SBI! Reviews: Destination Sites
Who Would Have Thought That A Vacation
Could Pay My Way Through University?
The beautiful Caribbean island of Anguilla is a place not many people know about. My Dad hadn't.
And then he read a book.
It is an inspiring story about two people selling everything they owned, "slowing down" and opening up their dream... a restaurant in Anguilla.
Their love of the island, through successes and mishaps, their description of the island and its people, caught my dad's fancy. This book is really about a journey down a "road less traveled."
It's really about people choosing to lead their own lives.
I feel so sad for people who are stuck working for people they don't like, for those who are forced to go to work, fight traffic, be in an office and then come home at the end of the day.
My dad works hard building SiteSell.com and SBI!. Probably too hard. But he loves what he does -- I can see his dream, how SBI! can free people from a hum-drum life. You don't have to do what the Blanchard's did and risk every penny and open your own restaurant.
You can do what I did. But never meant to. ;-) (After all, who could have imagined that A Trip to the Beach and SBI! would turn me into a successful Web site owner, too?)
Anyway, all that to say... when my Dad asked me to write my "case study," how could I say "no"? (How could I say "no" anyway -- but that's a different story!).
Before I start my story, I should add one thing... I get some e-mail saying how lucky I am to have my Dad tutor me on "Net marketing." Well, he doesn't.
He does help me a lot with my writing -- he loves to write, and he pushes me to "say it better, Nori -- make it come alive." And he did help me get started with the software. But I do all the rest myself.
My Story Begins
As I was saying, my Dad works pretty hard. But when we vacation, we vacation. No laptops. No cell phones. No RIM. Just tropical clothes and snorkeling equipment!
We had fallen in love with Anguilla on our first trip to the island. So a whole month in Anguilla was looking very appealing.
I won't bore you with the details of that trip, but if you know my Dad at all, you will have guessed that we pushed our car to corners of the island where even the locals never go. We ate, swam and drank (ahem, did I mention the rum punches?) it all in.
About half way through that trip (August 2002), I asked my Dad, "Would Anguilla be a good topic for a Web site?"
Uh-oh. The lights in my Dad's eyes went on.
"Nori, what a great idea."
He went on to explain how the World Wide Web is really nothing more than hundreds of millions of people looking for information, and millions of sites that provide that information. Except that most sites just try to make money with their sites... without providing what people look for... the information.
Anguilla would, he said, be a wonderful theme, for a site, if there was enough demand for information about Anguilla and not too much competition. If there was, then I could indeed attract visitors by providing good information (and we were becoming experts on Anguilla by now!). The final question, he said, was...
"Assuming you can build the traffic, how will you convert those visitors into revenue? "
In short, my Dad calls this...
Content > Traffic > PREsell > Monetize.
It all seemed pretty simple, when he explained it like that. We had a wonderful vacation. And my brain kept thinking about how this adventure would make a good Web page, or that restaurant, etc.
There was only one problem... I didn't know how to make a Web page!
Anguilla-Beaches.com Is Born
When we got home, my Dad showed me the Brainstormer software. Talk about amazing. Magic. And there were lots of great topics (called "keywords") about Anguilla. And not too much competition.
So we knew that we could build a site that would attract enough visitors who are interested in Anguilla. But as my Dad says, "There's no point in building a site, even one with traffic, if you don't have a plan for how you are going to convert that traffic into income, Nori. Unless you just want a hobby site, of course."
Now, I have nothing against those who just want to have a hobby site. But as long as you're going to write about something you know and love, you might as well earn some money to pay for Radiohead concerts and clothes, right?
As a student, I don't really have any services to sell. And I do not have time to create or sell products (although eventually I might write the Xtreme Tourist Guide to Anguilla book). And my Dad does not want me to e-mail with strangers, not for a couple more years, so no customer support he says.
However, he explained that there are a lot of local Anguillian businesses who do not have a Web site. Or if they do, they get no traffic and never will. So he explained how I could earn a finder's fee by sending clients to them.
In addition, I could be an affiliate and earn commissions by sending people to Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble to buy books on Anguilla. Google AdSense did not exist yet.
|So, based on all our keyword brainstorming research and monetization plan, "Anguilla-Beaches.com" was born.|
I read the Action Guide, which was long but easy-reading (in case you're wondering, my Dad is not saying whether that little Action Guide shadow-man with the hat and the whip is him or not). My Dad did help me through a couple of the sections, but that's more because he hovers -- I could have done it all on my own.
His most important help was really to push me to write to "touch" my visitors. If you just write to make money, you will fail. If you write to truly touch and inform and please your visitors, good things will follow. That's a lesson that I will always have with me, and I don't just mean for anguilla-beaches.
I'll spare you the details of actually "doing SBI!," because it really was quite easy. But just in case you have not yet read the "quick tour of how to do it" by now... this is all I did (please click here and follow along).
