My Site Build It Review
How I took a year off work - and built a website on energy efficiency
In 2008, my wife and I took a year off work, and moved to rural Costa Rica for a life adventure.
Our kids settled into school, my wife volunteered in a small town, and I looked for ways to keep busy. I'd heard about people making money online, so I did some research, and discovered a product called Site Build It or SBI, which helps you build a profitable online business from the ground up.
Thousands of people - many of them web novices - have built successful SBI websites, and turned a passion, a hobby, or an idea into an income. SBI sites attract traffic more quickly than other sites - because SBI helps you build your site from the outset with traffic building and income generation in mind. With the SBI tools you figure out which pages will draw the most search engine traffic, and you focus on writing those pages. SBI even helps you find a profitable topic, based on your interests.
It's all about supply and demand
Getting supply and demand right is key to generating the traffic you need to succeed with an online business. If you choose a topic that many other sites already cover - too much supply - you get no traffic because the competition is too stiff. And if few people are searching for your topic - too little demand - you won't get many visitors either.
SBI provides tools to help you find a website topic with a high demand to supply ratio, along with detailed, easy to understand directions in the SBI Action Guide. Once you've chosen your ideal website topic, you write pages that target high demand, low supply keywords for that topic, and because the demand/supply ratio is high, you get almost instantaneous traffic. People are searching on your topic, and it's not well covered elsewhere, so they wind up on your site.
When I signed up with SBI, I brainstormed a half dozen website topics I might enjoy writing about, then narrowed that down to three that interested me most. I used SBI's Brainstormer tool to retrieve hundreds of keywords (actual search terms that people have typed into the search engines) related to those three topics - energy efficiency, canning and preserving, and electric bicycles. Brainstormer rates each keyword on its demand (number of people searching for the keyword), and supply (number of existing pages covering the keyword). The profitability, or ratio of demand to supply, is also provided for each keyword. The more high-demand, low-supply keywords you find for a site topic, the more traffic you can get for the site.
Choosing your perfect website topic
But traffic isn't the only factor. You also look at income opportunities for each topic, and factors such as your expertise and interest in each topic.
Using Monetize It and Niche Choose It - two other SBI tools, one to identify ways to make money from each website concept, the other a decision making tool for choosing the best of a set of options - I narrowed my three website ideas down to the choice to energy efficiency, since it had more profitable keywords and had more income options than canning or e-bikes.
Once I'd decided on energy efficiency, I used Brainstormer again to find even more related keywords, and as the Action Guide suggests, I organized my keywords into a logical hierarchy or site blueprint. Ten days after signing up, I was writing my first real pages, using SBI's easy-to-use BlockBuilder web authoring tool.
Here's a sample of the information Brainstormer provides:
The SBI Master Keyword List - generated with Brainstormer
As you can see, the entry for "quartz space heaters" has reasonably high demand, and almost no supply - and my page on that keyword makes me about a dollar a day. "Wireless thermostat" has higher demand, but a lot more supply. Its profitability is so low that I haven't even bothered to write a page about it yet!
How to write for the web
I hate to admit it, but I'm no energy efficiency expert. At least, I wasn't when I started. I was just a guy who had done a few energy saving projects in my own home, and understood the basics. But being an expert isn't what it takes to be successful with an online business like an informational website. What counts is your willingness to research your topics, and to write your website content from your own unique and heartfelt viewpoint.
The Action Guide spends a lot of time talking about how to wow your visitors with outstanding content. They have a process they call CTPM - which stands for:
- Content - write the right content, and write it well. Content that leads to...
- Traffic - without which your website accomplishes nothing. Traffic lets you ...
- Presell - which means describing your topic in a logical, reassuring, friendly way to build the reader's trust. Preselling helps you ...
- Monetize - turn your visitors into a source of income - because your helpful content and the trust you have built with them makes them 'ready to buy'.
This brings up another very important point about SBI! that most people overlook. With SBI you are not just buying web hosting and a suite of tools. You are buying into a methodology - or even a philosophy if you like. My experience suggests that the methodology is as important as the hosting or the tools. If you follow the CTPM process, and all the other advice from the Action Guide, your hard work will pay off with burgeoning traffic and financial success. If you ignore the advice of the Action Guide - or try building a DIY website with free or cheap hosting - you don't have the methodology and your chances of success are much lower.
Show me the money...
I put pages up - two or three a week in the early months. Traffic trickled in, 1 or 2 visitors a day in the second week, 4 or 5 by the third. By the end of September I had 30 visitors a day, and in October I put up some pay-per-click ads. Money started flowing immediately. I remember how excited I was on my first day running ads - I made 74 cents! By the end of October I'd made $27, and by the end of 2008 I'd made $300 - more or less what I'd spent on SBI!
Yes, SBI costs $299 for a year's service. It sounds like a lot, considering you can get web hosting for as little as $7 a month. But put it this way: would you rather spend $84 a year on web hosting for a site that gets no traffic and makes no money, or $299 for a site whose traffic grows by 25% a month?
