Scott Fox is someone who randomly reached out to me over 3 years ago and we’ve loosely kept in touch ever since. If you’ve never heard of Scott, he has built or advised hundreds of websites that have generated billions of dollars in sales including sites like LiveNation.com and Billoreilly.com.
He’s the best-selling Author of 3 books, including his most recent one Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love.
Today, Scott is an internet startup coach and runs a portfolio of niche websites including the popular free entrepreneur coaching forum at ClickMillionaires.com. Enjoy the interview!
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What You’ll Learn
- How to find the right business idea for your personality
- The 9 keys to creating a successful business
- Which online business model that Scott prefers over the rest
- How to build an online community
- How to reach out and meet influencers online
- The most important aspect of growing your business
- How to design a high converting website
- How to design for mobile
- When to diversify your businesses
- How to Google proof your site
Other Resources And Books
- Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love
- Internet Riches: The Simple Money-Making Secrets of Online Millionaires
- e-Riches 2.0: Next-Generation Marketing Strategies for Making Millions Online
Now if you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes and enter my podcast contest where I’m giving away free one on one business consults every single month. For more information go to Mywifequitherjo.com/contest. And if you are interested in starting your own online business, be sure to sign up for my free six day mini course, where I show you how my wife and I managed to make over 100K in profit in our first year of business. Go to www.mywifequitherjob.com for more information.
Now before I begin I just want to give a quick shout out to this episode’s sponsor – Bigcommerce. Now Bigcommerce is a fully hosted shopping cart platform that allows you to set up your own online store in minutes. And as most of you probably know, I teach a class on how to start a profitable online store, and Bigcommerce is actually one of the shopping carts that I highly recommend in my class. Now here is what I like about Bigcommerce; unlike other competing platforms, Bigcommerce doesn’t really nickel and dime you with every little shopping cart feature. And when you sign up, you immediately have a fully featured and extremely powerful shopping cart at your disposal.
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Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. Today I am really excited to have Scott Fox on the show. Now Scott is actually someone who randomly reached out to me, I want to say two years ago maybe, and we’ve kind of loosely kept in touch ever since. Now if you’ve never heard Scott, he has built or advised hundreds of websites that have generated billions of dollars in sales including popular sites like livenation.com and billorilley.com. He is also the bestselling author of three books including his most recent one, Click Millionaires: Work less live more with an internet business lifestyle that you love. Now today Scott is an internet start-up coach, a father and he runs a portfolio of niche sites including the popular free entrepreneur coaching forum at clickmillionaires.com.
Bottom line Scott knows a lot about creating niche websites for profit and how to create lifestyle businesses which makes him ideal for my podcast. And with that welcome to the show Scott, how are you doing today man?
Scott: Good Steve thanks for having me, nice to talk to you.
Steve: Yes so give us the quick background story about how you got started on the internet and how your journey kind of led to Click Millionaires.
Scott: Sure, it’s a longer story than most. I was involved in the internet in the early 90s which is, these days, going to be a while ago. That’s because I was at Stanford in the early days and this thing people kept talking about and producing– there was email and is very all text-based. This is before there were even images on the internet.
And long story short the Palo Alto in the early nineties was a good place to be for sort of a human incubator or for future internet entrepreneurs. Everybody knows that story by now and I got involved in the internet then. And I raised money for my first dot com in ’96 and I’ve had lots of ups and downs since then, but along the way figured out that there is a lot of opportunity online. And a lot of people don’t get to hear about how to do this. They are kind of getting left out of the revolution.
I made up my mission once I had made enough money to do so; to write books and podcasts and offer forum services and stuff like that. To help other people who are not necessarily blessed like you or me with a particularly– I’ve got a business background and you’ve got a technical background, and they don’t necessarily have those tools. And I thought it was important to try to share the fruits of the revolution that is happening online with other folks. And that’s what my books and coaching forum are about; to help other people figure out there are opportunities here for anybody. It’s not easy, it’s not quick, but it’s a new way of living and that is the lifestyle business which I know we are going to talk about.
Steve: Yes for sure, so you aren’t a part of somebody’s larger company anymore right; today you just kind of run a bunch of niche websites? Is that accurate?
Scott: That’s right; I would like to say I graduated. (Chuckles)
Scott: Yes so some of the bigger ones you mentioned I can’t personally claim I made billions, but when you build websites like livenation.com that’s billions of dollars of ticket transactions every year. It’s for real, so I give the money from my books to charity and our forum at clickmillionaires.com is free. I’m still making money but it’s really not from helping other people learn to do this. It’s from other niche businesses that I’ve started.
Steve: You know it’s funny there is often this disconnect; a lot of people think that when you start a business you have to shoot for the moon like start the next Amazon or the next Facebook, but there is a lot of business that you can just kind of create on the side that will exceed your income and you can live quite comfortably doing that. So that’s what we are going to be talking about today.
Scott: Yeah, I think that’s a great point. People think you got to be Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs or something. There is kind of myth of like the lone genius who is going to conquer the world. I guess it started back with Thomas Edison or something, but it doesn’t have to be about that and a lot of my approach in my books and so forth, is about having a portfolio of businesses just like venture capitalists invest in a bunch of companies. They are not like going to put their money in and hope that it’s going to become Google right. They put in a bunch of little things and some rise, some fall, some muddle along and you know over time you make money in a bunch of different ways, so that’s what I like to do.
