The Best Plugins to Monetize a WordPress Site

If we break it down, there are typically four main ways people to make money directly with a website:

  1. Selling your  own products
  2. Affiliate marketing
  3. Selling a service
  4. Advertising

Of course there may be other ways people make money with websites, but even if you have to stretch the idea a little, you could probably fit it into one of these four categories.

Today we’ll look at how you might help a WordPress site make money in each of these four areas.

1. Selling Your Own Products

Selling your own products can mean selling either physical or digital products. It can also mean selling access to content.

Physical Products: Of course selling a physical product can mean selling anything from baby strollers to sports equipment to heavy duty machinery. In order to do this with WordPress, the main piece of the puzzle you’ll need will be some type of shopping cart, and so you’ll need to look for a WordPress e-commerce plugin like MarketPress from WPMU DEV (this plugin also lets you sell digital products).

Marketpress Plugin

Digital Products: Selling digital products would include selling ebooks, audios, videos, images, etc. If you are not going through some third-party service that will handle your downloads for you, then you’ll want to pick up a digital download plugin like Easy Digital Downloads  to help you do that right through your site.

Access to Content: Selling access could encompasses membership sites, training seminars, webinars, plain news or information, etc. The easiest way to do this with WordPress is to pick up a membership plugin.

2. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing (i.e. getting a commission when selling another’s products or services) is one of the most popular ways to make money online. While some sites do run their own private affiliate programs, most people end up selling through the larger players such as Amazon, Commission Junction, LinkShare,  ShareASale, Clickbank, etc.

While there are different types of plugins out there to help with affiliate marketing, many of the top affiliate marketers often say that what works best is good, solid content and a good ol’ simple link.

But no matter what you’re linking, the one tool that should be in any affiliate marketer’s toolbox is a redirection plugin such as Pretty Link Lite or Simple URLs.

What these plugins do is turn long, ugly URLs into clean, short URLs that look like they are going to another section of your site. They also track those links for you.

So, for example, if you link to Amazon with a URL that looks like this:

amazon.com/xyz-water-bottle/ /dp/PWWOUE329/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367729447392&sr=8-1

You can turn it into a link that looks like this:

mysite.com/xyz-water-bottle/

The prettier link will likely be less of a turnoff to those who look at where the link is going by mousing over it first. But even more importantly, it will track those clicks for you. That means you can do things like set up mysite.com/xyz-water-bottle-1/ for one link and mysite.com/xyz-water-bottle-2/ for a different link (both going to same Amazon page), and then compare which link is getting more clicks. Once you have some stats, you can start analyzing and tweaking. No more guessing involved.

3. Selling a Service

Selling a service could involve all sorts of things, from selling SEO services to selling cleaning services. Different niches may require different approaches, but no matter your market, when you’re selling a service, you have to make getting in to contact with you easy.

Believe it or not, WordPress does not come with a built-in contact form. Not to worry, however, there are plenty of plugins that will do the job for you, and do it well. One of the more popular (but also simple) contact forms is the Contact Form 7 plugin.

If you want to take getting in touch even further, you could include a chat plugin like Quick Chat. Or you could even add a Skype widget to your site like Skype Online Status. This plugin will let your visitors click a button and call you on Skype right from your website.

Selling a service can also get into many other areas, such as using the Multisite function available in WordPress in order to run a site like WordPress.com, where you let users sign up for free and then place ads on their sites, or let them upgrade to premium services and then charge for them. Or you could do both, of course.

Other options that fall under the “services” banner include running a classified ads site or running a directory. In either of these cases, you can get both plugins or themes (with functionality built in) to help you do that. Also in either case, you could open up free to the public and then run advertising, or you could run a premium service and charge users per listing. Or, once again, you could do both.

4. Advertising

And finally we come to advertising. Advertising comes in many forms. Some of the more common are …

  • CPC – Cost Per Click (like Google’s Adsense)
  • CPM – Cost Per Thousand Impressions (M in this case is for the Roman numeral for 1,000)
  • Time Based Ads – Ads that stay up for an agreed upon time
  • Sponsor Ads – Things such as paid reviews or just general sponsorship of content
  • Text Link – Selling links in content

Advertising is like real estate in that location is one of the most important aspects. If your running Google Adsense, for example, then you want those ads to be in front of people so they’ll click on them. If you’re selling banner ads directly, then the advertiser is going to want the ads to be in front of people, or they aren’t going to buy from you.

