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24 Rules I Follow When Creating Successful Websites

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Today I wanted to do an extended list of my rules for creating and building successful websites. I have created 5 websites that have each gone on to have millions of visitors. What I have found is, to give myself the best chance possible to be successful with a website, I need to make sure to follow this checklist.

It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or if you already have 100,000’s of people visiting your site, I find that most sites are forgetting at least a few of these tips, when it comes to creating the best websites possible.

My Top Tips For Creating and Running Successful Websites

1. Your website should load quickly. (Because Google and users loves it!) Watch out for memory intensive plugins or conflicting plugins etc. Here are 16 ways to increase website speed.

2. Security from hackers is important. I lost my first big site because I didn’t have any. More embarrassingly I didn’t have a Back Up! Fortunately these days, most hosts will do automatic backups for you (although I believe you should always keep a fairly up to-date back-up of your site offline also) Additionally never pick a web host that hasn’t got 24/7 live support. When things go BAD, you will want their help. Since we added Sucuri website security to our website over 2 years ago, we haven’t had any problems. I highly recommend that you get it.

3. Always use a .com and unless there really is no alternative don’t use a DASH / Hyphen in between words in a domain name.

4. Build an email list from day one. Go get OptiMonk.

5. Websites do break! Sometimes for what will appear to be no reason, pages will stop displaying as they should or even links will get messed up. This often is caused by a conflict with one of the plugins we use. With regards to internal and external links becoming broken, I recommend you use Broken Link Checker.

6. Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest. Pick one and dominate it, stop sucking at all 3. Or alternatively hire someone to look after your social media and make them responsible for the outcome.

7. Have a plan for your business (website) – I mean a bricks and mortar business without a business plan is pretty silly! Why should it be any different for your website? Have a plan for the coming month, 3 month, 6 months, 12 months! Where do you see you and your website 5 years from now? Do you have an exit plan? Do you have a revenue plan?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

8. If you focus on one traffic source, you are missing out. Google, Social Media, Email Marketing, Podcasts, Videos, Affiliates, Info Graphics & Linkbait are all important.

9. Consistency is key when publishing content. Daily, Weekly, Monthly, you choose how often to post and stick to it. (Gee, I am not always great at following this Rule myself – but really it is essential!)

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”

~ Anthony Robbins

10. Make it easy for people to contact you. What is more, be open to some criticism or less than positive comments about your website. Sure some comments will come from generally negative people but my overall experience is that people want to help. For example I have received 100’s of emails from people notifying me of bugs and spelling errors.

11. The early bird catch’s the worm, a saying you’re probably heard often before. Take for example someone who bought in 1997 was able to sell it for $7.5 million 2 years later. OK, perhaps you can’t do that everyday but don’t think this is an isolated case, opportunities are all around us. Take for example – the first few marketers who got on it were able to take advantage of it before new rules came into place to slow you down from adding people. When you see a opportunities, take it!

12. Never retaliate to comments or emails. People will disagree with you and you might even think they are dumb, but they are entitled to their opinion. Frankly we don’t have the time or energy to prove them wrong. It’s also not so important that you need to waste your life trying to prove yourself right and someone else wrong.

This is one of my fathers favorite quotes – not everyone will get it first time, but think about it!

“Do you want to be Right or do you want to be Happy”

13. Ask! You can get a lot of things by just asking. When I was 18, I caught Glandular Fever in Ghana and spent a horrific week in hospital in Ghana before returning to England and spending a week in hospital here in the UK. I had to rest for months after that and decided I had nothing better to do then ask people to do interviews for Retireat21. I spent days emailing hundreds of top internet entrepreneurs for interviews. Three of the top 100 websites in the world came back to me and said they would do an interview, plus over 50 other successful CEO’s and entrepreneurs.

14. Regularly ask yourself – If in 10 years (or in one day, 6 months. I year, 5 years)  you were to look back at your actions today what would you have changed? Do that. From my good friend Craig Ballantyne

15. These days there is an increasing trend that the people who make the most cash online, buy a high percentage of their traffic (pay for advertisements). Basically they have learned additional skills based on lead generation and Cost Per Acquisition (CPA). If you are not also learning these skills, you are missing out. I now include bought traffic in my online promotions.

