Last week I meet with Hayden Miyamoto of NohatSEO for lunch. We talked about quite a bit of stuff and it was hard to jam in all my questions during a short time period, but needless to say I learned a lot and gained some insight into a guy who just knows how to scale up small processes in a big way.
The format of this post isn't going to be an interview and I'm going to change it mostly to point-form to help get my ideas across better. Also, I didn't take any notes or recordings from the conversation, so I'm mostly going off of my takeaways from our meeting.
On Ambition and Perseverance
We agreed that basically anyone can achieve what he has done. You just need ambition, desire, perseverance, and above all, PASSION. If you don't like getting kicked in the nuts every once in awhile and coming back 10 times stronger, then SEO/niche sites aren't for you. Seriously. Whether you are a white hat or black hat supporter, you WILL get slapped and you WILL suffer. You need the ability to sleep on it and come back with a vengeance tomorrow. That's the way it works.
We talked about the stories we read about people losing everything that they bet the farm on. The worst part is not so much how they have lost everything, but when they give up completely. This burns us as these people are so smart that they can just pick themselves up and do it again. But, they don't. This is probably one of the most disheartening things that you'll ever see or read about, but it happens.
I'm simplifying it, but it is what it is. How bad do you want it? Don't. Give. Up.
On Testing and ExperimentationIn the lab, building links
This kind of goes along with the ambition and perseverance note. You need to be willing to test out things and experiment, but more importantly, CHALLENGE the information that you read in SEO and IM circles. Never, ever follow advice blindly without taking the time to use your BS detector and/or question things.
This is why you don't see guys like Hayden (and myself for that matter) doing what I call "spoon feed SEO". Although we give some specific advice about things, for the most part we give overall direction as opposed to an intricate, step-by-step blueprint.
As blog readers we are selfish by nature. We want information NOW. Give it to me (preferably free) and hand me the "make money button". Sadly it doesn't work this way. The danger of giving out any step-by-step blueprint is not so much exposing information as it is about someone following that advice. When you get burned, and you will as both of us did, the pitchforks and torches come out and angry mob syndrome happens.
Instead, what you should be doing is looking at information presented to you and consider the alternative. Better yet, split-test ideas put forth by myself or anyone else and do two things:
- What you were told to do.
- The exact opposite.
...and measure the results. I bet that you'll still find success doing the complete opposite of what people are saying.
The point is to never follow anyone blindly without knowing for your own sake whether something works or not. If you ask questions, you may or may not get answers, but you still really don't know. The only surefire way to know is to do things yourself.
On Scaling UpThe sky's the limit when scaling up
The best strategy to scale up is to look at your operation with a holistic view, establish goals for your business objectives and then align your technology and tools with them. Break up a few big problems into many smaller ones so that they're easier to handle.
For instance, I wanted to scale everything up -- keyword research, linkdbuilding, content, management, etc. But, we focused on how I could scale my linkbuilding since that is one of the harder processes to do. Sometimes it's better to do one thing at a time so that once you nail it, you can move on to the next thing. Design modularly so that your tools that you develop can interact with each other. I'm sorry that I cannot reveal certain things about our discussion but Hayden has managed to have his tools developed in such a way that they overlap and are re-usable.
You'll need a bit of lateral thinking here but try not to worry too much about it, it'll come to you eventually. Fundamentally, you need to understand the nature of the problem that you're trying to solve, and design accordingly.
On Goals for Our Blogs
In our actual discussion I don't think that I answered the question properly, but I can expand on it here. In a nutshell, we want our readers to read our stuff and apply critical thinking to spur innovation that leads to success with their businesses. There will be a certain amount of "give", but the focus is on the reader to pick out a concept or idea, expand on it, and make it successful.
I spoke with him about the concept of "gems of information". Basically, the idea is that when I first started to read IM blogs and such, I would get around to reading a lot of posts and comments left by users. Some things that I've read have spawned ideas in my mind that had manifested themselves into how I run my niche site operation today. Or at least, influenced them greatly.
