As I write this, I'm getting ready to start a new class in my local area on how to start and run a business that is both enjoyable and profitable, while focusing on helping others.

I have several intentions for this class.

First, I want to help the students create a profitable business they'll enjoy in the shortest time possible.  Ideally, those who attend the class will start to see a profit before the 9-week series of finished.

Second, I will also record everything so that when it's done, I'll have another product to sell through my website here.  This will give me another income stream and allow me to help many more people across the globe.

I also intended to form several close partnerships with my students so we can cross-promote each other, resulting in more profitability for all.

And finally, the process of creating, recording, and selling this course will be an example for others to follow in starting their own businesses.

Back in 2003, I started my business with little more than an idea and a plan.  After just a few weeks, I had started to write my first course, and even started selling it before it was finished.

Since then, I've also produced several quickly-done products which generated a nice little income stream.  In terms of $/hour, these were some of the most profitable products I've created.

All-in-all, I feel comfortable teaching this class, and know that those who attend will get a lot out of it.

The only 'glitch' is that my photography business is also calling for my attention.  I just finished a long weekend job for Toastmasters, and am scheduled to help a friend this Thursday to record a workshop and turn it into a product he can sell online.

This is a perfect opportunity to focus on a phrase I've had to become very familiar with these past few years.  "It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be done."

When we find that there's just not enough time to do things in the way we'd like to do them, we have 2 choices.  We can give up, perhaps putting it off until the infamous "later" which never happens, or we can buckle down, do the best we can in the time we have, and produce something of value.  Admittedly, maybe not as high a value as our original plan, but of SOME value nonetheless.

If we find our way back to it again later, we can often improve what we've produced and increase it's value.

In a way, this is also how I've run my business.  I produce one product that has a certain amount of value, then I find ways to create other products with even more value.

So, the classes I do in the next several weeks may not be the best I can produce, but they will be the best I can produce NOW.

Email communications is perhaps one of the most important aspects of running an online business, second only to the system used to actually process sales and product delivery.

Even in a world with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and other social media, nothing is quite as effective as being able to send your customers and prospects an email message with helpful advice and special offers.

Recently, I decided it was time to move away from the email manager I had been using (arpReach) to something that offers more features to better interact with my subscribers.  Although arpReach used to be one of the best email managers around, development stalled several years ago, and it's really starting to show it's age.

After what seemed like months of research, I concluded that there just wasn't going to be a PERFECT solution.  Even the services you pay for monthly — like Aweber, GetResponse, Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and the rest — all have their own idiosyncrasies.

The two solutions that came out on top after this research were Mailwizz and Mautic.  Two very different products with completely different focuses.

Mailwizz is your typical mailing list manager, with a surprising number of features.  You can define as many lists as you want, and each list can have as many subscribers as you can get.  You can program email messages to go out to your whole list, a subset (segment) which meets certain criteria, as well as multiple lists and/or segments.

These messages can be sent immediately, programmed to go out on a particular date, or set to a prescribed delay after selected events, such as when a new subscriber gets added to your list, after they receive a specific email you programmed to go out earlier, or after they open a specific email, or after they click a specific link in a specific email.

You can also program messages to go out if a subscriber DOESN'T open an email or click a link.

With all these conditional responses, you can set up quite a complex and powerful email campaign.

Yet, with all it's sophistication, Mailwizz is the product of a email marketing amateur.  Anyone who calls a single email a "campaign" doesn't know the meaning of the word.  A campaign is a multi-step marketing process.  Not a single email.

There are other indications of the developer's inexperience in marketing, but we don't need to go into that right now.

Mautic, on the other hand, is a professional marketer's dream.  The folks who developed this software truly know what a campaign is, and give you the tools to set up anything from the simplest to the most complex sequences you could ever imagine.  And yes, you can even send out a single email if you want to a whole list of folks.

As far as customization for individual subscribers, not only can you target a message to specific groups of subscribers, but you can also change selected portions of the content of that message for each subscriber individually.  And not only that, but you can also modify selected portions of your WEBSITE to each contact in your database.

That's true marketing sophistication!

Mautic has been released as an open-source project, meaning you can get it for free.  You can download it, install it to your website, use it as much as you want, and never pay a penny.

Mailwizz, on the other hand, will set you back a whopping $59 for a personal-use license, or $245 if you want to use it to sell accounts to others and run a business like Aweber, GetResponse, Mailchimp, and the rest.  Overall, a cheap price for what it does.  And as far as I can tell, this entitles you to lifetime updates of the software.  However, if you want support from the developer beyond the first 6 months, there are extra fees for that.  A reasonable balance, I'd say.

