I’ve never really liked the question “What do you do?” It’s not the question that’s the problem, it’s just that I have yet to craft a response I’m happy with. I make money by creating successful websites and I’m currently buying lots more. After this year though I want my whole network to be running on autopilot, so it wont be something I’m doing.
I spend most of my time helping other people make money online; mostly through this blog. I could call myself a blogger but that suggests I make my living through blogging. To me, a blog is simply the medium I use to share my value.
For a while I would say that “I help people quit their day jobs” but that’s not always true. Not everyone I help wants to quit their job and not everyone has one. I cringe at the term “internet marketer” as a way to define myself, so I’m going to open up the comments to any suggestions you might have for me.
The reason I’m saying all of this is because today I want to give you the keys to my life and share some of my methods to doing what I do – whatever that may be. I’m going to cover writing first as I think that will be of interest to the most people, and then continue with my tips on buying websites in order to make money and finally share insights on how I stay productive.
If you’re new here you might not notice that I write around 5,000 words per week for this blog. It’s not really that much, but it is fairly substantial when you consider the fact that I never write more than two posts per week. I don’t consider myself a writer in the typical sense of the word, although writing is something I do enjoy and do want to get better at.
The software I use to write, is Writeroom. I’ve covered it recently in this post and this one, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here. In one sentence, Writeroom is a text editor that takes over your computer screen so you’re left with nothing but a black screen and green text — just like the fake programming you see in movies like Swordfish.
The first thing I do before writing a single word is turn off my internet connection. Being able to surf the web while writing can be useful for things like checking facts and getting links to other articles, but once I open a browser, I get distracted too easily. If I need to check something or add a link I’ll simply type “FILL THIS IN” so once I put the post into WordPress I know where to make changes.
Besides minimising distractions when writing articles there are also a few philosophies I follow which I think help me a lot. The first is that I completely ignore the size of the audience I’m writing for. ViperChill has grown by over 500 subscribers in the last 13 days (which is crazy to me) so I’m aware of the growth here but I really don’t think about it. If I ever think “Wow, 5,000 people actually care about what I have to say” then I’ll probably worry about writing something people don’t like. If that happens then my style will change and I’ll lose the reason people are subscribing in the first place.
I write for one person and one person only. And that’s you.
Although I write just for you, all of my post ideas only have to be approved by me. I’ll only write a post that I would want to read. If I don’t want to read something, then I shouldn’t expect other people to. I’m still amazed there are people reading my articles despite how long they are, but I want to read long, in-depth articles, so that’s why I write them.
There are plenty of other bloggers happy to cater for those who want short posts. If you’re writing your blog for everybody then you’re writing it nobody.
Finally – and this might sound genius to some but unorganised to others – I only write when I feel like writing. Write Right now I’m lying on my couch with my Macbook resting on my legs. 20 minutes ago I was reading Make it Stick by Chip & Dan Heath and felt the urge to start writing another post.
I understand not everyone can write spontaneously because many people rely on their writing to make them money and others feel like they have to write on certain days each week. I don’t rely on this site for any form of income and this blog has no schedule so I don’t feel pressured to meet deadlines. It may not be the best way to grow a blog, either, but it’s what I enjoy the most. Enjoying what I do is more important to me than anything.
The last website I built from scratch was in November 2009 for my million dollar case study. I have enough websites around my passions to keep me busy, so now I’m starting to think like a businessman. Instead of building sites from scratch and waiting months (usually, but not always) for them to take off, I simply buy websites that are already profitable that I believe I can get more out of.
My first rule in buying sites is that I won’t buy one unless something about it sucks. Having something suck means I can improve it, which generally means I can make more money. I don’t always buy sites to improve on them and make more money; sometimes I just see there’s a clear way to minimise expenses which in turn increases profits.
One thing you’ll see a lot of if you go hunting for websites to buy yourself is that a lot of people sell on “potential.” I don’t buy on potential. If a site is making a decent amount of money ($1,000+ per month) and has a decent earning history then the most I will pay is 18 months revenue ($18,000). The main reason people try to sell websites on potential and thus increase their price is because they don’t want to put the work in to make that potential a reality.
If I really love an industry and want to start a site in it then I would happily buy based on potential. However, I already own sites based around the things I love and don’t need anymore in that category. Flippa is my number one resource for buying sites but it is very competitive at times so I also have a few lesser-known marketplaces that I browse and sometimes find real gems in.
I will never buy a site without speaking to the seller on some form of instant messaging service (usually Skype) and the questions I usually ask include:
I of course ask for earnings and traffic proof as well before purchasing anything. At times sellers use something like Awstats or Webalizer to show how many hits a site is getting but these massively inflate figures. On occasions like this I’ll ask the seller to install real-time analytics for a few days so I can get a real view of where traffic is coming from.
For transactions less than $10,000 I don’t mind using Paypal but for sums larger than that I use Escrow as this keeps both parties safe from fraud. I’m going to do a monster post on buying websites and increasing their profits in the future so stay tuned for that.
If you haven’t read my about page then you may not know that I spent 18 months as the social media manager of companies like Hewlett Packard, Land Rover, Nissan and various popular newspapers. This of course was not for the whole company but usually country specific projects such as Land Rover UK and working to help promote ‘X’ they were working on.
