As I write this, I am in a hotel room in Madrid, about to fly to Hong Kong, then on to New Zealand, and then a tour of Australia. My website will continue to support me while I’m travelling, and I will also have the opportunity to work on my business while I’m on the road!Dr. Richard Mitchell from dental-health-advice.com
Dr. Richard Mitchell has a steady hand and itchy feet. After he graduated as a dentist in 1979, he lived and worked in 5 countries on 3 continents.
During his many years of dental practice, he came across a lot of myths and bad information about teeth, gums and dental care. How could he help more people than just the patients who came to his practice?
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” as a popular saying goes. In Richard’s case, the teacher was his son, who introduced him to Solo Build It!. That was in 2009. Nine years later, Richard was able to retire early from his career as a dentist. Now he works on his online business from wherever his itchy feet take him.
Here’s his story…
1. Richard, you have a successful career as a dentist. What made you start www.dental-health-advice.com and how did you know that Solo Build It! was the right platform?
My then 19 year old son started his first website in 2009, after much research, with SBI!.
I saw what he was doing, and saw an opportunity to provide accurate information about dentistry without the usual pressures of insurance companies, regulators and registration authorities. I could explain my knowledge in a simple manner, hopefully helping people to understand their dental issues.
My son was very thorough in his initial research, and when I took a look at SBI! I was convinced that he had chosen well. I felt an affinity with SiteSell’s founder, Dr. Ken Evoy.
Richard was fortunate that his adult son did the due diligence for him. If you aren’t that lucky, and you’d like to shorten the learning curve about SBI! (and whether it’s right for you), we have two suggestions: watch the Solo Build It! video tour for a 30 minute summary about how SBI! works and / or talk to one of our experienced Advisors to get your specific questions answered.
2. What were your initial goals for www.dental-health-advice.com? Have these goals changed over time?
My aim was and still is to provide truthful dental information, bust any dental myths, and start to build the site into something that could provide an extra income in later years.
The only thing that has changed is that I now have more time to work on my site, as I retired early (more about that below).
#1: Your in-depth knowledge about a certain topic helps people solve a problem or fulfill a wish. And — contrary to an offline business — you can reach many more people online.
#2: You build up one or more extra income streams, plus equity (i.e. you could, at some point, sell your online business).
#3: That income helps you to retire earlier. How’s that for a Win-Win-Win situation? 😀
3. On your “Ask the Dentist” section, you offer advice via email for a small fee. How did you come up with this idea? How much does it contribute to your income from the site?
I was receiving a lot of emails asking for personalised, individual dental advice. After answering questions for free for a few years, I decided to start charging people for a personal one-on-one consultation where I give individual advice.
This is a recent development, and so far it has been a small contribution to overall income.
That’s why every successful SBI! member follows our time-tested C T P M strategy. You can read more about this approach, and why it works so well, here.
But for now, let’s get back to Richard’s idea of charging for individualized advice. When you attract thousands of visitors to your site each day, chances are that you get many questions that you need to answer.
You have two options how to react:
Option 1: “Sigh, another question I have to answer. That takes up so much time!”
Option 2: “Yes! Another question that gives me ideas how to improve or add to my content. Hey, perhaps I can even turn this into a product or service to sell?”
Richard chose option 2, which allowed him to add another income stream to his monetization mix.
4. What other income streams do you have, and how do they perform?
I also have Amazon sales for dental products, and individual affiliate agreements with a toothbrush manufacturer, a snoring device manufacturer, a hypnosis downloads company, and a denture products producer.
Another income stream are my two ebooks that I sell through FastSpring.
These all work quite well, but depend on enough traffic coming through my site. Traffic is everything. Even with the best affiliate agreement or the best ebook in the world, you need traffic to generate sales.
- How many of your visitors become paying customers (aka your conversion rate), and
- How much each conversion is worth to you (that “worth” ranges from a few cents for an AdSense click to thousands of dollars for a service or the commission on a real estate sale).
As a rule of thumb, the more “passive” your monetization model is, the more traffic you need. For some solopreneurs Google AdSense (probably the most passive way of monetizing) still works well, especially when they use a service like Ezoic or Mediavine to optimize the serving of ads on their pages.
However, many of the solopreneurs we interview, gradually move away from advertising and affiliate marketing into more active ways to monetize, like selling their own products and services.
Richard mentioned one other way of increasing his profit margin, while remaining on the more passive side of earning an income: individual affiliate agreements. We were curious to find out more about how he negotiates those, so we asked him…
Can you share any tips how to best approach companies that you’d like to represent as an affiliate? Do all these companies offer affiliate programs? If not, how do you get paid?
When I study my Master Keyword List (i.e. the list of keywords that SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool brings back), I identify keywords with strong demand that I can write about. Sometimes there is a product that I use myself or that I am aware of that I feel I can honestly recommend.
