Ruud Questions: Shana Albert

by Ruud Hein April 10th, 2009 

Shana Albert is a social media "phenomenon" whose star rose over the course of 2007 and in no way has reached her zenith.

Never utilizing social media as pure leverage but always engaging and participating through it, Shana and her TheNanny612 nick penetrated the close-knit online community of SEO and SEM professionals even though she herself was neither by profession.

Calling her a top source for social media news Search Engine People's VP of business development Tom Tsinas named her blog as one of the top 15 SEM blogs that influenced him.

Autumn 2008 she made a popular guest post appearance here with My Mothers Values Help me to Succeed at Social Media.

Through it all she's a work-at-home mom, putting in, as we'll see, long, hard hours to Provide With Pride (TM).

You make a living working from home. That makes you an authority on the subject :) To give people who are trying to beat the recession an idea what "making a living from home" looks like; how many hours are you typically working in a day?

Oh goodness, Ruud. I work a ridiculous amount of hours.

Seriously, I work way more a day than I ever did working outside the home full time. Ive lessened my workload a bit in the past few months due to family issues, but I still work around 13 " 15 hours a day.

I stop for the kids when they are home and I start back up again once they are in bed. I stay up very late.

You sell pre-school education kits. Brilliant idea. But the idea itself wasn't enough: you had to sit down and somehow do it. How did you get from A to B?

For me getting from A to B was

1.Frustration with something missing in the Preschool Industry;
2.Creating a curriculum that would fix my frustration. And, knowing that I was frustrated meant others were probably frustrated too;
3.Going one step further with my idea by making it different than anything out there on the market at that time;
4.Testing the Prototype of my product with others to see if my product would work;
5.Creating the eCommerce Website.

The big thing was creating a product that was in need. Anyone can come up with ideas. Anyone can create a website. But, a successful business needs to make money. In order for your business to be a success there needs to be a need for your idea. It just so happen for me there was a need for my idea.

Having a web site is just a little bit better than having just an idea. You need eyeballs. How did you go about building interest in your site? Did you sit and sort of hoped random queries would somehow lead to your site?

No. My Preschool Curriculum website wasnt my first website. It was my first eCommerce website. I had been making my own websites for a few years before ABCHomePreschool.com. So, I had learned what worked and what didnt.

I knew that making a website to simply sell my product wasnt enough. I also needed to create tons of web content, make sure all the pages were well linked together, I knew how to make great page titles using keywords and key phrases, I knew how to use Header tags, how to choose the right keywords.

And, back then reciprocal linking was key. I spent time every day doing emails for link exchanges. I signed up very early on with an affiliate program, which helped pass the word around about my products.

Within 3 months ABC Home Preschool was appearing #1 for the key phrase Preschool Curriculum and business was booming. Of course, SEO was much simpler back then. Much of what I learned back then was through trial and error.

What is your recommendation: build out more than one business, more than one web site, or focus on one or two and make that the be all?

Hmmmm. Thats a difficult one. Times are so different now than it was 9 years ago when I was starting out. I made one website, got addicted to designing, maintaining and marketing of an online business. Once I was hooked I kept making website after website. Before I knew it I had more than a handful of websites that were doing nicely. Thats when I thought I would try an eCommerce website.

Now-a-days its not that simple. Just finding your niche can be a challenge. There are so many websites out there that finding your Niche, the thing that can make you money, can be very difficult.

You dont want to just start any online business. To be a success you need to find that thing that can make you money. If there are tons of sites out there doing the exact same thing I wouldnt suggest starting a business doing that. You need to find your thing that is different. The thing that will make your online business stand out from the rest. You need to figure out what would make your online business special.

Also, SEO was different when I began. I learned as I went along. Rules werent changing constantly. So, I learned quickly. SEO is much more complicated and time consuming now.

So, to answer your question I believe that concentrating on one online business is the way to go. A new online business will take a ton of work. Plus, much of the online business owners time will be spent participating in Social Media activities to create a buzz about their new business. And, once the momentum is going and people are coming to the site it will still be an ongoing process.

Once you have watched it grow and can find some time to relax then you can consider starting another one. I just dont see how your time can be spent wisely with multiple new businesses and they be a success.especially someone knew at the whole online business thing.

What's your preference, and why; income through selling, affiliate marketing, or advertising?

I do all three on my sites, but I personally love making money through Google Adsense and other contextual advertising.

