All right, time for update post #2! I have a lot to share, so this will be fairly long…please bear with me
Let’s start with the highlights that have happened since the last update post:
Decided on my target market
Before this, my direction for this site was very, very broad and vague. This is very, very bad for marketing.
I realized that I had no idea who I should be targeting, specifically. Sure, I knew that I wanted to talk about mindset and success, but I didn’t know who I would be talking about that to.
The thing that really triggered this for me was when I was trying to get really specific and think about who my ideal customer would be. I had no idea. And I knew that I needed to know so that I could have a specific audience to speak to. Otherwise, it’ll be much harder to get my content out there, because it’ll be very generic.
So here’s what I decided. I decided to target lifestyle entrepreneurs. Why? Well, there are a couple reasons:
- I’m an entrepreneur and I’m passionate about entrepreneurship
- There are a good number of lifestyle entrepreneurs out there
- Starting or growing a lifestyle business is very valuable. This means when it comes time to sell a product, I’ll be in an area that people are willing to invest in.
- I want THIS business to be a lifestyle business, which will allow me to use it as a living case study.
There you have it. If you want to see the difference in messaging that’s happened already as a result of this, just check out the home page — it’s all about my journey in creating an “online lifestyle business”.
Note: While I’ll be using the term “lifestyle entrepreneurship” or “lifestyle business” a bit to try and pick my target customer out of the crowd, I myself don’t believe much in the difference between a “growth business” (aka “startup”) and a “lifestyle business”. They both work the exact same way, and you use the same tactics to grow each one. The main difference is just the end goal and how much of your life you want to sacrifice along the way.
So how does this decision help me? Well, it’s helped me with a couple key distinctions:
It helps me figure out my unique angle.
Even though I have narrowed down my target market a bit, “lifestyle entrepreneurship” is STILL a very crowded, noisy niche. It’ll still be very hard to stand out in this market, so I think I’ll need a unique angle to “own”.
And that’s where mindset comes in. Mindset Boss will be sitting at the intersection between “mindset/personal growth/success psychology” and “lifestyle business/entrepreneurship”.
I’ll be bringing the two concepts together, and that’s what I believe will give me a unique angle on this already crowded topic.
It helps me decide which content to create.
Knowing that I’m targeting lifestyle entrepreneurs (or those who want to become lifestyle entrepreneurs), I can now think about the stages of that someone goes through on their journey of lifestyle entrepreneurship. And I can use that to help map out the topics that I want to create content about.
For example, here are some key steps in any lifestyle entrepreneur’s journey:
- Learning about entrepreneurship
- Making the decision to become an entrepreneur
- Launching their first business
- Growing their business into a full-time income so they don’t need a job
- Continuing to grow their business to provide the income they ultimately want
- Systemizing their business and reducing their time input
I can use that scale above as a way to get even more specific about where my content will fit into the journey, and who exactly I’ll be speaking to with each piece.
Lastly, it helps me think about my ideal partners.
One of the biggest things that I want to do is develop relationships with partners. Why? A couple reasons…
- I want to network and make friends with people doing the same kind of stuff as me.
- Partners are a fantastic source of new leads (probably one of the top 3 ways to grow any business, actually), and some key partners could be a huge source of growth for my business.
While it’s still a little early to try and get partners to promote my stuff (or promote theirs), knowing exactly who my target market is helps me figure out which partners I should start building relationships with.
This means I’ll be targeting partners who have the same target market as me, and that’ll help me narrow and prioritize the partners I should start reaching out to.
My first “real” post: The MLDNY 5 Tips Post
At the end of April, my favorite TV show (and by favorite, I mean the only TV show I actually watch — I’m not big on TV!) returned for its fifth season: Million Dollar Listing New York.
The reason this is my favorite show (and only one that I watch) is because I’ve actually learned a ton about mindset from it. I think it’s full of fantastic, real examples of mindset and success in action, and I’ve personally taken a lot away from it. (Yes, they sell it as a TV show full of drama and conflict, and sure, there is some of that but it’s still very educational!)
