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

How Solopreneurs Achieve Success In The Face Of Steep Competition

steep-competition

How SBI! Results Fit in With The Rest of the World

SBI! has 15-year history of enabling solopreneurs to succeed at unmatched rates and levels of success.  To document that for you, we provide you with two forms of performance by SBI! owners (“SBIers”):

1) Long-term reviews of case studies of successful SBIers, tracking them as they go from strength to strength.  Since these are quite lengthy we provide a small number of these business-builders as a representative sampling of the different types of solopreneurs:

  • stay-at-home moms who want to both be with their children and earn income for college educations, vacations, etc
  • young adults who don’t want a “job” working for others
  • people who need to replace income due to a lost job or who are anticipating that event (ex., retirement approaching).

– and –

2) Hundreds of businesses, divided by category, that are in the Top half-of-one-percent of all active websites.  The sheer number of businesses in this rarefied atmosphere is staggering, when you consider that we likely have less than 1/1000 of the number of people that the largest web hosts have.

We recently released a new edition of the latter at results.sitesell.com.

The Results page is not only about the Alexa Ranking.  We cross-check to make sure they have real traffic results to back it up. Note: See our Definitive Guide to Alexa Traffic Rankings

Even though we expect superior business-building outcomes because of the in-depth training and tools we provide, the “Results page” page impressed us more than we thought it would.  We have never had so many SBIers with 30,000 visitors per month (i.e., 1000 per day).

No one else can show results like this for solopreneurs.

It’s all the more impressive when one realizes that the average solopreneur gets less than 50 visitors per day to their website.

Review “Results” now, and then come back here for some unique and useful information based on original Alexa research.  Some eye-opening conclusions appear below.

As you review these sites, realize that there are many more successful SBI! businesses than this. Some, though, don’t have a Top 1,000,000 ranking at Alexa even though they have excellent traffic.

That extra checking we perform, led to this study and the conclusions below (including how poorly most solopreneurs do).  For now, though, the bottom line is that SBIers actually do better than the Results page would suggest!

What we’re going to cover:

Ready? Let’s get started.

Why we had to shift our focus from Top 3% to Top 2% to Top 1% to Top 0.5%

The first version of results.sitesell.com published sites that were in the top 3% of all active sites in the world.  As SBIers’ businesses grew, we had so many successes at that level we felt that people wouldn’t truly believe the results, so we cut it to top 2%. Again, we saw so many successful solopreneurs we adjusted to focus on the top 1% and now we’re reporting successful websites in the top 1/2%!

That’s top 1 out of every 200 sites!  We thought we’d share some interesting findings on how Alexa numbers work and what they mean.

About Alexa

Alexa rankings tell you that you are, say, the 204,300th most visited site in the world. Or the millionth.  Or the 10 millionth.  The lower the ranking, the more traffic you’re getting.

Note: Check out our Definitive Guide to Alexa Traffic Rankings, a 5-part series corrects widespread misinformation about Alexa.

Some people feel that Alexa rankings don’t translate into traffic very well. Intuitively, one knows that this is wrong.  The closer you are to THE most visited site in the world, the more traffic you must have.

It’s not going to be exact for every site (which is why we double-check for traffic, as explained above).  For the big picture studies here, though, it’s more than enough to derive the final conclusions.

This time, though, we decided to dig into the data and see what the relationship is between ranking and actual traffic.  Don’t worry about the graphs that follow – we’re keeping it “math-free.”  Here is what we found:

Ranking at 100,000 is not “twice as good” as ranking at 200,000.

Take a look at this graph:

image00

Figure 1 – Alexa Rankings and Monthly Visitors

You can easily see the relationship between visitor count (y-axis or the vertical scale) and Alexa ranking (x-axis or the horizontal scale).  The lower your Alexa ranking, the higher your traffic must be.

What is most interesting?  I’ll tell you as soon as we get through 4 explanatory notes.

Note 1:  We laid the x-axis out on a log scale, which is why the “distance” from an Alexa ranking of 35,000 to 350,000 is greater than the bigger jump of 350,000 to 1 million.  We do that so that we can actually fit the entire Alexa range that runs from 35,000 to 2,000,000 on a horizontal scale without squishing all the data into an incomprehensible mess.

Note 2:  As we report results, you have to scan from right to left (instead of from left to right).  That’s because lower is actually “higher” with Alexa (in the sense that you are doing better).

