TheMadScientist - 4:33 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)
"Don't rely on free traffic" is easy to say - but that's only possible for some business models. E-commerce can certainly work with paid traffic - but information publishing funded by advertising can't (in most niches):
As a publisher you simply can't afford to pay to create great content, then pay for visitors to come and consume it for free, in the hope that 2% of them will click an ad - unless you've got amazing visitor retention, the figures just won't work.
I'm starting to see why so many people here 'lose everything' when their free traffic goes away, but I also don't know of anyone in the 'real business world' who would invest in a 'business' that wanted to build a site that totally relies on free traffic without any plan (or hope) for long-term sustainability if that free traffic goes away ... What's described above doesn't really sound like a business to me.
(I'm not trying to pick on anyone, it's just a good example of the difference in how some of us think.)
One interesting thing I was thinking last night is Google, Apple, Nike and some others I'm probably not remembering right now, all started in garages. Dell started in a dorm room ... They all took time, hard work, and (here's the kicker) Created Something People Liked and Wanted.
I really think the free traffic available from one source has made many think what they do is more important to other people than it really is, and, unfortunately it seems (to me at least) many have gotten 'caught up' in the idea that since a bunch of people visit for a while that means the site is 'important' to people when it's really could have been a different site or series of sites all along and the end user would have been equally as happy.
People visiting a site when it ranks at the top of the results doesn't necessarily mean it's 'needed' or 'important' to anyone else ... It's actually when it doesn't rank but previous visitors return and new people visit anyway you know it's important to people and you've really created something people like and want.