Phew! You guys sure do know how to ask tough questions. 4,000+ words later and I’ve hopefully answered all of the ones which will help as many people as possible. I wasn’t able to answer every single question; some because they were very technical and I didn’t know the answer, others because they were a little too specific and others because I was simply running out of time.
I’m sure that you’ll all find something in here to help you. I’m going to spend the rest of this week focusing on my “Skin” product launch and then you’ll see some pretty exciting things around here.
How did you come up with the name ViperChill? (from James)
Sadly, there’s no cool story behind this one. I was 16 when I registered the domain and just liked the individual words ‘viper’ and ‘chill’. My younger-self though that they sounded cool. I don’t think having a name which has nothing to do with the niche I’m in has hindered me though. I still really like it. Though I love the logo here far more.
Which three books have been essential to your success? (from Oz)
I’m not sure I can credit any book to being the main reason for my success. After all, your own actions play the biggest role in the results you get. That being said, three of my favourite books are Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, Do You! by Russell Simmons and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. They are very different books, but all played a vital role in helping me get to where I am today.
For Alin: You might also like Rework and Tribes.
My blog is the almost the same as yours in age, it has 2x the number of visitors here but I’ve only got around 400+ RSS subscribers. Is the value of a blog reader worth more than an RSS reader? (from Parka)
RSS readers are far more valuable than a regular reader when it comes to blogging, in my experience. There are exceptions, but generally you make money from blogs by building trust with loyal (read: subscribers) readers who then buy the products you promote which are relevant to the niche you’re writing in. I would rather have 1,000 loyal readers who are subscribed than 5,000 people who land on the site everyday and don’t do anything at all.
How many emails do you get in a day? (from Pat)
These days I only get around 20-30 emails – I have very strict filtering set-up – but every single one tends to require about 5-10 minutes in order to respond to them. Most of them are interview requests, cloud living support requests, or people who are looking for advice on their projects.
If you want to build a remarkable big blog, what would be your three biggest tips? (from Mars)
1) Stop looking for secrets in interviews or Q & A’s. There aren’t any to be found. 2) Put more importance on your content than anything else. 3) Build just a few, but very strong connections in your industry, and utilise them at the right moments.
What is the most effective way you would allocate a small budget for outsourcing other than content? (from Mark)
There were two things that came to mind when I read this. The first being that I would outsource some kind of tool / script creation that other people in my industry can use. For example, when I ran a personal development blog, I paid $100 for an automated script which ranked the most popular blogs in the niche. That page has over 10,000 backlinks pointing to it.
You could also look into buying banner ads on other sites in your industry, or use the money for link building services to help you get more search engine traffic.
Is it worthwhile to promote your twitter profile early on (does it create good social proof to have thousands of followers?) (from Graeme)
Sure. You have to start somewhere. I have artificially inflated quite a few Twitter accounts and to be totally honest, it’s just not worth it. The followers you get just don’t click links, and don’t have much interest in anything you tweet. These days I prefer to just let my account grow naturally. Even though it’s a much slower process, I’m being followed by people who genuinely care about what I have to say.
If you were only allowed to keep one of your many web properties, which one would it be and why? (from Pat)
Without a doubt, ViperChill. Purely because it’s the site that I enjoy working on the most. It’s an added bonus that I have a large audience here who care about what I have to say.
What makes your blog different to all of the other blogs out there? (from Allan)
Really, each reader should have an idea why they read this blog over any other (if they do). I think that being transparent, having a unique viewpoint on the industry and really caring about helping people has been one of the keys to my success here.
Do you still build niche sites for Clickbank products? (from Marcin)
I haven’t done this for about 13 months now. I think Clickbank is a great place to start, and you can make a lot of money from it, but over the long-term you can make much more money by promoting your own offering. Now I prefer to dominate industries and sell my own products, rather than just working as an affiliate.
My question is, how do you know if you’re missing a trick or doing something wrong from a technical point of view? How do I know if I’m missing a string to my WordPress/SEO bow? (from Steve)
I guess you’ll never have a technically perfect site in the eyes of everyone. How search engine’s work is still a guessing game for the most part, although us marketers have certainly figured out the fundamentals. Your best option would be to read up as much on that particular topic as possible, or ask an expert to look over things for you. Some suggestions for your site:
How are you managing your time? i.e. How do you avoid the distractions and be more productive? (from Onibalusi)
I use Teuxdeux first of all to help me keep track of all the tasks that I need to do. If you’re constantly trying to remember what’s next, you can’t focus on what you need to do right now. I also give myself time limits to perform certain tasks. It’s no coincidence that if you give yourself all day to do something, that’s exactly how long it will take. If I can’t get something done within the time limit I give myself, I allocate it another “time slot” later in the day.
