I want to show you the replay of the last several people I have coached in starting their online businesses. Here it is.
- Spent days and days wondering if the niche was “right.”
- Picked a niche and immediately second-guessed it.
- Finally committed and built out the site.
- Started with a tiny tiny trickle of traffic, and built it up to about 1,000 visitors over 2 months.
- Started spending less time on serving the audience to focus attention on making a digital product.
- Audience tires of the stalling and doesn’t like the site enough to buy the product.
- Launched the product and sold $200 but then the sales stopped.
- Entrepreneur loses steam and slowly stops working on the site.
- Time of business death: 3 months
Sites usually don’t die out because the entrepreneur wasn’t good enough or because the market wasn’t valuable. Sites usually die when the entrepreneur stops fertilizing the tender, growing audience at the most critical growing stage.
As a general rule, I like to see an email list of at least 100 people before you launch your first product.
And then it is time to monetize. Expect small wins in the beginning, but once you get a taste for seeing income from your site, it’ll give you the second wind you need to dominate.
Let’s start with a goal that will require hard work, but which is entirely reachable: $100,000 (US) in a 12 month period. Remember that we’re starting the clock from the time you first monetize your site–not from when you first registered your domain name and worked on building traffic for a few months. To get started, we need to pick a monetization strategy.
Here are some of the most common options for how the site can be monetized
- Affiliate marketing (getting a commission for leading your audience to buy another’s product)
- Online classes
- Downloadable video
- Selling other digital products
- Website advertising
- Podcast advertising
- Physical product sales
Pre-Product: Your first online dollar
Earlier, I advised waiting about four months before launching your own product, but I don’t recommend income celibacy while your site is new.
There is one monetization strategy you should implement right away–affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing does not require you to “push” any product, and it will not require any time to prepare.
The first thing I’d like you to do is sign up for the Amazon Associates program. It allows you to recommend any product on Amazon.com and get a commission of 4 – 8% on the sale.
Signing up costs you nothing and you can be done in 5 minutes.
Now, if you write about a book in your niche, review a product, mention a cool purchase, or recommend products to your audience, you make a commission.
If you link someone over to a book on Amazon and they click the link but get distracted and buy a vacuum, you make 8% of the price of the vacuum.
Set up links on your site and ask friends and family to click on them before shopping on Amazon. It doesn’t cost them anything and you get a little moola.
Amazon Associates will likely earn you about 20 cents per person you get to click on one of the links. You’ll earn a few bucks in your first couple months. It will likely be tiny, but it will at least show progress.
On one of my sites that gets 700,000 page views per month, I earn between $2,700 and $3,600 per month from Amazon Associates. I don’t push it at my audience. The links are just left naturally in articles where I happen to mention a product.
Developing Your Product
I have four bits of advice for you in launching your own product: (1) Do not reinvent internet marketing. Choose a product that you have seen other websites in your niche sell with success. (2) Choose the simplest product for you to professionally produce. (3) Create the product in the most sterile way possible. (4) Choose a price you can believe in.
First, do not reinvent internet marketing. When new internet marketers build their first products, they usually approach it as if they were an inventor. They think of something new, creative, unique. Something that has never been done before. The problems with that approach is that users need to be educated about new products, the product may or may not be valuable to your audience, and the product is untested.
My first piece of advice for you is to take a product that is already common in your niche. Sell an informational eBook (in my opinion one of the best products to start with if you write well), or some other digital product that has been done many times before. You can change the industry with your second product, but I want you to take the safe route for your first product to give you some experience that you can take into subsequent products.
Choose the simplest product you can professionally produce. I made the mistake early on of creating a video course. The sales were tremendous, but in retrospect, the video quality was not professional. This meant that when my skills improved, I had to go back and re-do the product which took many months. If you are already very skilled with professional video, then start with that. If you’re a great writer, then do an eBook. If you feel confident on a podcast, then do an audio course. You get the idea.
If you don’t want to invest the funds to hire someone to produce the video, design the eBook, or edit the audio, then create the product that you can confidently produce in a professional way.
Create the product in the most sterile way possible. I made the mistake in my first eBook of including my email address and inviting people to email me any questions or comments. That was fine when my site was small, but now I work hard to erase my email address from every single spot on that website or else I would literally get 500 emails per day.
When I created my first video course, I included in the video the name of the website. A year later when I moved my video course over to a new website, I had to re-do all the videos that used the name in it. When I referred in the video to “lesson 17” it created problems because later I changed lesson 17 to include different material. I mentioned certain technology and referred to it as the “current model” which then required me to re-do the entire video later when the product was updated. You get the idea.