Steve: Yes since you’ve worked with a bunch of different websites I thought it would be pretty interesting to get your take on how to get started as a brand new internet entrepreneur today. So I thought we’d just kind of go over some of the different business models, and I’m going to create kind of like a scenario for you. Let’s say I have like a one to two year time window where I kind of want to gradually replace my income and quit. So in that respect, with that scenario what kind of business models would you recommend online; how would you go about getting started?
Scott: The big thing for me, I think is a real paradigm shift from the way that people tend to think. There is so much out there about like find your passion and follow your passion and do what you love, and the money will follow and that’s supper. But if you’ve got a mortgage and you’ve got a timeline, your passion may not turn into cash real quick, so the offer is very different. If you are like I’m going to build this up over the next twenty years so that when I retire I have some extra income. That’s very different than what you are suggesting, so if you are talking about making real money right away, or again not right away, this is not instant cum not a get rich quick game.
Steve: Sure, right.
Scott: But getting right to it, focusing on the money, the number one thing is you got to find a need and this is, I know you know this, we are talking in theory in general, right? You got to help people. I actually have seven principles in the Click Millionaire’s book. You said you were flipping through it last night, you might have seen this chapter. The seven principles that I have found, not just to design a business, I’m not trying to teach people to found Microsoft, right.
You really do need a technical background and millions of dollars and a big team to do all that. I’m talking about little niche businesses. So if you are going to do that there are seven principles in the book. The first one is really obvious; help people. You’ve got to find a problem and solve it, and the more painful that problem is, the sooner you can solve it, the sooner you’ll make money. That may be a little obvious, but that’s where I start every time. It’s not about your passion, if you want to make money, you got to find a problem and solve it.
Steve: Okay so where are some good places to find problems?
Scott: Yeah exactly, so that’s what leads to the interesting part and that’s where the passion does come in because you can look at your own life. Look around and find out what annoys you in your life? What’s the problem that bothers you? You see lots of apps out there that solve different things, or make things more convenient, right? What is an area that you are passionate about? You are big into yoga or you are a gardener or you love to restore old cars; I don’t know.
That’s where the passion can come in because I really do think passion is important if you are entrepreneur, because if you don’t love it what’s the point, right? You can get a job. But if you are going to create your own job across between your passion and a commercial need that other people need filled is the right place. So that’s a little airy fairy, but what I’m saying is look at things that bug you.
Where is the biggest problem that you can help address, and if you can help other people figure out how to solve that you can sell them information, you can could sell them products, you could sell them services, you could broker those things, there is lots of ways to solve it through this, amazing internationally distributed internet thing.
Steve: So how do you determine whether a particular area is too saturated or not?
Scott: Well then you’ve got to go online and that’s the beauty of the web, right? You go to some Google searches and see what’s out there. What’s interesting to me is that a lot of people immediately get turned off if there is competition, and that’s potentially a valid approach, right? Just try and start a general purpose bookstore right now online?
That’s going to be tough taking on Amazon, right?
So you got to be realistic about this stuff, but I would look and think deeper. In a lot of cases you’ve got to go to a second, third or even a forth level niche. Let’s say pick books, let’s say you don’t do a general bookstore, you do books that appeal to sports people, athletes okay you know, what’s sport? You drill down to scuba diving or to field hokey or whatever and narrow, narrow, narrow and find a problem. Where is something that is being underserved, and that’s a research task that is hard to quantify.
Where you can get a little more quantifiable and you probably know this part as well is, with Google Trends and Google keyword planner and things like this you can go in and actually get reports on things, how much are things searched for and where is less competition and where there is more competition. That’s sort of validation can help you. I kind of like to do a mix of that stuff with my own gut, because the fact is if you found a niche because there’s an area you’re passionate about and you actually know that Google may not know it yet either. You really know that there’s a lack of information about scuba diving in Belize because you were there last month and your cousin lives there or whatever, you’ve got some insight angle. I would run with that crossed with some quantifiable research.
Steve: So what are some of the search guidelines that you have when you are doing the research?
Scott: Well you want to look at volume of keyword searches per month. If you see somebody– I just made that up, but Belize scuba diving. If there’s a billion searches and little competition; wow that was easy, right? It’s not going to be that easy though. And you’re probably going to drill down and you probably want something that’s got several thousand searches a month. And that will point you in the direction of an area to explore, and then the further you go you want to figure out what’s a variety of different ways to say that.
This is basic SEO stuff, Belize scuba diving, scuba diving Belize, you know the major towns in Belize, or maybe major equipment manufacturers for scuba diving equipment, or different keywords related to that, and build a bunch of pages around that. That’s sort of 2007 version of SEO, that’s not the whole game anymore, but that’s enough to give you a solid platform, hopefully in an area that isn’t completely overrun by competition.
Steve: Okay, so based on what you said, once you kind of have a niche you mentioned putting together some sort of information site and starting writing about it, would that be your next logical step?
