How I Made A Website About The Outback...
...and why you need a website, too
This page is a continuation of my About Me page. I never thought that page would have such an impact.
However, I get more feedback about the "About Me" page than about all other parts of this website together!
Many people write to thank me for the inspiration they get from it.
What can I say? Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. It means a lot to me that I have been able to give someone the courage to finally do something they've been dreaming of for a long time :-). Good on you and all the best!
I also receive many emails asking me more questions about this website and about SBI. Obviously there is a lot of curiosity about the system, and obviously I didn't do a good enough job when I told you about it, because the questions are always the same.
It's been over a year since I last updated the About Me page, so I figured I let you know how things have been going since. I also want to answer the questions that I am asked again and again, in the hope that I will cut down on writing long emails in the future :-).
First up some hard numbers
A few people weren't shy and asked straight out: "How much are you making and how long did it take?"
It is mid May 2007 as I write this, and I have been with SBI for 19 months.
(Updates until November 2012 are included below.)
Both the Outback and the Kimberley Guide are well established. The Kimberley Guide is much smaller, of course, as it is younger, and it doesn't have anywhere near as many readers yet. I started that one a year ago and haven't spent as much time on it.
I get about 2500 visitors a day on the Outback site, and 500 visitors a day on the Kimberley site.
My income from Adsense (those "Ads by Goooogle") adds up to about $1800 a month and I also have income from several other sources. There are other advertisers, and I make money from book and DVD sales. I don't sell those myself. I just tell people where they can buy them, and if someone likes the product and buys it I get a small commission.
The Outback site makes about $1700 a month and the two sites together generate well over $2000 in monthly income now. (All figures are US dollars.) It's still not what I used to earn in my much hated day job, but since I'm alone it is enough for me to live on.
(2008 update: my Kimberley site now also sells a downloadable guide book I wrote. Overall traffic and income from other sources has grown and as of April 2008 I earn over $4000 a month from my sites.)
(2009 update: both my main sites started to grow really rapidly towards the end of 2008, and early 2009 the Kimberley site exploded. My overall income has more than doubled since.)
If I had spent all my time on only one site my income would have grown faster in the beginning. A website is something that requires a lot of work up front and pays off big time later.
Starting two new sites meant I spent most of my time doing the initial work that doesn't immediately translate into money. But it also means that another one or two years down the track I will make a lot more than if I had only one site. (The above updates show that my prediction certainly came true.)
(2009 update: going stronger than ever. All is well, the Permcaulture site I mentioned above remained a mostly inactive hobby site, something I do just for the love of it. My two main sites keep growing, and so does my income from them. Each of those two sites alone now earns well over 3K, enough to easily support me. Together they earn me a very nice income indeed.)
The most important point to take away here is that my income is steadily growing, day after day after day, whether I work on the websites or not. It grows faster when I do a lot of work, but it still grows while I go away on long holidays. I earn money while I travel, I earn money while I'm fishing, I earn money while I sleep. It's pretty hard to beat.
What's also hard to beat is the feeling that you own your life and your time. There is no way I could ever go back to working for others in a permanent job.
Is this really as easy as it sounds?
That is probably the most common question. The answer is, yes and no. It depends how you define easy.
It certainly isn't a matter of pressing a few buttons and the money starts rolling in. If that's what you meant when you said easy then the answer is no.
The one point I stress in every email, whether people asked this question or not, is this: it takes time, hard work and commitment to build a successful website. Do not underestimate the amount of time, the amount of hard work, and the amount of commitment involved!
But that's all it takes. It does not take exceptional writing skills, it does not take technical knowledge, it does not require that you know anything about computers or websites. Nothing.
You will initially have to learn a lot, but that learning is part of SBI. You will be guided through the whole process. Anybody with a brain who's willing to learn and work can do this, no matter what their background. So if that's what you wondered, then the answer is yes. It really is that easy. You can do it.
How much time do you spend working on your site?
I'll focus on my first site here (the Outback Guide) or it'll get too complicated.
When I started I still had my day job, so I could only work on the weekends. I usually wrote a page or two per week for the first 6 months. After I quit my job I, um, went for a long holiday.
After the holiday I started my second site. For the next six months I spent on average 20 hours a week on the Outback site.
(All up I work six or even seven days a week if I'm home, but only for about six hours a day. And I'm not always home. I travel a lot.)
Since January 2007 I have done a lot less on that site, maybe five to ten hours a week, if that. But because of the work I did in the previous year, this was the period where I saw the biggest growth in income and visitors. And it keeps growing. I've done hardly any work on it in 2008, but it just keeps growing.
Now my focus is on getting the other sites to that stage, too.
It sounds good but I have no idea what I could make a website about.
That is absolutely not a problem.
