Niche Website Tips

November 3, 2013 in Niche Websites by Start From Nothing

- Avoid targeting eCommerce keywords: The reason for this is because Google favors ranking actual eCommerce websites (Website that sell physical product like Amazon, eBay, etc.) for eCommerce related keywords. And example of an eCommerce keyword would be “buy camera.” As an alternative try experimenting with a prefex or suffix. For example changing the prefix to “best camera” may give you much different results. Or try adding a suffix like “camera review.” Again, a seed keyword like this may change your results to less eCommerce related results.

Weakness in the top 10: When checking Google’s top 10 results to analyze your competition you want to see signs of weakness such as forum posts, question and answer websites, other niche websites, or other types of weak sites already ranking in the top 10 results. If you see this, you have a very good indicator that you can rank on the first page relatively easily. Of course, if you find a keyword that has almost all or only weak sites ranking in the top 10 on Google… guess what? Your are almost certain to rank in the top 10 with ease.

- At Least 1,500 Local Monthly Searches : Your niche site keyword should have at least 1,500 local monthly searches (Set to US for location). Go ahead an put this in your filter on whatever keyword tool you are using so you don’t waste your time browsing through keywords that will not bring you an adequate amount of traffic. 3,000 to 5,000 monthly local searches is an even better minimum but when you are working on your first few niche site it may be better to learn with keyword that has a smaller number of searches since they will typically have weaker competition than a keyword with a higher number of searches (not always the case though.)

– Pages within the top 10 results of Google that contain exact match keyword within the domain: For example if your keyword is “best canned beans” then take note of how many websites within the top 10 results on Google have best canned beans within their URL. For example Amazon.com/best-canned-bean or AbsoluteBestCannedBeans.com.

– Pages with a young site age: How many pages within the top 10 results of Google have a site age of 2 years or less. The more of these you see, the better a sign it is that you may beat the competition.

At least $0.25 CPC (Cost Per Click) value: You actually want more around $1 dollar minimum CPC keywords to target however for the learning process you may want to accept a lower CPC and then increase your minimum acceptable CPC as you go along and get better at this.

Multiple results within the top 10 with PA (Page Authority) of less than 30: This is a scale of 1 – 100 based off of SEOMoz.com. This metric measures a webpages ability to rank for arbitrary content, 1 being the least likely and 100 being the most likely. Lower numbered sites will be easier to beat so the more of these you see the better your chances of beating the competitions.

Multiple results within the top 10 with less than 30 juice links: A juice link (another SEOMoz.com metric) is basically a quality back link likely from a more authoritative and higher page ranked source. You want to see several websites ranking with less than 30 juice links because this is another indicator of weak competition.

Niche Website Guide – A Complete Tutorial To Niche Sites

November 2, 2013 in Niche Websites by Start From Nothing

This is my attempt at a complete niche website guide and tutorial.  It will first give a brief overview of what a niche website is and then get into the nuts and bolts of exact processes and guidelines for creating a niche site to the end goal of generating an income from it and then repeating the process.  From there you can either sell the niche website or keep developing it with the goal of increasing its profits.

  • Who:
  • What:
  • When:
  • Where:
  • Why:

A niche website is basically a website around a narrow and limited topic.  For instance www.Fishing .com would be an example of what is known as an authority website because it covers a multitude of topics relating to the broad term of fishing.

However www.TroutFishing.com or www.FlyFishingGear.com would be examples of more niche websites.  Even these could be further niched down into www.TyingYourOwnFlys.com or www.WorldsBestTroutFishingStreams.com Generally, the more total words to a keyword phrase the more niched down it is, but this is not always the case.

