In 2008, I saw the writing on the wall. My husband’s lucrative 18-year-old government contracts consulting practice was faltering. At age 64, his get up and go had got up and went, along with his long-term, dependable clientele. With two young teens at home, a large mortgage to maintain, private school tuition for two children and other debt obligations, it was obvious that I needed to do something to fill the income gap.
Over the previous nine years I had contributed a modest amount to our family finances by teaching yoga part-time, but I did not believe I could ever make enough money teaching yoga in our local community to satisfy our family’s real needs.
So, I set about researching alternatives.
Setting My Priorities
Having operated a local yoga studio for five years and seen the lion’s share of my earnings go out the door to pay for overhead costs of rent, insurance, advertising and marketing, I knew three things for sure:
1) I did not want a job that required me to report to a “higher authority,” work someone else’s hours or follow someone else’s rules.
2) I must be able to work from home so I could keep more of my earnings and be home with my family when they wanted and needed me.
3) There must be sufficient market demand for whatever I chose to do that I could realistically expect to make $10,000 per month or more within a reasonable period of time.
My online research led me down many rabbit holes as I pursued one tantalizing lead after another, promising ways to make a million dollars a month working four hours a week from an idyllic island paradise.
To make a long story short, I decided that helping local business owners market their businesses online was the best route to pursue.
Learning New Skills and a New Industry
But then I faced the next hurdle: With no real experience, real-life case examples or success stories to instill confidence in potential clients, how was I going to land my first paying client and grow from there?
Further research suggested that building an online business directory for our local community would be the perfect “foot in the door” strategy to grow my business. I had heard of other online directory publishers who were generating $20,000 and more per month through advertising income on their hyperlocal websites. If they could do it, surely I could too!
Once I decided to proceed with building an online community directory, I began to search for working models that I could emulate. More often than not, I felt baffled, confused, and overwhelmed by the technical knowledge required to build a successful community website. I learned about html coding, graphic design, web copywriting, and local search optimization strategies. Often, I felt like a female Don Quixote, tilting at windmills while chasing an elusive dream.
Benefits of Mentors and Business Partners
Somewhere along the line — I don’t recall how, exactly — I stumbled across Don Campbell’s name as a wordpress expert who specialized in local search and small business websites. I sent Don an email to see what he thought of wordpress as a platform for a directory website and I was pleasantly surprised when he invited me to call him to discuss my ideas in greater detail.
Don was very encouraging. He introduced me to the term “hyperlocal directory” and pointed me towards several websites that could serve as models. My online research also led me to another invaluable and knowledgeable helper who has become my “right hand guy” in this endeavor.
Al Smith lives halfway around the world, in Portugal, and we have only seen each other through our computer screens on skype, but he has been a tremendous helpmate. From the start, he has understood, supported and championed my vision. More importantly, he has translated my vision into reality, working with me tirelessly over the past three years to develop three separate hyperlocal web directory designs, each one better than the last.
Building a Portfolio
The act of creating these hyperlocal directories and showcasing them to local business owners has, ipso facto, established myself as a credible local expert in small business web design, web copywriting, local search optimization, and social media. I can point to my hyperlocal directory, WarrentonFavorites.com, as a living example of what I know about:
(1) how to build a website that works
(2) web copywriting
(3) local search optimization
(4) Facebook page and fan building. (My community website has more than 500 facebook fans — more than the two local chambers of commerce.)
In the next part of this series, I’ll discuss how I make money from my hyperlocal directory.
Today, Yvonne helps local businesses in Northern Virginia and elsewhere get a web presence that works. You can read more about Yvonne and see examples of her work at http://www.herbstmarketing.com and http://www.warrentonfavorites.com.
If you are interested in creating your own hyperlocal business directory and would like to save yourself thousands of hours of time and frustration in developing your own solution, you can hire Yvonne and Al to customize her local directory platform to your specifications. For more information, you can email Yvonne using this link.
You can read Yvonne’s review of the Small Biz WordPress Theme here:
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