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10 Master Keys To Internet Wealth|
I've hand-picked ten of the most important things I've learned about creating success on the internet - and I'm sharing them with you! What's on this page is a distillation of some of the most essential concepts I have learned over my years online. These are my ten "desert island strategies" and I think you'll agree, there's some solid gold here. Read carefully, enjoy and feel free to share these ten motivational keys to online success! A.N.
1) Own Your Own "Real Estate"
People are often able to create small-to-moderate incomes through developing content and a presence on other people's websites. A few go further than this as affiliates or resellers, but in general the rule of thumb is that those who achieve great success online, create their own "virtual real estate" empire as opposed to contributing to someone else's empire. Would you rather aim to get rich, or merely make a living while you are making someone else rich? Having your own virtual real estate can be like the difference between paying your earnings into the bank and owning the bank.
In the grand scheme of things, the greatest internet successes tend to be those who create a "world" of some kind in which others can participate in order to increase their influence, wealth, knowledge or success. The big, successful web sites have found a way to provide opportunity to a large number of people. The nature of the opportunity is of course widely variable but if you can assist others in creating their own mini-empire or expanding their options, you are on the right track towards creating your own maxi-empire. This is what sites such as facebook, ebay, plentyoffish, etsy, amazon, secondlife and countless others have achieved.
Can you think of some more examples, and note how the key to their success is their ability to provide solutions to a large number of people?
However, don't be daunted by the scale of the enterprises I mentioned; as the principle of building your own online real estate, rather than just building someone else's, goes further than this and applies equally to small web empires as well as large ones. For example, let's say you have many friends or "likes" on Facebook. This may help you have a wide reach - but it is Facebook that sells the advertising space on the pages! If however you have your own web site, which has useful articles and much other content, you can link to your pages from facebook and other places, drawing their wide stream of traffic to you and enabling you to profit directly. With your own web site, you are also better set up for the potential benefit of search traffic.
The same goes for informational content that you create. If you post your content to other sites, they may attract traffic, but the site's operator makes the revenue on the pages. I build my own sites - and thanks to having built my own real estate, I can now wake up, turn on my computer, check my stats and see how much I made money on auto-pilot, while I slept. The money is pulled in by traffic to my own real estate content which either sells products or hosts advertising - and any presence I have developed on others' platforms is essentially created in order to widen the funnel of visitors I can bring to my own sites. I have a number of sites in different niches; the set-up is a fair amount of work but the pay-off is continual and the revenue ongoing.
Just to be clear - there are many examples of people who have achieved financial success entirely through other sites - for example eBay or Amazon. If you are working this angle, then consider that ongoing, autopilot revenue to these pages might possibly be boosted greatly through having your own related content. In other words, create useful, highly related content on your own turf and then direct the traffic to your ebay or amazon pages etc. And of course use social media sites to drive traffic to your own pages.
It is also possible to develop your own real estate via acquisition, rather than by building everything yourself - and website sales venues such as flippa.com are always buzzing with activity.
2) Dominate Your Niche - but How?
Here's a question that gets asked all the time: Which is best, a big or a small niche? The short answer is "neither" - and almost everyone gives the wrong answer to the question because they are looking at it the wrong way. There is a better way of looking at the problem. I will explain. What's your area of expertise?
It is very difficult indeed to dominate a large niche (typically the large niches are considered to be those that are prominent in the sectors of health, wealth and relationships: Niches such as dating, weight loss, making money online, adult entertainment, credit advice, etc. ) It can take very large investment and possibly years of work to rise to the top in one of these niches - and the "big boys" have several years head start on you. The rewards are great, but are proportional to the difficulty and not many get there. It's simply too big a beast to take on in one go.
On the other hand, the trouble with small niches is that the amount of money to be made is typically smaller - so that even if you dominate them, you don't make much money!
To solve this frustrating conundrum, I want to introduce you to two key concepts of empire building.
First is the idea that 'success is skewed'. What I mean by this is that in any given field, most of the attention goes to the top performer(s). You can be 80% as good in terms of quality as the leaders of the field, and yet get only 10% of the attention. A minority of 'winners' take the pie, leaving the crumbs for the rest. This is a widespread phenomenon - in any market, big or small.
The second concept is to think of a larger niche as made up of many smaller niches. It's the old parable of the bundle of sticks - impossible to break when tied together, but taken apart, they can be broken one by one.
