Don’t Quit!

How many times have you started a project and never followed through to to finish it? How much time have you spent thinking about your next “million dollar idea” just to talk yourself out of finishing it?

We’ve all been there. From simple procrastination to a lack of resolve, fear sets in and we back down from the challenge of a great idea. So how do we stop ourselves from giving in to our self-doubt? First, we need to understand the real root of our inaction, and then we need to .

How many times have you started a project and never followed through to to finish it? How much time have you spent thinking about your next “million dollar idea” just to talk yourself out of finishing it?

We’ve all been there. From simple procrastination to a lack of resolve, fear sets in and we back down from the challenge of a great idea. So how do we stop ourselves from giving in to our self-doubt? First, we need to understand the real root of our inaction. Then, we need to squash it.

Procrastination

Procrastination is a killer of your precious time and is responsible for many projects, tasks, jobs and ideas being binned before they get off the ground. There may be a lot of preparation work done involving research etc. However, if there is no end product, this is wasted time. Instead of just doing something, however small or insignificant it may seem, to complete a task, we tend to keep putting it off by wasting time on other matters. Successful people are never bothered by procrastination. They keep on going until a task is finished. The ultimate outcome is not as important as the completion of the job in hand. The finished product may be brilliant or it may be rubbish, but as least you will know as long as you don’t quit and finish what you started.

In order to overcome procrastination, split the task at hand into manageable mini-tasks. Break down a larger, insurmountable job into the sum of it’s parts. For example, a new blogger may not know whether to grow a Facebook fan base, write content on a website, or reach out to his community. Instead of looking at the building of a entire brand, start small. Start a Facebook page, and write a post a day. Write a blog another day and take your time developing your brand. Take time to ENJOY what you’re doing, and the rest will come naturally. Over time, these actions will become habits, and habits good habits breed success!

Doubt

Doubt is another common reason people give up before a task is finished. We all have to overcome setbacks in whatever we do, however large or small they may be. We are normally full of enthusiasm and energy whenever we start a project and are determined to see it through to the end. As we encounter obstacles, our belief is tested and our enthusiasm gradually erodes until we convince ourselves that we should give up. Successful people again regard obstacles as a challenge and do what is required to overcome them. They have a strong belief that if the idea was a good one at the beginning, then it is still good now.

So, how do you overcome self doubt when you’re back is against the wall? Rather than quitting when problems arise, learn to adapt and do what you can to solve these problems. Who knows, you may even discover a better way than originally thought, or develop an even greater product than you envisioned. Some of the greatest inventions in the World were the results of accidents. Don’t run from a challenge, embarce it and come out the other end better than you started.

Be Realistic

Still others quit simply because they are seeking perfection and get frustrated and disheartened when their efforts are not perfect. Just because your blog or your product isn’t flawless doesn’t mean it won’t add value to your customers.

So sit down and do something. It doesn’t need to be perfect, and it’s ok if you’re scared. Put in the time and effort now, and reap the rewards later. It won’t be easy, but it will certainly be worth it in the end.

Setting Goals – Step #3

Now that we’ve got our mind-maps set up, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. While it’s true that money can be made in virtually any niche, choosing the right balance between competition and income potential will improve our odds for success. Selecting a careful balance of risk vs. reward is also much more likely to keep us motivated during the initial start-up phase of our businesses. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, a young business will require long hours and hard work for little or no reward, but hard work always pays off. What is true for a brick & mortar business is no different than an online franchise, and making money online requires the same level of dedication.

Now that we’ve got our mind-maps set up, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff. While it’s true that money can be made in virtually any niche, choosing the right balance between competition and income potential will improve our odds for success. Selecting a careful balance of risk vs. reward is also much more likely to keep us motivated during the initial start-up phase of our businesses. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, a young business will require long hours and hard work for little or no reward, but hard work always pays off. What is true for a brick & mortar business is no different than an online franchise, and making money online requires the same level of dedication.

So, how do we isolate profitable niches from unprofitable ventures? Spending countless hours creating blog posts, interacting with members of your blog, and scheduling podcasts will do little to help you earn an online income and submit your two week notice if you select a niche that is beyond your reach. On that same note, selecting a niche with no competition (and probably no money either!) is going to bleed you dry through hosting expenses and failed business ventures. To select a niche that is not only going to make me money, but also allow me to rank on the first page of Google, I use Market Samurai.

