Building a Travel-Related Business Site
An SBI! Review
"If at first an idea doesn't seem crazy,
then there is no hope for it."
-- Albert Einstein.
Well, at first the idea of building a website to earn money sure seemed crazy... I live in a very remote region of Australia, the Outback of the Australian Outback if you like.
When I first saw SBI, computers and the internet were NOT a normal part of my life. Internet access here is slow and unreliable at best.
Sure, I'd seen and used computers at work. I had written memos and I had entered data in spreadsheets. I had sent about a dozen emails in my life, but that was as far as my experience went.
In addition, English is my second language (I'm of German origin) and I hate being indoors and sitting all day. Come to think of it, I never even liked computers...
Build a website? Crazy!
But there is one thing I dislike a lot more than computers, and that is being tied to a permanent job. Travel, adventure, opportunities to visit wild places and experience different cultures, all that is a very important part of my life.
A normal job doesn't allow me to do that. You cannot travel the world on four weeks of annual leave, not the way I like to travel. That's the reason why I've never lasted long in permanent jobs. My itchy feet always got the better of me.
I left Germany (it wasn't wild enough for me) and moved to Australia when I was 25. I didn't really "settle" here at that stage. I still traveled the world. The difference was that I started from Australia rather than from Germany.
And that eventually presented me with a problem, somewhat unexpectedly...
I missed having a real home, a place to return to at the end of a trip, to store my things, recharge my batteries, and, well, earn money for the next trip. Even nomads live in a permanent camp for part of the year.
I knew where and I knew exactly what I wanted; the decision was easy. I bought some land and built a house and... realized that now I was stuck. Stuck with a sizeable mortgage and a job that I soon hated.
I loved my land and my house, which meant that for the first time in my life I couldn't just quit and move on to new adventures.
I guess it's a very common scenario, one that most people resign themselves to. But no matter how common the scenario, I couldn't accept it.
I wanted it all, my beautiful home AND the freedom to travel, so I started looking for a way out.
I came up with the brilliant idea of becoming a travel writer, and selling my articles. I bought a laptop computer and got internet access. I paid for a couple of writing courses and did a lot of reading about it. I even wrote some travel articles.
It didn't take me long to work out that I could probably learn to write well enough to sell an article here and there. But could I make a living as a writer? Not in the foreseeable future.
Then, while surfing writers' websites, I saw an offer for a course on making money on the internet. Hmmm, an interesting possibility. It was free, so I signed up.
The course didn't live up to any of its promises. Despite its assurances otherwise, it sure wasn't for beginners. It mainly showed me just how much I didn't know.
As for its promise to help me make money, the course wanted me to spend more money instead, offering me "superior tools" and "proven systems" that would help me put up a website and rake in the dough without lifting a finger. I might have been new to the internet, but I wasn't that gullible.
The whole experience was a real let down. But just as I was coming to terms with the fact that my "I'll work on the internet and make money from anywhere in the world" bubble had burst, I stumbled across SBI. Even though the course had been so disappointing, it had at least taught me enough about the internet to immediately see the value SBI offered.
The Right Solution For Me
All the tools and learning materials were included. SiteSell (the company behind SBI) assumed I knew nothing. I really could start from zero and they would take me by the hand and through the site building process, step by step. SiteSell promised to not only teach me how to build a website, but also how to get traffic to it and how to make money with it.
As I said earlier, I'm not gullible. I exercised due caution and did some more research first. I asked a few people, I dug around on the internet, and no matter where I looked, I didn't hear a bad word. Everybody said the same thing, "If you build your site with SBI, you will definitely get traffic."
So I got out my credit card and signed up...
This time my bubble didn't burst. Sitesell not only lived up to what they had promised, they went well over and above, and they continue to do so every day.
My SBI process started with generating and thoroughly analyzing ideas for website topics. To make sure my concept was viable I had to look at three aspects: how many people were interested in the topic, how much competition there was, and how many ways could I make money with this topic.
