Starting a New Business After Retirement

Discussion in 'Self Employment' started by Ruth Belena, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. Ruth Belena

    Ruth Belena Active Member
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    By the time we retire most of us will have some knowledge and experience that could be put to good use by starting a new business.

    Each time I've done this in the past I've been able to make a small profit. I never suffered a loss in any of my ventures. Now I'm thinking that I would not mind running a non-profit business when I have pension money to live on.

    I hope to have plenty of work to keep me busy until I qualify for my pension, but my present self-employment does not involve the excitement and challenge of getting a new business established. I miss those days when my life was 100% involved in marketing my own business.

    For me it would have to be an Internet business, because I've learned a lot more about marketing since I last created a business website for myself.

    Have you thought of doing something similar, or have you already started a new business after retirement?
     
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  2. John Stone

    John Stone Member
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    I'm on the same path. I'm looking at setting up blogs, websites, etc. for a diverse source of web based income. The way I see it is it's better to start sooner rather than later since it takes some time to build traffic. So I've been starting out small and learning to build websites and get them out there so they "season" and can start to get some traffic. I'd like to hear from other people on here that are trying something like this since it seems building traffic isn't as easy as it sounds.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Building traffic is a part of what I do for a living. However, despite what some self-proclaimed "SEO gurus" will tell you, the most important component in getting your site found on the Internet is to provide something worth finding, so you would start with building a content-rich site.

    You do not need to learn HTML or CSS in order to build an effective website. Although security measures are required, WordPress is an excellent platform for a website, and there are enough themes available that you don't need to learn to create your own. I would recommend using a premium (paid) theme rather than a free one, although that's not absolutely essential, and you can switch themes later if you want to.

    There are also several WYSIWYG web editors available, and I'd be happy to recommend some. Whatever you use, you will want to make sure that any site you build is responsive, which means that the content will adjust to fit varying screen sizes, from a wide-screen computer monitor to a smart phone. Not all WordPress themes are responsive. It's not just a matter of wanting your site to be viewed easily on small screens, but Google has begun penalizing sites that are not responsive.

    From your posts, it is clear that this forum is inhabited by people who an incredible array of experiences and knowledge, and who have the ability to write coherently. The key to making money online is to choose a topic that interests you, if only momentarily. Whenever you take an interest in something, research it and build a site about it. Even if you lose your interest in the topic later, you will have a site up that will be making money. I have sites on hardtack, Upper Peninsula pasties, UP cuisine, Bible resources, ocelots, reactive attachment disorder, and web directories, to name just a few, as well as small cities and towns in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and in North Dakota, and I have never even visited any of these places in North Dakota.

    For my North Dakota sites, I would look for histories of these towns on eBay or Amazon,com. Many towns will publish histories for their centennial or bicentennial celebrations, and these are often not copyrighted. If I can find one online for an affordable price, I will buy it, and use it as a basis for my site, not copying the words but using the information, as well as some of the photographs. Then I would put the site up with a request for digital copies of photos, information, or anything else that could be added to the site, and people will often send me copies of family photos or current photographs of the area. I have also gotten some photos from the street view in Google Earth, which is allowable as long as you retain their watermark.

    In this way, I have built sites with more than three hundred pages about towns with populations of less than one hundred, which I have never even visited. Once I am done with them, I can resell the books on eBay, sometimes for more than I paid for it.

    Never, ever get so hung up in monetizing a site that you load it down with ads, as that is a common mistake that people use. Rather, I would add one small Google AdSense block per page and use my Amazon.com associate account to link to any books that relate to that town or the surrounding area. It's best to build the site, upload it to your server, and wait until you have some traffic before you monetize it at all.

    Domains cost only a few dollars a year, and you can get a good shared hosting account for a few dollars a month. Get one that will allow you to host multiple accounts. I have 40-50 domains hosted on one shared hosting account, and I have five shared hosting accounts, the other four hosting sites like my directory sites, this forum, another forum that I have, and a blog.

    Also significant, choose a niche topic. If you choose a niche topic that doesn't have a lot of competition, you can dominate the search results without having to invest a lot of money into it. For example, if I were to create a site about New York City, I'd have to spend a lot of money in order to compete with all of the other professional sites that are about NYC, but when I create a site about Ypsilanti, North Dakota (population 168), my expenses are far less.

    Be very careful about hiring an SEO firm. Mos of them are scams and if you choose a niche topic, you shouldn't need to spend a great deal of money to promote your site, although you will want to put some money aside for marketing at some point.

    Neither Google or Amazon.com will approve you for an account until your site has traffic so worry about your content first, then see what you can accomplish as far as traffic goes without spending any money on it.
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    If you are using WordPress as a platform for your site, you will need to decide whether you want your site to be viewed as a blog or as a website, as there are advantages and disadvantages to either.

