Guest post by Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology
Hi, I’m Tyler. I created a blog in June, 2010 called Advanced Riskology and, by September, more than 2,000 people had decided that they liked it enough to make it a part of their daily lives.
That makes me feel incredibly good and I want to tell you exactly how I did it, but before we begin, I should clear up a few misconceptions that a lot of people have had when they hear my story:
- I am not an overnight success. It only took three months for Advanced Riskology to build a respectable following, but it took me 25 years to come up with it.
- I didn’t just get lucky. I found a few strategies that worked really well for what I was doing and I leveraged them as much as possible.
- No one discovered me. I’ve gotten help from some very influential people, but it was because I asked for it, not because I was found.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way and you know that my little journey wasn’t just cakes and pies, let’s clear up a few other things:
- I didn’t work my brains out. I do spend a lot of time working, but not usually on anything related to driving traffic to my site. I spend most of my time writing and planning my adventures.
- I didn’t do anything shady. I didn’t sell my soul to any black-hat SEO ninja and I didn’t pay for any obnoxious advertising campaigns.
- I’m not some guru. I didn’t even start learning about how to build or run a website until 2009 and Advanced Riskology was not my first try.
So where does that leave us? Basically, I’m an average guy that decided to take a chance on myself, worked my butt off without ignoring everything else life has to offer, and built a small but sustainable business from an idea that makes me excited to work on every single day.
If you’re like me and you want to build a high traffic website that you can be proud of without selling your soul or giving up the things you love, you can do it. There are a million little tactics you can use to do it, but it’s more important to focus on a few important strategies and philosophies that will make a big difference.
Advanced Riskology has been successful because I focused very hard on a few important things:
I removed the barriers between my work and my life.
When I decided to start this project, I thought very hard about how I could do it in a way that would not force me to think about the separation of life and work. Even though it doesn’t specifically bring traffic to my site, it’s the foundation of the entire system.
This is very important because building something valuable does take hard work, but the more that work fits with my perception of how I want to live my life, the easier it is to commit to it and the better I do.
It’s synergy in action. When I work, I’m actively improving my life. When I play, I’m improving my work. There’s a nearly complete overlap and it has completely transformed how I look at work and life.
Yes, I do believe that you can build a high traffic website doing something that you don’t care about, but I don’t believe that you can necessarily qualify that as “success” since you’re constantly balancing a trade-off between two very important parts of your life that are working against each other.
If you’re looking for the number one way to improve your website and your life at the same time, I would ignore all the guru tips and tricks you hear every day and focus instead on how you can make your work fun again.
Don’t be afraid to make big changes.
I stuck to a strict “go big or go home” policy.
I understand all the psychology about taking baby steps and I do that too, but when it comes to setting milestones, I don’t screw around.
Everyone says that failure is a part of the process and I believe that. Like Corbett says, you have to be willing to fall down seven times and get up eight. But when you’re learning, you’re just as likely to fail at the little things as you are at the big ones.
If you’re going to occasionally fail no matter what you do, you may as well make the steps you take big ones.
That’s why, when I launched Advanced Riskology, I did it big by working with a team of beta-readers to make sure the stage was properly set, hosting an interview with a very influential person, and giving away some big, valuable prizes. A lot of people showed up and got very excited.
When I created my first free guide, Take This Job & Shove It, I looked around at what everyone else was doing. Most people just threw together a few old blog posts into a pdf and put it behind an opt-in form. I decided to do one better by creating a completely new resource for my audience, giving it away for free with no opt-in, and making it extremely valuable to the people who would read it.
Rather than creating something simple, I went for the absolute best I could. I made something that I would be proud to sell, and gave it away free.
The results were amazing. Nearly three months after launching it, it’s been downloaded almost 2,000 times and I feel incredibly grateful to be able to help so many people.
When I decided to go after some media attention, I went on HARO and looked for the biggest opportunities I could find. It took a lot of tries, but one story I landed ended up on the front page of MSN. That was a real turning point for my site.
When I write a guest article, it’s usually, at the very least, 1,500 words, usually more like 2-3,000. Rather then write everywhere I possibly can, I choose carefully who I want to write for and I do the hell out of it. This story took about 3 hours to put together, but others – the ones that made this story possible – take as much as 16-20 and go through multiple revisions before they’re ready for you to see. And some get scrapped entirely. I’m not afraid to throw away 10 hours of work and start over if it’s not good enough to make me look my best.
Every day, there are millions of people hoping to put in an average amount of effort and get something amazing in return. This what we in the industry call “noise.” It’s cheap and occasionally entertaining, but it doesn’t go anywhere.
You want to be the “signal” – the stuff that people are searching for in a sea of mediocrity. That takes more work, but it is definitely worth it.
I built a funnel to capture the right people.
As Corbett has explained before, the amount of traffic you get to your site is not nearly as important as what you do with it. That’s why, from the very beginning, I thought carefully about how I wanted people to interact with Advanced Riskology and with me.
I want the site to be a place where people feel comfortable hanging out and can find all the risk taking resources they need, so that’s what I focused on creating.
A big part of that strategy is prioritizing “awesome” over “efficient.” Since my work and my play are now mostly aligned, I don’t care how long it takes me to create the best stuff that I can. The result, of course, is an extremely effective subscriber funnel.
I spent far too much time designing Advanced Riskology (three months), but that doesn’t bother me because when people show up, they’re impressed by how it looks and that lends me some instant credibility. You only get a few seconds to make a first impression on your site, so it’s a good idea to make it the best one you can.
Since people like the design, they stick around to read a few articles. Most of my articles take a long time to write. I don’t mind that either because the better the articles are, the more likely someone is to download my free guide.
My free guide took a tremendous amount of work to put together, about 60 hours, but I don’t care because it truly helps people, and the more excellent, free help you can offer someone, the more they’ll trust you.
As each new visitor journeys down this path, I’m trying my damnedest to prove that I deserve their trust, and every time we interact I give them a brief reminder that they’re welcome to sign up to receive my free email series.
Once they’re ready for that, they get a month of more free resources to help them navigate whatever big risk they’re working on. Each email has an invitation to ask for help if they get stuck on something. I read and thoughtfully respond to every email I get and people love it.
No, that doesn’t scale well, and no, I don’t care. That’s a problem I’m happy to deal with once it comes.
The End Result – Influence
The end result of putting those three concepts together:
- Combining your work and life in a meaningful way
- Going as big as possible with everything you can
- Creating a funnel to filter the right people through
…is an extremely connected audience that trusts and appreciates you. You’ve built influence by proving that you’re worthy of the attention you get.
Those are two reactions that you can’t just ask for – you have to work to foster them. When you build them into the experience of your site, you end up with massive word-of-mouth advertising. The people that you’ve affected go to great lengths to tell everyone they know about you, and that’s the best (and cheapest) strategy you’ll ever employ to get more traffic to your site and more subscribers that care about what you do.
When you build influence like that, it doesn’t matter what color your retweet button is or how many times you submit your site to Digg. You’ll do just fine.