How I made a website about Glasgow...

...and why you need a website, too

This page is a continuation of my About Me page. I never thought that page would have had such an impact.

However, I get almost more feedback about the "About Me" page than about all the other pages on my site put together!

Many people write to me to thank me for the inspiration they get from it.

What can I say? Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know. It means a lot to me to think that I have given someone the courage to finally do something they've been dreaming of for a long time :-). Good on you and all the best!

I also receive many emails asking me more questions about this website and about Site Build It! (SBI!). Obviously there's a lot of curiosity about the system, and clearly I didn't do a good enough job when I told you about it, because the questions are always the same.

First up, how successful is it?

A few people weren't shy and asked straight out: How much are you making and how long did it take?

It's mid-October 2014 that I write this, and my little site about Glasgow gets around 50,000 page views every month. That's around 1700 per day. It's beginning to increase though, because after a pretty long lull where I did practically nothing on the site for a while, I've been bitten by the bug again and have been updating the site more regularly.

My income from Google Adsense (those "AdChoices" and so on you'll see around the site) has been adding up nicely. I'm always wary about Google's strict policy about telling people what my adverts earn, so I'll say simply that I make enough every month to get a very reasonable automatic deposit from Google into my bank account. As I've begun to work more often on the site recently, my income from Google has increased, and I kick myself that I didn't spend more time previously on the site as it's pretty easy to see how much can be achieved with even just a little effort.

As you'll also have seen, I wrote Wee Glesca, a pocket guide to Glasgow which I sell on my site and also via Amazon and various other online outlets.  In the weeks after I published the book, it became the number one best selling Glasgow travel guide on Amazon, and I received (and still receive) notifications every day that my little book has been selling like the proverbial hotcake.

It was so amazing seeing a book that I'd written (basically from the information I'd built up naturally in this site) pop out of that familiar cardboard envelope from Amazon after the paperback edition was published, and every week I'm hearing from delighted people that they've downloaded the ebook or Kindle editions or picked up the paperback version and loved it! The feeling I get receiving that kind of feedback is immeasurable, as is the feeling when I see the money from those sales feeding right into my bank account. The income from that will only increase when I release future editions and even an audiobook version.

The most important point to take away here is that my income has been steadily growing, day after day after day, whether I work on the website or not. It grows faster when I do a lot of work, but it still grows when I go away on holiday. I earn money while I travel, I earn money while I'm watching TV, I earn money while I sleep. It's pretty hard to beat.

What's also hard to beat is the feeling that you own your life and your time.

Is this really as easy as it sounds?

That is probably the most common question. The answer is yes and no. It depends on how you define easy.

It certainly isn't a matter of pressing a few buttons and the money starts rolling in. If that's what you meant when you say "easy" then the answer is "no".

The one point I stress in every email, whether people asked this question or not, is this: it takes time, hard work and commitment to build a successful website. Do not underestimate the amount of time, the amount of hard work, the amount of commitment involved!

But that's all it takes. It does not take exceptional writing skills, it does not take technical knowledge, it does not require you to know anything about computers and websites. Nothing.

You will have to learn a lot at the start, but that learning curve is part of SBI!. You will be guided through the whole process. Anyone with a functioning brain and willingness to learn and work can do this, no matter what their background. So if that's what you wondered, then the answer is "yes". It really is that easy. You can do it!

How much time do you spend working on your site?

As I say, my time on the site has varied over the years. Almost every Thursday or Friday I'll write up my guide to what's on at Glasgow at the weekend. Almost every day I'll post, retweet or like something on my Twitter or Facebook pages just to remind folks I still exist. And some weeks if I get the chance I'll write or update a page on the site.

So all in I'd say I spend about four hours per week on the site at the moment. Sometimes it'll be more, sometimes it'll be less.

The bottom line is that I could spend a whole lot more time on it than I do, and it gets to me sometimes that I don't have the time to do more, as it's in the periods where I'm working more on the site that I've seen the biggest growth in income and visitors. But it keeps growing anyway, despite my lack of effort.

It sounds good, but I have no idea what to make a website about

That is absolutely not a problem.

Most people who have an idea change their mind once they start with SBI! I had a few ideas when I started (one of which was writing about card tricks!) and dumped them both. SBI! found what I was passionate about and pointed me to the best topic for my website.

The first thing that SBI! teaches you is how to select a profitable topic. There are no general rules. Everyone is different so this is an individual decision. SBI! has brainstorming tools. You use them to generate ideas and to analyse them. You'll see if there's enough interest in a topic, how much competition there is, and if there is money to be made.

To choose a topic for a website is the most important step in the whole process, so you shouldn't do it without SBI! anyway. Don't know what to make your site about? Good!

It says it costs $299 for the first year. What are the costs after that? What are the financial catches?

No catches :-)

$299 is the yearly subscription fee. That's in Canadian dollars. It works out at about $25 per month (in other words 14 British pounds or 22 US dollars per month). There's a monthly payment option that works out at £29.99 per month if you'd prefer to spread the cost. My suggestion: if you are serious about building a sizeable income for yourself, get the yearly subscription. It works out cheaper, and if you don't like it you can easily get all your money back. I see no point in getting the monthly option, but apparently it's quite popular.

So I think that's it, those are the questions that I've been asked a million times. If I forgot something I'm sure you'll ask and then I'll add it here.


I just had two emails in a row expressing the same concern: "I can't write."

I thought the same thing when I started. But as I already mentioned above, SBI! teaches you everything you need to know to build a successful website, including how to write compelling content.

Ken Evoy wrote a fabulous book called Make Your Content Pre-Sell. It teaches how to write for the web. The book has always been part of SBI!, available for free for SBIers, but outsiders had to buy it. However, since some time in 2006 it is totally free for non SBIers, too.

If someone tells me they worry about their writing I send them this link: you can download your free copy here.

So again, what are you waiting for?

I think the single best way to determine whether it's for you is to simply try it out.

You now have not only one but a full three months to do so, to check out all the tools and learning materials, even to start building your website, and if you don't like it you simply give it back.

So check it out!

P.S. Over 400,000 Facebook fans, and almost 11,000 Twitter followers can't be wrong.

P.P.S. Do you have more questions about SBI! you'd like answered? Want to know exactly how it could work for you? You can ask any questions here.

Yours aye,


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Wee Glesca Guide Book of Glasgow

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Scott Docherty