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Site Build It – a User Review

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of November 2008 Blogging Tools and Services 0 Comments

site-build-it-review.jpgOne website building program that I have been consistantly asked about by readers over the last 12 or more months is Site Build It. While not a blogging platform as such it is a way of building a website for money and as a result I guess readers feel I will have an opinion of it. Unfortunately I’ve not used it before so don’t have any personal experience to offer. When I mentioned this on Twitter recently Julie Bonner (one of b5media’s staff writers) told me that she’d used SBI successfully – I asked her if she’d be interested in writing a user review. She agreed and here it is.

I first heard of SBI (Site Build It) back in August of 2004. I had tried, unsuccessfully, to build a website on my own a few months before that. Needless to say, I was frustrated because of my sheer lack of knowledge of html, seo and all the other stuff involved. I knew I could write, I knew I loved to write and I knew there was money to be made on the Internet. What I needed was a program where I could just pump out good content and have all of the other stuff taken care of for me, while making money of course. That’s when SBI fell into my lap.

In July 2004 I purchased SBI and hit the ground running. In a span of about 3 years, I built a handful of websites and then turned around and flipped them for a profit. I wrote on everything from decorating kids’ bedrooms to on-line games for kids. While I was in the process of building the sites, I was making a fairly decent income off of Google Adsense and affiliate links. To say I am grateful to SBI and what it has taught me, would be an understatement.

Some of you may be asking what the benefits of purchasing SBI are. It’s not super expensive, but pricey enough to where you need to do your research and think about if this is something you are willing to open your wallet for. You also have to realize that every year there is a renewal fee. For me personally, my income from the site has covered that fee over and above, so it has never been an issue.

Here are some of the benefits of SBI:

  • Hosting is taken care of.
  • You are guided through the process of choosing a topic and domain name that is profitable.
  • There is an amazing keyword tool built in to the system.
  • You can choose from many different templates, or upload your own.
  • They submit your site to the search engines. All you have to do is place your keywords in the right places – which they tell you exactly where that is.
  • No knowledge of html, ftp, graphic or programming skills needed.
  • The training is phenomenal!
  • Forum support is some of the best I have ever seen. It’s a very active forum with the give first attitude.
  • You have the chance to learn from people who are making a full-time income off of their SBI sites.
  • It is great for beginners who cringe at the word Internet or website.

I won’t go into great detail about the individual benefits, because SBI has a great site where they explain everything. You can read about the program or take their video tour.

What I will tell you, is that if you think you can go out and purchase SBI, throw up a few pages and watch the money start rolling in, then you might as well not waste your time or money. I was successful at building web sites and making money at it because I worked hard. SBI gives you the tools, but you have to provide the blood, sweat and tears. I spent many late nights writing and writing and writing and it payed off. I wrote for three months before I started seeing the money come in, but once it did, it just didn’t stop and continued to grow from there.

If you dig a little into the SBI site, you will see that this program has really changed people’s lives. I can tell you that it’s true. I have personally exchanged emails with people who are making a full time living off of their SBI sites, but like I said, it’s because they worked very hard in the beginning. They understood what they needed to do and they just did it.

SBI is what convinced me that making money on-line was truly possible. The thought of working from home and doing something that I loved became a reality for me and I have never looked back. It’s funny because SBI is one of the places where I first heard about this thing called blogging. They talked about it as a way to promote your web site and build traffic and encourage you to use the two together. Little did I know back then that blogging would take over my life.

My web site building days are currently on hold because, well, blogging is my new love. Will I pick it up again some day? Maybe. And if I do, I can guarantee you that Site Build It is where I will go back to. No doubt about that!

A Note from Darren – thanks to Julie for this review. While I’ve not use Site Build It at all and can only rely upon the advice of people I respect and trust (like Julie) I find myself reacting to the idea of SBI in a couple of ways.

Firstly, if I’m honest – when I hear of these programs I get a little skeptical. Why would you need to pay for this type of thing when you can set up your own blog or website using free tools?

Secondly, I really like the sound of some of the tools and features bundled up in this product. Some of the keyword tools, SEO that is built in, the community aspect etc. While the skeptical side of my brain tells me that you can get a lot of this for free – I guess I’m reminded of my first year online trying to build my first blogs where I quite literally had no idea what I was doing. I had to ask a fellow blogger how to make text bold – I didn’t know where to begin.

While some of us who have been around for a while might look down our noses at this type of tool I think that they can have a place – particularly for those starting out, who want to learn some basics and who don’t have the skills (or know someone with them) to get going. The idea of a service that bundles a lot of this stuff into a package and then charges for it will not appeal to everyone – some of us prefer to spend time researching, pulling together information from lots of sources etc – However for some, SBI sounds like a good ‘getting started’ tool.

I’d love to hear readers experiences of SBI. Have you used it? How did you find it? What did you like? What could they improve and do better?

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I have a friend who recommends it enthusiastically, though they’re not making money on it yet. I’ve seen the back end of it, and although it is apparently easy to use, it looks very dated and clunky. Perhaps I’m overly influenced by design, but I use WordPress, which is so intuitive and easy I have no desire at all to switch to something that’s paid for and uglier.

    Also, I can’t help noticing that many/most SBI sites look like they were build in 1995, and I wonder why.

    I’ve watched the SBI videos and seen the site, and their one ‘secret’ is something that every serious blogger or web builder already knows – it’s all about content.

  2. I have heard a lot of good things about SBI. There are some people I work with that thought it was really a great thing when they were first starting out with internet marketing. I haven’t used it, but I may try it soon.

  3. Even after reading all the comments above it may still not be clear enough that Site Build It is NOT simply a way to create Web pages or a Web site. It is an entire process of keyword research, SEO optimization, and usability that allows someone with limited or no knowledge of these very complex subjects to build a site as though they knew them already.

    I have elaborated more about this in a post linked from my name. The bottom line is that there are many ways to build a Web site but building a business that is successful is an entirely different ballgame.

  4. Justine says: 11/26/2008 at 9:38 am

    I havent heard about SBI before, but I will say they look pretty good.