To illustrate how this applies to internet success, let's pick an old chestnut and say that your area of expertise is dogs, and so this is the obvious choice of niche for you. The problem is, pet care is a huge and established niche, requiring much effort to gain prominence in - and so you have been stalling, not knowing where or how to start.
The key is to gain traction and get a foothold by the use of "micro niche scaling". A micro niche (or "sub-niche") is a small category of a major niche. So for example, a good approach might be to start with something like 'dog collars'. A much smaller niche; and one that it should be possible to achieve prominence in with some focused effort.
Start small - really small if you have to, I don't know, with something like "studded dog collars". Scale down as "micro" as you need to go in order to dominate the niche. Domination is typically measured by a top position in a search engine for the main keyword - but there are other ways and not all strategies require search engine success in order to succeed. Anyway, once you have achieved some traction, traffic and revenue in that area, "expand sideways" - and take on for example "dog bowls" until you have broken through. You could then focus on other very specific aspects in a similar way. Can you see how even a specific niche such as dog care could be separated into a hundred smaller niches, each of which can be conquered one by one? Each success brings traffic and power which is relevant to all the other aspects of the empire - each successful page will give the others a helping hand. You will have to do your keyword research (see #8) to figure out what are the key phrases that generate interest in your niche. Then conquer one foot of the territory at a time by being better than the competition.
So the correct answer to the question, in brief, is: Neither big nor small - but to pick the biggest sub-niche you can *dominate*. Then expand sideways. Plan your campaign before you start, and if possible acquire a domain name that can encompass and brand all your subsequent activities in the niche.
3) Get Attention
Whether it is building a powerful following on a social network, making videos that go viral, or creating an authoritative web site that builds a great reputation: You don't get very far unless you stand out from the crowd.
If you provide services, information or products, the best way to stand out is through overwhelmingly high quality. Go big. If the best articles on a subject are weedy, made-in-five-minutes scribbles, pulverize them with a brilliant info-page full of useful knowledge, pictures and the like. What would YOU like to see online? What would impress you enough to share it with your associates and friends? Create that. If you find yourself referring back to your own content when you are seeking answers, you are getting it right.
If you provide entertainment, be entertaining. Turn it up to the max. You know the old saying, "In show business, nothing succeeds like excess." I was reminded of the power of this the other day, upon seeing a cooking video by a previously unheard-of vegan chef, that got nearly a million youtube views in a week. It was the first video the user had posted and he went from being completely unknown to a virtual star in a matter of days. From zero to nearly a million views in one week. With a vegan recipe.
Now how, you may ask, is this possible? By excess. Dressed in full "black metal" attire, our chef proceeded to make vegan Pad Thai to a background of thundering drums, slicing guitar chords, growled instructions, exotic knives, black candles and deliberately comical pseudo-mysticism. It was pure theater - and if you could distill the essence out of the word "fun" and bottle it, Black Metal Vegan Chef downed it in one before making his video. It was hilarious as well as educational; the chef's crazy enthusiasm for both vegan cuisine and heavy metal, and their unlikely juxtaposition, was seriously contagious. Within days it was picked up by NME, CBS, BoingBoing and others - and the rest is history.
We now live in an age defined by what could be called the "cult of personality". Even if you are not officially in the entertainment industry, attention-grabbing charisma is often the key to success. Just be sure to combine it with genuine expertise!
4) Avoid the 'Butterfly' Effect
The 'butterfly effect' as I am calling it, is a known trait of entrepreneurs, especially internet entrepreneurs. Perhaps a little intoxicated by the desire for rapid wealth, they are investing more energy into looking for short cuts than they are in building anything substantial.
The net result of this is that they will "butterfly" from one thing to another. As soon as a new opportunity comes along, they will leap on it. They end up leaping from one thing to another, trying all kinds of things out, but giving them up too early when it begins to look like too much effort; and not seeing anything through.
It is actually a form of "creative avoidance" - an unconscious habit of the imperfectly trained mind. Here's the take-away: If you want things to be easy, you have to put the effort in first.
How many half-finished projects do you have? Pick one and stick to it. See things through to the end. Get off the forums, and try finishing one project before moving on to the next one. And if its not worth finishing, don't start it!
