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Nov 19

How to gain confidence fast: 5 steps to breaking out of your comfort zone today

By ecommerceparadise | Podcast

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Show notes:

1. Be fearless
2. Focus on being helpful
3. Try to just be your natural self
4. Understand that you’re talking to people just like you, with the same fears
5. Have your long-term goals in mind to keep you going.

Nov 18

My experience with an MLM Pyramid-Scheme company and why I quit and went 100% into eCommerce Dropshipping

By ecommerceparadise | Podcast

 

Have you ever been contacted by a friend about a “business opportunity”?

Your friend might be part of an MLM (multi-level marketing) company aka Pyramid Scheme.

 

  1. MLM/pyramid scheme is where products are not sold over-the-counter, but through distributors (who are your friends mostly)
  2. Different types of MLM’s: beauty products, health products, financial services like term and cash value life insurance and mutual funds.
  3. They are trained to focus on recruiting, even during sales pitches, they try to recruit people, this is the essence of a pyramid-scheme company. They want to recruit who they sell and they sell to who they recruit.
  4. They make you call your entire family and friend network and pitch them on going to a “business meeting” which is a sales seminar at the local office.
  5. It will ruin your reputation
  6. The story.
  7. Synergy insurance services, then WFG.
  8. Why I wanted out of my day job.
  9. Why I started on that path: my friend.
  10. What happened and what I learned.
  11. They take all your commissions when you first start
  12. You have to buy the product yourself to sell it
  13. You have to get certified if its life insurance or investments and that costs a lot of money
  14. You have to be the type of person who always is on the phone and always making new friends with random strangers to keep recruiting
  15. You become “that guy” with commission breath that is WAY too enthusiastic and friendly….creepy friendly.
  16. They charge for their events and expect you to sit there the whole time and not even get up to use the bathroom. It feels like youre a slave. They want to break you down mentally and emotionally so you do what they tell you to do without thinking.
  17. They change the names of their offices when the person at the top makes enough money to start their own office. This way they can avoid people looking their brand name up online for negative reviews. They call themselves something else besides world financial group or Transamerica because there are so many negative reviews of them online, including mine.
  18. Some good things: I met friends of friends who are now life-long friends and learned some basics of how the financial markets, life insurance, and investments work
  19. I started with drop shipping before all this happened.
  20. My drop shipping business did $50k in sales in 2011, $75k in 2012, and $100k in 2013.
  21. I started the MLM late 2012 because I wanted to quit my job and needed to make a full-time income.
  22. Up to that point I was the hardest working salesman in that office, answering the phones fast and diligently finding solutions for customers.
  23. I worked overtime when necessary.
  24. I worked before, during, and after work to build my eCommerce site.
  25. During down time at work I put in extra time on the site while coworkers watched stupid fail videos on youtube.
  26. I started coming to work in a suit and tie while the boss dressed like he was taking the day off.
  27. I had my own office and started closing the door and not answering phones because I was so pissed at the office politics and favoritism the boss showed to certain workers who didn’t do much work.
  28. I was reading books like rich dad poor dad, four hour work week, how to win friends and influence people, and think and grow rich.
  29. I started becoming financially educated, making a budget every month, getting out of debt, going to the local community college and taking business, marketing, and sales courses.
  30. I went to some of the WFG events in the spring of 2013 and it was so much stupid hype. I realized later that they want to recruit more people by hyping up everything they do. They get to the core of your emotions in all their marketing messages.
  31. I made a review video about WFG on my youtube channel and within the first two months it has a couple thousand views, 30 likes and 20+dislikes, but more importantly, it has tons of comments from WFG members that are super crazy. They talk so much trash in the comments it just goes to show how brainwashed this company makes their agents.
  32. In no other industry do you ever have agents trash talking to people who leave negative reviews like this. Each agent represents the brand, so its like having the company leave a ton of comments on my review video calling me names like idiot, stupid, ignorant, etc.
  33. I found tons of success with drop shipping after I quit the MLM early summer 2013. That year we did 100k in sales and in 2014 we did 500k in sales.
  34. Early 2015 we sold our biz and took a year off to travel the world and get married.
  35. We settled back into Long Beach California in early 2016 and started a new drop shipping business.
  36. We took a course called drop ship lifestyle that taught us how to make a better website that converts better and drive paid traffic to get sales right away, and it worked!
  37. We did 300k in 2016 and another 500k in 2017.
  38. Today we travel the world, growing our drop shipping stores while running other businesses like affiliate marketing sales funnels and membership sites.
  39. This video was to explain to people why you should never get into an MLM in the first place and focus 100% on your own business.
  40. Own your own business so you control your life.
  41. Create a location independent business so you can travel where ever and whenever you want to.
  42. Drop shipping, affiliate marketing, membership sites, they are all location independent business models.
  43. I have free training at freedropshipcourse.com and ecommerceparadise.com
  44. Subscribe, like, comment, and join the Facebook group.

 

 

Nov 12

What is Drop Shipping and How Does It Work?

By ecommerceparadise | Podcast

If you’re looking to start an online business but don’t know where to start, this guide should be very helpful for you. I’ve been successfully running a dropship e-commerce businesses since 2011. In that time:

  • I figured out what works and what doesn’t.
  • I made a lot of newbie mistakes that were meant to be shortcuts but resulted in unprofitable businesses.
  • I created, grown, and sold a mid-six-figure business too.

