When you have been involved with online sales and marketing for as long and as intensely as I have, you will make many mistakes and experience countless setbacks. On the plus side you will get smarter, wiser and be able to make more with less effort. What I’m sharing with you are nuggets of wisdom built over the years so that you can learn from it and hopefully not make the same mistakes. This is not a complete list by no means, however they are what I feel to be the most important and are organized in the same way you will experience them as you start your business. So here’s my common sense marketing…
Know Your Value and What You’re Getting Yourself Into
1. The internet alone doesn’t make you money. It’s simply an extension of the person YOU are and the value you deliver to others. Focus on adding value to people’s lives and they will happily pay you for your solution.
2. There is NO ‘one way’ to make money online and NO ‘one way’ is set in stone. Every technique you’ve come across is (and will always be) work in progress.
3. Get comfortable selling. If you’ve never sold anything before online, how do you expect to make money? Even if you’re not selling to someone directly, you’re still convincing someone to do something, (e.g. click on your website link, sign up, join a program, refer a friend etc.)
4. You are either an affiliate or a product seller or a service provider. Out of all the possible ‘money making techniques’ you will end up selling or promoting other people’s products (i.e. as an affiliate, per per lead generator or contextual advertiser), or you will be selling your own products (i.e. ClickBank vendor, solo ad vendor, eCommerce store, eBay selling, site flipping etc), or you will be providing a service (such as freelancing, installing sites, coaching etc.) Know where you stand in the bigger picture to help you create a better marketing plan and to develop a great sales funnel!
5. Become a seller, not a consumer. Picture yourself as a shop owner, with products to sell and customers walking into your store every day. Know your products, demonstrate the products, advise your customers, and make selling second nature. Don’t walk across the street, walk into your competitor’s shop, consume their products and let them advise you. Likewise don’t keep opening emails thinking that you need to buy everything that comes your way. Use your filter to organize your messages and only purchase a product if you REALLY need it, or if you want to spy on your competition. You’re the boss of your business and are in full control. Keep it that way.
Conversions, Traffic and Profit Hot Spots
6. Focus on ONE profitable ever-green niche and stick with it. The big niches are health and fitness, wealth, relationships and personal development. There are plenty of sub-niches within these main niches. Tackling several niches at once will hinder your focus. Only enter into another niche when you’re happy with the results from your first niche and can use it’s profits to grow the next business.
7. Focus on creating a sales funnel. Very rarely does a person buy one product and never buy anything related to that product ever again. Always offer upsells, downsells, membership plans, and cross-promote offers to maximize your sales and deliver tremendous value at the same time. You don’t have to have everything ready at once either. A squeeze page and one offer is enough to get started. Add more to it as you develop.
8. Conversions first, then traffic. Traffic by itself is useless unless it can be converted into sales. To convert traffic into sales you need to work on your conversions and one of the biggest factors that lead to high conversions are good copywriting, story-telling, sales videos, bonuses, and testimonials.
9. Source of traffic matters. Pay-per-click differs from forum traffic. Video traffic differs from article traffic. Email traffic differs from search engine traffic. Expect to create different variations of landing pages and sales pages based on your traffic source.
10. Quality content produces quality traffic. Invest your time in producing and/or outsourcing videos, articles, reports, eBooks, that are worth spreading and can go viral. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it should be junk. It should represent the value of your paid products or services.
11. Build and cultivate a response mailing list. Don’t expect every visitor to buy your product or recommendation right away. Don’t expect them to remember your site URL, or to even bookmark the page. Instead make it a priority to get their email address and use your autoresponder to follow-up with them, provide great value and then make the sale. It pays off in the long term.
12. Work on your copy-writing skills. Everything is copy-writing, a blog post title, an email subject line, a pay-per-click ad, a banner, sales letters, sales video scripts etc. Good old fashion copy-writing is a transferable skill. It goes a long way and is what makes the sale. Afterall… you’re reading this aren’t you?
13. Use PLR and resell rights to make sales fast. Yes it’s good practice to create your own unique products from scratch, but if you want to turn a profit quick, re-work existing PLR (private label rights) or use resell rights products and sell it. Don’t let it sit on your hard drive. There’s plenty of good PLR in the big niches previously mentioned. When you have good cash flow, then you can create your own products.