It doesnt do particularly well on all sites like my social media blog. Those readers know what Google Adsense ads look like they just dont click on them. But, on my other websites it does extremely well. And, the great thing about Contextual ads is that I make money without it causing more work for me. Where as income coming from sales on my eCommerce site causes a ton of work for me. With every sale I have production, customer service, order processing and accounting work.

So, if I was given a choice. Im much rather make the income from contextual ads.

How serious should people consider trying to make a living online? Is it a feasible, realistic answer or has the time come and gone?

Like I said earlier it is a challenge these days to not only create a business online, but to make a success of it. Is it possible? Yes. Is it a quick way to make a buck? No. Will it be easy? Heck no!!

I tend to be optimistic so I dont want to say, No, its just not feasible.

But, what I will say is that it is just not feasible to think you will be able to throw up a website and be able to make enough money in 6 months to quit your job. I just dont think that is very likely.

I dont think online businesses are a quick fix to someone who lost their job or is sick of the work they do full time now.

However, with that being said, I think that if they are really serious about starting an online business spend a great deal of time brainstorming and coming up with a realistic and practical business plan.

They need to realize that running an online business, just like any business, will take a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. And, even that doesnt guarantee success.

The 3 sources you're indebted to?

Three sources? Oh my goodness how do I possibly narrow it down to just 3? I read a ton of blogs, I use Twitter and Sphinn much of the time as my Feed Reader. So, to narrow it down to 3 is really very hard. I used a bit more than 3. Forgive me?

1.For Social Media posts I love Chris Brogans blog (Ruud: Chris Brogan's interview actually kicked off this series) . He totally gets Social Media.
2.For eCommerce specific posts I enjoy GetElastics blog. And, for other Small Business Marketing I read Small Business SEM regularly.
3.For SEO posts I read Search Engine People's blog all the time and check Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal daily.

But truly this is just a teeny tiny bit of what I read daily. There are so many blogs I depend on. But, this is a good start.

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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10 Responses to “Ruud Questions: Shana Albert”

  1. Shana Albert says:

    Thanks for interviewing me, Ruud. I am more than honored to be on the SEP Blog and I have to admit very touched by the amazing introduction of me in this interview. SEP has been one of my favorite SEO/Search Blogs that I read for many reasons… one of those reasons are the amazing human beings that are the brains and passion behind it making it what it is. :)

  2. Great interview! Awesome advice and resources! Fantastic person! What more can I say? Shana rocks while providing value and personality to search and social media!

  3. It's refreshing to have an expert on social media tell you how difficult it will be to make money online. I use to coach those people that wanted to make a quick buck online and none of them were patient enough to be successful. I think the opportunity is there for people that are patient, focused, and can execute goals and organize themselves. Building relationships and reputations through social media is hard work. Great interview.

  4. Matt McGee says:

    Enjoyable interview, guys. And I'm honored to be mentioned. Thanks Shane. We seem to have similar work habits. 13-15 hours a day from home, stopping for the kids, etc. Totally identified with that!

  5. Shana Albert says:

    @Dana Lookadoo – I think you are pretty awesome yourself. :)

    @Brandon Buttars – Thank you so much for letting me know you enjoyed my interview. I think you are right in the fact that when people think of businesses online many think it is an "easy way to make money". And, it is TOTALLY not. I've never worked so hard in my life… and even with the hard work some of my projects never left the ground. You just need to learn from those things and not give up…. brush yourself off and start over again. Thank you so much for leaving a comment.

    @Matt McGee – Oh, it is totally a pleasure to mention you Matt… I meant it. I wouldn't be surprised if many of our colleagues with a family have the same work habits. If not, I need to find out what they are doing to manage time with their family and to have a successful business. Thank you Matt for leaving a comment. :)

  6. Adam says:

    I think it's amazing that when you "leave" the grind to work online you actually end up spending more hours of the day at the computer then before. Seems like the masses have not tuned into this when they initially think of an online career. But it's true… I know that my patterns mirror the ones you described in this piece.

  7. Wow, 13-15 hour work days!! I know it takes a lot of work and it takes a long time to become "famous" online, but with that schedule you have no free time at all.

  8. Awxus says:

    Very Good interview, nice advice about value and personality, opportunity is there for people of relationships and reputations through social media, Good work

  9. Steve says:

    Yes I think you are right in the fact that when people think of businesses online many think it is an “easy way to make money”. And, it is TOTALLY not. I’ve never worked so hard in my life… and even with the hard work some of my projects never left the ground

  10. Adam says:

    Ain't that the truth! Welcome to reality people. Money does NOT grow on trees – even online.