    I built a flash website through Picaholic.  They provide professional dynamic flash templates with easy-to-use editing tools.  I build and maintain the site myself – all i had to do was choose a flash template, change the appearance to suit my business and add my text, images and videos. I’m a photographer, and needed to have a pretty cool Photography flash website, so they were a good option.

    They offer unlimited pages, galleries, images, videos plus more.

    Picaholic provides SEO friendly Flash templates where I can add meta titles, descriptions and keywords on every page. I’m already climbing up the ranks for some keywords  – so I cant complain. 

    I recommend checking them out – their fee for a flash website includes hosting and who can beat $180 a year for a really cool flash website – and you can add unlimited pages, galleries, images etc at no extra cost :).

  5. I guess I can summarize it for everyone in one simple sentence. SBI! is all about building a long-term, profitable e-business. Not about putting up a bunch of sites.

    Along the way, SBIers learn more in a relatively short period of time, and DO MORE, than any other system I know of. Yes, there are prettier back-ends (we’ll work on that, we’ve hired J-Lo ;-) ). But the tools work just fine and many of them are unique. No, WordPress does not automatically make prettier sites — nor do they tie everything together into a process that works.

    And finally, in the long run, not in the Get Rich Quick short run, SBIers really do succeed in unprecedented numbers. Every one of those case studies, every “I Love SBI!” video, is the truth. Compare carefully against the “success stories” of anywhere else and you’ll see a huge difference.

    Hope this isn’t considered promotional, but when folks get caught up in “trees of features,” they end up getting lost in the big picture of how SBIers, both new to the Net and veterans, build successful businesses while-and-by adding true value to the Web.

    All the best,
    Ken Evoy
    Founder, SiteSell.com

  6. Noops. It does not worth it. It only takes few hours to learn basics of dreamweaver. If you are familiar with dreamweaver you can make more professional and way better sites.

    I am not a big fan of this kind of tools. Internet is loaded with crappy web sites because of them. People do not invest enough time to learn things properly. This is an art that you should master carefully and slowly. I do not see how sbi fit in this equation.

  7. There’s nothing sadder than a pretty web site that hardly gets any visitors.

    SBI!’s process is effective at finding out where the market is. One that’s not too overcrowded with competition (ie. Internet Marketing). One that actually has demand.

    Then it shows you how to target those visitors effectively. By building page after page for specific keyword phrases. Which keyword phrases? No guessing… SBI Brainstormer tells you which. Each keyword phrase is like a little net for capturing visitors. Cast a big net by building lots of pages on specific keyword phrases that are easily winnable.

    You can build an SBI! site using Dreamweaver. I do. I upload the pages one by one. Much better than FTP I say, because I check each page so I know it’s good for the search engines and then build them. FTP can’t do that for me. I don’t spend a lot of time rebuilding and re-uploading loads of already existing pages. There’s little business sense in that.

    But if you want easy over effective, be my guest. Effective wins. SBI! is effective. Period.

  8. Actually, SBI is more a process rather than a product :)

    SBI pinned down the fundamental realities of what makes an online business tick. That’s what it is.

    It’s just like learning the ABCs of the English language.
    Yes, a 5- year old may only be able to use it to create really simple conversation, but an adult will be able to use the same ABCs to write a best-selling novel.

    SBI is the ABCs of an online business, from brainstorming, to master keyword lists, to content blueprint, and building SEO pages….It’s all in one place.

    In hands of novice, SBI can still be powerful, just like the 5-year old being able to communicate her thoughts using ABC. But in the hands of an expert, an SBI site can be serious competition to industrial heavyweights in terms of traffic!

    Delivering Net Profits to Your Business,
    Willy Lim
    Small Business Marketing Expert
    The Financially Free Advisor

  9. I’ve been building SBI sites since 2005. Never built a site before that, so this has been my first experience into working with websites. I’ll agree that some of the basic templates are, well, basic. But that doesn’t really matter as long as the content is there to back it up. All I’ve had to do has been search for good keywords, write content, and do a few other chores related to the sites-some simple and some that take a while to figure out.

    If you choose a good niche, and follow the process a person has a good chance of being successful. Actually, my first site, which uses a very basic template (I did customized the header), pulled in over 13,000 unique visitors. Yesterday.

    Works for me too. ;-)

  10. I’m building my very first site with SBI without any prior knowledge of HTML, webdesign and online marketing techniques.
    It’s been around 6 months since the first page went “live” and the site is far away from being complete but already Google has indexed several of my pages in the top 10. Traffic is increasing 20-30% each month.

    I see SBI not only as a site builder but also as a self-study course that gives me a complex knowledge and a clear roadmap to building a successful online business.

  11. Joe Trent says: 11/28/2008 at 6:28 am

    It would be extremely rare to find an SBI user who has truly followed the system set forth in the SBI Action Guide and who is not happy with the results.

    As far as how successful you’ll be, I think the niche you pick is 80% and what you use to build your site with is 20%. I have a SBI site that I spent 2 years of my life on that makes about $2 a day with adsense. I followed their action guide to a tee.

    At the 9th month mark of my site, I was not happy and considered letting it go, but decided to follow the mantra of “build more content” I should have let it go, I could have used the additional sleep that I lost the second year working on my site. It still makes about $2 a day with adsense.

    SBI is OK, just don’t drink the coolaid.

  12. I’m a newbie to e-commerce. My SBI site http://www.kenya-advisor.com gets 30,000 unique visitors a month after 19 months online, and is a growing part of my income. Kind of says enough.

  13. The Lion: You keep believing that and SBIer’s will keep making money after the hard work it requires. BTW, I use Expression Web and my sites can look any way I want them to.

    Good luck!

  14. I’m on my 2nd site. The first one is almost 3 years old and mainly sits there looking pretty. For the 2nd one I used SBI and it’s just coming up to its first anniversary. I’ve just under 100 pages indexed by the engines and get considerably more visitors a month than my other site gets in a year.

    But all of that’s not really the point. Anyone can put up a site. SBI is helping me to build a business.

    So maybe some of the sites look similar … so do cars these days! You still buy/use the one that gives you what you want, even if it looks a bit like its neighbour.