Turn off all things that aren’t necessary to helping you get things done (Tweetdeck / IM / Facebook – possibly even the internet) and your distractions will be greatly minimised.
Why are you not building a mailing list for ViperChill? (from Onibalusi)
That will change when I release my free report. I told myself I didn’t want to do it in the first year of the site because many people perceive things like that as spammy – especially in this industry anyways. I wanted to build my brand and show people that they can trust what I have to say.
If you couldn’t blog about internet marketing or making money online, would you still say that blogging is a good way to make money? (from Diggy)
Definitely, though I wouldn’t say that it’s a quick way to make money. In fact, if you’re looking to make some fast cash online, blogging is definitely not the area I would start in. There’s a ton of people making lots of money from blogging in lots of different industries – celebrity gossip, politics, humour, personal development, forex, to name a few – so it’s not just this internet marketing niche where people can thrive.
The great thing about blogging is that you can build a very loyal audience, which is what you essentially have to try and do with whatever type of website you build, in order to make money.
Please recommend me top 3 secret/hidden/unknown/unexploited/underrated resources on how to make money online. (from Nechita)
My favourite resources are Shoemoney.com (although I only find 1 in 10 posts relevant), WarriorForum.com and Blackhatworld.com. Blackhat world is full of shady tactics and dirty marketers, but you can learn a lot about the opportunities out there. The site actually gives me a lot of good whitehat ideas.
What would be one thing you like to go back and change about your blogging/web business? (from Sudhir)
I have made a ton of mistakes, but I learned from every single one, so I wouldn’t want to go back and not make them all over again. I guess the only thing that makes sense to change is to be more productive with my time. I wasted weeks, if not months, following strategies I had no real interest in, just because I heard they would make me money. I wish I had just focused on one site until it started bringing in money.
Why don’t you promote anything on this blog? No ads, no affiliate links, nothing. Is there a clever reason for that or are you just doing it for the readers and don’t need the income you could possibly earn? (from Martin)
Partly because I don’t need the money, partly because this niche is looked down upon for some of the reasons you mention. It also seems to have worked in my favour – marketing wise – because when many people write about me they mention my lack of affiliate links and ads as a positive thing. I wanted people to see that this blog really is about helping the readers.
What are your future plans with this blog and making money online in general? (from Martin)
I think this post is a good, lengthy answer to your question.
When posting to do-follow blogs how useful are they for building backlinks? (from Ron)
I really don’t waste my time on do-follow blogs anymore to be honest. There are far better ways to build links, and most of your do-follow links are on pages which link out to hundreds of other irrelevant sites. I used to use it in one artsy industry where it was hard to get links and they worked well, but I wouldn’t focus on this if I were you.
I loved your post, “How I Really Built a Blog with 6,500 subscribers”, you gave some really great insights in it. I was just wondering if you can give a rough estimate on the number of guest posts you wrote for it? (from Joe)
What signals let you know that a niche site you have created is not going to work? When do you pull the plug on non-working sites? (from Parleo)
When you’re ranking highly and not getting much search traffic / other quality traffic source. Every niche can make money, and affiliate sites for the most part can be left completely alone, so you wouldn’t need to take them down if they aren’t making a ton of cash. If they’re getting traffic and not converting at all – despite having a good site – then I would personally stop working on it.
What business model (or mix of business models) would you recommend to someone who has never had an online business before (no list, no blog, no followers, etc.), has no particular expertise, and who aspires to generate an average of $4000/month? (from Ben)
I’ll give you credit for a very specific question ;). Start learning more about marketing and build a site – any kind of site – in a niche that interests you. Heck, build affiliate sites, blogs, forums. You’ll quickly learn web skills that will help you with every kind of website, and you’ll see which type of site you’re most passionate about working on. From there you can look around your niche and see what’s missing, or how you can do things differently.
When you’ve found the type of site you want to build, stick with it. It’s going to be a slow process, and it’s going to take a lot of work. Do not let yourself start another site until it has at least made back your domain and hosting costs. This last point is crucial.
Do you recommend article spinners? (from Ryan)
It depends on what you’re doing. I don’t use them personally, simply because I don’t think they are necessary. I have tried a few “shady” tactics when it comes to article marketing and they work surprisingly well. I’ll probably blog about it in the near future.
I was wondering which type of sites you find do better in terms of making money, product ones or information ones? (from Shaun)
Other people will tell you different answers, so don’t take this as the ultimate advice. For me personally, I prefer information websites. I have improved my writing skills over the years and I feel like there’s a lot I want to say. Naturally, information sites appeal to me.
I think a better question for me to ask you would be: “Which would you prefer to build?”
How do we get your life? (from Ralph)
Work hard, be prepared to fail, and stop looking for secrets.
