The 10 Laws Behind Every Million-Dollar Website (That You’re Probably NOT Following)

Written by Scott April 17, 2012

how to build a million dollar website

“Find what makes others successful. Follow closely. Watch what happens.”

~Unknown Entrepreneur

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Today’s the third (and final) part to our “Building Your Thriving Online Audience” series, so we’re going to talk about the things you absolutely must do if you’re serious about building a following online.

Because, as we talked about last week, so many people seem to be taking exactly the wrong steps.

Let’s change that.

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Focusing on a Few Things that Work…

Wow – I just got off an awesome Webinar with mentor and Living Legend, Corbett Barr (creator of the Million Dollar Blog Project and Think Traffic), where he discussed his Thriving Audience Framework, the full strategy he used to build a following of over 2m in the past two years (and help turn Live Your Legend into the business it is today).

I don’t know how I still learn so much every time I spend time around this guy, but I love that I now have 4 more pages of notes on audience building!

What do successful websites do so differently than the ones that get zero traction?

Why does it seem so easy for some people to build a huge online audience and business, while other people constantly struggle?

When it comes to building an online following, this is the ultimate question.

First off, it’s never easy. But it can be simple…

The simple difference between the “have’s” and “have nothing’s”, is the rockstars follow a proven process guided by people who know this stuff incredibly well (you wonder why I like hanging around Corbett so much ;)).

In the past few years, I’ve made a pretty deep study of what have caused the biggest sites, blogs and movements in the world (from single-author blog phenoms like Tim Ferriss’4-Hour Blog, Leo’s ZenHabits and Corbett’s work at Think Traffic and Expert Enough, to huge company sites like Google, Amazon or Drudge Report).

And more importantly, I’ve surrounded myself with guys who know this stuff cold.

And I have good news…

Every successful website follows the same 10 laws in one way or another.

I don’t care if you have a non-profit, a for-profit, a blog about your three-legged dog, or a site for your bike shop down the street – it’s time to start spending our energy where it actually makes a difference.

So let’s get to it…

The 10 Laws Behind Every Hugely Successful Website (and passionate audience):

“If it’s a decision between what will make a little more money now & what will build upon the 30-year vision, I will always side with the latter.”

-Any entrepreneur who’s built something meaningful

I. Build Your Foundation

1. Do things for the right reasons. Mindset is everything. Why do you want to have a successful site or following? Hint: no one who has experienced meaningful success, did it for the money. They did it because they loved the nature of the work, wanted to help people in a certain way, or had a dying belief they wanted to share. Money may be important, but if it’s the first priority, then you’ll likely fail, give up or both. You can do anything with the right motivations. If you can’t find them for your current project, then find a project you actually care about.

2. Know who you’re helping (and who you’re not). Stop thinking you can be something to everyone. You can’t. Amazon knows they aren’t catering to the guy who loves to support the local business. And they’re fine with that. I have super detailed profile descriptions of who I’m trying to help at Live Your Legend. If you don’t know who you’re helping, how can you actually create something they want?

3. Nail the branding and design. Naming and branding is not just a box to check. It’s your most important fist impression and it ties the whole message together. I spent 3 months figuring out the Live Your Legend brand (including two weeks unplugged in Patagonia). It’s hard for people to take you seriously if you have a shitty design, confusing branding or look like everyone else. If you’re going to spend money on anything, hire a designer (that’s the only thing I paid for in creating LYL and it was the best few grand I could have spent). It can buy you the most precious few seconds in the business world – the first ones. Present an image that makes people want to respect you.

4. Create an uber-easy way for them to join your cause. A good friend of mine recently got a ton of traffic from a big site, but he had no clear way for someone to subscribe or join his movement. Can you guess what happened? Make it crazy easy for people to join. Even the slightest confusion will likely lose someone – another reason why design/usability are HUGE. Notice how I do it on LYL or how so many others do it. If you want an audience, then give them a seat to sit in (and make it damn comfy).

Explosive growth

II. Deliver Massive Value

5. There is no substitute for world-changing content. You must help, entertain or inspire your audience – change their life. As Corbett says, “Write Epic Shit,” or more generally, “Create Epic Shit”. The intersection of your passion, unique talents and a market who needs it, is how you can offer the world a level of value that will blow their face off (in a good way).

You can’t spend your way out of this one either. It comes from you, and it takes work every single day to get ever better at recognizing pain and creating things that remove it. That might be a product, an app, an article, a coaching session or whatever. Do it with more heart than anyone in the world. Don’t expect to always nail it, but create with that intention every single time.

6. Constantly reinforce your reason for being. Don’t assume that every visitor has read every word of your last 150 articles. Always remind them of your Why – of the movement you’re leading and how you’re trying to help. I talk about audience-building on this site because it’s a huge part of being able to do work you love. Don’t assume anything – and don’t let people forget why you’re here.

7. Do the things that make people pay attention. I spend nearly 50% of my article writing time on the headline. No joke. Because the 80/20 truth is that no matter how powerful my content is, if no one wants to open an email or click a link, it’s like sprinting in wet concrete. Spend days, hours or months understanding the 20% that will grab 80% of the attention. Product names and headlines are just the start.

III. Magnify Value with the Right Promotion

8. Pick the right strategy. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, SEO, networking, PR, you name it. Try to do them all and they’ll all suck (you’ll also want to jump off a bridge). Know your audience, your market and the value you’re providing, then pick the strategy and tactics that are most aligned. For starters, see what’s worked for others in your space.

9. Do one thing over and over and over again. The most successful people in the world don’t do it all. They don’t even come close. In fact their success is usually a direct function of how many things they decide not to do. Focus changes everything. As soon as I noticed the power of guest posting, I did 22 articles in 3 months. My audience increased by nearly 10x. Do one thing that works. Tune out the rest.

10. The Magic Is in the Combination.

Adding massive value won’t get you anywhere if there is no foundation that allows people to experience it.

People won’t pay attention if you don’t offer massive value.

And no one will show up in the first place if you don’t nail the promotion.

These 10 laws won’t do a damn thing by themselves.

That’s why Corbett calls it the Thriving Audience Framework. One on its own is unnoticeable. Together they’re unbeatable.

This is what separates the truly extraordinary sites and followings from the millions that come and go every day.

How to stand out

The ‘Standing Out’ will take care of itself

You notice none of the above points were “differentiate” or “nail your unique selling proposition”. Yes, those things are a must, but they also cannot happen unless you hit every law.

Work your ass off to do it all and you’ll never have to worry about standing out again. 

There is always a market for quality. There always will be.

The average blog lasts 3 months.

That does not have to be you.

With the right approach, you can create an audience that can literally change the world.

My thriving audience changed everything

It’s allowed me to spread a message I deeply believe in.

To help others support and grow their cause.

To make friends in parts of the world I’d never heard of.

To do the work I love from anywhere on the planet.

To create the ultimate job security.

And to live a legend I used to only dream of.

What will you do with your audience?

-Scott

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