It has never been easier and lower-risk to set up your own online business than it is today. All you need is $100 and a few hours of time and you can be making money in no-time.
That being said, the truth is that most people who try to start an online business make almost nothing because they don’t have the skills, mindset, and strategy to do it properly.
And while your success is ultimately your responsibility, there is a lot of bad, contradictory, or incomplete information out there that can confuse people.
In fact, ever since we started learning online marketing there have been tons of fake gurus popping up overnight teaching people how to get rich quick even-though they are not rich themselves.
Which honestly doesn’t make any sense when you think about it…
It’s kind of like a fat guy teaching you how to lose weight.
It basically says that either that guy hasn’t implemented his own advice, or his advice simply doesn’t work.
And obviously neither of those outcomes validate the advice he’s giving.
So just be careful who you listen to about online marketing (and anything really), because there’s a lot of noise and fakes out there. Keep in mind that all you need is a computer and internet access to publish content online, and it’s relatively easy to fool people from behind a keyboard.
In fact, it can even be advantageous (at least in the short term) for fake gurus to make things seem simpler than they actually are in order to get you to buy from them.
So that’s why you should only get your advice from trusted experts like: Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels, Alex Becker of Hyros, Sam Ovens of Consulting Accelerator, Authority Hacker, Income School, and us (of course).
There are some more people with good advice of course, but if you go outside of this list we recommend that you vet the guru before taking their advice. Basically anyone who hasn’t been in the game for awhile and doesn’t make at least 6 figures online is not someone you want to listen to.
That means ignore the 19 year old kid on YouTube who claims he’s going to show you how to make $100 a day doing X easy tactic. This information is likely going to be trash and it can seriously waste your time and money.
Trust us, we have been down that lonesome road before…
We have started pretty much any kind of online business you can think of and most of them failed.
That being said, some of the businesses worked out, and the experience we gained helped us identify the tactics that actually work vs those that are just hype.
It turns out that simply applying the same basic business principals used by large companies like Uber and Walmart is all you need to be successful with online business.
Some people might lead you to believe that starting an online business and starting a traditional business is different in some way, but the fundamentals are really the same.
The internet is simply another medium like TV or radio where people consume content.
So all we did was apply the same tactics that works for traditional businesses to our online business, and we were able to make over 6 figures a year passively.
And the good news is that we’ve boiled down the tactics that we used to achieve this result into a simple step-by-step game-plan that you can implement to start earning money as soon as today.
So without further ado, let’s discuss the skills, mindset, and strategy needed to succeed online…
The Skills That Pay The Bills
While making money online is not as technical as brain surgery or backend programming, it does require skills in order to do it at a high level.
More specifically the skills you need are:
- Google Ads or Facebook Ads
- Sales funnels
- Creating and editing videos
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO)
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- A basic understanding of WordPress
- Email Marketing
These skills will not only allow you to actually implement what you need to, but they will also allow you to get a bigger picture of what’s going on so that you can understand how everything is connected. This allows you to develop more full-proof strategies and prevent or at least quickly adapt to unexpected roadblocks. Not to mention that it just overall allows you to be more effective more quickly in pretty much everything you do in your business.
That being said, since most people have no idea how to do any of these things when they first get started, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that one of the biggest reasons why people fail with online business is simply because they don’t have the skills to pay the bills. To acquire these skills we recommend that you find some cheap training courses on Udemy, and simply just dive in and start trying to make it work. Another option is to get a job in the online marketing field and learn these skills on the job.
Overall, the best way to learn is by spending the same amount of time consuming training content as you are implementing the advice in the beginning, and eventually move towards more implantation than learning as you get better. Do not get caught in a cycle of constant learning or too much implementation without prior training because both of those are generally not going to work out well. If in doubt about how much of each is enough, air on the side of too much action because that is generally better.
The Bulletproof Mindset
Business is going to constantly test your mindset and if you have a weak one (which most beginners do), it will tear you apart. Below we will discuss some factors that make up an effective mindeset.