This option to sell accounts is one of the reasons I continued to look at Mailwizz despite the obvious inexperience of the developer.

So, I've been testing both of these products for the last few months.  All in all, they've performed rather well.

As mentioned above, there just aren't any PERFECT solutions when it comes to mailing list managers.  They all have their flaws.  And I'm not sure if any software product exists that doesn't have a few bugs hidden beneath the surface.

With Mailwizz, it can't display a campaign sequence in the right order, even though it can SEND them in the right order (with perfect timing).  With Mautic, there are issues with the API to integrate with other software.

One thing I don't like about Mautic is that when a new subscriber comes into your system, or when they qualify for a specific campaign, all emails for that campaign get scheduled immediately, and any new messages that get added to the end will not go out to pre-existing subscribers.

There's a way around it, but it's not pretty.

With Mailwizz, you can add messages to a sequence any time and tell the system whether pre-existing subscribers should or should not get the new messages.  Since this is something I do often, Mailwizz gets a point in its favor.

Mailwizz also gets a point for being easier to understand.  With Mautic, I found myself frequently pondering how to accomplish things I had been doing for years.  While there was always a way to do it, learning the system is a long-term investment.  Since part of my future plans includes helping others start and run their online businesses, I'd rather have a tool that won't take as long to explain to my clients.

However, even with Mailwizz, there are some things that require a workaround, as the software wasn't designed to do certain things "out of the box", like giving your prospects the option to sign up for multiple lists with the same form.  Here again, it can be done, but it isn't pretty.

A point goes to Mautic for making this incredibly easy.

Mautic can track all visitors on your website, so you can see what pages they've visited, even BEFORE they opted in to your list.  And it can respond to those page visits, either by giving the subscriber "points" or even adding them to a campaign after visiting certain pages.  Several points go to Mautic for this level of sophisticated interaction.

In the end, though, I find myself leaning towards Mailwizz.  I'll look into having both working together, as that would be the best of both worlds.

If you have any questions about these products, let me know in the comment section below.

I recently presented a workshop focused on helping folks find a fun and rewarding way to earn a living, and maybe even become financially wealthy.

One of the things I really love about the audience for this workshop is that they are focused on being of service to the world around them.  I love this because it reflects a belief I picked up from Zig Ziglar many years ago — "You can get anything you want if life if you help enough other people get what they want."

When you think about it, the foundation of all successful businesses is an exchange of value.  I give you this, you give me that.  I give you this useful product or service, you give me an equivalent value in money.

Sometimes, we don't always see the value that someone is giving in exchange for the money they receive.  Professional athletes, comics, and politicians come to mind.  In most cases, the value is in the entertainment people get from watching what they do.

Other times, we don't see how we can turn the thing we love to do into an income source.

I read an article a couple of years ago about someone who loved to play Frisbee and wanted to travel the world.  He spent days thinking about how he could earn a living doing those two things.  Then, one day in the shower, the idea hit him.  He could contact the company which makes the Frisbee, and strike a deal.  They would pay him to travel and play Frisbee with kids all over the world, and then use that as a publicity campaign to sell more Frisbees.  They agreed, and he found a way to turn his passion into an income.

Many people do a similar thing on YouTube.  They do what they love and record it, and companies sponsor their channel for the publicity and exposure.  This is how some people earn a living doing nothing more than playing video games or acting stupid.  The more flamboyant their personality, the larger the audience they can attract, and the more money they can make.

I recently heard Jim Carey repeat something his dad used to say.  Jim wasn't just a ham, he was the whole pig.  Makes sense why he has become such a successful entertainer.

Being a good listener can be quite profitable as well.  One way of looking at the enormous success Oprah has experienced is that she has been a great listener, asking others to tell their stories and share their insights.

There's a million ways to make a million dollars.  You just have to find the way that works for you.

As a result of this presentation, I got 10 signups for an 8-week class, out of an audience of less than 20.  If you're in the Grand Rapids area and want a chance to take part of this class, contact me, and I'll give you the details.

You can download the handout that was used in this presentation by CLICKING HERE.

About a year ago, I rebuilt this blog site with WordPress. This has worked well, so over the last week, I've rebuilt the PowerKeys Publishing website with WordPress.  Now, I'm switching the system that handles email from arpReach to Mautic.

