I love the freedom of working for myself! Freedom has always been something that is SO important to me, and the notion of a 9-5 and having to ask permission to take a vacation – well, it never sat well with me! - Alison Andrews, SBI! member since 2009

Entrepreneur Spotlight: How On Earth Was I Going To Start a Website?

Written By: Susan Gast in Real-Life Success Lessons!, Success Stories | August 2, 2015

entrepreneur-spotlight-susan-gast

By Susan Gast, easy-food-dehydrating.com

Tell us about your website, www.easy-food-dehydrating.com. When and why did you start your site?

The housing bubble had burst and people were getting laid off from their jobs.  To be honest, that didn’t really affect me because I’ve always had that entrepreneurial streak … since the young age of 15 when I worked on dad’s farms for pocket money and learned that hard work pays off. My dad is a great teacher and a hard worker, himself being self-employed since leaving the (British) Army.  His work ethic rubbed off on me.

In 2008, I was working from home doing mechanical engineering design (with my brother) and then the recession began. Work dried up. What to do? I tried selling stuff on Amazon à la “FBA” (Fulfillment By Amazon) but the only ones being fulfilled were Amazon themselves …

Fast-forward to 2010 … I was watching Glenn Beck when he was on Fox News and he stated that his family had stored dehydrated food down in his basement – for emergency food purposes. The light bulb went off in my head.  You see, we’d been through back-to-back hurricanes in 2004 and we were without power for a couple of weeks. Fresh food ran out and frozen food languished in the freezer … what a waste.

I researched the food dehydrating topic and realized I wouldn’t be the first to start a website on food dehydrating.  I must admit I was a little scared of starting my own website … but excited too.

And then it hit me. How On Earth Was I Going To Start A Website?

I didn’t know a thing about websites, aside from how to surf! And on other websites I noticed “become an affiliate and sell our items on your website.”  What’s an affiliate? I wondered. I then did what we all do: I Googled “get a free website” …

The results yielded what I deserved to see from the search – but seeing as this is a family show I won’t repeat what I read here.  I then did a more realistic search “build a website” and up came a nice young lady who had an SBI! site.  I thought, What’s SBI? I continued reading the lady’s home page, and I was hooked, or rather I was persuaded with common-sense information that SBI! was the “real deal” – chock full of business guidance that “the other” website hosts just don’t offer.

On December 23, 2010, I became the proud parent of a brand new bouncing baby website I’d decided to call Easy Food Dehydrating.  And the rest, as they say, is history!

What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner?

The most enjoyable part of being an online website owner is the freedom.
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Freedom to work eighteen hour days if you want – and you will on occasion because you LOVE it!

The freedom of speech.

The freedom to create.

The freedom to be your own clichéd boss.

It’s all true. It’s all good.

Editor’s Note:

Susan isn’t the only one who values the freedom her e-business grants her. For more inspirational freedom quotes by everyday entrepreneurs, click here.

So far, what has been the biggest challenge for you?

Oh dear, the biggest challenge for me is to FOCUS. Easy Food Dehydrating hums along nicely and I get sidetracked into creating other SBI websites. I just LOVE going through the creative process of setting up sites (ask Ken Evoy how many sites I have started and have had to ‘let go’).

Prior to the engineering design work, I was a graphic artist and a typesetter, so creating websites was “right up my alley” which was rapidly turning into a motorway …

If you had to review SBI! for someone who never heard about it, which features or benefits would you highlight?

Just about every week I learn something new via SBI!  One of the first things I do on a daily basis upon log in is to check out the “Launches, Resources, Alerts, and Features…” area. I must admit it’s a never-ending learning process as the world wide web is dynamic in nature.

SBI! has many benefits:

You don’t need a separate email provider; of course you can go with AWeber, or MailChimp et al but you don’t have to. You can send FREE auto responder emails in a series via SBI!. The other places? That costs around $30 a month at AWeber – and as soon as you do an auto responder series at MailChimp, their service does not remain free. How do I know? It pays to know what else is “out there.” This way, I know what a great deal I get with my SBI! investment.  Everything’s included! Speaking of investment, I don’t know of any other business on the planet where you can begin with a monthly overhead of only THIRTY BUCKS. I mean, really!

You can create Newsletters – all included in your monthly, or yearly fee – depending on how you sign up. In other words, there are no surprises. And NO plugins. Yes, I’m referring to WordPress plugins.  I have a couple of WordPress sites too as vanity sites (susangast.com being one) and it’s a royal pain (to me). I’m sure there are others who will disagree and say that WordPress is the best thing since sliced bread. I beg to differ. Nothing is more annoying than logging into a WordPress site and having to do umpteen plugin updates. With SBI!, all that is done behind the scenes. You just “log in” and start writing your pages.

If you get stuck, there are many eager folks on the forums who are ready, willing, and able to come to your rescue.

Another benefit of SBI! is they have superior technical support. ‘Nuff said.

With the rise of mobile traffic, what steps have you done to give your visitors the best experience on their smart phones and tablets?