Most people who already have an idea change their mind once they start with SBI. I had two ideas when I started and dumped them both. SBI came up with the topics for all my websites.
The first thing that SBI teaches you is how to select a profitable topic. There are no general rules. Everybody is different so this is an individual decision. SBI has brainstorming tools. You use them to generate ideas and to analyse them. You'll see if there is enough interest in a topic, how much competition there is, and if there is money to be made.
To choose a topic for a website is the most important step in the whole process, so you shouldn't do it without SBI anyway. Don't know what to make your site about? Good!
It says it costs $299 for the first year. What are the costs after that? Are there any financial catches?
No catches :-).
$299 is the yearly subscription fee. It works out $25 a month, but there is only the yearly payment option. And there is of course their rock solid money back guarantee. Don't like it? Just give it back.
There are no catches whatsoever. SBI includes everything you need. There are no hidden costs. You can't go wrong by trying it out. The way I see it you have everything to win and nothing to lose.
Important update! As of November 2009 SiteSell is offering a monthly subscription at $29.99. Wow, I didn't think they'd ever do that. My suggestion: if you are serious about building a sizeable income stream for yourself, get the yearly subscription. It works out cheaper, and if you don't like it you can easily get all your money back. I see no point in getting the monthly option, but apparently it is very popular.
I think that's it, those are the questions that I've been asked a million times. If I forgot something I'm sure you'll ask and then I'll add it here.
November 2012 Update: Where am I today?
My original About page was written a long time ago. Because I kept and keep getting so much positive feedback about its inspiring nature, I never changed it in any way.
Instead I had written the above page that answers the most common questions that I kept getting from readers, and for a while I updated that regularly.
Apparently the page did its job because the questions died down.
And then they started up again. Or rather, one question:
"How are you doing today? Do you still think SBI is a good thing?"
Nothing much has changed. My income kept going up and up and in my best month ever I made over $20,000.
$15,000 - $20,000 was the norm for a while.
For a while?
Yes, for a while. For starters my topic is seasonal, so I always had a lower income ($10,000 - $15,000) in the second half of the year.
But the main reason is that for the last years I stopped working on the sites altogether. I had some health problems, I had some family issues, but most of all, I remembered that money isn't everything and that I just don't need that much!
This may be incomprehensible for some, and usually people don't believe it, but money in and of itself just does not interest me. It never has.
Part of the motivation in growing my sites to what they have become was the challenge and satisfaction of learning something new and becoming good at it.
But the success came with a flip side. Thousands of readers and customers means thousands of emails and questions and issues to attend to, on a pretty much daily basis.
My original goal and motivation was the freedom to go and do what I want, when I want.
What I needed was more time and freedom and not more money.
So I stopped all work on the websites and on promoting them, everything that led to more and more traffic, and for the last years I focussed on living life.
My happy customers still did more than enough promotion to keep me in business.
The result is that these days I sell more e-books than ever (most of my customers find me by word of mouth) but the other website traffic and advertising income (formerly huge) has declined.
It's not huge any more, only very big :-).
In the early days I kept very close tabs on everything. But in the last few years I rarely checked. I knew there was more than enough coming in, so why waste time counting?
I can't tell you where exactly the money came from (advertising or e-books, which website, which book etc.)
However, I can tell from my yearly tax figures that on average I still made about $12,000/month in the 2011/12 financial year.
(The Australian financial year does not equal the calendar year but starts on July 1 and ends June 30.)
So, I still earn WAY more than what I really need. (Which is a blessing as it has enabled me to support my family back in Europe.)
But most importantly, in the last couple of years I really enjoyed the freedom that I always longed for.
The other thing I noticed when reading through my previous pages is that SBI has changed a lot in those years as well. The internet changes and develops, and so did SBI. Many new tools have been released, for example to easily add social media functions to SBI sites, to allow readers to write their own pages and comment on others, and more.
I guess the Video Tour, which has been updated accordingly, is still the best place to start.
It requires some time to watch the whole thing, and I don't like the salesy tone of it or the images they use throughout, but it does give you a reasonable overview of the process.
Unfortunately the Action Guide, which used to be publicly accessible, has been made private.
Personally I still think the single best way to determine whether it's for you is to simply try it out.
You now have not only one but a full three months to do so, to check out all the tools and learning materials, even to start building your website, and if you don't like it you simply give it back.
P.S: Over 250,000 Facebook fans can't be wrong!
(Ok, 248,889 at the time of writing on Nov 29, 2012, but they'll reach the quarter million soon enough.)
Let me say it again: what are you waiting for?
"100% of the shots you don't take don't go in."
You only have one life.
Make the most of it.
Try SBI - because if I can do this, you can!
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
P.P.S.: Do you have any questions left about SBI? Want to know how exactly it could work for you? You can ask any questions here.