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12个月打造估值上千万的公司,只需要这9步!

Kendall Baker 2016年05月22日

你有没有梦想开一家自己的公司,赚得盆满钵满?

你当然想过,我也想过。但我很懒,而且我还总是很自私地希望有人教我如何开始——最好再传授我一套按部就班走向成功的诀窍。我还幻想过得到某种能帮我获得巨大财富的路线图。

然而,这些年我开始认识到,根本没有这样的路线图,也不存在成功创业的模式。

不过,那些都只是我之前的想法,一周前我认识了威廉,他是我见过最有意思的企业家。

威廉创办的是我们都知道却又不承认用过的——吸引大量点击的高访问量网站。实际上,他手上有很多这种网站。

他经营最成功一些网站已经价值上百万美元,而启动资金只需要5000美元,花费时间也只用几个月,而且他用的都是同样的模式。

顺便说一下,威廉不是他的真实姓名。他要我对姓名保守秘密。不过,除了姓名之外我都会如实转述。

我会从我收到他的第一封电邮开始介绍,这样大家就会明白我是为什么会惊讶的……

电邮内容

收件人:HOLLER@hustlecon.com

寄件人:一个我们之前从未见过的很随意的电邮地址

你好,

我这几个月一直在看贵网站The Hustle,真的很喜欢你们的工作。既然你们还在扩大业务,或许我能提供一些帮助?

我创办过很多网站,其中不少市值上百万美元。我对数字媒体几乎没什么经验,也没有为自己的网站生产任何内容。我创造了一种严重依赖Facebook的模式,帮助我确认应该成立什么样的网站,并且在网站上线开始运营后导入大量流量。

举个例子,我最成功的网站之一大概一年前上线。

上线以来,网站的页面浏览量累计超过1亿次, 独立访问用户1300万,仅上月就有350万独立用户。我没有市场团队和销售团队,也没有外部投资。这个网站的全职员工总共就两人,一个是编辑,另一个是我的助手。我信赖你们的产品,想帮一帮你们。你们有没有社交团队,想不想听听建议?

我就住在贵司附近,我乐意亲自上门和社交团队交流。你们干得很棒,希望保持下去。

祝好,

威廉

好吧,这封邮件看起来明显是胡说八道。

写信的人碰巧住在“附近”,而且还有一套能赚百万美元的秘诀。最重要的是,他提到的数字高得要命。

有些人可能不熟悉网站流量指标,我来说明一下,一家成立才一年的网站能破亿网页浏览量,每月用户350万人,这简直是逆天的成绩,更何况还没有外部投资。

比较一下,美国知名科技财经网站Business Insider花了一年时间才首次达到月度100万访客的水平,而威廉的网站上个月就有350万独立访客了。

Business Insider目前有7000万月度用户,300多名员工,最近以接近5亿美元的价格出售了。

大家听说过网站BuzzFeed吗?

上线两年后,BuzzFeed月均用户也不过70万,眼下市值将近20亿美元。

虽然怀疑威廉的说辞有假,但他确实吸引了我的注意。假如他邮件中说的并非虚言,我不但想要他提供建议,还想了解他创业的故事。

于是,我回复邮件约他见面。

会面

威廉几天后造访我们的办公室。他挺和善,讲话带着浓重的荷兰口音,留着一头冲浪者风格的发型。

我们聊了几分钟威廉的童年(他15岁在阿姆斯特丹上高中时辍学,做了一名音乐主持人和工作经历(有段时间他专门操办组织派对),以及他怎么听说我们网站(去年他参加了我们为非科技业初创公司举办的会议Hustle Con)。

短暂的寒暄和了解结束后,我没有浪费什么时间,直奔重点。

看看流量数字到底真的假的!