Following this simple guide from Pat Flynn, you will learn how simple (and visual) it is to use Market Samurai to locate profitable niches with a manageable level of competition. Using this tool, I’ve selected the keyword phrase “Two Week Notice” to rank for Google. While most searches for this phrase are likely searching for a “different” type of website, I feel that capturing this type of visitor may open their eyes to a type of income not previously considered an option. Above all else, the goal here is to help people, and this keyword should achieve just that.

To begin this journey, my goals would be best shown with a little knowledge of my background. An open supporter of our armed forces, I often follow Navy SEAL blogs to learn the secrets of their success under extreme conditions. Above all else, the prevailing mentality is to separate larger goals into smaller, obtainable goals. While performing 10 more push-ups or running just 1 more mile may not be our exact goals here, breaking down measurable goals will positively reinforce our work ethic and encourage future growth. Like they say, the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

That said, I wouldn’t be much of a teacher if I didn’t publicly follow my own advice – so here goes: For the Two Week Notice Project, my first goal is 100 daily views (unique IP addresses) by the end of 2013. A very small goal, my objective here is to show that goals do not need to be elaborate or  complex, but rather obtainable and measurable. Setting unrealistic or overly simple goals will only discourage you, so focus on achievements that will require hard work and encourage positive behaviours!

So, what are your goals for 2013?!

Why You Shouldn’t Pay For Content

In a world of theives and online aliases, it is important to stand for the basic principles for which you hold any other brick and mortar business. Sure, these business offshore clothing manufacturing to low cost countries (such as China or India), but you understand that the employees within the business are properly compensated for their time, have the proper insurance programs, etc. Likewise, a successful (and honest) web blogger should hold themselves to similar standards. Cutting corners and taking a short cut here or there may save you some time in the short run, but there may be consequences to these actions.

Businesses and professionals have always hired writers for content. With the growth of PayPal and “pay for action” sites, bloggers have started to join the fray. The practice is so extensive that many web bloggers do not post ANY new content written by them. Especially prevelant in the affiliate marketing niche, paid promotions for product reviews, SEO content, blog entries and even Facebooks fans themselves can be purchased for just a few bucks. So, you may ask, what’s the problem with that?

In a world of theives and online aliases, it is important to stand for the basic principles for which you hold any other brick and mortar business. Sure, these business offshore clothing manufacturing to low cost countries (such as China or India), but you understand that the employees within the business are properly compensated for their time, have the proper insurance programs, etc. Likewise, a successful (and honest) web blogger should hold themselves to similar standards. Cutting corners and taking a short cut here or there may save you some time in the short run, but there may be consequences to these actions.

Copyright Issues

Writers who are hired to create content are required to relinquish any copyright of the content. They cannot claim the content to be theirs and can also not use them anywhere else. While this may be an ideal scenario, a writer who is paid pennies on the dollar to create an article is likely unconserned about a few slices of stolen content. While there are several reputable sites that offer protection services against such schemes (such as Copyscape), there are very few options to ensure that the content you have paid for is not used by the writer somewhere else or has not been copyrighted by the writer in the first place. Worse yet, writers may perhaps cut and paste the content in several versions to “spin” the content for use elsewhere.

Plagiarism

Plagiarism is rampant in every art form, and writing is certainly no exception. While Copyscape and similar tools check for plagiarism, many people do not use such resources as the expenses often outweight the perceived risk of infringement. Furthermore, plagiarism is not defined as merely a resemblance of words lined up adjacent to each other, but rather applies to stolen ideas as well. Online plagarism prevention tools only look at the mechanical aspects of writing, such as the placement of words and sentences, but cannot search deeper for meaning behind these phrases. There is simply no way to guarantee original content meaning and relevance without writing it yourself!

Spun Content

Writers can easily pick an already published article, steal parts of it (or lift directly) and then spin the content, such that a simple reworded article is presented to you with the same raw content. This can be done so seamlessly that even human intervention may not be able to pick the similarities or prove the reality. Services such as Article Spinner are often used by online “writters”, check for odd sounding phrases to isolate a potentially spun article. While nearly everyone will make grammatical mistakes, 3-4 issues in a single article may reveal an underlying issue with the contnet.

Poor Quality / Style

Often writers come up with poor quality but this is more of a specific problem than a general issue. If you can manage to hire a good writer then quality will never be a concern. However, style variance will always exist between two writers. A writer cannot have the content created in the same way as you would have done it, if you had created the article yourself. The only way to foll-proof a certain style on your website or blog, is to write it yourself!

