Starting from ScratchIt happened four years ago, but the memory is so clear that it could have happened yesterday…

It’s midnight on a crisp winter evening. I’m digging under a slew of blankets to keep that crispness as far away as possible. I flick the light on my nightstand to life and double click the home button on my iPod. I push play and moments later Gary Vaynerchuk is dropping marketing truth bombs.

What Would You Do?He revels in it.

I love listening to interviews with experts. Whether I’m getting ready in the morning, driving around town, grocery shopping, walking up and down the hills of Madison, doing dishes, or lying in bed, I can’t get enough of them. And that night was one I’ll never forget.

As sleep slowly crept around me, a question (my favorite question) snapped my ears to attention. It’s the question I hope for in every interview. It’s the question I ask every expert in our Six-Figure Expert Profiles. It’s the question I’m going to answer for you today.

If you had to start over, what would you do first?

A brilliant question! It pushes aside all the fluff, all the extra, all the complexity and confusion and gets to the heart of the matter–what does it actually take to make things happen? I soaked up the wisdom and hustle of Vaynerchuk’s reply and drifted off to sleep.


I wake up tomorrow at 6 AM. My website, my email list, my contacts and good looks are gone. (Who are we kidding? I could never lose those good looks.) The first thing I do is wonder why I’m up at 6 AM; nothing good happens that early.

The next thing I do is…

Step 1: Create a Blog

Get Hosting & Domain: I walk the eight steps to my home office, power up the computer, and take a seat in my spinny chair. After a few spins, I go to BlueHost (affiliate link) and sign up for a year of hosting. I create a new domain––or, if that isn’t available because the people who stole everything else from me also have my domain, I create a domain that speaks to the heart of my expert topic,

Install WordPress: The sting of having my business erased begins to set in, but I shake the feeling and carry on. Must focus on the future. I log into my BlueHost account and install WordPress. Less than a minute later the install is complete. (This is not, mind you,, which hosts your blog free of charge. This is, which is installed on your private server. Confused? This should clear it right up.)

Find a Theme: I then look for a premium WordPress theme. I scour the popular theme sites for just the right look and feel. Among the sites being scoured are…

Install the Theme: The right theme speaks to me (modern, professional, with a touch of pizzazz and a pinch of chutzpah). I download it and log into WordPress (using the login info I got after installation). I click to add a new theme and upload my choice. My site is now up and running, looking stylish and waiting for…

Step 2: Develop Content

Pillar Posts: I take a short break for some fruit and granola (the fruit, if you’re curious about the details of this imaginary scenario, are raspberries and blueberries). I know I need to create powerful content to kick things off with a bang; my first offering to the world will establish my credibility, authority, and overall brand. It has to be good.

I research the market in which my expertise lives and look for common problems, frustrations, questions, and concerns. I also study the most popular content in my field–what clues can I find to help me pinpoint the major needs and wants of my audience? After combining those clues and the core strengths of my expertise, I craft five pieces of pillar content to have something of high-quality to offer my upcoming visitors.

Lead Magnet: I then dive into creating a massively appealing lead magnet. As you may recall from an earlier post…wait…I don’t have a website. Shoot. Hmm…well…once upon a time in another life I wrote about lead magnets, pieces of content offered in exchange for an email subscription. They can be PDF reports, audios, videos, free samples, quizzes, etc. I love to create reports, so I open PowerPoint and get to work.

Main Pages: With the pillar posts and lead magnet complete, I finish the groundwork and create the main pages of the new site: About, contact, blog, etc. The site is now ready to go. I laugh at the thieves who stole my business. Ha. Ha.

Step 3: Attract Visitors

Email Service: I have a professionally-designed website. I have pillar content. I have a lead magnet that will build an email list…ahh, the email list. Visitors won’t magically become email subscribers. I need an email management service, a company that gives me the ability to register subscribers and, then, send them emails. Of the many options available, I choose AWeber. Others include…

Gather Eyeballs: I have a professionally designed website. I have solid content. I have a lead magnet to turn the right visitors into subscribers (and an email service to make that happen). And I still have my good looks. I’m feeling good. The last piece of the puzzle is to attract my target audience. There are dozens of strategies, and they all work. In my case, starting from scratch, I first…

  1. Visit blogs in my space, study their message and mission and content, and send the founder an email (or send a tweet) introducing myself, complimenting him or her on their site, and offering either my lead magnet as a useful tool for their audience or to write a guest piece (there is much more that can be done to garner guest spots, but cold emails do work). The guest pieces include a pitch and link to my lead magnet in the byline.
  2. I then reach out to other experts (or the same from my search above) looking for opportunities to advertise in their weekly newsletters. What to advertise? The lead magnet. Always. Many experts simply point to their websites, but that is a waste of time and money. Point visitors to your premium content, your report or audio or video that over delivers on value and turns a skeptical visitor into a lifelong fan. Even better, create a new lead magnet specifically for the websites you’re contacting. Tailor-made material like that will do the trick like nothing else.

The Dream Becomes Reality

I woke having lost it all (well, except for the good looks, but we’ve already been there, done that). In three simple steps, I’m back. Traffic is coming, subscribers are joining, and soon I’ll deliver high-quality content on a regular basis to build relationships and deliver results for my people. Then it’s time to create products and services to satisfy their needs and wants. This is how empires are built.

In fact, this is no exercise, my friends. This is reality.

These are the exact steps I followed to launch Starting with only an idea, a few months later I had a fully-functioning website, a growing email list, and income. I did it all in three easy steps: Create a site, develop content, attract visitors.

Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s too hard to get started. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s too expensive or complicated or impossible. It’s not. I’m your average human with likely more hangups and pesky eccentricities slowing me down (I obsess over the tiniest details, I insist on doing everything myself, I’m emotionally impulsive). But I did it. More than once.

And you can too.

Questions? Comments?

Each activity above comes with many steps, some obvious, others anything but. That’s why I’m here, along with the rest of the Six-Figure Expert community. Whatever questions you have, ask away. Whatever concern is swimming in your mind, let it swim down through your fingers and onto your keyboard (in other words, type it). Whatever you need, we’re here to help you turn your expertise into an empire.