Why We Got Rid of Our Websites & Shut Down Our Podcast

minimalism and online marketingI recently read a blog post where someone mentioned creating a Word for the Year. This is where you choose a word that encapsulates your main intention for the year. It can be one word or a group of words. For some, it’s not always easy to find that word and in fact, you can take courses to help you find that word, but for me it was easy. I knew straight away that my word was ‘minimalism’.

I have been wanting to declutter for some time now and in fact, have been slowly doing this with household items but I really wanted to get serious about it. The house was still filled with so many ‘you never know when you might need it’ items and it was time to let them go.

This has taken up much of January for me and Wanda has come onboard as well and is doing the same with her home. In fact, she has gotten rid of far more than me.

It’s a liberating feeling getting rid of ‘stuff’. It feels like a weight off your shoulders. It essentially means that you have less stuff to worry about and to be honest, most people in western societies have more stuff than they will ever need just sitting in boxes in the garage. Some people have so much stuff that they pay companies to store the excess.

So since we are both focused on a more minimalistic approach it was only natural that this would apply to our online business. Last year, we just did too much and as a result by Christmas we were just burned out. We really needed to reassess what we were doing and get into a ‘declutter the business mode’.

This has meant a big change to the number of websites we currently own. Some of these were websites we had when we first started online so they held some sentimental value for us but we were in the right frame of mind to finally let them go.

Our criteria for getting rid of those websites was whether they earned enough to cover the cost of running them. Most didn’t so we just let them go. This has resulted in us going from around 30 working websites down to just 15.

Because we had so many websites, it was difficult to manage them. All those things you need to keep in mind like remembering passwords and which hosting company they were with, ensuring Wordpress and plugins were updated and domain names were renewed. And we would often think that if only we had more time, we would be able to work on them and get them making money again. So they were constantly in the back of our mind…yet another thing to think of.

Finally getting rid of them has been a really freeing experience. It has has allowed us to combine the majority of the remaining websites into one hosting account. This meant, we were able to close down one of our hosting accounts completely. So apart from the money saving, it is one less thing to worry about.

We have also decided to close down the podcast for this website. We really like the idea of doing podcasts and they are a great way of getting traffic to your website, but we had to weigh our options and we knew that this particular podcast had to go. So today we shut it down.

One final thing we did was to reduce the amount of videos we are recording for our YouTube channels. At one point, we were creating 3 a week. That was way too much work as we not only had to record but do all the preparation before hand and then spend time editing the videos.

This is really just the start. We intend to declutter even more so because decluttering not only gets rid of stuff and reduce workload but it also declutters the mind. The less ‘stuff’ you have to think of, the clearer the mind becomes.

We are already finding that the lightened workload is having a beneficial effect on our wellbeing. We are able to take time off and get back to having experiences rather than being stuck at home working on the business so completely. Creative ideas are flowing more freely and work has once again become enjoyable. So if you are doing way to much, sit back and evaluate just what you can downsize to get your life on track.

How to Get Stuff Done Using the 15 Minute Rule

15minruleWe all know how difficult it can be working on certain tasks relating to our online business. Backlinking can be one of those tasks – most people seem to hate it. We don’t backlink much at all these days but when we did, it was one of the least popular tasks that we had to do. Any excuse would see us working on something else.

Even writing a blog post can take some motivation if you just aren’t in the mood and a project that takes a bit of work, like an ebook for instance, can often be put on the back burner, because you just never get around to working on it on a consistent basis.

So how do you find the motivation to work on stuff that you don’t really want to work on? Well, by applying the 15 Minute Rule you really don’t need the motivation and it’s so simple to do.

What You Will Need

The only thing you will need for this is a timer of some sort. Something that after a certain period of time will let you know with a pop-up or an audible alarm that your time is up.

How to Use the 15 Minute Rule

Let’s say you start out the day with really good intentions to spend an hour working on your next blog post, but when you get started that certain feeling comes over you and you realize you just can’t be bothered or you don’t have any inspiration. You  just don’t have the motivation to get started and would rather check Facebook or read your emails than get into writing more content for your site. Sound familiar? I think pretty much all of us go through this sort of thinking at certain times with our online business.

BUT, rather than toss it all in and head off to Facebook, just say to yourself that at the very least you are going to spend 15 minutes on writing that blog post. You can handle 15 minutes right?…it’s nothing really. Fifteen minutes is about all the time it takes to make a cup of tea or coffee so why not spend it writing your post? So set the timer for 15 minutes and get to work.