The Traffic Starts
I don't quite know how to say this next part. Have you ever worked on something, and you know it's supposed to work, but you don't somehow believe it?
Well, that's kind of like what I was doing.
First, let me back up a bit and tell you that I was afraid. I was scared that my Dad would think I was dumb because I had no idea how to write a Web page. I was afraid of failing... and somehow, I didn't really think "anyone would come."
"But if you don't try, you don't get." (Yes, you-know-who says that, too.)
Well anyway, I started writing Web pages, not wanting him to see them. My first two were up before he even knew it! It was so easy with the block-by-block builder. And the neat part is that the online help taught me some simple HTML, like how to make a word bold or navy blue.
My Dad was really impressed. We reviewed the pages and he showed me how to say things better. How to choose better words. How to close a page with more "punch." It all makes sense once it's explained to you, and now SBI! even includes sections on how to write like that!
Soon, I was using an HTML Editor called "BBEdit" (we use Macs). My Dad did help me a bit with this. But anyway, back to "believing." Guess what happened next?
People started visiting. First a few per day. Then tens, hundreds, more and more and more. And they loved the site. I received wonderful e-mail (my Dad has someone screen my e-mail -- I think I'm old enough, but he worries about this, so I only see them and I don't reply to it).
I have received e-mail from...
- The Anguilla Tourist Board -- "You go girl." That was great! They have written several times since, thanking me.
- Anguilla Life magazine -- Claire Devener, the publisher, has become friends of the family.
- Many restaurants and spots around the island, thanking me for mentioning them.
- Hundreds of people who discovered Anguilla just because of the site.
- And I am even recognized on the beach... which is very weird.
Which brings me back to "believing." Although I understood what I was doing, somehow it is still amazing when you see yourself at #1 on Google for "anguilla beaches" and when you see visitors arriving, and especially when you see all the people you reach from all over the world.
My site even gets a higher traffic ranking than big, glitzy sites...
|Owner||Nori Evoy||Arawak Beach Inn||Anguilla Tourist Board|
When I stop to think about it, I still find it strange. But the reason is so simple... people return when you provide information that touches them. They subscribe to your e-zine. They find you at the engines because you offer so many pages that cover so many keywords. They find you... they like you... and they keep coming. Like my Dad said...
Content > Traffic > PREsell That has to come first.
It worked! And now...
My Dad had explained to me how 98% of online business people focus on "getting the money" first. Only one problem. Their sites don't attract anyone!
Now that anguilla-beaches was getting traffic, my Dad arranged with another good friend and wonderful real estate agent, for me to earn a commission by referring real estate leads to her. I built an entire section on real estate -- all those photos my Dad took came in handy!
As a results, she has sold a house and rented many villas (some of those villas rent for thousands of dollars per night). This single referer arrangement already earns most of my income from the site, and my Dad wants to arrange similar deals with other professionals and services and businesses on the island.
And I was accepted as a Google partner. The Google ads alone earn me a lot more than my friends who work part-time in fast food restaurants.
The affiliate income is the least important revenue generator, but it's better than nothing!
The End... Or The Beginning
We've made several trips to Anguilla since then... I know that's where my parents will settle when I'm in university. And every trip, we accumulate more and more great content.
I don't try to be all things to all people. There are other sites that are far more comprehensive. But people don't necessarily want "comprehensive." As my Dad says, "We live in an info-overloaded world, Nori. If you find the best for people and save them the time of having to read too much, you're providing real value."
So that's my niche... the best of Anguilla... from a family's point of view.
On this next trip, I'll use Form Build It! to add more lead-generating income for a boat charter, a tour operator, and other higher-end businesses. I'm not in a rush. It's important for me to find the right partner to recommend, not just to make money.
Oh, and speaking of money, I wasn't kidding about university. My Dad will, of course, help with university. But please don't think I'm one of those kids with a silver spoon in my mouth. My Dad refuses to spoil us and I guess that's why I called this section "The End... Or The Beginning."
This is the end of my story, but just the beginning of my adult life. I've learned that it takes some work to succeed. If you re-read my story, you'll see how important it is to work smart. That's more important than working hard.
SBI! did not build my site... it did not build my business. I did.
But it did help me to work smart. I picked a good theme, thanks to SBI!.
I built a Web site, which I could never have even started without it.
Traffic grew, thanks to SBI! leading me through the process of writing my words so that they make both my human visitors and the search engines happy. I had to work to do this, but I could not imagine doing it without SBI!.
SBI! took away 90% of the "work hard" and let me work smart.
I now have a business that I can grow over the years. A business that is fun. I'll never do a 9 to 5. I'll always own my own life.
That, more than money, more than learning about the Web, more than anguilla-beaches, more than learning how to write well, that is the most important thing I've learned from SBI!.
Own your own life. If you don't, what's the point?
Thank you, Dad.