Scott: Well that gets to your question earlier which is kind of you were implicitly asking about business models as you well know as ecommerce guy, there’s lots of different ways to skin a cat, right?
Steve: Yeah, yeah.
Scott: So you could– my natural thing is that I just like situations where I don’t have to carry inventory, because there is just a lot expense with that right? So I tend to gravitate towards publishing models or information products; blogs, videos, podcasts, things like that. But there’s a perfectly valid approach, and I’ve done it many times and made money that way too as you know better than I. At this point you can buy a bunch of stuff and ship things to people, and there’s a good margin there too if you find the right niche.
So that’s a part of the process I think of once you’ve identified scuba diving in Belize what’s missing, right? If there’s fifty blogs about it well maybe that’s not it, but maybe nobody’s sending out this particular type of equipment that’s appropriate for that market, or something maybe that’s native to the Belize market. There’s some product that the local folks make that hasn’t been marketed well, and you can get into physical e-commerce real quickly again through the Internet. But those are very different models obviously.
Steve: Yeah I just thought I’d comment on that a little bit. So I’ve done e-commerce and I’ve done the info route. I have a blog, I’ve done affiliate marketing, and the blog just took a lot longer to make significant income because it took a long time to develop that audience. Whereas with e-commerce I had something right away that I could sell, and so the money kind of came sooner rather than later. So that’s why I gave you that one to two year time frame. What would you suggest; do you think you could pull off an info-related site within that time frame?
Scott: In terms of making real big money from it?
Steve: Not big money, but just income let’s say fifty thousand dollars.
Scott: It is harder to see. I agree with your point, I’m glad you’re talking about– speaking up here, it’s not just about me because you have as much expertise in this area as I do. So let’s make this two way [laughter].
Scott: I think it’s a harder road, but I also think it’s easier to produce if you have a passion and you’re not as technical. How’s that? So I think you can make a little money and grow it overtime, and the key from what I’m driving at and this is just different structure for different folks right it’s not there is a right or wrong. I’m really trying to help people find lifestyle businesses.
If you want to live the lifestyle where you go scuba diving in Belize a lot, blogging about that is going to be something that serves your needs. Maybe not just financially, but also in your life and that’s something that my books are about that a lot of– I don’t see in any other business books which is what do you want to do? How do you want to spend your time, and if you are only focused on making money, then scuba diving Belize probably isn’t the idea anyway, right?
Steve: Sure, sure.
Scott: So you should be selling socks or something more commercial right? So that’s– it’s hard to give specifics here and I appreciate you pressing me on, because it’s– this is the, as you know again I’m talking too much, you got to talk some more here. But the trick for every entrepreneur is figuring out this balance right; how commercial, how lifestyle, how product, how publishing, how marketing, how these are all the different levers that you have to pull as an entrepreneur.
Steve: Yes, so let’s talk about blogging because it’s something that we both do well and you have a bunch niche sites as well. What are some of the ways? So if you could just give an example of one of your niche sites and how you’ve monetized it. That would that would give us a pretty good idea of what some of the sites you have created are all about.
Scott: Sure. Well I guess my personal favorite model is communities, forums. And I just like it because as we were talking before we came on the air together, when you work alone as an Internet entrepreneur, sometimes you get a little isolated. And so I have set up several forums over the years where people get together. So one you can look at is artfairinsiders.com and this is actually a site that I talk about in all my books. Well not all my books because we didn’t start until the second book.
My star pupil is my mother, and my mother is now 73 years old, and runs a six figure website businesses all based around her interest which are art fairs. So that’s her thing. She likes art fairs, handmade art craft, stuff like that. I’m not interested in that stuff I think, but I set this up for her that we started like ten years ago I guess, 2004 so.
Scott: Not the community, that came later, but it was early anyway. So if my mom can do it anybody listening can do it if you take time and find a niche. And this to be more specific in response to your question, this– one of these sites or several of them, but the artfairinsiders.com is a forum community for art fair artists, and there are thousands of people. Five figures is ten or twenty thousand people in there now, and it makes money through advertising.
They come and they post stuff and they talk about and share the business tips for the different art fairs they go to and where to stay in you know all that kind of stuff. And they’re both AdSense ads, affiliate ads, and actual art fairs want to sponsor things on there to reach the artists. So it’s kind of like what thirty years ago would have been a magazine. But now it’s interactive, it’s online, and the people are all there in real time. So it’s a mini Facebook for artists.
I love that kind of concept because it destroys the geography that used to keep us all a part and the internet is amazing at that, because well even as you and I right now we’re here talking to each other long distance. It’s going to be on podcast and reach people all over the world; those sorts of opportunities for communities are a personal favorite of mine.
Steve: Let’s talk about building communities because starting a forum is not easy to do. You actually– there’s often a chicken and egg problem, right?
Steve: You have to get people in the door and other people who want to join; they want to see these other people are already hanging out in there. So how do you do it?
Scott: For sure it’s a great question because there’s almost nothing lonelier than an empty forum, right?
Scott: Well I guess even lonelier is the forum with four people. That’s the worst, yes you’re right. This is something. I used to be in the music business back when there was a real music business anyway. And one of the things that bands are really good at is spreading their music through word of mouth, and leaking things out to influencers.