All that makes sense, but it’s not quite as simple as it seems. If you rely on search engine traffic from places like Google, then you can’t just cram the top half of your site with ads so people will see them and click on them.

Well, you can, but you’ll likely lose your search traffic if you do that. You see, places like Google have page layout algorithms.  And so what that means in the real world is that search engines don’t want to send visitors to sites that are nothing but ads. They want to send visitors to sites where the content is up front and easy to find.

Because of that, advertising plugins can be especially handy. They can help you do things such as inject ads into the middle of content, show ads to some visitors but not others, automatically randomize ads, and more.

Here are a few you may want to check out:

  • AdRotate – Show random banners, use Google Adsense, get stats, get email notifications, and much more.
  • WP-Insert – Lets you insert ads in all sorts of way: before you content, after your content, in the middle of your content, to the side of your content.
  • Google Adsense Plugin – Control parameters of your Google Adsense ads right from your blog – size, color, type, positioning, etc.

While there are obviously lots other types of plugins that may help your site, it’s always important to keep in mind how your site makes money. With the loads of plugins available for WordPress, you should be able to optimize that approach, no matter which it is.

Joe Foley is a writer and editor for WPMU.org (http://wpmu.org) and WPMU DEV (http://premium.wpmudev.org). He specializes in helping WordPress users learn how to better manage their sites, as well as keep up with the latest in themes, plugins, and WordPress related services.

Photo Credit: Images_Of_Money

You Should Remove All Ads From Your Site

You Should Remove All Ads From Your Site

Several weeks ago, we wrote about the problem with AdSense. Then, we looked at the possibility of alternative ad platforms. Today, Megan Dougherty of Firepole Marketing shares a controversial opinion: you should do away with advertising on your website altogether. 

Getting a website is easy.

Really easy.

So easy that anyone can do it.

Maybe you build it yourself on a platform like WordPress or Joomla, or maybe you buy one ready made from a service like Flippa.

Easy!

You know what isn’t easy?

Making money from a website.

Not only is it not easy – but there’s a ton of options, and for every option oodles of competing advice on how best to do it.

Most of it sucks.

It sucks in a staggering variety of ways – sometimes the advice is old, sometimes it’s ineffective, sometimes it’s unethical – really, the ways in which advice about monetization can suck never ceases to amaze me.

(Don’t get me wrong! There’s plenty of GOOD advice out there too! Like here, and here, and here, just for starters!)

My least favourite piece of advice is to dump a bunch of ads on your site and watch the money roll in from advertising fees.

That’s just stupid.

Let me tell you why.

But first…

Why Do So Many People Think It’s a Good Idea?

Because it worked for a long time.

In the earlier days of the internet making a keyword dense, article website with a healthy dose of Pay-Per Click ads on it was a reliable way to set up an income producing blog.

You’ve heard the advice – some folks are still giving it: Exact match domains, long tail keywords, article spinning + Google Ads = profit.

Because it was so effective for so long – and because there was even MORE money in teaching people these systems – it’s still often considered the go-to way to build an income producing site.

There’s also another reason it’s still so popular as an idea. And it’s not a nice one, so brace yourself:

It’s easy.

It’s easy to set up a site, populate it with some content and run a bunch of ads – and let’s face it – the dream of a big fat passive income is one that’s hard to give up.

A few people still make money this way – and, I suppose,  maybe you could too – but it’s really not the best method any more, and it’s definitely not the most sustainable.

It’s time. The internet has grown up and moved on and so must we.

What’s Wrong With This Method?

There’s a couple of reasons:

1) You can’t beat Google

Google employs thousands of the smartest people in the world whose job is to stop businesses like this from working. You can’t beat them. Don’t try.

The reason for this is that it’s in Google’s best interest to make sure that people get the kind of results they WANT when they search. And for the most part searchers don’t want to have to click through many sites to find what they want. They want an answer to a question, or information about a topic, or something to buy, and they want to find it on their first click away from Google’s result pages. Google needs to give it to them, so the searchers will continue to use Google’s system, and they have a hugely complicated algorithm personalized on a person to person basis designed to give people what they want.

And it goes even further – there are some arbitrage issues. Google views websites like this – that exist only to funnel traffic to other sources as a form of, essentially, theft.

