Entrepreneur Spotlight: A Counsellor Turned Web-Nerd (An SBI! Success Story)
By Elly Prior, professional-counselling.com
Tell us about your website, www.professional-counselling.com? When and why did you start your site?
In 2001 I was coming to the end of my training as a counsellor and wanted to start a private practice. I was playing around on MS Publisher trying to design a brochure, when… holymacaroly – you can make a website with it too?! Count me in!
And that was the start of my turning into a ‘nerd’ – never to recover again.
I can’t begin to tell you about the challenges I faced just to publish a couple of pages – how many hours I spent fiddling, with little to show for it. Needless to say the result was quite hideous too – I had no idea what I was doing.
Eventually, I discovered ‘traffic analysis’ and much to my surprise I found that my site was attracting visitors. At that point it was a shame I didn’t realise that changing the URL meant the page would just disappear from the search results – if I didn’t like a name, I just changed it (oops!). However, I kept on learning! I began to think about how I could get to earn just a single pound a day. Back then that little bit of income would make a big difference to me.
What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner?
Where do I start? I suppose mainly not being stuck in a 9-5 job!
In addition, I love the fact that I can reach out and help so many more people than I ever could have by seeing one or two in my counselling room at any time. If I had just retired, all the knowledge acquired from my training and 24 years of experience with thousands of individuals and couples would have been completely lost. It just feels so satisfying, knowing that I can pass on what I have learned to so many people.
Also, I really enjoy the creative part of it all. I spent a lot of time (too much in hindsight) trying to figure out precisely what font, what distance, what space, which image, how many columns, what colours, and on and on, forget about the 80/20 rule! I knew that if it wasn’t what I’d like I would suffer it, because I’d be in front of it every day – never mind what my visitors thought. It was much later that I finally saw sense and started to concern myself with usability and marketing as well as design.
So far, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
The biggest challenge at any given time depended on what stage in the CTPM process I was.
Right now I would say that my biggest challenge is dealing with accountants who appear to be ill-prepared for dealing with a business such as ours, despite endless explanations.
Why did you choose SBI! to build your website / online business?
I continued to research, read and learn. Traffic numbers started to increase and I needed something better than Publisher. I was dreaming about interaction, membership, e-zines, ebooks, etc. (Then still naive about what precisely all that would entail!). I became ever such boring company. My friends would look totally blank at my choice of conversations, hastily moving on the next subject.
In desperation, I started to button-hole ‘web-nerds’ online. I discovered that the ‘nerds’ weren’t too interested in entertaining an old bat with a hobby site either! If only I could tell those ‘nerds’ about my SBI success now!
I tried WordPress. I tried set-up-your-site-in-3-minutes programmes. I tried set-up-your-shop-now stuff. I took an Adult Education 10 week Dreamweaver course. It all took forever, but I just wasn’t happy with any of them.
I kept reading about WordPress, so took another stab at it (I’d previously failed at the first hurdle). I found it took all so much time with so many choices, complicated by lack of support when I couldn’t get it to work.
Eventually, after probably a year, or even two, of searching, I came across SBI. I knew as soon as I read through what was included that I’d come home.
Just very recently I have had second thoughts about WordPress, knowing that SBI has done the hard work for us in choosing and explaining all that is needed to set up a website with WordPress.
With the rise of mobile traffic, what steps have you done to give your visitors the best experience on their smart phones and tablets?
My mobile traffic is now almost 60%. I have an image in my mind of some poor chap or girl sitting on the loo in a pub or nightclub, typing into their mobile browser search box: “How to end a relationship?” or “How to get over someone fast?”!
I very quickly realised that I’d better ensure that my site was mobile ready, so immediately used Mobilize It! when it became available, grateful that it was made so simple to do. Will from ClickStreamDesigns (a fellow SBI owner) did some coding for me to smarten up and increase usability for mobile users. I could probably have figured it out myself eventually, but it would have taken me yonks, and it makes good business sense to re-invest as you start to earn from your site.
I have also started to compress some images and put some ‘nice-to-have’ stuff in desktop-only containers to reduce the load time. I don’t now have a search box for mobile for example. I realised how advantageous it is to have a 2 column design, which means that on mobile there’s only one column underneath the content. I don’t think that 2 columns next to each other make for natural reading, they dilute your visitors attention. You can also test if important links work by placing them in mobile and desktop containers.
Has your life changed since you started your site? Can you describe these changes for us?
Hell YES, my life has changed! At age 24 I left the Netherlands for the UK for just a year, or so I thought. 33 years later, in 2011, I made the decision to move back to the Netherlands. The income from my website was enough to supplement whatever else I decided to do to as my main job. Only then did I discover that employers in the Netherlands weren’t at all keen on employees over 47. Oh… and I had forgotten I was 57! My age just hadn’t been an ‘issue’ before.
I was planning to offer coaching to therapists in developing their own business, like I had done for myself. The knowledge I had gained from SBI would help and I furthered it by learning how to build a business through Marie Forleo’s B-School.
The magic happened between December 2011 and August 2012, when I remigrated, my website suddenly took off. By January 2013 I realised I no longer needed a job or to develop any other kind of business.
What one piece of advice would you give someone who is just getting started in the online business world?
You absolutely need tons of determination and ‘stickability’, a low frustration threshold, expert knowledge of your particular subject, a willingness to put in lots of time learning on the job for the ultimate gain, patience and problem solving skills, and not having a desperate need to supplement your income NOW.
I can’t tell you how much time I spent reading, learning and ‘trying’, deleting and starting over again, before I ever got anywhere.
You also need to know what you are going to sell beyond affiliate products and whether there’s indeed a market for your product – before you start building your site.
Are you ready to write your own success story as an online business owner? SBI! is there for you to guide you all the way, from idea to income. Get started today.
Learn From More High-Traffic, Profitable Solopreneurs
- Recent Success Stories With Takeaway Lessons. Read more recent inspiring stories from our blog. They deliver useful ideas and takeaway lessons from folks who’ve “done it and won it.” If they can do it, you can, too!
- Multi-Year SBI! Reviews. We take a deep-dive into the long term, full business stories of several different types of solopreneur successes. They periodically update their progress so you can see how they and their businesses grow over a period of years. This gives you excellent insight into what solopreneurs can accomplish with real online businesses.
- Hundreds of the “Top 0.5%.” Every one of these SBI! businesses (hundreds of them) rank in the top 1 million active websites (out of approximately 200 million!). That’s all the more impressive because 1) we are such a small community and 2) many Top 0.5% sites are mid-sized or large companies.
Solopreneurs fail at astronomical rates. SBI! makes you 100x more likely to succeed (that’s not a typo!). It will never be easy, but we do make it way more doable.
Scan the wide variety of solopreneurs who are winning in real niches. Use it to get a feeling for what SBIers do, as well as to generate ideas. What do you know? Turn it into a business.