Crafting a Plan for Success [A Public Brainstorm]

IdeaNow that I finally find myself with some free time again, it’s time for me to get back into productivity mode.

As I previously mentioned, April’s income is probably going to show a very large drop from March’s, thanks to a big loss of traffic from one of my top income sources. With that in mind, I wanted to take this time to revisit some of my 2013 goals and come up with a plan to take my online income to the next level.

This will be more of a public brainstorm post, where I’m just going to write about what’s on my mind with respect to my passive income projects.  I encourage you to do the same, either on your own blog, or in the comments below.

Every once in awhile, I find myself in this position – there are so many possible directions to choose from, that I become frozen and don’t take any action.  It’s similar to analysis paralysis The best course of action is to try and get everything on the table and come up with a plan of attack.  It’s important to analyze, but not for long.  At some point (soon), you just have to pick something and take action.

Without further ado, I’m going to go through the various “projects” or ideas that I have on the table, and see if I can figure out what’s worth pursuing, what isn’t, and what the priority should be for whatever I do pursue.

Article Writing with Squidoo

Squidoo LogoThe goal I set for 2013 is to write at least 200 Squidoo lenses (i.e. articles).  I have about 60 right now, but of those 60, probably only 10-15 currently have income potential (this is pretty normal).

Last month, I earned about $110 with Squidoo, but all of that income came from maybe 5 lenses.  If I can get to 200 lenses, I think there’s income potential in the $500-1,000/month range, which I’d be happy with from that income source.

Pros: Lenses are fairly quick to create – I could easily do one or two per day.  If I write them myself, they don’t cost anything to create.  In other words, the only investment required is my time.

Also, the income expectation is fairly reliable in the short term.  If I create 200 lenses (assuming I do the proper keyword research), I can expect that my earnings will increase by a significant amount.

Cons: The long-term sustainability of Squidoo lenses is somewhat questionable.  If the site comes under scrutiny by Google, it’s possible that many lenses could lose their search engine ranking.  As of right now, if you do good keyword research, you can rank a Squidoo lens on page 1 of Google without doing any backlinking.  If this changes, it may not be worthwhile to create Squidoo lenses.

Also, creating lenses isn’t the most interesting thing in the world.  If I decide to outsource some of this writing, there will be a financial investment involved, as I’d estimate each lens could cost me around $5.

Overall Analysis: In the short term, I think I will stick with this plan.  I may not be able to write a new lens each day, but I think there’s a lot of value in creating whatever lenses I can now, so that by the time the holiday season rolls around, I’ll have a lot of people clicking through to Amazon (which is the primary way to earn with Squidoo).

Authority Site (Slow Carb Diet Experiments)

This is a project I knew would take some time to gain traction, because it’s a blog in the health/dieting/food niche, arguably one of the most competitive and saturated niches.  The reason I still pursued it was because it’s something I’m interested in and enjoy blogging about.  It’s been a lot of fun creating new recipes and writing about them (not to mention, I lost over 15 lbs. on the slow carb diet).

In addition to simply creating new content on a regular basis (I’m aiming for once per week), I think I need to start doing more link building.  I’ll do this slowly and manually – I definitely don’t want Google to penalize the site.

Pros: Writing for this blog is something I enjoy, and if it does eventually gain traction and receive a lot of traffic, there could be a lot of earning potential (through affiliate revenue, my own information product, etc.).

Cons: There’s a chance this site will never make much money. Even if I increase the traffic 10-fold (going from 50 visits/day to 500 visits/day), it’s possible that the increase in earnings won’t be significant.

Overall Analysis: The success of this site will probably not occur in the short-term, so I’m prepared to stick with it while it slowly grows.  As long as I continue to focus both on SEO as well as my social media efforts (Pinterest is huge for a site like this), traffic should steadily grow.

A New Niche Site?

Now we’re entering uncharted territory. Although I have projects in place, I’m always looking toward new projects and ways to diversify my online income streams.

Ever since Google came out with its “Penguin” algorithm updates and ever since I lost my AdSense account, I really haven’t tried any new niche sites.

Although niche sites aren’t what they used to be (you can’t just throw together a quick 5-page site, rank it, and watch the money roll in within a matter of weeks), there are still viable ways to produce quality, profitable niche sites.

Most likely, any site I create would initially be monetized with Amazon’s affiliate program. Before I create a site, however, I’m going to spend a decent amount of time doing keyword research, and make sure that any keyword/niche I get into is worthwhile.

The overall goal would be to create a site where all the content is outsourced.  This wouldn’t be another site like my authority site where I need to be involved with it on a regular basis.   The income potential of a site like this would likely be in the $100-500/month range.