I did get to work on some very cool campaigns, especially with Hewlett Packard (who are one of the rare companies willing to test new ideas in this space) but after a while I really started to hate my job. I loved it when I began, and the company I worked for did nothing to make me like it less, but there were a few things that bothered me.
Some of these things include:
I hope I don’t sound bitter, because I have a lot of respect for people who do this job and there was a time when I loved it, but I slowly but surely came to dislike what I did.
On a personal level you may have noticed that I recently deleted all of my tweets on twitter. That’s around 3,400 updates and 2 years of information gone instantly. I received about 25 emails asking why I did this and the simple answer is that I want Twitter to be an extension of this site, rather than overly personal with information about me. There were a lot of immature tweets from my 17 year old self on there, as well.
Before I relaunched ViperChill I thought “What would happen if I wrote longer articles than anyone else and posted them less frequently?” Well, now I’m thinking, “What would it be like to have a Twitter account that offers nothing but value in 140 characters or less?” It has to be better than hearing about my hangover or the Bacongasm (?) that cured it.
Maybe nobody cares about the short nuggets that I share (example 1 and 2) but I guess I’ll find out. I still use it personally (social media is about being social, after all) and I will not just share quotes or ideas, but you’ll see a lot less action from me over there.
As far as other sites go, I don’t really use any. I have deactivated my Facebook profile (this is probably temporary) as it steals far too many minutes in my day. I have other ways of contacting all of my friends and I speak to my family back in the UK on Skype. Even though StumbleUpon sent 22,000 visitors to ViperChill in January, I couldn’t tell you the last time I logged into my account there, either.
“Wait. Aren’t you supposed to be this social media guru dude and you don’t even use these services?” First of all, I’m not a guru and don’t think anyone in this space is. The best social media “experts” are the ones who take risks, learn from what worked (or didn’t) and stay up to date on the industry. That’s it.
Most importantly, though, I think if your product or offering is good enough, people will start talking about you. The posts here often get hundreds of tweets, hundreds of saves to Delicious and tons of comments. I don’t game Twitter or Delicious to make that happen.
If I still worked with clients then what I’m writing now would be very different. Being paid to do social media is way more than understanding blogs or how these sites work – but I’m happy enough with knowing how to get the most out of these services, rather than feeling like I have to for someone else.
I’m not going to give an account of everything I get up to on a daily basis because, honestly, I doubt that you care. What I am going to do is share some of the things that help me in life (not necessarily marketing related) that I use on a daily basis and hopefully they will help you too.
I’m very much into the idea of outsourcing my life. On a personal level I “outsource” my cleaning, washing and ironing three days per week to my maid. On a work level I outsource 95% of what needs doing such as design, SEO and other forms of marketing. From day one I’ve always known that I want to oversee the work on my projects, rather than be directly involved in everything. The only site I own which requires my involvement is ViperChill. I love that.
I’m very grateful for the position that I find myself but don’t discount that I worked very hard for a long time to be able to get here. I don’t forget what it was like to spend my days putting sizing labels on clothes at TK Maxx (T J Maxx, in the States) for £4.90 per hour.
My goal here in South Africa is simply to maximise the work I’m doing and make more money. This month has already been the most profitable of my life so I know I’m on the right track. It’s not enough to me that I don’t have to go into an office each day; I want my brother and sister to be able to say the same thing. I have big goals, but as one of my favourite sayings goes, “Life’s too short to stay small.”
Two things I use in my daily life that really help me are EFT and the Sedona Method. If my Mom ever read what I just wrote (I don’t think my family care about what I do – which you still have to help me define in the comments, remember) she would cringe. She helps people with disabilities find and move into homes with the right type of accessibility and a number of them receive EFT once per week. In her words it is “a load of rubbish and a right con.”
The only reason I tried EFT was because one of my best friends – who is a millionaire and professional poker player – swore by it for helping him get to where he is in life. If you want to learn more about EFT then check out this excellent introductory video (it’s long, but give it a chance). Quite simply, if anything in the world is ever bothering me I’ll either tap on it (EFT) or release on it (Sedona Method). Within minutes I feel awesome about everything.
As far as productivity goes, I like to use time schedules. I realised at one point last year that if you give yourself all day to do something then that’s exactly how long it will take. I now give myself time limits to do certain tasks and will literally stop working on something as soon as that limit is reached. Whether or not the work is finished.
If it’s not finished, then I’ll give it another time limit later in the day or on another day. I never force myself to work on anything, but when I do pick something I want to work on, I’ll only give myself a set time to do it.
Last but not least is something I setup last week thanks to this post from Pat. I have both an iMac and a Macbook Pro but mainly use the iMac to work on. I decided to edit my Mac hosts file (you can do this on Windows as well) to block myself from websites that distract me (Twitter, Facebook (when it was activated), Get Clicky, etc). If I want to go on those sites then I have to change computers.
This is definitely forced productivity but it’s working very well so far. I used to use Self Control for Mac but I found a way to override the block and I didn’t have enough self control not to do so.
Now I’ve shared how I do what I do, I want to pass the mic over to you: how do you do what you do?