威廉登陆了谷歌的网站流量分析工具Google Analytics,立即证明了之前我以为不可能实现、或者至少是夸大其辞的数字并非虚报。

破亿的页面浏览量?看看下图是不是。

网站上线一年后拥有350万月度访客?查一查就知道。

威廉用Excel表格做了这张月活跃用户数据表给我看。

然后我们开始谈起营业收入。和我期待的一样,威廉相当坦诚。他每月投入3万美元,盈利22万美元。由于广告是主要收入来源,从网站流量来看,这说得通。

22万美元一个月的利润看上去有点高,但只要用简单的数学运算就能证明并不夸张。

2015年,该网站展示广告的平均CPM(每千人成本)为2.8美元。用户突破1亿之后,每条广告的年度CPM超过了28万美元(折算月均23美元)。

而且威廉在每个页面都投入了多个广告,还在用电邮发布的通讯里出售广告空间(这么做利润高得多),又只有两名全职员工,威廉的盈利无疑很高。

秘诀

我问威廉的最后一个问题是“秘诀”。他起初在自己的电邮里提到过,此后又提到几次,可我需要更多的细节。

他说,赚钱的秘诀是他刚开始成立几个网站之后创造的,称得上是无心插柳。刚开始,他对数字媒体知之甚少,完全依靠对Facebook的了解起步。

威廉坚信摸索出的秘诀有效,自称成立的所有价值百万美元网站都运用了这一模式。

可他也一直认为,自己取得成功靠的是辛苦工作,就算将秘诀公之于众也不太担心别人山寨。

于是,我问他愿不愿意和大家分享模式。

女士们先生们……以下就是威廉创造百万美元生意的奇迹模式:

第一步:选十个小众市场

这些市场必须面向有激情、愿意投入的客户群。威廉列举了一些有这类特征的客户群,比如综合格斗的粉丝、电子竞技迷,以及热门美剧《权力的游戏》的观众。

威廉过去尝试过针对某些群体但最终失败,包括摔跤比赛爱好者、说唱乐迷和热心政治的人。失败的原因包括用户参与度不够,市面上同质化网站太多等等。

第二步:给每个市场做一个Facebook粉丝主页

打广告买Facebook点赞数。

比方说,你选择综合格斗的粉丝作为目标客户,主页就应该起名为“MMA粉丝”或者比较通用一些名称。

威廉对每个小众市场都投入约200美元,但具体投入多少资金不是重点,只要保证对各市场持续投入就行。

为什么?因为在这个过程里你要只需要找出“赢家”,也就是找到某个用户参与度最高、获取点赞成本最少的市场。威廉说,如果不超过5美分就能买到点赞,这个市场就很可能有利可图。而他获利最多的网站只需要1美分就能赢得点赞。

第三步:把别人的内容转贴到自己的网页

既然还属于“实验阶段”,也就没必要放上什么有突破性的内容。事实上,只要把类似网页的内容直接盗用过来即可。威廉一开始就是这么做的。

“刚开始做网站的Facebook主页时,我的英语还不够好,没法自己写说明。更大的问题是,我并不真正了解目标客户群。所以,我会照类似的Facebook粉丝专页,看哪些帖子受欢迎,然后直接拷贝过来,贴在我的主页上。”

第四步:选一个市场“赢家”,买下域名,通过博客平台WordPress创建网站

这一步要让创业开始成型。你已经能选定市场,现在需要的只是一个网站,把文章都贴在上面。

威廉对搭建网站不是很在行。幸运的是,这也有模式可循。“现如今,成立并经营一家网站再简单不过。登陆域名注册网站GoDaddy买一个域名,那里的域名支持WordPress的主机空间。主机空间服务每月要花5美元。GoDaddy会提供支持WordPress网站的环境。”

“然后就去交易网站主题的平台www.themeforest.net,选一个喜欢的‘主题’,费用在40到60美元不等。我通常会去自由职业者服务的市场Upwork或者Elance,请一位收费较低的开发者帮我安装主题,做好网站上线的准备工作。”

第五步:请一位编辑,开始每天贴两三篇文章

威廉在Upwork上聘请了一位编辑。

这是一个全职岗位,但可以远程工作(在他最新成立的网站,那位全职编辑本人住在纽约。)。

网站运营之初,要做的只是寻找能尽量吸引最多点击的内容。

“我之前通过观察其他Facebook粉丝专页找出那些内容做得好。和这种做法类似,我会搜索其他网站,挑出其中点击量最高的文章,然后把链接发给编辑,让他写一篇同样题材的文章。编辑有时会亲自操刀,也可能把分派给在Upwork网站找活的自由撰稿人。”

初步计划是每天发布两三篇文章,所有文章都要在Facebook粉丝专页分享。

“一开始生产内容,你就要保证安装了Google Analytics,这样能查看各篇文章的点击量。不要只看某个页面的点击量,要留意访客在该页面逗留多久,以及浏览内容以后是直接关闭网站页面,还是点击其他文章的链接。数据会告诉你读者喜欢什么内容。”

第六步:创建(如果这类页面不存在)或者购买(如果有现成页面出售)更有针对性的Facebook粉丝专页

这无疑是最重要的一步。走到这一步意味着,地基已经打好,要建房了。

“我说‘更有针对性的’Facebook粉丝专页,意思是在你服务的整个市场之中更细分的小众市场。比如你创建了一个罪案类电视剧粉丝的网站,你就会想推出或者(从现有网页所有者手中)买下页面,专门面向《犯罪现场调查》、《法律与秩序》等大热剧的剧迷。”