Or, at least, I'm exploring Mautic to see if it's going to be a good fit for me.

I had learned of Mautic, a free open-source marketing automation tool, a few years ago.  Back then, it offered an intriguing idea, but had too many problems to be seriously considered for professional use.

Recently, I learned that certain software running my server needed to be upgraded, and arpReach would not work with the upgraded version.  So it became imperative that I find a replacement.

I tend to do a fresh review of web software from time to time anyways, to find if there's a better option for running my business, and to help those I take as clients set up and run their businesses.

The software I tend to research most often is mailing list management software, because there are so few really GOOD choices available.

Most mailing list management options are either way too technical for the average person to understand, or they have way too few options to flexibly adapt to the way real businesses are run.

And then there are the options which are only available as a monthly service, where you are asked to pay $100 or more PER MONTH to use the system.

Those are good options for businesses with 100,000 or more subscribers, but for the smaller businesses with 1000 to 5000 subscribers, they just don't make financial sense.

Some of the popular mailing list management options currently available are Sendy, MailWizz, and MailChimp.

MailChimp is good for those who don't want to deal with the software itself, and would prefer to pay a monthly fee to have someone else deal with the technical side of things. They also are a good option for those just starting out, as they let you start for free, and you only have to start paying once your list grows beyond 1000 subscribers.

But once you get to 2500 or so subscribers, you'll be paying about as much as with most of the services. For example, if you have close to 5000 subscribers, you'd be paying about $50 per month to run a mailing list.

Not quite the $100 per month I quoted above, but then again, you won't have all the fancy features of the $100/month systems.

If you are comfortable with installing software on a web server, or are willing to pay $50 to $100 to have someone do it for you, you can get the same level of mailing list management with something like Sendy, MailWizz, or Mautic.

Of the 3, Mautic is the only free option, and incidentally, is also the most flexible.

Not only will it give you the tools to run a mailing list, but it also lets you customize your web pages to display different content for different groups of subscribers.

You can also program a mailing sequence to respond with different emails depending on whether a subscriber has opened a previous email, clicked a link, or visited a particular webpage.

And you can mix emails, text messages, and Twitter tweets in your communication mix, even allowing your subscribers to indicate a preference, and using their preferred channel to communicate with them.

This level of flexibility is something I haven't seen in ANY of the other systems, except maybe Infusionsoft -- at $200 per month.  A big reason why I'm taking time to study Mautic in depth.

Luckily, there are a few videos on YouTube giving a nice overview of what the system can do, and how to set it up to do it.  Most of the videos are more than a year old, but they are still useful.

And there's a 264-page user guide describing all the intricate details of the system. That's where I am now. Reading through this massive guide.

Currently, I'm on page 51, and will probably be at this for a couple of days.

Then, I'll set up a few tests, run it through its paces, and see how reliable it is to work with.

If if passes my tests, I'll be switching all of my mailing lists to this system, and will be recommending it to all my clients.

Six years ago, in 2012, after coming home from a trip to Hawaii, I was inspired to write a new book called "Harmonic Prayer".  This was 4 years after writing my "Choose To Believe" book, and I felt this would give folks a 'shortcut' to shifting the beliefs required to manifest their desires.

I still feel that a process of prayer can be one of the best ways to shift our beliefs so they may support a new life experience.  The only thing that's different now is that I have a much better understanding of the psychological mechanics involved.

In 2012, I described Harmonic Prayer as a 5-step process involving Faith, Focus, Feeling, Thanksgiving, and following Divine Guidance.  Today, I describe the process as Relax, Indulge, Imagine, Trust, and Act (on Divine Guidance).  Still 5 steps, and roughly the same steps.

Back then, I knew there was a feeling associated with being connected with the Divine, but I really couldn't describe what that feeling was, and the best suggestion for producing it I could give was to open yourself up to the feeling of love.

Today, I understand this 'connection' as a combination of relaxation into an alpha/theta state of mind and emotional indulgence, which could be associated with love, joy, gratitude, pleasure, or even pride.  As long as it makes you feel good, it helps you "open up" to the Divine.  This, plus relaxing into alpha/theta, puts you into a mind space conducive to manifestation.

So, the Feeling and Thanksgiving steps of the original process are now described as Relax and Indulge.

The Faith and Focus steps are essentially the same.  You need to spend some time focusing on what you want to manifest, experiencing it as a very vivid daydream, as if it's happening right now in the moment.  You also need to have faith, and trust that you'll get your desired outcome as soon as it can be arranged.