1. A Willingness to Fail
When you’re first starting out in business you are generally going to experience more rejection and failure than you ever have in your entire life. This causes many people to give up and some people not even to try because they have an irrational fear of rejection.
That’s why you need to change your perspective of rejection altogether. Below are some alternative ways of looking failure that will be beneficial to you. Keep in mind that most people will not naturally have these mindsets, they need to be something that you constantly reenforce in your head.
1. Remember that you can never fail, you either succeed or you learn. Every time you fail it teaches you a lesson and gives you experience that puts you one step closer to success. Therefore, if you have never failed, you are probably nowhere near success.
2. Remember that the even the best door-to-door salesperson in the world gets the door slammed in his or her face. Don’t take the rejection personally, it has nothing to do with you. Simply look at what you might have done wrong and work to improve it. Sometimes you can even do everything right and still get the door slammed in your face per se because sales is a numbers game to some extent.
3. Remember that business is supposed to be fun, so enjoy the process even if you’re not seeing much success. It’s kind of like how people play golf for years even-though they still can’t get the score that they want. If business feels too much like a chore for you, then you either have the wrong mindset towards it, or it simply isn’t for you. People who are passionate about what they’re doing and having fun will beat you at it any day of the week.
2. The Ability to Adapt
The fact of the matter is that you’re going to have all kinds of things thrown at you in business that you don’t expect and you need to be willing and able to adapt. For example, let’s say that you’re ranking really high on Google for a certain keyword that’s bringing in a lot of traffic and money for you. Let’s say one day Google changes their algorithm as they often do to favor other websites above yours. You need to figure out a way to re-optimize your website for the new ranking factors, or go to another traffic source. If you don’t adapt in some way, this can cause you to go out of business. Even if you’re having success at the moment, you should be looking at ways of making your business more resilient so that it’s not easily destroyed by something like a Google algorithm update. One way you can do this is by focusing more on building an email list for example.
3. Your Ability to Focus
Another common reason why people fail is that they cannot focus on anything for more than 10 minutes at a time.
The inability to focus on your work is caused by many obvious factors like spreading yourself too thin, but living an unhealthy lifestyle is also one of the biggest ones for most people.
Some of the most common factors that lead to an unhealthy lifestyle are things that cause a dopamine spike and therefore have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
Some examples of this are:
1. Social media
2. Drugs and alcohol
3. Poor diet
4. Poor sleep
5. Toxic people
6. Video games
7. Too much masterbation and porn (mostly of men)
8. Too much TV/Netflix
9. Your phone in general
If you have even mild issues with any of the things we mentioned, it’s important that you use them intermittently. For example, it’s okay to look at social media at a specific time every day, but anytime outside of that you should completely block it out.
4. The Ability to Efficiently Allocate Resources
You only have a certain amount of energy, money, and willpower that you can expend each day, so it’s important that you allocate them efficiently. Notice how we didn’t mention time here because contrary to popular belief, time spent doing something isn’t what causes productivity. It is the actual effectiveness of the time spent doing that task and that is much more dependent on energy, money, and focus. The issue is that in life and in business there is what’s called the 80-20 rule. Which means that 20% of the tasks you do will produce 80% of the results in your business. This also means that 80% of the tasks you could potentially do are more or less useless in improving your bottom line. So if you cannot spot the tasks that are a waste of time in your business and/or you don’t want to do certain tasks even-though you know that those tasks are likely to move the needle, you’re basically screwed.
5. A Willingness to Invest In Yourself and Your Business
While it is possible to build an online business without much capital, it’s not the easiest way to do it. If you have the money to invest, we highly recommend that you do so because money will make pretty much everything a little bit easier for you. That being said, if you don’t have a lot of money to invest in your business don’t use this as an excuse to not try. You can still be successful even without having a lot of startup capital, and there are tons of people who fail even though they had money to invest.