5) Utilize the Power of Free
Much has now been written about the idea of using "free" to make money. Reason being, it can work exceptionally well when done properly. Google, perhaps the most successful online business in the world, provides a large suite of free tools and makes money from the advertising. They focus on going better than the competition, and then giving it away. It's one of the curious paradoxes of life that the more you can give away for free online, the more you stand a chance of being able to make money while you sleep.
The concept also works on the small scale. Create content that is more useful, more entertaining or more informative than the competition, and give it away. If you can create free content that is of sufficient value, people will start telling people about it. People love to recommend things of particularly high value to their friends and associates. It's a tribal instinct that isn't going away. We find the best for our people, and are rewarded with the elevated status of being "someone who finds good things". There's a "tipping point" - one at which an item jumps out in terms of being exceptional value or quality, and causes people to share their discovery. This is what causes the "viral effect" and is what you should aim for.
One can see this trait playing itself out endlessly on Facebook every day. People are seized by irresistible impulses to share their favorite discoveries with their peeps. Note that this scenario benefits Facebook more than it does them - because Facebook provided the opportunity for them to do this (see #1) and owns the advertising space that people spend much of their day looking at.
However, it is possible for anyone to take advantage of this trait of human nature and feed people's desire for things that are both great and free - simply by creating and giving away standout online content.
6) Pursue Excellence
Whatever you do, do it as well as you possibly can. People who are worth your attention will notice - and the ones who don't notice, are not worth worrying about. Life is too short not to pursue excellence in all aspects of what you do. Be excellent with details, but don't obsess on details unless it makes the work more excellent. There isn't really too much to say on this subject other than to encourage you to go beyond. Turn up the excellence to eleven. People who are successful, tend to be so because they pursued excellence to the very end. People who did not succeed, tend not to have succeeded because they did not pursue excellence with as much passion. There are of course exceptions to this generalization - but whatever you do, do not be one of the ones who failed because they did not pursue excellence.
7) Perpetual Learning
Another simple thing that's been said before - but is worth considering again: One of the traits of the highly successful is that they are addicted to learning. They don't stop learning when they get out of college. So take it upon yourself to continue your education for the rest of your life. The greater your expertise, the greater your "chops" in your chosen field, whatever it is. Knowledge is a form of "inner wealth" and one that pays a most excellent return.
8) Keyword Research and Link Building
Although this might seem a strange choice of 'master key', keyword research has been one the most invaluable assets and secret weapons in my online success so far. The reason for this is that it gives the most accurate possible pre-emptive picture of what it will take to achieve search engine success in a topic, what the reward is likely to be for doing so, and how great the competition.
The most successful pages in terms of search engine traffic, are typically those which are i) tightly focused around a keyword ii) provide a competitively large body of useful information about that topic and iii) have a large number of high quality incoming links. Think Wikipedia pages.
Keyword-focused pages may also pick up traffic for related phrases, but in general, pages that are built around one tight topic are those which reach the top of Google and the others.
Entire web empires have been built this way. There are large and successful web companies which have been completely built upon keyword research. These seek out longer "question-type" phrases which get enough search traffic, yet are low enough competition, that it is easy to get to the front page of the search engines for that phrase wih minimal link building, and will provide a stream of traffic. The revenue is typically derived from advertising, and the article creation is generally outsourced.
It is perhaps unfortunate that this model has risen to prominence, as the model thrives on creating the maximum volume of articles for the lowest possible cost: This has had a negative impact on the quality (and uniqueness) of content available to the seeker online; however it also means that there is opportunity for better material to shine. A higher quality page will not only attract more natural links but will deserve its place in the rankings, leading to less problems in the long run. Rather than a "cut and run" strategy of creating the fastest, cheapest article I can, I always make it my goal to create the best article in existence on a subject; this strategy meant my "content empire" took longer to develop, but has paid off in the long term. Also bear in mind that search engine algorithms, while not infallible, are ever improving in their ability to weed out garbage pages.