So, I figured I’d do a post about the success lessons that I learned from the show. I thought that since it was a TV show with a lot of fans AND interest would be super high because the latest season was premiering, I could tap into that audience and get some attention to my post.
I scrambled to put my post together (I think I came up with the idea on a Monday, and the premiere was Thursday) and got it posted on Friday, I believe. Here it is, if you want to check it out: 5 Success Secrets I Learned From Million Dollar Listing New York.
It’s quite long, and I put a lot of thought and effort into it. I also made a content upgrade giving away an additional 5 things I learned to try and collect some email subscribers.
Then, I made a Facebook ad promoting the post to get some traffic to it, targeting people who like the show on Facebook.
Now, let’s talk about results…
I’d classify this post as a small win. Here’s why:
The reason it’s a win is because, well, it was my very first post, so I wasn’t expecting much. At this point, I have zero traffic, very few subscribers (about 30), and zero partners, so expecting a huge response would be very unrealistic and damaging. (Teachable mindset point: having unrealistic expectations opens the door to disappointment, which leads to a ton of negative thinking that can make you quit…plus it feels crappy).
Despite that, the post got a decent response on Facebook. Here are all of the numbers:
- 72 clicks
- $54.86 spent
- 1 email optin to the content download
- 40 shares
Again, the scale of these numbers isn’t good (1 email optin, for example), but I was happy with them because it’s my first post. (1 email optin is more than 0!)
Here’s a screenshot of the Facebook ad metrics:
And here’s the ad that I was running:
And here’s the audience that I was targeting (notice how I’m refining my demographic with personal development related interests — this was before identifying entrepreneurs as my target market!):
So that’s pretty much everything!
Here’s one thing to keep in mind with this:
Was any of this perfect? No.
Was the ad copy perfect? No. Was the post perfect? No. Was the targeting on Facebook perfect? No.
None of that matters. Or at least, having the perfect ad/post/targeting/etc isn’t the MOST important thing right now.
The most important thing is getting out there and going from ZERO to something. It’s getting in the game. It’s breaking the inertia of rest and doing nothing. (Ya know, the whole “objects at rest tend to stay at rest” thing).
So this post got me in the game. And I’m happy with that.
My second post: more promotion, better results
After that first post, the next step was to do another post. Except this time, I wanted to do one key thing differently.
This time, I didn’t want to do any paid traffic. Instead of trying to rely on paid traffic to promote the post, I wanted to try promoting it organically by reaching out to other people to see if I could get them to share it or link to it. This would help with initial traffic from social networks and search engine traffic in the future.
Here’s a point that might be more important: what made me want to do this?
I also started thinking about exactly WHERE the traffic would come from. Instead of making something and then hoping and praying people would see it, I thought about exactly how people could find it.
And the list was fairly short:
- Search traffic
- Possibly from other sites linking to it
- Paid advertising
So knowing that guided my decision for promoting my next post. I knew I should simply focus on search and social. Traffic could come from other sites linking to it, but I mainly want links from other sites for SEO (search traffic) purposes.
I also did another key thing differently: I started reaching out to influencers and getting them involved in the post.
One of my key goals right now is to start building relationships with influencers. So, I did some thinking about how to start building relationships with them (keep in mind I basically have nothing to offer and this is literally only my second post!) and the idea I came up with was to simply mention them in my next post.
Then, I figured I could reach out to each one and just let them know that I would be mentioning them in an upcoming post. While it’ll still be a long road to an actual relationship, it still starts the conversation AND (this is key) it doesn’t ask them for too much.
After I had come up with the topic (how entrepreneurs can overcome/deal with depression), I brainstormed a list of influencers in the business/entrepreneurship space that had either written about depression (I also broadened it to “stress” in general) or things related to the remedies that I would be including in the post.