16. Top list articles still bring me 80% of my traffic, although it only took 20% of my time to create them.

17. In my experience, it’s easier to start a day productively then end it productively. (Well… so far today I’ve done nothing, I guess I will try harder tomorrow..)

18. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – in particular with how you monetize your website.

So often, people have only one or two methods of monetizing a website such as banner advertising. But advertisers come and go and no month is ever the same. Diversify your income with different methods such as affiliate marketing, email marketing, coaching, ebooks etc! And with affiliate marketing, promote multiple offers.

Also, don’t presume what you are doing right now, will be working in years to come. Keep innovating & educating.

Nothing is for sure in life or business, just because something has worked today, it doesn’t mean it will work again tomorrow. This applies to marketing, selling, traffic, advertisers. There really are No Guarantees – the only Guarantee you can rely on when it all comes down to it, is yourself!

19. Surround yourself with successful people. Retireat21, IncomeDiary & PopUp Domination all came from ‘hanging out’ with other like minded people.

20. Always have a written and signed agreement with your partners / Joint Ventures. People will rip you off for less money then you would imagine. Greed is a crazy thing. Read: 11 Essential Lessons From Going Into Business With People

21. What you Focus on is what you get – so if you want money, FOCUS on it! Always be aware of who owes you money, check that the payments you expect to receive are arriving in your bank account (Paypal account) at the correct time. If you still get paid by a cheque – bank it straight away and don’t leave it hanging around for days.

22. Don’t be afraid of highly competitive niche! The reason they are competitive is because there is money in that niche!

23. When negotiating, often it is more powerful to say nothing. I find that people don’t like silence and will want to say something, often lowering the price.

24. Keep moving forward. Don’t give up – The biggest difference between success and failure is not giving up.

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time”

~ Thomas Edison

“The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake.”

~ Nelson Boswell

Read more: ‘9 Best Ways To Increase Sales On Your Website’


  1. Zadok Tarei says:

    Great article. Just started creating great websites and social media sites for local business. This has been really helpful.

  2. WHY?
    #3: Always use a .com and unless there really is no alternative don’t use a DASH / Hyphen in between words in a domain name.

    • Michael Dunlop says:

      Hey Bob,

      .Com is what people remember. It’s what all the top sites use, it’s the most popular.

      I don’t see any benefit of using anything else.

      A lot of people can’t get the .com and often will go for a or .org or something but that gives the wrong impression.

      For example, if you go to – you may presume it’s specific to UK entrepreneurs only.

      Hope that clears it up a bit,


  3. Craig Cole says:

    #21 – I’m guessing you’ve read The Secret 😉

    Nice list again Michael. I’d highly recommend paying for a good theme with a good admin panel! The amount of people that start with a free theme is unreal. You’ll just end up with a buggy site that doesn’t get upgraded and has no support,

    You can pick one up for measly £30 – £50 and the time it will save you will pay you back in no time.

    Plus your site will look professional and you’ll get good support if anything goes wrong.

  4. This is a very useful list … I will take with me.

  5. Somesh Rao says:

    Great list.

    One suggestion for #4. Have a development environment similar to what your website is like.
    There are two options for this. First, it could be a PC running Linux and Apache. The other is to buy an additional hosting account.

    Any updates must first be done to the development environment and then moved to the actual web site.

  6. #20 rule
    Do you have any insights or content that provide tips or help from a blog creating legal standpoint? This would be really good to know for startups like me. Thanks!

  7. Brian Diener says:

    I think number 21 is the most important for people working online. You have to pick something and focus on it. It is possible to focus on different projects, but not at once. Spend an hour on each and you will be able to get much more done in your time.

  8. Thank You Michael , I like your suggestions. I will definitely do as you said. Regards, Umar

  9. John Poe says:

    Would love to see you more active on your personal twitter Mike!