Your basic goal of creating a niche website should be to do the following:

 

  • Primary Keyword Research (The main keyword you want to rank for)
  • Secondary Keyword Research (Multiple secondary keywords you want to rank for)
  • Find a Domain: Aim for a Exact Match Domain (EMD) or a close Partial Match Domain (PMD).  The exception to this rule is if you are seeking to make a more branded website in which case you would want to come up with something catchy, simple, and easy to remember. For example a banded website domain for a shaving niche site could be something like www.sirshavesalot.com or www.apennyshaved.com whereas an EMD would be something like www.bestfourheadedelectricshavers.com or www.straightrazorreviews.com, Purchase at GoDaddy.com or NameCheap.com  GoDaddy.com has a bulk domain checker so you can enter in a multitude of proposed domain names to check their availability.  Also, prior to purchasing your domain do a Google search for coupon codes because there is almost always some kind of deal going on at both of these domain dealers.  You can also look into purchasing an expired domain if you can find a good deal on one since you will get some SEO juice passed on to your from whatever prior backlinks the website had.
  • Niche Site Setup : Set up your website in a way to increase your chances of success (profitable)
  • Content Creation (Writing articles for your site targeting your primary and then your secondary keywords, or have this process outsourced
  • Media Gathering (Finding approptiate media to insert into your articles.  This can be photos, graphics, videos, or sound clips)
  • Link Building (Building links for your articles focusing on your primary keyword first and once it is ranking where you are happy with it start on your secondary keywords)
  • Monetize (After your traffic starts coming in and your website could be considered fairly complete you will want to start monetizing your traffic)

 

Many people when beginning their keyword research get discouraged when they see how many other websites exist that have their proposed keyword their URL but don’t make this mistake!

Your goal is only to beat the top 10 – 20 results on Google since that is the spot you want to be on that is your competition.  When you are scoping your competition, only pay attention to your serious competitor, those top 10 – 20 of Google.

Brainstorming Seed Keywords

 

Keyword Research – Practical Exercise #1

 

1.    Find no less than 20 subject that you find interesting but that you know nothing or very little about.
2.    Find no less than 20 random seed keyword from brainstorming, observing things around you, or browsing (For example: Check Amazon.com, your library, forums, etc.)
3.    Find no less than 20 frustrations or problems that people have (For example: acne, weight loss, fear of public speaking, etc.)
4.    List no less than 20 interest you have that you have at least a little knowledge about.
5.    List no less than 20 hobbies, interests, or passions that other people have (For example: Fantasy football, wood carving, skin products, gardening)

This should give you a total of at least 100 seed keywords that you will enter into whatever keyword research tool of your choosing at separate times.  Just record these on a word or text document or throw them on a Google Docs spreadsheet.  I have started using Google Docs more often because I can access it from any computer with an internet connection should the need arise.  This is quite handy if you need or want to work on a project from a friends house or while your on vacation or anywhere else where you might not have your computer.

Each one you enter will spit out several hundred related keywords that you can then analyze.  By the end of doing this process you may not have found any keywords worth going after but at the very least you will become familiarized with the process and the keyword research tools and you should start to have more of an idea of the different metrics that these tools give you.  This in turn will help you understand further concepts of selecting a niche.

I think you’ll see after knocking this out that keyword research can be a lot of fun.  It almost feels like treasure hunting and I’ve heard it compared to that multiple times around the web.  Why compare it to treasure hunting?  Well you never know when that next keyword may turn into a new income stream for you.  This make this part of the process pretty fun but be sure to keep a rational and analytical mindset while you do this so you end up targeting a keyword that is indeed going to be worth your effort.

Here is a helpful video from Spencer Haws from NichePursuits.com were he goes over some basics principles and guidelines for keyword research for a niche website.

 

Broad, Exact, or Phrase?

What’s the deal with broad match, exact match, or phrase match keywords?  This is an option that used to exist on Google’s old Keyword Tool but has since been discontinued in the Google Keyword Planner.

Minimum Cost Per Click (CPC) For Keyword Research

While it can be a good idea to set a minimum Cost Per Click or CPC when conducting keyword research for a niche website it is not always completely necessary.  It is usually a good rule of thumb to set the minimum CPC at $1.00 but remember this will limit your results and don’t forget the other variables present in this process.  For example you may find a good potential keyword that has a CPC of $0.64 but has a much higher search volume than another potential keyword you found that has a CPC of $1.13.  Well the higher search volume of the lower CPC keyword may equal out the higher CPC keyword with lower search volume.  For this reason it is okay to set your minimum CPC to lower than the 1 dollar rule of thumb.

I have been setting mine around $0.75 lately but remember you could accept lower if you are targeting a keyword that get’s a higher volume of searches per month or if you plan on monetizing the website via other means such as the Amazon Affiliates program which we will discuss more later.