虽然我不能透露威廉最成功的那些网站到底叫什么名字,也不能告诉大家针对哪些市场,但我可以说那些网站相当于不仅拥有《犯罪现场调查》和《法律与秩序》粉丝页面,还囊括其他每部罪案电视剧的粉丝页面。

以下是威廉所做的更有“针对性”的一个粉丝专页。

这个客户群分享的所有链接都将用户导向威廉的网站,而这只是小众市场里多个页面之一,所以威廉的网站吸引巨大的流量的潜力就显而易见了。

别忘了,最初的测试已经证明这些粉丝很有激情,参与度高。那么应该相信他们会点击这些链接。

我问威廉,能不能看一下实时流量,以便了解这种Facebook模式有多大的威力。

如下图所示,在网站的2224名访客之中,有1673人由Facebook引导而来(占比约75%)。

全年的流量来源看来也和实时来源相似。

第七步:聘请自由职业者加快生产内容

“有了我自己控制的Facebook粉丝专页之后,最重要的就是提供足够的内容满足用户的需求。”

为此,威廉聘请了自由职业撰稿人。

撰稿人写每篇文章收10美元,单篇文章的篇幅必须不少于350字,目标是每天发布30篇文章。

第八步:培养自给自足的系统,开始将网站的盈利用于自身发展。

将网站展示广告获得的收入用于购买Facebook的广告。通过广告吸引更多客户加入Facebook粉丝专页,为网站带来更多的流量,进一步提高广告收入,然后再用将广告收入买Facebook的广告。

第九步:离开Facebook之后如何成长

“没有模式能一成不变,这种策略也不例外。就像谷歌按点击付费的在线广告Google Adwords一样,Facebook广告的成本也会上升到一定水平,届时这种策略就没法盈利了。因此,要创建一个电邮发件名录,并且在生产内容时考虑到SEO(搜索引擎优化)。当现有模式不能持续时,这两种方法还是能保证盈利。否则更简单,在模式失效卖掉网站。”

“一般等到Facebook模式无法带来增长时,我的网站已经很值钱了。”

经验教训

Facebook刚刚修改了动态消息的演算法,这已经不是秘密。可能今后还会改。此举说明,像威廉那样依靠外部平台推动流量存在风险,很可能这种模式的好日子已经过去了。

但这篇文章讨论的不是赚钱模式,不是吗?核心是威廉。

这篇文章的重点是一个人创建了大多数人都觉得很低级,一点也不重要的网站。而他却凭借这种网站累积了巨大财富。我发现他的职业道德和思维方式很吸引人。我甚至有些希望过那种生活。

同时,机械地开拓业务不太像我喜欢创业方式。也许我更喜欢有创意的创业方式,总是执行没法给我带来想出新点子的快感。又或者我只是讨厌一味吸引点击量的网站。

且不论我喜不喜欢,至少威廉的故事已经证明,赚百万美元未必需要多么天才的创意。有时,你需要的只是一个可操作的流程。一切都从迈出第一步开始。(财富中文网)

译者:Pessy

校对:夏林

Of course you have. Me too. But I’m lazy. And selfishly, I’ve always hoped someone would give me the formula for getting started — a recipe to follow, step-by-step. I’ve dreamed of being shown some kind of a roadmap to millions.

However, over the years I began to realize that there is no roadmap. The formula for building a successful business doesn’t exist.

That is, until a week ago, when I was introduced to William, one of the most interesting business owners I’ve ever met.

William is the founder of something we all know about but refuse to admit we use: a clickbait website. In fact, he’s started multiple.

His most successful sites are worth millions of dollars, they only require $5k (and a couple months of William’s time) to launch, and are built using the same exact formula.

William isn’t his real name, by the way. He asked that I keep that a secret. But everything else he told me, I’m telling you.

I’ll begin with the first email I received from him, which as you will see, took me by surprise…

The email

To: HOLLER@hustlecon.com

From: A totally random email we had never seen before

Hello,

I’ve been reading The Hustle for months and really love what you guys are doing. As you continue to grow your business, perhaps I could be of assistance?

I’ve started numerous websites, many of which are worth millions of dollars. I have very little experience in digital media and produce none of the content on my websites myself. Instead, I have developed a formula, which relies heavily on Facebook, that helps me identify the right types of websites to build and drives lots of traffic to them once they’re up and running.