    Same with SBI sites. (and as has been mentioned above, if it bothers you you can easily change the look!) But more importantly, SBI sites appear similar because they use the same philosophy. They care about giving their visitors good value. That’s why they attract traffic and rank well at the engines.

    And as for cost? My first site’s on a cheap hosting deal. And as I’m not an experienced webmaster, I have to pay for all sorts of additional site building and marketing tools. So overall my old ‘cheap’ non-performing site costs me more than the SBI contract.
    For me, it’s a no-brainer!

  15. I have a fairly new site, still in building stage, which I am building using SBI. I am an at-home mum with another home business and I have used the internet for many years for shopping, chatting, social interaction, ebay, email etc BUT I am not in any way technical, do not know HTML, or even where I’d begin learning it, so to me, answering the question that many people have asked “Why would you??” I have to say that I use SBI because it fills in the gaps in my knowledge and teaches me what I need to do every step of the way!

    Without SBI I had no clue as to how to find a category that I could make profitable, how to get my site started, or even how to get the thing to show up on the internet…

    So it opens doors that for non-techies would normally remain firmly locked!

    It would have taken me another lifetime to have researched all that for myself – time I just don’t have to spend!

  16. As an SBI user I can tell you,
    out off first hand, that you can
    build a successful website that
    makes you an extra or full income.

    SBI is a system that let’s you
    concentrate on what you like
    the most, for example your hobby.

    My online success is real,
    since my traffic grows with
    20% every month.

  17. I’m building a website using SBI system. Along with learning to build a site, I have earned more than what I had spent within this short period of one year.

    I wish I had started using it earlier, so that I could have started earning a regular income by now, like many other SBIers.

    I do agree that SBI is not for the people who are seeking an easy income without much work; it is for those who are ready to work hard and build a successful e-business.

  18. Just wanted to comment on what Joe Trent said:

    Joe, I find it illuminating that you did not link your name to your SBI site, so that we could get some insight into why you haven’t achieved SBI success. But you are right that choosing the right niche is essential.And SBI helps with that, by using their state-of-the-art Brainstormer and Niche Choose It.

    However, I have also learned that even if you do choose a great niche that gets a lot of traffic, you still have to have a way of monetizing it effectively. In other words, the traffic you attract has to be willing to click on ads or spend money to buy something. And not all niches provide that type of traffic, so that can make a difference too. For instance, my significant other built a site about a very hot topic, but found there aren’t really a lot of relevant advertisers for that niche at this point (too new?). So, it hasn’t been the moneymaker he hoped for, despite the fact that he’s gotten good traffic.

    But please don’t perpetuate the myth that we SBI lovers are some kind of cult, just because you weren’t successful. Better to take a hard look at the site you built and how closely you really followed all aspects of the Action Guide. You might also post your site in the SBI forums and ask for a review. You’re certain to get lots of helpful advice, because that’s what SBIers do. They help each other.

  19. I have been using SBI! since 2002 and can not say enough good things about it.

    It isn’t just a website – it is a business development system. Some say it looks cheap or unprofessional but it is more about getting traffic and results than being all flashy and complex. What good is a nice looking site if it doesn’t get found by SE?

    It isn’t standard hosting. It is a database driven system so there is no ftp. It is a little hard to get used to if you are used to the ease of building sites using that but that doesn’t really say much about what gets the best results.

    I make half of my living from my little websites that I work on in my spare time.

    The forums are like none other ever to be found with the owner Ken Evoy posting regularly to help out even the newest newbie or the most advanced site builders. It really is about sharing what you know with others and taking what you are passionate about and turning it into a business.

  20. With no prior web experience, I started my SBI site 4 months ago and could not be happier about the service. I have a video-rich site about Hybrid Cars. I’ve had no hosting problems at all. I’m still using the basic ‘Block-builder’ approach, but will soon be considering Dreamweaver (yes you can upload your own html).

    I have a link to the Complete 10-Day Action Guide on my ‘Test Drive’ page. See for yourself what SBI does.

    One thing that hasn’t been well mentioned is that SBI keeps advancing – bringing in new technologies – without charging any more. New Social media stuff; the amazing ‘Search It’ tool, and many more. I really feel my site can grow along with them.

    Success on the web means visitors. If you will take the great writing/marketing techniques you find at SBI and elsewhere (including ProBlogger which has helped me much!) and apply them to SBI I’m sure you’ll see success.

  21. Does anyone else feel like they are watching an episode of the Daily Show where they show several different White House officials using the exact same phrases over and over again. Talking points, I believe they are called?

    “SBI isn’t about building a site, it’s about building a long term profitable business.”

    “I have 3 SBI sites and 2 non-SBI sites, the only ones that make money are the SBI sites.”

    Really? There isn’t a single supporter of SBI who was able to make even one non-SBI site profitable? Is that proof that SBI is only for people who aren’t smart enough/good enough to do it for themselves?

    How come I get the feeling that the “great community and supportive forums” (spin keyword #3) pumped out a little message telling the SBI users to go and comment on a big high ranking blog in order to help generate their own traffic (and not coincidentally load up the positive comments.)

    Shill. Shill. Shill.

  22. I actually do have a successful site (www.thebodyworker.com) I have that I didn’t use SBI! for but I made it after reading their first ebook – Make your site sell and as soon as I have time I am moving all 800 pages over to SBI because in the long run it will be less work and get better results.

  23. To W.G.: Here is the topic where Darren’s review has been mentioned in the SBI forums:

    http://forums.sitesell.com/viewtopic.php?t=98437

    You’ll need a username and password so contact me at tomaz (at) freedomideas.com and I’ll get you in.

    You’ll see that your “feeling” is just a “feeling” and it’s not the truth…

  24. Andrej says: 12/01/2008 at 3:51 am

    I was an SBI user myself, at the time of purchase I already knew a lot of HTML and some CSS, SBI did not convince me with its over-use of acronyms nor did it convince me with its default templates (you can recognize an SBI site a mile away…), if you want to use your own template then you’ll have to go through a lot…

    The price also was not very convenient, furthermore the SBI homepage glorifies SBI so much that it already gets funny.

    Also I think that now, in the days of the so-called “web 2.0”, simple SBI sites just can’t compete.