    Blogs are readily indexed by search engines, and tend to place well if blog articles are focused on one particular topic. However, blog entries are dated and people seldom go back to read older blog articles. New articles have to be added regularly, and a blog is seen as being dead if nothing new has been added for a couple of weeks.

    There are WordPress themes that are designed to be used as websites rather than as blogs, the most significant difference being that articles are not dated. In the business, we refer to such articles as being evergreen. Blogs are generally indexed more regularly and readily than regular websites, perhaps because the search engine algorithms are designed to expect frequent new content from a blog. If you have a regular website, you should still add new material every now and then but you don't have to do so every day, or even every month. I have sites that I haven't touched in seven years that are still doing fine.

    If you want to concentrate all your efforts on one site, you might think about a blog. However, if you are interested in having several sites online, you will want them to be regular websites because it's harder than most people realize to keep up one blog, let along several of them. Some people do it, however.
     
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  5. John Stone

    John Stone Member
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    Thanks for the tips Ken. That's some gold there. One thing I've noticed lately is that some websites have both a main evergreen web page and also a blog. From what you said, it sounds like they may be trying to hit both types of SEO which may be a good idea. I did sign up for an Amazon affiliate account a while back and forgot about it for a while. After a few months they sent me an email saying it had been suspended, if I remember correctly, due to lack of sales or maybe just activity. I'm definitely going to try it again though after things get a little busier.

    I'm curious, do you think adding Google Ads to your site helps raise it in the rankings?
     
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I have tried countless affiliate marketing programs but the only ones that have been worthwhile are Amazon.com and AdSense, although the latter is really a PPC program, as you are paid every time someone click on the ad, whether or not they buy anything. A caveat here though, Google is uncannily good at catching anyone cheating AdSense. I clicked two of my ads once from a hotel computer and got a warning from Google, and that was years ago; I'm sure they've improved their systems since then.

    Another thing to consider when it comes to Google AdSense is that you are paid a percentage of what the advertiser has bid for the placement, so the ads that appear on top are the ones that will pay you the most. Because of this, I usually have only one AdSense block, of the smallest size. In that way, there isn't much of an advertising footprint on my page and the one ad that does appear will always be the one that will pay the most.

    In making money through Amazon.com, it's best to look for a book or product that will offer further information about whatever topic you are talking about on your page. Someone who is interested in reading about that topic may be interested in learning more about it by buying a book. Given a choice between hardcover, paperback, and Kindle edition, I generally advertise the paperback. Given the difference in price, someone is more likely to click on an ad for a paperback price than for a hardcover price and, although many people will be interested in a Kindle price, the amount that I would get for it would be to small to be worth the space on my page for the advertisement. Plus, if they click on my paperback ad and decide to buy it in hardback or in Kindle, I'm still paid for it.
     
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  7. John Stone

    John Stone Member
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    Thanks Ken. That's some great information. I think I need to try setting up some evergreen niche sites. Up to now I've just been using blogs which as you know are a lot of work, especially if you're in a non-niche area. Probably better to start as a small fish in a small pond.
     
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  8. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I don't know if this is something that you could adapt or not but I'll throw it out anyhow. One of the things that I do for a living is edit web directories. During my job, when I come across a web directory category that I am having trouble finding sites for, I know that I have a topic that there is some demand for, and which is currently under-served. If the topic is something that I could take an interest in, it might be a good niche choice. Not only is the target unsaturated but, since I work for some of the better web directories, I know that this is a topic that may well find its way into web directories for free.

    Let me stop here and explain myself, for those who may be unfamiliar with the web directory industry. There are a lot of junk directories, but I don't bother with them. In a reputable directory, from 90-98% of listed sites were added for free by directory editors, not submitted through the directory's paid submission process. Searching for these sites and listing them is what I am paid to do. So if you look at some of the better directories (Best of the Web, Aviva Directory, Directory Journal, DMOZ) and find categories that have no listed sites, or only a few listed sites, you might be on the trail of something. First though, do a search on the category's topic because there might already be a lot of sites in that niche, which are just not yet listed in that particular directory. If you are not finding very many, or if you know you can produce something better than the ones that are available, that might be a good niche topic.

    For example, I enjoy learning about small towns and communities. I also spend most of my editing time building up the regional categories in the directories that I work for. So when I was seeding the categories for North Dakota, I came across some communities that I couldn't find many sites for. Some directories require only one good site in order to create a category, while others require five, ten, or twenty. Putting my love for small towns together with my work in web directories, I could spot some good niches. Ypsilanti, North Dakota, with a population of something like 160 people, and Roseglen, with only about 60 people: I couldn't find very many sites for either of these places.

    Next, I had to determine whether there was a market for it. Searching for Ypsilanti on eBay, I could see that they had produced a sixty page history of the town for their centennial in 1982, and a reunion book for their school reunion celebration that same year, since that was also the year that the town's last school was closing. I bought these books on eBay. In 1967, the people of Roseglen published a 150+-page book for their fifty-year celebration, and that for a town that now had a population of less than a hundred.