Note 3:  The conclusions are big-picture results. There will always be “outliers” (exceptions).  Those don’t disprove the conclusions. There are always statistical flukes. So, once we figured out what the curve’s actual relationship is between traffic and ranking, there are sites that rank too low for their actual traffic and there are sites that rank too high.  Ignore those “dots.”

Note 4:  According to Netcraft, there were 170,000,000 active sites in the world (click here for the current numbers) as of the end of December, 2015.  If you click to the site, you can hover over the graph there to see the numbers change month by month.

To make the math simple, we’ll round 170,000,000 up to 200,000,000 (200M).  The principles are what is important here, not the exact math. Rounding just makes the math easier.

The Netcraft data (below) shows the number of active sites (red) and the total of all hostnames (blue).  It’s the red line that is relevant to us.

Figure 2 – Total Number of Websites

image03

Interestingly, the number of active sites has been flat for a few years, now.  The days of exponential growth are over.  New sites replace old ones, but growth seems to be done.

Note 5: Netcraft sites are domain-based sites with content that can be reached.   They do not include the infinite number of free-hosted sites that do not have their own domain.  Those have virtually no chance of success.  If you use domain-less free hosting and if you are serious about building a successful online business, the best advice for you, right now, is to switch to your own paid hosting domain.

So… what do we see?

Let’s give you Figure 1 again…

Start at Alexa rank of 2,000,000 (“2M” on the far right of the x-axis of the graph). Scan to the left to see what traffic does as Alexa rank gets better (lower).  Let’s call the first observation:

Pre-Success Businesses:  As you scan to the left from the far right, we can see that the dots (each one being a site) form a line as you go from 2M to 1M – it is almost straight and rises only a little over that span.  So… sites that rank around 1,000,000th in the world do have more traffic than those at 2M. But the difference is not huge, compared with what’s to come.

NOTE 6: We don’t show it here, but beyond 2M (further to the right), it does not take a really big traffic increase to go from 5,000,000 (5M) to rank within the Top 2M.  The higher (worse) the Alexa rank gets, the flatter and flatter the line gets, with the traffic getting closer and closer to 0.

NOTE 7: Alexa reports all the way up to around 30M.  It makes no sense to rank all the way up to 170M since it’s all virtually zero traffic.  It probably does not make much sense to report above 10M.  If you develop the habit of using Alexa to check on all sites, you will be amazed at how many gorgeous, “must-be-successful” web sites have ranks of 5M, 20M and even no ranking at all (“We don’t have enough data to rank this website.”).

Conclusions

OK, so you’re asking, “Can we boil this down to some conclusions yet?”  Perfect timing! Yes, we can.

1) It’s Not Hard to Get Into The Top 2M If You Apply a Solid Approach

Since the Top 2,000,000 is the Top 1% of all sites (remember we’re using 200M as the total so 2/200=1%), the rest of the sites, almost all of which are done by solopreneurs, are in the bottom 99%.  The sad thing is…

Most stay there, making very little money. There are a few exceptions, such as those with narrow-niches but with high-paying monetization models (ex., a Manhattan penthouse real estate agent!).  Putting those aside, the next question is obvious.

Why do most do so poorly when doing well enough to be in the Top 2,000,000 is not rocket science?  To be flippant for a moment, I guess we could say that someone has to fill the huge “Bottom 99%”.  But it does NOT have to be you.  The reasons for poor results include:

1) Most common: “The Bottom 99% are obviously doing a lot wrong (prioritizing poorly, working without a process or using a bad one, following the wrong advice, etc.).  Without radical change, they won’t succeed.

2) Some are just starting out.  Their hopeful futures lie ahead. The right process, tools and guidance can make all the difference. Most, though, aren’t armed with what they need to make optimal decisions at every step of the way. Unless they get lucky, failure is likely.

Now let’s refer back to Figure 1 and scan from the Top 2M to the Top 1M (top 1,000,000).  Here it is again for ease of reading …

image00

You can see a line that slopes upward a bit.  It takes more traffic to get into the Top 1M.

2) This 2M-1M Range Is Where You Really Need a Strong Approach

If you make sharp decisions all the way through a well-defined and proven process, you have a good chance to enter “The 1 Million Club.”  You can achieve a reasonably profitable online business at 2M.  But if you are good enough to move toward and into the Top 1M, you are really on your way.

