The thing I enjoy the most about being an online business owner is this: Nobody can take away what I have built with SBI! - John Shank, SBI! member since 2003

The Good, The Bad… And The Better Way… To Build An Online Business

good-better-way-build-online-business

We’re not even going to waste your time talking about the bad way…

Are you knowledgeable and passionate about a particular niche? Great news…

There are others who’d like to tap into your brain!   

That’s the rationale behind the most cost-effective way to build a real internet business…

  1. Create content around a topic you know and love.
  2. Attract the attention (search, social, mobile) of all those folks who want to know what’s in your brain.
  3. “Wow” them with the quality of your content, building “like and trust.”
  4. Make money by selling your own products or services, or promoting the products and services of others.

Okay, it’s a tad more involved than that! (The SBI! Action Guide covers the step-by-step details of the C → T → P → M process.) Those bullet points represent one of the most consistently reliable ways for a solopreneur to succeed, more so today than ever.

Sure, there are other ways to build an online business. You could develop a product, for example, and drive traffic to your sales page with Facebook ads. You could build an eBay or Etsy empire. You could become a superstar vlogger.

Those ways work! But they’re risky, much harder to win.  Yes, you may hit the jackpot. More likely, you’ll empty your pockets.

Creating content to build an audience is more than low risk with a high chance of success, it can be boiled down to a reproducible process.  In other words, we boil it down to a series of steps that, if well executed, deliver success.

The vlogger who goes stratospheric? That’s lightning in a bottle. We can’t teach that. Even the person who did it once has trouble doing it a second time.  On the other hand…

The solopreneur who creates content around a topic she knows and loves, builds a relationship with an ever-growing audience, and then monetizes that audience? No magic necessary!

Just one caveat…

Make Your Content “Evergreen”

Most solopreneurs automatically think about classic blogging when considering an online business. And for good reason…

It’s what everyone else does!

We recommend the fundamentally different format of a Theme-Based Content Site (“TBCS”). Two reasons…

  1. A TBCS is based upon evergreen content. As we’ll see, that translates into a larger, longer-lasting flow of free traffic from search engines and social media. Blogs are not search friendly.  Most Google search results come from evergreen content sites.
  2. “Everyone else” blogs, so there’s more competition.  For some reason, blogging is seen as being “cool.”  The TBCS’s make the money – that seems “cooler,” right?

What’s So Great About Evergreen Content?

As the name suggests, evergreen content stays relevant long after publication. Blog content, on the other hand, tends to focus on…

  • what’s new
  • what’s just around the corner
  • what’s trending
  • what’s fashionable
  • what’s seasonal.

A wine blogger, for example, might write an article on whether 2016 was a vintage year for Champagne. An evergreen sitebuilder would write about the difference between vintage and non-vintage Champagne.

The successful blogger gets a lot of visits from followers when s/he first posts. But the traffic fades after that.  The evergreen article keeps attracting a steady stream of free search engine traffic indefinitely.

The two formats have very different philosophies…

  • The classic blogger strives to be a cutting-edge voice in his/her niche. And that means keeping up with — and ideally staying one step ahead of — whatever is happening now.  This builds followers, but you have to be excellent. It’s a tougher road to hoe.
  • The evergreen sitebuilder strives to create a long-lasting body of work that will be as relevant in 2020 as it was in 2010.  S/he updates pages as necessary, instead of posting updates (the blogger’s approach).  One complete page about a topic that is up-to-date is more attractive for search than a series of “what’s new” pages.

The difference can be summarized as “what do folks need to know now?” vs. “what do they need to know?”. The different functions are reflected in the structure of their sites…

  • The blogger’s posts are arranged in reverse chronological order. The older they are, the more they get lost in the sands. Posts are organized by category, but even then, what’s old and outdated is pushed to the bottom (as it should be).
  • A Theme-Based Content Site is arranged topically, not chronologically (i.e., topic > sub-topic > sub-sub-topic). Unlike those long-buried blog posts, a page on a TBCS is never more than 2 or 3 clicks away (as it should be). The 2nd tier pages are not just a “category,” but an actual page that covers the bigger picture before linking to its sub-topics, often within the body of the page.