List of Good Websites That Discuss Building Niche Websites

  • Authority Website Income : Jon Haver’s blog that is a bit more on the “authority” website side but he uses the same principles as many niche site webmasters.  Instead of leaving them as a “niche site” he develops them to have content that is better than even larger more authoritative websites.
  • Niche Pursuits – Spencer Haws blog about niche sites of which he makes his primary income.  Spencer and Pat Flynn were the first two to get me interested in making websites and then monetizing them.  Spencer also developed the keyword research tool Long Tail Pro to help him with his own keyword research and has since then begun selling it to others.  I own Long Tail Pro and play for the Platinum feature and I find myself using it more often than Market Samurai which I had purchased previous to LongTailPro.  You’ll want to check out his public niche site projects where he demonstrates his niche website research and creation process at no charge.
  • Cloud Living Journey – Tung Trans blog where he talks about his online business.  Tung has been successful with niche website and even sold a 6 month old niche site recently for $10,000.  Not bad at all!  He has quite a bit of useful information about his processes for niche site creation on his blog so check it out.
  • Niche Site Duel -

 

List of Example Niche Websites of Different Types

  • www.BestSurvivalKnifeReview.com – This is one of Spencer Haws public niche projects.  What’s great about this website is that Spencer documented the entire process here on his blog so you really hack some time of your learning curve by reading about the way he does it here.
  • www.paymystudentloans.com – A more authoritative example of a niche website.  This site is targeted around a small niche, however Jon Haver spent considerable more time building this website into a valuable resource than what many webmaster would spend building what is considered a “niche website.”  Although it takes more time and effort to build such a site, I believe that they typical payoff is higher and you are less likely to fluctuate rankings strongly due to a Google update.
  • www.inspiringaudiobooks.com
  • www.topratedcoffeemakers.com

Niche Site Link Building Tips:

  • Participate in Forums:
  • Comment on Relevant Blogs:
  • Write Link-worthy Content:
  • Use Link Bait:
  • Use Slideshare:
  • Use Youtube: Do you know what the number 2 most used search engine is?  Bing?  No, it’s actually (not surprisingly) Youtube!  And since Google owns Youtube, Google shows a lot of love toward Youtube.  Because of this it is a great tool to drive traffic to your website and if done properly can give you some great link juice too.

Your Youtube video certainly does not even have to be fancy.  You could make a PowerPoint presentation on your article and just record yourself going through slideshow and use this as the video.  Or you could literally record yourself reading your article and post this to Youtube.com with a link back to your homepage, and article within the video description.

Don’t forget to use your keyword and related keywords in the meta tags on your Youtube video and you can also transcribe or outsource transcription of your video and include the transcription in closed captioning.  This helps Youtube understand what your video is about and will help them rank it appropriately.

You can also use your new video as a “video response” to related videos.  This seems to give more exposure to your video which can lead to more views which can lead to more visitors to your website.

Your last step is to embed this video in your article somewhere.  There are many other strategies for using Youtube for driving traffic to your website but we will discuss those elsewhere on the blog.

  • Make Your Own Private Blog Network (PBN):
  • Link Building Service: If you go this route be sure you understand how they work and the risks to your website associated with using them.  If you are comforable with the risk to reward ration then be sure to use a reputable service such as LayeredLinks.com
  • Use Fiverr: I wouldn’t recommend using Fiverr for link-building unless you want to risk getting your site penalized by Google.  However you can use Fiverr to get yourself some diversified social media love.  You can find gigs on there that will give you diversified Facebook and Google Plus likes and tweets.
  • Guest Posting:

Niche Site Content Creation Tips:

