Since I announced my recommendation for the Site Build It! service a few days ago, dozens of people have signed up for it, and some are already well on their way to starting their own online businesses. If you’re one of them, I’m excited for you, and please do keep in touch to let me know how it goes for you.
I’ve also received some email from long-term SBI customers who saw my recommendation. The general consensus was that their system works for those who work it. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, and it won’t help you quit your day job overnight, but it is an effective way to generate a good bit of supplemental income, commonly a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per site per month, but it’s definitely possible to make more than $10K per month if that’s your goal.
Some people mistakenly assumed that SBI is merely a self-publishing tool to put your own content online, like a blog-hosting service. That’s only a small part of what SBI does, and it’s not even the most important part. This confusion may have been partly my fault, since I probably didn’t explain it well. I encouraged people to visit the SBI web site directly to get that info, but in this article I’ll clarify what the service does, so you can decide whether it’s worth your time to use it.
What Is Site Build It?
I think the best way to describe Site Build It! is to compare it to a college course in online business, where the class project is to actually create your own income-generating web site. You’re provided with all the instruction, tools, and materials you need to succeed. Their suite of tools will handle the technical details for you, so you don’t have to become a master web programmer. You don’t even need to learn HTML or use an FTP program. Everything you need to do can be done via an online interface. If you wanted to, you could build an entire SBI site while working from a public library.
SBI teaches you to focus on income-generating activities while building your website. It helps you adopt the mindset of an entrepreneur, not merely someone who thinks it’s cool to post their own content on the Internet. The whole point of SBI is for you to build a website that makes you money.
More than 20 universities now teach college courses with SBI, and even more courses are in the works. SBI gives schools a way to give their business students (such as those in an MBA program) real-world experience in building a functional online business without having to become a master web programmer.
What to Expect When You Sign Up for Site Build It! – The First 10 Days
The first thing that will happen when you sign up for Site Build It! is that you’ll be doing a lot of reading. You’ll receive their step-by-step Action Guide, which breaks down the actions you need to take day by day. Think of this as your textbook on how to build a successful online business. They even have video versions of many of the lessons, so if you’re a visual learner, you can watch instead of read.
Topic selection and keyword research. Once you’ve done some reading and/or video watching, your first real action step will be to brainstorm ideas for your site and research potential topics. SBI provides a brainstorming tool for you to use as well as keyword research tools. SBI’s brainstorming tool will even help you generate your keyword list. You’ll investigate keyword supply, demand, and potential profitability. You’ll be guided to pick a topic that interests you but which can also generate decent income for you. This means you’ll reject ideas for topics that lack demand or already show entrenched competition. This is a really important process that will help you avoid launching a site that’s doomed from the beginning. Many bloggers I know could have saved themselves a lot of grief if they only took the time to carefully research their topics beforehand.
Monetization strategy. Next, you’ll plan your site’s monetization strategy. What mix of advertising, affiliate programs, product sales, e-commerce, auctions, referral fee, members-only resources, and other income sources will work best for the type of site you’re going to build? You’ll be guided to make intelligent choices here to generate multiple streams of income from your site instead of just randomly putting up ads.
Domain name registration. Once you’ve made all these decisions using the tools and guidance SBI provides, you’re ready to register your domain name. They provide the tools to do this, and your domain name is included as part of your SBI membership, so there are no extra fees. At this point you’re already up to Day 5 in their Action Guide.
Early traffic building. By the end of the first week, you’ll use SBI’s tools to submit your site to various online directories and search engines, so you can start picking up free inbound links immediately. You’ll also learn a great deal about effective traffic building strategies for the long-term.
Making your site sticky. In Week 2 you’ll learn to build relationships with your visitors, so you can create a sticky site with consistent repeat traffic. You’ll learn about RSS feeds, contact forms, and e-zines. SBI provides all the tools you need to add these to your site without having to program them yourself. Want to offer your visitors a free newsletter? The whole subscription management service you need is included.
Learning to effectively manage your online business. The lessons and business-building process continues with learning about search engines, adding images to your site, and checking your traffic stats (what to look for and how to use it to your advantage).
