DO NOT DO TOO MUCH RESEARCH TOO FAST
In the beginning, there’s an incredible temptation and pitfall of being fooled into thinking, believing, and even spreading the word about certain tools that will “without a doubt (!)” lead to success. Many fall for purchasing subscriptions and downloads to these tools and services under the pretense that they’re necessary for success. More times than not, this costly mistake results in no more than a loss of money.
Why is this temptation so alluring? First of all because the Internet is literally overflowing with amazing tools and services. Tools for keyword analysis, website ranking, website monitoring, analyzing, collaborating, email marketing, and on and on. It seems there’s a new one every day (if not every hour!). Why so many? Partly because they’re so cool and lucrative to create and own. Software as a service (SaaS) is a big and growing practice (think of these services as Internet-based vending machines). And of course they’re also incredibly useful to us niche website folks. But let’s remember that those at the top of the Internet marketing pyramid (or those trying to get there) succeed (or try to succeed) in promoting (with affiliate links, of course!) an entourage of tools and services to us minnows in the shallows. Though there are exceptions, we generally don’t need these tools. Certainly in the beginning, nearly all of these tools are unnecessary and serve more as fun and expensive distractions than sources of significant value.
One particular area of tools worth saying a bit about are those in the arena of email marketing. There’s an old and dark myth here that’s important to debunk. Remember these words, you DO NOT need to sign up for AWebber or any other non-free email marketing service. There are better services, ranging from free to very inexpensive. One alternative approach is to host your own email-list system. Another is to find and use the best free plan available (and free forever, not for one month). I share everything you need to know about getting setup with your own self-hosted email system, and which free services are best, in my book Email Marketing for the Broke and Not Famous: Tools and Methods for a (Virtually) Free Email List System
I believe that it’s entirely possible to build a successful niche website with virtually no cost to the creator. Domain registration and helpful Kindle ebooks (each of which cost virtually nothing) are two exceptions. There’s also the possible exception of hosting (though there are free hosting options, only they often require a bit of tech know-how – such as GitHub’s repository hosting service). Otherwise, don’t be tempted! Later, after you’re site has begun to generate some revenue (or at least traffic), you can benefit from some of the amazing tools available (like Crazy Egg… incredible – http://www.crazyegg.com/). But even then, the verdict is still out for us small folks. Be wise, only subscribe to tools that will give more value than they’ll cost.
In the beginning, keep it simple. Don’t go overboard on the tool subscribing and buying. It’s a distraction and time-drain. Remember, this is only the beginning.
DO NOT GET DISTRACTED BY ALL THE SHINNY TOOLS.
In the beginning, don’t do too much work too soon.
“What in the world!” I can hear you exclaim. That’s right! Don’t do too much work too soon!
Now certainly, of course(!) it takes tons of work to create a profitable niche site (run fast from any who say otherwise!). But at first, in the initial stages, work incrementally and analytically. Why, to avoid the rabbit holes.
Always allow time for your gut to communicate to your brain. As we all know, this takes longer for some folks than others. For some, it takes one or two days. For others it could be a week (or longer!). Regardless, always allow at least one night’s sleep before jumping into the beginning of any project. The task during this one night or more is to “ruminate” on your idea and its general execution. That’s right, I want you to think like a cow eats – ruminate on your thoughts. Think about your project like a cow eats its grass. Bring it in, let it digest, spit it up, chew it around, swallow again, and repeat as necessary.
I consider this is an invaluable life skill to posses and practice. In the least, it’s a helpful analogy. Too often, words and thoughts come in and go out without us being patient and diligent enough to really think them through. Who isn’t guilty of simply “nodding their head” in response to mother, wife, or another without having heard half a word spoken? If we can learn to “ruminate” on words, thoughts, ideas, research findings, and all the rest, the wheat and chaff effectively separate. In other words, we can make good decisions about which niches are worthwhile and which ones aren’t. Even beyond helping us choose a profitable niche, applying this “rumination” practice to each step along the niche-site path will help us work smarter than hard, make the best decisions possible, spot any hidden gems along the way, and generally keep from falling into any rabbit holes and other traps. In other words, it will aid in the all aspects of developing a profitable niche site.