Then, I emailed the top 10 that seemed easiest to fit into the content outline that I already had laid out.
Here are the metrics for that:
- 24 influencers identified in total
- 10 influencers emailed
- 8 influencers responded positively
I’ll probably make another guide going into more detail on this…but an 80% positive response rate is pretty good! Especially since these people get hit up all the time, and I only emailed once. More details in a future post
Then, I wrote the post (it turned out to be a beast at almost 7k words), included the 8 influencers that responded, and promoted it.
Here’s the post if you want to check it out: The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Kicking Depression’s Ass
Here’s how I did the promotion:
- Emailed each of the influencers to say it was live if they wanted to check it out and included the link
- Posted it to my social profiles
- Emailed it out to my email list (which is very small right now but growing)
- Found people that had also written about depression and entrepreneurship OR (even better) written about it and linked to a third party resource/post about it and emailed them, asking if they wanted to see the piece I just made. (This is basically the process for white hat SEO and getting backlinks)
Now, let’s look at results. First, here are the numbers from the email outreach:
- I emailed 56 people that wrote about similar content
- 2 people linked to my post
- 2 people didn’t link to my post, but offered me a guest posting opportunity
- 1 person offered to do some co-marketing in the future plus some coaching…which is a great opportunity!
And here are the overall results from the post:
- 3 of the influencers shared the post via social
- My own social posts and the email to my list didn’t do a whole lot because these channels are currently very small
- The post has been shared about 90 times so far
- $0 spent in promotion!
- The post generated 419 unique visitors and 654 pageviews so far:
I would classify this post as another small, but bigger, win and a step in the right direction!
While 419 unique visitors is not a lot, it’s a whole lot more than the zero that I was getting before. Keep in mind, I’m starting from scratch here.
Plus, the 90+ shares is a great number to see. Sure, social sharing numbers is largely a vanity metric, but it shows that people are finding my post at least a little bit valuable.
Lessons Learned & Mindset Shifts
Ok, now let’s look at my key takeaways from doing these two posts. Here are some key lessons learned:
- Link building is hard. It’s a LOT of hard work identifying areas that would make sense for people to link to something of yours. Then, doing the email outreach — even more hard work. But, I know this is going to pay off because since it’s hard, most people probably aren’t doing it. (It’s also hard because this stuff doesn’t pay off in the short term, only the long term. More on this later).
- Now I really “get” why you need to spend a lot of time promoting your posts. With the first post, I didn’t do much promotion, and I relied on paid advertising. This got me a little bit of quick traffic and social shares, but it didn’t do much for me (and I had to spend money). With the second post, I put a LOT more time in the promotion, and I’m starting to see how it makes a difference because you can get organic shares of your content and backlinks.
- Now is NOT a good time to to paid advertising, even if it’s directly to content. Again, with the first post, I got what I would consider good results from paid promotion of the content. However, I don’t have a good strategy in place for converting paid traffic to email subscribers yet. AND, I didn’t know who my core audience would be, so I wasn’t targeting them on Facebook and speaking directly to them in my ads.
(Although, that last point bring up an interesting idea…I could go back and re-word my original ads towards entrepreneurship and target entrepreneurs in my ad campaign and see if the results are any better…hmmm….)
Here are a couple mindset related things that I’ve identified as I went through these two posts:
- The second post showed me I can build links. This was something that I had never done before, so going from reading out backlink outreach to actually doing it was a big step for me. I feel MUCH better about it now that I’ve actually done it, and this change in feeling is not to be taken lightly! This will help me in the future stay focused and committed to the process when doing future posts.
- This showed me I can create good content (although there is still a lot more room for improvement). While I don’t consider either post to be perfect, or even close to it, going through these posts has shown me that I can create good, long content. Just like the last point, actually doing this is a big step and I feel way better about making content now. (And this is coming from someone who struggled greatly — and I mean greatly — through every single English class in school because I hated writing that much.)