  • Identify What is Already Out There: Spend some time Googling your target keyword and just read through the articles that come up as the top 20 or so results.  This will simply give you some familiarity of what is already covered on the topic by other websites.  But don’t stop there…
  • Identify Knowledge Gaps: So now that you have read a good bit from what is already out there you have a better idea of what kind of information in your topic is not easily available (or not easily discoverable since it may exist on the internet but since it is so far down on Google’s ranking it may not be found very often.)  These knowledge gaps may be a great place to start researching and writing articles.  If people can’t find what their looking for on other websites but your website offers that information then they will likely show up at your site.  Also check out comments below the article for more clues about what kind of info people may be seeking.  Forums in related areas may also be a good place to look around.
  • Focus on Providing Value: If you create value to your visitors on your website, videos, slide shows, etc. you can’t go wrong.  Sure there are a lot of factor that can pull your attention away, especially when you are first starting out on niche websites.  As a niche site beginner you are being exposed to a whole new vocabulary, technical skills, and theories.  Learn all of these but don’t lose focus on providing value to your customer or reader.  This is actually easier in my opinion when you know nothing or very little about a topic.  Why?  Because you have you approach the topic in a manner where you have to learn everything from scratch and you can write it in a such a way.  By going after a topic you are unfamiliar with you will most likely create a very thorough resource that other people will find incredibly useful.  Otherwise if you were already very knowledgeable on the topic you may assume your readers knowledge and experience level may be higher than it is and leave out important information they may be seeking.

Niche Site Setup

Adsense Flippers on Niche Site Setup Video 1

Adsense Flippers on Niche Site Setup Video 2

Niche Site Monetization

  • Use Pictures: When you are using Amazon Affiliates you should really give picture links a try.  A lot of niche site owners have said that when they added some picture links their sales really increased.  As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  And in terms of products, a picture really helps a potential buyer experience the product their computer screen much better than a written article.  Even better than a picture is probably a video but I have not messed around too much with that.  I have seen people do this on Youtube though.  I believe I’ve even seen it on Amazon under the product review sections there are sometimes unpackaging or review videos of various products.
  • Google Adsense:
  • Amazon Affiliates:
  • ClickBank:
  • CPA:
  • Commission Junction:

Niche Website Business Models

  • Flipping Model
  • Authority Niche Website Model
  • Micro Niche Website Model

Niche Authority Model

  • Monetization stratgies (adsense, affiliate, amazon, CPA)
  • Acceptible traffic numbers?
  • Acceptible monetization
  • Article Numbers and Quality

Niche website Busines model Comparison Chart

Niche Website Experts and Thier Models

  • Adsense Flippers
  • NSD2.0
  • Niche Pursuits
  • AuthoritySiteIncome
  • NoHatSEO
  • Source-Wave

Niche Site Examples of each model

  • securityguardtraininghq
  • bestsurvivalknifereview
  • apennyshaved
  • paymystudentloans

Adsense WordPress Themes

  • Intellitheme
  • Spencer Haws Themes
  • Free and Paid
  • Features :
    • A & B Testing
    • CTR
    • Design and Aesthetics: Color and Appearance
    • Add Placement
    • Add Customization
    • Compatable with other affiliate links besides Adsense
    • Price
    • Navigation and User Experience
    • Comparison Chart

 

5 Little SEO Tips That Will Help You Beat Your Competition

September 21, 2013 in Posts by Start From Nothing

  1. Add images with your target keywords as the image file-name, title name, and alternate text.
  2. Add your target keywords to your permalinks and article URLs.
  3. Make a Google+ website and add your website’s URL or URLs.
  4. Make a Youtube Channel for your website and add your website’s URL.
  5. Make your affiliate links “No-Follow” links so they appear to be inside links.

Keyword Research and SEO Competition

September 21, 2013 in Posts by Start From Nothing

Why do you need to master keyword research and SEO competition?  Well, if you are serious about making money online whether it be through blog posts, niche sites, or article marketing you must learn how to properly do keyword research and understand SEO competition to get onto the first page of Google.  If you cannot find your way onto the first page of Google, your website or articles could pretty much be counted as non-existent.  So, to sum it up, you must really get a good grasp of keyword research so that you can rank on the first page of Google.  This in turn will get you traffic which you can turn into money through various strategies.

There are several things that you need to check out and analyze when looking for good keywords.  You want to know how much traffic you can expect from a certain keyword.  You want to know approximately what kind of monetary value that keyword might have.

There are also several types of characteristics you will need to identify and analyze for your SEO competition to determine if you think you can climb higher in the rankings than your competition.  Some keyword are simply going to have too heavy of competition to make it even worth trying to beat.  That’s why it is usually best to target a niche market instead of a broad market.