6. The Ability to Make Good Decisions Fast
You’re going to run into a crossroads quite often in business where you’re going to have to make tough decisions about which way to go. If you are someone who overanalyzes things and takes a long time to make a decision you are going to get lost. You need to find a balance between moving quickly and moving calculatedly in order to really be effective. If you ever get stuck though, here are some effective strategies that can help you make decisions:
1. Remember that your ultimate goal in business is to help your customers solve their problems, so consider if the choice you’re making is going to move your business closer or further away from this outcome.
2. Remind yourself that you can always change pretty much any decision down the road (and you often will ned to), so all you have to do is just pick something that’s good enough for now.
3. Give yourself deadlines for when you need to complete a decision by. The more important the decision is, the longer you should take to make it. If all else fails and you still feel stuck by the deadline you gave yourself, just blindly pick something and move forward.
4. Run the decision by a mentor or someone else with experience to see what they think.
5. Keep a balance between “long term decisions” and “sell out decisions” that are focused on cashing out today. If you’re too much of sell out, or you attempt to play too much of the long game without experience it can cause issues.
7. The Ability to Learn and Constantly Improve
Successful people like Warren Buffet are constantly reading and acquiring new knowledge, and you should too. As we mentioned before though, be careful getting into a cycle of too much learning and too little action.
8. Be a Relentless Action-Taker
We cannot stress enough how important this skill and mindset is in business and pretty much anything else in life. Taking action allows you to get feedback and experience quickly because you can learn first hand what works and what doesn’t. Not to mention, that the more you implement the more likely you’ll be to find something that works by chance, and obviously because you have a better understanding. So remember that it’s totally okay if you don’t get things right the first time, relentless action will help you in the long term.
An Overview of the Effective Make Money Online Strategies
In a nutshell, all you have to do to make money online is simply hypothesize a business concept and test it out in the real world to see if it works. If it does, optimize and scale it. If it doesn’t, scrap the idea and go onto another idea.
Sounds simple right?
But you’re probably thinking, how do you come up with a business concept hypothesis, and how do I test it?
Well, all you need to do is apply the following basic strategy that successful entrepreneurs have used since the beginning of time:
1. Find a problem that people are willing to spend money to solve
2. Figure out who has the problem (your target market/niche)
3. Decide want you are going to sell to help solve the problem (your offer)
4. Set up a system to reach your target market and present your offer in a compelling way (your sales funnel)
Finding a Problem and Target Market and Deciding What You Are Going to Sell to Solve It
With so many products and services that you could possibly sell, it can be difficult to know what to choose. That being said, just remember that business is all about solving problems for people. The more severe, underserved, and wide-spread the problem you solve is, the more money you’ll make. So for example, most businesses have a problem where they can’t figure out how to get more customers on a predictable basis. If you solve this problem for them using online marketing for example, that is something that they would be willing to pay you a significant amount of money for because it would literally change their lives. It would make them a lot of money and could possibly even save them from going out of business.
That being said, selling online marketing services is also very competitive unless you’re able to differentiate yourself by niching down or something.
That’s why it’s also important that the problem you’re solving is not already being solved well by the other organizations in the market. For example, starting a ride-sharing service would probably be a bad idea due to market saturation. In order to compete with companies like Uber and Lyft you’d need to have more coverage, a better app, better service, and a lower price which would be very difficult to do. So make sure you take a look at the competitors in your market and see how difficult it would be to become a top player in terms of the efficiency at which you solve the market’s problem. One way to find an unsaturated market is to think about a painful problem that you know well and have solved in your own life. Since your life is unique, it’s possible that you have come up with a solution to a problem that most people haven’t thought of before. For example, maybe you had bad back pain and you discovered a back stretching product that really helps your back without any side-effects. That could be a good place to start.
Here’s a video that can help you decide what to sell:
How to Test Your Hypothesis
Once you’ve decided on a product or service and target market, it’s time to test your hypothesis at a small scale with a minimum viable product (MVP). The best way to get an MVP is to find an affiliate product that offers a solution to the problem you’re solving. We recommend starting with affiliate products and services over making your own products and services, because trying to make a product or service of your own will take too long to do, and will make this process more complicated than it needs to be initially. That being said, there are many affiliate offers out there, and they vary greatly in terms of quality and conversion rate.
