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January 30, 2019

How I succeeded creating an online business

Filed under: General Stories — admin @ 11:42 am

Many people try to create an online business, but most don’t get anywhere. The costs are high, the complications are endless, the talent you need is hard to fulfill, and then, everything changes the minute you have learned the game.

When I first started 123notary, I put a bunch of names on geographically distinct lists. Different counties, states and zip code areas had lists of Notaries. I knew at that point that a directory is more than just a list of names. So, I made sure people were still in business as I had seen many other directories where many had dysfunctional phones, etc.

I wanted listings to look good, so I made sure that people had notes about their service, extra counties and a lot of information.

Next I had to get my directory seen, so I had to invest heavily in online advertising, and call a lot of title and signing companies who used Notaries. We also had many campaigns to have a lot of incoming links. The work was hard, but in those early days, advertising on Google Adwords and Yahoo was cheap. The cost went up and then my struggles changed.

Google Adwords went from 5 cents a click up to more than a dollar. I had to think, otherwise I would be put out of business by a changing tide of economic conditions that happened all of a sudden. So, my SEO specialist / programmer taught me Zen and the art of getting organic clicks. We also expanded our list of keywords that we paid for to over 1000, so that we could big less on each word, but still attract a lot of traffic. This strategy worked and made staying afloat affordable.

Then, the social media revolution came. I had to learn to blog, do Facebook and Twitter. It took many years to get good at each of these skills. I may not have started out with any talent, but I acquired some over time. Imagine how hard it is to please a crowd of highly critical Notaries day after day, year after year. I had to think of new ideas for articles at least twenty times per month. Can you do that?

Facebook changed its algorithm, and now to do well on Facebook, it is only your winning content that will do well at all. The other junk you write will just not get seen much. The secret is figuring out how to create hot content consistently and then you will dominate market share on Zuckerberg’s wonder engine. This algorithm change was a monumental challenge to promoting our business.

Google also changed its algorithm a few years ago. Blog writing was promoted highly on Google for a while, and then they did not give as favorable placement to blogs after that. Only the good blogs survived.

Finally, once I had mastered the game and learned to adapt to all of the algorithm changes of the various internet Gods who I was trying to please — the bottom dropped out of the Notary industry. And Snapdocs gained popularity. I tried so hard to compete with SnapDocs. I tried screening our Notaries for quality. I tried adding more quantity. Nothing was working. I will try some new algorithms for my search results in the future. We will see how those work out.

So, that is what creating an online business was like for me. An uphill battle that is never ending. Thank God I survived, but it was through pure determination and a skill set that I had to keep evolving.


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