Assessing Client Needs for Business Growth – The Smart Way!

We don’t do much of the “fill out this form”, “how did we do today?”, or “rate our services online” stuff for my businesses.  We usually go for more of a personal touch.  When we ask for feedback, it’s more direct through emails or phone calls with clients.  So, how do you gather that feedback as data to assess client needs and the future of your business?

Today I want to talk about those changing needs and determining direction.

crunching numbers business accounting

1. The Numbers Don’t Lie

Track your expenses and income.  Hire an accountant if you’re not great with numbers and/or don’t have the time yourself.  And don’t forget about that bottom line.  If you’re spending too much on a service or offering, and people aren’t paying enough for it (or not enough people are interested in it), then you know something’s wrong.  Maybe you can cut some of your expenses and rebuild that offering in a way that makes sense financially.  Or, hey, maybe that offering is done and it’s time to move on to something else.  I know I’m painting this as very black and white, but it really does help to take a step back, look at the numbers, and determine whether an offering is worth it based on the revenue (or lack of revenue) that it’s bringing in.

One of the tricky parts here is timing.  I’d love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this in the comments as well.  Personally, we track and review numbers across all teams weekly.  If something is outside of the safe zone, we talk about it in our weekly business meeting.  If that continues for a few weeks, we talk more seriously about it.  If a few months go by and we’re clearly wasting our time and resources, it’s time to make a drastic change.

Obviously I can’t share our spreadsheets here, but you’ll need to create a document with your own financial goals in mind that can be updated on a weekly basis.  Include sales and analytics as needed for your business.

So that’s one objective way to see whether your service/offering or product is working for your clients.  But how do we see it coming before wasting that time and those resources?

2. Create Products/Services Based on Repeated ‘Custom’ Client Requests

I can use Content Refined as an example here.  Content Refined is primarily a content marketing company that works on a monthly subscription-based content creation cycle.  Madeleine, our Co-Founder and Business Manager, was finding that she was getting a lot of “custom” requests for upgrades to existing content on clients’ websites.  These clients had content already on their site that they needed someone to go through, clean up, and ‘refresh’ to help it rank higher.  So, that request came in enough times that Maddie thought, “Hey, we need to make this a real offering, not just a special custom thing we do when people ask for it.”

We figured out our pricing needs and built the system around ‘content upgrades’.  Now it’s front and centre on the home page of Content Refined’s site.

Word of warning: you do have to take all requests with a grain of salt.  There’s a fine line between being flexible and bending over backwards.  Custom requests only work if the numbers work.  So you have to be careful at how far you bend your standards to meet client needs.

Which brings me to my next point.


assessing business needs

3. Dominate Your Field Before Expanding Out

It’s extremely difficult to expand out to new service offerings when you’re still working on mastering the original one.  Until you’ve got a great system worked out for your business and you’re handling everything on your plate really well, don’t try to start something new.  Pretty reasonable, right?

To be a master in your field, you’ve gotta stay on top of the trends and news in your industry, and really do your research.  Especially in the digital world, things are moving so quickly that it’s hard to stay relevant.  Check out what’s going on in conferences, and get in the networks with the top players in your field.  This way you can figure out what you should be offering before your clients are even looking for it.

To continue with our example of Content Refined, we constantly look at trends in the content marketing world.  With anything SEO related, you really have to look at the data and figure out which tools and methods are the most effective.  Last year around this time we did all kinds of data analysis on all the content that we had created for clients.  Then we had a statistician go through everything to confirm our findings.  Right now we’re in the process of going through everything again to renew those findings and update any strategies as necessary based on the results.  By continuing to evaluate our business with the actual data, we’re able to stay focused in our field while maintaining great results for our clients.

Final Thoughts

Assessing client needs is super important to keeping your business relevant and growing.  It can take your business in new directions that you may have never foreseen.  Have you had experience with something like that?  Leave me your stories in the comments!

Read More

June Income Report

June was one of the most eventful months in my online businesses history.

It is the month where I worked my last day at my day job and have now moved back to my hometown to pursue online entrepreneurship full time!

Lots happening in my life and online business in June… some good some less than ideal (see ankle/move story below) but all part of the adventure!