Here’s a video that can help you choose a good affiliate offer:
Picking a Brand Name and Setting Up a Business Website
Before you can set up your business website and start testing out your hypothesis, you are going to need: a brand name, a domain name, web hosting, an SSL certificate, WordPress, and a theme.
We will help guide you though how to do all of this below:
Choosing a Brand Name
When choosing a brand name, make sure that it clearly describes your product or service, and the .com domain name extension is available for purchase. So for example, if you were starting a golf club in the bay area, you could come up with a few possible brand names like: “Bay Area Golf Club” and “Bay Area Golf Fanatics”, and then check to see if they are available for purchase by typing in the domain name at this link. Keep in mind that domain names cannot have spaces or capital letters in them, so we typically recommend formatting your domain name like this: “bayareagolfclub.com”. The one thing we would strongly caution against, is overthinking this part and spending too much time on it. Your brand name probably won’t make any noticeable difference in your sales, so just pick one and get it over with. This step should take you maximum 48 hours to complete.
Getting a Domain Name
Buying a domain name is probably a lot simpler than you think it is, and it will only cost you about $10 per year. All you have to do is search the domain name you want to buy on NameCheap and click the buy button. We recommend buying your domains from NameCheap instead of other companies like GoDaddy for example because as the name suggests NameCheap is generally cheaper, and they are a great domain provider.
Getting Web Hosting
After dealing with over 6 hosting providers, we can say honestly say that there is a wide variety in terms of quality and cost when it comes to these companies. The biggest word of caution we would give is to avoid using Bluehost, Godaddy, or Hostgator altogether. Theses companies offer bad service at relatively high prices. The only reason they’re constantly recommended by people is that they pay high affiliate commissions to people who refer them, so don’t fall for that. SiteGround has traditionally been a good hosting provider, but we have heard that they have seriously dropped off in quality and cost recently. More specifically, they began limiting bandwidth and implementing misleading pricing practices, so we no longer recommend them them either.
So you might be wondering, who do we recommend then?
Well, after considering all of the factors, we think the best value for the price hosting service you can get is from NameCheap. Once again, as the name suggests they are an affordable hosting company, but at the same time they don’t skimp on quality. They have great uptime and customer support to help you out if you have issues along the way. Not to mention that if you purchase your domains form them, it’s a lot easier to manage if you also use their hosting.
You can sign up for NameCheap hosting here and have a website up and running within the hour.
Installing An SSL Certificate
We recommend getting the SSL certificate with whichever company you choose to get hosting with. Namecheap offers the first year of SSL for free, so you can just start with that. If you are confused at how to set this up just contact the customer support of your web hosting provider to do it for you.
Installing WordPress should be as simple as just finding it in the cPanel dashboard and clicking install. That being said, if you have issues with this, just contact the customer support of your hosting provider and they can do it for you.
Setting Up a WordPress Theme
Every WordPress website needs a theme, because it’s what provides the styling and some of the functionality for the website. If you’re an experienced web developer, we recommend using a lightweight theme like Consturction Field or GeneratePress.
On the other hand, if you are not an experienced web developer, we highly recommend using a theme that’s more user-freindly, because setting up a website and a funnel requires some technical knowhow. For that reason, non-technical people can often get frustrated because they have no idea what they are doing.
With nowhere else to turn, some business owners might try to hire a developer to build the website for them. While this can work, it is generally not a good idea because it could cost thousands of dollars and require you to spend lots of your valuable time managing the project.
Not to mention that if you truly know nothing about software, the developers you hire will likely rip you off…
That’s because they know you have no idea how many hours it actually takes to build the website, so it’s pretty common practice for these companies to bill 2 or 3 times the amount of hours that they actually spent working.
Not to mention that if you ever want to make any changes to your website (which you will absolutely need to do), you will be dependent on the developers to make them for you.
Before you know it, a simple website that should have cost you only $50 and taken only 1 day to build, now costs thousands of dollars and takes months to build.
This process can be so frustrating in fact that some people even give up altogether.