Following Divine Guidance is also essentially the same as before.  The only difference is that I'm putting a little more emphasis on the ACTION involved.  In most cases, you will be personally involved in bringing your manifestation into reality, and you need to trust the process enough to "step out in faith".  If you don't yet feel comfortable doing so, you need to spend more time in prayer.

Over the last two months, I've been doing another "deep dive" into this material and reading through a variety of other authors' material to make sure I haven't forgotten anything.  All to get ready to write the next book/course.

I have an outline prepared, which includes elements from everything I've written thus far.  Guided meditations, hypnotic symbology, NLP enhancements, willpower training, practical advice, etc.  For all practical purposes, I see this as becoming the ultimate expression of the work I've done over the past 15 years.

As I write this, I'm considering what to call the new course. 

Advanced Harmonic Prayer would be a natural, as it's an extension of the original Harmonic Prayer book.  On the other hand, I've build a brand around "Keys to Power" ("Keys To Power - Step by Step", "Keys To Power Prosperity", "Keys to Power Persuasion"), even naming my publishing business "PowerKeys Publishing".  For this reason, "Keys To Power Prayer" could work.

I've noticed that many books in this field which stand the test of time tend to name a process, method, or system.

And then there are more action-oriented titles, such as:

Some books stand the test of time even without such titles, such as "What Color is  Your Parachute?", which defies all logic, as it's a book on finding a new job.  This goes to show that titles are not the most important thing when it comes to making sure a book is successful.

I could go for something like "The 5 Keys to Powerful Prayers", which incorporates several of these elements, and has a bit of intrigue as well.  A variation of this could be "5 Prayer Keys that Get Powerful Results".

If I wanted to emphasize the enjoyable nature of the process, I could call it "The Party Prayer Process".  Maybe even, "Indulge Your Way to True Prayer Power".  Somehow, I don't see many people responding well to that last one.  Or maybe it's just a bit too 'sensational' for my taste.

However, the original Harmonic Prayer book had the subtitle, "How to Instantly Increase Your Prayer Power", which is a bit sensational in it's own right.

I've considered titles like "Blessings Galore" and "Blessings, Blessings Everywhere", but they've already been used by other authors.  While titles do not enjoy copyright protection, I'd rather use unique titles for my work.

For whatever reason, it also seems that most folks gravitate more towards science-sounding approaches, as if they've already lost faith in prayers, or just want something a little less related to religion.  One reason why we had a flood of quantum-this and quantum-that in recent years as everyone flocked to "Law of Attraction"-flavored manifestation systems.

I certainly don't blame anyone for this.  I, myself, gave up a long time ago on asking for help from a nebulous divine being who may or may not choose to respond.  My own view of prayer doesn't depend on a personality, but on natural laws of reality that work anytime you get all the variables right.

Having covered all this, other possibilities include:

My next step is to take all these ideas into a meditation and ask my deeper mind to give me the winning title.

UPDATE: Final Title

After asking a few close friends for their input on the titles above, and some meditation of my own, I've settled on a title for the next book, which is:

Faith, Focus, and Feeling.  The Keys to Manifesting Your Dreams with Harmonic Prayer

While some authors are comfortable writing the book first and naming it later, I find that the title influences the content of the book, and prefer to get it closer to perfection the first time around.

Now, on to updating the outline to better conform to the nature of the title.

My last post was focused on backups, and my work on this has uncovered a few more details which has caused me to expand the project into the core storage used for my main data as well.

Specifically, I've just converted (2) 4TB hard drives into a single RAID-0 striped storage volume.  While most folks do this simply to get faster access to their data, and this was one of the reasons for my doing it, I also had another reason as well.

My photography / videography needs more space than could be afforded by the available space on the main 4TB drive I had within my system, even for the files I need relatively quick access to, so I had dedicated a full 6TB drive to "current and recent" projects.  While this worked, it also left a lot of space on the 4TB drive unused.  Essentially, wasted space.

By combining (2) 4TB drives into a single 8TB storage volume, I can put both my publishing data and the "current" photography data on the same volume and better utilize the space.  Getting faster access to this data was just a bonus, which may potentially allow me to directly access common video files (i.e. - video backgrounds for green screen work) in my video editing without having to first move them to the faster SSD drive, which I'm using as a "workbench" drive.

Since I keep good automated backups on a daily schedule, there's not much risk from the RAID-0 arrangement.  Theoretically, I could change the backup schedule to hourly (or even less if I wanted to go crazy), and there would be much less risk.

