The One Question I Ask Myself Before I Start A New Website (Or Business) | Skipblast

The One Question I Ask Myself Before I Start A New Website (Or Business)

This year has been one full of changes for me. I sold everything that I own, except for what fits into four suitcases and a couple of boxes in a storage unit.

Then, I set off with a one-way ticket to the Netherlands to start fulfilling my dream of moving abroad and living in Europe.

I sold my higher earning sites. I sold some of my oldest sites; sites that had been my baby for 3+ years. Selling all these sites put me in the unique position of having a large chunk of cash in the bank (meaning I don’t have to do any immediate income earning) – and that gave me the time to really think about what I want to focus on with my new sites.

And since you’re probably reading this because you’re into the whole websites and online business thing, this is the most important change that relevant to you –  I completely changed my thought process and mindset before starting new sites/businesses.

I’m telling you this because as I’ve been coaching and consulting for people this year, I’ve shared this mindset change with them – and it seems to be pretty valuable for every single person that I’ve told. And I’ll tell you what that is in a moment, but first let me explain my previous mindset.

My Previous Mindset When Starting New Sites and Online Businesses

I think that the old way I did things is typical of most people doing this online thing.

You find something that people are already making money from, or you think will make you some nice bank, and then you start throwing shit at the wall to see if it sticks.

adventure time lets be stupid

You can make plenty of money that way. That’s why it’s the way that I’ve always worked.

Probably the same is true for you.

But it also means that I’ve been creating sites on a lot of stupid shit that I have zero interest in personally.

Sites that never really had the potential to grow into something amazing for me.

Here’s some examples of niches that I’ve had sites in, where I have zero interest in the topic:

  • golf (which I seriously hate)
  • weight lifting
  • weight loss
  • debt reduction
  • pregnancy
  • kids toys
  • baby care tips
  • lawn care (my “lawn” in Vegas was a few palm trees, a cactus, and some rocks)
  • showers
  • puppy care (they’re cute, but writing about them is no bueno)

There’s a ton more of these niches that make my eyes bleed when I have to write about them, but I think you get the gist.

And, it’s hard to scale a site with info products, your own products, etc. if you have no real interest in doing it.

What’s worse is the number of these types of sites that I started, and kind of just let die off. All because my interest in them was non-existent.

But wait, you say, that’s what outsourcing is for and getting a team, and all that shit that gurus shove down your throats about scaling with your team of VAs!

mocking spongebob

Yes, Jan, you can make a fuckton of money by pouring a fuckton of money into freelance writing teams, link building teams, etc.

But most of the time when we’re doing this little exercise we’re only building a house of cards. Hell, I’ve sold plenty of those for nice bank. You may have as well.

It’s short term.

And I realized that I don’t want short term for the future.

I want something that grows into a fucking amazing online property – something that is more than just an affiliate site.

And to do that, it needs to be something that I’m interested in. But sometimes when you create work out of genuine interests, it becomes a chore.

So, how you can avoid that while still being on the anti-house of cards path?

One Simple Question That Can Change Your Path

Earlier this year I was going to enter the CBD niche. I was living in Vegas and weed/CBD is legal there, so I had lots of resources at my disposal.

I was regularly visiting my local dispensaries (and I knew I was moving to Amsterdam), so I thought starting a site on it would be a good way to work on something I was interested in plus give me a way to write off some of that expense.

Hell, why not go all in?, I thought, so I also bought a weed domain at the same time as the CBD one.

jake the dog is high

I never started either of those sites.

I know how much money there is in those niches, which is what initially attracted me to them. But something caused a shift in my mindset not too long after getting those domains.

I realized that I was not really moving forward – more like treading water in the same place for the last 10 years.

My focus needs to be on planting a seed that can grow into something magnificent instead of something that makes a bit of cash until the next Google update rolls around…if I don’t sell it first.

I got to this place by asking myself one simple question.

Do I want to still be doing this in three years?

That’s it.

If you’re all about ranking and banking, then you’re probably thinking that I’m crazy. It’s okay, I have those days too.