And all this stuff is now public knowledge through things like Seth Godin has taught us, or our Malcolm Gladwell’s books, things like that. But the idea for getting a forum going; the way I teach it and the way we talk about this at Click Millionaires forum all the time, is targeting people to leak it out slowly. It’s really hard to do a forum with one big launch and have everybody show up and maintain enthusiasm.
I would look– the quick version of this I’d like talk about it for hours is find the people that you want to attract, figure out who the key influencers are, make it very exclusive and very small to start, and basically pretend you’re in high school and you want to have a party, right? And you want the whole school to come, but find the cool kids, tell them, invite them in, incentivize and don’t charge them, maybe even pay them. Get the cool kids in, and then gradually incentivize them to leak it out on an exclusive basis. Pretend you’re a cool hip night club promoter and gradually build that up, and that can be tough in industries that aren’t cool and hip, but that’s the way it’s done, at least the way we do it and it’s worked a number of times.
Steve: So how do you convince the cool kids to come over?
Scott: Well it’s incremental, it’s probably like when you started your podcast right, you find one guy who’s medium cool and then use his name to get up to a cooler guy and a cooler girl. And gradually upgrade and pretty soon you have a dozen of those people, and you use their names to leverage. It’s a pretty manual process, but it’s repeatable.
Steve: Okay and pretty soon you get to the pinnacle and you get Scott Fox on your show.
Scott: Yeah wow.
Steve: So let’s talk about again those first cast– so we talked about communities and you mentioned you have advertising and just let’s talk a little bit about just building traffic to begin with; not necessarily with the forum. How do you get those first couple of readers or customers in the door; what’s typically been your strategy for some of these niche websites?
Scott: The basic– I always start with SEO which is having a good keyword-rich domain name and then basic links from other sites that kind of stuff that again depending on how long you’ve been in the Internet you may know that may sound new to you, or may sound really dated but that’s where we start. And a lot of that’s been devalued supposedly by Google, but we are still finding that keyword-rich domain name doesn’t hurt, right?
Steve: Right, right sure.
Scott: To have other websites talking about you or using guest posts, it doesn’t hurt. So always start with an SEO place so that you have the foundation built so that if somebody is looking for what you’ve got on the internet, then Google will at least know you’re there. I think that’s really important because it’s hard to add this stuff later. I’m sure you’ve done this too right; it’s hard to add search engine optimization later. And then after that these days it’s harder than ever, Facebook isn’t the goldmine that it used to be unless you are going to pay them.
Scott: Guest posting is a pretty good way. You can tweet a lot, you know, there are so many different channels now. It’s hard to be an expert at all of them, but my recommendation is surely to find two or three that you like, like you love Pinterest, you’ve got a lot of visual stuff, then do that. Don’t tweet if you can’t constrain yourself to 140 characters. That’s probably not your channel, right?
Scott: Pick a few that you like, this is back to lifestyle thing. Don’t build a business or try to build a niche business that requires marketing that you don’t want to do. There’s a lot of ways to market now; if you don’t like to write well probably being a podcaster, right? Things like that and that my answer the question that…tried?
Steve: Well, I was going to actually follow on actually which was at least for my businesses outreach has been a large part of growing my blog, and I was just curious what were some other ways that you do outreach for your properties.
Scott: The– it’s a good question. For me it’s been probably a lot of ways I guess, but guest posting can still work. There’s a lot of noise about the death of guest posting, actually there is a post today at the clickmillionaires.com forum. Somebody is saying that they just discovered that it was dead and a lot of us saying, “I don’t think so.” But yes a podcast is a great way to reach out as we were talking about, you can reach a lot of people if you seem to have an audience.
Scott: And that’s a great way to get people to return your phone calls literally, and friending and commenting on social networks. A lot of marketing to me; outreach you need to talk more because I’m talking a lot here, but I want to hear more about what you just said, but my answer would be again finding influencers and trying to make friends and be influential yourself by choosing carefully the company you keep, and encouraging them to share your stuff as you share theirs.
Steve: Yeah, so I can tell you what I do. I go to conferences now, and typically the way I find my podcast guests, I go out to conferences and I hang out late at night with some of these people. And once like the alcohol starts flowing a little bit you start to learn a lot about some of these people, and you realize that some of these big influencers they’re just regular people.
Steve: They have families, they have insecurities and everything, and it all just kind of comes out once you have a couple beers and then you invite them on your podcast. And we never experience this, but you know once you get them on your podcast, you talk and then the recording happens, but then generally before or after the podcast is when a lot of the juicy stuff comes out as well. So that’s kind of how I’ve done outreach, and for guest posting for myself it’s really hard to just cold call someone for a guest post.
Steve: You really kind of have to get to know them at least on a superficial level in the beginning, and if you’ve met them in person it’s almost a guarantee. Like if you’ve met me in person and we’ve actually spent some time together and chatted, and the topic you want to write about within my niche I would be happy to take a guest post. That’s just kind of how it works, and I think what a lot of people do is they kind of hide behind their computers and they don’t really get out a whole bunch, and they randomly solicit guest posts and that that strategy just never works. I don’t know.