In whatever product you make, keep in the back of your mind that the delivery of the product could change over the years, so just give the information without saying or writing anything that will prevent you from changing the product later.
Choose a price you can believe in. I worked at a call center when I was in college. For two weeks I made zero sales. None. The boss came over to me and told me I was gonna be fired if I didn’t start performing. Frustrated, I told him that I was saying precisely the same things as everyone else in the call center, but people just weren’t buying! He advised me that if I didn’t truly believe in the product, people would be able to feel it in the way I say every word. I spent two days reading about the product and trying to love it. Two days later, I was the #1 salesperson in the company. I remained in the top 2 for the remainder of the time I worked there (Which was short. I hate telemarketing!)
My point? If you follow traditional internet marketing advice and “double your price, and then double it again” you’ll be charging more than what you truly believe the product will sell for. You’ve now planted a seed of doubt in your marketing, and your readers will smell it. It’s unmistakable.
I do believe that you will probably make the mistake of charging too little in the beginning, and I want to see you charge a decent price, but you’ll make more money by charging very little and believing the price is right, than charging more and believing you’re selling a rip-off. Choose a price you can believe in.
How you sell your first product will likely make more of a difference than what you sell.
There is a tremendous amount to learn about running a successful product launch, but here I’ll give you my outline for how I typically run a sale. Much of this information comes from people who taught me how to launch when my business was new: Tim Conley and Jeff Walker.
- As soon as you start building your product, or immediately before, send your audience a survey. You can use something as simple as SurveyMonkey. Make the survey extremely short and ask open-ended questions. Ask what your followers are struggling with, what price they would pay for a product that helps with that pain point, and what features they would want to see included.
- Two weeks before launch, send your product out to at least 10 people in your audience. Get a good testimonial from them.
- Two weeks before launch, start to tease the product on your site, social media, podcast, youtube, everywhere. Don’t go into great detail but tell them what your product will help them with.
- One week before launch, put up a page where the sales page will be. Put a basic teaser of the product and a form so users can enter their email address to get notified when the product is available. Begin working on what your final sales page will look like, but don’t publish it yet. Putting a countdown timer on the sales page can make a huge difference.
- Four days before launch, share a sales video that shows the product. Do not allow the video to be more than 1 minute and 30 seconds long. The worst thing you could do is to make your audience feel bored with your product.
- Three days before launch, prime your users for what kind of price they can expect.
- Two days before launch, share a testimonial from someone who got early access.
- The day before launch, send out an email saying the product will be available at midnight (sounds more like it’s a rush thing).
- On launch day, do nothing other than send traffic to your product. Facebook, twitter, youtube, email, podcast, put a sign out on your mom’s front lawn, email friends in the industry and hope they’ll share it. Publish two posts on your website so your site has more traffic those days.
- The night of the launch, share what a success the launch has been. Share social proof.
- One day and 12 hours before the sale ends (I usually like a 72 hour sale), send out emails and post on social media. I know it will feel like you’re over-posting, but you’ve spent months giving value for free. You have earned the right to tell them about your product.
Your launch is a report card for how well you’ve built your audience over the last few months. Some of you will be on top of the world with unbelievable results. Most of you will make a few hundred dollars that will get you excited for the next phase of building and the launch of your second product which will undoubtedly sell the pants off your first launch.
No matter what, do not quit at this point. If I quit after my first eBook that only sold $200 from the launch, I would never have known that only a few months later I’d earn $10,000 from my second launch, and that that product would earn about a million dollars over the next 3 years.
At the same time, remember that you are in a post-launch phase. Shut up about your product and get back to building your audience. Take whatever value you’ve given in the past and double down. If all you’ve given for the first few months was a blog post a day, then add a podcast. Create a video series and sell it for a penny. Invest all of your product launch money into a new free resource on your website. Be creative. Deliver more than your users expect.
Your website is launched, your audience is built, and you’ve monetized it. Undoubtedly there will be much to learn over the next few years, but I’d kill to have been given the information I just shared with you when I was starting my site. You just got a 3 year education in 15 minutes. But I’m not done helping.
My Invitation to You
I’d like you to join my email list. Here’s how it’s going to help you. Because of the success of my business, I have to charge a large amount of money to make one-on-one coaching worth my time, but there is still a way we can work together.
My first email to you is going to be an invitation to tell me what you’re struggling with in your online business. If you reply to that email and describe to me what you’re working on, I’ll point you in the right direction–free. I even ask some of those people to join me on an episode of the Income School Podcast where I’ll give you a free coaching call that will help you and also the Income School Community as a whole as they learn from your struggles.