I’m launching a blog soon and I’ve been wondering if it’s a good idea to start promoting it the moment I publish the first post or if I should wait until I’ve posted more content? (from Sofia)
It’s entirely up to you. I launched a blog at 17 where the first post was featured on four of the Technorati top 100 websites. If the first post is good enough, then I would get promoting from the start. Just make sure you have your clear call to actions (RSS subscribers / email list) in place before you do.
How do you use Facebook to grow your business? (from Glam Gals)
To be honest I do very little with Facebook. I tried running some ads as a test but didn’t get very far with them (for this website). Right now I just promote the ViperChill fan page, where there is an application which automatically posts links to our latest articles. The whole point is about being where your audience interacts.
I wonder, since Cloud Living has been out for a while, is there much about the mini-site section you would change? (from Paul)
Not really. The only thing I would suggest is that people add a lot more content to their sites (30+ pages). It seems like it is becoming favoured by Google these days.
Glen, what motivated you to become an online marketer in the first place and how didn’t you quit? (from Omid)
I never set out to become an online marketer, I just saw a friend building a website at school one day and thought it looked cool. From there, I of course stumbled upon ways to make money with websites, and that’s when I got into marketing. It just so happened that I was far more interested in the marketing rather than any of the passions I was building websites around.
I kept going purely out of the love for what I was doing. I also love having an audience, so I think that’s a big drive for me.
When you first started out learning affiliate marketing and SEO several years ago, who were your role models and what are they up to today? (from Ryan)
Jeremy Schoemaker (www.Shoemoney.com) is someone who inspired me with his big adsense and affiliate checks. I really looked up to people like Rand from Seomoz.org, Dave Naylor from Davidnaylor.co.uk and Joost De Valk from Yoast.com. Right now I think they’re all doing pretty much exactly what they were doing back then which is awesome to see.
My question is about where you see yourself long-term, such as in 10-20 years from now? (from Karen)
To be honest, I really have no idea. In a way that excites me, but on the other hand it scares me as well. I hate that I haven’t found a country that I want to call my home; it seems like I’ll have to travel the world a lot more to figure that one out. It affects my relationships quite a bit as girls can’t rely on me to stay in one place, but thankfully I’m still young.
I want to be working more with my family and ensuring they are financially stable, while having a house in a city I eventually call my home. From there I still want to travel, take part in projects like building schools in Vietnam, and continue to work on improving myself.
When building niche sites, which strategy do you take? (from Kevin)
I tend to build two types of affiliate sites, depending on how competitive a niche is or how web-savvy the audience are. When I first started out I would build simple, 5 page websites with the homepage being optimised to send people to a product page via my affiliate link. I still have a few sites like this but these days I’m spending time working in more competitive industries.
For these competitive industries I’ll start out with a site that looks more like a blog, add a lot of content, and build links to it with this frame. As I start getting search traffic I’ll tweak the site to include products I want to promote, and eventually, sell my own product.
How do I monetize a forum, other than using Adsense? (from Rison)
Adsense, by nature, is generally pretty poor on forums. Try offering a paid membership that will give people more user privileges or access to different parts of the forum. Failing that, try building a tool that your visitors would be happy to purchase.
You talked about cross-promoting in a small group of blogs to grow faster. Can you expand on that? Does it work cross niche? (from King)
You should find what you’re looking for in this article. I would try to stay focused on the niche you’re in.
Aside from keyword research and SEO, what are tactics (sustainable or unsustainable) that can immediately increase uniques and pageviews for a particular site that are white-hat? (from Michael)
Unless you’re just looking for impressions to make more money via banner ads, I think you’re asking the wrong question. You can easily increase pageviews by buying ads on other sites or getting paid reviews. As far as free traffic goes, look into StumbleUpon (my guide here). It was the second most popular source of traffic for ViperChill over the last year.
I personally like to build relationships with other people / websites in my niche and use those connections to get more eyeballs on my content.
By taking a quick look at my site – TickTockTimer dot com – what smart and easy thing could I do to increase its ranking in google for the search term ‘online timer’? (from Bamboo)
Allow people to embed a smaller version on their website which links back to you. Get yourself in front of audiences who are going to want this type of thing – chefs, productivity geeks – and start making some connections.
Did you ever make a mistake or a move for one of your big blogs/projects (could be Viper Chill, Plugin ID, Cloud Living) that had you not pushed through, you wouldn’t be the success that you are today? (from Moon)
I think just continually striving to improve them as sites / products was the most important thing to their individual success. Had I been happy with my work being mediocre, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.
I wanted to know if you could address your criteria for selecting a place to guest post? (from Roshawn)
I generally just look at the number of subscribers a site has, and how active their audience are. Alexa also gives a good indicator as to whether their RSS numbers are artificially inflated, or they actually get a lot of site traffic. If a blog is getting a lot of comments – the most important factor for me – I’m happy to write there. An engaged audience is far more likely to click through to your website.