In this post, my goal is to teach you how to get started with drop shipping.

What is Drop Shipping?

The term drop shipping is used amongst small manufacturers and big distributors to describe a method of order fulfillment in which a product is shipped directly from the factory to the end user and bypasses the third party that sold it to the consumer. This method of order fulfillment is used by big retailers and small retailers alike.

Retailers and even some distributors have been using the method of drop shipping to fulfill orders for over 100 years. Back in the day, the Sears catalog was the ultimate fulfillment house. Sole proprietors would often run ads in local newspapers advertising one line of products under a fictitious name and when an order would be called in or mailed in, they would simply use Sears or another stocking brand or distributor to fulfill their order.

Today, with the internet, fast mobile connections, and smartphones, consumers all over the world are able to order products from their favorite brands via e-commerce websites. These are websites built specifically to sell products and services. Apps have become increasingly popular as well. Apps for iPhones and Android devices provide a means for consumers to have a much better user experience than some non-mobile-responsive websites. The term e-commerce can be stretched beyond just buying products from Amazon. Ordering a ride from Uber is part of e-commerce just like buying something from someone over Craigslist is e-commerce.

Even today, big online retailers like Wayfair do a lot of their business with the drop ship business model. In other words, when you order something from them that isn’t their brand, chances are they won’t ship the order out themselves. Rather, they’ll send the order to their supplier (usually this is the manufacturer) and the supplier will ship the product directly to their customer.

Is Drop Shipping a Viable Business Model?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you continually train yourself to look for opportunities. With the knowledge of the ever-increasing popularity of e-commerce, you can see how lucrative it is to get into selling products and services online. Today, you don’t even need a physical “brick-and-mortar” storefront to open a retail business. There are many small brands and manufacturers out there that fulfill their own orders and are constantly looking for people to help them market and sell their products. This is an opportunity.

You can simply learn how to put together a nice looking e-commerce website and start reaching out to small brands to apply for a wholesale account with drop ship terms. You should be able to get approved for at least a few of the small brands in your niche. If you can’t for some reason, you can always sign up with a distributor at first just to fill your store with products, get some sales, and have some traffic to show them when you ask them for an account again.

The Pros of Drop Shipping:

Drop shipping allows you to run a lean business that’s focused on growth. You won’t need to pay tens of thousands of dollars for stock up front. You won’t need to lease a warehouse or storefront. You won’t need to hire employees if you don’t want to. Everything can be done from a laptop, which means you can work anywhere in the world where there is a wifi connection.

By running an online retail business, you take advantage of the same wholesale accounts that stocking retailers get, but you don’t need to pay for any of the overhead. You might get the same margins, sometimes they are less, but the fact remains that without the upfront investment, the barrier to entry with this business model is much lower than others.

By utilizing the internet and e-commerce to sell products, you open up a whole world of potential. If you can secure enough wholesale accounts with manufacturers, you can potentially scale your business way faster than a normal stocking retailer would be able to. The key is the lack of cash flow required to scale. Adding a product to your e-commerce store can take very little time and costs nothing extra. You can set up additional e-commerce stores for under $100. Most of what it takes to scale is time. Either your time or a virtual assistants time that you’ll pay for.

In 2014, I grew my e-commerce business from $100,000 in sales to over $500,000 in sales in just one year. This came mostly from creating content and expanding into selling the same products on eBay and Amazon. Unfortunately, with all that growth, I felt compelled to open a physical store later that year to attempt to capitalize on the local market and to get accounts with bigger brands. I didn’t expect the local market to be so lean and those big brands to ask for ten thousand dollar investments in stock just to be allowed to sell them on our website. Needless to say, I learned my lesson from that experience. I learned about myself as well. My strengths lie in e-commerce, not physical retail management. If you want to read more about my business, check out my story of how I became an entrepreneur.

The Cons of Drop Shipping:

Compared to other business models drop shipping is perfect for a start-up bootstrapping their way to success. However, the dropship business model comes with its own unique disadvantages as well. Like I mentioned before, you’ll sometimes get lower profit margins from brands to allow for fair competition between their stocking physical retailers and online-only retailers. This is common in product niches where the product needs maintenance and repair services after the sale. By providing an incentive to the consumer to buy their product from the physical store close to them, they take the work of warranty management, returns, and customer service off their back and lay it on the stocking retailer.

I’ve had suppliers offer me a 20% profit margin whereas they give their stocking retailers a 35% margin. Sometimes this isn’t the case, though. Each supplier is different.

The other downside of the drop ship business model is that you usually don’t have a direct connection to your suppliers stock levels. A lot of suppliers sell wholesale in bulk and drop ship for online retailers, so their stock levels can fluctuate daily. The newer the supplier, the worse their stock-outs can be as they learn how big the market is for their product and how to properly time their orders with their Chinese manufacturers.

Due to this disconnect, you’ll need to constantly be updating the stock levels on your site. Even with consistent updates, you might get an email from your supplier telling you that the 3 products it showed on their stock sheet are missing from their shelves. You’ll need to develop a system for notifying customers of stock out and procedures to offer incentives for them to substitute with an in stock product, like discounts, free gifts, or gift cards for future purchases.

The other issue with drop shipping is you’ll be relying solely on the manufacturer’s fulfillment warehouse to handle your order. People sometimes make mistakes and those mistakes can lead to a big headache for you. If the wrong item is shipped or a wrong quantity of the item is shipped, the blame will be laid on you and it will be up to you to make it up to your customer by offering similar incentives. This is another system you’ll need to set up so you can streamline your business processes.