The cool thing is that these people entering in those comments don't know that they're leaving "gold" behind. Indirectly, they can help someone who can pick out an idea, twist it, and play with it. And make it big.
On Income Reports and Accountability
Keep them, for now. Hold yourselves accountable to them. I have to do a better job on that.
Hayden has mentioned that he has an accountability partner and they keep each other in check in terms of their weekly goals. I think that it's great to have someone like that.
It'd probably be easier if I were part of a mastermind group. However honestly I feel kind of intimidated by other entrepreneurs, especially when I'm of an income level that doesn't even compare. Speaking of my close personal friends who are entrepreneurs (photographer and artist), I am so amazed at what they have done for themselves to have built their own businesses. Especially since they did everything alone.
But, you can't deny that if you have someone to push you and you can push back, you feed off each other's energy and you improve yourself in the long run. I found this to be true when my wife and I were working out at the gym a lot. If you monitor progress with each other you're much more motivated in achieving goals. Especially when the results are so tangible.
This isn't new information, but Hayden is using his private network and I am using my adaptive strategy. One method scales, the other doesn't really. Guess which one is which?
Anyway, I am trying out Hayden's method and using it in conjunction with the way that I find my own high PR domains. While mine has been pretty good at securing PR2-3 sites, his method is a lot better at finding the rarer domains that are PR4+.
Again, he's able to find them on a mass scale where I was doing the more manual method. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but if you want to scale up, you'll need to change things.
Risk is inherent with either strategy. Close your eyes, pick something, and go.
TextBroker (or some similar service) or dedicated content writers. Period. End of story.
I recounted how many times I've been screwed by trying to buy cheaper content. I've flat out received some factually incorrect information in articles before that at some point I just had to suck it up and pay more money to get a quality piece. I don't have the time to go through each article with the scrutiny of a laser beam; I'd much rather have a staffer do that at least. Better yet, I want it right the first time.
Sometimes you can get great content for a cheap price, but then you usually end up waiting 2 weeks or more for it. So if you're trying to build up, this doesn't make sense either.
On Keyword Research
Yes, it's very important. We have differing systems and we believe that what each of us have works best. So what's a guy to do when you need to choose?
Well, with my sites that have failed for some reason or another, I've cross-referenced with Hayden's method of determining competitiveness. What I've found is that some are over the difficulty tipping point in SEOmoz, and some are not. Whatever the case, even copying the linkbuilding strategy of competitors in the niche doesn't seem to work either, so I must be missing something. So, I don't know if this is a failure of keyword reseach or not.
What is a success, however, is when you do great keyword research it shows in how much of your portfolio succeeds. I've been able to break the often-touted 80/20 rule and have about 44% of my portfolio regularly earning, and I intend to push that number further. The principle still applies, but don't settle at 20% and think that it's okay. Don't settle. You can do better.
On Software Tools
Custom-made tools are really ideal. They are expensive whether you are just starting or not, no doubt about it. In the beginning try to do everything manually and find out what your major pain points are. Then buy tools to fix those problems so long as they address the issue.
It's not about keeping up with what the rest of the IM world is using. It's more about what do your tools do that allow you to focus your efforts elsewhere.
Some tools are more effective than others, and of course the only way you'll know is to test. Luckily a lot of tools have trial periods or money-back guarantees if you're not satisfied. Long-term, however, it seems that a custom solution is best until mass market tools mature. Until then, only use the best tools on the market if you can afford it.
Some Personal Stuff
When you're just shooting the breeze, so to speak, this stuff comes up. Naturally I can't say much here other than he is a family man like I am. It's always good to have some external motivating factors, and it also helps even more when you have a circle that supports what you do.
My Next Move
I'm working on about 7 new sites at the moment and unfortunately I'm stuck waiting for content on those. In the meantime, I've purchased a small number of possible high PR domains using Hayden's method to test out whether it works for me or not. If I prove that it works for me, then I can scale it up massively.
I suppose that brings up another, rather obvious point. Don't scale up something that doesn't work. :)
Sorry for the quick one. On a personal level things are extremely busy yet again this month. Hopefully there were some gems of information here that you can act upon. Get your hustle on and do it!