Mid-Year Update 2016

I know I haven’t exactly been writing here regularly.  But since I’m turning 34 tomorrow (or was it 28?), I’m feeling in a reflective mood…

So here’s my business update, (a little more than) halfway through 2016.

The World’s Best Internship: Update

My blog post advertising my internship got over 100 shares (thank you friends!), including a few key shares that helped me find some amazing candidates. I owe a big thank you to Ellen Bard, who shared on LocationRebel and a few Facebook groups; Johnny FDwho shared with his followers; and Tyler Pearson who shared with his list at GetApprenticeship. These three shares resulted in quite a few high-quality applications — in fact, 4 of the top 5!  

In the end, I received 39 applications from some really amazing people. It was way more difficult than I thought to narrow it down to the 8 people I would interview. I had experience hiring people before as a manager in previous jobs, but I think it makes a big difference when it’s for your own business and you’re the one paying the salary.

Meet Liza

Hashtag Team Building

After a round interviews and a writing assignment, I decided to offer the job to Liza, who was from Singapore and had a background in Corporate Communications.  Her writing style was a perfect compliment to my own (mine more academic; hers friendly and relatable) and she had a contagious positive attitude about learning that I knew would work well.  

To my surprise (and anguish), she didn’t accept the job right away, and made me wait a day or two while she thought about it.  I suspect she actually decided right away, but just wanted to see me suffer.  😉

She eventually accepted, and moved to Chiang Mai the end of May. Since then, she’s been a HUGE help with creating new content and products, managing social media, and even helping me make strategic decisions. Only two months in, and I already can’t imagine going back to working alone.

One interesting (and unintended) consequence of working together has been helping me stick to a regular work schedule.  Before, I worked very sporadically and my productivity and output definitely suffered. I also used to find it difficult to completely turn off my ‘work mind’ in the evenings. Now I work (roughly) 9:30am to 4:30pm, and can relax after that.

Liza and Biron pretending to work

Case Study Update:  The Team Building Website

Note: This is an update on this Case Study of a team building website I bought last Christmas. I’m not linking other sites I own here for SEO reasons. 

After putting the team building site on hold for most of February to May to work on other projects, I decided to pick it up again after successfully negotiating to buy the rights to the Team Building eBook outright (before, I had the rights for just 3 years).  

In June, Liza and I worked on putting together a new multi-tier product for the team building site.  Based on a survey of the email list, we decided on 3 package tiers with a combination of eBooks, document templates, and Videos.  

We packaged up some existing material from the site as well as writing some of our own for the eBooks, and I was up late some nights recording Skype interviews with authors and professional trainers (because of the time difference from Thailand).

Here’s an example of what one of the final products looked like (graphics created by Liza).


We launched it to our email list, and though it didn’t do as well as I expected, it didn’t do that bad either.  Including advertising, the team building site made just shy of $4,000 in July.  

Now if I could just do that every month, with all of my sites….  😉

Team Building, Brand Building

After the product launch, I decided I might like to keep the Team Building in my portfolio, long-term. With that in mind, and inspired by conversations with fellow online entrepreneurs, I’ve been experimenting with investing time into building a personal brand around it.  I applied to write about team building on Business.Com. You can read our first article here, and I’ll be submitting a few articles every month (with Liza’s writing help, of course). From there, I’d like to build up to writing for other big online sites (Business Insider, take note!).

New Website Purchase

About 2 weeks ago, Liza was contacting team building site owners to be potential affiliates for our new Team Building Tool Kit product. She forwarded me an interesting reply from the owner of a site about leadership/team building:

Although this site still belongs to me, I don’t actually have time to manage it anymore. If you would like to take over the site completely and make it your own, I’ll be glad to discuss a reasonable price with you.”

I was more than a little interested to hear how much the site was making and how much he was looking to get for it.  After looking at the P&L, website traffic numbers, and some negotiating back and forth, we settled on a price that worked for both of us. 

New Website Purchase

What I liked about the site:

  • The site was quite under-monetized, which helped me negotiate a lower price
  • Good track record of organic traffic and keyword ranking
  • Many of the top 20 most visited pages are related to team building (I can cross-market my other products)
  • Included the rights to his 2 eBooks, which are very well-written
  • The site has a lot of content that can be re-packaged

What I didn’t like about the site:

  • The whole site is hosted on SBI (SiteBuildIt), which has an interface from 1991 (Honestly, it feels like I’m writing my blog on GeoCities when I log in). Having the site on SBI would limit the resale value considerably, and migrating the site to WordPress would be time consuming and cost $$.
  • The domain name. Not a fan of hyphens, and felt it could be branded better.

All in all, I figure this was a really solid strategic purchase with lots of easy wins (cross-promoting products, etc), and he got a good payout for his hard work, so we’re both happy.  🙂

Next Steps for the New Leadership Site

Before I do anything to the site, I have to get it into WordPress.  Because SBI is proprietary software, each page has to be MANUALLY transferred to WordPress!  Taking into consideration how frustrating I find the SBI interface, and the fact the new site has over 300 posts/pages, I calculated the site migration would take me roughly…. a million hours.   

So, I gave up and hired a remote team of SBI specialists to migrate the site for me. They should be done in a few weeks, so until then I can’t (won’t?) really touch the site.

I’m also looking at doing a rebranding to a new domain name / logo after the migration.

Mana CoWorking Chiang Mai
My favorite work spot: Mana CoWorking Chiang Mai

Moving Forward

It’s been really fun and rewarding to work mostly on one project for a while, and leaving my other sites mostly on autopilot run by my remote staff.

Moving forward, I’m considering buying a few more sites in the team building / leadership niche as strategic purchases. After that, I’d like to look at hiring another intern/writer.  

These next 6 months should be interesting, and we’ll see if I can hit my goal of ‘10x’-ing the site I bought last Christmas.  🙂

Other News

I’ve been living in Chiang Mai for 9 of the last 10 months, all of which was spent in apartments in the Nimman area. I love Nimman for it’s charming cafes and bars, but felt I wanted to try someplace new (read: I wanted a pool).

A few days ago I moved to a great place just outside the city, which has a beautiful pool and is walking distance from an amazing street food market.  I only signed a 3 month lease, but I think I like it here.  🙂

Pool at D Condo Campus Chiang Mai
My new pool!! 🙂

6 thoughts on “Mid-Year Update 2016”

  1. You biz is so different from my video business so refreshing to see what you’re up to. Interesting update and good writing style. Comgrats on the team building revenue in July. You might have inspired me to do a mid year update.

    1. Thanks Greg! It’s amazing the variety of businesses models of just people I’ve met in Chiang Mai. Hope your video business is going well!

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