The first part of this “series” of posts can be found here. That focused on some ideas on how to recover from the Penguin update if you’ve been hit pretty bad, mainly what to do with an affected website.
But dealing with the website is just part of the equation. The other part of the equation is preventing ever getting “punched in the gut” in the first place from Google, and the best way I know how to do that is to diversify your income (in part 3 we’ll talk traffic diversification).
If you haven’t yet listened to it, the urgency for diversifying your income gets crystal clear if you listen to what Tim Carter had to say to me, the owner of AskTheBuilder.com and formerly one of Google’s hand-picked knights in shining armor for quality content and AdSense publishing success.
His main source of income was the AsktheBuilder.com site and AdSense. He got traffic from ranking so well in Google, and Panda hit him badly: he lost 50% of his traffic overnight, with no recovery. So he told me he thought one of the best ways to recover was to sell your information.
Which is one form of generating an income (so long as you do your research and create something that sells). His point was getting off AdSense as a main resource of income, and whatever you do: have a variety of cash-cows.
That Was My Mistake: Having One Cash Cow
When I first started in this business, I had several cash cows:
- My day job. It was on its last legs and you can read the story here, but it was still a cash cow with some full udders.
- AdSense was paying me monthly about 60 days into their program (nothing huge, I’d barely make the $100 a month, but it was recurring).
- Elance gigs.
- Later I added affiliate marketing to the mix, which was my huge cash heffer.
Passive Income is Great BUT…
…when you rely on one “heffer” of a website for a majority income source, like I did, when your traffic dries up (when you rely on ONE source of traffic like I did with SEO) – you’re caught up short.
My site was so successful I decided to take an extended goof-off-staycation and marry my XBox 360.
Oh yes, I did.
So the problem with having that success on my plate (as I mentioned in the previous post) was that it bred laziness on my part. I didn’t keep the ball rolling but published CJ Tactics telling how I accomplished what I did (and yes I made some money on that) – and then Google went and shoved a penguin up my peace pipe.
CJ Tactics sold very well – and like I told Leo Dimilo in this “very long” interview, I made the mistake of not getting the majority of those sales (say what?).
Oh yes, I did that too.
That’s a lesson learned – laziness I mean (and you can read about how I managed not to get paid for my own book in Leo’s interview) – but the lesson is more than just “don’t get lazy,” it’s also “keep running with a good thing.”
As in: building more of what worked.
As in: diversifying traffic.
As in: selling your successful websites for a lump sum when the gettin’s good.
I have to admit I haven’t done much of that very well, but it brings me to the point of the post.
Affiliate Website Diversification
One big way to diversify your income so you don’t wind up making a huge mistake like I have is to multiply the sites in your successful niches. I’ve done that but haven’t marketed my other sites yet (and it’s the off season anyway).
But to put it simply – once you see that your niche site #1 is doing well, make #2 and #3 (etc.) in the same niche. Change up the vendors and promote different models.
Keep pushing until you’re sick of the niche.
Sell Your Best Sites
You heard me.
Sell the sites – when they’re good.
You really want to sell high. So don’t wait until you’ve cleared the 3-year mark – I’m not sure when the sweet spot is, but you want to sell when your sites are doing well.
If you want a good run-down on building an asset to flip (don’t flip a site until you’ve got proof of income and traffic to leverage), read this from Flippa. They analyzed some of the top 6-figure sales and distilled some common traits – it’s a must-read to shape your web development.
Of course if you don’t want a lump sum of fat stacks of moolah, this seems like bad advice. But it’s not.
Right before Penguin hit I got an inquiry into my best website – then the algorithm shifts my rankings into nothingness and the opportunity was lost. I wish I followed my instinct then.
But I didn’t so I made this post instead. :)
Sell Your Worst Sites
There is nothing more idiotic in business than hanging onto a liability because you put work into something and it didn’t pan out…but you keep thinking it’s going to “some day.”
Sell off your websites that aren’t doing you any good. Somebody wants them. (And it can’t hurt to give it a shot and cut your losses.)
When I first started online, my first real money-making venture was Elance – and it took a bit of determination to get my first gig, but once I did it was all a race down-hill: momentum on Elance is simply credibility, which breeds more gigs…
I’m not back on Elance (yet), but I’ve created a services page you can read about here.
Yes I’ll do writing gigs again.
I used to think it was a failure of my endeavors for the passive income dream if I did so – but now that I’ve reached the top of the mountain (for me I mean: I created passive income streams, I’m not saying I was Bill Gates), I’ve come full-circle on it.