What you will find, is that after the timer goes off, you are on a roll and will want to continue on. If so, that’s great! That’s the whole point of this method…so just keep going.

But let’s just say that you got to the end of the 15 minutes and you really just want to quit. Before you do, have another little chat with yourself and say that you are just going to add another 5 minutes – after all, it’s only 5 minutes and you can cope with that. So set the timer again and keep going.

After the 5 minutes is done, you might even add another 5 minutes or more if you find yourself suddenly in the zone and willing to keep going. If so great!…give yourself a big pat on the back. If you find you can’t go on then give yourself a big pat on the back anyway because you just did 20 minutes working on your blog post that you weren’t even intending on doing that day.

An Alternative to the 15 Minute Rule

Another similar way of getting stuff done is to use the chunking method. Chunking involves breaking down a big task into smaller chunks that are easily achievable. It makes the task seem less overwhelming and more doable.

Whilst writing one of our previous ebooks, although I quite enjoyed doing it, some days I just wasn’t in the mood to even get started with it. So I decided that I would set myself a minimum of one paragraph a day. One paragraph is easy isn’t it? However, what actually happened is that I couldn’t just write one paragraph so it would normally end up being a couple of pages. The fact that I knew that my minimum daily requirement for that ebook was to write one paragraph made it so much easier to get in and start each day.

This can work with any part of your business, whether it be backlinking, writing blog posts or working on a major project release. Chunking simplifies things to the point where everything seems doable.

It’s amazing how either of these methods work. Let us know in the comments below if they work for you, or if you have another method of getting work done.

How We Make Money Online Now

make-moneyWell, it’s certainly been a while hasn’t it? I keep meaning to do a post for this blog but we are so busy with other things that I just never seem to have the time to get around to it, but I wanted to provide you with an update on what we are doing and how we are making money online these days.

In a nutshell, we no longer rely on Google Search to make us money….and I have to say I love that feeling. We don’t have to sit here and worry about what Matt Cutts and his team of engineers are thinking up next and when the next algorithm change might appear that could potentially kill our income in one fell swoop. Is Matt Cutts even still in charge of that team?…we have no idea because we don’t even bother to read about the latest Google updates anymore.

In the past, our problem with our online business was twofold. Firstly, we didn’t focus on building up our followers, however, there was good reason for this. The sites we were working on were product based and it’s not as easy to get people to sign up to a newsletter, or follow you on Twitter or Facebook when your topic is simply about a product.

Our second problem was that we didn’t diversify in the right way. Most of what we were working on relied on Google Search, and even though those things we were working on were all different, we still needed Google Search to get us the traffic to make them work. This was extremely dangerous. As many of you might remember, we were hit by one of the Google updates and it took a substantial portion of our income at the time.

We went about putting in long hours trying to fix up the sites to suit Google but by this time our heart just wasn’t in it. And then there was another update and at that point we decided that we had just had enough of it all. We realised that we no longer wanted to have to rely on Google Search to make money online. There had to be other ways.

Mind you, this really wasn’t a conscious choice at the time – it didn’t suddenly hit us that we should be working on something else. It kind of just developed when we started working on things that we enjoyed doing rather than just building another website on printer ink cartridges or lawn mowers or yet another product site on something we really had no interest in.

Working on topics we already had an interest in was the key for us. What this meant was that we once again began to enjoy getting up each day and getting straight on to the computer to work. In the past, we had always enjoyed the lifestyle of working from home but not necessarily the work involved in getting that lifestyle. When your days are spent writing articles and reviews on topics you have no interest in, it can after a while, create a bit of monotony and the work day can become a little dull. We certainly don’t have that problem anymore and it shows in the quality of the information we are providing on our websites. When you enjoy something and have an interest in it, you don’t mind doing the research in order to write an article or create a video.

So what are we doing now? Well a number of things but really our focus is to create followers that are really interested in what we offer, whether that be information or a product. We have always said that you need to provide value in order to succeed online – we learnt that early on as we didn’t do this at the very start and it showed. When you provide value to your audience they will follow you and want to stay in touch. This can be via an email list, YouTube subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers and so on.

So essentially this is the process we follow…at least for one part of our business. This list is not necessarily in any particular order.

  1. Find a topic that you are really interested in and you know you will enjoy working on.
  2. Ensure there are products that you can promote that relate to that topic, whether they be affiliate based products or your own product or both.
  3. Create YouTube how-to videos based around that product. These need to be done regularly ie. once a week is ideal.
  4. Build a website for this topic and add content – how-to articles, reviews for products, the videos you have uploaded to YouTube etc.
  5. Build an email list with a product of some sort to entice your customers to sign up.
  6. Link to affiliate products from your website.
  7. Link to your website from YouTube – this is where most of your traffic will come from.
  8. Create your own product that relates to your topic.
  9. Create social networking accounts.