Carriers can also mess up the delivery of your orders from time to time. If the item you sell is big and heavy, for example, the carrier might throw it around a lot and it might get damaged in shipment. When this happens, customers can get very upset, especially if they’ve never ordered anything online before or if they’ve never received a damaged product before. You’ll need to take the responsibility for such incidents and not forward them on to the manufacturer. This is one more thing you’ll need to develop systems and processes to work with as it is a normal part of doing business.

Is Drop Shipping Worth It?

With all the time it takes to start up a drop ship business and all the potential downside risks to doing business online only, is it really worth it? It depends on who you are and what you want in life. If you’re like me, a self-starter, a constant learner, and you’re excited to grow your wealth and travel the world while working from your laptop in internet cafes, then I believe it is for you.

Drop shipping is the best way to get started with an online business and start making real money, fast. You will basically keep the cash difference between the price you sell a product and the price it costs you to fulfill the order. If done properly, you can reap upwards of 10%-20% net profit margins or higher. Margins differ between niches and so does everything else.

If you want to get started selling products or information online then you’ve come to the right place. I have over 5 years of experience in e-commerce and internet marketing. I’ve successfully started, grown and sold a half-million dollar e-commerce site. The process of becoming successful online isn’t easy, and it takes a lot of time, but it’s worth it.

Business 101

Before you get started selling products or services online, you need to learn some general business concepts like accounting, marketing, selling, organization, management, leadership, and entrepreneurship. You can take classes at your local community college, or online at Udemy.

Starting A Business While Still In School

That’s is how I got started. I worked full-time while taking night classes at my local community college. But that wasn’t all I did. I also started an online drop shipping e-commerce site while I was taking classes. The benefit of doing this was that I could apply what I learned while I was learning. The truth is that learning by doing is much more powerful than just learning alone.

Start A Blog

While you’re doing this, set up a personal blog to document your journey. The point of this blog will be to keep a daily or weekly journal about your progress. Be sure to post consistently about things you learned, people you met along the way, and tips for others out there trying to learn themselves. When you get your site off the ground in a year or so, this blog will be ranking in the search engines and other blogs will be linking to it giving you the ability to start monetizing it with affiliate marketing offers. This will open an entirely new stream of income for you.

When you’re ready to start a blog, you can save a lot of money by signing up for a $1/month Godaddy hosting package.

Multichannel Selling

It’s important to have a big picture when you’re just starting out. You’ll need to set up as many sales channels as possible. You can think of each sales channel as a branch of your business, and each product listing online is like a salesman that works only on commission. You can make pretty much as many as you want to, so get ready to start marketing.

eBay, Amazon, and Shopify

When you’re first getting started, I recommend you open a free eBay account, sign up with Amazon seller central (also free) and set up a Shopify store. To learn how to set up an eBay seller account, read Ebay’s guide here.To set up an Amazon seller account quickly and easily, go to their website here.

Why Shopify?

  • 24/7 Support
  • Managed Hosting
  • Super Fast
  • User Friendly
  • Free Themes and Apps
  • All functionality included with monthly fee
  • SSL included
  • Checkout process is optimized for conversions
  • Mobile friendly themes
  • Integrations with Facebook store and other channels
  • $29 a month to start after 14-day free trial

Setting Up Your Shopify Store

Setting up a Shopify store is very user-friendly. Although, the process of customizing your site and setting up collections, products, pages and everything can be a bit confusing if you’re a first-time e-commerce store owner. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort to get one set up on your own, then this video by Shopify will be very helpful.

Once your store is set up with some test products, a beautiful layout, and high-quality content, you’re ready for the next step.

Click here to start your 14-day free trial of Shopify Now

Getting Legal

At this point, you’ll want to get your legal paperwork taken care of including any and all business licenses, tax permits, corporations set up, etc. You’ll need to consult your local business office website to figure out what you need for your specific country/state/province. This is important because the next step will require you have your state sellers permit to buy wholesale without paying taxes.

When you’re ready, set up an LLC now with Incorporate.com.

Finding Suppliers

Find some suppliers in your niche that will drop ship for you. Don’t look for wholesalers, instead, look for manufacturers of products that are at least $1,000 or more in value. This way you will make more money with every order. To do this, simply go to google and search for the niche of products you’ll be selling. Then click on the shopping tab and look for other stores selling that item. Look specifically for online stores that don’t have a physical presence. You can go to their contact or about pages to find this information.

While you’re doing this it’s good practice to keep a spreadsheet with the info organized into columns and rows. You can use Google drive to do this. Also, keep a bookmark folder hierarchy in your browser for easy access.

Once you find some future competitors that sell similar products that you’ll be selling, begin researching the brands they sell. Find the contact info for each one. Compile at least 20, but if you can’t find at least 20 brands/manufacturers, then it’s probably not a great niche to pursue because growth options will be limited.

Contacting Suppliers

Once you have your list of suppliers, begin contacting them. Explain to them that you are an internet marketer and you have a website in the niche of products that they sell. Tell them you have a lot of experience and your main goal is to make your customer’s experience amazing. Ask them if they drop ship and if they do for them to send you a dealer agreement or account application.