Let’s break that down from your perspective and from Google’s.

How you see it:

You have a site that is listed in Google’s search results, and you want lots of traffic so that when people find you in search results, or otherwise, then enter your site they can click on one of the ads you are hosting. You get paid for the click with money Google collects from advertisers. If this happens many times, you can make some money and everyone is happy.

How Google sees it:

They have a directory of websites that have the solutions to the problems of searchers, and when someone clicks on a link they find on Google’s results pages, Google wants them to find the information they are looking for, so that Google doesn’t have to deliver any pay-per-click commissions, and the user is happy with the speed and effectiveness of Google as a Search Engine.

When a site is designed to make its money off of advertising – it will never be the end of a searcher’s quest for information – they must click more times to find the information they are looking for. Google must process the commission, incur expenses related to doing so, and deal with a less satisfied customer – as well as an advertiser who is paying for something THEY could have gotten for free from search results as well.

Basically, Google sees ad-heavy sites as getting in between their users, and what their users want – and that’s not a good thing for anyone.

As bloggers, we cannot hope to cheat, shortcut or find loopholes through Google, and really – it’s not even in our best interest to do so.

2) You’re wasting precious attention

Even if this wasn’t the case – monetizing a site smaller than the Huffington Post with advertising is possibly the biggest waste of attention you can accomplish. When someone clicks an ad on your site – they are leaving your site. This means they’re not joining your list, commenting on a blog post, reading a product review or doing any of the myriad other things that could lead to money in your pocket. Follow this through to the next step and it means they’re gone – that customer lifetime value to you is, what, 4 cents? They’re gone forever and you have very little to show for it.

Let’s do the math on this so you can really see what I’m saying.

Let’s say that you have a website populated with ads, and you earn 20 cents (if you’re lucky!) every time someone clicks on one.

Maybe 1 in 100 people will click on and ad. (Again, this is a generous estimate!)

That means to make a dollar, you need 500 visitors to your site.

To make, say, $1000 a month, you need about half a million people to visit your site.

If you’ve got half a million visitors to your site every month, and all you can earn from them is $1000 – that’s a pretty poor use of traffic!

In fact, if you manage to hit those levels at all, it would be a crying shame of a waste.

What You Should Do Instead

What I’m about to tell you is very simple – but please do not make the mistake of thinking that it is easy.

Build an audience, and give them what they want.

Let’s define these terms:

Audience: An audience is a group of people who you have a relationship with and who are interested in what you have to say. They all generally have certain things in common – if nothing more than a shared interest in your subject matter. They read, comment on and share your blog posts, they respond to your emails, and they, occasionally, buy your products.

What they Want: When you have an audience as described above – they talk to you. It’s amazing, really, how much people will tell you about who they are, what they’ve done and what they need in their life. They will come right out and say things like: “I wish I knew what the best e-reader was.” Or “Why can’t I find out the best kind of professional to get financial advice from?”

These are things people say to people they like – so be someone they like.

Now, knowing you need an audience and building one are two VERY different things – building an audience isn’t easy – but it’s terribly worth while.

So how does it work?

Let me give you the quick and dirty version. (The long version would take ages – but if you’re interested, let me know in the comments and we’ll see if we can’t arrange something!)

  1. Define your ideal person. This is the person to whom you could provide the best service, would most enjoy working with, and importantly, has the ability to pay you for things.
  2. Attract their attention – you can do this through blogging, through social media, through networking – the only limit is your imagination.
  3. Get them on an email list and start showering them with value.  Try to solve a problem they have, or provide them some delight, for free! Then continue to give them useful, valuable information about your area of mutual interest – always asking for feedback and inviting questions and replies from them.
  4. Based on what you know about them, who they are, what they need and what they’ve told you – sell them something. Maybe your own product or service, maybe something through an affiliate – but the point is that it will be something you have pre-verified that they want to spend money on.

That’s all there is to it. 😉

But Wait – That Sounds Like a LOT of Work

It is. These things are.

The thing is that a passive income isn’t really passive. You absolutely, 100% can design and build a business that doesn’t involve a lot of hands-on work on your part – but doing so is the work of months or years.

And if you’re not involved – if you’re not more than the unseen creator of a website – then it’s not likely to last past the next Google update.

