The Idea Is Born…
Back in mid 2012, I was having some decent success with my niche sites. I had around 3000 in total, with 400 of them generating about $1000 a day in revenue. Definitely a good business by any means, but I could also see the potential for adding a ton of value to the SEO community. Good information about expired domains and PBNs was hard to come by. Lots of people were talking the talk but they didn’t have any case studies, data, or good training to back it up with.
So, in June 2012, NoHatSEO was born.
I knew I’d need high quality new content to get attention, and a way to gain trust and an audience as quickly as possible.
Influencer Outreach and an Instant Audience
I’d been following Spencer’s blog at NichePursuits.com for a while and had recently read about his AdWords account being banned. I’d had accounts banned several times before and I knew that you could open a new account by following the right process and be advertising again quickly.
I reached out to him via email and offered him some tips on how to get back onto AdWords as fast as possible. I also mentioned how much his blog had helped me with ideas and strategies over the previous few months. We kept talking after we had his AdWords sorted and he invited me to do a podcast with him.
I now had an audience.
Before our first podcast, on June 19th, I set up a landing page that offered some videos on how I did keyword research in exchange for their email address. I decided that if I managed to get over 200 subscribers then I’d actually create the training videos.
Important point to note here, I didn’t actually create the optin offer until I was sure it would be worthwhile. If you spend a ton of time creating optins beforehand, you’ll just get bogged down in the details.
As it turned out, I got over 300 optins within the first 8 hours, so I made a couple of Snag It videos that evening explaining my keyword research process.
The podcast was so popular that Spencer had me back again about a week later, on the 27th of June. I then followed the same process, created an optin and waited to see how many people subscribed. This time it was over 700 subscribers! That made the list over 1000 in total. I created the new optin offer and emailed the whole list, this time with two easy to produce expired domain training videos.
I now had an email list of over 1000 subscribers and 4 videos of valuable training content. All this content was on a blog, but hidden behind an opt-in wall. I waited a week or so, wrote a couple more posts and an about page, and on July 6th I opened up the NoHatSEO.com blog to the public.
I now had an engaged audience and more importantly, authority in the eyes of over 1000 subscribers. And it took under 10 hours.
Total Effort Required:
One email to a VA to setup the blog, one more to another VA to design a logo and an optin, about half an hour setting up the list and writing emails, 2.5 hours talking with Spencer and recording the podcasts, and 2 hours creating the optin training videos and content.
The most time-consuming part was actually answering the comments from the videos (there were hundreds), this was probably 3-4 hours.
Since the launch I’d also written several other blog posts that I thought would offer real value to a new audience on the blog. I don’t think these were completely necessary in this first stage but they did add an extra level of authority to the blog.
NoHatSEO’s First Income
One of the things I wanted to test out was using reciprocity and transparency to generate affiliate commissions (i.e. openly saying ‘if you got value out of this, and want to reward me, please use this affiliate link’). I had seen it work really well for Pat, Spencer and others, so I gave it a try.
Moz at the time had a $25 payout just for people signing up to their free trial, and with them and IX web hosting combined, the site brought in over $5000 in affiliate revenue ($2500 each in July and August). The revenue was not the big win though, it was the authority and the list built that were by far the most important. This would be the start of what is now a $120K/month business. More on that later this week.
The basic model was to use an existing unfair advantage (my SEO knowledge), reach out to an influencer in my space, send people to my optin, and then create content after I was sure the model would work.
The Leanest Startup
What I love about this model is that it can potentially be applied to any market.
The idea is to create the most minimal viable product possible to validate your business idea, with as little work as possible. That way if it doesn’t pass validation you haven’t wasted time or drained your resources, and you can quickly pivot to the next idea.
Dan Norris of WPCurve.com was particularly successful with this concept when he created WPCurve in only 7 days. Find your customers, then create your offering. Find your subscribers, then create your optin offers.
In our new Private Training Course (PTC) this approach will be called the Path.
The Path will teach you to find a business idea, determine the best model for that business, and validate the idea in as short a time as possible.
Steps Of The Path:
- Understand the possible business models you could apply.
- Determine your unfair advantages (we all have them).
- Determine your customer research candidates – the markets that make the most sense based on your unfair advantages.
- Build landing pages and email optins, and understand the fundamentals of paid advertising.
- Reach out to influencers in your market, not too big that they’re unapproachable, but big enough that they have a real audience.
- Work to establish authority and goodwill in your space.
- Apply your preferred business model.
This isn’t always a piece of cake, it can require real work, but the beauty of this is that it tests itself. You can work through this process quickly and either validate or invalidate an idea in a very short period of time. The tools you use to invalidate one business model can quickly be applied to validate another.
- You can create a business in a very short period of time.
- Validate your idea before you create your product/offer.
- Combine your unfair advantages to identify markets of opportunity.
- Use influencers in a market to rapidly build an audience.
As I mentioned back in April, and in May, I’ve been looking for a way to move away from specifically SEO training and to teach a broader online business skill-set and I’m excited to announce that we’re almost ready to go. Next month’s internship and course will set a new standard for teaching online business.