And while you should have more resilience than that, hiring developers to build you a website is a serious waste of time and money and could even cause your business to fail.
That’s because if you spend all of your focus and money on building the technical parts of the website and funnel, you won’t be able to focus on the things that actually get you results like your copywriting and A/B testing your ads.
The good news is that there’s a website building software called Divi that makes building websites and funnels 100 times easier and cheaper than it would be if you hired a developer.
Not to mention that Divi was built specifically as an all-in-one solution for people who don’t have any technical knowledge. That means that there’s absolutely no learning curve to get started, and you won’t have to spend tons of money on other softwares for added functionality.
In fact, they even have pre-built pages, so you can just click a button and the page instantly built for you.
That means there’s no need for:
– Expensive developers
– Learning how to code
– Patching together various softwares
– Or worrying about how it’s all going to get done
Just get Divi, and you’re ready to go.
Battle Testing Your Hypothesis
Once you have found an affiliate product to sell, you can set up a sales funnel and run some traffic to it to see how well it sells. This is where all of those marketing and sales tactics you’ve been researching for so long actually come in. The simplest effective way to quickly test your hypothesis is with a video sales letter (VSL) funnel.
What is an Online Sales Funnel?
The general idea of a sales funnel was developed way before the internet was even conceived. Sales funnels are founded on the basic principal that customers go though a predictable decision making process before buying from businesses, and if you can cater your marketing and sales messaging to help guide them through this buying process, you will make a lot of money. So essentially its goal is to take a complete stranger and turn them into a paying customer. An online sales funnel is basically a sequence of pages that guides a customer through the 4 stages of the buying process (awareness, interest, desire, and action). Each page in the funnel is generally focused on moving the customer on to the next step in the buying process instead of simply asking them to take action right away.
There are many possible funnel blueprints you can use, but a good place to start for most niches is with a VSL funnel blueprint like the one below. These types of funnels have been proven to work over and over again for most products and services, so they are the default choice for us.
Ad -> Email opt-in landing page -> VSL watch page with call to action to book a free consultation call -> Book a free consultation call page -> Email followup sequence for non-converters
A live example of this funnel can be found here.
Another possible VSL funnel you could use for selling a low-ticket product might look like this:
Ad -> Product sales page with VSL -> Checkout page
VSL -> Checkout page with some sales material on it
How to Set Up A VSL Sales Funnel
To set up an effective VSL sales funnel you will need the following:
- A VSL
- An email marketing software
- A landing page builder (Divi or the one built into the email marketing software is a great choice)
What is a VSL?
You can think of your VSL as your best salesman turned into a video. Its goal is to exacerbate the problem that your target market is facing and explain to them how your product or service is an effective solution to it. So for example, your VSL could be titled something like: “How to Grow Your Restaurant Fast” or “How to Relieve Back Pain Without Medication in Less Than 30 days”. It should be informational to some extent, but it shouldn’t get into too many technical details. Just remember that its primary goal is to sell your product or service to your target customer and you should be using language that resonates with them.
How to Make A VSL
Making an effective VSL will require you to first understand your customers and their pain points. Once you know this, you can write out a script and record it yourself, or hire a freelancer to record a video for you on Fiverr.
How to Write an Effective VSL Script
We recommend that you follow this basic layout to accurately convey the value of your product or service to your target market.
1. Explain the problem
2. Agitate the problem
3. Introduce the solution (your product or service)
4. Provide proof that it works (case studies)
5. Present your offer
6. Explain why they should act now
7. Give a final call to action – This should be a special offer like “book a free consultation call” (for high ticket products and services) or “start a free trail” for a software for example.
It can also be a good idea to mimic the messaging that your successful competitors are using in order to accurately portray the value of their products and services.
If you want more information on how to make an effective VSL, check out this video:
What is an Email Marketing Software?
A lot of people aren’t going to buy from you the first time they see your ad, so you need some way to follow up with them that is automated and scaleable. That is where email autoresponders which are also referred to as email marketing softwares come into play. Email autoresponders make it easy and automated to follow-up with people who didn’t buy from you and up-sell those that did. They are an absolute must-have if you plan on running an online business because they’re something that you’ll be using all of the time.