You should get at least 5–10 suppliers to agree to drop ship for you before you decide to move forward with your project. This way you’ll be sure that you can have enough potential to be successfully selling in this niche without fizzling out early on due to lack of products to sell.

MAP Policy

Be sure to make sure these suppliers also enforce a MAP (minimum advertised price) policy. If they don’t, then it’s a waste of time selling their products as you’ll always be undercut by your competition or the vendor themselves. It has happened to me and it is very frustrating.

This can take a month or more so be sure to have patience and continue to stay motivated. Possibly researching more niches, or trying to find more suppliers in the meantime will be great. Stay focused on studying more about business as well, because there is a lot to learn and apply. The more you learn, the better you’ll be able to serve your customers and your partners if you have any.

Once you get your paperwork finalized it’s time to apply for your vendor accounts. Once your vendor accounts are set up make sure you have all the info you need to add the products to your store and begin the work. If you don’t know how to do this, you can hire me to do it as well. I charge $50 per hour and can usually add about 2–3 products per hour depending on how much info is involved and how many variations there are.

Optimize Your Site

Once you’ve added your products, begin the site optimization phase by adding trust badges, limited time coupons, asking family and friends to do reviews or make fake ones, set up your social media channels and add links to your site, add like and share buttons to your site along with email signup forms, optimize your order confirmation email and abandoned cart email, and create bonus offers to incentivize your potential customers to order with you instead of your competition.

Get Traffic

Once you’ve optimized your site it’s time to get some traffic! The old days of creating tons of content and waiting for the search engines to rank you and send you free traffic are over. You also can’t rely on social media sites to send you potential customers anymore, unless you pay for their ads.

Paid Advertising

If you want to get some traffic fast, try placing some product listing ads with Google Adwords. These will send potential customers directly to your product landing page and if they’re ready to buy then they will convert quickly and easily.

Google Product Listing Ads

Use Shopify’s Google Adwords link and the custom coupon Shopify offers every new store to set up an Adwords account so you get $100 off after you spend $25. You’ll need a free Google account to get started. After you’ve set this up, download the Shopify google shopping app and begin the process of uploading your product feed to Google.

Once your product feed is on Google and has been approved, you can put up your Google product listing ads. Set up a campaign and start setting negative keywords for general search terms. Play around with your bids and budget so you don’t spend too much at first. Keep setting negative keywords and adjusting your bids and you’ll start seeing sales pretty soon.

Getting Your First Order

Set up your notification from the Shopify app on your smartphone so that when that first order comes in you can jump up and down in joy! You’ve started your journey towards financial freedom, location independence, and passive income.

Blogging and Email Marketing Sales Funnels

If you want to get traffic for free, then you have to do lots of proactive marketing to get noticed in today’s crowded marketplace. This means creating 5–10 pillar articles for your e-commerce blog to guide potential customers through the sales cycle, then repurposing that content into a series of emails and a free pdf offer. You can use the pdf to get email sign-ups, then send people the series of emails to get them to come back to your store when they’re ready to buy. You’ll want to send the free pdf report out to big blogs in your industry and ask them to do a feature on your report and your site.

Content Strategy and Getting Backlinks

Keep in mind that the best way to help potential customers make a purchase is to optimize your product listings, but the second best way is to have a content creation strategy in place to get potential customers to enter your sales cycle. Write down ideas for how-to articles, definition articles, list articles, technical blueprint articles, and theory or argument articles. These are the best types of content to engage readers. They should also be relevant for many years to come which will help build long-term traffic.

Once you have laid a foundation of solid content on your website, it’s time to get some backlinks to those articles. It’s important to understand that when it comes to backlinks, it’s all about quality over quantity. Simply reach out to non-competing websites in your niche and similar niches, especially blogs, and ask them if you can do a guest post. Write an article for them, including a link to your homepage or internal pages that are relevant to the context, and once it publishes it to their website you can share it in your network.

Automation and Outsourcing

Once you have your site running, optimized, getting traffic, and closing sales, you can start setting aside profit as your outsourcing budget.

You will want to keep in mind that systemizing and outsourcing your online business to a virtual assistant will be key to your success and happiness, but for now do it all yourself, especially if you are bootstrapping and are short on startup funds.

Simply document everything you do throughout the day to operate and grow your online business in the form of videos, written instructions, and checklists. You can use these later to train virtual assistants to do the work for you.

Nov 12

What is Affiliate Marketing and How Does It Work?

By ecommerceparadise | Podcast

In this article, I’ll go over how to make some passive income by writing articles around what you’re passionate about. With this information, you could potentially make a full-time income blogging while traveling the world.

The blogging process is pretty simple but there are some very basic guidelines you should follow. The most important ones are: do your research, create unique and valuable content, and create it on a consistent basis. At least once a week you should write an in-depth, unique, information-rich and highly valuable blog article filled with multi-media. You should repurpose your articles into videos, podcasts, and online courses so you can sell your information through other channels.

The first step to getting started is choosing your niche.

What is a niche?

A niche is simply a sub-segment of a larger market. Take classic cars, for example. Classic Porsches are an example of a niche because they are a sub-segment of the larger classic car market. If you’re going to succeed then you need to focus on one target market and the smaller that market, or more specific your niche, the easier it will be to reach them with your content.