My Business Focus Points:

  1. Passive Income Website Portfolio
  2. AuthorityWebsiteIncome Blog
  3. SEO & Expired Domain Services:
  4. Amazon FBA Business
    • Brand #1
    • Brand #2
    • Brand #3
    • New Web App Project
Key Successes
  1. Email Opt In Sequence – (100 signups per day for FBA Business) –I have recently changed the sequence of driving people to Amazon to first send them through a squeeze page where they receive a marginal discount (5-15%) in exchange for their email. This has increased my opt in rate for that business to 100 per day!
  2. FBA Business #2 Now Live and Selling – Finally some promising progress on this partnership after several months of challenges and set backs we are now moving forward with the site holding solid with traffic and driving sales of our product on Amazon.
  3. SEO Consulting – Although I will continue to do this on a very limited scope I have enjoyed working
  4. Quit Job, Moved Houses and Setup in New Office With No Loss in Work – Lots of moving parts in June along with the usual Summer family/friend social commitments but we pulled off the move successfully and I am now setup in my new office crushing work.

My New Office Setup...


My office is located in a co-working space in Collingwood Ontario called TheCleverOffice with some great waterfront views, fast internet, complimentary coffee/tea and a co-working community with tons of support it has made the migration to being setup and productive extremely efficient!

If you are ever happen to be in the area or want to work in proximity to me and my growing team feel free to find out more about the co-working space here.

Key Failures
  1. Tearing My Ankle Apart – Not exactly business related but still worth mentioning… the night before the moving truck came with several things left for me to move around I was playing baseball and tore my ankle up good! Definitely added a little complexity/pain to the move but it is what it is.

    WARNING CLICK TO REVEAL – Gross Picture for those weirdo’s (like me) that like seeing pictures of nasty bruises…

  2. Amazon Affiliate Challenges – The partnership Amazon Associate accounts I am apart of have had substantial problems with getting closed down by Amazon. This has hurt the performance of both partnerships. What is odd is that my personal account continues to not have problems. These challenges has me rethinking what had been my original plan to double down on the business model of investing in affiliate sites and turning into FBA businesses.
  3. My Email Marketing Sucks – My email marketing is terrible! This is nothing new but with the number of subscribers I am now getting across all my businesses my automation and follow up sequence is embarrassingly bad! Time to improve!

2016 Business Goals

Below is my businesses main goals for 2016
Picture1Download This Easy to Edit and Printable Goals Template – FREE
(Note - FBA Brand #2 Has Been Replaced With my SAAS Business)

Part 1 - Passive Authority & Niche Website Income Profit/Loss

Picture2 3 Goals in 2016 for my Website Portfolio Business
  1. Systematize Top 20 Sites in Portfolio
June Update – Top 20 sites is likely too many with my teams current setup. I have made good progress on the content side but need to tie it all together into a more coherent overall strategy.
  1. Buy 1 Site Per Month
June Update – I have continued to add 1 site to my portfolio a month but always looking for more sites that seem to be in my sweet spot… ~$100/month sites with someone looking for a quick sale.
  • GOAL = 1 Website
  • ACTUAL = 1 Decent Website Purchased
Picture3 If any readers are looking to sell their profitable site(s) VERY QUICKLY let me know by emailing me. I can let you know in 12hrs if I am interested and complete the purchase in 24-48hrs – Contact Me Here I have found the right sellers are those…
  • Looking to sell FAST (under 24hrs has been accomplished!) (shorter time for due diligence on my end increases risk for me)
  • Not wanting to spend a lot of time on the sales process (analytics and income proof is all I need)
  • Sites are medium-questionable quality (questionable SEO, non-native English articles are OK)
  • High quality sites making over $500/month often make sense to sell via other channels (EmpireFlippers is a great marketplace)
  • Understand that the benefits of the bullet points above means the sales multiple will be lower

If you have a site you are looking to sell fast please let me know

  1. Sell Websites Strategically for $100k Total
June Update – Still on track with good performance from group that took over the site.   PRIMARY GOAL - OVERALL INCOME FOR WEBSITE PORTFOLIO ABOVE $10k/MONTH Picture4 June Update – The loss of the Amazon affiliate accounts for the partnership businesses have hurt this months amazon associate income!