If there is a single, concise lesson I’ve leared in this life, it is this: “you get what you pay for”.

How have you seen similar results in your online (or offline) business?

Google Penguin Update

On April 24th 2012, Google applied an update to their search engine rankings, code named “Penguin”. Using what are known as algorithms, Google’s many complex mathematical models determine the ranking of webpages within their search results. A highly kept secret, Google does not publicly disclose which factors can help a website, and those which can lower it’s rankings. While many general suggestions have been made by Matt Cutts (leader of Google’s webspam team) to improve a sites rank in the past, this is the first major update targeting at lowering ranking for sites determined to be in violation of various Terms and Conditions.

The following are some of the negative SEO tactics outlined in the Penguin update…

On April 24th 2012, Google applied an update to their search engine rankings, code named “Penguin“. Using what are known as algorithms, Google’s many complex mathematical models determine the ranking of webpages within their search results. A highly kept secret, Google does not publicly disclose which factors can help a website, and those which can lower it’s rankings. While many general suggestions have been made by Matt Cutts (leader of Google’s webspam team) to improve a sites rank in the past, this is the first major update targeting at lowering ranking for sites determined to be in violation of various Terms and Conditions.

The following are some of the negative SEO tactics outlined in the Penguin update, along with a few of my own comments:

  1. Malware/Viruses/etc. – Probably the most obvious penalty, this shouldn’t require much explanation. Scan your site at least once a week in Google’s Webmaster Tools to ensure your site isn’t host to any known (or unknown) viruses.
  2. Cloaking links and redirects – Commonly used as blackhat SEO tactics, it is fairly obvious (and reasonable) that Google is now penalizing link redirects. It is important to note that this does not include shortened hyperlinks or renamed link pointers, commonly used here at 2WNP.
  3. Irrelevant keyword “stuffing” – Placing hyperlinks or other keywords randomly into auto-generated content to trick the search engines into ranking a site higher. Again, it doesn’t quite take a rocket scientist to realize that this is another valid penalty for sites that engage in such activity.
  4. Hidden text and hidden links – While link building is one of the most important aspects of ranking well in Google, hiding links from users (any robots crawling your pages can still see the text) is a clearly a blackhat SEO tactic. Another real shocker here!
  5. Duplicate content penalties – This is where we start to get into a bit of a gray area. While stealing content is a “no-brainer”, WordPress (one of the most common blog platforms) is built around redundancy. While you may not intentionally realize you have duplicate content on your site, Google is now going to penalize you anyway. Not too fair for small business owners who can’t afford the expensive SEO firms if you ask me.
  6. “Doorway Pages” – Google classifies doorway pages as pages that are created for the sole purpose of funneling traffic to another location. While on the surface this may seem fine and dandy, for most blog networks, what pages aren’t funnel pages for your main site? Nearly every page on the 2WNP contains a link to another page (and the homepage via the navigation bar). While I don’t see Google penalizing for this type of site layout yet, this is a very slippery slope. Careful here, Google…

Have I been affected?

First and foremost, you need to decide if you have been hit by the Penguin update. I’ve copied a screenshot from one of my smaller niche sites that has been hit by Penguin, and using Google Analytics, it’s fairly obvious to see the traffic drop after the new algorithm change. While this is just a small niche site that I had been using to build expertise for another brick and mortar business, similar effects have been found on much larger sites across the web that were engaging in unnatural link building techniques.

So, how do I recover?

Google has suggested a variety of methods to recover from the Penguin update. The most obvious answer here is to sort through your site for any content that could be considered in violation of the terms and conditions found in the bullets above. As we often become blinded by content we see day in and day out (quick, what color is your steering wheel?), it’s not a bad idea to have a friend or other colleague review your material for any violations of these terms. If you do find issues, you’ll need to correct these before filing a reconsideration request to Google. Note – DO NOT file a reconsideration request without making significant changes to your site, this can and will hurt you if you do not properly adjust your site.

I’ve sent in a reconsideration request, now what?

