So, as usual I haven’t written anything personal in a while.
I’ve been working hard on my new web application that’s basically just a clone of a couple dozen other websites out there. I’m not really striving for originality so much as I’m applying old solutions to unsolved problems. That’s fine with me – whatever works. It should be done either Friday or Saturday night this week, which is fairly exciting. I’m at the super scary part of the process where I get to peek over the edge and see what’s next.
Basically, I’ve done this kind of thing a couple times before. I spend a ton of time working on something and then realize that it won’t work, and then I watch hundreds of hours go to waste. Honestly, I doubt that that will happen this time, but there’s history here.
When I got into affiliate marketing I had a good thing going until I realized how hard people could screw me. And how easy it was for them. Control is a big part of my idea of entrepreneurship, and that was ripped from me despite my incredible success starting out.
Afterwards I tried learning SEO. I made possibly the worst website ever based on the AdSense model. I’m not sure whether to be proud of it or sad about it. It’s basically the ugliest, least cared-for website in the world. I happen to be a very clean coder and I learned a thing or two about SEO while I was building and maintaining it, but the thing shames me to death. It also has the honour of making me the most money per month right now – a measly $40. I don’t intend to replicate it though – there are only so many valueless, hole-in-the-ground sites I’d like to have on my servers. That number is 1.
I realized that SEO – the act of bringing a website to the top of the pile, making it #1 for something – was a current passion. So I spent an excessive amount of time building a site that I haven’t touched in forever, based around SEO case studies. It’s non-revenue generating and represents about two month’s worth of unproductive and in the end, mostly wasted time.
I finally got around to redesigning one of my once-horrible websites, compliments for girls (EDIT: This has since become a section of an awesome website), and after a couple versions I was slightly less ashamed of it. I did notice that absolutely no one clicks on the AdSense ads for that site (don’t click on it yourselves, please, it will get me banned), but that several people were signing up for the email list. I actually realized early that the better the website, the fewer clicks go to ads. I also realized that those people on my email list were worth way more than the dozen or so people clicking on my ads – but 10 subscribers per month isn’t enough for me to create a product for, or even write an email to for that matter. Honestly, getting people to sign up for MY product (despite not having one) was probably the best, most motivating feeling I’ve had for a while business-wise.
Thus, the current project. I’ve realized that SEO is mostly the art of A) being a good coder/designer, B) having relevant content, and C) blowing everyone else out of the water value-wise. The application that I’ve built, the design that I’m coding and the business model that I’m pursuing all fall into that category. It also helps that the site is in an industry that I’m interested in and one in which I intend to grow as an entrepreneur. This represents the first valuable, tangible product that I’m bringing to market – even if it happens to be free.
(Feel free to check out the design).
So what’s the dream? Well, to start, it’s to dominate the hell out of 3-4 related niches and then build an empire on top of that. Logically and from experience I see very few reasons as to why I might fail. It’s not about the idea – everyone has a worthy idea – it’s about the lessons I learned and knowledge that I built from screwing up or underachieving with my last projects. The dream is that the empire pays me at least $0.01 per visitor and that I get at least 100,000 visitors per month. That’s $1,000/month.
To those who see that as a small number, the next step is way bigger. To those who see that as a big number, my embarrassment of an AdSense website makes me $0.005 per visitor and gets 250 visitors/day – that’s a novice attempt that I haven’t touched in almost a year.
Of course, I learned a wonderful thing from affiliate marketing and (the first guy I’ll thank once I’m a millionaire) Dr. Ngo. It’s that if you can make a dollar doing something, you can make another dollar – as long as you can scale. Working at McDonald’s, you can’t scale past 24 hours/day. Working online, you can get in front of a couple million people every month. Even if I have a horrible go at getting visitors to pay me, I’ve chosen a business model that I know can scale. That means that even if I only make $0.000001 for that one visitor who accidentally throws a fraction of a penny at me, I know I can build traffic to the point that the per visitor dollar figure doesn’t matter.
Anyway, a brain dump was in order. I’m going to go read A Dream of Red Mansions 红楼梦 (good, classic Chinese book, English translation) and then pass out. The website is 90% done – like I said, this week I’ll have it polished. Wish me luck!