  10. Hi Michael, liked this post because it gives more of an insight into the behind the scenes of running a successful blog. Would love to see more similar to this.

    Would really like to read the following post idea —> The goals you set and the expectations you set when starting a new blog <—-


  11. Fantastic list. My personal favorite is #21: What you Focus on is what you get. I think this somehow includes all other points. If you constantly focus on succeeding online – no matter what… you will take action, you will find inspiration, you will be motivated most of the time, you will do the right things, you will get over failures… and you will ultimately succeed.

  12. Yari Lendy says:

    Wow… Wow.. and wow.

    This is one of the very up close post I’ve ever read. You are a life saver. This is just my number one problem – starting small. I think I will definitely give this a try. I mustn’t start big yet. it will turn out very big in due time.

    Thanks for this blogging tip. Will take my niche blog seriously from today one-wards,

  13. Brittany Jones says:

    I really like the top 10 lists! I know when I’m reading through things, I am drawn to lists like this. I think part of it is because I can know exactly what I’m getting myself into when I click the article. I don’t worry about how long or short the article is. I don’t worry about what the article talks about, because it tells me what I am going to read about in the title.

  14. LOL. I had a good laugh while learning and being reminded at the same time. Pretty neat list, huh. I have to agree with rule number 6. If you can’t handle having an account on each social media sites available, then let it go. But if you can, why not? And like the humorous suggestion, delegate the responsibility to handle the accounts; if you have the budget to do so.

    So many things to say, but so little time. I have to say though that I’ve enjoyed the list, Michael. Thumbs up! 🙂

  15. Hey, very nice collection here. I liked No.13 , to get back links from top people its very important to ask.

  16. Anton Volney says:

    Good post Michael. My blog is loosely modeled after yours. I’d love some feedback.

    — Loyal customer and fan.

  17. Really nice post Michael. I made a blog by following some of your techniques. Thanks for all the inspiration.

  18. Kulwant says:

    Thanks for this beautiful article and listing out awesome points to build a great site.

    The point I loved most is “Always have a written and signed agreement with your partners / Joint Ventures.”

    I have gone through this issue and know how it feels when it happens.

  19. That was really awesome piece of advise Michael. I specially liked the point of security, people always neglect security.

  20. Huguens Morency says:

    A lot of great lessons Micheal. Thanks! I will follow most of them from now on.

  21. Mark Ross says:

    Those are awesome rules you follow, I think I’ll be following them too, if you don’t mind. Thanks a lot for sharing those! 🙂

  22. Arbaz Khan says:

    Those are some of the most awesome rules I have ever read. I would surely try to copy some of them and implement in my work as well.
    Focus is the thing that I should work on and getting to know like minded people would also help.
    Thanks for giving this article 🙂

  23. steveborgman says:

    Question: Can you point me to some of your articles about making a plan for your blog? As in a business plan? Thanks!

  24. 23 When negotiating, often it is more powerful to say nothing. I find that people don’t like silence and will want to say something, often lowering the price.

    This one struck me as oh yes, really true! When my prospective boss told me his salary offer, I was surprised and happy he quoted a really good salary, so I didn’t know what to say, and I didn’t say anything. The next thing? He even upped his offer!

  25. Susan K. Osborne says:

    Awesome Michael! I love the quote of dominating 1 social media outlet instead of sucking at 3 of them. It’s so true – I’ve been a couple years being less than my best at all three. Time to step it up and dominate in the 2 I know will rock my blog :). Thanks – you’ve given me so much great info over the last year. Keep it up! Susan

  26. Best Headphones says:

    Awesome advice. Experience speaks. Thanks Michael.

  27. Julie Dawn Harris says:

    Amazing Advice! Now a day’s hackers grew stronger, you have to protect your website so that all your hard work won’t go to waste. Some of the most important things on creating a successful website are hard work, dedication, and enjoying what you do.

  28. GUY THIESSEN says:

    Great points. What advice do you have for someone (like me) who has an idea for a income generating website but no experience or contacts to turn the idea into a reality? I’m talking about starting literally from scratch.

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