Part 2 - Authority Website Income Blog Profit/Loss

Picture5 3 Goals in 2015 for
  1. Post Once Per Week
June Update – Posting 1 great post per week is continuing to be a challenge but with increased time I hope to be able to achieve/surpass this over the coming months!
  • Plan = 4
  • Actual = 3 Picture6
  1. 10x my Outreach
June Update – Success! Although most of the people I spoke to this month do not directly have a site to promote me I did connect with over 30 readers of AuthorityWebsiteIncome on Skype or Google Chat to discuss SEO or what improvements could be made to their site. This took a lot of work but really helped me understand more about the great readers of Everytime I survey this audience I am blown away by the calibre of the people that follow this site!
  1. Site Redesign – Completed!
June Update – Continuing to tweak but I can call this one complete! PRIMARY GOAL – GROW TO 30k VISITORS PER MONTH June Update – 19,182 uniques’ which represents a +124% year over year increase. I believe if I can achieve my weekly posting plus my 10x outreach I can achieve this goal bye the end of the year! Picture7

Part 3 - Services Business Profit/Loss

  1. Systems Overhaul/Refresh
June Update - Big plans in August!  
  1. Improve email marking and sales automation
June Update - Big plans in June!  
  1. Becomes The Go-To Resource for Done 4 You Amazon FBA Private Label Websites
June Update - Lots of exciting progress with this business. Many growing pains are resolved and the growth rate is keeping pace with the teams growth rate. PRIMARY GOAL – STAND ALONE SYSTEMATIZED SERVICES BUSINESS IN 2016  

Part 4 – Amazon FBA Business

  1. Sell FBA Business for 30x with 3+ Solid Months
June Update - Money is in the bank, progress with the transition is going well with some setbacks (such as the amazon associate account getting hit).
  1. Launch Brand #2
June Update – One affiliate site is doing very well right now and could be a great fit but this project has been put on the backburner until I turn around Brand #3 with investors.
  1. Launch Brand #3
June Update – First sale in Amazon has occurred. This was about 3 weeks behind the original schedule and the loss of the affiliate site hurts but overall the business now has momentum going into the summer.
  1. LE– Hijack Monitoring Service
June Update – We crossed over the 100 user threshold and have been getting some great feedback with most other metrics remaining healthy! What I am most happy about this project is the team setup. With highly skilled developer, manager and advisers this business although not yet profitable is working well with all key metrics for a SAAS business strong… lifetime value, acquisition cost, churn, engagement etc… now we just need to grow faster! Picture10

Overall Income Update

Original Monthly Net Income Target (original goal $15k/month reliable income by age 35)
  • Target Net Income = $9,175
  • Actual net Income = $25,304.01
2016 Average Monthly Net Income = $30,034 (stretch goal is 30k average for the year) Picture11 Gross revenue is a vanity number for my business and I do not share it. Picture12

(note Amazon FBA Income May Be Off By A Little Here – FBA Affiliate Site Income Counted in Passive Income Portfolio – Total FBA Business Income ~$10k)

Final Comments

Read More

Income Report Dec 2016

Well I wish I could say this every month! Record numbers for the second month in a row!

Certainly the year-end push helped with my passive income portfolio but I hope you take away both the good and the bad from this post (plenty of both).

When I started my income post my numbers were TINY and as the number increases I understand they can start to break from what is achievable in front of people. However, what I hope people take away is that no one of my businesses is CRAZY numbers and picking any one of the businesses and tackling it first is very much achievable!

Never shared before – I share the simple process I credit the majority of the businesses success to. I think it is the single greatest reason that I have been able to build a team which can execute all this work so well with me only working a couple hrs a night!

In this report I will talk through my monthly results for…

  1. Passive Income Website Portfolio
  2. AuthorityWebsiteIncome Blog
  3. SEO &Expired Domain Services:
  4. Amazon FBA Business (see latest updates here)

Key Successes

  1. This Website Redesign (let me know your thoughts & opportunities to make it better!) – It has been long overdue and I finally have a site that looks ½ decent… not mind-blowing awesome but at least decent. Also I finally have some really solid opt-in bonuses and the site organized to make sense with its current topics.
    1. My New favorite page – (Thrive can do awesome stuff easily)
  2. Amazon FBA Results – Not surprising December was a great month for the FBA business. The income results are still growing in January so excited to continue to watch.
  3. PBN Procedure Improvements – Doing an analysis on all customer feedback from 2015 for my 2016 Done For You PBN Service I saw content quality to be the biggest issue. My project manager followed my very boring system for implementing a new procedure expertly and the results were dramatic… 25% of the writers were fired, new writers hired and no comments about article quality being anything but great since.