I use the keyword research tool Market Samurai to do most of this analysis.  However there are ways you can do this research through other keyword research tools or through the Google Keyword Planner.

Resources

  • www.alexa.com : Gives some great metrics for your own site or if you are scoping out a competitor sits.  Alexa gives historical data of websites and the bounce rates, daily page views per visitor, daily time on site, and sites linking in.  They also give a global ranking and demographics.  For you own sites you can use the free Google Analytics but Alexa’s Site Info Tool is nice for you to get a better understanding competitors, so you can estimate whether or not you think it would be worth your time and effort to attempt to beat them.  They also have a free Toolbar you can install onto Firefox which displays Alexa’s traffic rank, related links, and historical website data (wayback) for the site that you are visiting.  In addition to these they have a “Hot Pages & Searches” display that shows the most current trending searches and pages. Another cool feature they have is their Top Sites tab where you can visit the top 500 sites on web globally, by country, or by category.
  • ViperChill – Glen quit his job in 2009 and has been making a living from the internet since then including work for large corporations.  He is very knowledgeable about SEO and shares a ton of information for free on his blog.

Where To Get Free Images For Your Website

September 20, 2013 in Posts by Start From Nothing

After getting the hang of using WordPress and learning the ins and outs of writing a post and adding links the next logical step is to find some images or videos to put on your site.  But before you go do an Google search and nab any ol’ image you desire be aware that nearly every photo on the internet is copyrighted.  Which means it’s illegal for you to use it without the the copyright owner’s permission.  Simply giving them credit or a link back does not make your use of their photo legit and you can actually get sued for doing so.

But, no need to fear because you can find free stock photos around the internet with a little effort.  Do pay attention to what the terms and conditions are for the image licensing though.  Each site or photo owner may have different conditions.

For most people the only two types you will encounter are “free” images and “royalty-free” images.  They are different.  Free images are free to download as to be used in whatever way you desire within the limitation and conditions.  Royalty-free images, on the other hand, require you to pay for them one time and then you can use them however you would like, but again within the limitations and conditions the author set forth.

What’s up with the limitations and conditions?  Well some image owners may set certain restrictions to how you are allowed to use their photos.  For examples they may not allow you to edit the photo or change the resolution or size or use it for commercial purposes.  So it is important not to simply skip past these “Terms and Conditions” as most of us do when installing new software.

Here’s a list of places to find free images:

Free Images:

  • morgueFile -
  • stock.xchng
  • Freerange Stock
  • Creative Commons
  • Stock Free Images

Royalty-Free Images:

  • iStockphoto
  • Depositphotos

How To Find A Profitable Niche Market

September 20, 2013 in Posts by Start From Nothing

Learning how to find a profitable niche market or markets is one of the key aspects of starting an online business.  Because of that this is one of the best places to start and understand before embarking on your journey to make money online.  If you take the time to really figure this out, this understanding can be transferable to other aspects of online entrepreneurship.  You can apply your niche research skills to developing websites, Kindle books or independent ebooks, apps, training courses and material.

But before we dig into all of that, let’s answer the basic question, “What exactly is a niche market?”  A niche market is simply a very targeted subsection of the market at large.  For example, say your market is lumber.  A niche within the lumber market could be oak, cherry, fir, cedar, etc.  It is always possible to get very deep in the weeds with niches.  For the lumber example, the next sub-section may be oak.  There are further niches within oak, such as “oak planks,” “oak furniture,” “oak trees.”  And this list could go on and on and become more and more specific.  However, there are other aspects that are very important in choosing a niche other than specificity and we will get into those later.

 How to generate Niche ideas  

A nice way to begin brainstorming possible niches to look into is to use the strategy that Pat Flynn and Tyrone Shum have talked about on their blogs.  This strategy is to write out 5 – 10 things in the following categories: Passion, Pain, Problem. Your “Passion” section should be things that you are very passionate about or at the very least interested in.  Write out a list under this “Passion” section.

Next write out 5 – 10 things under the “Pain” section.  These can be real or perceived pains.  For example, back pain or fear of public speaking.  People have all kinds of fears and and phobias.

