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I am a lifer in this business. I started my first internet venture in 1999 and don’t see any reason to stop. This is great and honestly I feel like it is still gathering momentum.
In this tutorial I will share some “meta concepts” and strategies that have enabled me to create a profitable business venture with long term revenue potential.
An ideal business venture is one that keeps on paying you after you have stopped working. The internet gives that opportunity more than any other type of venture that I can think of!
For example one small 5-page informational website that I made in 2008 continues to generate revenue even though I have not touched it in years. It’s not a huge amount these days – around $100 per year – but the point is, it’s been free money for 14 years. And there is little reason that I can see why this site will not continue to generate money for the rest of my life. No doubt I will have to make updates occasionally – but when I am old and past the point where I have the energy to work, it’s going to be really sweet to have this residual income – and income from all my bigger, more profitable websites – still rolling in.
Now How Is This For An Awesome Trend?
Let’s look at some trends – courtesy of our dear Wikipedia (speaking of websites with long term viability!)
Image – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Internet_usage (lic. under CC)
And you thought everyone had internet… it’s crazy to think that worldwide, internet use has only just crossed over 50% and that in 2021 the number of internet users reached 53%.
It truly is the perfect wave – and it is still growing! The developed world is at 81% internet saturation and still rising – there is no reason why it will not hit 90% as older people who were already too old to begin are “replaced” by younger people who will adopt as soon as they are old enough to do so.
But see how the developing nations are still only at under 50% internet access? It seems almost certain that they will “follow suit” and end up past 80%.
In other words, there is still enormous headroom. We can reasonably anticipate that at least another 2 billion people will come online in the next decade or two.
Globally, this leaves enormous room to cater to the mass of people coming online for the first time, who will be jumping into the infinite pool of websites, social media portals, apps, tutorials, videos, emails, infographics, images, memes and so on.
That’s a megaton of web traffic. And all these people will be reading articles, watching videos, sharing funny images and clicking ads, just like every other internet user does. These new users will most likely be eager for exactly the same material that has already proven successful in the developed world within the last decade.
You can have a piece of that pie. It’s the biggest pie there has ever been – and it is there waiting for you to take it.
There are numerous other valuable infographics on the aforementioned Wikipedia page. Worth a look. You can see that most of the African continent is still to come online. Big business has noted this fact and Africa is the subject of heavy Chinese and other international investment. What can you do with these trends?
This is a long play. I’m creating content for the future. News quickly becomes old news, whereas “evergreen content” is information that stays both true and relevant as time goes on. For example, let’s say you have videos teaching people how to tie knots in rope (I have not investigated this topic). You can see that the method of tying a half-hitch is going to be exactly the same in a hundred years as it is now. So a tutorial on how to tie knots is a perfect example of evergreen content and it has almost infinite scope. The composition of a certain mineral will be the same in a million years as it is now. Oxygen will still be oxygen. Trees will still be trees (let’s hope). And historical facts will remain forever the same, frozen in time for eternity.
What other examples of evergreen content can you think of? Make a list, because this could be your gold mine of the future…
If at all possible you want to avoid a niche that is doomed to obsolescence. For example, gadget reviews are great, and read by millions – but most people will no longer be interested in gadget reviews from 2003. If you are in that game, you will need to keep on creating gadget reviews for evermore. Now this might be possible of course, if you develop a trusted brand and then outsource. But your old content is going to become obsolete. As soon as you stop working, the balloon starts coming down.
Changes In Technology
One aspect that is crucial to navigate is technological progress. Significant changes in technology are always possible, not always predictable and render many a business model obsolete. It’s good to study these trends and anticipate the curve of where things are headed.
Trends in websites come and go – but websites themselves appear to be here to stay. They are the backbone of the way the internet works. Email similarly – surprisingly to most people – has remained as a fundamental of internet use despite the proliferation of new communication apps. It is still the mode of choice for business users. Email lists, built carefully by offering value to interested parties, are going to continue to be revenue generating assets as far into the future as I can envisage.