The real problem with monetization by advertising isn’t that it doesn’t work – it’s that it isn’t effective. For the amount of traffic you would need to see any money from an ad-monetized website, for all of the work it takes to get that traffic – you could make many, many times the money genuinely engaging with people, and directing them to resources they need.

If you want things to be easy – you get a job.

If you want something long term and sustainable – you get an audience.

Advertising, if it comes into this at all – is an afterthought. A tactic. A small component to a bigger strategy.

It should never be the whole story.

Megan Dougherty is the Education Lead over at Firepole Marketing. That means she works on training programs, blog content and closely with students tackling tricky business problems. Firepole Marketing is all about giving small business owners and entrepreneurs the tools and training  they need to grow their businesses and be successful.

Edited to add: There’s a great conversation about ads, CTR and strategy happening over in our brand-new Google+ community.

This photo is by Drew Stefani

Case Study: A Website Auction Bidding War Doubles The Price in 12 Hours

We see hundreds of websites listed on Flippa every week, but once in awhile a particular website grabs our attention. When I saw the auction for TheLooksForLess.com, I knew the seller had a gem of a site. Bidding for this site quickly took off, and the price more than doubled in the last 12 hours of the auction. The seller, Jennifer, was thrilled.

Turns out it wasn’t the only big thing happening in her life: Jennifer gave birth to her first child days after the auction, and was getting ready to move into a brand-new house at the same time. I had a chat with her to see what it was like to sell what started as a personal blog for more than $25,000.

Can you tell me a little bit about why and how you built TheLooksForLess.com?

On a Friday afternoon in 2009, I was talking to my fellow web developers at my university day job about a new (at the time) application getting a ton of buzz, WordPress. As a geeky developer, I thought it would be fun to expand my skill set by creating a blog. I was pretty savvy at coding PHP and CSS, and knew just enough about database management and web hosting to get started.

I went home that evening, signed up for a hosting account, installed WordPress, purchased a domain, and connected all of these technologies as I watched the sunrise Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was instantly obsessed and my blog, The Looks For Less, was the perfect way to combine my love for fashion and technology.

On Monday morning, I went back to work and shared with my coworkers my brand new blog complete with a theme, logo, and 5 “celebrity look for less” outfit posts. They were shocked at how quickly I was able to put everything together and it became the topic of many exciting conversations over the next couple of years after what started as a hobby, quickly attracted a following of loyal readers and was picking up endorsements from top brands as well as invitations to New York Fashion Week.

What was your experience in running the site, and why did you decide to sell?

Once I got started, I thought about my blog morning, noon, and night. I watched the sun come up often working on post after post. I kept up this momentum for 3 years, yet found the pace difficult to keep up with when my husband and I decided to expand our family.  My priorities had changed.

With a baby on the way, there were so many things that I wanted to share beyond fashion so I decided to start a lifestyle blog.  At FabFatale.com, I am able to document my every passion including recipes, DIY projects, beauty product reviews, and all things baby. I had every intention of keeping up with both blogs; however, this quickly became impossible with a full time job, a baby on the way, selling our house, and moving into a rental while building a new home, so I decided to sell The Looks For Less while it still had a lot of momentum.

My favourite thing about your auction is the interest it drew in the last few hours, including an all-out bidding war where the price more than doubled to $25k. What were your expectations for the sale, and how did they match the reality of putting your site up for auction?

I had no idea where to begin when I decided to sell my blog. I also had no idea to price it, so I did a search to see if there were any online website auctions available so the market could determine its value. My biggest fear was that  the right market wouldn’t find my auction, and it would sell for way less than its current and potential value.

Flippa was the first site to come up in my search and with its high Alexa ranking, I figured it was a legitimate option for selling my blog, and I literally just went for it. I listed my site and set a random reserve price of $8,000 hoping to afford a sectional sofa for the house we will be building this summer. The Premium Support team was a huge help in helping me strategize my listing and I firmly believe the they are the reason my sale was so successful.

On the last day of the auction, all sorts of chaos ensued. The listing was set to expire at 4:30 pm on a Thursday afternoon. My coworkers and I were gathered around a computer and kept refreshing the listing page as the bids continued to rise. All of a sudden, 60 more minutes was added to the clock.  It turns out that if a listing gets a bid in the last hour, another hour is added to the ending time, in order to prevent sniping.