The third category is “Problems.” This again can be any types of problem that you or people you know experience.  Perhaps losing abdominal fat, finding the cheapest car insurance, how to run Windows on a Mac, how to set up a blog quickly, etc.  This should be an easy category to come up with ideas for as you start thinking about you will see potential “Problems” to research on a daily basis from obstacles you encounter as well as hearing about other peoples obstacles through out daily conversation.  So keep an ear out, you never know where you might discover your next money niche.

If you are still having a difficult time you can find other peoples problems via the internet.  There are certain places where many people gather to post a problem they have in the form of questions.  You can gather great insights from the questions they post that you can use to find new niches.

Ehow.com is one such site.

Another site worth checking out for the same purpose is yahoo answers

Various forums that are related to your larger market are another great source for finding potential niches within the “Problem” category.  The reason being, because many people log onto forums to post a question about a certain problem they may be having in hopes of getting the advice from several if not many people on how to overcome the problem.  Forums are great because they often display how many views and replies a certain thread within a forum has.  This gives you valuable information on many other people are experiencing that particular problem.

Also don’t forget to give Amazon a try for exploring niches.  Why Amazon?  Well, Amazon passed eBay as the worlds largest and most popular online market place.  Amazon is an amazing company that has branched out into many different areas beyond their original purpose as an online book marketplace.  They now sell nearly everything and have one of the most advanced logistical systems in history.  The reason Amazon is so useful for the purposes of niche idea generation is all the books they have listed.  We can go to Amazon and visit their “Books” category.  From their we can go onto the “Best Seller” category.  From here you can browse the books and then click the “Look Inside” button and get some great ideas for subcategories for a potential niche.  You can get most of these topics and ideas off what you find within the table of contents.  It is worth noting that most of the useful books for our purposes here will be non-fiction books unless you are researching a niche for the purpose of writing a fiction book.

You can also browse the categories and sub-categories within Amazon’s books section to find something you are interested in.

You can also take a look at ClickBank.com to search for various niches that have accompanying info product that you could possibly market down the road.  You can click on a category that you like and then sort everything by gravity.  Gravity is basically a dataset that Clickbank uses to let people know wether a  product is selling or not.  It is best to stay away from anything lower than 7 because it probably will not sell well.  You will see some on there that may be several hundred which means they are selling very good.  This is a great sign, but you also want to take into account what kind of commission you would make from that product.

  1. 3 P’s
  2. Amazon.com
  3. eHow.com
  4. Yahoo Answers
  5. Clickbank.com
  6. Youtube.com (Second most-used search engine!)
  7. Forums

 

    Research And Evaluate Your Niche Ideas

How to do Niche Research

Now you have some experience generating niche ideas you have the first part down.  The next part is evaluating whether your potential niches are worth targeting.  You need to ensure your prospective niche is relevant.  We can use Market Samurai’s PBR (Phrase to Broad Ratio) to aid in this determination.

Traffic

We also need to determine if that niche will have enough traffic.  If there is not enough people searching for your proposed niche, then you cannot monetize your website or eBook or product very well.  Again, Market Samurai does a great job at showing us the amount of total searches these keywords are getting and additionally how much traffic you could expect by ranking number 1 in Google.

You will generally get approximately 40 – 50 percent of the total searches by being the first position on Google.

Competitive

You also need to evaluate your competition.  You will need to also evaluate the commercial value of a product.

Focus on Principles to Get You There

August 4, 2013 in Posts by Start From Nothing

Instead of reading a million guides and waiting until you are ready write up a general plan with the principles that will get you to your end goal (write that out too!) and review this and alter as you go. This should get you started much faster and avoid your failing at the start line due to analysis by paralysis. Do not let what you don’t know get in the way of what you do know.  Go take action now.  I can guarantee you already know something that you can do right now to take you further down the road of success.  So go do it!

Failure Isn’t Real

July 1, 2013 in Uncategorized by Start From Nothing

Failure Is Fake

Surely failure is a real thing… isn’t it?  I would say their is not such things as failure… there is only feedback.  That is unless you give up.  This is evident in so many different areas in life.  However it is especially true when people attempt to learn new skill-sets.  This is something we tend to forget or unlearn as we get older.  The older we become the more rigid and afraid of falling down we become.  But go do this sometime within this next week.  If you have a son or daughter, nephew or niece, or grandchild or family friend who has kids take them and teach them something new.  This could be something as simple as teaching them to play catch with a baseball.  Or trying to teach them to shoot a basketball.