Making money. Day 10 is the biggie. Now you’ll turn your fledgling web site into an income-generating business. This is where you put up the ads, affiliate links, etc. based on the monetization mix you selected earlier. You won’t have much traffic yet, so the income will be minimal at first, but you’ll have what you need in place to start earning money as your traffic grows.
Growing your traffic and income. After this you’ll continue to refine your site, build out the content, and gradually grow your traffic. In the long run, this is where you’ll spend the most time; you’ll create a solid foundation for future performance.
Support and encouragement. SBI’s style is very encouraging and motivating. If you visit their web site, that should be obvious. This isn’t just their sales style — it’s their service style as well. Even with the tools and guidance they provide, building an online business still requires a significant commitment on your part, so they do what they can to keep you motivated and moving forward toward your goal.
Ongoing advice. SBI provides members-only discussion forums for every part of this process as well as direct customer support, so if you need additional help or guidance, it’s just a click away. Their customers are really into co-mentoring, almost to the point of giving each other virtual group hugs. For example, they have a “Submit Site for Review” forum, where you can post a link to your new site and request feedback from other SBIers. This way you can get some extra eyes on your business from people who are much further along than you. Since SBI sites tend to be very niche, most members won’t be competitors of yours, so they’re happy to help.
Hopefully it’s obvious by now that SBI is a lot more than just a self-publishing tool. It’s a lot more like a college course in online business.
As I’ve noted before, if you’re an experienced web developer who already knows all this stuff, you don’t need SBI. You already got your education the hard way. But for $25/month, I think it’s a heck of a deal for most people.
SBI’s web site, by the way, has an Alexa ranking of 999, putting it in the top 1,000 web sites. This is an incredibly popular service, and with good reason. For every experienced web developer who has no need for SBI, there are countless others who’d love to supplement their income with a profitable online business… but they’ve been thwarted by technical hurdles. SBI removes those technical hurdles, making an online business accessible to a lot more people.
To build a successful online business, you don’t need to be a master technologist. You’re better off delegating that part of the business to someone else, so you can focus on the critical income-generating activities instead of wrestling with the underlying technology.
A Sample Site Build It! Website
An example of an actual SBI-built website is Anguilla-Beaches.com. This site was created by a teenage girl. Notice that it isn’t complicated or flashy. It has a very basic design, providing a fair amount of content on a very narrow topic. At first glance you might completely dismiss it. But this site generates thousands of dollars in monthly income for that teenage girl, mostly from referral commissions with a local realtor who sells property in Anguilla. Nice little arrangement, wouldn’t you agree? As long as there are for-sale signs in Anguilla, this girl can keep generating income from this site as-is.
You can certainly use SBI to make snazzier-looking sites if you so desire. Your design is limited only by your imagination, not by the tools. And you’re always free to use your own design tools if you prefer.
Here’s a page where you can flip through a quick slide show of several SBI sites: Site Build It! Real World Samples. You’ll see a screen shot of each site’s home page, its URL, and its current Alexa ranking. Most are in the Alexa top 200,000. Feel free to visit those sites for design ideas and inspiration.
What many people don’t understand is that if you want to make money online, you don’t need to be a technology wiz or a web design expert. Obsessing over those things will only get in your way. Do you want people to visit your web site and say, “Wow! Cool site”? Or do you want a site that actually brings in good money, regardless of how it looks? To generate income you probably don’t want a hideous looking website, but it doesn’t have to be drop-dead gorgeous to achieve your financial goals. While you can use SBI to create a stunningly beautiful site, I suggest you focus your efforts on the 20% of activities that generate 80% of the value. Get something quick and dirty online, add solid content, and get it generating income for you. You can always improve your design later if necessary.
There are lots and lots of other SBI sites that generate solid income for their owners using a wide variety of monetization strategies. While Google Adsense is a reliable way to generate income from a high-traffic site like mine, it’s not the only option, and in many cases it isn’t even the best option. Many people think I make all my money from Adsense ads, but I’ve stated before Adsense is not my #1 income stream. It was a couple years ago, but not anymore.
Who Should Use Site Build It!, and Who Shouldn’t?
SBI is a great choice for someone who wants to build an income-generating online business in their spare time, but they don’t have the technical skills, the focus, or the willingness to do it on their own from scratch.