- Here’s an interesting mindset shift around expectations. Right now, I consider the second post that I wrote about above to be a win and I’m celebrating it. However, in the past, I would have been depressed about it because it didn’t generate 100,000 monthly unique visitors on autopilot from day 1. So, having realistic expectations is key!
Current struggles & areas for improvement:
- Velocity. I feel like this is my biggest struggle and the biggest thing worrying me right now. I need to be moving really fast but it feels like it’s taking me forever to do everything.
- I think one reason it feels like this is because I’m actually going really deep and spending the time to create long content and also promote the heck out of it.
- Obviously, another reason is the fact that I only work about 2 hours a day on this right now, so my time is limited in the first place.
- I think I’m making content that’s TOO long. The depression post was almost 7k words. I need to be more in the 2-4k word range, so I can write them faster while still maintaining quality — this should help me with the velocity issue. Plus, at this point, I probably won’t get much traction from anything because I’m unestablished and brand new, so that’s another reason why I need to write shorter posts so I can spend more time on promoting them.
- Promoting posts. I know this is the key to success, not just creating good content. However, while I felt like I did a good job promoting the depression post, I think there’s still a TON of room for improvement. (For example, Neil Patel says he used to — or maybe still does — email 250 people about every post he put out when he was building up his traffic. I only emailed 56 people about my last post.)
- I haven’t done keyword research. If I really want to build up search traffic, I need to be very strategic with the topics that I write about. They need to be targeted at certain search terms. However…I haven’t actually done any keyword research yet for any of my posts, which I should be doing!
Here’s something that’s kind of strange: I’m almost “happy” that I’m struggling with link building and outreach and finding it to be really difficult.
Because that’s telling me that this is something that separates the winners from the losers. If I’m struggling, I know other people are, so this is probably something that almost NO ONE does. If I can do this, learn the process and get more comfortable with it, then that should be a huge area of success for me.
(This is totally different from how I would have approached this in the past. Then, I would have said “this sucks, this’ll never work” and given up because I didn’t get huge results right away.)
I’m also starting to enjoy the link building process — it’s fun to come up with ideas for why people would want to link to my post, then reaching out and hearing back from people. (Sure, some people don’t respond or respond and say “no”, but that doesn’t matter. We don’t need a 100% success rate!) This also helps me actually do this process, because does suck in the way that it’s totally unglamorous and not a ton of fun but is one of the keys to SEO success.
Also, I now realize that I need to be ready to handle doing really hard work (and a lot of it) for very little reward right now. Baby steps. Get backlinks, make the site better, make awesome content, start to reach out to potential influencers. This all equals a ton of hard work but little results.
I’m envisioning a flywheel effect, where I put in all this work just to get it turning a little bit. But once I start generating organic traffic and subscribers, and have some backlinks so my domain authority is higher, that flywheel will be cranking. Then I’ll be starting to build my audience, which will make me look more appealing to partners. That’ll also give me more case study results to share, which means more authority and trust. And I’ll have more emails, so I’ll be able to promote all of my blog posts much easier just by emailing them, which should equal more organic shares, which makes my content look better when promoting it. And, I’ll be able to rank for keywords in Google quicker to bring in more traffic.
See how that works? I think that’s how successful blogs/websites REALLY get started. Everything kind of rolls together and snowballs. So this is the goal!
I’ve also gained clarity on the exact process that I should be going through when making content.
I’ll probably be making a much more detailed post with step-by-step guides later, but it’s basically this:
- Do keyword research
- See what content has already been successful for those keywords
- Identify influencers to include in my content and reach out
- Create the content and make it better than everything and unique
- Promote the content (mainly email outreach)
- Optimize for lead gen — make content upgrades for each post.
Until next time!
Whew! That was a long update. If you made it all the way through…thanks for reading! Please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Advice/critiques/comments welcome!
More coming soon