Kids don’t care if they jack-up at something.  They will keep trying until they get it right.  They might even not really heed your advice much and keep trying and trying until they get it right.  This goes for anything with them, when they are learning to roll over and after that to crawl and after that to walk.  They fail all the time but are not easily discouraged.

They will watch people (usually you) who already have attained that skill-set and imitate them until they get it right.  After they assimilate it they may add their own twist to it but normally they will emulate and then innovate.  So my challenge to myself, and to you all is to take on the attitude of a child.  While you are learning to create your own income steams and increase your freedom, keep a smile on your face and in your mind when you fall down.  Enjoy the process, wipe the dust off your knees, and get back up and keep trying.  There is no failure, only feedback.  And falling down or jacking up isn’t that bad.  The embarrassment of falling on your face should not make your face as red as the shame of never trying because you let fear control you.  So get out there, grab the bull by the horns, make eye contact and let out a chuckle, and head-but that sucker as hard as you can.  Get after it and learn from your mistake or just ignore them and plow through it!  The worst failure is never stepping foot into the arena.  Fear that above all else.

Mentality of Shoestring Entrepreneurship

June 22, 2013 in Uncategorized by Start From Nothing

So you want to start a business… before you dive in it is a good idea to spend some time with a pen and pencil and a blank sheet of paper (or knock it out on your keyboard.)  Take some time and get your though out of your head and onto paper or a word processor.  This is going get your gears turning and is great for clarifying ideas or further defining your ideas into something more actionable.

Try to keep things somewhat simple, don’t get bogged down in the details just yet.  This is simply your first step at taking action.  People who write their ideas down are more likely to take action than people who just leave their thoughts floating around in their head.  Capture that though, put it to paper or computer screen.  If nothing else this is a more tangible process of working with an idea than merely thinking about it.  So this is what I started with.

Why do you want to start your own business?

My goal in starting a business ultimately is to achieve more freedom.  I want the freedom to chose what I want to do for money and the freedom to dedicate as much or as little time as I desire to my business.  I understand this involves more risk (no guarantee of a steady paycheck) but I think I will be more driven working toward something I am interested in. The alternative is to work a job until retirement and be delegated tasks that someone else (boss, business, corporation, etc.) is interested in.

What do you have of value to offer your potential customer?

This one is not as hard as I initially thought. Business can be simplified to offering something of value to someone who needs or wants it.  Value comes in the form of either a good or a service or a combination of both.  The frozen pizza you bought at the grocery store last week is a good.  The Pizza Hut pizza you are having delivered is a good and a service.  Having your oil changed is a service.  I think almost everyone has goods that they can start their business with.  This is as simple as selling things that you already own but not longer want or need.  This is how I am starting out the process of funding my own business.

Take a look around your house or apartment and identify some stuff that you would be willing to part with in order to fund your business endeavors.  I tried to view everything as either an asset or a liability.  I categorize an asset as something that makes you money or saves you time.  My computer for instance I consider an asset because I can use it to sell things on Amazon and eBay.  However my PS3 I considered a liability because it really takes my time and does not make me money or save me time in anyway.  Is it fun?  Sure it is, but I want the freedom that comes with working for myself more than I want to have some momentary fun playing Call of Duty or watching a movie.  Now I’m not saying you need to be this extreme with finding things to sell around the house but that has been my mentality.  You could make up a simple rule like “If I haven’t used this in the last 6 months, 3 months, etc., then I will sell it.”  I will dig further into why I took on this mentality but I would say everyone has a few thousand dollars worth of “stuff” they could sell that they really don’t need.  You could then save this couple thousand dollars and use it to acquire more assets that will make you more money down the line such as websites that can be monetized.  Or you could use the couple thousand dollars to purchase more product to in turn sell for a profit and keep growing your money until you have streamlined things enough and are bringing about a recurring income stream to the point where you could quit your job and focus full time on your own business.  I believe this model is very doable if you are disciplined enough to dedicate those initial funds you got from selling some of your stuff into more profitable actives while working whatever job you have now.