Deciding Which Email Marketing Software to Choose
With so many email autoresponders out there, it can be difficult to decide which one is the best. The good news is that after doing tons of research and trying out multiple different autoresponders, we have decided that the best email marketing software for affiliate marketing is GetResponse. It is affordable, easy-to-use, has good customer support, has solid email deliverability, and has a wide-variety of features. Most importantly though, they allow you to do affiliate marketing using their platform.
Believe it or not, affiliate marketing is actually against the terms of service of most email marketing platforms. While this is understandable because there are a lot of spammers in the affiliate marketing industry, it’s quite inconvenient for those of us who are trying to run legitimate businesses. That is why you need to be very careful about which email autoresponder you choose. Companies like MailChimp or Aweber can and will ban you if you try to do affiliate marketing via their platforms. So at the end of the day, your safest bet is to go with a company like GetResponse that openly allows affiliate marketing via their platform.
Setting up an Email Funnel
Once you have signed-up for an email marketing software that allows affiliate marketing, it’s time to set up your email funnel which is also called an email drip series.
If you need help setting an email funnel up, read this article to help you do that.
If you get really stuck you can simply contact GetResponse support to help you through the process.
How to Send Traffic to Your Funnel
Once you have set up a VSL and funnel that you feel is truly convincing to your target market, all you need to do is to send your target market into your funnel. The simplest way to do this is by using YouTube in-stream ads with the proper targeting. These are the ads that show up before YouTube videos and come with a skip ad option. They are great because you don’t have to pay for the ad unless the person watches at least 30 seconds of your video or clicks your ad. When running YouTube ads, we initially like to use placements targeting only because that allows you to place your ad on highly targeted videos. This traffic is a good as an initial test because if you cannot convert this highly targeted traffic, it means that there is likely something wrong with your funnel or business concept.
Here’s a tutorial that will teach you what you need to know to actually set up the ads:
Reviewing Your Results and Making Adjustments Based on Data
Assuming that you made a good funnel and video sales letter, you targeted your ads well, and your ads have been running for long enough to get statistically relevant data, it’s time to evaluate your initial hypothesis and make alterations based on the data.
If your campaign was successful which means that you ended up making money on your ad spend, you can move on to the next step in the process which is optimizing and scaling. If you lost money, don’t worry too much about it as your business concept could still be sound, particularly if you made at least some sales.
In that case, you need to look at the data to diagnose what you think the main issue is and attempt to solve it. If you think that your issue is your ads or your funnel, all you need to do is optimize or negotiate a higher commission rate with your affiliate product manager to become profitable.
On the other hand, if your ads were not even close to being profitable, and your ads and your funnel were decent, there could be a more serious issue with your business concept like a bad product market-fit or too much competition in the market. The following infographic can help give you an idea of the common issues that cause businesses to fail. This graphic was created by evaluating tech startups, but many of these reasons apply to pretty much any other type of business also.
After your evaluation, if you are sure that your issues are caused by factors that are not easy to fix like no market need, you should start over again with a new business concept hypothesis until you can find one that works. Chances are it will take you a few hypotheses and alterations before you find a concept that consistently works.
Optimizing and Scaling
Once you have proven that a business concept works at a small scale, all you need to do is scale and optimize the process. This would often consist of getting more traffic using methods like SEO, and improving your conversion rates using conversion rate optimization (CRO).
Making Your Own Product (Optional)
At this point in the process you can also attempt to increase your profit margins by making your own product instead of promoting an affiliate product. Just keep in mind that this generally takes a lot of extra time and money to do. Also, remember that affiliate marketing allows you to leverage trusted brands like Amazon for example that already have made a name for themselves. Trying to make your own brand from scratch will be considerably harder than promoting an already established brand.
While starting an online business can be super confusing at times, having a high-level understanding of how it works can help keep you on the right track. To recap, starting an online business consists of three steps: coming up with a business concept, testing the concept to make sure it works, and then scaling it.