As I write this, the data is being copied back over from a new 8TB external drive I'll use for backups.

While researching the RAID options again, I ran across a piece of software called FlexRAID, which looks really interesting.  Specifically, it allows the use of cheap consumer drives in a RAID array, with the added benefit of being able to add new drives at any time.  Not as fast as a true RAID system, but much more flexible.  I think I'll use this to consolidate my backup drives together and give them some extra protection.

Once this project is done, I'll have (1) 8TB storage volume inside my computer, (4) 6TB drives in an external case, merged into a single 24TB volume (probably striped in RAID-0 for extra speed), and another external case with several 8TB drives (currently, 3) consolidated into a FlexRAID setup, used to store backups of everything else.  This is in addition to the OS drive, which is a 480GB SSD, and my "workbench" drive — a 1TB SSD.

Adding another 8TB drive to the backup volume wouldn't cost too much, so I might go ahead and just do it to fill out the system.  That would give me a full 24TB of backed-up storage (using a RAID-5 type arrangement) for my backups.  Essentially, a 3rd level of data protection.

Should be several years before I need to add more storage, wouldn't you think?

As an online publisher, I collect a fair amount of data over time, although it is nothing compared to the data collected from my photography / videography activities.

After 15 years of producing books, audio recordings, and a few videos, I can fit everything (including educational and software downloads) onto a 500GB hard drive, which is super-simple to back up for secure storage.

In just 5 years of photography & videography, I've already amassed well over 12 TERABYTES of data.  Now, granted, I could easily delete a fair share of that, since I tend to keep all my testing images as well as the stuff I actually want to keep.

Honestly, though, it's a lot easier (and profitable) to just buy a new hard drive and keep going, rather than wade through mountains of material to determine what can stay and what can go.  A 4TB hard drive is around $100, and it would take a significant amount of time to "find" 4TB of space from deleting old files.

I spent a few hours yesterday researching my options for future storage and backups, and here's what I found.  This isn't meant to be an exhaustive analysis, just a quick report of the key points.

Most photographers / videographers are using systems with multiple hard drives in a RAID array to get massive storage that essentially backs itself up as you go.  While this isn't "cheap", there are some advantages of this.

As an alternative, an 8TB external hard drive can be purchased from Amazon.com for just $150, and 2 of these (one for data, the other as a backup) run less than $40 per TB.

Compare this to the $240 per 8TB drive you need for a RAID array, plus $250 for a 5-bay RAID enclosure.  With RAID-5 (the most economical format that can survive the failure of a drive in the system), this gives you 32TB of backed-up storage for $1450.  About $45 per TB.

If you used 4TB drives instead (at $100 each), you could get 16TB of backed-up storage for $750, or about $47 per TB.

Quick note — in a RAID-5 system, one drive in the system goes to the backup function (not really, but this is the amount of space used, so it's a good way to think of it), so the more drives in the system, the better.  In other words, with a 4-drive system, you get 75% of the total space for data, but in a 5-drive system, you get 80% of the total space.  An 8-drive RAID-5 system is 87.5% efficient.  The more efficient the RAID array, the lower the cost per TB, adjusted by the cost of the enclosure.

To get 32TB of backed-up storage with separate 8TB hard drives, you'll spend $1200.  About $37.50 per TB.

So, as I see it, it's a decision between whether you want everything in one system, or are comfortable managing multiple hard drives and making sure everything gets backed up on a regular basis.  Is it worth $250 to do it yourself, or would you rather have a system do it for you and spend the extra money?

Well, there is another factor involved.  To set up the RAID array, you need to buy the whole system up front.  With separate hard drives, you can add them as you go.  And with separate hard drives, there's no limit.  You can keep adding them forever, getting larger and larger drives as they become available, at a lower and lower price per TB.

With the RAID array, you're stuck with the storage you started with, unless you want to add a completely separate unit.  But on the plus side, if a drive fails, all you need to do is replace it with a new one, and the system continues as if nothing happened.  With separate hard drives, you need to manually replace the data, either from the backup, or create a new backup from the source drive.

So the separate hard drive approach is more flexible, with a lower cost of entry, but requires more work to maintain.

For around $150, I can also get a 4-bay enclosure for the separate hard drives and good backup software to manage the regular backups for me.  So there isn't a whole lot of time involved in management.  I've already got one enclosure and the backup software (ToDo Backup, by EaseUS), and adding another enclosure wouldn't be too hard.