Now, you wait. In follow-up to the site listed above, it was later determined that the small niche site in question had been hacked through a WordPress backdoor (more on WordPress security updates in future posts) and another user had uploaded thousands of spam websites that were invisible to human visitors, but were flagged by Google as doorway pages. After removal of the spam pages and updates to the security of the site, I filed a request to the Google webspam team. The following is the response I received several days later:

So where does my site rank now? Nowhere. While the sub-pages are now showing on the first page of Google (previously ranked #1 for my targeted keyword), the main landing page is nowhere to be found. It’s been shown time and time again by various website owners that manual actions can take 30-90 days to recover, so time will tell if the site ever ranks again.

What can we learn from all of this?

I firmly believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that “you get what you pay for”. I have found this saying to be true time and time again in my offline real life, and such tactics will continue to apply for any online business. While I recognize that nearly everyone wants to rank instantly for their targeted keywords, sites that wish to stand the test of time, and the test of unknown Google algorithm updates, need to become authority websites. May people can (and do) earn a substantial living from Google AdSense and various affiliate programs, but putting all of your eggs in one basket is a surefire way to failure and disappointment down the road.

Now that I’ve shared my story, I want to hear yours. Has the Google Penguin update affected your sites? What steps have you taken to correct the errors?

Niche Keyword Selection – Step #2

Now that we’ve got our mind-maps set up, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff by selecting niche keywords. While it’s true that money can be made in virtually any niche, choosing the right balance between competition and income potential will improve our odds for success. Selecting a careful balance of risk vs. reward is also much more likely to keep us motivated during the initial start-up phases of our businesses. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, a young business will require long hours and hard work for little or no reward, but hard work always pays off. What is true for a brick & mortar business is no different than an online franchise, and making money online requires the same level of dedication, and a proper selection of niche keywords.

Now that we’ve got our mind-maps set up, it’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff by selecting niche keywords. While it’s true that money can be made in virtually any niche, choosing the right balance between competition and income potential will improve our odds for success. Selecting a careful balance of risk vs. reward is also much more likely to keep us motivated during the initial start-up phases of our businesses. As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, a young business will require long hours and hard work for little or no reward, but hard work always pays off. What is true for a brick & mortar business is no different than an online franchise, and making money online requires the same level of dedication, and a proper selection of niche keywords.

Now, I wouldn’t be much of a teacher if I didn’t publicly follow my own advice – so here goes: For the Two Week Notice Project, my first niche keyword is “Internet Career” (exact phrase match, details to follow). A moderate keyword in terms of exact searches made per month, my objective here is to show that keywords do not need to be elaborate, complex, or yield substantial traffic flow, but rather are obtainable and measurable.

The time period I’ve provided for myself to reach the first page of Google is ~3 months from the date of this post. Setting a deadline of July 31st, 2012 will allow enough time to have the blog indexed by Google for my selected niche keyword, and will also allow the core site tp start obtaining organic traffic, which I expect will mostly result directly from link building activities (more to come on this in future posts). Setting either unrealistic or overly easy niche keywords will only discourage you, so focus on keywords that will require hard work and encourage future growth!

So, where do I start?

Good question! It’s almost like I would have asked that myself… but I digress. The first step in finding your most profitable niche keywords is to determine the simple supply and demand of your target keyword. Just like any other business, huge supply and little demand is going to leave any business owner dreaming of profits. On the other hand, huge demand with low supply is going to set you on the path to success. While typing in phrases in Google will show you a total number of web pages that you may compete against for any given phrase, and the Google Keyword Tool will show you even further details for each keyword, the most effective method is to use Market Samurai (NOT an affiliate link), which is a piece of software that provides a wealth of knowledge for any niche keyword or key phrase.

While I am now working to develop my own tutorial videos for Market Samurai, Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Blog has provided this excellent tutorial of how he uses Market Samurai to find profitable niche ideas. Take a moment to watch the following in its entirety (yes, all 11 minutes), and I promise you you’ll be further down the path to success then you will yet realize.

Woah, that was a lot of information…

For first time website builders, this may seem like a lot of information, but this is an important step in niche keyword selection. Take your time here and play with Market Samurai while you develop a feel for the general flow of the software. The trial period should set you well on your way to selecting a niche keyword within your grasp, and spending the $ to buy a full license wouldn’t be the worst decision you could make with your money, either. Again, there is no need to rush. The more time you take now to understand the methods put forth in this outline, the better off you will be down the line. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help and will take the time to make sure you understand the importance of niche keyword research.

So, my fellow marketers, I leave you with this: What niche keywords have you found with Market Samurai that you are glad you didn’t pursue, and why?