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Fitting a Square Peg in a Round Hole

PegsAs some of you may know I’m on a diversification quest (after Panda, most of us are). To that end I’m attempting to create niche sites. My initial goal was to search for products that I either use or endorse and create niche sites around them promoting the product. In addition to selling the product, I might use AdSense, Infolinks or another ad network depending on the product.

I’m only two weeks into my change of venue and I think I have discovered that I’m trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Selling products is fine, but it has never been my strong suit. My husband on the other hand can sell sand to a thirsty man in the desert. Too bad he doesn’t want to do this writing stuff.

My strengths have always been in information. I liked researching difficult topics and breaking them down into easy to follow steps. I guess it’s my way to say there is always a simple way to explain the most complex topics.

A Little Digression

When I first got involved in tech writing I had a coworker (who eventually became a good friend) that loved explaining things. The only problem with his explanations is that he tried to impress people with his knowledge so his explanations were a compilation of large words spoken in a way that he could make instructions for fixing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sound difficult.

I later got beneath his outer need to impress and realized he was a bit insecure. His “Mr. Professor” personality was his coping mechanism. He learned to drop Mr. Professor around me and we became good friends (people couldn’t understand what I saw in him, but they never took the time to know him).

The Reason for That Story

Most people want to know how to do technically or administratively difficult tasks but they need someone to explain it to them in an easy to understand fashion. In the movie Philadelphia, Denzel Washington’s character often used the phrase, “Explain it to me like I’m a 6 year old.” In other words, keep it simple.

Selling ProductsSquare Peg/Round Hole

My square peg is my desire to simply explain complicated topics. My round hole is attempting to sell products that I use and endorse. The problem for me is that I truly enjoy taking difficult concepts and breaking them down, but I dislike selling products.

Now that I’m almost two weeks into this internet marketing and niche site building phase of my online writing career, I’ve found that creating niche sites that offer information is much more enjoyable (and so far more lucrative) for me than selling a product. I guess the old adage of “do what you love and the money will follow” has some truth to it.

Real Life Experience (Round Hole)

On March 24, 2011, after much keyword searching, I created a small niche site around a product that I endorse. The site is only 5 pages large. The articles are keyword searched and they are geared towards folks who are looking for a solution to a particular need. The solution, of course, is the purchase of the product.

After creating the site, I wrote a few articles and submitted them to 6 different sites for backlinking purposes. I’m fully aware that some folks submit hundreds of articles for backlinking purposes but I wasn’t ready to do that so the 6 sites will suffice for now (plus I HATE the article submission for backlinking process).

It’s only been 2 weeks but the site has received 6 hits.

Now to Doing What I Love to Do (Square Peg)Information

On March 31, 2011 I claimed a domain name (after much keyword searching) and started to create another niche site. This site is an informational site. It discusses a topic that I have some interest in, but even more than my interest, I get to play internet sleuth. I get to digest difficult information and break it down into simple terms.

On April 1st I added the About page and a page describing the basis of the topic. In other words, if you’re going to do research on this topic, you must understand certain basic concepts so I created a page explaining the basics.

Yesterday I wrote my first post and have so far received 11 page hits and have earned $3.09. The site is nowhere near complete. It only has two pages. The goal is to create a 10 or 15 page site, because I believe I can adequately cover the topic in 15 pages. Once the site is complete, I could then write a few articles for backlinking or, maybe not. If my numbers so far are not a fluke, I’ll forgo the backlinking process in favor of creating another site.

Ken over at The Freelancer Today uses a phrase that I like. “Find what works for you and work it until the wheels fall off.” I think I might have found what works for me. Only time will tell.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • Angie April 5, 2011, 8:38 am

    I’m not much of a seller either, Felicia. When I try to force a sale, no dice. When I mention a product in an informational post, it usually does much better. Sometimes that makes me batty, but I guess that’s what works for me and my audience. There is never a cookie-cutter method.

  • Will April 5, 2011, 9:40 am

    Felicia, I’m glad you’re finding your way after Panda. However, may I suggest that you not give up on internet marketing just yet.

    I think some of the material on your Tidbits site could lend itself to product promotion.

    Here’s how I’m approaching my post-content farm life: Write About Birds – Sell Birdseed.

    “Writing about birds” isn’t selling — it’s sharing information about a subject one knows and cares about. I’ve seen other IMers do this and it encourages me that I can succeed at it. I’ll let you know if my approach works.

    Also, I’ve broadened my subject matter a tiny bit on my sports blog by writing about a few products, and every time I do so, I immediately get several ad clicks.

    Food for thought (pardon the pun).

    • Felicia April 5, 2011, 9:48 am

      Something to think about, Will. I won’t totally give up on products just yet, but I seem to get a much better return with information.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’ve sold a few products over the years. I manage to get an Amazon check each month, but my information always trumps my product sales.

