When I sift through my overflowing e-mail inbox, the title of this post represents a popular question I often receive. Or it may go a little something like this…
I don’t get it, Lisa. I’ve followed your advice. I add content everyday, did some guest blogging, optimized my site for SEO but I still find it hard to get noticed and make money. Why won’t people visit my site? What was your secret?
If you’ve been following me long enough, you know by now there are no secrets. Of course, hard work was a key component of my early success, but timing was another major one.
Does that mean Internet / affiliate marketing doesn’t work today?
Heck no! It just means you’ll have to work 10 times harder to deal with the saturation of “experts” online.
When I created my first website in the late 90′s, the only people who had websites were the ones who either took the time to learn a bit of HTML (or an editor like HomeSite, FrontPage, etc.), or the people who paid someone to create a website for them. There were no fancy tools like Artisteer or Thesis to ease the learning curve.
Today things are much different. While blogs and CMS tools are cool, easy and convenient, they’ve leveled the playing field a bit. Anyone can build a website in seconds and become a so-called expert on any topic they choose.
This is great news for people looking to build a quick and easy website, but it also means there is an incredible amount of competition for almost any niche that exists.
The search engines, social media and bookmarking sites are flooded with self-proclaimed experts writing about the same topics, and it seems to be getting harder to find much originality across various topics.
People’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and they are overwhelmed with all the redundant content on the web today. Mediocre content just won’t cut it anymore. You’ve got to bring it and show why you’re worthy of being followed.
It’s easy to get frustrated with algorithm updates and it may be hard to shake the feeling that Google is against you, but I can only imagine how difficult it is for any engine programmer to ensure the “best” sites are ranking well. You can only expect the tweaking and yo-yo rankings to continue.
Now, having said all that, what can you do to make your site stand out? How can you build more direct, loyal traffic so you won’t be as dependent upon Google and their ever-changing algorithm?
10 Questions You Should Answer
1. Can this information be found easily by going to Google?”
Look at the majority of articles on your site and ask yourself that question. And if the answer is yes, what kind of spin have you put on your topic to make your site stand out?
Does the web really need another generic AdSense or SEO article? Instead of regurgitating these same old facts, why not develop a revealing post sharing your mistakes and/or experiences.
Any new milestones? What mistakes did you make? What did you learn? How can you turn this into a helpful, more interesting article.
2. Am I a leader or follower?
In other words, are you often the first to report any news in your niche, or do you just paraphrase what the popular sites are writing about?
You don’t always have to be first, but at least add your own spin or additional information that makes your content personal and engaging.
For example, instead of just reviewing the iPad2 like 20 million other people did, create a video showing how you use one of the apps to conduct business online.
3. Am I doing anything to keep people coming back?
Are you posting regular updates, contests with meaningful prizes, etc. Do you have an email list and do you keep in touch with your subscribers?
4. What does my audience REALLY want and need?
Are you really in touch with what your audience wants to know regarding your topic or are you only assuming what they want?
Visit other forums and blogs (read the comments too) in your niche to get an idea for what people are talking about. Use Google Trends to see what’s trending. You may envision the best way to deliver and arrange your content, but what is your audience actually saying? Is there a disconnect or gap that needs to be filled?
When I first created 2 Create a Website in 2002, I focused on teaching how to make money with a website because that is what I was trying to do.
However, after using Survey Monkey, I discovered most people who arrived at my site just wanted a personal site for themselves or family.
In other words, I was trying to force feed information people weren’t asking for. So I had to adjust my content to fit what my audience wanted. Instantly, my bounce rate and page view per visitor improved.
Don’t be afraid to poll or survey your audience. Also encourage feedback via e-mail. Ask people how you can help them. If you get several of the same requests, that’s a good indication of what you should write about next.
5. How can I take my content to the next level?
Conduct an experiment and display the results. Interview someone interesting in your niche and ask unique questions. Create a case study on a related product you’ve purchased and don’t be afraid to say what you DON’T like.
6. Is my site lacking personality?
Do you talk AT your readers instead of TO them? Remember, the most important word you can use on your site is “you.” Personalizing your content can have a dramatic impact on your content flow and audience engagement.
7. Does my site appear credible?
People want to know what makes you the authority on your topic. Are you really walking the walk? If you’re telling someone how to make money online, why would they believe your tips or buy your products if you have no proof you are succeeding?
Use real-life examples and case studies to build credibility, create compelling stories and illustrate why people should trust your content. This goes for any niche, not just the “make money online” arena.
8. Am I really an expert on [topic X] or did I just choose this topic because I saw someone else succeeding with it?
If you’re faking it, people will know it. Why not write about something you really enjoy or care about? Almost any site can make money if there’s enough traffic thanks to 3rd party ad sales, AdSense, selling your own product, etc.
Plus, you’ll have so much more fun in the process. Trust me, I’d never be where I am today if I didn’t enjoy what I do. Too many of you have turned this into a job out of desperation for money.
While needing money may be motivating to some of you, for most people it typically leads to frustration and boredom. As I’ve always said, you need to find something other than money to motivate you.
9. Have I developed a brand? Is my site known for anything online?
For example, many people affectionately refer to me as the “The woman who keeps it real when it comes to making money online/affiliate marketing.”
If you’re known as that “anonymous person who paraphrases content and never has anything original to say” that could be a sign you need to work on developing a brand for yourself and your site.
10. Is this even for me?
It’s tempting to choose AdSense and/or affiliate marketing because people you admire are succeeding with it.
But is this method really for you? Many of you are trying to emulate sites and people you admire when you don’t even have an interest in the work that is required to succeed.
If you hate writing then why are you trying to be a content affiliate marketer or professional blogger? If you’re not a salesperson then why are you joining MLM programs to hard sell people?
A big part of being successful is finding a business that aligns with your skills. You don’t have to be an affiliate marketer or AdSense publisher to make money on the Internet.
You could try selling items you create on eBay, become a freelancer, develop a niche YouTube channel. The key is to find something that fits your individual skill set.
I have always enjoyed writing. I wrote my first short story at the age of 10. And as far as video goes, any friend or family member will tell you that I have always loved being in front of a camera. So what I do online is merely an extension of what I’ve always enjoyed in my real life.
Can you say the same?
Time to Get Real With Yourself
I bet if you seriously address the above points, not only will your site improve, but they may cause you to examine your approach and goals.
I know many of you are frustrated with AdSense and the lack of clicks. Some of you don’t understand why you don’t have more traffic.
Perhaps you were bitten by the Google Panda and you feel like you have to start over. You may have even questioned if this “Internet marketing thing” still works.
These days, this business is so much more than just throwing up content on a blog. Don’t underestimate the amount of lackluster, redundant content spread across the web.
People are inundated and overwhelmed with mediocre sites, and it takes a lot more to get and keep their attention.
Think about websites you follow religiously. There’s a reason you are so loyal to them. Maybe the site is funny? Creative? Perhaps it delivers the news first. Does it help you learn a new skill? Adopt some of these strategies to generate that kind of loyalty for your own site.
I think blogs are great, but their convenience has fooled a lot of you into thinking that the work stops after publishing. If you want to succeed in 2011 and beyond, learning how to think outside the box and establish a brand for yourself and site is an absolute must!
I hope this blog post is the kick in the pants you need to get rolling!