Scott: Yeah I think you’re right on, I don’t know about never works, but because the counter to that would be if you’re the only– if you’re in a really small niche blogging about scuba diving in Belize, let’s just repeat that example to death, and there’s only four other guys doing it, you are probably all going to know about each other pretty soon online anyway without having met them in person and you probably can help each other. But it certainly does help to have had a couple beers. Absolutely.
Steve: That’s actually kind of rare these days to find like such a small subset, but it can still happen. Yes it’s a completely brand new niche. Like I have a buddy who I just had on the podcast; he’s really into aerial photography and you know drones have just been becoming popular relatively recently. So he’s like the pioneer into this area which is really cool.
Scott: Nice very well done, there definitely a growth there, good for him.
Steve: Yes so hey Scott so you’ve helped a lot of people improve their websites as well, and so I thought I’d just talk a little bit about some of the things that you do when you take a look at someone’s website and you try to improve it. What are some things that you look for?
Scott: Oh that’s a great one, and then I want to hear yours too. The number one and this amazes me and everybody is listening to this is going to laugh when I say this; how many people don’t have e-mail sign ups. Like people start a website and they are so focused on their content or their products that they forget to collect emails and that sounds silly, but I see it over and over again.
I was actually on a radio show at big Midwestern WJR in Detroit which covers like most of the Midwest, with the CEO of a startup company who was– it was like the tech hour or something. And he was trying to start, I just got back from CES and we had this great thing, we get this press event blah, blah, blah. And so I just very innocently said, “Oh really that’s great, congratulations. How many email sign ups did that generate for you?” Silence.
I literally thought the line went dead, and then the host, the interviewer guy stepped in and tried to cover it up, but the guy– they too completely blew it. They had all this press and didn’t collect a single email address. What are you nuts? So that’s my first one anyway.
Steve: I take that to an extreme actually Scott, so if you go on my blog today I’ve got a sign up form at the top of every post, at the bottom of every post, I have a pop up, I have a slide in and I have something at the side bar as well.
Scott: Right, right well what do you think about all those pop-ups? You’re obviously a fan. People complain, but they work don’t they?
Steve: They do. I mean it’s actually one of the highest converting forms on my site, and I actually haven’t had any complaints really.
Steve: I have it set up so that as soon as you close it you’ll never see it again. Some people– what I think can be annoying is if you’re traversing someone’s site and the pop-up happens on every single page. That can be kind of annoying.
Scott: Yeah for sure.
Steve: So as long as you are kind of discreet about it– I also set it so that it doesn’t actually pop up until like maybe thirty seconds later. So you’re just not kind of annoyed by it right off the bat.
Scott: Yeah you get a chance to decide whether you’re interested or not first. Yeah that helps.
Steve: There are subtle ways of doing it too. You don’t have to use a pop up; you can use a slide-in. So as soon as you are scrolling down the page this animated thing just kind of slides in, that gets your attention as well; works almost as well as a pop up actually.
Scott: I agree.
Steve: Yeah so incidentally I just thought I’d add that e-mail marketing is probably 80 to 90 percent of the revenue that I bring in on the blog.
Scott: Well there you go. That’s– say that over and over, that’s a whole podcast right there, repeat that three hundred times. People dismiss that somehow you know, they get so focused on– this is one of the big things I talk about in my forums is people are so focused on supply rather than demand. Right there like I want to do this, I want to sell this, I want to offer you this, but you really got to figure out where the demand is and that’s the trick.
And if you’ve got the people’s e-mail addresses, you know they’re interested, you can keep selling to them, but if you don’t have the email addresses you’ve got no demand, it’s you’re just waiting for random customers to drive by your website. It’s a really tough way to make a living.
Steve: Yeah you know one other mistake that I often see people do is you land on someone’s website and you have no idea what it’s all about.
Steve: So what I’d like to see and what I always advise people who ask me for help is you should have some sort of attractive picture on your front page along with text like a headline that describes exactly what your website is all about.
Scott: Absolutely that’s– would be another one of my big ones. Actually I don’t know if you know this, but one of my many little sites is called expertwebsitereviews.com and I do videos for people. I think it’s 99 bucks or something like that, and I’ll actually look at their site and do a twenty minute video forum and go through this stuff, and I’ve done that about 700 over the years.
It’s amazing what people can’t see because they’re so close to their own site, and that’s– you’ve hit another one, so often I’ll come and I’ll say “Nice looking site, but what is it about and what do you want me to do.” If you can’t tell me what it is, you need a tagline that states your mission and what you– and then some calls to action, those along with the e-mail collector would improve 80 percent of the websites I see.
Steve: Yeah and I actually do those too as part of my course. I actually critique e-commerce web pages. I can’t keep track of all your sites Scott.
Scott: No it’s fine, that’s fine.
Steve: So I don’t know that you did that yourself also.
Scott: I even do them for free, actually later today I do video office hours once a month from the Click Millionaires forum. It’s a Google Hangout open to the public where people from all over the world come in and where they ask questions, or we actually look at sites together live and do some of them, they’re not as thorough obviously as a private paid one, but that’s all through the clickmillionaires.com forum, for free.
