For love or money?
Yes, I know it's an overused cliche, but it suits all of us so well I couldn't resist using it!
When all of the impurities are boiled away, people really build websites for three reasons: their passion of the topic, the potential to make the almighty dollar, or both.
And my guess is, because you're subscribed to Allan Gardyne's newsletter and/or poke around on his site on a regular basis, the money aspect does interest you. That is, unless you have a genuine, heartfelt interest to study internet marketing (the next Cory Rudl, anyone?)
Personally, I find the most balance when building my sites if I consider both. While I could and have built sites totally around the potential to make money, I find that I enjoy it more when I have even the slightest interest in learning more about an industry or activity; no EXPERT status required! And it certainly makes writing the articles and gathering link partners a more enjoyable task with some interest in the niche.
Now, it's not for me to decide how YOU approach your site(s), but there are both pros and cons to each approach.
The first, I'd like to call the “Hobby Method”.
Your sites are more of an extension of you, rather than a separate entity. You write all of the content, simply because you LOVE the topic and can't see anyone else getting it across how you want to. The time you spend on your site is of no bearing, because it never feels like you're actually “working”.
And lastly, money is NOT an issue; who cares if it ever makes a dime!
And the “Business Method”.
There is, after all, a method to your madness. Everything is done strategically. You can look at every single link or word and say EXACTLY why it's there. You maximize your click-through ratios and conversions by constantly testing, testing again, and testing some more!
You can set down and show the plans for your business over the next month, quarter, and year … in ink. The DRIVE you have for your business is a means to an end; you have other life goals that you want to accomplish with the revenue you generate.
Now, the two methods above are the extremes; and most people are probably somewhere in middle of the road. But to which side do you lean? Neither is right or wrong; it's just who you are … for now at least.
My gut tells me that you would like to make more money with your Internet business. While this is certainly possible to do with the hobby method, it's not the most productive means over time. After all, most people get their start online with a hobby, and it naturally evolves into a business through determination and dedication. Very few get lucky, and poof overnight, have an organized business with plenty of growth potential. Wake up, the DotCom fairy stopped delivering those a LONG time ago!
This isn't to say that once you've established your business, you can't treat it as a hobby. You can, and often WILL because the reason you chose the Internet for business is because of its flexibility and passiveness. Allan would be the first to tell you that he prefers his long walks on the beach over working on his computer any day!
Turning a hobby into a business
One of the most important things you can do to turn a hobby site into a business is to stay organized, and make goals and keep them.
– How many articles do you plan to add this week?
– How many link partners do you plan on getting to rank how you want to?
Over time, you can certainly become more efficient and outsource some of your more trivial tasks. Go buy some one-way links. Hire out some articles to be written. The list goes on!
Outsource trivial tasks
One thing in particular I'd like to touch on is the outsourcing of articles. Many people (you might be one of them) don't think that paying someone else to write your content is a good idea. Whether it's too expensive for your budget, or you just don't feel the author can get the message across how you see it, you have your reasons.
But by not outsourcing at least SOME of these tasks, you're only hurting yourself. The main enemy of any business is time. In the grand scheme of things, the moment you stop is when your competitors pass you by. You can't be expected to run a full-fledged business and do EVERYTHING. After all, you don't think the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies actually lick the envelopes for all company correspondence, do you?
Don't mistake outsourcing for hiring employees. Almost no one wants to manage a payroll. But contracting out tasks can help your business grow faster than you working alone.
As Michael Gerber said in the E-Myth (a great book, by the way), concentrate your efforts on working ON your business, not IN it. To translate this to an Internet business, concentrate on the bigger picture: the research, planning, and evolution of your sites; not all of the little things that will need to be done again next month.
All in all, how you approach your websites and Internet ventures is entirely your choice; and deciding whether to take things to the next level is an important decision. But it's definitely worth your time. After all, YOUR life and YOUR future are what's at stake.
Robert Blackstone is founder and CEO of Affiliate Finances
“Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself.” – Oprah Winfrey.