With SBI I wouldn’t expect you to build the next mega-traffic runaway hit. If you want to have a blog on your site or other dynamic content, SBI totally supports that. But its main purpose is to help you build small, tightly focused income generating sites. Such sites provide value to people by sharing good quality content, and they generate income from a variety of intelligent monetization strategies. You probably won’t be building a top-20,000 website. Instead you’ll be aiming for more of a top-500,000 site.
With SBI you won’t be aiming for massive amounts of generalist traffic like I do. You’ll be focused on a smaller, tighter niche that attracts highly targeted visitors. In a typical month, StevePavlina.com’s average income per visitor only averages a couple of pennies at most. You could easily do much better with a site that’s more tightly targeted than the vast field of personal development. So you won’t need nearly as much traffic as I do to generate a decent income.
It’s unlikely you’ll be earning five figures a month from a single site, but many SBIers have already reached that level. I’d say that realistically you can build a site that generates hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for you. I know that’s a solid goal for some people. There are no guarantees in life, but if you work the SBI system as instructed, you’ve got a fair shot at making a decent profit and enjoying a passive income stream for years to come.
The cool thing about building a profitable website is that once you’ve done it, it’s usually pretty easy to maintain, and it will still make you money even if you let it slide for a while. For example, if I did absolute nothing more with StevePavlina.com and just left the site online as-is without adding any new content, I expect it would eventually earn out well beyond a million dollars for me over the next few years. Don’t worry — I’m not going to abandon the site. I just want to emphasize that it’s really nice to own an income-generating asset that you can count on for years to come.
Many SBIers create multiple Site Build It! sites with different themes, which is an excellent strategy. The more darts you throw, the more chances you have of hitting a bull’s eye. Even if one of your darts misses its mark, you may still generate some income, just not as much as you’d hoped. That’s a disappointment most people can live with.
Your investment of time and money in this case is not a lot compared to the potential rewards. You’ll risk a lot more by taking a regular college class, where you’re more likely to be taught impractical info you’ll never use in the real world. At least with SBI, you know you’re learning grounded, practical skills you can immediately apply to your benefit.
If your ultimate goal is to become a top-500 blogger or to build a monstrous website that puts you on the cover of Fortune magazine, I don’t recommend SBI for you. In that case I’d recommend that you bite the bullet and commit to mastery of the technical side or at least hire someone who does. But this is very, very hard if you want to make substantial income, and the kind of business that SBI will encourage you to make is much more practical and accessible for most people. Also, you don’t have to commit to working hard on your business every week for years to come.
If you happen to be a work-at-home mom (WAHM), SBI has a page on their site just for you, based on their experience with other WAHMs who started successful Site Build It! businesses.
Does It Actually Work?
Yes, if you work it. SBI is great at coaching people to build websites in the top 1-3% traffic-wise. They even provide solid proof of this on their site, with a lengthy list of which of customers who’ve already achieved this goal, including URLs, screen shots, and Alexa rankings. Check it out at Site Build It! Results.
As I’ve said many times before, when it comes to online business, income is a function of traffic. If you get the traffic, you’ll make the money. For most people building traffic is the key limiting factor, and this is where Site Build It! can help you tremendously.
I don’t want to give you unrealistic expectations; however, many of their customers do earn $10,000+ per month from their sites. You can use Site Build It! to make a very successful site if you’re really passionate about it, but I know from experience that most people aren’t going to aim that high. But those goals are entirely achievable if you’re committed.
Of course SBI includes a full money-back guarantee, so they assume the risk of proving themselves to you. The best part is that even if you request a refund, you still get to keep the domain name you registered, so that’s actually a better than money-back guarantee. You get a free domain name just for trying it.
I’m probably turning into a bit of a salesperson for Site Build It! because I really believe this is a great deal for a lot of people. Not only will building your own online business give you a quantum leap in your own personal development, but it can also provide income to fuel your ongoing growth. Of course my sinister ulterior motive is that I need to make sure you have enough money to buy my book when it comes out, not to mention copies for all your friends and family! I know… I’m evil, but it’s a good kind of evil.