The choice of keyword is "mission critical" to the amount of revenue typically derived from the page. Some of my most successful web pages, which outstripped the revenue of other pages by ten or even a hundred fold, have been those where I struck gold with a "keyword nugget". These tend to be in the form of "roadblock questions" or phrases put into search engines by people who are shopping and are seeking some aspect of technical knowledge regarding the thing they are buying. Too "big" of a keyword (in terms of competition and traffic) and it has most likely already been milked by major marketers and will be hard to compete for. To small a keyword, and there will not be enough traffic to make it worth while. I'd advise using Google Keyword Tool to do your research (always use "exact match"!), together with Yahoo Site Explorer to examine the strength of the link profiles of the competition. To start with, pick an obscure keyword phrase. Build a page around it that is better than that of the competition. It's essential to have a good link profile for a page to rise in the search engines, so it will almost certainly be essential to do some careful link building to get it into the top ten. Then try a more ambitious keyword. It will take a while to get a true "feel" for keyword research, but after time you will be able to explore a keyword in Google Keyword Tool and quickly get an idea of whether the topic is worth your while attempting to rank for.
9) Mind Your Own Business
Did you hear about the driver who put his RV on cruise control and then headed to the living area to get a drink?
This key is about the ultra-common fantasy of having a business that runs itself. It's the dream of many entrepreneurs to set up a business that will enable them to tune out completely, to cast themselves adrift on the seas of whatever, with no worries at all because they are going to continue to get checks in the mail for evermore. Hey, money while you sleep, right?
While I can't honestly hold it against anyone for wishing to be on a tropical beach rather than sitting at the computer, the reality is that even in a highly successful business or investment scenario, someone has to have an eye on the road. Otherwise, things start to slip. Money doesn't completely take care of itself - and there are many who will attest to the experience of having become complacent after a little success, only to discover that things have drifted off course. Don't be the one sipping the pina colada, oblivious to imminent disaster.
You must mind your business. If you're not truly passionate about your business, not only will it be hard to motivate others, but you will sag in taking care of essentials - and it's the essentials that create quality products, continued good service and delineate the bottom line.
A business of any kind will require a certain amount of attention. There's no such thing as a business you can run while asleep at the wheel. Trust me, I've seen this scenario play out time after time. Even in that rare-and-desirable highly automated business that makes money while you sleep, you still have to check in with it. Like a car, you may have cruise control - but you have to keep an eye on the road, the tires, the engine, the fuel gauge... all kinds of things.
The other thing to note is that no opportunity will continue to be profitable for ever. Even an auto-pilot-income web page has a lifespan before either it is no longer profitable or the competition overtakes it. Many people who thought they were made for life ended up back where they started because they failed to plan for the future and were not prepared to transition into another profitable venture before the existing one ceased to be profitable.
Making money while you sleep is like surfing, in that if you get it right, you can ride a wave for a while. When you are riding that wave, it feels amazing. But sooner or later, the wave ends... and you need to find another wave. There are always more waves, but you need to be awake to catch them. The great irony is that those who make the most money while they sleep are typically those who work the hardest when they are awake!
10) Stay Focused
When you are working, work. Work all the time that you work. If you are doing internet business, chances are you will be spending a lot of time sitting at the computer. This makes you vulnerable to a great danger - "time vampires".
Youtube videos. Facebook. Blogs. Funny pictures. Email. Comments. Messages. The internet is the land of a billion distractions. Each one might eat only a few minutes, but when you add up all the time you spent surfing the 'great river' of facebook or being entertained by youtube, it adds up to a colossal amount. As the saying goes - the people that get ahead, do so in the time when others are moving sideways. The same applies to "offline" distractions. What happens when your friends call and want to drag you out for the evening? Do you buckle to the pressure, or do you stay focused.
You've got to make sure you get a little rest and relaxation - but winning in business involves sacrifice; and one of the sacrifices is to cut the unnecessary and get on with the important. As the old saying goes, you must spend your time doing the things that are "goal achieving not tension relieving."
The internet success game is a paradox; in that if you are highly successful, you might achieve the fabled auto-pilot passive income and be able to have a lifestyle of freedom. However, what it takes to get there is usually extreme hard work and effort. Internet success goes to the driven, the ones who can put in long days, day after day. They can stay in working on their materials while others are out partying. So you need a will of iron, a steel determination and an ability to keep driving, resisting the urge to sit back at ease. As someone said, "if you sit back and wait for it to come to you, it will never happen." You can make money while you sleep - of course - but it takes some work to set up.
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Well there it is folks! I hope you enjoyed this list of ten keys to internet success. For even more innovative solutions, don't forget to check out my Complete Guide To Making Money While You Sleep and other books.
-- Alex Newman
© Alex Newman 2011