  25. I’ll have to agree with Jeff and Gina. I’m a Web professional and SBI has been one of the most frustrating, clunky and unhelpful website building tool I’ve ever encountered. I have difficulty making sense of all the positive feedback.

    The free site building tools most people use, such as WordPress and others, are much more modern, powerful and user friendly than anything SBI has to offer. Their documentation is abundant and comprehensive, contrarily to SBI’s which is infested with annoying salespeak. One has to browse through much useless information before being able to get anything done.

    Content management is definitively not SBI’s strength. It’s also about a decade late.

    …but how good is it at helping you monetize from websites? What sitesell.com is really selling is a Get-Rich-Slow guide book that leads you through the process of finding a niche and building an advertiser friendly website. I can’t be a judge of the tools and methodology proposed, but it has raised my curiosity enough to motivate me to do some research on the topic. Hopefully, I will be able to find this information elsewhere in a format that suits me best.

  26. Andrej, I too am a happy SBIer and have been following this review with interest. The comments from non-SBIers that perpetuate the myths of SBI! are amazing. From what I can tell, many have not even tried it, and those who have never really gave it a chance. They simply did not want to work differently.

    But “over-use of acronyms”? C’mon.

    And if you know HTML, you can upload or design ANY template you like, including your own totally custom-designed one. I’m not sure why “you have to go through a lot” if you already know HTML. As for Web 2.0, please see…

    http://c2.sitesell.com

    With Content 2.0, there are SBIers who literally get their visitors to create thousands of REAL pages (yes, some have over 1,000 pages created by their visitors), and other visitors to comment on them. On my site, I give visitors the chance to express their grief over the death of their dog. And I’ve had many comments from people, thanking me for giving them the opportunity to grieve publicly. And I do almost no work in managing that part of my site. No, SBI! definitely keeps us on the cutting edge.

    And to Luis, I’m not sure how “SBI has been one of the most frustrating, clunky and unhelpful website building tool I’ve ever encountered” when you later state that you’ve never used it: “I can’t be a judge of the tools and methodology proposed, but it has raised my curiosity enough to motivate me to do some research on the topic.”

    To everyone reading this:

    It’s really very simple. Do you have a successful site or blog that earns you real income, such as Darren does here at Problogger? If you do, then you do NOT need Site Build It!.

    Have you yet to establish a profitable business?

    Then try Site Build It!. They have an iron-clad guarantee, and the price is very low for what you get. It works out to $25 a month. Compare that to your $5 or $10 a month hosting that comes with storage and bandwidth limits and no keyword research tools.

    And if are you sensitive to the “sales” copy of their Web site, well, you likely need SBI! more than you may think. Their site DOES exist to sell the product. What they do NOT do is make any inflated claim. And they do back everything up.

    If “selling” is hard to understand or accept, you either need to change your attitude/opinion about it, or get a 9 to 5 job, because the Web entrepreneur world may not be right for you.

    I can tell you that so many new SBIers post in the forums that they almost didn’t purchase it. It seemed too good to be true. It’s not. And many post about their successes. One was on Oprah a couple of months ago. Another was the source for horror movies in the Entertainment section of USA Today on Halloween. And they were found because of their sites.

    By the way, I’m a Canadian who recently moved to and is now living in Ecuador, thanks to SBI!. I’ve learned a great deal from it. Are YOU leading the life you want to live?

    Sorry if I sound cultish.

    So do Macintosh users (I’m one of those too, for 12+ years) and Google lovers (well, before Google was everywhere). ;-)

  27. I really promised myself I wouldn’t post to this thread again, but it really is just too interesting. I won’t both answering the false myths because Jef said the single most important thing on this entire page, and I quote:

    “It’s really very simple. Do you have a successful site or blog that earns you real income, such as Darren does here at Problogger? If you do, then you do NOT need Site Build It!. Have you yet to establish a profitable business? Then try Site Build It!. They have an iron-clad guarantee, and the price is very low for what you get.”

    Jef, I really don’t think I can say it better than that! Thanks so much for your support and best of luck in Ecuador. I expect to see another profitable SBI! site, perhaps EquadorLife.com, coming soon? ;-)

    All the best,
    Ken

  28. I actually was ready to sign up when I’d read the original post, but all of the comments (with links to websites with hyphens…I’ve never seen so many websites with hyphens in one place) have creeped me out. As another commenter said, when so many people seem to be using the same phrasing to describe their experience, well, it does seem a little off. In reviewing the websites with the hyphens, they DO look and sound alike to me.

  29. Kerry, please read my previous post. Do you want to succeed or do you want a no-hyphen niche? Unless you are an offline business, you will be found by the Search Engines. Well, SBI! sites will be, in any event. You monetize that traffic.

    THAT builds real value, equity, in your business. The hyphens are irrelevant to your income. Here is what IS relevant…

    You have a business, a profitable one. Here are a whole bunch more SBI! sites, Top 1% of them, all of them. There are no tricks here. We cross-check to make sure they have the traffic to back up their high rankings.

    And this is only a small selection. To say “no” to SBI! because of hyphens, or because everyone loves SBI! and says so (Mac users all say the same things about their Macs, in the same way, too), well…

    It makes no sense.

    Please see my previous post for the bottom line.

    If you already have a successful business, great. Don’t bother. If you don’t, what do you have to lose? It boggles my mind that anyone who is serious and ambitious, ready to work to finally create a profitable e-business, would choose to forego Site Build It! for reasons like this.

    All the best,
    Ken Evoy
    Founder, SiteSell.com

  30. I’ve been on the sideline for quite some time now researching every SBI site I could find.
    Here’s my conclusion:
    1. The tools given and explained by SBI does produce amazing results.
    2. From a business perspective and not a tech perspective, SBI helps with the learning curve when it comes to successful websites.
    3. The cost is significantly less to build your own site especially if you have no idea about HTML, CSS, RSS, SEO and the rest.
    4. I actually like their marketing. SBI is not for everyone! It’s for ordinary people not looking to get rich quick by building a profitable website with unique content over time.

    I’ve done the research!

    From a non-techy point of view, SBI seems to have an awful lot of happy customers even with their so-called outdated layouts (which by the way are customizable.)

    I’m taking the plunge soon!