Another option here with 2 of these simple enclosures, is to fill both with cheaper, consumer-grade hard drives (like the ones I already have), and use one enclosure for data and the other for backup.  Since Windows makes it easy to treat multiple physical hard drives as a single logical drive, management becomes relatively easy, especially with the automated backup software I have.

Going back to cost comparisons, the 4-bay enclosure is $100, and (4) 8TB hard drives would bring the total up to $700 for 32TB of raw storage.  This, plus the enclosure I already had, plus the (4) 6TB drives I already had (which cost about the same as the 8 TB drives cost now), I would have a 28TB (backed-up) system for roughly $50 per TB.   Quick note — I can put (2) 6TB and (2) 8TB drives in each enclosure to balance them out.

The advantage here is that Windows makes it easy to add new drives to the system as I go, so I don't have to start out with both enclosures full of drives.

Writing this blog post has helped me clarify my own mind on this, and I hoped it has helped you as well.

Feel free to leave any comments below.  Maybe you know a way to get reliable, backed-up storage at a lower cost?  Maybe you see a flaw in my reasoning?  Maybe you know of another option that makes all this redundant?

One thing I will add here is that while some photographers / videographers use online storage as part of their backup plan, I've passed on this idea for a couple of reasons, mainly cost and the time involved in uploading TERABYTES of data.  An average video job results in over 100GB of data, and that would take more than a day to upload.  (Max upload speed where I am is around 10Mbps, or about 3GB per hour.)

And yes, I realize I should have some form of off-site storage in place.  I guess I must like living dangerously.

My last several blog posts have outlined a plan of action that I would take if I suddenly lost everything and had to start all over again, without any of my previous products, subscribers, partners, or other resources.

In other words, in the same position most newbies face when first starting out online.

While this provides the newbies with some idea of WHAT to do, they still don't have much of any idea HOW to do it.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to learn how to write a successful sales page, or effective email copy, or how to produce a quality product if you've never done it before.  It took me several years before I was comfortable writing my own marketing copy.

There are essentially 3 ways to overcome this handicap.  You can do it the hard way by trial and error, trying different things, finding out what doesn't work, and trying something else until you happen to hit on a combination that DOES work.

A better approach would be to learn from those who have been successful at it.  While you'll get a hint of this in blog posts and other free content you'll find online, the BEST information is found in the coaching programs and paid courses offered by the business and marketing experts.  This way, you can pay a reasonable fee to shortcut your learning process.

If you have much more money than time, you can take advantage of a third option, which is to simply pay someone to do it for you.  It's possible to pay one person to create your products, pay someone else to set up your website, and pay another person to write the marketing copy for you.  If you're lucky, you can find one person who can do all of this and have just one person to pay.

In the example described in the previous six blog posts, it took nearly a month of full-time effort for me to start a new business from scratch.  And that's in a market I already know well.

If someone asked me to do this for them, I'd have to charge them a fee that replaces the income I would otherwise make by working on my own projects.  This means a fee of about $5000.

For those without the resources to cover this cost, I strongly recommend Terry Dean's courses, particularly his Internet Lifestyle System, which may be found at http://internetlifestylesystem.com/

Some other resources I would recommend include:

Terry Dean's Autoresponder Alchemy course:
http://autoresponderalchemy.com/

Rosalind Gardner's Super Affiliate Handbook:
http://superaffiliatehandbook.com/

Russel Brunson Free Book "Dot Com Secrets":
https://dotcomsecretsbook.com

Russel's DotComSecretsX website:
https://dotcomsecretsx.com

With the education you get from the above resources, you can dramatically improve your skills as a marketer to sell any kind of product, which is the primary skill involved.

For tech help, I've found that searching YouTube for the particular thing I need help with will usually lead me to a clear step-by-step tutorial.  If you're still lost after watching a tutorial video, it's time to hire this out.  Either find a techie friend in your local area, or submit a job to a website like Fiverr or eLance.  Lots of people willing to work for peanuts, and some of them actually do a good job.

As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

At the end of yesterday's post, at which point I had produced a new guided meditation as my first product in this whole "starting over" scenario, I mentioned that the next step would be to start contacting potential affiliates about the new offer they could announce to their mailing lists.

I actually jumped the gun a bit on that, as I really should TEST market my new product to my own list first, just to make sure that the sales letter works to inspire folks to actually buy the product.

Nothing worse than inviting a new partner to participate in a venture and then have the whole thing crash and burn.