14. Re-purpose and distribute your content for effective marketing. An article can be used as a Facebook post. A Facebook post can be used as a blog post. A blog post can be turned into a PDF report. A PDF report can be submitted to eBook directories. A PDF report can also be turned into a slide presentation. A slide presentation can be submitted to slide presentation sites. A voice-over reading-aloud the slides can be turned into video. A video can be submitted to video sites… and so on. Make full use of existing content and re-purpose it and distribute it through multiple channels to make a bigger marketing impact.
Making The Transition To Full Time Online
15. Don’t jump from a full time job to internet marketing and expect to replace your income. Most likely it won’t happen. Instead reduce your hours at your job, and work on your internet business on the side. Prove to yourself that you can make sales consistently, and grow and scale up to meet, even surpass your job income before going full time online.
16. If you plan to jump full time online, be sure you have enough saved to cover at least a year’s worth of expenses. Example your expenses are $1000 a month, be sure you have at least $12,000 saved up. That way you can put a time limit on your business and give yourself enough time to decide if you can do this full time, or you need to go back to work and earn more.
17. If you’ve spent more than 1 year online (as in 8-10 hours a day for 365 days) actively looking for ways to make money online and still trying to make your first sale then you’re doing it wrong. Instead find someone who is already successful in an area you’d like to study, and get them to mentor you. You will learn much faster, take action on the right things and get better results. This will only motivate you and give you a push in the right redirection.
Planning, Executing and Failing Properly
18. Don’t work hard. Work smart, then work hard. Better to have a 90% solid plan and work at 50% pace than have no plan and work at 100% pace.
19. Don’t focus so much on time management, focus more on completing a task 100%. If you don’t finish a task for the day, move it on to the next and focus on it until it’s complete.
20. You will never get things perfect first time round. Launch your product, publish your post, send out your email, create your video, make your sales, get feedback, then improve it, if necessary.
21. If you’re stepping into uncertainty and are going to fail, do it fast and cheaply. Use the data as learning experience to help you make smarter and wiser decision in the future.
22. Never take failure personally. Control that negative talk in your head and use it as a learning experience. You’ve just learned another way NOT to do things. Enough no no’s will show you exactly what you need to be doing.
23. You will have bad days. If things aren’t going your way, step away from the computer, go get from fresh air, or take a nap. Don’t waste time browsing on the web or checking email because it will make you more irritated.
24. You will experience burnout. On those days your energy levels are low. Don’t do any brain intensive tasks. Sleep if you need to and spend time recharging because your focus levels will be off and you will make more mistakes in your work as a result.
25. Don’t fall into the trap of doing nothing. At least if you fail at something you can still learn from it. Doing nothing, waiting for something to happen, or letting excuses hold you back will not improve the situation. Take control and do what you can as far as you can to the best of your ability.
Outsourcing and Scaling Up
26. Don’t outsource and delegate until your business is ready for it. Bootstrap and do everything yourself until you can make enough sales to outsource tasks to someone. If you can’t get to this stage, then go back to the basics. Traffic > squeeze page > offer.
27. Know the value of your time. If you make $100 a day and work 8 hours a day, your time is worth $12.50 an hour. Therefore a task that you can outsource for $10 an hour is worth it to you especially if it takes you longer than one hour to do it! Whilst you outsource your task, you should be spending your time on the most valuable tasks.
28. Don’t buy paid advertising until you know you can convert it. Otherwise you might as well be throwing money down the drain. (Refer back to the part about conversions before traffic.)
29. Make the goal of paid advertising to break even. If you can break even with one squeeze page and one offer then you are building a list for free. Any additional upsells added to your sales funnel will increase your profit from there on out.
30. Split test only when you are converting paid traffic. Use split testing tools only when you are certain that you can convert paid traffic and break even. Now you can optimize your squeeze page, optimize your offer, change your prices, alter your sales video, change the title, add or remove sales copy, and find out what really works.
Preparing For The Worse and Making Backup Plans
31. Don’t rely solely on PayPal as your source of income. Use multiple payment systems such as ClickBank, Zaxaa with Stripe, JVZoo with Stripe and Authorize.net, 2CheckOut and many others. PayPal can place your account on review, freeze your account or even worse suspend it. The last thing you want is your income to come to a stop just because PayPal says so. So prepare yourself now and have backup plans in place.