My next step is to visit the manufacturer’s website and see if they have an “affiliates” link anywhere on their home page. If they do, they have an affiliate program, and I apply to register.
If they don’t have an affiliate program, I contact them and ask about how I might promote their product on my site. Sometimes I get no reply at all, sometimes I get a rejection, but sometimes they are interested, and we set up an agreement.
I never know in advance if I will get an affiliate agreement. The only way to find out is to ask. To me, a rejection or failure is just part of the process of building something successful.
I have been aware of that fact for many years in different ways, but it was reading about Elon Musk that really brought it home to me. A fear of failure is one of the biggest roadblocks on the road to success. So many folks don’t even attempt something challenging because they are afraid of failure.
To answer your question about how I get paid:
We agree about a percentage of any sales generated from links on my site.
For example, Amden make toothbrushes. They gave me a link to use on my toothbrush page, and if a reader clicks through to the Amden site from my link, and subsequently makes a purchase, I get a percentage of the value of the sale generated.
So it’s like Amazon, but with percentage rates of 10% to 20%, which I negotiate myself (Amazon pays between 1% and 10%).
There’s currently no way for me to monitor what happens each day. I have to trust my contact person at each company to be honest. Some might say that trust is good, but accountability is better, and I would agree.
Long term, I’d like to switch these “gentlemen’s agreements” to proper affiliate arrangements, with a tracking system in place. But for now, it’s working well.
Brain – they have experience/knowledge in a field that others would want
Attitude – they have a positive attitude/ability to bounce back, and
Motivation – they persist, hanging in until they win.
5. Do you also use your site to get more clients for your dentist practice? If not, why not?
My SBI! site is a general educational resource, and I regard it as being quite different from my dental office site, which is (was) targeted at a very small community on the coast in Spain.
Besides, he wanted to grow a location-independent income stream in addition to the local income from his dental practice.
Depending on your goals, you can of course use your SBI! site to attract customers for your local business, too. SBI! member Melissa Makris is doing exactly that, and it helped her make her massage therapy practice profitable from day one.
6. How did you manage to build a profitable online business while continuing your dentist career? Any specific tips you can give our readers?
Sheer hard work!
When I started, I knew I had to build a website quite quickly, otherwise I would just drift and maybe write one new page a month. I realised that I had to get myself established online.
So I set myself a target of writing the bones of a page every evening after work, Monday to Friday. At the weekend, I would sit at my laptop from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday putting those five pages from the week up onto my site.
I told myself I had to upload 5 pages a week for 30 weeks, to get up to 150 pages. I stuck to my plan. I told myself I was sacrificing a little over six months of intensive work to get a solid foundation for my online business.
My advice is to write a timetable, and stick to it. Watch less TV. Quit surfing useless websites. Put domestic chores on the back burner for 6 months. Make the foundation of your online business your main focus in life, for 6 months.
Do you feel you could never stay that motivated for so long? Or even come up with a plan and a timetable in the first place? We’re here to help.
In the SBI! forums, you’ll find various challenges to keep you focused and accountable towards your goals. For example, at the beginning of the year, we held a “Plan Your Socks Off Challenge” to help our members plan ahead, and make 2018 as productive as possible for their businesses.
7. What has been your biggest challenge as a solopreneur?
Scheduling the time to keep the site up to date. As well as adding new pages, I have to keep the existing pages updated and fresh. I need a timetable!
There are only so many hours in one day, and so many roles to fulfill: content researcher, content writer, image creator, social media marketer, newsletter editor, to name just a few.
You have to be disciplined about how you spend your time. You need a “timetable” as Richard points out, and stick to it. Focus on the tasks that matter most for your business. And that’s exactly what SBI! is designed to help you with.
We cannot provide you with more hours per day (we wish we could!). But we can give you the perfect combination of tools and process, so that you invest every last second into the most meaningful business-building task.
8. What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed your life so far, and how do you see its impact for your retirement?
I like the aspect of being able to work when I want, where I want. The income from my site has allowed me to work part-time as a dentist for a few years, and recently to sell my business and go full-time on SBI!.
Although I have “retired” from clinical dental practice, I still work full-time on my website. But at the times and places I choose!
As I write this, I am in a hotel room in Madrid, about to fly to Hong Kong, then on to New Zealand, and then a tour of Australia. My website will continue to support me while I’m travelling, and I will also have the opportunity to work on my business while I’m on the road!
SBI! has helped me to “retire” from a conventional job earlier than otherwise possible. Thank you SBI! and Dr. Ken Evoy!
The freedom that comes with a portable, “work-from-anywhere” business is priceless. Not to mention that the only “boss” you need to report to is yourself.
Are you ready to become your own boss? Start your side hustle with SBI! now.