Expected Upfront Costs:

  • Domain = $8
  • Hosting = Free (I’d use my existing hosting accounts)
  • Website theme = Free (I’d use a free theme or one of several premium themes that I already own)
  • Content = $70-100 (I’d probably start off with approximately 10 articles, and I’d expect each to cost $7-10)
  • SEO = $100; This is my initial budget – I would probably do a bit of backlinking myself as well.
  • Total = $180-$210

This site would clearly require an upfront financial investment, but hopefully won’t require too much of my own time.  If all goes as planned, I would hope to make back the initial investment within 3-6 months of the site being fully built and operational.

I know Pat Flynn mentioned something about running a second niche site duel, so perhaps this would be a site for the competition.  I haven’t decided yet if I’d want it to be a public project.

A Kindle Book?

It seems like this is the current trend in the blogger/internet marketing community.  For right now, I don’t think it’s for me.  It’s not that I couldn’t write a book, but I don’t think that it’s something I would enjoy.

Somewhere down the road, if my audience on Slow Carb Diet Experiments is large enough, I may consider putting together a book, but that’s a long way off in my opinion.  Right now, I’m much more focused on writing shorter content that’s published online for free, and building an audience through that content.

A “Real” Online Business

At some point, I may look to combine my “offline” job (as a CPA) with an online business.  I haven’t thought much into this yet, but I could see the potential for being a CPA who specializes in the in the internet marketing/blogger niche.

It’s an area I know very well, and I’m equipped with the right tax and accounting knowledge to really help people in this niche.  This is a very long-term idea at the moment, but it’s something that I have in the back of my mind as a possibility one day.

That’s All for Now…

Thanks for taking the time to read through my fragmented ideas for current and future projects.  It helps me to put everything in writing, so hopefully someone out there will find value in it.

If you have thoughts or feedback on any of the above ideas, please feel free to share them in the comments.  I’m always open to constructive criticism. :)

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33 Responses to “Crafting a Plan for Success [A Public Brainstorm]”

  1. Dude, I would totally go for the “real” online business.

    If nothing else then to give you more time and freedom to pursue your other projects.

    Also selling B2B enables you to sell at prices that can give you a much bigger cashflow than any niche site (although it cannot be automated as much).

    But of course you know that this is what I’m doing :)
    Rasmus recently posted… The Perfect Business Idea is Hooking into Existing Customer Streams

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I agree, Rasmus – this is definitely what I want to do in the long term. Right now, it’s tricky due to my current job…I need to build up my online income a lot more before I can consider leaving the job.

    [Reply]

  2. I think it might be a good idea to start looking at ways to outsource in the event that you want to grow more. I am looking at doing this for myself. But plan where you want to go first, then act out your plan!
    Mike recently posted… Android Tutorial #5: ListView

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment Mike – indeed, outsourcing would definitely allow me to scale my projects and do a lot more. It’s all about finding the right people (VAs) to help you act on your plan.

    [Reply]

    Mike Reply:

    Yep. I am in the same boat-it takes the right Vas to be able to help you the most!
    Mike recently posted… Android Tutorial #5: ListView

    [Reply]

  3. Nice post, Eric.

    Great job on Squidoo. I just registered my account yesterday (after Infobarrel said NO to 5 of my articles, I stopped trying to use it) and wrote 3 lenses so far. My main purpose is to build a passive income stream. If I can generate some traffic to my blog, that will be icing on the cake as well.

    I don’t know about you, but even though I am working from home, I found a hard time to keep updating 2 blogs at the same time. I just stopped updating one of my blogs from 2 months ago.

    I am currently working on my Kindle book and I wish I can publish it soon.

    I am also waiting for Fat Flynn’s next challenge so that I can join as soon as possible. I really need some friendly competition to boost my energy to a higher level. I enjoy challenges. Even I am taking 3 challenges right now, I think I still have room for an extra one.
    Sibo recently posted… My Thrid 5 Weeks Summary

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Sibo. Squidoo is probably the way to go for you, when it comes to article writing. Just be careful though – they are becoming more strict with their quality guidelines.

    I’m excited about Pat Flynn’s next niche site duel too – hopefully it’ll bring out some great (profitable) new websites.

    [Reply]

    Sibo Reply:

    Hey Eric,

    Pat Flynn has a new post for NSD 2.0 now.
    Sibo recently posted… My Thrid 5 Weeks Summary

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I saw that – I’m excited!

  4. Squidoo is an interesting one. Their recent change to quality guidelines and to no following links will knock a ton of junk lenses out. I lost a few tier 1 sites out of those changes. My gut feel is that they will continue to tighten up and it will therefore become a fairly safe long-term option in terms of the site not getting hit by Google.