As an example, one of my most successful websites was launched approximately a year ago.

Since then, I’ve had over 100 million pageviews and 13 million unique users. Last month I had 3.5 million uniques alone. I have no marketing team, no sales team, and no investment money. A total of two people are employed full-time for this site. One is an editor and the other is my assistant.

I really believe in your product and would love to help you guys. Do you have a social team that would want some advice?

I live nearby so I’d love to come in and meet the team. Keep up the great work.

Best,

William

Alright, so obviously this reeked of bullshit.

The guy happened to live “nearby” and had a formula for making millions of dollars. Worst of all, the numbers were outlandishly high.

For those unfamiliar with web traffic metrics, 100+ million total pageviews and 3.5 million monthly users a year after launching is insane, especially with no investment.

As a comparison, it took Business Insider over a year to reach its first one million monthly users (again, last month William had 3.5 million).

Business Insider now has 70 million users a month, 300+ employees, and recently sold for close to $500 million.

Ever heard of BuzzFeed?

Two years after launching, BuzzFeed was averaging just700k monthly users. Now it’s worth close to $2 billion.

So, despite being suspicious of William’s claims, he had certainly caught my attention. If this guy was telling the truth, not only did I want his advice, but also his story.

I wrote back, telling him I’d love to meet.

The meeting

William came to our office a few days later. He was a nice guy, with a thick Dutch accent and great surfer-style hair.

We talked for a few minutes about William’s childhood (he dropped out of high school in Amsterdam at 15 to become a DJ), his past work experience (he was a party planner for years), and how he had heard about us (he attended Hustle Con last year).

After the small talk ended, I wasted very little time in getting to the good stuff.

Let’s see those traffic numbers!

William logged into Google Analytics and instantly confirmed what I thought was impossible, or at least an exaggeration.

100+ million pageviews? Check.

3.5 million monthly users a year after launch? Check.

William converted MAU data from Excel to create this graph for me

Then we started talking about revenue. As I’d come to expect, William was incredibly transparent.

Each month, he invests $30k into the business and makes $220k in profit. Advertisements are his main revenue stream, which would make sense considering the traffic numbers.

And while $220k a month seemed a little high at first, some simple math proved it was actually quite realistic.

The average CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) for display ads in 2015 was $2.80. With 100+ million users, that’s over $280k annually from one ad alone (and $23k per month).

Considering he features multiple ads on each page, sells ad space on his email newsletter (which is much more lucrative), and only has two full-time employees to pay, William’s numbers add up.

The formula

The final question I had for William was about “the formula.” He had initially mentioned it in his email and it had come up a few times since, but I needed more details.

He said this formula was something he had created, almost unintentionally, after starting his first few websites. He knew very little about digital media in those early days, relying entirely on his understanding of Facebook FB -0.14% instead.

He was adamant about its effectiveness and said that every million-dollar website he had created was started using the formula.

But he also maintained that it was his own hard work that led to his success and that he wasn’t too worried about copycats if he were to divulge the recipe.

So, I asked him if he would.

Ladies and gentlemen… the pathway to millions:

Step 1: Select 10 niche markets

The groups of people must be passionate and engaged. Some examples William gave were MMA fans, eSports fans, and people who watch Game of Thrones.

A few that he had tried in the past that hadn’t ended up working out included wrestling fans, hip-hop fans, and politics. Reasons for failure included lack of engagement and too many existing websites serving the same purpose.

Step 2: Create a Facebook Fan Page for each market

Start advertising in order to buy Facebook likes.

For instance, if you chose MMA fans as your target demographic, the page should be called, “Fans of MMA” or something just as non-specific.

William spends around $200 on each niche market, but the number doesn’t matter so long as you keep it consistent across the board.

Why? Because all you’re doing here is trying to identify your “winner,” which is whatever niche market produces the highest engagement and lowest cost of likes. William said that it’s a great sign if you’re able to buy likes for under five cents. However, his most profitable site was able to buy likes for a penny.

Step 3: Post other people’s content on your pages

Since this is still the “testing phase,” your content doesn’t need to be groundbreaking. In fact, feel free to straight up steal it from similar pages if you want. That’s what William did initially.

“When I first started doing this, I didn’t speak English well enough to make my own captions. On top of that, it wasn’t like I really knew anything about the groups of fans I was targeting. So, I would find similar Facebook Fan Pages, see which posts were doing well, copy them exactly, and post them in mine.”