Essentially what we are doing is creating YouTube videos that are extremely helpful for our audience and bringing those viewers to our website. You can of course make money from the ad views on YouTube but in order to make a really good income from that you need a lot of subscribers and video views and that can take a while. So the money you make comes from getting people to your website, and getting them signed up to an email list, promoting affiliate products and selling your own product/s.

This is not a quick money making scheme. This is a solid business model that can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to start coming together.  It isn’t new by any means but it feels right and we are building up followers of people who are really interested in what we have to provide. But most importantly, we are enjoying the process.

We have a few YouTube channels in the works…for two of those channels, one has over 18,000 subscribers and the other, which is relatively new, has over 3000 and they are growing daily. These are all legitimate subscribers – we didn’t pay for any – they are all there because they like what we do and the information we provide. In fact, this applies to all of our social networking accounts and email lists. Although we may have paid for followers in the long distant past, we haven’t done that for a long time now so all of our current Youtube and social network accounts have legitimate followers.

And yes, of course I know that we are relying on Google yet again for traffic here but YouTube is a little less volatile than Google Search and so much easier to rank for if you know what you are doing. Plus, you don’t have to spend hours getting backlinks and writing articles. So while YouTube is working for us, we are building up our followers and our email lists.

So essentially that is where our main focus is at the moment.

If are interested in seeing what we are doing these days then here are two of our youtube channels :-

  • www.youtube.com/user/alandacraft
  • www.youtube.com/user/asmrhq

We’re Still Here…

Just a quick update to anyone still accessing this site that we are both still alive and well and both still working full time online.

We’ve been having a great time working on things we really enjoy, rather than on things just to make money. I think that is the key to success with working online. When people come into affiliate marketing it really is because of the money more than anything else and because of that, there is the tendency to focus on things that you don’t really enjoy doing. We did that at the start and had websites on all sorts of topics, most that we had no knowledge about or any real  interest in.

It worked, but only because we came up with a method that worked and put a hell of a lot of time and effort into it. But, to be honest, I don’t want to work on things I don’t enjoy anymore. If I am going to work from home, then I want to enjoy working from home and not make it another chore that I have to do. I may as well be back in a regular 9 to 5 job if that’s the case.

So for the past 6 months or so, we have focused on just two topics…ASMR (just Google it for more info, but basically it is a form of relaxation) and more recently, crafts.

I experience ASMR hence why I have started to create videos around that. Wanda doesn’t experience it, but loves making the videos for it, plus she has a great voice for it, which people love.

The craft part is something we both really enjoy…really, really enjoy. So we have created a website and a YouTube channel and started to create craft tutorial and review videos. That’s still in the early stages.

In terms of affiliate marketing, we have become completely relaxed with it. Google has had so many changes, that it is hard to keep up. One of the latest that I saw was the ‘HTTPs and SSL certificate for better ranking’ nonsense.

We’ve given up worrying about Google and their many changes to improve search engine results. I don’t even want to try to keep up with them anymore…and we don’t have to. What we are doing is working, albeit, it will take time, but we can see the progression already.

So now we just use Google…we blend in and use their tools to get what we want, and in a sense, this is all Google wants anyway. They want their tools to be used but only if the quality is there and it isn’t done using black hat techniques or manipulations of the system. If you can’t beat them, join them, as they say! There’s no point constantly trying to outdo them because it just becomes a constant effort.

Google will fall eventually because they are really only about the money these days, which is a shame because they started out in a whole different direction. If they can’t even get Google Plus to work, something is wrong and even those outside of the internet marketing game are starting to dislike them which is not a good sign.

So what does this mean for us? It means that we don’t do any keyword research anymore, we don’t actively back link, we don’t write articles around keywords, we don’t create new websites on topics we aren’t interested in and we very rarely read affiliate marketing news or follow Google changes or read blogs that talk about internet marketing. And as for our product sites, we just work on them when they need updating and no more than that. They still make us money!

It also means that we have closed our Affiliate Tools HQ membership site to new members. We actually enjoyed it, but the more content we added, the more difficult it became to keep it updated. And finding new quality content to add was always a struggle. (We still have members in there that joined up when we first opened the site!)

As for this website, I will probably continue to add posts but they will only be when I feel there is something worth writing about.

So that’s the update. Would be great to hear from our old followers to see what you have been up to.