Doing things the right way in an attempt to build a real business with a real audience with multiple streams of revenue (and traffic) takes a hell of a lot longer than throwing lots of links at a site with okayish content (that was a lot faster to produce).

But if you do things the right way from the beginning, then you don’t have to go back and fix them later on.

hard work sucks

I was recently shown this income report from a couple of travel bloggers who’ve managed to scale up to $5K/month in a short amount of time.

You can see that they started out one way, then had a bit of mindset change, and are now thriving. Good for them!

My favorite thing from this income report is the first thing they note that didn’t work well for them when growing their site –

Making the site impersonal by writing content solely for Google (we were trying to write buying guides and it was soul-sucking).

heck yes

There’s no denying that a site full of those soul-sucking buying guides can get you a nice, comfortable life…even if you want to move that life to a more expensive location, like Amsterdam.

But it’s not a smart long-term play.

And it’s definitely not a fun long-term play. I’ve been creating this type of shit for a decade now, so I know what a drag it is.

That’s why the new sites that I’ve started this year have all been things that I can see myself still working on in three to five years.

If you need cash with a quickness, then I don’t blame you for cranking out sites full of stuff like ‘best curling iron for thin hair’ that no one really wants to read (or write).

But if you are feeling some burnout or want to build something bigger than just an affiliate site, then I suggest that you work on changing your mindset as well.

Think about building a digital empire instead of an affiliate site.

Something that is massive in your niche. Something that you can grow with real world products. Something that you can actually work on for the long term and enjoy.

tilly and cricket

I think we affiliate SEOs have a lot to learn from travel bloggers and personal finance bloggers. Each group puts their all into a site on a topic that they are passionate about. They build multiple traffic streams, monetize with various methods, and they seem to really enjoy their topics.

And a lot of them are earning a hell of a lot more monthly than affiliate SEOs.

As affiliate SEOs, we have something that a lot of traditional bloggers don’t – SEO skills. Just think of the possibilities awaiting you if you combine your SEO skills with what those bloggers are already successfully doing.

And think about how much more valuable a site like that will be when you’re ready to flip it.

So, before you start that next site, ask yourself if you’d like to still be working on it in three to five years. The answer might surprise you and change your whole path going forward.

11 thoughts on “The One Question I Ask Myself Before I Start A New Website (Or Business)”

  1. These days I find that even outsourcing content I’m not interested in is brutal because I have to edit and publish it. It’s tough to publish something you aren’t 100% sure is correct, so without learning a bit out the niche, even if you’re outsourcing most of it, I think it’s less enjoyable than publishing to a site you find interesting.

    Plus, I think there are always going to be keywords which need a personal touch, or some legitimate expertise, to actually rank and convert. “Best of” lists can be easily outsourced for sure, but knowing something about your niche, and enjoying the research/writing is what can make your website and brand have more staying power long term.

    • Yes, I agree. I often spend so much time researching for the outline, that I should really just write the article instead. These days I’ve been focusing mostly outsourcing the ‘best’ style posts cause they’re such a drag to write. Though I often that just having to read what the writer submits for this type of article is also as taxing as writing it!

  2. Great post, Shawna. It made me think and I think I have a different perspective on this. Some of my niches are very interesting for me personally (travel being one of them), and I still prefer not to write the content myself at this point.
    What I find interesting about web publishing these days is the scaling-up process. Streamlining the workflow, and making it better. And I’m 47, so I really hope to be able to at least partially retire from “this” in a few years. The general idea here is to semi-retire to a 10-hour workweek (4 hours is probably not really enough 😉 ).

    • I think I’m too much of a control freak about it to outsource most of it like that! Like you, I am also looking ahead to not really doing this forever, which is why I’m starting to focus more on the niches that are actually interesting.