To make sure that Google likes my site(!), I made sure to go fully responsive. Prior to that, I did go the route of the “mobile-friendly-feature” that SBI! had come up with in the interim. When I learned that fully responsive templates were available, I couldn’t wait to convert the site over and not have to worry how the pages would look on the mobile phone or tablet. (I admit, ANY excuse to change the look and feel of the site is like a drug to me).

Honestly, it was something I felt I had to do as my traffic for Smartphone visitors had doubled over the past few years. I mentioned Google at the beginning because I have AdSense on the site and Google will rank you higher in the mobile search results if you are “mobile friendly” which means more traffic and more clicks on the ads obviously.

Has your life changed since you started your site? Can you describe these changes for us?

Since starting Easy Food Dehydrating, I have become far more site-savvy and self-confident. I could NOT have done any of this without SBI!s comprehensive “Action Guide” and awesome technical support when needed.

Patience Gets Rewarded.

It’s been almost five years and I’ve been growing. I’m still a very niche site but my Alexa ranking is in the high 700,000 (wait, I’ll go check – 783,862 global and 240,038 US).  With there being so many websites out there now, I’m not sure what percentile I’m in, but I’m hoping I’m in the top 10% of all sites worldwide – thanks to Ken Evoy and his dedicated staff.

The site morphed into eBooks, a paperback, and video courses, and I am going to share with you all how I did that in subsequent posts.

About a week ago, I was happily startled to see an invite from Mother Earth News in my inbox. They wanted ME to blog on THEIR website. I could hardly believe it. I obliged!

And now today, I received an invite from Margit to write this blog post on the SiteSell BLOG. Happy days!

What one piece of advice would you give someone who is just getting started as an online entrepreneur?

The advice I would give is this:

If you have any entrepreneurial spirit at all – even just a tiny spark – then go for it.

Or, in the words of Virgin Airline’s founder Sir Richard Branson: “Screw It, Just Do It!!!”  Seriously, all of us have one topic we know quite a lot about. See if you can put it into words, and follow Richard’s advice. Oh, and go with SBI! for ALL your website needs. You won’t regret it.

A second important piece of advice: proofread your work. Please have someone other than yourself proofread your work. It’s so hard to read your own prose because you just tend to see what you want to see – and not exactly what you think you’ve written. Ask a trusted friend or your spouse, or other family member, to give it “the once over.” At the very least, compose your pages in MSWord or the like and run a spell- and grammar-check before copying and pasting your text into your web page in Page Manager.

Editor’s Note:

Thank you Susan for sharing your SBI! review, and congratulations on being regarded by Mother Earth News as an authority site in your niche. Your entrepreneurial spirit has guided you well. I look forward to learn more about how you are monetizing your website.

Do you have any entrepreneurial streak in you, even a tiny spark? Then go for it, as Susan did, and let SBI! help you along the way.

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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.

Susan Gast
Susan was born in northern England but left the UK with her family in 1980 for warmer climes and less taxes. She lives in Central Florida with her husband, along with an adopted Miniature Pinscher who pretty much runs the household. You will find Susan glued to her office chair pretty much 24-7, pecking away on the keyboard in total bliss. From there she runs her Easy Food Dehydrating site and creates eBooks and video courses for the Udemy platform.
  • abbypatch

    So many sites…so much info….I had my own business and was doing great but the 14 hours days 7 days a week plus every holiday got to be too much. I gave up most of my clients and went with an employer, less pay, but benefits. It was important to have decent health insurance and at least be able to take holidays and a vacation week off every year which, I might add, never came to pass. As soon as I decided to work regular hours and take some vacation time off, I lost my job through off-shoring.

    Susan Gast reminds me of myself and my dad. He always had 2-3 jobs during his life (and from the time I was 6, I went along and helped) up until the day he died. I did, too. Worked brick and mortar full time and part time jobs at the same time all my life and not ready to relax in retirement but don’t know what to do with myself. So here I sit for 5 years still not knowing what to do. I’m collecting Social Security but feel too young to retire.

  • Hi abbypatch, thanks for posting! You’re never “too old” to start up a website (again!) You say you’ve sat for 5 years – what have you learned in that space of time that you might want to share with others who have, or are going through, the same feelings as yourself? I hear ya regarding the job losses etc. it’s a VERY tough economy out there – no matter what they say. Wishing you all the best! Cheers, Susan

  • Vickie Smith

    too fun! visited this site two days ago instead of pulling out my books! need to work harder on my SBI site and do it right 🙂

    • Planning saves a lot of time, headache, and frustration.

      It surely helps me.

  • Hey Vickie! SBI! sites are fun to work on! No constant plug-in updates etc. Just open up your page and away you go (you know that!) Heck, even when we think we’ve done a page “right,” more often than not we’ll go on back in and edit/improve it. Can’t wait to see what you’re up to Vickie!

  • I may have some difficulty building a website too. But, all I need to do is:

    – watch tutorial videos
    – take notes
    – write down ideas
    – draw rough sketches of each webpage
    – write a list of what to include in these 4 parts of a webpage: header, navigation, body, and footer

    If you do learn information about HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and other topics related to web development, you would succeed in building an awesome website.

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