The main problem here is that we're just 3 weeks into this starting over process, and I've only been building my list for 2 weeks.  With normal PPC advertising and such, I probably don't have much of a list.  Maybe a couple hundred subscribers at this point.

Sending out a broadcast email to my list to introduce them to my new product is the first thing I'll do, but this will most likely result in just a handful of sales.  I can also edit the gift delivery page and replace the affiliate product ad for a new ad promoting my new product.  This will make sure that all new subscribers see the offer, producing a few sales here and there.

And obviously, I'll add a few emails to my autoresponder sequence to talk about my new product, and maybe insert an ad blurb at the bottom of all existing emails to expose my subscribers repeatedly to the offer.  I'll have to check to see if MailChimp has an easy way to insert ad blocks which can be edited in one place and used in many places.

If I got 20% of my list to buy the product, that may be enough to get statistically valid data.  To be statistically valid, we need about 30 sales to know how well our sales letter is working.  However, getting 20% of any group to do anything is difficult, so I'll need to do more.

So, how do we get 30 sales quickly, without recruiting affiliates to do it?

There are actually a few ways to do this, but first, let's look at some numbers.

In order to get 30 sales, we need a lot more people to see the sales page, right?  How many more?

An average sales page on the Internet converts visitors to sales at an average rate of 1%.  This means that the "average" sales page needs about 100 visitors to get just 1 sale.  With my 15 years of experience online, I know I can sell a $10 product and get even a basic sales page to convert at 10% to 20%, meaning I need only 5 to 10 visitors to get 1 sale.

So, this means I need around 300 visitors to my sales page to get my 30 sales.  With a $10 product, this means I'll make about $1 per visitor.  And that's if the sales page converts at only 10%.  If it converts at 20% (which I've done with a few products), I'll make about $2 per visitor.  (BTW - I had one sales page promoting a $49 product that AVERAGED about $5 per visitor over a full year.  That product included a book and about 8 hours of audio.)

This means I can go out and just "buy traffic" to my website.  Essentially, that's what I'm doing with my PPC ads.  I could place more ads (separate from the ads going to my opt-in page) and send people directly to my sales page.  A few days of this and I should have my 30 sales.

Incidentally, this also means I've generated $300 in revenue, which can go a long way towards paying for all the PPC advertising I've been doing.  As long as this is profitable (meaning I make more money than I spend in advertising), I can keep this up forever, making at least 30 sales ($300) every week — IN ADDITION TO the money I'm making through the affiliate programs.  Also in addition to the money I make from other products I create, and other affiliate products I add to my portfolio.

Eventually, with enough products and enough subscribers on my list, I can count on bringing in $3000 per week or more.  And the only work involved will be to INCREASE that figure.

Promoting more products to more people is the name of the game online.  Of course, we have to get and keep their attention, and this is what we do when we provide free content, such as the blog series I'm writing now.

But what happens if everything DOESN'T go right?

As long as we're getting SOME sales, we can run a few tests and find out where the problems are and fix them.  The normal approach to testing is to change one thing on the page, wait until enough people have gone through it (usually until we get another 30 sales), change something else, wait until we get another 30 sales, then change something else.  This continues until we've tested a variety of variables and calculated which version worked best.

That's the SLOW way of testing.  There's a faster way, which requires much less waiting and ad spending.  It's called "multi-variant testing", and is something we can do using free tools provided by Google.

Using the Google Optimize feature, we can set up all our test variables at once, send a flow of traffic to the sales page, and when we've sent enough (somewhere around 60 sales or so), we can run a report and see what combination of variables worked the best.

Then we just implement that combination of variables (things like headline, lead in, product photo, proof elements, offer, guarantee, etc.) and away we go.  The most profitable sales page possible using the original test elements.

Of course, we could set up a new test with new test elements and see if we can improve the page any further.

Bottom line: in just a week or two, we can make sure we have a winning sales page that affiliates will be happy to promote, and have the numbers to back up our claims.

Interestingly, if the numbers show that your advertising cost is less than what you'd pay for affiliate commissions, you may decide you don't even want to bother recruiting affiliates for your new product.

Personally, I like to do both.  Nothing wrong with getting MORE sales and making MORE money.

By the time I'm finished running the split tests, my 30 days are up, I've made money, and I have a profitable website, which can only grow and become more profitable in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

I also have a good start on a new mailing list, through which I can promote additional products over time (my own and those I represent as an affiliate) while I continue to educate them on the main points they need to know in order to be successful in the niche I'm working in.