Your ‘brand’ is now huge, do you ever feel overwhelmed with the pressure that comes with each post? (from Marcus)
Great question. My answer is: Yes and no. I don’t feel pressure to “impress” 10,000 people, but I do feel pressure to put out quality content on a regular basis. I feel like I am disappointing people when it takes me a while to come out with a new article. Saying that though, I would rather have the pressure of people wanting me to do well than anything else in life, so I take it as it comes.
As far as me being a “steady” guy (second part of your question) I practice the Sedona Method a lot. I find it really helpful in day to day life.
If you plan on selling an ebook or adding a membership program to your blog, should you ever hold back putting any of this good “meaty” information in your free daily/weekly blog posts so that it’s only available in your ebook/membership area? (from Curtis)
A good rule to follow is to give away as much as you can, but not too much. You need to give away great information in order for people to know you’re the real deal and have something great to say. However, as you seem to know, you have to draw the line somewhere, or there’s no point in people spending money.
I like the idea of working on an “overall guide” which covers everything you know. For example, I don’t hold back in any of my posts, but sales of Cloud Living are booming even though they contain very similar information. People like to have everything in one place, so give that to them.
What do you say to those who insist that you must post daily, if not 3-4 times a week, in order to be “successful.” (from Richard)
Look at ViperChill :).
I don’t have anything business related to ask… but, I was wondering. How was the bungee jump? (from Grant)
It was amazing. It’s the second one I’ve done, but far scarier than I remember the first being. You’re dangling 200+ metres below a bridge, just hanging in the beautiful mountains of South Africa. The weird thing was that after my jump – while waiting for the bungee SWAT team to come and get me – I couldn’t hear anything. The world was very silent; I could just see and feel everything around me.
I’m going to go and do it again this week.
Would you please describe the challenges and bonuses of living a mobile internet business lifestyle? (from Naomi)
I would say the challenges are:
The bonuses for me are:
Do you think investing a lot of time in IM is going to get me anywhere to a fulltime income (12,000 euros per year) in the next 12 months? (from Johnny)
I don’t see why not. I’ve done it myself a few times. I personally wouldn’t focus on things like Hub Challenges or a ton of Clickbank products. You end up with a lot of mediocre projects and nothing that is going to massively increase your income. Focus on a few sites, sure, but not dozens.
Your real focus should be on building a quality site in an industry you love – not how much money it can make you. Forgetting about how much money you make, surprisingly or not, is more likely to increase your income.
Which was the very first product(s) you promoted as an affiliate marketer? (from Huzefa)
I think it was something in the Tattoo industry, which was a total disaster.
How do you come up with ideas for your posts? (from Harry)
Sometimes I will actively go out on the web looking for ideas from other industries; most of the time though I’m doing something totally unrelated to marketing and an idea will pop into my head. The important thing is that I get the idea down on paper or on my phone as soon as possible. This post should also help you.
What is the easiest way to get started (blogging, mini-sites, website flipping,etc)? (from Tanvir)
I would start by registering a domain and setting up hosting. Then, building any kind of site which you don’t mind breaking. Set up a blog and try customising the theme via the backend. Or, put together a static HTML site and tweak the code by hand and then look at the results in your browser. Find out what you love to do before you do anything serious.
Do you have a list of rules on how you choose good and profitable keywords to rank for? (from Shinta)
I really just focus on the search volume a keyword has, or use other information I know about the industry. For example, I know a lot of keywords in the mobile space which don’t get searched more than 5,000 times per month, yet are making people tens of thousands of dollars if you can rank for them. Volume only matters if you can make money from it, but I like to see at least a few thousand searches per month for any phrase that I target.
From there, I try to learn as much about an industry as I can to see if there is money to be made.
What is the “Main” process you use to select a niche? (from Gigi)
How do you generate such StumbleUpon Traffic that I see in your monthly stats? Is this a push from friends how ‘like’ an article and then it catches more in a viral fashion? (from Jeffrey)
Really, I just write the best content that I can. I never ask for “Stumbles”, never log into the site myself, and don’t interact with anyone I know who does. The good thing about building a large audience is that people start to promote your content for you. I have written an in-depth guide to StumbleUpon which might be useful to you.
Would you actually make any money with websites and blogs, if no one knew you make a lot of money with such things? Sorry for being as bold as brass in my very first post (from Preexo)
Heh. I started building websites 6 years ago when I was 15. I’ve made money with about 20 other websites before I relaunched this blog (which doesn’t make me any money) last year. One example you might never have read was the personal development blog I sold last year for a mid five-figure fee, which was consistently making over $5,000 per month.
P.S. If there are any questions I missed and you really feel like you need me to answer them, please post them in the comments. I tried to answer questions which would help as many people as possible.