Now let’s take a harder look at the Top Million (Figure 1).

Your eye should be able to see that it’s getting even harder to move up in the world of the Top 1,000,000. You are now competing in the Top Half-Percent (0.5%, best 1 out of 200).

You are not playing against many weak businesses. That is why the line starts to slope upwards in a small-but-obvious curve.

3) You Won’t Last Long Here If You Are Depending On Tricks

Real businesses using real techniques within an organized, big-picture strategy that works not only have the best chance to do well, they stick and grow.

Sure, it’s possible to do it right and still not get into this group.  Errors are possible. Some SBIers have failed on their first try, learned from it and then achieved success with a 2nd effort.  Other people fail – but they can’t learn from it because they lack the right mindset. Successful business people tend to adopt the thinking “fail fast”. For those that think failure is “end of the road,” it’s going to be hard for them in their next attempt to come out differently.

Let’s keep moving left along the x-axis of Alexa rankings (i.e., rankings getting lower/better) in Figure 1.

At around 500,000, you can see the slope of the curve begin an inflection point, which means that the curve “hockey sticks” and gets steeper and steeper after that.  You need exponentially more traffic and the exponent gets higher and higher as you move to the left.

We see a definite rise in traffic as we move from 1M to 500,000 and even more as we pass left of the 350,000 mark (“350K”).

It takes more to improve by 500,000, to go from 1M to reach 500K, than to improve your ranking by twice as much, from 1,000,000 from 2M to 1M!  Much more!

An increasingly exponential curve.

As we continue going left, take a look (we repeat Figure 1 below for convenience) and see how much more traffic you need to get to rise from 350K to 35K (the smallest jump in Alexa that we’ve yet covered)!

image02

You need over 1,000,000-1,500,000 visitors per month at the far left (Alexa of 35,000).  The jump is gigantic.  The reason is that your competition is the stiffest yet. Few solopreneurs make it into this ritzy neighbourhood.

4) Solopreneurs Are Increasingly Up Against Well-Staffed Mid-Sized Companies

…and a very small number of skilled solopreneurs.

Again, as we keep going left until we rank near the Top 100K at Alexa (that would be the Top 1/10th of 1 percent!), you are now in the major leagues, where SBI! delivers at the highest percentage, anywhere.

If you are playing at these levels, your solopreneur earnings are terrific.  To keep them there, you need to “stay hungry” (as Steve Jobs would say).  You also need to stay up to date, follow the same robust process that got you there, grow strong monetization models, and so forth.

And you need to learn all that without losing time from growing the business.

5) The Biggest-Picture of What This Means to Solopreneurs

The vast majority of the “bottom 99%” – the 168,000,000 active web sites (out of the total of 170M), those to the right of 2M – are solopreneurs.  A few are doing well enough, but most are struggling. Most are trying hard enough and deserve better.

Solopreneurs, after all, form the backbone that delivers the rich diversity of content of the Web.

The Fortune 500 don’t do that. The Fortune 50,000 don’t, either.

Think of how boring the Web would be without the richness that millions of solopreneurs bring to the Web.  It’s “The Fortune 5,000,000” that makes the Web such a rich environment.

While the Fortune 500 don’t give the Internet its amazing character, the online business world is an extreme form of what is known as “The 1%.”  Offline, it’s said that the “Top 1%” control 99% of the world’s wealth.

Online, it’s fair to say that the top 1 percent (the Top 2,000,000) make a similar percentage of all online income.  That is where you want to be, ideally in the Top 1M (which is what we are showing in results.sitesell.com).

Those in the Top 1,000,000 are usually doing well financially. Those in the Top 2M are often on their way or earning decently (depending on niche and how they monetize).

Some can do well enough with less traffic.  Most are not, and all in that “in-between world” could be doing so much better.

The further you are below the Top 2,000,000, the more likely you are not meeting your goals.  And we don’t mean “financial goals,” although those are important.  We’ll come back to this thought in a second.

Important: Alexa is just an indicator

None of this is intended to get you obsessing over what your Alexa rank is. Alexa is just a handy quick check. When we plot rank against traffic for a large number of sites, we see a pattern that is useful to know.  But it’s your traffic, and how you monetize it, that matter most!