How To Get A Lot Done When You Only Have 2 Hrs a Night!

A common question on this site is how with working only a couple hrs a night is it possible to get everything done and keep so many balls in the air (portfolio of sites, this blog, lightningrank services, FBA business + others)?

The fact is it is the process described below executed repeatedly over years and years which has resulted in building up an awesome team with robust procedures and all measured/tracked weekly.

My Process for Getting Work Done:

  1. Identify need/problem (me, project manager or one of my team leads)
  2. Create a quick procedure for it (me, project manager or one of my team leads)
  3. Assign it to a team member or hire 3-5 people on (project manager or team lead)
    1. Give the 3-5 people a similar test assignment with no interview and minimal training (project manager or team lead)
    2. Review quality of work done and communication and then fire all but the best
  4. Assign the (potentially new) team member to execute the created procedure and work together to improve it (project manager or team lead)
  5. Manage the change to the new procedure (project manager or team lead)
    1. Input the new procedure into the procedure database (list in a google doc)
    2. Communicate the new procedure and the basics of the change to the affected team members
  6. Begin executing the procedure (new team member)
  7. Improve & Track Desired Results of the New Procedure
    1. New team member to send out weekly update with basic update to entire team including myself focusing on the metrics of both what has been done and how it has impacted the key end result the new procedure was put in place to improve (new team member)
    2. Key metric(quantitative or qualitative) for the new procedure added to the team lead or project managers weekly business scorecard which gets reviewed at the weekly 1 on 1 meeting I have (most important 1hr I do all week)! (project manager and myself)

I realize those were probably the most boring 255 words in this websites history but very likely this simple process deserves the majority of the credit for this businesses steady and meaningful growth.

Key Failures

  1. Planning & Priorities – A lot of irons in the fire is the normal and although I certainly didn’t feel overwhelmed I did find I was pushing the pace I was working at a little harder than normal which resulted in me cutting down my critical planning time. Giving up some planning time occasionally is ok but eventually I find myself doing stupid work that provides minimal value and neglecting what really matters. December as a consequence of actually having more time to work I became less efficient with the work I was doing (ie entering blog comments for a lower performing niche site) The business continues to run if I did nothing but the issue is I am uniquely positioned to do many of the activities that are needed to push it forward so I can’t spend my time on stupid stuff!
  2. PPC – Why I can’t crack this nut is still a mystery! I enjoy numbers, enjoy testing, enjoy procedures but for whatever reason I still struggle to get PPC working in any part of my business. Part of the problem is I set something up and then re-visit it 2 weeks later. I believe more focused and frequent testing is required.

Below is a summary of my progress towards my goals for 2015.

Next months income post will have my goals for 2016 and I am very interested to hear what changes you would like to see to these income reports!

2015 Business Goals

goals 2015

Download This Easy to Edit and Printable Goals Template – FREE

Part 1 – Passive Authority& Niche Website IncomeProfit/Loss (Main Goal Achieved)


5 Goals in 2015 for my Website Portfolio Business

1. Build Six Figure Website(Failed in 2015)

DEC UPDATE – NOT ACHIEVED – Built a solid website that gets a nice amount of traffic and income but it is about 10x smaller than I wanted. It makes 500-600/month (more in the busy months). Definitely very profitable after investing about $6k to get it going a year ago but not as good as I wanted.

Every month traffic increased with the exception of December (typically low month for this niche)

aud overview

Oct Stats

  • Traffic =32,588
  • Income = $612

2. Continue Building Smaller Profitable “Niche” Sites (Failed in 2015)

DECUPDATE – A few of the sites I started have built up to be valuable sites. Most of the sites I only very briefly focused on did not do well.