      Once I get a few more information sites up and running I’ll go back to learning how to be more effective with selling products or as you say “sharing information” about the products. 🙂

  • Deanna April 5, 2011, 3:11 pm

    Good for you, Felicia, for sticking to what you enjoy doing in order to earn money instead of doing something you don’t like. So often people get caught up in doing work for the money only instead of doing what they love and, in turn, earning money from it. Don’t get me wrong – I love earning money. However, if I was only writing to earn money and not enjoying it, I might as well get a job in the “outside world” and hate that instead. I hope you do well with your new site(s). 🙂

    • Felicia April 5, 2011, 4:58 pm

      You’re right Deanna. No need to bring the “outside world” mentality inside. 🙂

  • Ken April 5, 2011, 3:50 pm

    Congrats Felicia! It is all about finding that one thing that works for you, building upon it and then rinse and repeat. It is so much easier as well when it is something you enjoy doing. As always Felicia, you are an inspiration to many.

  • Bristolboy April 5, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Well done. It is good that you have found something which works for you. I am considering setting up a niche site (I am sure I will as soon as I find something I know about and can create a decent ranking site around!). I agree it is much better if it is something you enjoy though. Even though the hard sell might be the most profitable technique for one person it doesn’t mean it will be for everyone!

    • Felicia April 6, 2011, 5:32 am

      Brisotlboy, you should jump in the water and create a niche site. What I’ve found with setting up niche sites is that you’ve got to be prepared to get through your first few failures, or should I say less than successful niche sites until you find out what works for you.

      I’m still new at this and feeling my way through. I’m keeping lots of notes to document what works and what doesn’t so when I wash, rinse and repeat, I don’t repeat the mistakes.

  • Angela April 6, 2011, 3:39 am

    Hey there Felicia, just wanted to drop by and say hi and to thank you for all of this wonderful info. And, good luck with whatever you choose to do. You will survive! Take care.

    • Felicia April 6, 2011, 5:35 am

      Thanks for the well wishes Angela. I truly believe we’ll all come out on the winning end as a result of the Panda update.

  • Crystal April 6, 2011, 8:41 am

    Timely post, Felicia. I love that you share what is going on with you as it happens. Your journey and experience are an inspiration to the rest of us following a similar path. I’ve been feeling very square pegish lately myself in regards to both IM and social media – not good at the first and don’t even like the second. Seems you’ve said before that you don’t bother with social media, is that right?

    • Felicia April 6, 2011, 9:12 am

      You’re right Crystal. I’m not big on the social media stuff. I have a couple of dormant Twitter accounts. I have my posts set up to automatically tweet (that’s if it still works), but that’s about the extent of it.

      There are so many social media sites that its overwhelming. I tend to do what I do and let it work for itself. I know that if I did the whole social media circuit I would most probably earn more money, but I’m not so sure its worth it. Well, at least for me it’s not worth it.

  • Prerna April 6, 2011, 10:18 am

    Hi Felicia,
    Am so inspired to start setting up niche sites but am just lacking the courage (not to mention, the time!). I also totally agree with you about the selling part.. I love buying and sharing my buys but just selling.. umm, not so good!

    I look forward to reading more about your new sites and their progress. .


  • Bill Swan April 6, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Here’s my take on marketing. If we have known each other any length of time, and I know your words to be true to you (even if not always right), endorsing something you believe in would be a logical step. If we were in Walmart and you picked up a product, turned to me and said “This (bleep)works!” and could tell me within a few hundred words why it works, I’d be likely to put the item in my cart. If you have lots of information on a slant of a single topic (like insurance) you could write a title concerning the different types of insurance must have and why – there’s your product to write a page around. Now if I could just get around to making my own pages I’d be fine.

    • Felicia April 6, 2011, 4:52 pm

      Very practical approach to marketing. I tend to over think things when I’m selling, er, I mean sharing things with folks. If I could only get the “sale” mentality out of my head I think I’d be fine.

      Bill, you should try to find some time to put your stuff on paper. There’s something about your down to earth approach that makes me think you’ll do very well at it.

  • Jill Mooney May 19, 2011, 12:33 am

    Hey Felicia, great post! I have also just started affiliate marketing recently after doing a small amount of writing for the web. It is a very promising venture and I hope you will stick with it. I recently started blogging about my own experience getting started as an affiliate marketer with zero experience (and I do mean zero).

    I do plan on building other niche sites, but for now I am mostly focusing on getting my main blog going. My approach was to blog about starting out in IM, so that people could follow me all the way to my first affiliate sale. I had wanted to see that kind of personal approach myself when I started out, but I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, so I figured, “hey, there’s my niche.”

    I have learned everything I know from Rosalind Gardner (through her Super Affiliate Handbook–priceless), Lynn Terry and Zac Johnson, through their blogs, websites and Ros’ book. A must read for a newbie to IM!

    I’ve enjoyed reading NJFM during my writing days, now I am so glad you too are taking the IM plunge! Kudos!

    It is hard balancing being a WAHM to a very active baby-soon-to-be-toddler!

    • Felicia May 19, 2011, 7:29 am

      Best of luck to you, Jill. Your IM blog sounds very much like how I started NJFM. Although I didn’t start NJFM until about a year after I was into online writing, it was my place to share what I’ve learned.

      As long as you keep your personal approach and your honesty, I think you’ll have a winner on your hands.

      With a name like Mooney, you can name your blog “Mooney Makes Money.” LOL. Sorry, couldn’t resist. 🙂

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