Bid after bid came through and this pattern of “bidding and 60 more minutes added to the clock” continued throughout the night. I was literally 9 months pregnant, moving boxes into a rental house that evening, refreshing the listing on my iPhone, and shrieking with joy every time the price went up… $8,000, $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 and finally $25,500!

If this isn’t indiscreet: what do you plan to do with the money?

Wow, not only can I afford that new couch at my new house, but I’m pretty sure I can afford the room it will sit in.  With all we have going on, new baby and new home in progress, this money feels so good sitting in my bank account and will come in so handy.  With so many major life changes going on right now, the extra money allows us take a deeper breath as we keep calm and carry on.  The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and, although I’d like to say that was my intention, I had no idea that my site auction would be such a huge success.

Thanks to Dave McLearn for letting us use this photo!

AdSense Monopoly? No chance, check out these Google AdSense competitors!

A few weeks ago, we asked you how you monetize your websites. For 63% of you, AdSense is the go-to way to make money on the Internet — but there’s also a growing dissatisfaction with Google’s ad platform. Is there a monopoly in online advertising, and if so, does it benefit publishers in any way? Today’s post is written by Tal Nissenson of Qadabra, a self-serve banner ad provider. She argues that publishers have the freedom to pursue other options. We would love to hear your thoughts on this!

Like in any industry, competition is crucial for the market to flourish. Monopolies can often be counterproductive, leading to lower service standards and high prices due to a lack of business rivals. However, monopolies have also had a positive effect by actually giving way to the creation of smaller players.

Take for example AT&T, the American telecom giant: they dominated the communications industry as the main telephone company for many years and set the standards high for quality service. After its break-up in the 1980s, several small telephone companies emerged, giving better access to services to the US population. This resulted in a vast market of communication alternatives, healthy competition, which benefited the U.S. citizens with more competitive offers and the freedom to choose

Online advertising: The self-serve giant

It’s no secret that when it comes to the world of self-serve ad platforms, Google’s AdSense is considered to hold the monopoly. Like other monopolies, when not facing a threat of business rivals, it’s easier to neglect consumer’s needs and forget to continuously thrive for better service and rates.

However, those people who have experience with monetizing their inventory can agree that this is not the case, and that’s a good thing! The competition which arose in the last decade in online monetization has given the whole industry a big uplift and ensures that publishers are making the most they can out of their website real estate.

Competition= $$$

In a market where industry competitors abound, publishers are offered different possibilities and greater chances of monetizing their site inventory. This allows publishers to really benefit. First of all, they can shop around! There are no binding agreements: the publisher has the control and the power. They can simply remove the tag and replace it with another to find the platform that best meets their requirements.

Because of this, the ad platforms mission is to constantly improve, innovate and most of all offer an added value to their users. And who benefits the most? The publishers! They now not only have a wide menu of alternatives to choose from, but they can also leverage each of the platforms against each other to see where they are getting the highest revenues that they can.

AdSense Alternatives

Qadabra is one of the newer AdSense alternatives that emerged in the past year. Qadabra built itself with the belief that site monetization is every publisher’s privilege. Advertising and the Internet, after all, were made for one another! And therein lays the true magic of Qadabra’s brand proposition: the ability to help publishers exercise these privileges by quickly transforming any website with an audience into a website that generates ad-based revenue.

  • The privilege to leverage your website real estate for profit
  • The privilege to grab a piece of the pie
  • And above all, the privilege that should be allotted to all publishers to have access to this profit- with straightforward simplicity.

“I publish, therefore I am.” But today’s Internet entrepreneur aims to take this principle a step further and claims. I publish, therefore I earn…

So no, Qadabra isn’t the first, nor did we invent the revenue models that drive Internet-based advertising. We just made access to them magically simple and immediate for any website owner to pursue and enjoy.

Whether a website is a person’s main income source or just a profitable hobby, everyone who wants to make money off their site can enjoy a variety of solutions that fits their needs (others include Smowtion, AdSense, Infolinks). And competition can only flourish in a monopoly-free, healthy competitive environment.

Why? Because of the same reason that several product exist in a supermarket, and hundreds of fashion options in the mall: to have the power and the freedom to choose, and not be bound to one solution which probably doesn’t fit my needs and desires.

Because when it comes to monetizing website traffic through performance-based advertising, everyone deserves a little touch of magic.