  31. Kerry says: 12/03/2008 at 3:57 am

    I didn’t say I was passing because of the hyphens. That would be stupid. But I think the hyphens, combined with the fact that multiple people DO seem to be using the same talking points (with the same word choice and phrasing), contribute to a spammy feel that significantly harms the credibility of the reviewers. I don’t know any of you, so I can only go by what you’ve posted here. Few of these statements seem credible or independent to me.

    I actually DO have a successful career, and I’ve worked hard to build credibility in my field. I think that if my colleagues saw my ideas presented in the format and style that I’ve seen on some of the links above, my reputation would be a bit tarnished. In fact, I actually recognized two of the sites linked above, because I’d encountered them while researching my intended niche. I’d seen them, chuckled a bit at the clearly thrown-together, hard-sell approach, and moved on to more serious sites. Maybe there was some good content on those pages, but the presentation and approach so put me off that I didn’t spend the time to find out.

    I have nothing against trying to sell your product, but if such a hard-sell approach is necessary, well, that doesn’t bode well.

    This may be a great solution for some–I’m just saying that, based on the websites of the devotees I’ve reviewed here, I don’t think it would be a good one for me. I think I’ll continue to look for a solution whose results speak for themselves (and don’t require so much help from the script).

  32. Cactus says: 12/03/2008 at 3:22 pm

    I am an unsatisfied SBI customer.

    Like many, I was drawn-in by the promise of building an online business from scratch using SBI.

    What I got with my $299 was a CMS that looks like it hasn’t been touched since 1997 and a mountain of ‘resources’ that resemble homespun tales about reaching my potential.

    I seriously doubt many people are making a living from ad revenue on their SBI sites. I seriously believe the people making money from SBI are Ken Evoy and the affiliates who flood the internet with comments and links to their affiliate pages (like Darren Rowse…).

    But don’t make your comments public: SBI affiliates and evangelists will respond with cheap sentiments about bad attitudes and the people who haven’t succeeded are the ones who never made the effort.

    Seriously, spend the $299 on marketing books written by trusted authors.

  33. I just started my SBI website about 6 months ago and I am learning as I go. I didn’t know HTML or coding when I started, knew nothing about internet marketing or web tools… the only thing I knew how to do was use a search engine like yahoo or google to find the information I wanted. I guess you could say I was your “average every day web surfer who also knew basic computer programs like Word and Excel”.

    As far as my SBI website goes…I’m excited to say that I am getting a few dozen visitors a day, my web pages are listed by 3 major SE’s and I’m on my way to a successful profitable business.

    If this sounds like a script or a list of carefully prepared ‘talking points’… I’m sorry because you are totally wrong.

    The fact of the matter is a majority of SBI people WILL have the same experience and the same information to share….we are all using the same hosting company, with the same tools and resources and most of us didn’t know a thing about HTML or CSS etc. when we started.

    Would you expect a majority of the people who were drinking a fine bottle of wine to have the same positive and pleased reaction to it? The answer is Yes.

    Would you expect a team of Olympic gymnasts to follow the same training program and produce high scores in competition? Knowing the results was due to the coach, the gymnasts training program and their individual determination? The answer is Yes.

    You can either look at this as optimism or pessimism… or the glass is half empty or half full….

    I understand most people might be a little leery when they hear great things over and over and OVER about any type of company. I was. But the difference between myself and many other pessimistic people …. well, the answer is, I did my due diligence and researched in more than one place, or one blog or one forum about SBI.

    I suggest you do that too. You will find over and over and OVER again that more people are satisfied customers who have successful websites, renew their subscriptions and continue with a successful and profitable business…. all because of SBI…. and ya, you will find a few people who could be labeled as “bad apples” who want to share their frustrations…. the fact they are unhappy with what they got when they signed up with SBI and all the other negative things you can think of…. but you will find that anywhere with ANY company…. I’ve never heard of 100% satisfied customers…. but I have heard of 100% customer satisfaction, and SBI delivers that!

    SBI provides an incredible opportunity for ANY person willing to take the time to review and utilize the tools in their website package.

    Most people who are dissatisfied or unhappy customers are usually the ones who are looking for the fast track to make money. They are missing the point of what a successful business is, what it requires to set up and what you can accomplish if you are patient, systematic and detail oriented….. That is my opinion anyway….

    Who ever heard of a mom and pop sandwich shop opening their doors and making 1 million in revenue their first year? I haven’t… but you might have heard about a shop opening and breaking even… the shop that worked hard and diligently with focus…. that is a more reasonable expectation.

    If you don’t know that something is that good when you see it… or don’t want to open your mind that it is possible… well, quite frankly…. I’m personally okay with that…. It leaves me with more opportunity for higher traffic volumes, more sales leads, and greater income potential and the list goes on.

    If you DO know something that is THAT good when you see it, then jump in!! Don’t waste your time and reap the benefits… you will have more support than you know what to do with!

    So, my last point is going to be my “shared mantra” with many other SBI’ers…. “Slow and steady wins the race.”

  34. Considering using SBI, and very pleased to find this thread.

    Perhaps oddly, my main issue is with the hyphenated URLs, and ultimately with the limitations on using anything like PHP or Ajax.

    My intention is to begin with an SBI site monetized thru SEM, but as traffic builds start to include more brand-name advertisers using IAB standard formats (please don’t argue with me about SEM versus CPM – just roll with this for now).

    There appear to be three potential barriers to making this jump:

    – Hyphenated URLs. They may be good for hit-and-run traffic from SEO, but they scare brand advertisers because they look so crappy. Is that a necessary or important part of SBI, or just a way to get around the fact that all the good URLs are taken?
    – CMS. Using an old, clunky CMS is probably not a huge deal when you’re starting, but if you’re fortunate enough to get serious traffic and want to build a large online business, you’re going to inevitably want to use a modern CMS and certainly some programming like PHP or Java. Large advertisers typically want custom sponsorships of one type or another, and most require some custom coding.
    – Migration. These sites seem tied at the hip to SBI’s back-end, and I’m scared to death that if I ever want to sell the site to someone who doesn’t use SBI for whatever reason, the sites won’t survive the “heart transplant” to another environment. Does anyone ever successfully move OFF of SBI when the time is right for them?