Bottom Line (So Far)?

We’re not discouraging the would-be solopreneur from blogging, nor are Theme-Based Content Sites always the best format. Blogging can build a viable internet business if your niche lends itself to that format.  However, most niches are better served with a TBCS…

For example, if you live in and love the island of Fiji, tourists aren’t much interested in the latest news. They want unique and valuable content that is relevant to their upcoming vacations.  Wood-workers want to see how to build things, learn techniques, etc – your content is likely to be video-oriented.  “What’s new” isn’t of particular interest.

Woodworking tools could be covered with either format… news and reviews of the latest vs. a site that organizes them into 10 categories (sanders, drills, etc.) and then perhaps, the top tools of each category.  The evergreen content site updates pages about particular models as needed but also has video information about how to use the types of tools.

What does work for blogging?  Fast-changing fields like technology, consumer electronics, internet marketing, etc.  Content sites don’t make much sense for fields like this.  But blogs?  Perfect.  For example…

No one cares much about the iPhone 4 anymore (so would not make sense as evergreen content), but if you create a fantastic review of the latest iPhone that gets a lot of attention (i.e., they generate those off-page signals for Google), your post just may rank for “regular” search for this type of non-evergreen content.

It used to be search vs RSS followers. However, SBI! was the first to add an automated RSS feed to allow those who enjoy the content to subscribe to new pages. Blogs, meanwhile, still suffer from being less “search-natural.”

If you dream of online business success but aren’t sure about how to get there, our best advice is to build an evergreen Theme-Based Content Site.  Your odds are better.

Every piece of content you create will drive traffic to your business indefinitely. And you’ll be free of always having to stay one step ahead of what’s new.

Just one more tip to give you an edge in your future endeavor….

Don’t Take “Evergreen” Literally

Think about a mighty pine tree. When you look up into its boughs, the “green” that you see isn’t precisely the same green that you’ll see next year or the year after that. Some of the needles will have died and dropped to the ground…

Two Ways to Build a Real Internet Business Today

Up in the canopy, fresh green needles will have taken their place…

Two Ways to Build a Real Internet Business Today

So it is with “evergreen” content…

Yes, a new content page lasts a long time (waaaaaay longer than a newsworthy blog post). But revisiting that content periodically — cutting away what’s stale, adding something fresh — will make it last indefinitely.

The blog post covering a news item? Once the moment has passed and the leaves have dropped, that’s it….

When someone Googles “LeBron James,” blogs and news sites dominate the search results pages for weeks after his team wins a world championship. Usually, however, pages that summarize his career, his statistics and LeBron James himself show up in the rankings.

There may or may not be some news about him above the content results, but for the most part, search is primarily about content pages because they deliver what searchers want…

Evergreen but up-to-date content!

Two Ways to Build a Real Internet Business Today

That is what makes the sitebuilder’s job so much easier than the blogger’s….

The classic blogger needs to create a steady stream of content that will burn brightly for a short time, then fade. The sitebuilder creates a piece of content that, aside from an occasional refresh, lasts forever and is favored by search.

Neither is favored by social media marketing, which should support both types of websites.  And both work pretty much the same in mobile.  

What about the bottom line, monetizing? Well, the more traffic you build, the more you monetize.  And most folks build better traffic with content sites.

Wrapping Up

Blogging is a viable way to build a real internet business. But in its classic form, it’s an inherently more difficult approach to excel, compared to a Theme-Based Content Site.

High-quality evergreen content, by its very nature, delivers higher volumes of search traffic for less work, while still building a following through RSS and fitting in with social media. The “advantage” is even more pronounced for as long as most would-be solopreneurs are drawn to the “sexier” world of blogging!