How to choose your niche

Are you having trouble picking your niche? You shouldn’t. Just think of your skills or things you’re really passionate about. Write down a list of 5–10 skills and passions, and then research each one to find if there are popular products selling in the marketplace for them. You can use sites like Amazon.com, Google.com, and Ebay.com. Keep a list of best-selling products in each niche so you can refer back to them later when you want to buy those products to do review articles.

Best Affiliate Programs

The most popular affiliate program is the Amazon Associates affiliate program. It’s fairly easy to get approved and you can link to their expansive library of items for sale very easily using their “site-stripe.” Amazon’s program works on a tier system where the more orders you refer, the higher commission you make. You can start a niche website reviewing cheap products that will get your commission high, then start a site reviewing high-price items and make more commission when you make a sale. This strategy is used by the top super-affiliates.

Another great resource for finding products you can sell on your blog is the info product affiliate marketplace ClickBank.com. This is a platform for product creators to find affiliate bloggers, like you, who will market their products for them. The best part about this platform is the high commission rates. Instead of 5–10% for a commission like Amazon.com offers, you’ll get 50–75% or more of the sale when your blog refers a customer. I’ll go more in-depth on doing research on ClickBank later in this article.

Here’s a list of the other affiliate programs and marketplaces I’m signed up for:

The Importance of Research

Don’t skimp on this process, research is the most important thing you can do before you start a blog. Dedicate an hour a day to it for a week before making your decision. Even if you have a gut feeling about a niche, after doing some research you might find that there aren’t that many products selling in the marketplace, thus, your blogging efforts would be wasted if you want to make money.

If you are still having trouble coming up with an idea, here are the types of blogs that make the most money:

  • Relationships: Dating, marriage, friendship, it’s something we struggle with all the time. Everybody could possibly be a reader for one of these blogs. If you’ve been married for a really long time, you should start a blog about marriage. If you have been divorced, write a blog about how to cope with divorce and how to move on. If you have lots of friends and love networking, you could make a blog around one of those subjects. There are tons of products online in this market.
  • Wealth: If you are a CPA, bookkeeper, or financial advisor, then you have the skills to tell people all about building and managing wealth. If you are just someone who has made a lot of money, then you certainly could teach a thing or two about it yourself. Even if you don’t have much money, you could easily do some research and write articles about wealth. The E-Commerce Paradise blog is all about building wealth through e-commerce, blogging, and internet marketing, so you could say we are in the “wealth” market. There are more information products in this market than any other simply because everybody wants more money.
  • Health: If you love eating a healthy diet or exercising on a regular basis, then you might have what it takes to start a health blog. If you are a personal trainer then you definitely have the qualifications to teach about it online, you just need to conjure up the patience to write about it. Health is one of the most sought-after information topics online, and there are tons of affiliate products that you can sell which teach people how to get fit. Take it seriously and you could make some serious money.
  • Hobbies: If you’re a fanatic about a certain hobby, like flying quadcopters, or scuba diving then you probably have a lot of stories to tell and how-to articles you can write. There are a lot of blogs started about very specific hobbies where the authors write review articles about products and link to an affiliate partner where a reader could buy that product. These are often the most profitable types of blogs and they’re called ‘niche affiliate sites.’

How To Do Research

Figuring out what niche to write about is the most important thing when starting a blog. Be sure to put plenty of time into the research process and save the link for every product you find in a spreadsheet. You can use Google Drive for this, it’s free. Also, save links to relevant blogs, articles, landing pages, info product offers, social media sites, ebooks, pictures, videos, audiobooks, podcasts and everything else you can find related to your niche.

Sign up for a free account at ClickBank.com and click the marketplace link at the top. Find the category you want to research on the left side or type the niche you’re researching into the “Find Products” search box. You can look at the price that a product usually sells at and the ranking for how it has sold to see if it’s worth promoting or not. Click the ‘sort results by’ box and change it to Gravity. This will tell you exactly which products are the best sellers. Look for ones with a Gravity between 20 and 100, these are products that are trending and selling, but aren’t blown out with too many bloggers writing landing pages and paying for advertising to sell it. Click the “add to favorites” heart for each product so you can easily find it later.

Affiliate Offer Example

Eventually, you can start adding Click Bank affiliate offers to your reader base. An example of an offer that would be relevant to this article is this one by Affilorama. I like this offer because it’s a full training program for someone looking to learn how to monetize their blog with affiliate marketing. They offer a free sign-up, a $1 offer for the first 30 days, and they have a gravity of 53on Click Bank at the time of this writing. The other fact that I take into consideration before recommending an affiliate offer is reviews across the web. By typing in the affiliate program name + review into Google, it pulled up a few blogs where the authors already took the time to purchase, watch, read and consume the information of the course. The best ones will do a great job of talking about the pros and cons so you have an accurate idea of what to expect when signing up for any particular product. According to this article by WaysToAvoidScamsOnline.com, this online course is pretty good, enough to garner an 80/100 rating.

You should only recommend affiliate products you’ve used yourself. If you see something like this and you read good reviews about it on other sites in Google and the product doesn’t cost much, like this one, take a week, go through the content, take notes, and write a review article.

Look at other blogs in your niche. Just type in your niche to Google.com and take a look at some blog posts. The first few listings will most likely be either big information sites without any particular niche, or big box store sites. You may need to go to the second or third page in Google, but you’ll find some small blogs and can take some notes about how they do their site, content structure, pillar articles, theme style, and colors, and save a link to your research spreadsheet for later reference.