Steve: I would also go as far as to say that every page on your entire website should have just one objective. Remove all the noise, remove all the extra links, and just highlight that one specific action that you want someone to take on a page.
Scott: Yeah that’s– especially if you’re running an e-commerce sort of situation like you are that a lot of folks get in and they get frustrated because they’re not getting as many sign ups or conversions or sales or whatever their goals are, and then they add more and more stuff right? So they go like nothing is happening, so I’m going to add some Facebook links. Well that’s not going to help your sales you know, or I’m going to post a bunch of posts instead of just one on a page. It’s like well yeah, but the clear path to the goal is very important for conversion.
Steve: So what are some other things, I mean you’ve done more critiques than I have, what are some other common mistakes that you see?
Scott: Well that’s a good one and people junk things up. They get frustrated and I spend a lot of time helping people pare things down. Simplicity is what you want especially now that so much of the traffic is mobile right. People are seeing these tiny little screens; you can’t have 400 different things to click on one page anymore. That redesign movement towards responsive designs is really important and hard for people to get their heads around, because it’s a different set of technical requirements, right?
Steve: Absolutely, yeah so let’s talk about that a little bit about mobile. So what are some of the changes that you advise people to make regarding mobile?
Scott: Well, you can redo your site in a responsive theme, right? But that’s kind of a big change for people if you’re going to rework your whole site, so if you’ve already got one. If you don’t obviously let’s start there; start with a responsive theme. That’s today’s number one recommendation right? But other than that the easy way to think about this is to make the fonts bigger and get rid of the side bars as much as possible.
And I’d be the first to admit my sites do not follow this, so I’m the doctor and not curing himself here. It’s really hard to let go of your own sites too, but if you can reduce the side bar width so that the center column is large enough to read on a variety of different platforms, that’ll help everything you do. That’s the basic one I’d say.
Steve Cool, I have a couple of things to add in regards to e-commerce; make sure everything is tappable. So if you have like a link, make it into a big button. Don’t make– the reason I discovered this is before when our e-commerce store was not mobile friendly, I remember my daughter was just surfing on a website and she was having problems clicking on certain things. She’s got the tiniest of fingers.
Steve: And so if she can’t navigate it, that means a regular adult won’t be able to either.
Scott: Good point, good point that’s one of my favorite suggestions actually is to actually sit behind somebody and watch what they do on your website. Don’t tell them anything and don’t– complete stranger’s kind of weird or another person, because somebody like your wife or your cousin or your friend; they know what you do, so you don’t have to explain the whole context.
But then literally just shut your mouth, stand behind them. And we used do this actually at some of the Fortune 500 companies for internal testing. We’d have like one of the secretaries come and just say “I want you to go buy a ticket,” and just shut up and watch. And you’ll be amazed the things that they miss that you think are obvious, and that doesn’t mean they’re stupid, it means your design is bad.
Steve: Yeah there is actually services out there that’ll do this if you pay them. Like five second test I think is one of them, they just give you a quick first impression of your website as soon as they land on it.
Scott: That’s right, the Click Millionaires way is to not pay for stuff unless you have to though, so…
Steve: Of course, of course and a couple of other things with ecommerce that I might add is people hate typing on their little phones, and so it helps to turn off auto correct. So if you’re trying to enter an address and you trying to check out, you don’t want like your address to autocorrect to some random word, dictionary word.
Scott: That’s a good one, very good.
Steve: I lost a lot of business that way without even realizing it. It wasn’t until a customer called us up having problems checking out on their phone. They told me I kept trying to change– add my address and it kept changing to this, and I was just getting really frustrated.
Steve: And thankfully this woman called.
Scott: Yeah right exactly. She called six months earlier, right?
Steve: Well, incidentally we have a clickable dial link right below that as well, so I’m sure she just clicked on it and called us, but…
Scott: Right, nicely done.
Steve: Yeah, so what– you mention a lot– you manage a lot of websites and so I was going to ask you this question whether it’s better to have like a portfolio of websites, or just have one main website that you kind of focus on.
Scott: Well, that’s up to your life I think, I’ve chosen the multiple approach because I’ve got a lot of different experiences, a lot of different interests, but a lot of people struggle to even find one good idea right? So I think it’s kind of partially what the hand that life deals you, and it’s also a question of whether you’re doing it full time or part time. In your case you’re also doing other things and you know you’re not going to have 40 other websites because you’ve already got a job and kids and other things, right?
So it’s a matter of how much time you have available. But I also I am– my first career was as an investment banker actually, and I guess where I got this portfolio idea early on, diversification seemed like a good idea to me. I have heard lots of people getting hurt because they tried to build their business say around Facebook right, or Pinterest. Now Pinterest recently finally made a clear decision that they’re going to not allow affiliate links, well if you were making money you know through affiliate links on Pinterest you’re in trouble right. And then the Google updates crushed lots of people.
I am a fan at least in theory of having a bunch of stuff so that they can all balance each other out. Now that’s not easy to do and it takes time. It’s hard enough to get one business going, so if you have one business going well I wouldn’t drop that to go start other things. Again I think in between this is probably the right answer. What about you you’ve got a couple different things going on, what’s your answer to that?