    I guess the jist of my question is whether or not one can use SBI as a starting-off point, but take off the training wheels when the time is right.

  35. Hi

    Hyphenated URLs are not required, only suggested for longer than three word domains.

    You can use PHP or any other script using a module in SBI! called Infin It!.

    You host the scripts on a third party host and use a subdomain in SBI! to link them into your site.

    The engines see the third party content as belonging to your SBI domain, not the third party.

    So, you can in fact plug a phpbb forum, WordPress Blog or any other system into yourSBI! site.

    I’m not going to evangelilze about SBI for fear of being blasted as a cult member or hyping it up to the max.

    I’m from the UK so not easily swayed about overhyped claims and product. All I can say is that I used SBI to promote my offline business and within 18 months I was able to ditch all offline advertising as I was getting 99% of my new clients via the web.

    That on its own saved me over 2 grand a year.

    Does it have limitations? Yes of course it does.

    Are there ways around it’s limitations? yes of course there are.

    What you have to ask yourself if you own a pretty site is, does it make you money?

    I’m another one of those who found the block builder a bit clunky, so I now upload my own pages and you can see the results at http://www.madaboutsmallville.com

    Don’t expect a large site because it’s only been live a week or three.

    I’m not here to try and convince anyone, I’m not going to waste my time trying to deperplex the perplexed.

    Incidentally, my main 2nd tier page was indexed in Google within 2 weeks and I’m already getting traffic from keyword searches, within 3 weeks?

    Take care and have a good holiday all.

    Darren

  36. Kevin, good questions. The answers…

    1) hyphenated domains are optional. Another myth. Hyphenated names are recommended for various reasons, non-hypenated for others. It’s another “SBI! myth.” YOU decide.

    2) Regading CMS. First, I’ll refer you to the post above by Jeff, so we work within the proper context…

    “It’s really very simple. Do you have a successful site or blog that earns you real income, such as Darren does here at Problogger? If you do, then you do NOT need Site Build It!. Have you yet to establish a profitable business? Then try Site Build It!. They have an iron-clad guarantee, and the price is very low for what you get.”

    So you have to decided on the above paragraph first. :-)

    Next…

    The CMS is not “old, clunky.” That’s a myth. You progress from training wheels to doing whatever you like with Dreamweaver, Photoshop, etc. Whatever you can do with regular FTP, you can do with SBI!. These are the myths I am talking about.

    And even if your personal opinion is that the backend is not as slick as gmail (and it’s not, I agree), it doesn’t need to be.

    What it needs to do is enable people to succeed.

    In today’s world, people lose track of the end goal and get blinded instead by glitz and false promises. We sell steak. Yes, our sites “sell” it. But it’s steak, not sizzle.

    (Even doing your own PHP, that can be handled through our Infin It! module. Of course, there are also dynamic advertising options through regular “upload your own HTML” which you can do with SBI!, too. But if you wanted your entire site to be php-delivered, no, that’s not SBI!. But then again, unless you are a larger company or VC-financed, you’ve lost sight of the end goal before even starting.)

    Really…

    You’re assuming an enormous success before you get there. How about we get there first, together? :-) There are SBIers with over 2 million visitors per month and don’t feel constrained. It’s not the PHP that’s going to make you successful. :-)

    Now, assuming that success…

    3) Yes, there have been SBIers who HAVE left because they have wanted exactly what you outline in your third question. They have grown to the point where they want a totally dynamic site, able to do more than we intend to ever supply. They find out, of course, that it will cost them considerably more for the traffic (forget those claims of unlimited traffic — regular hosts will “get” you on the CPU) and all the tools, but that’s OK with them because they are making much more than they ever dreamed of.

    They literally post to the forums to say good-bye, thanking everyone for the education they’ve received. They acknowledge that they could never have done it without SBI!.

    There were, of course, other ways to do what they want to achieve within the SBI! environment, but that’s OK. I’m happy that we have impacted a life so positively, and…

    At the end of the day, that’s what excites me, and everyone who works here, the most about SiteSell.com. I know it sounds corny, I know many of the comments here and elsewhere sound “cultish,” but it all comes from the entire company’s focus on every SBIer’s success. That word “cultish” has bad religious overtones, but remove those and think about any other business that is associated with that term…

    I don’t know of a CEO who wouldn’t love the association. :-)

    All the best,
    Ken

    P.S. If you have any more questions, there are good folks at question.sitesell.com — they will even openly tell you if SBI! is NOT for you. Really. :-)

  37. I found SBI through an internet search. I particularly liked their sales pitch, which is basically “If you want to get rich quick, don’t call us”. As an experienced business owner I am always turned off by the get rich quick mentality of so many web marketers. I know how expensive and time consuming it is to develop a successful business.

    My main objective was to start a website in a way that was cost effective. Hiring a professional web designer is very expensive, and I would have no control over the site. Not being a tech person, this would mean that I would have to run to the webmaster every time I wanted to make a small change to my site.

    When we are thinking about doing business with an entity on the Internet our main concern is whether this outfit is a fly by night operator, or an honest business. In that respect I have to say that SBI is a very reliable business. You will definitely get your money’s worth and more.

    Is SBI for everyone? No, it isn’t. Most of the people who buy SBI sites are business people, and they think like business people not web designers. I am a business person, and only an accidental “web designer.” What I want is for my site to advance the business, not to showcase my designing skills.

    Recently, at another forum, a business asked people to evaluate their web site. It is one of the most beautiful sites that I have ever seen, gorgeous and sophisticated. One of the features was that the site will appear to the viewer according to the time of day in the place where the business is located. The business is located on the other side of the world from me, therefore, if I am at their site when it is morning for me, it is night for them. The problem? I could not read the darn thing. The content may have been great, but I couldn’t tell because it was unreadable. The site was also difficult to navigate. So the question is, did the site fulfill the goals of the business owner? I would say that it failed miserably because it did not advance the business at all. But it did showcase the web designer’s skills beautifully! As a business owner, that would not make me very happy. My site is there to market my business, not the web designer’s business.