  3. Hi Shawna –

    This post really hits home! I’ve had a few throw away sites over the years based on topics I couldn’t care less about. And when I try to write about something I’m actually interested in and passionate about, I suddenly become this perfectionist and overthink every detail! Nothing gets done, and then I’m stressed about a topic that’s supposed to bring me joy. So, finally, I have a site with a broad niche that’s fun, with the potential to build a real audience… over the course of a couple years. I just need to remind myself to add real value and mix things up a little. And I’ve been able to learn a lot from food and lifestyle bloggers via some blogging groups. Now just need to combine those SEO skills and see where this goes. Anyway, really appreciate this post and glad I found your blog. It’s a breath of fresh air!

  4. Hi Shawna – I’ve only recently come across your site (and your course). thank you so much for the GREAT content!

    I am a newbie who’s been lurking around all over the place for more than a year. I now have information overload! One day to the next I want to do dropshipping, Shopify, authority site, lead generation, digital products… I’m having trouble committing. It’s not that I want quick money, but I don’t do well with feeling defeated, so something I can build and improve on like a niche authority site probably suits me best (That’s today’s thinking anyway! – lol)

    I’m interested to know if you have advice about outsourcing the writing and maybe some of the formatting and design of an authority site. I’m not at all opposed to doing the heavy lifting and the leg work, but I know that I’m not necessarily the best writer… and I’m just learning the layout stuff, so it might be best for me to hire some help?? My problem is knowing what to look for in a writer and general designer. Do you have an upcoming article or past article about this? Any advice in particular???

    Many thanks,
    Alison in Newfoundland, Canada

    • Hi Alison,

      Apologies for the delay in response as I’ve been on vacation 🙂 If you’re using UpWork to outsource, then reviews from previous clients is definitely an important thing to pay attention to. But if you’re using a service, like Textbroker, then it’s not that easy and you can get some real duds. The best way to get what you want from a writer is to give them an outline (so your H2s, etc) and guidelines on how you want it written (the more detailed, the better).

      This post talks about how I get my article outlines and this one expands on my pre-publication process. And I’ll add to my list of things to write about your requested topic 🙂

      As far as a designer, that’s not really something that I feel like I can offer assistance on other than to say that it’s not that important when it comes to ranking a site. I’ve seen some really ugly sites that make a killing.

      Good luck!

  5. Hey Shawna

    I discovered your blog thanks to a link from the FatStacks Community and devoured your articles in the last two days. Really inspiring stuff!

    I like your shift to a more “longterm” site strategy.

    One question I cannot get out of my mind is why you sell your websites in the first place. I understand the sale of a website in case of an emergency or if you move (like you did).

    But if I look at the returns when you keep a site (and compare them with other asset classes) I see no reason why selling would be the better option (IF your site has good content and was built to last).

    Sure, you get a quick influx of cash. But you lose your revenue generating machine at the same time.

    I’m not sure what kind of multiples you get for your sites when you sell. But lets assume you get a wonderful 36x.
    If you keep your site one year longer, you could stomach a reduction in earnings of 33% and still get the same total amount of cash if you sell a year later (assuming that the multiple stays the same (which is, to be honest, not that plausible)).

    Would love to get your thoughts on this topic.

    Kind regards from Switzerland

    • Hey Simon! Always nice to hear from someone who is new to my ramblings 🙂

      I’ll be honest with you – the types of sites I used to build and sell were not really the types of sites that I would want to keep long term. I chased money more than topics that I was interested in. So, I viewed them as more of a short term asset instead of something that I could really grow and build a fortress around. That doesn’t mean that they were shitty sites, but they weren’t things that I saw myself growing into big brands with multiple revenue streams.

      That being said, one of the big sites that I sold before my move was a site that I considered holding onto – and I only sold it to build up a nice safety net before the move. As soon as the non-compete for that niche expires, I’m getting back in it.

      Going forward, the sites that I sell are going to be the ones that I don’t see myself being able to grow into multiple revenue streams and enjoy working on for at least 5 years. For example, I have a site in the survival niche that I started several years ago that makes around $100/mo cause I haven’t worked on it in a few years. That’s a site that I’ll sell instead of keep because I have zero interest in it. To give you another example, I know that the sleep niche is very lucrative and I’ve considered entering it several times…but I just can’t stomach the thought of focusing on that topic for 5+ years.

      I hope that makes sense!


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