Have you thought of trying a different advertising platform? Qadabra is offering a 10% bonus on the first month’s earnings for Flippa Blog readers. Click here to sign up.

Photo Credit: purplejavatroll

Build it and they will come: A myth busting guide to starting a business

Build it and they will come: A myth busting guide to starting a business

Today’s post is by Matt of Aussie Domainer, a web designer and blogger from Melbourne, Australia. Find him on Twitter: @ace_sites

Sometimes when you get a great idea for a business or website, you can’t help but think “If I can just build out this quality idea, people will surely flood to the site by the thousands!”

It seems logical. Why wouldn’t people be rushing to take a look at your wonderful, innovative idea?

Unfortunately for some, it’s not 1999 anymore. Back then (if you believe what we hear from early Internet veterans who were active at the time), all you had to do was throw up some content and you’d have people finding it all on their own. If you have much experience in 2013, though, you know how that doesn’t work anymore. There is so much content and so many distractions fighting for everyone’s attention online that it simply doesn’t cut it to build a project and hope that it will market itself.

You will have to put in the hard yards to get your project off the ground.

The web is estimated to consist of about 50 billion indexed pages. As you can imagine, it’s hard to stand out in a crowd that big. Just building the idea will rarely be enough. “Build it and they will come” simply doesn’t work online.

What does that mean? It means it’s time to roll up your sleeves and begin the hard work that it takes to build up a steady flow of traffic.

So what can you do to get the traffic flowing? You have to pace yourself, avoid distractions, and invest in your project.

Keep a realistic timeline

In my experience, slow and steady really does win the race when it comes to building a website. Take traffic for example: when I first started my blog, traffic was literally non-existent. I’m still pretty sure there were exactly zero readers for my first couple of posts. Over time, a couple of visitors showed up (I have no idea how they found the site), and as the months went on a small but steady flow of readers started showing up.

Imagine your new blog or website as a remote city in the middle of the desert. There’s only one road going into the city, and it’s called the “Direct Traffic Highway.” The only way people can find their way to your content is if they happen to type the exact domain name in to see what’s there. Unless you own a truly amazing domain name that receives heaps of type-in traffic, you probably won’t get too many hits this way. So you have to build new roads into your city so people have different ways of finding it. As you create new content for your site that content begins to get indexed by the search engines. Every time some content of yours is indexed, it’s like a new road is built leading from “Googletown” to your website.

If people enjoy your site, they might write about it elsewhere or create links from their site, these are like roads too. Over time the flow of traffic to your site increases which means the amount of people talking about your site and spreading the word becomes greater and greater until what started as a deserted site with no visitors snowballs into a site with a regular audience.

It takes time and commitment to keep creating content for your site, especially during the early phases when you feel as though you aren’t getting many results.

In order to stay focused on your business for the time it takes to reach a more successful place you are going to have to:

Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome.

Shiny thingsImage Credit: Ken Douglas

Oh, so many months I have been a victim to the horrors of shiny object syndrome!

Shiny object syndrome is when you can never focus on one project because you are constantly getting new ideas and trying to do everything at once. You end up getting pulled in so many different directions and splitting your focus on so many different projects that you actually end up getting nothing done- even though you feel like you’ve worked super hard!

For me this manifests itself in the form of development ideas. Every few days I check the domain name aftermarkets to see if anything interesting is dropping. When I do this I often see a domain name that sparks an idea. Maybe I’ll see a domain name ending in “forums” and I’ll think “I could build a forum on that domain name!”

So I’ll buy the domain name and start building the forum. Maybe I’ll get the forum running and looking nice and I’ll be ready to start marketing it so that it can gather users.

But then I’ll see another domain name for sale… Maybe it’s a domain name ending in “blog”. Suddenly the furthest thing from my mind is the forum I’ve been working on for a couple of days. All I can think about now is the new blog idea which I simply must get started on right away!

Of course, before I get the chance to really get that blog going, I’ll have seen a couple more domain names that I’ll be chasing after and the blog site will be left abandoned.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself very blessed! Living without “shiny object syndrome” means you’re the type of person who probably gets stuff done. You come up with one great idea, put the pedal to the metal and stick with it week in week out until you’ve built an empire!

On the other hand, if you’re one of those people whose mind feels like it can’t focus on any one project for more than a few days, you probably have Shiny object syndrome. Welcome to the club.