Content

The most important concept when it comes to blogging is creating content, but more specifically, what Yaro Starek of Entrepreneurs-journey.com calls, “Pillar articles.” He breaks down each these types of articles in his blog post as the following:

  1. How-to articles: specific articles covering one topic in depth that is evergreen (will still be relevant weeks, months or years later).
  2. The Definition article: An article about a word that’s common in your industry. Instead of going to Wikipedia, try to define it yourself. You can take excerpts to support your article but try to do most of the writing yourself to help build your reputation.
  3. The theory or argument post: This is great when you’re first starting out because it will draw attention to your blog. Be prepared to take some negative feedback for your opinion and respond in a professional manner. Ask people who love your idea to share it, and ask those who hate it to comment and start a discussion.
  4. The free resource: This is what every internet marketer and blogger with the goal of getting email sign-ups will create. This could be the culmination of a few blog articles or an all-together new document. It’s a great idea to get an email list set up with MailChimp or Aweber and create a free resource to incentivize people to give you their email address. Then you can send them your most recent articles with lots of value and eventually sell them an affiliate product or one you create on your own.
  5. The list articles: This is one of the most popular types of articles for a reason, they’re easy to consume when scanning over after someone clicks into it from an email you send them or a post on their Facebook feed. The content is short, to the point, and very relevant to the topic. Think outside the box and try to mix this one with the theory or argument style to get the best click-through and engagement from your target market.
  6. A technical blueprint: This is common among blogs related to something technical like, well, you guessed it, technology! Cars, health, and manufacturing of any sort are also common niches you can create a technical blueprint for.

For more information regarding blog article creation and blogging in general, be sure to check out Yaro’s free resource, the Blog Profits Blueprint: http://www.blogmastermind.com/blueprint/

Planning Your Pillar Articles

Find other blogs in your space that are creating really good articles and read them. This may take some hours to do, but it will definitely help. Absorb the information you read, digest it overnight, then, with a fresh mind, start the next day writing your own articles. This helps the creative process flow a lot easier.

Once you’ve done some research, begin to write some nice long, in-depth articles about your topic. This will give you a huge head start when you go to do the technical stuff to get your blog started. Trust me, this part is key.

Once you’ve made 5–10 “pillar” articles for your blog, it’s time to take the next step. To start a blog, you have some choices to make. You can start for free, but you won’t be able to monetize as well. The only way you’ll have full control of your site and the monetization structure is to buy your own “shared hosting plan.”

Hosting

There are a few major hosting providers I have used and love, but the one I stick with is Godaddy. They have a really easy to use interface, great 24/7 support, although their sales staff is a bit pushy, I still love them. Their hosting has improved a lot over the years and that’s why I’ve stuck with them. My biggest piece of advice, no matter which host you choose to work with, is to register your domain, and any future domains you buy, with the same hosting provider you use. This will make it easy to manage your portfolio of websites in the future if you plan to grow. Godaddy is one of the most popular hosts and domain registrars online.

To get a deal on Godaddy hosting click here.

Domain

There are many ways to name your blog and I challenge you to get creative with this one. Keep in mind that it’s good to keep it simple, as short as possible, and easy to remember. If you walk up to someone you don’t know and tell them your domain, is it one they can easily spell, remember, and write down without asking for a card? To choose a domain I came up with 3 ideas you can use as general guidelines.

  • Your name + niche: Choose this style because it fits your mission, your target market, and includes the keyword of your niche in the domain name which helps rank your articles in the search engines.
  • Branding + niche: Choose this because you want to convey a message with your blog and you eventually want to hire writers to create content for this blog on a consistent basis.

WordPress

If you are going to rank in the search engines, you need to use a blogging platform that they love, and that’s WordPress. This is the blogging platform used by all the major blogs and even more small blogs. There aren’t any other platforms that will be easy to use, build and manage while getting you ranked in Google.

All hosting accounts come with a WordPress application installer that will include a one-click install option. If you can’t find it then call your host or read their instruction manuals. Once you set your admin login info, be sure to choose to auto-update the plugins and theme if they give you the option to. Click install, then jump into your website’s ‘backend’ to start building.

This is where you’ll spend a lot of your time adding content, structuring your site, adding affiliate links and checking your stats. Get comfortable with it. Along the left side are your menu choices. The posts button is where you’ll make or add new blog posts. The pages are for your about page, contact us, privacy policy and things like that. You can change the look of your site under appearance — customize, widgets or menu. Plugins are things you can add to your site that will make it more feature rich.

Plugins

There are a few plugins I recommend starting with. Beyond these, you can search for your own, but keep in mind that the more plugins you add, the slower your site will run and the more of a chance one plugin will not play nicely with another, leading to your site crashing. Take it easy with plugins and only add them if absolutely necessary.

Here are my recommended plugins to start with:

  • Jetpack (create a Gravatar if you don’t already have one at Gravatar.com and connect it with your site through Jetpack)
  • Create a user with your First and Last name normally spelled as the username, and make the email address the same as the one you registered in Gravatar.
  • Enable one-click login as this will make it way easier to get into your blog every day.
  • Yoast SEO, or All-In-One SEO (the accomplish the same thing)
  • Add a target keyword and custom meta description to every page and post you make. This will make your listings stand out in the search engines.
  • Google analytics
  • Create a free account at Google.com/Analytics and link your account with your blog to keep track of visitors.