My SBI site made enough in its third month to cover that month's share of the annual fee. In other words, I'd already reached break income levels by the end of my 90 day trial period.
And that early success kept multiplying. I had 1400 visitors for the entire month in October 2008, and I had 1400 visitors a day in October 2009, and made enough to cover the annual fee every two or three days. You can't get that kind of growth if all you pay for is a cheap hosting service. Even highly successful first-time SBIers tend to use SBI for their second (and third) websites, because they know how well the system works, and because $299 is a pretty small sum if you're bringing in $10,000 or $20,000 or $50,000 a year from your website.
Actually, it's not even fair to compare SBI to a web hosting service, because SBI provides a whole range of tools to build your online business. You get Niche Choose It and Brainstormer; the Block Builder web authoring tool (a big overhaul of BB is due out in Fall 2011); Value Exchange to build connections with other websites and boost your search rankings; Content 2.0 to get your visitors to create free content for you; and much more.
Page after page after page
Back to how I built this website early on.... I kept writing pages focused on profitable keywords, 2-5 pages a week, throughout my stay in Costa Rica. Each extra page boosted traffic and revenue. By the end of June 2009, when we came home to Canada, I had over 150 pages up, and was earning $1,300 a month. Once I went back to my job, I had to scale back to writing just 2-3 pages a month, but the "SBI snowball" had already kicked in, with enough quality content that traffic and income kept building on their own. I made $2,500 in September, and $3,800 in October 2009!
Not everything you write - even on high-profitability keywords - will make you a ton of money. But sometimes you hit a goldmine. One page of mine on a high-demand, low-supply keyword accounts for 15% of my total revenue, and earned $750 in October 2009 alone. That's why it's important to write for high-profitability keywords. But it's also why you need to write page after page after page. Eventually, you'll hit a goldmine page that sends your earnings soaring. Meanwhile, each of those other pages keeps earning a few pennies or dollars a day, and it all adds up!
Making money with your website
Google ads are my biggest money maker. I stick a code snippet from Google on my pages, allowing Google to display ads related to the page content. When a visitor clicks on an ad, the advertiser pays Google for the referral, and Google pays me. Some clicks might pay a penny or two, others a dollar or two. (Learn why SBI sites and Google Ads work so well together.)
I also sell products from Amazon. When visitors follow a product link from my site to Amazon, I earn a commission on anything they buy there. I sell 50-100 products a month and earn $150 to $400 in monthly commissions. I sell everything from plastic window insulation and electric heaters - things I linked from my site - to baby food and diapers. I've even sold a chicken hat - whatever that is!
Finally, I earn a small amount on referrals, for instance by referring visitors to a service that offers free quotes from qualified contractors, or by selling e-books written by others. Each of these income streams is small - Google ads account for about 90% of my site income, Amazon for about 9%, and 1% for all the rest.
Make your own dream job
I'm back at work now, so I'm not adding much new content. But traffic and revenue are still going strong. I make over $100 a day most days, and for a while there I was averaging $150 to $200 a day. Not bad for something that started out as a hobby. And while I'm not planning to quit my day job anytime soon, many SBIers have switched from a job they didn't care for, to that special prize: running a thriving online business that literally transforms your whole life!
I really encourage you to look into SBI - whether you were already thinking of starting a website, or are just intrigued by what SBI has helped me accomplish. The SBI Video Tour gives a great overview, or look at these hundreds of successful SBI sites in every imaginable niche. I promise you, this isn't a Get Rich Quick Scheme. It's an incredibly well thought out process and exceptional tool suite for building a successful online business.
If you're still unsure because of that hefty $299 fee (or $29.99 per month), just think of this. It took me five months to earn back my first year's fee (with no income at all for the first two and a half months). Now I earn back the annual fee every three days!
Put it another way: SBI costs roughly a dollar a day, and comes with a 90-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee. 90 days after my site started, my income was already averaging $2 a day, or double my daily cost. A year later my site was making me 100 times my daily cost. That's why SBI can offer this guarantee: they know that people who follow their process and work hard at it, will succeed. (Of course, if you're not going to work hard at it - forget it, go with the cheap hosting service or the free blogging service. Just don't expect to get much traffic or make much money at it.)
But I really doubt you'll need the SBI guarantee. If you follow their process and use the SBI tools, you'll be laughing all the way to the bank!
My relationship with SBI
I joined the affiliate program at SiteSell (the company that provides SBI) within a few months of becoming an SBI user, because I was so impressed with the service they offer and the fact that by using their process and tools I was able to grow my website traffic and revenue so rapidly. I wanted to be able to recommend SBI to family, friends, and others because SBI has made such a difference in my own life.
Thanks to my own success with SBI, I feel very comfortable recommending SBI to you. It really does work. If you sign up for SBI through the links on this page, you can get going right away on your own online business, and I'll make a modest referral commission (part of that 1% of my income I mentioned above!). Thank you in advance!