2012 was the best year for me financially. I had multiple sites ranking extremely high for very competitive keywords and the payouts were big. 2013 so far hasn’t been anywhere near what last year produced mainly because of my gambling habits (which now cease to exist). Nevertheless, I want to take a look back at August 2012 which financially was the best month I’ve ever had & only involved sales from 1 website.
In the middle of August 2012 I went on a vacation to New Zealand. I’ve been their before in 2010 & it’s one of my favorite places to visit. This time I was going to cover both the North & South islands over a 2 week period. For a while there I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave the computer for this amount of time however I had things setup so it was semi-automated and I imagined I would be able to find a few hot spots around the country as well as internet cafe’s. So I went, had a good time and on the 2nd week I was there I checked my email in an Auckland hotel to a few emails from members of the press. They wanted to do a story on a particular niche I was involved with. Why did they choose to contact me? My website was ranking #1 at the time for the most competitive keyword in that industry. This does go to show the level of authority your business receives simply by investing in SEO. You’re seen as the leader – the one journos turn to when they want a comment or interview.
So I answered the email, gave my thoughts and went on my way not expecting much. Now I have to mention that this particular publication has a readership of just over 1,000,000 daily readers however I imagined the article would be just a simple opinion piece no more than a paragraph or two. Turns out it a front page article that would stay in the feature spot for several hours. And the way I learnt about this? I was walking around the city, connected my phone to a local bars Wi-Fi & my emails automatically downloaded. Hundreds. By now I was in remote parts of the South Island, I’m talking about snow capped mountains surrundoing the place I was staying in, hours away from homes and staying in a hotel that had no Wi-Fi! As I was going through the emails I saw a lot of payments, a few new press emails from journos who saw the article and also want to report on it as well as other miscellaneous stuff. This caught me way off-guard. We had a busy day planned so I didn’t get a chance to look at all of the emails but suffice to say that I needed to get to a computer as soon as possible.
To give you a basic idea of where I was staying, here are a few pictures I took of the local area: 1 & 2. Very remote, very cold, very few people & very little places to get an internet connection. It was getting pretty late and after visiting the few stores in the town (that was around 15 minutes from where I was staying) and finding out they don’t even know what a USB mobile broadband dongle is let alone sell them I found a small local business which had 3 old school computers available for use to the public. I’m talking CRT monitors, Internet Explorer 6 and internet speed that rivaled dial-up. But alas, I finally had a chance to get online.
The press brought a lot of visitors to my site and a lot of unread live chat requests. If there is one thing I would recommend to anyone running an eCommerce website that utilizes live chat & goes on vacation: hire a VA to man it. This site was consistently earning a few hundred dollars a day so I have no idea why I didn’t bother with this before especially when you can hire a VA for anywhere from $150-$300 a month. Anyway, I spent hours in this small shop with the owner looking over my shoulder and I was really liking what I was seeing. The news article read exactly like a full page advertisement and attracted a few hundred comments showing good engagement & overall I was happy with how it turned out.
Moving along to the end of the month when I finally added up sales and after other press was over, I viewed my PayPal account for this website and was happy to see that revenue was just over $18,000. Not too bad when you think that I spent half of that month in a different country in a place where I couldn’t connect 24/7 to the internet.
So a few things I would do differently:
– if you don’t have a press page on your website, add one right now! Sofa Moolah doesn’t have one so I’ll be adding it as soon as I’ve published this post. You want to make it extremely easy for journalists to find your information – lower the barriers. On my other websites I put together press kits which include multiple versions of logos (large + small, black + white, transparent background etc.) along with company information (about you, headshots etc.) and ways of getting in touch whether it be exchanging emails or talking over Skype.
– hire a virtual assistant if you’re going overseas to manage your websites. I can’t stress this enough. I would have had a much better time if I didn’t have to stress about replying to customers late and having orders delayed because I’m snowed in. You can hire these assistants for anywhere from $150 a month for basic data entry / customer service and it’s definitely worth the small price to pay for peace of mind.
– have a decent server ready for unexpected traffic. I was lucky – I have all of my sites hosted on Media Temple which can easily handle spikes of traffic but I can only imagine that if I hosted on a cheap shared hosting plan that the $18,000 I made would be cut in half if the server suddenly collapsed under the pressure.
– if a journalist gets in touch with you, try & form a relationship with them. Do you have any idea how valuable it is to have a journalist as a friend on your rolodex? Enough said.
– if you work online, have a way to get on the internet!