Once you’ve added these plugins, start customizing your site. If you aren’t the technical type and need someone to do this for you, I offer web design packages. Please contact me if you’re interested.

Pictures

Be sure to add lots of beautiful pictures into your blog articles to make them stand out and more fun to read. This helps drive your point home and will engage readers who like to ‘scan’ articles rather than read them in depth. You can do this easily by taking screenshots of relevant websites or media from across the web, as long as you attribute a link back to those same sources.

Marketing

Now that you’ve got your blog all set up, it’s time to get it out there. Keep in mind that you should put more time into creating content than sharing it. The marketing can come after you have finished creating your pillar articles and set up your email marketing. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get these channels set up and set up an auto-sharing app like IFTTT to make the publishing of your content easier. Here are some free marketing channels you can use to get your content into the blogosphere and onto your friends iPhone screens.

Email Marketing

This post wouldn’t be complete without a short bit about email marketing. Email is the best converting medium for marketing. This is because it can be super targeted. When someone visits your site and reads your article, you want to offer them a freebie so they’re willing to leave their name and email with you. With their information, you need to follow up with them at least 7 times before they will be ready to make a purchase.

Every time you follow up with valuable information, the more you’ll build trust with them and the more likely they’ll be willing to buy a product or service you recommend to them. Later on, you’ll be making your own products like ebooks, videos, podcasts, online courses and more, so by building an email list of people who trust you now, you’ll have a better time selling your own products later on.

Get an account set up with Aweber or the free service Mail Chimp, and start a list. Make a sign-up form to add to every blog article and different sections of your site. I’ll be covering more advanced email marketing topics like creating automated email flows in future articles.

The Next Step

The next step is to keep writing. The most important thing about blogging is that it needs to be something you’re passionate about doing. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme. This is a long-term plan for success. It could take months or years before you can make a full-time income from blogging, but for many people, that’s ok because they work a full-time job and know that passive income is something they are willing to work hard for since the rewards are so plentiful. The key here is to be sure to pick a topic that you can write about every week.

Plan, write and post at least one pillar blog post every week. Make sure it has at least over 1000 words of content, pictures, screenshots, video, and audio if relevant, and has a call to action at the bottom to sign up for your email list. You should create a pdf out of your best pillar article so you can give it away for email sign-ups. This free resource will increase your email list size ten-fold.

Action steps:

  1. Open a hosting account at Godaddy.com (comes with a free domain if you buy through my link)
  2. Set up your WordPress blog in your hosting account (free)

Watch this how-to video to set up a WordPress blog:

Next steps:

  1. Organize your blog by categories, tags, and pages.
  2. Categories will be the drop-down menus at the top
  3. Tags will be how you organize articles of similar topics
  4. Write your pillar articles
  5. Combing pillar articles together into a pdf and add plenty of links back to your blog posts
  6. Sign up with affiliate programs relevant to your blog at cj.com, clickbank.com, shareasale.com and rakuten.com
  7. Set up email marketing with Aweber. Read the how to get started guide.
  8. Add an email signup form to your website with an offer to receive the free pdf you created.
  9. make a page for your opt-in form “thank you”
  10. make a page for your email confirmation “success!” or “congratulations!” with a link to the freebie you offered.
  11. Set up a procedure for creating a weekly email on Friday that has recent articles you created, resources and affiliate offers. You can begin emailing every couple of days once you start making more content. Read Aweber’s what to write in your emails guide.
  12. Go to other blogs like yours and reach out to the owners via email or social media. Ask them to answer a few questions for you by email for an article you are working on your blog about them. They are usually more than happy to answer. Create an article on your blog about them with a link back to their site and send them a link. Then, ask them if you can create an article for their blog. At this point, if your work is good, they should accept and you’ll have a chance to get published on a blog with traffic which should drive traffic back to your blog.
  13. Keep producing amazing content, start a podcast, create videos, record audiobooks and reach out to more bloggers in your space. This is the path to success!
Nov 12

How To Make Money Online with Information Products

By ecommerceparadise | Podcast

Today, entrepreneurs are able to create and sell information easier than ever before using the internet and social media. This means there are a ton of people making a killing online selling information products. But even with all the competition out there, there is still plenty of room for new information products in almost every niche, even the most competitive ones.

Why it’s best to get involved in selling digital information products online now

People have access to the internet at blazing fast speeds using smartphones that they can carry with them everywhere they go. This means they are easy to reach, but it also means that you can get them to spend their money easier than ever before.

Everybody has a credit card these days and almost everybody has ordered something online by now, increasing the trust of most websites and even small ones. If you can create a compelling offer and figure out how to get in front of people who would be interested, chances are you can make a lot of sales.

What are digital information products?

Digital information products are simply a form of a book, video, or audio that has been organized and packaged nicely to sell. You can think of an information product like bottled water. Before bottled water, water was free. Now, you’re willing to pay $2-$5 per bottle for the highest quality water because its packaged nicely and might taste better than tap water.

If you can take unorganized information online, like a system for losing weight, starting a business, or learning a new hobby, you can organize it into a step-by-step lesson plan, and you can brand it and package it neatly, you can sell it online.

Why you want to sell digital information products instead of physical products

They are cheap and easy to create, and you can store them and deliver them inexpensively. You make a much higher profit margin on digital information products as a result. Most of the money you make from an information product comes from how well you market it, not necessarily how amazing the product itself is, but if you create an amazing product, chances are you’ll get a ton of word-of-mouth referrals from customers too.