I have found that an effective way to counter this problem is to create a list of priorities. Put your most important tasks at the top of the list and go down from there. The rule is that you are not allowed to work on something until all the tasks above it are complete. This way you will be forced to focus on the most important tasks first.

When I feel myself trying to focus on too many things at once, I open Wordpad and write down all the things I have to do, then I rearrange them in order of importance. That’s how I channel extra enthusiasm. This has also helped me to stop procrastinating: it’s so much easier to get off Youtube and start working when you have a defined task written down.

Whenever that exciting new idea comes into your mind and starts demanding your full attention simply write it on the list- now instead of pulling you away from more important things, it will inspire you to get those other things done so you can be free to try the new idea.

Unfortunately, sometimes you simply have to decline some very good ideas because they would take up too much time that would be better spent on your flagship project. Remember the concept of opportunity cost: you can only spend time one way. Wouldn’t you rather spend it on your main project and get ahead?

Invest in your idea.

If you believe in your idea, there is no reason you shouldn’t invest in it.

I remember hearing of people who had a great idea, but they were so desperate to cut costs that they didn’t even want to pay for hosting, opting instead for shoddy free hosting and ads they don’t benefit from. Doesn’t a good idea deserve better?

In my town there is a fairly high turnover of retail shops. New coffee shops and other boutique stores pop up all the time. Sometimes they last, sometimes they are gone within half a year.

The costs of “having a go” with a real life brick and mortar shop are massive! Let’s take a simple coffee shop as an example. Let’s say you decided to start your own coffee shop in your town. Some of the costs involved with giving your business a shot might include:

  • Renting a property
  • Buying thousands of dollars of equipment and furniture
  • Buying all the coffee stock, mugs etc.
  • Paying staff an hourly rate to man the shop

And that’s all before you sell your first cup of coffee!

ed hardy & splash one IImage Credit: Thomas

Imagine you treated your online business venture the same way you would have to treat a brick and mortar venture. That would mean saving up and actually investing in your business idea’s success: Investing in a quality domain name even if it costs more, paying to market your business properly, being meticulous about the quality of your content (after all, if a coffee shop serves bad coffee, who will return or recommend the place to their friends? Your website’s content IS the coffee: if it tastes bad no-one will return) and being willing to take some risks to build your business.

In other words, avoid the “spare all costs” mentality. That alone will separate you from the vast majority of online businesses.

When I first started buying domain names, I was a pretty cheap buyer! I was still new to the whole concept and the thought of spending a lot of money on a domain name wasn’t very attractive. That limited thinking probably caused me to miss some great deals at the time!

When I had an idea for a website, I would only look to hand register an available name rather than purchase one off a domainer or try bidding for one in an auction. For some reason, even though I’d be willing to spend money on real life items that were not assets (like tickets to football games, video games, and so on) I wasn’t willing to spend much on something that could actually appreciate in value like a domain name!

So I ended up with many average quality domain names for my sites. When I would sell the sites they would do okay- sometimes making a profit, but they weren’t particularly special.

Over time though I started spending a little more… I still remember the first time I bought a domain name for a few hundred dollars at auction, I had originally told myself “I’ll spend $100 max”, but at the end of the auction things got heated and I ended up spending a few hundred to win it. When the auction closed I thought “What have I done?! How could I spend hundreds of dollars on A DOMAIN NAME?!” At the time I was simply not used to spending money on something so intangible, but it was necessary to do so in order to have higher quality sites. Who else here can relate to this mild panic when buying a mid-end domain for the first time?

Have fun

It seems counterintuitive, but realistically it’s the best way to give your business a chance at long term success. Sometimes you might be tempted to start a business idea because you think it would be wildly profitable, even though you are not passionate about the idea itself. This might not work out for you though.

If you don’t like cars, don’t start a blog about luxury cars. Maybe it is a profitable area of business, but the odds that you will be around to build it up are not likely. You will get so bored after the first week that there’s virtually 0% chance you will continue posting to that blog with passionate, quality insights about cars. If however you are a total motor head who loves cars, then a car site is right up your alley! Due to the fact that you love cars so much, even when things seem slow and you go through some rough patches with the project, your love for the subject matter will keep you writing and persisting until you have built something great.

So do something that you personally love and enjoy, something you’d probably do just for fun, even if it didn’t have the prospect of being a great business.

Image credit: Professor Bop