32. Use your credit card to pay for (recurring) expenses, not your PayPal account. If PayPal puts your account on hold long enough, the services you pay for are placed on hold too. Don’t allow for your webhosting to be suspended or access to your autoresponder denied or cloud storage to be disabled simply because funds can’t leave your PayPal account. Set up all your payments through credit card to avoid the possibility of this happening altogether.
33. Don’t rely on one autoresponder for your entire list. Starting out with one list is fine. But when you have tens of thousands of subscribers, you should split them into at least two autoresponders such as Aweber and GetResponse. If one company shuts down or is performing maintenance when you want to send out an email, your income is affected.
34. Be prepared for things to go wrong because they do go wrong. Save your work to your computer, use cloud storage like Google Drive, or Amazon S3 and save your work to external hard drives. Make backups of your websites, blogs, plugins, themes, any customized code, software etc. Make backups of your backups. If you’re going to put 1000s of hours of your personal work into your business, don’t allow it to suddenly get wiped out overnight from a hardware failure, virus, or anything else. Make preparations asap.
Business Achievements, Income and Expenses
35. Take screenshots of your income. This serves two purposes. It proves to others that you know what you’re doing and it serves as a reminder to yourself of what you’ve accomplished.
36. Take screenshots of your business achievements. Whether you’re getting consistent traffic, or built a sizeable list, or you’ve come first in an affiliate contest, or you’ve received a certificate from ClickBank, or you’ve achieved PowerSeller status on eBay… take a screenshot or photo of it and use it as proof of your endeavours.
37. Ask for testimonials and feedback from your customers. Yes you can write a convincing sales letter, and show people you know what you’re doing, but if you can prove that your product or service delivers results, a testimonial goes a long way.
38. Clear off your debts as early and as quickly as possible. When you start making money consistently online it’s very easy to start living it up! The interest that accumulates from personal loans and credit cards add up quickly. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re paying nearly as much interest as you are paying the debt. Pay it off as soon as you can so you can actually start saving!
39. Stay on top of your taxes. Once you start earning more than the yearly allowance, depending on your income, be prepared to put 20-40% aside for taxes, national insurance, student loans etc. each month. Google ‘tax calculator’ to find out how much you will be paying in your country and to get an accurate break down of the costs. As a UK resident, filing a tax return in the UK online is very straight forward. Even if you’re within your yearly allowance it’s worth filing a return just to get experience with the process. Do not fear it. Treat it as another bill that needs to be paid and factor it into your business then you won’t be hassled by the brown envelopes.
Cultivating a Positive Attitude and Keeping It For Life
40. Cultivate a positive focus mind. It’s easy to be negative, find faults in things, look for others to blame. It takes no effort to think or be like this. However self-praise, forward-thinking, creativity and actually taking action requires mental strength and courage. Cultivate a positive mind in your business and it will spread naturally to all other areas of your life.
41. Stay away from nay-sayers and haters. People who do not develop themselves are quick to have an opinion on something they don’t understand. Even worse you can offend them and they belittle you and try to talk you down. This is because they themselves are too afraid to step up their game and better themselves because they have their own fears. I would strongly recommend you cut these people from your life completely. However if these happen to be close members of your family, or your spouse, keep your ideas and plans to yourself, and divert attention away from your business when it comes up in conversation.
42. Spend more time with like-minded people. Go to seminar events, network with people who think like you, talk to people who love talking about ideas. Ideas will bounce off each other and you will stimulate each others minds. When you’re in the presence of creative people, it’s completely different energy. It will rub off on you and you will approach your business with a new perspective.
43. You can make money or you can make excuses… but you can’t make both! Talking about your problems to others or looking for someone to complain to is a completely different state of mind from someone who is planning, creating and doing. Decide whether you’re in this to make money or to tell others that it can’t be done.
This is by no means a complete list, but it’s definitely an important list that will keep you on the right track. What do you think? Can you relate to any of these marketing hacks? Did it hit a soar spot? Have you experienced challenges in the past that you could have handled better? If so leave a comment below for discussion…