Some folks will say that “having high traffic doesn’t mean a thing.”  We’ve never understood that because having no traffic makes it pretty darn hard to monetize!  If you have good traffic, and if you determined (in your early planning stages) that your concept has high income potential and if you are now executing that plan, traffic does indeed drive income.

However, we don’t want you to think that this is all about income, either.

We were just saying that money isn’t the actual goal. Successful solopreneurs get that right away.  Think about it.

“Real Goals” Are Bigger than Money

“Real Goals” Are Bigger than Money
Tweet This

Saving for college educations, paying for vacations, planning for retirement, earning more than you would at a job while being completely free of a boss…  those are real goals. They are tied to income, of course.  When generated by your very own business, they all are derivations of the biggest goals of all… self-reliance, freedom and independence.

Not many people think like that anymore, let alone act on it. Most prefer the “security” of jobs (which really are not secure anymore).  Friends and family are so entrenched in that mindset that they won’t understand how you plan to build a business from home.  If you explain it to them, feedback is anything from doubt to derision.

Those who DO want to live life on their terms are our heroes, deserving of our total dedication.

It’s the first thing that everyone who works at SiteSell (“SiteSeller”) understands.

We have walked in your shoes. We designed SBI! to help you walk down the best path in those shoes! That path will lead you to the best version of the niche that you may be considering (or to a better niche), help you plan (“architect”) your website structure, then assess and develop your monetization possibilities. Only then do you actually pick a domain (and we help there, too).

These first 5 metaphorical “days” of the SBI! process (i.e. the Action Guide) are a big part of why such a high percentage of SBI! owners do so well.  The rest of the process, the “days” that follow, are  important, too, of course (the creation of content, building search engine traffic, social presence, and monetizing).

SBI! covers it all. We lead you through all that with a careful, proven plan.

Mistakes made early will make everything that follows harder (at best) or impossible (worst case).  Remember, the vast majority fail.  There’s a very good reason for that…

There is just too much information, good and bad, to process, let alone to organize it into a process that flat-out works, and has been proven for 15 years to work.

SBI! does all that so you can focus on what matters.  

And what is that?

It’s business-building that grows increasing amounts of traffic and that grows income and equity.  Who has time to do anything more than that? Who can afford the time to keep up with everything, to figure out what’s new and important and what’s just hype?

So What Does This Boil Down To?

It’s pretty simple.  Let’s look at one more graph, zooming into the “inflection area” of Figure 1…

image01

We talked earlier about an inflection point of around 500K.  On this graph, you can see how the curve gets steeper from far right (approx 500K) to far left (approx 100K).  Beyond that it takes increasingly exponential traffic growth to move up.

You may remember that…

  • anything over 5M was flat and near zero
  • 5M to 2M was low-traffic and fairly straight (i.e., it’s winnable, you can do better)
  • even 1M-2M was fairly straight, although definitely requires superior decision-making and solid execution, focusing only on what matters. (Solopreneurs don’t have the time to work on anything else!)
  • going from 1M to 500K starts to show the inflection.

Continuing from right to left, we next see the inflection point of 500K to 100K, where the curve clearly slopes upward increasingly more steeply.

Also, note that the number of SBI! businesses thin out as we move from right to left.  It’s not a linear scale and the competition is harder for everyone.

But the percent of total solopreneurs that reach that lofty level of success is significantly higher for SBI! than other methods.

Ask any successful SBIer how they did it and they’ll tell you that, “they just followed the Action Guide.”

Talk to them some more and you’ll realize that you know tons more detail than them (some of it useful, some of it not, and some counter-productive).  Yet they are the ones who are doing well.

It’s all about focusing the time you have on the things that matter!

It’s all about focusing the time you have on the things that matter!
Tweet This

Let’s Strengthen that Backbone

Solopreneurs may be the backbone of the tremendous richness of the Web.  But they also turnover at tremendously high rates. SBI! is the product that is most likely to move you into the Top 5,000,000, then the Top 2,000,000 and finally the Top 1,000,000 (the top 1 out of 200) as shown in our Results page.

Let’s review milestone levels of failure…

1) If you can’t break into the top 5,000,000, you are making fundamental mistakes.  You need SBI! desperately. There is no success in the “Bottom 165M.” Just try SBI! for a month and you’ll understand why you need it.  There’s zero risk, with our money-back guarantee.