How to find a profitable niche

Do your research first. Start by writing down a list of your current experience and skills. What are you good at, what do you like to do all the time, what do people ask you for advice on?

Look at online information product marketplaces like Click Bank and JVZOO to find other people who have made products in the same niche. If you can’t find any, chances are there isn’t a market of customers willing to pay for it. That’s not always the case, but often you are better starting in a niche where there are already competing offers because then you know there is money to be made there.

Here are some more ways to research your niche:

  • Search forums, blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts for information product niche ideas.
  • Check Amazon’s kindle store for books related to your ideas.
  • Type the niche into Google and see if any search text ads pop up pitching information products in your niche.

How to decide on a niche

After you’ve done your research, you need to make a decision on which niche you want to be a part of. At this point, try to differentiate yourself from the other offers in the marketplace. Combine your niche with a similar niche to make a new niche, or continue to niche-down until you get to a concept that is more specific than the other offers. The more specific your offer, the better it will sell to the people who need that information.

How to decide which digital information type to create

First, decide which format best suits your audience. If there are already some videos on YouTube, but no online course, maybe that’s because a course isn’t relevant to their needs. In that case, an e-book would make sense. You could also do videos on YouTube and pitch affiliate offers, like a product review channel in that niche, but you’ll need to differentiate yourself to get noticed.

If there are already online courses and membership sites in your niche, like digital photography, learning how to play guitar, or dog training, then you would pick that same medium as it has been proven to sell well already.

How to create a digital information product

The first step to creating an information product of any type is to organize the information into bite-size chunks. Focus on usability, value, and actionable advice.

You can create e-books in google docs or Microsoft word and save it as a PDF or ePub (if you want to publish it on the Amazon Kindle marketplace).

You can create online courses by first creating a slideshow and then recording a voice over video, or by recording your screen and showing people how to do something. Alternatively, if it is a physical activity, you can record a video of yourself out doing it, but you need to make sure the lighting and framing are good without distractions. For any type of video or audio product, the audio quality is very important, so get a good microphone.

How to market your information product

The first step to marketing an information product is to come up with attractive packaging. This means a name for the product that is catchy. Use your niche name and then a branding word like “method” “system” or “plan.”

You will need to find a graphic designer to make graphics that are professional for every step of the marketing process from your videos to the website, social media, and your paid ads.

Once you have attractive product packaging created, you can start creating the sales funnel to take your ideal customer through each step of the selling process.

You will need to set up email marketing to get them coming back and buying more, and you will need to create lots of free content on a blog, youtube channel, or podcast to provide more value, build trust, and get leads.

Direct response marketing

There is no better way to sell your product than direct response marketing. Back in the day, this included flyers, pamphlets, late-night infomercials, and lots of “junk mail.” Today, this still happens, especially when direct response marketers want to reach the elderly with an offer, but it’s easier than ever to do on the internet.

Here is a step by step process for setting up your direct response marketing sales funnel.

  1. Set up a free offer that’s relevant to your product
  2. Set up a landing page to sell that free offer and capture email addresses of people who want to receive it
  3. Set up a thank you page and email autoresponderr series to deliver the free offer
  4. Make your thank you page also introduce them to your self-liquidating offer and also send them an automated series of emails to sell the offer
  5. Set up a sales page funnel to sell the self-liquidating offer
  6. Set up a thank you page for the self-liquidating offer that introduces them to a monthly membership option that provides them more one-on-one value along with an email series to sell that to people who drop-out of the funnel at this stage
  7. Set up a sales funnel for the monthly membership option
  8. Setup a thank you page that introduces them to your high-ticket course offers and an email series to go along with it.
  9. Set up a sales funnel of the high-ticket offers

How to get traffic to your lead page and information product sales pages

To get traffic to your lead page and sales page, add links to your sales funnel to your free content on your blog, youtube channel, and podcast, and mention the links and a call to action in your content.

Set up Facebook ads to send traffic to your sales funnel. This is easier said than done, but the initial process is easier than you might think. There are some excellent videos on YouTube on how to do Facebook ads.

Set up Google search text ads to send targeted traffic to your sales funnel. Target just the keyword of your information product. This way you won’t spend money on search text ads that get people who aren’t interested in your offer. You can set up cheap paid ads for generic keywords, but keep in mind that they will not convert so you will need to set up retargeting ads and email marketing to get them coming back to buy when they are ready.

Share all your free content with links to your sales funnel on your social media channels and network with influencers in your space who have an email list and pay them to send a message to their audience with your content

Take action! Here is the simple 7 step process for “How To Make Money Online with Information Products”:

  1. Find your niche and make sure it has potential to sell.
  2. Figure out which format would sell best for your niche: audio, video, ebook.
  3. Create your information product.
  4. Create the sales funnel and the email list, send traffic to the funnel from free content and paid ads, and then market to the list you get.
  5. Segment your list so you can market to each customer differently according to which step of the sales process they are in.
  6. Ascend them up your “value ladder” to give them more value, build the relationship, and charge them more money. Focus on building your back-end products like membership programs and high-ticket courses as this will lead to the greatest wealth and value in the long-run.
  7. Bonus: Sell your customers and leads more products and affiliate offers related to their needs and wants by sending them to sales funnels you create that are relevant to their needs and pitch another information product.