    I have been doing research on the Internet for many years, my profession requires it, so I have come across many many websites. Some are great, some are annoying, some are plain janes. But I find that, as a consumer of information, if a site is plain, but it gives me the information that I need, it is a winner for me. A site that is gorgeous, but I cannot get what I need; well, It just wasted my time.

    My site is not even three months old, so I cannot tell you about making money yet. And the templates are indeed boring as heck. But it has allowed me to start a site (One very different from my original concept, but that is another story) that fits my needs. And once I have time to learn html, I will want to make changes so that it reflects my style a bit more.

    Another point, about comments made that all people with SBI sites are addressing the same “talking points” and using the same phraseology; I think this is natural. When you are in a particular profession or line of work, you tend to use the same words to describe an experience. Most doctors sound alike, most lawyers sound alike, most web designers sound alike; it is natural that most SBI owners sound alike because they are using the same terminology all the time.

    Again, is SBI for everyone? No. Is it for someone who thinks like a business owner, rather than a web designer? I would say yes. Does everyone succeed with SBI? No. Do many succeed? Apparently yes, since it has a loyal following. Will you lose your money to an unscrupulous operator if you buy from them? No, they are highly ethical. Is it easy? No, not for those of us who are tech challenged, there is a steep learning curve. Is it doable? Absolutely, you do get loads of help, especially from the forums.

    It all depends on your goals. SBI fulfills the goals of a particular segment of the web population very well. But, like everything in life, it can’t fulfills everyones goals and expectations.

  38. Kevin Waldo says: 12/07/2008 at 7:36 am

    Great responses.

    Perhaps the most impressive thing about SBI is that Ken is so darn ON it when it comes to web PR! :-)

    I AM assuming “enormous success”, partly because I’ve frankly had a track record of enormous success in the past.

    But getting SEO traffic is genuinely hard, and I’ve come across SBI sites with more (way more) organic search traffic than much, much larger and better financed sites. Having my cake and eating it too would be to have SBI’s organic traffic expertise coupled with more flexibility in site technology.

    In any case, I AM going to try a few sites in SBI – although as of this morning I decided I’d better hold off a few days for the 2-for-1 Xmas sale. :-)

  39. I really like Maria’s comments. As someone who was raised in a somewhat culty religious environment, I do personally take exception to the fact that the word “cult” and “culty” get thrown around with no true understanding of what you’re talking about.

    It did come off a little MLM “rah rah” to me before I joined. But I figured I could just ignore that if I didn’t like it. There was no requirement to participate on the forums or interact with any other user of the product. But I’ve found the people on the forums to be pleasant, helpful people, who have brains in their head and whose critical reasoning seems to be functioning just fine.

    I’m also a Buffy fan. Things like Buffy have a “cult following.” We are rabidly insanely fannish about our characters and storyline and all the products available to Buffy fans as well as cons. Lots of web geeks are culty about “something.”

    Star Trek anyone? Firefly?

    How many of you understand what this means: “Did you get the new cover sheet for the TPS reports?”

    Office Space is another cult classic.

    I don’t particularly like the templates, and do hope they improve “that” particular aspect of SBI. But I’m happy with everything else about the company.

    I realize that the fact that many SBI users also promote SBI to others for a commission, disturbs some people and makes them “suspect.” But letting your fans and satisfied customers help spread the word about your product and then rewarding them for it, is just smart marketing.

    I personally am NOT an SBI affiliate. I don’t make a single dime any time anyone signs up for it. But I still think it’s a great value and provides something other web hosts can’t provide, the tools and training you need to make your online business work.

    Sure, it’s not ‘perfect’, nothing is. But in every area except templates, it over-delivers. And a lot of the rah rah is just excitement over finding something people like so much. And it’s nice to be a part of a helpful and supportive business community.

    Z

  40. I have two relatively new SBI sites and I have no complaints. Actually my only regret is that I should have gone with SBI a long time ago.

    Now I am not a graphic designer but I think I am efficient enough with HTML and FTP to use standard hosting… but I am still willing to say that there is nothing better than Site Build on the market.

    I have operated in both worlds and frankly I don’t miss the FTP, besides why is this myth still prevailing that the Internet is about graphic design… look at the evidence some of the prettiest sites are doing absolutely nothing.

    Maybe I am sounding a bit cultish… So I better go and browse in the SBI forums or better yet build some content and kick my Non-SBI competition BUTT.

    SBI the perfect way to build an online business…

  41. I came across this post while poking around on the Problogger site, and while I may be a little late to the party, I figured I’d add my experience with SBI.

    For a complete newbie to setting up a website with the intention of making some money from it, SBI can be a good introduction. They provide a lot of good information about how to create good content and how to make a site that gives a good visitor experience.

    But for anyone with some experience, you’ll probably find their system a bit restrictive. There are lots of things that you can do with any standard web host that SBI doesn’t allow, such as standard FTP access and php scripting (so you can’t run things like WordPress or phpBB directly on your site).

    SBI will tell you their system is set up the way it is for many reasons, and it works so how can you criticize? The system works for many people, but from what I’ve seen both in their forums and others, it doesn’t work any better than any other host would for many people as well. So this point is debatable.

    They also have a long list of features that are included, and how it would cost $5000 to buy them all separately. I disagree with their analysis here – I don’t believe it would cost that much – but something to consider is if you buy these services elsewhere you can generally use them on multiple sites (an autoresponder service, for example). With SBI you only get one site so if you want to set up more, you have to pay the annual cost for each one ($299 I think right now).

    If you are planning to set up multiple websites, the cost of these tools is considerably less when you factor in how many sites they can be used on.

    The thing that I really didn’t like about SBI was the “MLM / rah-rah” feeling of the community. There is a palpable feeling of “ignore the man behind the curtain” in many of the discussions on the forum, and most people who criticize the system for any significant reason get lambasted by many other users, often by just spouting the same stuff that the SBI sales page tells them.

    It goes so far as to have an “SBI Response Group” that finds negative forum threads around the net and points them out to other forum members so they can jump in and “correct” the information in those threads. Granted, some of it is in fact wrong but in other cases the information is accurate, it just doesn’t tow the SBI line.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this post was brought to the SBI forum’s attention to get some of their evangelists to pop in and add their glowing reviews in the comments :-)

    As one of the earlier comments pointed out, most of the reviews you’ll find of SBI are written as thinly-veiled affiliate promotions, not true reviews. Most of them do little more than regurgitate what the SBI sales pages tell you.