2) The move into the Top 2,000,000 is a little harder, requiring focus, solid process and good execution.  That’s still not good enough for our “Results” page, but if you’re not earning some decent income with that level of traffic, you are close to getting there.

In this highly populated tranche, you compete with a ton of other solopreneurs all trying to figure it out, wasting time and money by reading and trying so many things, instead of focusing on the proven 80/20 of what works.  You are not as desperate, but the higher you get (as we move from right to left), the tougher it gets. SBI! gives you the big edge you need here.

3) Harder still, and where many talented people get stuck, is breaking into the Top 1/2 of 1%. Grow your traffic to these levels and monetize that traffic, and you will fulfill the real goals of starting your own business.

We are not saying it’s easy, but moving from right to left-left-left is do-able.  SBIers fail, too.  There are still ways to make errors, take wrong roads.  But…

When we do the math, how else could such a small group of solopreneurs (out of 170,000,000) deliver so much success.  Given the number of SBIers and given that we don’t show all of the Top 0.5% SBIers (see the final notes below), the math says the following…

SBIers are approximately 10 times more likely to make the Top 1 Million!  It is reasonable to conclude that SBI! owners would outperform at every level of success.

SBIers are approximately 10 times more likely to make the Top 1 Million!
Tweet This

So What Are You Waiting For?

To start your own successful SBI! business that will enable you to reach your goals, whatever they may be, start today.

Get Started On The Road To Success!

Final Notes

For those who are interested in details, a few final notes…

An Alexa rank of 2M is “The Top 1%.”  Our “Results” page shows some of the Top Half-Percent SBI! businesses, but not all of them.  We try to balance out the categories, show a variety of looks, from primitive (showing that you don’t need a snazzy site to win) to, um, snazzy (proving that a great-looking site looks, um, great!).

Now that we have the “long tail of failure” (the 160M or so who get well under 50 visitors per day, sites that are not commercially viable), it is obvious that too many people approach online business the way most of us do when we get a new camera with a 300 page manual.

We don’t read it!

What’s the difference between them and the solopreneur businesses in the “small head of success”?  Let’s use the analogy of someone who buys a good electronic camera…

You can still take a decent picture even if you don’t read the manual!

Try that with your business, though!

If you don’t focus on one single, all-in-one combination of process, tools and guidance…

If you’re reading many different expert’s opinions…

If you’re spending time trying to keep up with the firehose of new information…

You’ll be spending so little time on what really matters, and so much time on figuring it all out that you’ll end up with yet one more good-looking site, with no traffic, that fails.

The lights are on but nobody’s home.

Start playing in the “viable business” range. You’ll be thrilled at the levels you reach, at the business success you develop and especially at reaching the “real goals” that you set.

A diversified mix of search, social and mobile traffic, together with repeat visitors (newsletter, RSS feeds, social following, etc.) will move you from the incredibly long tail of dead online businesses to the far left where you have an excellent chance of building a real business… one with increasing profits and net worth equity.

The folks in the Results page are doing it. It’s 2016 and we have never had so many SBI! owners with at least 30,000 visitors per month. And there’s a high percentage of other SBI! sites right behind them.

Join them by starting today (money-back guarantee)

SBI! for WP

Skip down to like or comment

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.

Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)
Ken Evoy is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of SiteSell Inc. He is the creator of SBI!, SiteSell's comprehensive Web business-building system. Ken is also a successful inventor, author, and emergency physician. He feels strongly that solopreneurs can be empowered by leveraging their income building potential online.
Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell)

Latest posts by Ken Evoy (CEO, SiteSell) (see all)

  • Hi Ken,

    If I could agree 15,000% that real goals are bigger than money, I would. I promise. Alas, I must agree at 100% 😉 Love that point because being a solopreneur for so many years and writing 1 book on the topic – and 100 plus bite-sized eBooks on similar topics – I focus heavily on fun and freedom over financials. Meaning, if you get your F words down pat you can shine like a star in any niche. We may be in business for ourselves and our customers but shifting energy to real, tangible, awesome goals, bigger than money goals – the life-changing, freeing stuff – puts you into a different orbit in your niche.

    Fab post!

    Ryan

    • Thanks for stopping by Ryan! You’re definitely a shining example of a solopreneur living the dream. Keep it up!

Join The Solo Build It! Community

Get the latest in best-practices and advice for your online business. Let each new article be delivered to your Inbox for free.