Steve: Yeah I’m actually had the opposite philosophy I agree. I believe in kind of focusing on one until it’s ready to move on. A lot of people email me and they’ll present me with five sites that they’re working on, and they’re all not very good because they just put them up to see which one is going to gain traction with the hope that they’ll focus on the one that’s getting the most traction. But what I found ends up happening is none of those sites every any traction because you’re spreading yourself too thin.
Scott: Yeah, I can’t argue with that. That’s a great answer too.
Steve: So I believe in focusing on one property until you can get something working. Like keep at it until it works, because the other thing is people tend to give up really easily especially with blogging, right? You don’t see any traction for often six months to a year, and that can be hard for some of the stomach, and if you’re putting together a bunch of sites and you’re only giving it that small time frame, then you’ll tend to give up on everything.
Scott: Yeah that’s quite possible for first time entrepreneurs especially; I guess my approach has been developed over a long period of time, that’s true.
Steve: Sure so you mention the portfolio approach, but you also mentioned earlier that a large strategy to get traffic is through SEO, so how do you kind of make your sites Google proof.
Scott: I wish I could. Well I’ll just find another big G, right? Well I am talking about niches here, so I tend to put in things that have pretty deep roots, and then try to get some links back to them, it’s basic blocking and tackling. But again I’m not opening a book store to compete with Amazon. I’m suggesting a bookstore about scuba diving techniques as applied to Belize which believe me there’s not going to be as much competition.
So I think getting it right early on thinking about what the niches and particularly this is interesting SEO tip which is obvious to you I’m sure, but not to use the word you want to use, but figure out what people actually type. A lot of people tend to get very jargonish when they think about a topic especially if you’re in a field like in medicine or law or in any specialized industry, any B-to-B site. People get all jargonish and that can’t help because if you can attract other specialists who know those terms, but you also need to think about what just regular people type into the search box, and you can uncover farm or some great SEO angles doing that.
Steve: So Google’s search business has actually been kind of flat lining as of late. And so where do you see some of the other traffic opportunities going forward that is not search.
Scott: Well the apps world is very interesting, but I have to be honest I haven’t– I’m not an expert there so I won’t talk about that. Social media is getting harder as well, I don’t have a good answer there Steve, what do you think?
Steve: That is a good question, so I asked you that question because I didn’t have the answer.
Scott: Okay, all right, all right. At least we are honest, right?
Steve: Okay, so for me I would say getting the traffic that you do have and retaining them with e-mail is going to be an important step going forward, and reaching out to other mediums like podcasting, YouTube, certainly social media. Facebook has nerved the amount of reach that a business can have, but then there’s other avenues like Instagram and Twitter where someone will get your entire feed and just kind of putting your feed in all the different platforms to grow I would say this is the best way to diversify your traffic sources.
Scott: Diversify yes, but I just since we are talking that sounds like a lot of work right? I mean to be an expert on all those and have all those feeds going unless you can automate them as a sole– at least if you’re a sole entrepreneur it could crush you. A few years ago Pat Flint, who you probably know, Pat was talking about his be everywhere strategy in 2008. That was fantastic because there were only you know there was You Tube and Twitter you know there were only three or four things, but now there’s Instagram and Snap Chat and Pinterest and you know other 50 things. To do all that even halfway well is hard.
Steve: Yes I actually use automation for that, so my friend Laura Roeder recently released a tool called Meet Edgar which is a great way to kind of automate some of your social media. So I use that to handle my Facebook and my Twitter, and then there’s tools like viral tag which handle Pinterest to kind of automate your pins and that sort of thing. So there are tools out there you don’t necessarily have to become an expert in any given thing, and it also helps to interview experts in their respective fields and get information out of them as well. So everything that I’ve learned or a lot of the stuff I’ve learned is from actually interviewing other people on podcasts.
Scott: For sure I have to admit that I’m guilty of that too. Yeah I remember interviewing Perry Marshall who is a pay per click expert nearly back like 2007 or something, and like after that interview I well understood pay per click and helped me a lot. So stuff like that is a great strategy. I think podcasting is a wonderful thing and actually I’d recommend that if you’re looking for new traffic sources. Audio consumption is rising. There’s a lot of competition, but again if you can find a niche I’d be doing a podcast these days and a video version too. Why not?
Steve: So what would you– how do you feel about the different mediums, like if I had to focus on You Tube podcasting or blogging, what would be your recommendation?
Scott: I would look at where your target market is. Again there is a cross between demand and supply right, so demand is you want people that you know if you want people that are illiterate just to make a silly example then you better go to You Tube so they can watch you right. And vice versa then is the other side is what are you good at? Blogging may be what seems to be required, but you are a terrible speller and you hate to write, so back to podcasting. The answer again I can’t give you a yes or no there. The answer is specific to the situation, but I think those are the three big ones these days blogging, video, or audio, those channels.
Steve: I guess I should have phrased the question a little bit differently. How important is it in your mind to have your own personal branded website as opposed to relying on somebody’s third party platforms?