Step 4: Pick a winner, buy a domain, and build the WordPress site

Here’s where things start to take shape. You’ve selected the market you’re going to create content for, now all you need is the website where you’ll be posting your articles.

William doesn’t know much about building websites. Thankfully, there’s a formula for that, too.

“Getting a website up and running is incredibly easy nowadays – and cheap. Go to GoDaddy and buy a domain name, which comes with WordPress hosting. It’s like $5 a month. GoDaddy installs WordPress for you.”

“Then, go to a site like www.themeforest.net and pick out a ‘theme’ that you like. These cost anywhere from $40 to $60. I’ll usually hire a developer for cheap on Upwork or Elance to install the theme and get the site ready for launch.”

Step 5: Hire an editor and start posting 2-3 articles per day

William uses Upwork to hire an editor.

This is a full-time position but can be done remotely (the editor for his newest site is based out of New York).

In the beginning, it’s all about finding the type of content that gets the most clicks.

“Similarly to the way I look at other Facebook Fan Pages to see what content is doing well, I’ll research other websites and pick their best-performing articles. Then I send the links to my editor and tell them to write an article on the same exact topic. She’ll write the article, or she’ll assign it to one of her Upwork writers.”

The expectation is 2-3 articles per day to start, all shared on the Facebook Fan Page.

“Once you start producing content, make sure you have Google Analytics installed so you can see how certain articles are performing. Don’t just look at the number of clicks to a specific page. Look at how long users are on the page and whether or not they click to another page or leave the site. Let the data speak to what the readers like.”

Step 6: Create (if they don’t exist) or buy (if they do) more targeted Facebook Fan Pages

This is, without a doubt, the most crucial step. The foundation has been laid, now it’s time to build the house.

“When I say ‘more targeted’ Facebook Fan Pages, I mean more specific niches within the overall market you’re serving. For example, if you’ve created a website for fans of crime TV shows, you want to start creating or buying (from current owners) the pages for fans of CSI, Law & Order, etc.”

Though I can’t divulge the name of William’s most successful website or the market it caters to, I can tell you that it’s comparable to someone owning the fan pages for not only CSI and Law & Order fans, but of every single crime show on television.

Here’s an example of one of William’s more “targeted” fan pages:

Every link shared in this group leads back to William’s site. It’s also one of many within this niche market, so the potential for huge traffic numbers is abundantly clear.

And remember, the original test was to prove that these fans are passionate and engaged. So, you better believe they’re clicking on the links.

I asked if we could take a look at real-time traffic to see just how powerful this Facebook model was.

As you can see, 1,673 out of the 2,224 people on the site had arrived via Facebook (roughly 75%).

The traffic sources over the course of a full year looked similar:

Step 7: Hire freelancers to ramp up content production

“Once I have the Facebook Fan Pages under my control, the most important thing is to provide enough content to satisfy people’s needs.”

To do this, William hires freelance writers.

Each writer is paid $10 per article and each article must be at least 350 words. The goal is 30 articles per day in total.

Step 8: Start investing money back into the business in order to build a self-sustaining ecosystem

Invest money from display ads on the website into buying Facebook advertisements. As more people join the Facebook Fan Pages via these ads, more traffic comes to the site and more ad revenue is generated, which is then invested back into Facebook advertisements.

Step 9: Life after Facebook

“Nothing lasts forever and this strategy is no exception. Just like with Google Adwords, the cost of Facebook Ads will increase to a point where this strategy simply does not work anymore. So building an email list and thinking about SEO when crafting content is important, and both will be beneficial when that day arrives. Or you could always sell your site before that happens.”

“By the time this Facebook model becomes ineffective for growth, my websites are normally worth a good deal of money.”

Takeaway

It’s no secret that Facebook just changed its News Feed algorithm — and probably will again in the future. This illustrates the danger in relying on an outside platform to drive traffic like William does, and most likely means that this formula has already seen its best days.

But this story isn’t about the formula, is it? It’s about William.

It’s about a guy who creates websites that most of us ignore because they look sleazy and aren’t something to be proud of. However, he is making massive amounts of money doing it and I find his work ethic and mindset to be fascinating. Part of me wants to live that life.

At the same time, building businesses in machine-like fashion just doesn’t seem like something I’d enjoy doing. Perhaps I’m more of the creative type and just don’t get the same thrill out of execution that I do from generating new ideas. Or maybe I just hate clickbait sites.

Regardless, William’s story proves that you don’t need some genius idea to make millions of dollars. Sometimes, all you need is a process. And it all starts with Step #1.

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