SBI!'s brainstorming tool showed that my first two ideas were unprofitable. However, it wasn't long before I came up with a new topic...
A travel site about the Australian Outback.
Why not capitalize on the fact that I actually live in a part of the world that is a travel destination for others?
What would be a more natural fit for someone who lives to travel than a travel site?
The number of surfers looking for information about the Outback was a bit on the low side, and I saw that I would be facing considerable competition. However, it seemed that the existing sites - though slick and professional - were not all that useful and informative. They told people where to spend their money, but they didn't tell them much about the Outback.
Also, as someone living here, I could tell that they had no idea what the Outback was really like. Typical... city folks giving advice about something they don't even know! I knew I could offer my readers something better than that. According to SBI, the most important factor for a successful website is how well you offer real information and value to your readers.
It's Not Rocket Science
So I took a deep breath and decided to go for it. Thanks to SBI, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. I was aware that I had chosen a rather challenging topic, and that it wouldn't be easy or quick. But I also knew that if I worked hard and was patient, I could make this work.
And work I did. I threw myself into the site building process, and for the next 6 months, I spent every spare minute, every evening, every weekend working on my site. I wanted to learn and do as much as I could. I remember those early days - I think I have a few more gray hairs to show for that period.
There is a lot to learn if you start from zero like I did. However, the SBI forums proved invaluable here. I didn't even have to ask any questions; all I had to do was look around. All the questions have been asked before. No matter what problem, and no matter how stupid I felt for having it, others had been through the same thing before. The SBI community helps each other by sharing advice and experiences.
With every page I built, my confidence grew and things got easier. It didn't take long at all to master page building. It's not rocket science, not with the SBI tools.
Writing the actual words for the pages turned out to be harder for me. Writing slows me down a lot because I'm usually not happy with my wording. You might call me a perfectionist - I always want it to be the best possible. But even my writing is getting better with practice.
I kept writing pages and soon my site started to appear in the search engines, the first few readers visited, and I received the first email, submitted through a contact form on the site.
A total stranger wrote to tell me how helpful my site had been to him. Wow! I was on cloud nine. (I often get emails like that now, and they always make my day.)
SBI had promised me that if I made a website that people like and find useful, then I would get more and more traffic over time. That was exactly what was happening now. People started telling other people about my site, they mentioned it in travel forums and linked to it on their blogs. More links meant better search engine rankings, which meant more traffic.
I Quit My Day Job
My site was six months old when I signed up for Google's Adsense program. Because I already had a lot of traffic, I earned money straight away. I received my first check after the first month. The checks have been coming ever since and every month they get bigger.
Things looked very promising. So much so that I decided months ago to leave my much hated day job. I gave notice for my old job in April, and bought a second SBI site instead. I was really committed to SBI and wanted to work at it full-time.
My sites are still not replacing my regular paycheck, but I get by, and I have some savings up my sleeve. I also have a casual part time job that allows me to earn a bit extra should I need it.
Both my sites still have a long way to go, especially the second one. I haven't done much on that site yet, but it's already more than paying for itself. The first site makes four digits a month.
And this is only the beginning. Adsense is great, but there are many more ways to make money with a website. Because I've been doing so well I haven't even looked much at other options, but I plan to do so soon.
I'm also planning a third site, with a totally different topic. It's almost ready to be launched and I'm very excited about it. :-)
What can I say? Life has never been better.
Freedom is something that can't be paid for.
It's not that I work less, I probably work more than I ever did, but I do it on my own terms. It doesn't feel like work at all.
I am confident that I will never have to work for others again unless I want to!
When I look back I find it hard to believe that it's only been 15 months and my wildest dreams have come true. Just like that...
15 months from being stuck in a soul destroying job to being happily self employed and free to roam the world with my laptop.
I can't think of a better way to make a living.
Oh, and I don't hate computers any more. :-)