    Personally though, I don’t like having my content trapped within a site where I don’t control it.

    Look forward to reading about any potential venture back into niche sites. I love making 10-20 page sites. There’s room in most niches for these higher-quality sites than the old 1-5 pagers and they are ranking as well as ever.
    Greg recently posted… What does “Not Provided” in Google Analytics mean?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    I like your thoughts on Squidoo. You’re right that these new guidelines should kill a lot of the junk lenses, and hopefully make it easier for the rest of us who put out higher quality stuff.

    As for niche sites, I do think 10-20 pages sites have a lot more long-term viability than the thinner sites.

    [Reply]

  5. How could you get a Squidoo lens for $5? Fiverr? I wonder about the quality.
    Dipra Sen recently posted… Top 5 Jobs for People Who Get Bored at Work

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    For Squidoo, because of the different modules you can use, you can probably get by with 300-400 words per lens. I think you can get a 300 word article done for around $5 from certain VAs on Elance.

    Quality could be an issue though, which is why it’s important to do a little research on your VA before hiring him or her.

    [Reply]

  6. Hello,

    Been a long time reader, but just had to post this time.
    I didn’t know you had the slow carb site. I myself just started my own weight loss site and that is the diet I am beginning with.

    Also I think the real business of focusing on being a CPA for online business people would be awesome if you enjoy being a CPA. I would visit a site that could give me tips to help my business in that area and I would instantly sign up for any sort of newsletter regarding that matter.Especially if I knew that the person focused on my niche of online businesses as opposed to just everything.
    Paul recently posted… PaulGalbreath.com and Google+

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    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for leaving the comment, Paul. I appreciate the support on the CPA idea..hopefully one day I’ll be able to launch something like that.

    [Reply]

  7. Hey Eric,

    I haven’t been around for awhile (actually just released my first eBook, so that’s kept me quite busy!).

    Anyhow, great post to help all of us see your decisionmaking process. I quit my day job three months ago and am working as a wrtier/blogger/online business person full-time, so I am in the same boat with some of these projects.

    Good luck with whatever you decide to pursue next! I am taking a week off (or rather having a “normal” week) after the eBook launch, and then will decide what my next project will be.
    Amanda L Grossman recently posted… The Amish Next Door: How they Manage their Children’s Money

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Hey Amanda,

    Congrats on your your first eBook! I hope it’s a big success for you. Also, that’s awesome that you were able to quit your day job and do this full-time. Very exciting – I hope to be there one day!

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Eric, thanks for sharing your plan in public brainstorm like this. One lesson that bloggers would learn from this is the different avenues of earning passive income that have been highlighted.

    More so, those who are novice can also learn of the pros and cons of each method.

    My takeaway from this post is that one must periodically review monetization system and take necessary action to improve the system!

    The comment above was shared in Kingged.com where this post was already “kingged”

    Sunday – Kingged.com contributor

    http://www.kingged.com/crafting-a-plan-for-success-a-public-brainstorm/
    Sunday recently posted… 6 Expert-Endorsed Ways to Improve Your Marketing TODAY

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the comment, Sunday!

    [Reply]

  9. Hey Eric,

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. Well, from all that you’ve listed, I were you (just my opinion) I would probably take the “Real” online business. In any case, your a CPA and I guess not everyone can do what you can do or offer. I guess your good in business since you are a CPA right? Well, if it fails, then you should probably get back to step one or at least before you venture to it, make a back-up plan first for safety purposes.
    Farrell John Conejos recently posted… Celebrity Worship Syndrome: How Far Can A Fan Go?

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks for the advice, Farrell, I do appreciate it. I do think the “real” online business offers me the greatest potential, and of course would require the greatest amount of work. The biggest problem I have right now is that if I start it while I’m working at my current job, there’s a little bit of conflict of interest. I’ll have to see what I can do to make it all work.

    [Reply]

  10. Hi Eric,
    I was really going for it with my Squidoo lenses then they move the goalposts and somme of my lenses got locked.

    They have lost a lot of traffic now, so I have cooled off on creating anymore.

    The funny thing is that a couple of years ago I created around 200 hubpages. I was make a couple hundred dollars per month with then and suddenly, crash bang wallop – Goodbye rankings.

    Now these little blighters are coming back into focus and are making Amazon sales, where Squidoo has zeroed off.

    You just never know do you.