Body Of Work
One good thing about internet content is that it can very often be repurposed. Created a blog a few years ago that still has relevant and useful content? Great! You have the script for your Youtube video series! An entire new audience awaits. As a content creator, think about your overall body of work and its value in 1, 5, 10, 20 years time and beyond. Can you imagine Beethoven’s Youtube channel – if he were still alive? He would be getting incredibly rich even today from work completed over 200 years ago. This is what happens when you create something timeless. Media formats come and go, but a great composition is a great composition and will likely be acknowledged as such as far into the future as we can imagine. Ancient books, sometimes over 2000 years old, are still read and enjoyed by millions. Art of the early civilizations sometimes still fetches prices higher than the amount people will earn in their lifetime.
Now you might not be a master composer or era-defining artist. But you still have much value – and there has never been a time with as much potential for you to share your skills, knowledge and vision – and to reach potentially billions of people.
…and go like crazy. It is definitely not too late. But you want to get these ideas out there asap. Even if a website is making a dollar a day, it is beneficial. So you keep going, keep adding sites and then one day you find that all this income has built up from a tiny little snowball into a giant snowball.
Build Content That People Want
You can already see what people want because all the data is out there. Millions upon millions of headlines, images and topics have been tested and the data is visible in terms of the number of likes, clicks, shares and comments that things received. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Pick something that works and do it better in some way, then get it in front of some of the billions of new internet users who will be coming online in the coming years.
There is a certain aspect of your work in which you are “irreplaceable”. Your unique signature or knowledge. Identify it – and “replace yourself” for the other stuff. Not only is it much harder if you do it all yourself, but you simply cannot scale as fast as you can if you have an entire team cracking away.
Share The Knowledge You Already Have And Learn More
You are already an expert in many things. I mean that seriously. You could probably make a Youtube tutorial on how to boil an egg. I’ll bet there is one on there with over a million views! Whatever you are really good at, you have the potential to help others with. As you go along, you can study new things and effectively “learn in order to teach”. There’s no limit to the quantity and quality of educational materials of all kinds that can be created.
Identify And Play To Your Strengths
There are the things that you wish you were good at, and there are the things you are really good at. When I was a kid, I wanted to be good at cricket. But it was simply not one of my strengths. If I had persisted doggedly, I might still be broke. Understand what you are actually good at and work within that arena.
Test Multiple Ideas And Keep Building
You cannot always predict what will work. So you want to try out multiple ideas. I have done this. I have over 20 websites. Some are kicking ass, some are not. And it was not always the ones I anticipated it to be. So it is advisable to test multiple ideas and see what works best.
The same principle applies to content. You cannot possibly create one piece of content and expect to retire off of it. It is just too unpredictable. No – a Youtube channel creator will create a hundred videos and take notes of what is working – culling the weaklings and creating more of what works.
Same with articles. A few of your articles will hit it out of the park. A few will tank. And the majority will be somewhere in the middle. You can’t always tell which ones it is going to be. In 2013 I put a simple blog post on one of my sites and posted it to our Facebook pages. I didn’t think anything special of it, assuming it was probably going to “do ok”.
It maxed out the server. My Google Analytics realtime showed over 2000 people currently on the site – all day – and it essentially redlined the web hosts capacity. I have no idea how many more people simply gave up because they could not view the page. That still remains my most-shared piece ever, and the number of shares registered by the “Share This” plugin is over 1.5 Million, which is completely insane.
I made enough money to buy a car off of that post. And I did. 🙂
But it wouldn’t have happened unless I had adopted a “build it anyway” mentality. Have a great idea for a website reviewing outdoor clothes? Build it. Think there might be a niche for tutorials on how to do basic jobs that a lot of people apply for? Build it. You can make Youtube tutorials teaching people how to do virtually ANYTHING you can think of, from dance moves to how to clean a kitchen. Not sure if it will go viral? Build it anyway – because you won’t know until you try.
A website is like a piece of “magic real estate” that you can always improve and add to later. So get started now and keep going. Don’t sit back on your laurels waiting for a site to come to its peak form – that might take a year or more. Keep building and remember that in this instance it is better to overshoot the target than to fall short. Expand your body of work, develop more, monetize, keep going. Start now, get perfect later.
There you go. That’s why I am at my desk on a Saturday evening.
While drunks are shouting and screaming out in the street as I type, I’m inside making coin.
They will wake up with a headache, I will wake up richer. Which would you rather be?
It’s in your hands.