4 Successful Sites That Will Inspire You to Think Outside The Box

5 November

Need some inspiration?

This is a slight change of pace for my blog, and I hope you find it refreshing.

The four sites below are all finding success, but in their own ways. They remind me of the infinite possible approaches to becoming successful online and your approach doesn’t necessarily have to be conventional.

Hope you enjoy!

Jenell of Kinky Curly Coily Me

kinky curly coily me

If Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm has you flustered because your posts aren’t getting enough exposure anymore, you can draw inspiration from Jenell’s page.

She proves it is still very possible to have a super active page in spite of all the changes Facebook made in the last year and a half.

In case you don’t know, the Facebook Edgerank algorithm decides how long to show a post in the news feed and that is largely determined by the post’s engagement.

The more comments and “likes” a post receives, the longer Edgerank will show it in the feed, thus giving it more exposure.  Also, if your page has a history of solid engagement that will help too.

A lot of people have complained that their posts are no longer getting many views, but you can drastically improve your exposure by posting more interesting, relevant content on a frequent basis.

Just look at KCCM’s stats…


First of all, the page has 137,000 followers and 86,000 active users.  That means over 60% of her “fans” are active.  That is some outrageously solid engagement.

So what’s her secret?

1. She has an assistant.  

One of the keys to great engagement on Facebook page is to post often.  Having someone ensure your page is always updated will keep your page fresh and active.

2. She posts fan questions in her feed.


I love this idea.  Posting questions you receive not only relieves you from the pressure of having to respond to everyone, but it lets your community chime in.

People love to give their opinions and this is the perfect way to give them that opportunity.

I think I may have to steal (I mean… borrow) this strategy! :)

3. She holds challenges.

Challenges are another awesome way of keeping your community engaged because it encourages people to come back and share their progress.

KCCM holds seasonal castor oil challenges.  They are announced on her Facebook page and then she redirects people back to her site to officially sign up.


I love that she uses her Facebook page to announce important events, but always directs people back to her website to participate.

That’s the way to do it.  Always train people to go back to your main hub that you own.

Facebook may be “in” right now, but you don’t own the site and 10 years from now some other site may be the in thing.

Always use social media to draw people back to properties you truly own.

4. She holds giveaways to grow her fan base.


Jenell and I at a her Show Me Naturals Event in St. Louis (December, 2012)

I attended one of KCCM’s natural hair meetups in St. Louis last year.

At the end of the event she holds a sponsored giveaway and requires that everyone become a fan of her Facebook page before they are eligible to win.

And if you don’t have a smartphone, no problem! She and her handy assistant will let you login from their laptop and make sure you get to “like” her page on the spot. :)

When I attended her meetup last year, I believe her Facebook page had roughly 30,000 likes.  In less than a year she’s already increased her fan base by over 100,000.  Amazing results!

The Takeaway:  Edgerank may have changed the game a bit, but Jenell’s page is proof that great exposure and solid engagement are still very possible on Facebook.

Brandy of MannlyMama.com


Don’t let the domain name fool you.  No, it’s not a reference to masculinity. :)

Her last name is Mann and she runs a blog that documents the happenings inside her household.

I stumbled upon Brandy while browsing YouTube last month.

First of all, I was drawn in by her site’s fun design and the playful photos.  In many ways, her site stands out from the typical mommy blog.


Say Cheeeeese! (Or…. maybe not.) :)

Brandy admits she’s not the perfect mom (see her rearfacing child seat failure post), and she’s not afraid to release her inner snark. :)

I noticed the above post had some good engagement (as well as several others) so I decided to email her to find out more about how she got into blogging.  She replied…

It started as a basic pregnancy journey for my family and friends. I was the first of my friends to be pregnant and I figured I would chronicle it for them. Through that I learned the power of the internet community and the therapy of writing. That first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and I found sharing that story helped others….then that became a main goal of my blog.

So how does Brandy promote her site?

Complete word of mouth to begin with. On Twitter and Facebook I promote when I publish and sometimes will refer old posts to people with questions. My big spike in traffic came within the last year when my post of sleep regression got indexed really high in google. I didn’t write it for that reason but I am very happy that it is my top post. It embodies how I want people to see my blog…a place of real talk. Calm down and everything will work itself out!

I also used to write for liberatingworkingmoms.com and got a good bit of following from there. I love their mission and love promoting them.

Now here’s the kicker…

Brandy told me that her site doesn’t make any money.  That was never her goal.

So why even mention this blog here?

Because Brandy is having fun doing what she loves.  It was actually quite refreshing because it seems you rarely hear about people blogging for fun anymore.

Not to mention, so many profitable sites start out with the person just writing about something they really love.  So the opportunity is there if Brandy ever wants to take her site to the next level.

Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t there something refreshing about Brandy’s very organic start to blogging?

It seems everyone launches a site today in search of money…. and they want to make it fast!  It’s nice to see someone blogging simply because they find it fulfilling and enjoy connecting with their readers.

As Brandy put it…

Not all blogs can and want to be big. Do what makes you happy and doesn’t stress you out. Ain’t nobody got time for that. :)

The Takeaway: When you do what you genuinely love, things often happen organically.  I never get tired of hearing stories about successful people who naturally stumble upon success because of enjoyment.

Brandy’s site may not be making any money, but if she does decide to start monetizing, she already has a head start.

If you’re struggling to find a topic, try to think of something that you would write about even if you weren’t getting paid to do it.  You never know what kind of business may evolve from that.

Amelia of Bon Appétempt


First of all, I love creative domain names that playfully convey what the site is about.

Bon Appétempt chronicles Amelia’s various attempts at fancy schmancy dishes.

I like how she balances instructional and personal information in her posts. The added personal touch infuses her site with personality and flavor (pardon my pun).

Not everyone can pull off the personal side of blogging, but I think when you tie it into your niche and balance it with relevant information like Amelia does it is very effective.

She also uses humor and a tad bit of quirkiness to present her information and it works.

What I love most is that Amelia is not trying to compete with the professional recipe sites.  She doesn’t need to.

If you want to watch the pros, there are dozens of sites out there to read.  Her site and YouTube channel are perfectly imperfect, and she’s carved out a nice little space in this niche with her approach.

The site also made it on Time’s list of the 25 Best Blogs of 2012.

Well deserved.

The Takeaway:  Nobody’s perfect and sometimes the most interesting websites are the ones that exploit those imperfections. That’s what makes Amelia’s site so relatable and genuine.

Gavin of Zen Pencils


Gavin Aung Than used to spend his days in an unfulfilling 9 to 5 job until he took the plunge to pursue his passion of cartooning in 2011.

He decided to take inspiring quotes, combine them with his love for drawing cartoons and voila….

Zen Pencils was born!

One way he monetizes the site is by selling his cartoons on Society6.com.

And if you’re not quite ready to buy, he offers free posters when you sign up for his email list.  (This is a great way to use a list to presell his cartoons.)

To keep his fans engaged on Facebook, he requests that his readers submit suggestions.  Obviously he cannot fulfill all requests, but completes the ones he can.

It’s so inspiring to see people take their talents and creatively turn them into an online business.

The Takeaway:  Everyone has a skill or passion.  For some, it may take a little more digging to discover and translate that talent into a successful website.

  • Maybe you’re a jokester.  Start a prankster YouTube channel like Rahat did. (Great channel for a good laugh.)
  • If you like to chat it up, start a podcast on your favorite topic
  • If you’re a designer, offer to redesign a social media header or background for some well-known sites to get some added exposure
  • Don’t be afraid to try a more unconventional approach

I hope this post provided you with a healthy dose of inspiration for the week. :)