    I would defo concentrate on your own website. a new niche site sounds exciting. Me, I am trying my hand at kindle book writing, with my first short story available for free this week. I wish you luck and I look forward to seeing what you decide :)
    Victoria @ My Daily Cuppa recently posted… Free Kindle – In The Park by Victoria Virgo

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Victoria – I see what you’re saying about Squidoo..there’s definitely a risk with creating content on someone else’s platform. I’ll probably stick with a mix of Squidoo lenses and my own website(s) for now.

    Best of luck with your Kindle book!

    [Reply]

  11. Great Site and article Eric,

    I think that you should totally focus on the ‘real’ business, I bet you do too, but it seems like the most amount of work – and not very passive.

    I’m a civil/rail engineer and am trying to find something I can do online so I can work from anywhere (yeah just finished reading 4HWW last week..)

    My ideas are financial trading – much to learn and invest (time and money) and a niche website with affiliate links.

    I built a website last year but didn’t drive any traffic to it, so this year will be a new website with a real effort in driving traffic and sales.

    I also had limited success writing for a website called WeekendNotes while I was travelling in Australia. This gave me an enthusiasm for writing that I never knew I had – bonus!

    Keep up the great work, I know we can build the dreams we are aiming for.

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Thanks Joe – you’re absolutely right that the “real” business offers the greatest potential, while also requiring the greatest amount of work/effort. Definitely not passive at all. :)

    The 4HWW was a pretty inspiring read, wasn’t it? After reading that book (3 years ago), I immediately created this blog to document my journey. Obviously, I haven’t “made it big” yet, but I’m still working at it.

    Good luck with your financial trading plan and niche site…remember, even if it seems like you aren’t getting anywhere at first, stick with it. It’s normal to struggle early on. If you stick with it, it WILL pay off eventually.

    [Reply]

  12. Hey Eric! It’s hard to sort through all the possible things you can do to make money online. I get that ‘analysis paralysis’ too!

    I know that Kindle books aren’t for you (at the moment) but self-publishing has become my top earning source since I got rid of all my niche sites. So I plan on publishing more books this year both in print and ebook format.

    Pat’s Niche Site Duel 2 might be a good way to get motivation to do something new. I was part of the original duel and that’s where I got my start and that’s where I made my first $100 online.

    Good luck with those Squidoo lenses! I don’t think I’d have the patience to do that many!
    Harlan Yee recently posted… My April 2013 Income Report

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Harlan, that’s awesome to see that Kindle books are working really well for you. I may have to revisit that at some point…

    I’m hoping the niche site duel #2 will force me to create a niche site that has some good long-term earning potential.

    [Reply]

  13. Eric, I think you need to think big. Do something that everyone else isn’t doing online or go ahead and build what you call a “real” business in your post.

    A lesser version of everyone else is simply picking up scraps. There’s also no way I’d build anything around relying upon Google.

    By the way, this is my current dilemma right now too. I’ve built some modest success in my year online, but I really want to aim for something much bigger. I can’t imagine that has much to do with niche sites, Squidoo lenses, or any of this other stuff ultimately.
    Mike recently posted… The LTNE Report — April 2013 (Make Money Everywhere Edition!)

    [Reply]

    Eric G. Reply:

    Mike, thanks for the comment – I know that you’re 100% right. I probably stand to succeed the best by taking my strength (being a CPA) and positioning myself in a way that hasn’t been done, or hasn’t been done much yet.

    The biggest hurdle is my “day job”, which would conflict with the online business I’d like to run. Ultimately, I’d need to quit my job if I want to really put in the effort necessary to start the online business. In the long run, I expect that to happen, but in the short run, I want to keep building up my passive income sources so that I will eventually have the freedom and time to create my online business the “right way”.

    [Reply]

    Sibo Reply:

    Good plan, Eric. I was reading at Becker’s blog (The guest from Pat’s Niche Site Duel 2.0 post). He is good at thinking big.
    Sibo recently posted… Do you want to be a lifelong learner?

    [Reply]

  14. I was planning to build affiliate site.Now i know what to do in case I experience what you have experience.

    [Reply]

  15. Hey Eric,

    I have joined your site recently, and I find that you are the person who always find the best way to make your dream come true.

    And I think that your plan is really clear and straight. However, to be a successful online businessman is a long way. The important thing is that you dare to try the new thing and new way to achieve your goal.

    Cheer.
    Tony recently posted… How To Hypnotize Someone – How Truth About Hypnotize Helps People Influence Someone

    [Reply]

  16. I love your passion and find your articles to be full of useful information. I wish you the best of luck and I appreciate you putting all of your personal information out in the open for all of us to learn from. Thank you!
    Stephen Raiken recently posted… How I Tripled My Sales On Ebay In 6 Short Months

    [Reply]

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