answered all those questions. Then when people asked me questions, I would send them to that site first.
I didn't expect to make any money with the site. I just did it to save myself a lot of time and energy. Then one day I threw Google Adsense on the site. I was utterly shocked at how much the website earned. It was like free money to me. I couldn't believe it.
Within six months, certain pages on the site were getting more than 1,000 visitors per day. That is a lot of traffic for a tiny little niche site. I did some checking and realized that my little site was ranking number one in Google for some obviously valuable keywords.
I began analyzing why that site was doing so well. It hit me like a brick. Duh!
The thing I was doing wrong all along was building websites intended for me to profit from instead of building websites that actually helped the visitors. I realized that if I started building websites to provide useful information to people, those websites would do much better and get a lot more traffic and therefore make more money.
My own greed had been holding me back. It was a real wake up call.
You know how you hear other people saying that you have to give before you get? Well, it's true. If you focus on really trying hard to help people, it will pay you back. So, that is what I try to teach people to do now.
4. In addition to Google AdSense, what are some successful methods you've used and/or seen others use to monetize a website?
Adsense is a good earner for certain types of websites. It really depends on the niche, the source of traffic, and the keywords if your traffic is primarily from SEO.
I have also personally profited from domain flipping, affiliate marketing, selling my own services, and selling my own products. All of those can be great monetization methods if the circumstances are right. It really depends on your domain and your niche.
The monetization method with the most earning potential is selling your own product. It has the most upside because it offers the most leverage. However, that does not mean it is the best idea for you or anyone else. It really depends on your situation. In many cases I settle for Adsense monetization simply because the site will earn well with it and not require any maintenance whatsoever. So, it is like buying a bond that earns you interest for years to come and you can forget about it.
If my goal was to get rich, which it isn't, then I would focus on developing more of my own products: maybe info-products or maybe physical products. Remember during the California Gold Rush, the sure fire way to get rich was to sell picks and shovels to the guys who were trying to strike it rich by mining for gold. Most of the gold miners went broke. The guys selling the shovels built mansions with their profits.
5. What is your Authority Blog Starter Kit, and why are you giving it away for free?
I failed pretty miserably with internet marketing and making money online when I first attempted it as I mentioned earlier. I had a lot of website flops that never earned jack squat.
When I finally found a decent business model that I could repeat successfully time and time again, I started telling my friends. The more I talked about it, the more I liked talking about it. So I decided to build a site (http://authorityblogstarterkit.com/) that teaches all about it. That way the next time someone asks me how I do it, I can just say: Dude... Go check out this website.
People who are still trying to build old-school niche websites are extremely likely to fail. I know from personal experience. If they happen to hear about authority sites and come across my site, then they will be given an honest, proven legitimate business plan for building successful sites. That information I give away in the kit is genuine and I really do use it to build profitable websites. It works time after time.
Another reason I created the website was to serve as a way for me to network with other people who are also trying to build their own niche style websites. Having connections is extremely valuable in this business. I know that the people with the most connections are the people who find success more easily.
So I figured, why not give this knowledge away for free and use it as a way to meet new people and build up a contact list for myself? I give them something valuable for free (my knowledge and business model). Hopefully, it instills a little reciprocity in them. Hopefully they think "Hey, that was pretty cool of this guy Ted to give away all this knowledge for free." I hope they like me and appreciate that gift. Some will. Some won't.
My goal is to open new doors for myself through these contacts that will hopefully lead to bigger and better things that enrich my life on a personal level and also on a financial level. So for anyone reading this transcript of my interview, the door is open to you as well. Download the kit if you want to. It's free. If the kit doesn't interest you, feel free to stop by my http://parttimeted.com website. Let's connect.