3. Systematize Top 20 Sites in Portfolio (Achieved in 2015)

DEC UPDATE –The content machine is humming along. 3 great writers turning out 10+ articles per week each for my money sites along with niche specific PBN and PBN links being built is continuing to improve rankings and search results. So far the simple combination of quality Content + quality Links = Success

4. Buy 2 Sites Per Month(Achieved in 2015)

DECUPDATE: For only the second month of the year I did not purchase any websites!

  • GOAL = 22 sites purchased by Nov 2015
  • ACTUAL = 26 sites (+1 in Nov)

# site purchased

If any readers are looking to sell their profitable site(s) VERY QUICKLY let me know by emailing me. I can let you know in 12hrs if I am interested and complete the purchase in 24-48hrs – Contact Me Here

I have found the right sellers are those…

  • Looking to sell FAST (under 24hrs has been accomplished!) (shorter time for due diligence on my end increases risk for me)
  • Not wanting to spend a lot of time on the sales process (analytics and income proof is all I need)
  • Sites are medium-questionable quality (questionable SEO, non-native English articles are OK)
  • High quality sites making over $500/month often make sense to sell via other channels (EmpireFlippers is a great marketplace)
  • Understand that the benefits of the bullet points above means the sales multiple will be lower

If you have an Amazon Affiliate site you are looking to sell fast please let me know!


5. Improve Monetization of Existing Sites(Achieved in 2015)

DEC UPDATE – Success in the numbers! Beyond just the seasonal push with my Amazon sites my student loan and six figure site had a record month!RECORD month for my niche website business!



Near doubling of my affiliate sites in Dec!

Near doubling of my affiliate sites in Dec!

Part 2 – Authority Website Income Blog Profit/Loss


My commitment on this site is to provide once per week posts from me in and one MONSTER of an ultimate guide a little later in the year.

3 Goals in 2015 for

  1. Post 1-2 times per week(Achieved in 2015)

DECUPDATE – With a late push as part of the redesign and counting some additional non typical articles (such as my start here page) I was able to just hit my goal.

  • Plan = 4
  • Actual = 7

post published

2. 2 EPIC Posts Published(Achieved in 2015)




Definitely didn’t hit my goal in 2015 here… plan to certainly keep pushing in 2016!

Very interested in hearing from people in what they would like to see more of in 2016!


Part 3 – Services Business Profit/Loss


  1. Create Stand Alone Business(Success – See
  2. Rework and Customize Systems(Progress – But More Improvement in 2016)
  3. Systematic Customer Acquisition(Failed in 2015)


Although not as far along as I wanted I will still call this one a success! The good news is that the framework is now in place with ActiveCampaign and Zaxaa to continue to improve!

Overall Income Update

Original Monthly Net Income Target (original goal $15k/month reliable income by age 35)

  • Target Net Income = $8,125
  • Actual net Income = $31,525.81
  • 2015 Average Monthly Net Income = $15,937
  • Gross revenue would be a vanity number for my business and as such is not shared
net income

(note Amazon FBA Income was wrong for NOV – not corrected here (it made more than shown)


2015 business goals

Final Comments

Average income hit my goal in 2015…just realized this! That is a very satisfying feeling knowing I have been working towards that number for many years!

That is enough celebrating… time to get back to the grind… reliability of income was poor $2.2k income in Feb! Lots of opportunities left un-explored. Lots of goals missed! Results will be better in 2016.

But overall I am thrilled with the year, the progress of the business and most importantly the people I have had the opportunity to work with has been very rewarding!

Here is to you! Thank you for reading what can often be simply an internal analysis of my own business!

Your pushing and proddding and question asking keep me motivated to show you everything except my passwords in my online businesses.

I will continue to show you both the good and as often as possible the bad as well!

Big plans for 2016 stay tuned!

2 requests…

  1. Let me know how you would like my 2016 income reports to change?
  2. Let me know what you think of the new site design

Read More

2015 Online Business Goals

In this post I go against some of often shared wisdom (keep your goals to yourself) and go into the exact knitty gritty details of my online business goals for 2015.

There are 3 distinct parts to my business and for 2015 each gets one top level goal with a set of sub-goals that I can trend over the year and if achieved should result in my main goal being achieved.

This year I am aiming to keep it relatively simple with my one main goal for each of the 3 businesses I hope I can keep my focus clear. (more…)

Read More