I am still working and brainstorming this one out for a long term sustainable product or service that I want to offer people.  But in the mean time I am focusing on selling product and in the beginning I have been selling my stuff that I know longer wanted or needed.  I have begun sourcing my own products from thrift stores as well and selling them on eBay.  This is known as picking and there are tons of videos on YouTube that will teach you what to look for and what is profitable.  I know a lot of people sell clothing, coffee mugs, books, games, cds and many more different “products” on eBay and Amazon that they sourced from garage sales, book sales, flea markets, and other cheap places.  I will go into more detail on how to do this in further posts.

Who is your potential customer?

Right now, for me anyway, this is a pretty easy one.  Whoever searches for my item on eBay or Amazon.  You really do not have to put much thought into this when selling physical products online because more often than not your customers are searching for your product prior to purchasing it from you.  However some customers will find your product by browsing, in which case it would be important what category you listed your item in.

What and how much will you need to get started?

How much time can you expect to be able to dedicate to your business in the beginning?

Shoestring Entrepreneurship – Turn Nothing Into Something

June 21, 2013 in Uncategorized by Start From Nothing

What is Shoestring Entrepreneurship?!?  A “Shoestring” or “Bootstrap” business refers to a business started with the owner’s own funds or resources.  The alternative is for a would-be entrepreneur to develop a business plan and seek outside investors.  There are disadvantages and advantages to both types of businesses.

The main advantage bootstrapping on a shoestring budget is that you lower your risk by using your own funding and in return you have complete control.  When you use funding from other investors, naturally they are going to want to have some type of control over the business.  However, what you give up in control you have gained in the amount of capitol needed for your business.  Some business models may be impossible to pursue when limited to your own available resources.  This would be a case where it would to your benefit to pursue investors for your business.

You may feel like you have a good mutual understanding after pitching your idea and receiving the “go-ahead” from an investor.  However down the line they may have a different idea of where they want the business headed than you which may put a cramp on your ideas and in turn your motivation for starting a business in the first place.

The advantage to starting a “Shoestring” business is that you can start where you at with what you have.  This is a huge advantage because it gives you momentum and gets you to start with your idea. I believe is one of the biggest obstacles that many would-be Entrepreneurs never overcome.  Just get out there and start with your idea!  You will learn as you go. Don’t worry so much about having a solid business plan right from the beginning.  Just jump in!

Sure do some planning. That is important because it gets your mind engaged and active in the business ahead of time.  However, don’t fall for the common trap of “Paralysis by Analysis” and end up never doing anything.  Time is ticking and the world won’t stop spinning for your to decide to get out there and start getting your hands dirty.

It is equally important to start doing something to move your business forward so that you begin to gain momentum.  And one of the greatest things you can do to gain momentum is to make your first profits to show yourself that it is possible.  For this, the best way to start is by selling “stuff.”

And the easiest way to do this is to go through your house and find things that you no longer want or need.  Find things that you are willing to part with.  And then utilize the internet to sell these items via eBay or Amazon.  I would guess that almost everyone has at least 500 dollars worth of stuff they no longer need.  For most it is probably more around 2,000 to 4,000 bucks if you are really honest with yourself as to whether or not you really “need” something or not.

I took this perspective.  I tried to define things as either an asset or a liability.  In financial terms, and asset is something that bring you more money or has the potential to do so.  For example if the value of your house is increasing and you can sell it for a profit then you could consider it an asset.  If you are able to make money with your computer then you could also consider it an asset. Now think of your TV, what would it be?  Unless you have a method for making money with your TV then it is a liability because it cost you money but you are getting nothing financially in return for it.

Now I understand not everything is about money.  Some things you have at home are for sentimental value, some things save you time, some things are for entertainment which you do need some of.  My reasoning for looking at things the way I described above is because I wanted to start my own way of bringing in my own income and I was willing to part with quite a bit right now with the goal of creating my own income streams in the future.  I want to create income streams that I do not have to exchange excessive amounts of time for as I have in the past in the form or a job.  Instead I want to be geographically free by being able to run my business from a computer anywhere.  I also want to be able to have freedom of control over my business which is why I am going the shoestring entrepreneurship route.

I’d love to hear what you all think, so leave a comment below.