    Knowing that I had information to use for the sites, I bought the domains. Of course, whatever the status of the copyrights on these books, it wouldn't be nice to copy them verbatim, but it is fair to use the information as a base, and I did that. Although neither of these places had official town sites, I could find that they once had one through the Internet Archive, and was able to access their now defunct sites, which gave me further information that I could use. I visited both towns through Google Earth's street view and got some more recent photos, which can be used as long as the Google Earth watermark is not tampered with, and I bought some postcards, photographs, and other stuff on eBay and Amazon.com.

    Once I had enough stuff to put up a site I did that, with a plea for people to help contribute to the site by sending digital copies of photos, historical or current, as well as any other information or resources. As people did that, I was able to add more stuff to the sites. I have done this now for several North Dakota towns, and have the information and domains for some others.

    Although Roseglen has fewer than a hundred people currently living there, any community that can produce a 350-page book for its fifty-year anniversary is a community that consists of people who, although they no longer live in Roseglen, and may only know of the town because their parents grew up there, or their grandparents homesteaded there, these are people who will search for information on Roseglen from time to time. When they come across my site, they will share it with others by email or Facebook. If they have a site, they might link to it.

    Plus, since I had already determined that Roseglen and Ypsilanti were regional categories that were in need of sites, the chances are very good that directory editors, other than myself, will add my sites to these directories for free, giving me additional back-links.

    You won't necessarily be interested in writing about small towns but if you were to search through some of the better directories, you will no doubt come across categories on topics that are under-represented, and which you might be interested in. In order to build a site, this doesn't have to be a long-term interest, either. While I was living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, there was a news story about an ocelot being seen in the area. What's an ocelot, I wondered? Rather than simply looking it up, I researched it and built a site on ocelots. I haven't even seen an ocelot in a zoo, but my site gets some Google clicks and sells books through Amazon.com from time to time. I got to learn about ocelots as an added advantage.

    One thing my wife and I wanted to do, and may still do, is travel to different places around the country, spending 28 days in each. While we are there, I would take photos around town, and research the town's history at the nearest library or historical society, and maybe interview people. My wife, being more gregarious, would make contact with businesses around town, looking for sponsorships or advertisements. At night, we would begin the work of putting that section of the site together. An added advantage would be that the whole trip would be tax deductible.

    Everyone here has talents and interests that could be put together to create something that they could earn some money from. In all likelihood, you won't get to a point where you are earning a living from it, from one site, but I suppose it could happen.
     
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  9. John Stone

    John Stone Member
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    Thanks again for sharing Ken. Those are some fantastic tips I've never heard before. I will certainly look into the directory approach. The main areas I've been focusing on are technology and business related, which are pretty saturated to say the least.
     
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  10. John Stone

    John Stone Member
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    I just wanted to add - I'm probably eventually going to try the "landing page" / mailing list approach to affiliate or info marketing. This seems to work for a lot of people if they get into the right area. Once again, it's a question of determining a market that has demand. I do know a guy that has a gambling method landing page that sell an e-book and makes around $1,000 a month from it. That type of thing is more pure sales and marketing and some of the products are of questionable value, but they seem to rake in the cash from small impulse buys.
     
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  11. Teresita Campaner

    Teresita Campaner Active Member
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    I'm really looking forward to my retirement by next year, I hope. My older sister retired two years ago, she opted to get her lump sum for five years pension and unfortunately spent it in one year's time. Because of that, i am weighing my options carefully, and thought i would choose the first option of getting the pension on a monthly basis instead of lump sum money.
     
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  12. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    @Ken. This is all intriguing to me. Though when it comes to blogs, domains, I would have to take 'Class 101'. I would have to jump on someone's bandwagon.

    What would you advise to someone who is interested but doesn't have an inkling on where to start?
     
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Domains cost only about $10 a year, give or take a few, and you can get basic web hosting for a few dollars a month. As for putting the site together, short of learning CSS and HTML, you have a couple of good choices.

    WordPress is free, and there are several good themes available, either for free or for a reasonable cost. There is a little bit of a learning curve but as long as you're not looking to something fancy, it's not too hard to figure out. WordPress was built as a blogging platform but, more and more, people are starting to use it for regular websites.

    There are also several WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) web editors available. For a PC, I recommend NetObjects Fusion, although there are others. I used NOF before I switched to a Mac, and we recently bought a PC just so that we could have access to the program. For a Mac, I would recommend Sandvox or Rapidweaver, both of which are fairly easy. There are a lot of third-party addons available for Rapidweaver that can greatly expand what can be done with it. There are free editors available also, but I don't know that much about them.

    Whichever you use, it's best these days to make sure that your site uses a responsive design, which is one that will reconfigure itself to match different screen sizes, such as this forum does.
     
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