Feeling Good – Inflection Points – Staying Grounded

That’s what everybody wants, right? Abstraction? What can I say? I’m reading a lot of Murakami these days.

Well I’m again at the end of a “phase”. When last I wrote, I was market testing the 80/20 Drummer (please don’t google it or visit my site, because I need my analytics to reflect “real” traffic), and had generated good traffic to my site, but no “sales”. Reasoning that I just needed a better landing page, I went into serious production mode, generating demo videos. Below are four of my favorites, and you’ll see what I mean about this taking time-

Each required me to rough out a script, quickly “teach” myself the demo beats (not always easy), film the whole thing, then upload the whole jones to Final Cut and do my thing. I’m happy to say they’re all on the landing page – four previews like those above for four of the five chapters, and the conversion testing has begun again. This time I’m advertising both on Facebook and Google Adwords.

Adwords you say?!?

Yup. I’m revisiting Adwords after almost six months, because some of the lessons I’ve learned on Facebook are applicable. Geographic and demographic targetting. Longtail keywords. (I’ve been chided for not explaining things fully enough, so let me say that “drum lessons jazz school grad NYC” is a Longtail Keyword, whereas “drum lessons” is not. The former is lightly searched but cheap to advertise to, the latter is the opposite.

Another thing I’m going to be doing in this and future posts, on the advice of friends, is providing context. I started this blog after reading Four Hour Workweek, to catalog my experiments applying the author’s advice in real life. The premise is creating a low-risk, low-initial-investment side business to provide financial flexibility (freeing up money), using efficiency and focus tricks to minimize time wasted on unproductive things (freeing up time), then living life with a focus on what fulfills me instead of how many more years of this s@#$ can I take before retirement or how come Bob got the corner office? Efforts I’ve made toward financial freedom – the 80/20 Drummer, a concept drum DVD I want to create and sell as a video download with accompanying e-book and musical tracks, Smart Getaways for Couples (feel free to visit that one – the traffic is high enough that Breaking Ferriss readers won’t upset the metrics much), and the forthcoming Smart Asia Getaways.

So, 80/20 drummer is back to testing mode, and I’ll continue to apply minor tweaks to the marketing until I’ve either validated it or ruled it out as a quick route and “back-burnered” it to build an audience slowly.

Smart Getaways is a niche site, although it’s principally just a comprehensive travel diary/tip farm. The idea there is you decide what people are searching for on the web and throw up attractive content, generate traffic that’s valuable to advertisers, then charge them for access to your audience. It’s waaaaaay more art than science, and I can now say with confidence that choosing a topic you’d write about for free, writing the hell out of it (SGFC is at 79 posts now), marketing it person-to-person by guest posting on related blogs, and letting the chips fall where-they-may is the way this works in reality. The sites I created solely based on keywords have so far failed to garner any attention.

Oh – and 80/20 Creative LLC earned its first dollar last month. From Adsense. And it was almost exactly a dollar. A dollar-forty-three to be precise. Somehow my “first dollar” isn’t exactly as I pictured it;) But the good news is since I “back burnered” it to deal with 80/20 Drummer, Smart Getaways has continued to climb in the rankings, and is now ranking for a portfolio of long tail keywords, resulting in up to a thousand impressions-a-day, and a modest 20-30 clicks. I hope that continues to climb, and I certainly plan to continue traveling and writing about it. Also, Adsense isn’t my “be-all-end-all” monetization strategy. Affiliate deals probably will be, if I ever have enough traffic to make it worth an advertiser’s while.

I’m also reaping fringe benefits of the websites and 80/20 Drummer videos. When I needed to attract some drum students to fund some travel ventures, I already had the architecture in place.

Finally, I’d like to use this platform to shout out my buddy Alex, who’s using SEO and web commerce in exactly the right way to promote his own product – jazz for weddings. A link for you, sir, with anchor-text.

And the more I dig, the more musician buddies I discover already killing it in various ways with e-commerce. A friend building his own drum studio answered my query about the best places to find students with two sentences: Adwords, and Google Groups. Done and Done.

Ok – time to read some Murakami before bed.

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