How I Started a Home Based Business in 3 Days

Posted in Case Studies By Sam Applegate

ppc advertising - keyword research - google adwords - landing page optimisation


My girlfriend was moaning (as usual) about her job the other day. She works in a customer-facing role and sometimes really doesn't want to get out of bed.

We've all had that feeling right? But because I'm such a nice boyfriend, I decided to try and do something about it (plus it meant I might get some peace and quiet).

I thought I'd write about the whole experience, and hopefully inspire some people out there into starting a home based business for themselves.

So, how to start an online business in just 3 days using Google Adwords? Well it's by no means perfect. I would much prefer to spend 3 months doing this properly, including an organic SEO strategy complete with link building and social networking. However, I really wanted to shut my girlfriend up quickly, so this is what I did.

Think of a Service You Can Provide Remotely

I started by coming up with a list of simple Internet business ideas. As I work in SEO, I know a whole bunch of jobs which don't require a 'rocket scientist' brain, but are in high demand around the web. Here's my list of work-from-home ideas I produced a couple of weeks ago.

So it's not the best list in the world, basically because I had kind of decided on content writing already. There's a growing market for content writers and more and more business owners realise they need to add regular, fresh content to their websites to get up those SERPs. Plus Leila is degree educated, so can rite gud English, init.

Obviously, feel free to come up with your own home business ideas. Remember you need to think of something you can do remotely, from the comfort of your own home, and preferably deliver via email to the client.

Perform Keyword Research

Next I set about building a keyword list. When doing keyword research you need to think about all the different possible keywords or keyphrases that searchers might use to find your service.

Remember we are doing this in 3 days, so we're ignoring organic traffic sources and focusing on paid traffic. In reality it would be preferable to look at the organic competitors and build an overall SEO strategy, but to start getting traffic in just 3 days I'm only looking at PPC.

There are a couple of approaches you can use to build your keyword list. First, just sit down with a pen and paper, and think about what YOU would search for if looking for a particular service. The obvious ones for me were 'content writer', 'article writer', 'seo content writer', 'seo article writer', 'online content writer'.. the list goes on. When I started using synonyms such as copywriter, blog writer.. I almost reached 100 before I stopped.

Next, I loaded up the Google Adwords Keyword Tool and typed in my most obvious keyword 'content writer'. The tool is great for getting new ideas, and checking you haven't missed anything obvious.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool

How to Build a Google Adwords Campaign

Right, I had my idea. I had my keyword list. Now I just needed to throw it all into an Adwords Campaign.

When using PPC advertising (especially Google Adwords) it's very important to display highly targeted adverts for each specific keyword. We want our CTR to be as high as possible, making our Quality Score strong so we'll pay less for each click. It's therefore necessary to create separate ad groups for almost every exact match keyword.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it's really worth it. To be honest, for me this is where the bulk of the work lies. Spend a lot of time on your Adwords Campaign and reap the benefits later.

Probably for a small campaign like this, it's fine to work with the online Adwords interface. However, because I've done this a lot, I can work much quicker using an excel spreadsheet. I've written macros which organise all the data and then upload the campaign using the Offline Adwords Editor.

I also came up with a selection of different ad text as it's very important to A/B split test adverts. You should have 2 adverts being displayed for each adgroup, then manually check which advert has the highest CTR, pause the losing ad and try another. Make sure you have a big enough sample size of data before coming to any conclusions and deleting adverts. More on this later.

I think the actual adverts you display are super important. Most PPC markets are saturated and highly competitive. i.e. there are dozens of companies competing against you, all offering the same service, all stealing your clicks. But this is where you have to get creative and see this as an opportunity. Try to write something unique. You need something which sets you apart from the crowd, so you can increase the all important CTR and lower costs.

I decided that Leila would kindly write 250 words of content for free. The idea being that this would generate the leads and she'd do such a good job, they'd come back for more. This gives me a USP to put on my adverts.

Google Advert Example

The above advert was used for my [seo copywriter] keyword. As you can see I've included this keyword twice in the ad to keep it specific.

And yes, I've revealed my finished website! Feel free to have a quick look.

This leads me nicely onto...

Create Your Landing Page

You must have one thing in mind when creating a landing page. You've guessed it. CONVERSION. Every decision you make on designing this page should be geared towards increasing your on site conversion rate.

Now, I could write a book on this topic alone, so obviously can't cover everything. But basically I made a mini site which had my email capture form on every page, and above the fold.

I gave the user no reason to click back. I made it clear and simple and tried to reassure the user (and Google) that I was genuine by having detailed privacy policy and terms and conditions pages.

An example of a landing page

Furthermore, I made the email capture form easy to complete (single element), made it stand out by designing it with darker colours, and had a bright green submit button. Basically you can't miss it.

Rinse and Repeat

Finally, after getting everything setup and going live, you might think this is the end. But no! This is actually the beginning. I had about 100 keywords sat there sending me traffic, expensive traffic. Furthermore, I had a terrible 3% conversion rate. I needed to get this keyword list down to around 5 or 10 golden nuggets. Keywords which I can get cheap traffic, high CTR, and high conversion. The only way to do this is through trial and error.

You need to install Adwords conversion tracking and place the code on the 'thank you' page of your site, so it records a conversion in Adwords every time the form has been completed. If you don't know which keywords are resulting in the conversions you are flying in the dark and have no chance.

If you have any phrase match keywords, you need to check for any irrelevant keywords which are getting clicks, and remove them by inserting negative keywords in your campaign. For example, if you were phrase matching 'content writing', and your ad was appearing for the search term 'content writing jobs', you need to be aware of this, and add 'jobs' as a negative keyword to further target your market. We don't offer jobs, so this is traffic is very irrelevant and will hurt your CTR (one of the reasons why I usually go for exact match keywords only).

I spent about £120.00 just testing out all these keywords and adverts. Once I had a good idea on which keywords were working well, I deleted many keywords from my list. I also found that clicks got cheaper and cheaper on the best performing keywords as Google got more confident with them by seeing they had a high CTR. A couple of days later, Leila has written 7 articles, 4 of which were paid for. 1 client wants repeat business and has given Leila a contract to produce 10 articles per month. But more importantly, she now moans less and can have the occasional lye in.

The benefit of content writing, is repeat business like this. Once we build up several long term contracts we can turn off our PPC adverting all together. If we find that we're running low on work, just switch it back on for a couple of days.

Well, I hope you found this interesting. I've completely rushed through many topics here, but would end up writing a book if I talked about every single aspect in detail. I guess the idea was to give a brief overview rather than a detailed guide. If you have any questions please fire away.

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Sam Applegate

About the Author

is a UK based SEO consultant. He is also a keen blogger, poker player, world traveller and fitness enthusiast. Read more on his about page.

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