Once I reached the goal of a full-time passive income, I figured “active income” would be a failure.
But that’s a silly way of looking at it – the main “goal” is simply providing for my family of 9, be it providing services to others online or through my web publishing and more passive income streams.
So hit me up here, let’s talk about how I can be of service.
Google Can’t Take Your Talents
Oh, they can take your traffic – they can push your site down in the “organic” search results (nevermind they insert their own content like the product search listings: those are paid advertisements but they’re not marked or treated that way)…
…but they can’t take your talent. They can’t take your ability to provide a service – so I’ve re-opened the doors on being accessible to the internet marketing and ecommerce community.
Luckily for you, I know what I’m doing. :)
Think about that for yourself: what sort of service can you provide? It needs to be lucrative enough that you don’t become a slave to time where you’re working for peanuts…but find that sweet-spot and offer up services to people looking.
Create Products to (You Guessed It!) Sell
This part is a hit-or-miss risk: I’ve had some success with it, but wouldn’t call myself some pro at product creation and marketing it. One “problem” I personally have is that I don’t mainly rely on product creation for my income…
So I don’t “go all in” when marketing my own stuff: but what I do know is how to spot a need in markets, at least in markets I’m familiar with.
That’s the key: you need to be familiar with a market, enough so that you can answer a real need and fill it.
This is what I did with Duct Tape SEO, CJ Tactics and what I’m trying to accomplish with Tidal Wave Traffic, my new course on getting non-Google traffic to web pages.
What I have yet to do is tap into the Kindle market, or iTunes, or the App Store. Even Google has a “Play” link in their header navigation, they’re getting into the Kindle – vs – Apple war for our dollars by offering just about everything Amazon does (or they’re trying to compete: Amazon has them beat in spades).
And that’s the beauty of creating products – especially the digital kind.
With a growing market for video, podcasts and even ebooks – the only “problem” is deciding on where you want to publish first.
The other advantage is you get credibility, get to build a list, get to build relationships and leverage those assets for other networking opportunities.
For instance, when Sam England was putting up CJ Tactics as a WSO, he had a number of other Warriors put their opt-in form on the “thank you” page for the bonus material.
What they got was A) sales (I made NOTHING..cough cough!…choke…), B) a list. It’s just one way of marketing that worked very well – and their lists saw the association with my book and decided to buy (in droves).
You can’t do that sort of thing without your own product…
Be it an ebook, video series or audio files (or software, apps, WordPress plugins or themes…): search engines can’t take your product from you. You have endless ways to distribute online – so think about that.
Different Advertising Networks and Affiliate Programs
If you rely on ONE source of income on your website(s), STOP doing that. You should have at least 2 or 3.
Take Spencer Haws of NichePursuits.com, where he went from over 10,000 dollars a month (15k or so) on AdSense to getting his AdSense account shut down.
Spencer’s a great example of income diversification, though: not only does he bounce back from that fiasco by putting up other ad networks, but he’s already selling software like LongTailPro (his keyword research tool).
He’s also posted his ideas on the subject here.
There is an epic free course (of course from Glen Allsop) on list marketing. I don’t do list marketing very well (in the process of creating my auto-responders, which I had to rewrite post-Penguin), but Glen lays it out in Cloud Blueprint.
The point in putting it here in the post is simply: I’ve totally missed a cash cow. Really.
I don’t suggest “churn and burn” but follow what Glen says to do (more content than promotions).
Side benefit: when you go to sell your site, you’ve created a real asset with a bigger list.
Now on niche sites I’ve found it difficult to create lists – but only because up until now I’ve created product-focused sites. I think you can do very well if you have a problem-solution oriented website.
The difference mainly being that your content would attract people in your market with a certain problem needing a fix of sorts, where you could also review products – and have a broader appeal.
I’ll use the dating niche as an example – plenty of affiliate opportunities there. Plenty of products – but also plenty of problems to focus on. So your list would be talking about those solutions, leading up to products, etc.
Earlier I linked to an article on Flippa (this one in case you can’t find the link), where they talked about the 10 attributes of 6-figure websites. One of the common denominators was – can you guess?
A mailing list.
It’s also a traffic resource to think about, one which algorithms don’t control.
Otherwise Just Follow Matt Cutts’ Advice
He tells you how to rank #1 in Google here:
That Sums it Up For Me – Did I Miss Anything?
I’m thinking out loud here in this post, laying out my plans for my own business. But what about you? Any other ideas you want to add?
If you have examples of how you’ve been able to diversify your income, let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for dropping by – stay tuned for the next bit on traffic diversification, the final part of the series on recovering from Penguin.
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