    I’m not an affiliate, so I just wanted to add my hopefully balanced opinion. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to know how the technical end of things works, and you don’t have a lot of prior marketing experience, SBI would be a good choice.

    If you like digging into the technical stuff or you already have a good foundation in marketing, you can do better with a “standard” host and other services such as an autoresponder service that will run on as many sites as you want to build.

  42. Nat, as a current SBI user I couldn’t agree with you more.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if this post was brought to the SBI forum’s attention to get some of their evangelists to pop in and add their glowing reviews in the comments :-)

    I’m surprised they haven’t come over here to kick the crap out of you yet. LOL. They’re probably still rounding up the posse.

    Great post, totally spot on.

  43. I actually promote SBI on one of my sites and feel quite comfortable doing it. I think the comments here are pretty spot on regarding the product and the “mindset” within the SBI community.

    There are a number of reasons why I recommend it but I would only recommend it for a rank beginner.

    I think the number one reason is that any person looking to start a site with a commercial intent needs to be guided through the correct sequence of steps to avoid the pitfall of finding out that important piece of data AFTER you have already implemented something.
    E.g Getting yourself some ungodly/unwieldy domain name that later you find out is not what you should have. Or naming all your site pages after your favorite pets!

    There is a sea of info out there on the net about all aspects of internet marketing, SEO etc and for the newbie it not only becomes overwhelming but leads to paralysis or failure.

    Whilst the SBI program does have its limitations the newbie, by following the dots, actually learns the important info and the correct sequence of implementation. Add to that the fact that SBI MUST make you successful to at least some degree to get their next year’s subscription and you do have a pretty good base from which to start.

    Once a person had done a complete site with SBI, and if they had paid attention to the details along the way, I wouldn’t really see the need for getting another through them. He or she should be armed with some pretty solid basics to see them running by themselves independently.

  44. See, Lance, your opinion that SBI is only for newbies is one of the most persistent myths out there about Site Build It, and it is just not true. I can say that because I am unequivocally NOT a newbie (having been on the Web with my own sites for the past 8 years) and yet I still prefer to use SBI as my webhost/site builder, etc.

    It’s true that SBI teaches newbies many foundational concepts that cut through the overwhelm and put them on the right track to success. But even after you’ve learned those basics, SBI has much to offer.

    Probably one of the biggest things they have to offer is their suite of cutting edge tools. And new ones are added regularly, most at no additional cost. In fact, SBI has not raised their costs in years, and frequently offer specials.

    They also offer ongoing education, which is valuable even to experienced online business people. Not to mention a tremendous mastermind group in the form of their member forums.

    It’s really a great value, no matter how much experience you have. So, since you’re selling SBI as an affiliate, don’t mislead your more experienced visitors. They can benefit from building an SBI site as well.

  45. Thank you for your review of Site Build It. SBI Seems like the best place to start for novice web developers like yourself. We appreciate you sharing your opinion and doing the research needed to fairly evaluate the service. We have seen fit to link to this article in our independent Site Build It Reviews section. Anyhow, keep up the good work spreading truth.

  46. I’ve been using SBI for about a year now. I had absolutely zero knowledge about HTML, meta descriptions etc. It is definitely an incredible useful source of information for anyone who decides to build a website. But, SBI is not just for beginners. Even professional webmasters can get a wild variety of ideas to attract more traffic, different ways to monetize their products or services.
    I think the most valuable part of “sitesell” is the FORUM.

    There are hundreds of folks giving you information about basically anything. Those guys have been doing this business for years, already built many many websites and are able to guide you through the challenges you face during the website building process.

    And it’s works. I can see my traffic growing on a daily basis with more and more subscribers. That’s the reward for my hard work.

    Another important part of it is that gives you the freedom to do whatever you want to do and whenever you want to do it.

    I have many friends already asked me to give them advice to get found by the search engines and to get more visitors to their sites.

    I am very happy with their service and response time. Very professional, very helpful company. I can only tell you the best about them. I would highly recommend SBI to anybody

  47. Site Build It has definitely stood the test of time and seems to still be providing good value. They need a little more variety in the basic design of the pages but I guess you could get them customized if desired. Normally, they are easy to notice but that’s not necessarily a bad thing but more of an observation.

  48. Stephanie says: 03/31/2009 at 11:14 am

    I plan on purchasing SBI this week. It has been interesting reading all of the comments, especially from those knocking it before they try it. I have designed web sites for nearly 8 years and it has become increasingly difficult over the past several years to get your site to consistently rank high and increase traffic. What worked 8 years ago does not work as well today because of the competition and the continued

    You can build the most attractive site(s) with all the bells and whistles and offer the best products on earth, but if you are not getting traffic, how is that beneficial? Manually submitting a site to all of the relevant search engines can be costly. Just to submitt your site to Yahoo will cost you $299 per year (nonrefundable – I may add). It appears that SBI automatically submits sites to the appropriate engines and forums, plus soooo much more for only $299.00 /yr. Not only do you save money but you save time also.

    I think that some of the negative comments come from people who have not really tried it out and may not be willing to put in the time and effort to find a topic of interest that will enable them to create rich content that visitors will want to seek out and find.

    I’m looking forward to trying it out!

  49. Aly A. says: 04/01/2009 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Stephanie,

    I hope you’re not confusing Yahoo with the Yahoo Directory – which costs $299. What SBI does is submit to Yahoo for you, not to the Yahoo directory…

    That said, I’m an SBI user and wouldn’t have it any other way. The amount of work they do for us can’t be quantified and as a webmaster you’ll be able to do even more!

    I just wanted to clear up that one detail… As for the rest, you’ll probably get more for free than you ever dreamed…

  50. Kevin Waldo says: 04/01/2009 at 8:35 pm

    If you’re serious about buying SBI, let me know and I’ll sell you my second copy from the Xmas 2-for-1 deal.

    KevinWaldo (at Gmail)

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