Niche website creation, and generally the entire world of online passive income, is overflowing with enticing snares that seemingly lead to success but in reality only lead down. Thus the effective rabbit-hole analogy. When settling into your niche site idea and execution, do be wise. Follow the cows, not the rabbits.
DO NOT ACT LIKE THE RABBIT AND DIG DOWN, DOWN, DOWN… IMITATE THE COW AND “RUMINATE” ON YOUR PROJECT.
NOTE: I’m not speaking here exclusively of validation. While validating an idea is extremely important and certainly part of the “rumination” process, the idea here is more widely about general project mentality. This more broadly incorporates things such as: deciding on the best keywords to optimize your site for, choosing the best WordPress Theme (or other web platform to utilize), or maybe deciding on the best model of site monetization.
In the beginning, don’t become too emotionally attached. Sure, months and even years of working on a niche site will of course lead to emotional attachment, and this is a very good thing, but don’t become emotionally attached at the very beginning. Not even a little bit. AVOID EARLY EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT AT ALL COSTS!
“Why?” you ask?
Because emotional attachment at the very beginning will cloud your judgment and your reasoning abilities. And these are important with niche websites, crucial even. No, this is imperative. What for? For choosing a good niche and discerning the best overall project approach.
Here’s an example:
In your search for a profitable niche, you have the idea of stuffed animals. You quickly decide that this will be an awesome niche because your lifelong dream is to have a small business making and selling stuffed animals. For now, you settle on simply promoting the best stuffed animals to blog readers and email list subscribers (you have plans to start the business with profit you make from the niche site, so in actuality this is a great step towards fulfilling your lifelong dream). You initially do some quick research to make sure it’s a profitable niche (though of course you already knew it would be profitable), and throughout the creation of the site you settle on keywords you think potential visitors are using. You also base the site’s design on exactly how you’ve always dreamed it should (since you were young). After a year into the project, you have 7 people on your email list (including family members) and $3 from Google Adsense clicks (and if you’re entirely honest with yourself you do know where those clicks came from). Reality hits, perhaps even despair.
(note: This example is wildly over-the-top for illustration purposes only. It’s based on no actual research into the profit potential of a niche site on stuffed animals. This topic could in actuality be a worthwhile niche.)
The synopsis: Emotional attachment too early will likely handicap your ability to fully evaluate and validate the idea before committing to it, thus resulting in failure.
DO NOT INITIALLY BECOME EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED.
Goals and Expectations
In the beginning, be realistic about goals and expectations. This is incredibly important to your ultimate success. Here are two essential guidelines:
Don’t set time-based monetary expectations
Do set general expectations (make your first $1, then your first $100, then your first $500, etc.)
Why? Because saying “I’d like to make X amount per month” dooms you from the start. Yes, setting an unrealistic initial goal of $10,000 per month will get you excited and it will motivate you – at least in the beginning. But when you don’t reach $10,000 in that first month (and you more likely won’t even reach $100 in the first month) gloom may surely overwhelm you. What can only be run and won as a marathon will have been lost as a sprint.
Set attainable and realistic goals at the beginning. Small and incremental goals continually inspire you every time you reach them. And you will reach these small and attainable goals. Trust me. If you don’t, you’ll be forced into re-evaluating your model. You’ll consider every aspect of your project and try tweaking different aspects of it until you begin to see some real results. Think to the tortoise and hare…
How low should one’s monetary goals be set? Everyone and every niche site is different. No blanket value can be given. Many people like to use increments of $10, then $100. Determine your initial and unique goal. Determine it by honestly assessing your previous experiences and understanding of Internet marketing and other related skill-sets and knowledge-bases useful for passive websites. In other words, how much do you already know about your niche, do you know how to build websites, do you understand SEO, how well can your write, etc.
Regardless, do set goals (I’m certainly not advocating otherwise). They will provide valuable motivation and help you document your progress. Just make sure they’re realistic. After all, have you ever heard of someone complain about reaching their goals too quickly?