Scott: Okay that I think is hugely important. Chris Rogan used to talk about hubs and spokes right? So you need a hub and I would see Facebook or any of the social media platforms as outlined spokes to drive traffic back to your hub, because Facebook can change their rules tomorrow and wipe you out. If you’ve built a big you business on Facebook or Pinterest like I just mentioned a couple of minutes ago, I think you have your central hub is absolutely required and that’s your email list.
Also you said most of your sales from your blog actually end up coming from the email list and I agree with that, and I’m glad to hear it and I would say even further. I would also say it is your IRA. It is your 401k. You need to build that up, it is your retirement plan. If you are going to build an internet business for five years, or 15 years, and you are done, that email list is what you’ve got left.
Steve: So Scott what is one piece of advice that you can give to my listeners on kind of how to start if they are still a little bit on whether to start an online business.
Scott: I would say try. I think it is a wonderful– at the minimum it is a wonderful hobby. It can keep you interested, engaged, and learn some stuff, right? More importantly it can turn into something and that’s the really elastic question here is how much money how soon? And people always want an answer to that, and it is so dependent that you can’t give a credible answer to that without knowing a million variables that are unforeseeable.
But I really encourage people to try even if it doesn’t make you a bunch of money right away you’re going to learn a bunch of stuff. And I think it’s often like when people go to college right or like me, I’ll just be personal. When I was in high school I was going to be a doctor. I was even in the pre-med club. But then I took chemistry, right? You know some things change and the further you go the more you– the further you can see.
Unless you– I’m mixing a bunch of metaphors here, but unless your ship leaves the dock you’re not going to know what’s beyond the horizon, and I know that’s a leap of faith that most people aren’t trained for or maybe they don’t have the confidence or the money or time to pursue, but if you don’t try you’re certainly not going to get anywhere. And internet business is an easy thing to start and the key I think is to make that leap that you obviously have got in your bones and so do I.
You have to stop looking at the internet as a consumer platform and look at it as an entrepreneur. Where are the opportunities here? Yeah I can use Facebook, but you know it’s somebody smart and I forget who maybe you know, somebody said if something is free, then it’s not a service, you’re the product right, there aggregating you to sell you as advertising eyeballs. And that’s for Facebook and all the other stuff that seems free. Once you start realizing that looking at things as an entrepreneur, you’ll see opportunities in a lot of places.
Steve: Okay and then where would you recommend that people– what books would you recommend for people to read about this stuff.
Scott: It would be wrong to recommend…
Steve: And so shameless probably…
Scott: Obviously I spent a lot of time and a lot of years doing this. I’ve got three books and all of them are written for folks who are new to this, so your audience may be a little sophisticated for some of it. But a lot of my– my books aren’t so much about like here’s what to do on Twitter today right? They are not– I’m trying to help people change their mindset, to think about a lifestyle business. Like I said there’s these principles in the book that– how to think about this stuff because I’ve thought about it a lot, and I was a successful investment banker, I have a law degree, I’ve raised a bunch of money for different companies.
I’ve just– I think about this stuff and I don’t– I’m not going to be able to tell you what to do on Pinterest tomorrow to make money. But I can tell you how to think about this if you’ve not thought about it much, because I’ve heard about a lot and I’ve written three books of 60 or 80,000 words a piece, and we’ve got this forum and I’d encourage you to explore. Oh you know I should mention we have this niche business identification checklist, we’ve talked a lot about finding niches.
There’s a PDF that you can download at clickmillionaires.com that lists all the factors that I use personally. There’s like 30 factors or something and you can score things. What’s the size of the market, how much will this cost me to build, and what is the production operations going to cost and stuff like this. But it gives you quantifiable way to think about businesses and especially if you don’t have a background of thinking like this about these things, it can be really helpful and it’s free at clickmillionaires.com.
Steve: Yes send me the link I will put it in the show for sure.
Steve: So Scott where can people get a hold of you if they have questions; where can they find you hanging out?
Scott: Well literally hanging out on Google plus, I’ve got a hangout later this afternoon, we do those once a month, we call them video office hours. But clickmillionaires.com is the main site, it’s a free forum. In fact it’s the only forum I know where we give the ad money back to the audience, the top contributors each month get a check.
I personally pay pal them half our revenue, we keep the other half to pay for the expense of the moderators and the hosting and stuff. But it really is free and the money from my profits from my books go back to charity, so trying to help people figure out that there’s a thing here, and even if you don’t have a computer science degree or an MBA, you might be able to play and make your life better too, so clickmillionaires.com.
Steve: Awesome Scott, well thanks a lot for coming on the show. I enjoyed the conversation.
Scott: I did too Steve, it’s great to talk, let’s do it more often.
Steve: Absolutely man, take care.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Scott has been running online businesses now for decades and it’s always fun to chat with him to get some inspiration on what to do next. For more information about this episode go to mywifequitherjob.co/episode71. And if you enjoyed this episode please go to iTunes and leave me a review, because when you write me review it not only makes me feel proud, but it helps keep this podcast up in the ranks so other people can use this information, find the show more easily, and get awesome business advice from our guests. It’s also the best way to support the show and please tell your friends, because the greatest compliment that you can give me is to write a referral to someone else either in person or to share it on the web.
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