Shameless Self-Promotion: For 15 years, SBI! has enabled solopreneurs to build profitable online businesses by creating content sites that work. Sites built with SBI! punch way above their weight, capturing an unusually high percentage of all such profitable active sites.

Try it today to see for yourself.  Or try SBI for WordPress if you prefer. The two are identical except that the former uses SBI!’s world-class “BlockBuilder.”

Margit Streifeneder
Margit Streifeneder is the Communications Manager at SiteSell. She handles the Editorial Calendar, coordinates marketing initiatives and is renowned for her organisational skills. She's passionate about helping solopreneurs achieve success, and enjoys interviewing SBI! members about their achievements. Her personal goal is "never being cold again," so she chose to settle in Nicaragua, for now.
  • Spot on!

  • BlueDog

    This is a great article – and has touched on something I’ve been wondering about for so long… With all the ‘noise’ out there about blogging being the way to go, I felt like a lone voice and wondered if perhaps they were right. But this has now resolved that, so I can go back to concentrating on what is important…. building more evergreen content 🙂

    • Hello BlueDog! Glad to hear that the article helped you settle your doubts. Blogging has its merits, and works well for certain topics, but for most niches a theme-based content site simply makes more sense if you want to build an online business.

    • I’ve actually been thinking about the same thing, Val, because I’m planning to do something similar on my SBI! site about keeping backyard chickens. My plan is to have a series of Facebook Live Q&A videos on the same themed page, and have several pages of them. So for example one page would be linked to my section about hatching, one about feeding, etc. I’d write it exactly as I write an ordinary page – i.e. using keywords and optimising it.

      Each page would have the videos and, alongside each one, a summary in text of what the questions were – not the answers because I want to keep people on the page longer by watching the vids – with a little preamble about each question. My plan is to use the BB2 ‘Responsive Grid’ to keep it all in line.

      I would keep each page out of SEs until I had a few videos up on it, so the text would be enough for it not to be considered a thin page. It will take longer than doing a transcript, because I’ll need to wait till I have a few vids done.

      I’m doing this because I’m tired of people asking me the same questions over and over again via my contact box. Things like “I followed your hatching course so why did my supermarket eggs not hatch?” drive me mad! So in future I’ll save what’s left of my sanity by just referring them to the relevant video Q&A page.

      That’s my cunning plan anyway, for what it’s worth. 🙂

  • Hi Margit, Question – I have a sitesell site and a blog. I would like to bring everything under one “roof”. I am interested in doing a weekly vlog where I answer a question talk about a topic without a lot of written content on the page to compliment the 200+ pages of detailed content I already have on the site. This would also expand on the already broad topic I have (holistic healing). I am concerned if I do this on my site that it will hurt rankings because those would be content thin pages or pages that don’t seem directly related to the main topic. Do you have suggestions about this?

    • Hi Val, thanks for your question. Your concerns that the thin vlog content pages could hurt your rankings are absolutely valid. We wouldn’t recommend creating pages with only a video and not much text. Instead, you should have the video transcribed and add that text to the page.

      Here’s the process we recommend to get the most value from your videos…

      1. Prerecord the video then upload to Facebook / or use Facebook Live.
      2. Upload the video to YouTube.
      3. Embed one of the videos into a new page on the site (preferably the Facebook post).
      4. Add a transcription of the video for text (good for both search engines and people who prefer to read).

      Another good idea would be to add Facebook commenting to your pages (in case you aren’t doing this already). It allows visitors to interact, and the comments are seen as content by Google.

  • I think the term “Evergreen” how to keep your content fresh.. I have tried my self on my design blog by just updating few articles and I see some google traffic coming to that pages. so one way is to find the content on the blog which is out-dated and update with new information. Second that you can do is to share you content in social media so it does not die, its important to have some engagement of some sort on the site.

    • You make some good points there, Mohsin. Updating your articles regularly helps to keep your blog or site content fresh. And when you update your pages or add new content, you have a good reason to share them again via your social media channels.

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