And once I KNOW how profitable my website is (from opt-in page through to sales page), and it can support an ad cost of $1 per visitor, I can also buy "mail drops" where an email I write goes out to many thousands of subscribers at once, and I pay for each click that comes out of it, usually about $1 per click because these are QUALITY LEADS.  With mail drops, it's possible to get a few thousand visitors in just a day or two.  Of course, the same is true with affiliates, and they usually get paid only after actual sales are made.

As I've said before, this is just one example of how a new business may be started online.  I'm happy to help you plot out a course that works for you in your particular situation.  Just contact me for help, and we'll take it from there.

By this point in the series, we have covered the first 2 weeks of what I would do if I had to start all over again without any of my previously created products, my mailing list, partners, or other resources.

If all goes well, by this point in the process, I'm already getting a few dozen new subscribers per day, and perhaps a sale or two each day of one or more of the affiliate products I've chosen to represent.

And all of this with an upfront cost of only $15.  (Many PPC ad networks charge you AFTER your ads have run for a month.  A few require a deposit to make sure you can cover these costs.)

As long as the affiliate program pays out before the PPC ad costs come due, we're all set.  If not, that's what credit cards are for.

In a "worst case scenario", I might have to do some odd jobs in my local area to get the funds required to hold out until my new online business takes off and starts carrying the load.  A month or two at the most.

On day 15, I'm going to add a new twist to things.

As an affiliate representing other people's products, I'm limited in the advertising I can do.  If I had a product of my own, I could recruit other affiliates to send people to my website and pay them a fixed percentage of any sales that result from their referrals.

So, at this point in the process, I'm going to map out a product I can sell directly.  I don't have to create it just yet.  All I have to do is plan it out.

One of the easiest products to create in the "Law of Attraction" space is a guided meditation.  The script is usually under 3000 words, which is easy for me to write in a day, complete with editing and polishing to perfection.  Recording takes an hour or so, and final editing can usually be done in another hour or so.  Overall, about 2 days to create a quality guided meditation.

Guided meditations can also sell for $10 to $20, which makes them a low-priced product, easy for most folks to afford, and cheap enough so they don't need much convincing to make the purchase.

While there are many online "gurus" who claim that low priced products are never as profitable as high-ticket products, I beg to differ.  With a low-priced product, you don't have to spend a lot of time crafting a perfect sales letter, nor do you need to include a lot of "bulk" in the delivery.  Low-priced products are easy to crank out, easy to sell, and can be just as profitable on a "per subscriber" basis as a $1000 product.

As an example, whenever I've created guided meditations in the past, I've seen returns of $1 per subscriber in just a few days.  If I really had to, I could do a new one every week, so making $4 per subscriber in a month is theoretically possible.

If I were in a different market, I could organize a 1-hour presentation on my topic, record it as either audio or video, and sell the recording for $10 to $20 with just as good results.

To create and sell a $1000 product requires a much higher commitment of time and resources, and only a small portion of the market are in a position to purchase such a product.  Sure, you could target your marketing towards people who can afford such products and are inclined to buy them, but here again, you really need great marketing (or a great reputation) to pull it off.

If I had to start all over again, without depending on the reputation I've built over the years, I'd focus on low-priced products until I could develop my reputation again.

If you think about it, McDonalds, Coca-cola, and Domino's have done well selling low-priced products.

Back to planning out my first product.

I would go one of two ways with this.  Either I'd find a weakness in one of the affiliate products I'm promoting — a hole to be filled — or I'd survey my list to find out what they would like to buy.  Of course, I could do both.

Up to this point, the only emails my new subscribers have been getting are the ones I've programmed into the autoresponder.  These daily emails have been introducing me and my ideas to them, so they feel like they know me.  Hopefully, this means they also like me and trust me, because these are the 3 conditions that lead to easy sales.

When I do a survey, I send out a broadcast email that goes out to everyone on the list right away.  In this survey, I let them know I'm thinking of creating a new product, that it's going to be a guided meditation, and simply ask them what would help them the most.

This question may need to be structured a bit, to get them thinking along lines of what topic they need help with the most, what they like and don't like about other guided meditations, and what types of backgrounds they find most appealing.

After brainstorming possible products on day 15, I'd spend days 16 and 17 creating the first one.  I have to remember the phrase, "It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be done" because otherwise, I can be a perfectionist and it would take weeks to get this thing done.

I can always go back and redo the product later if I have to.  Got to get the money rolling in first.

Day 18 is spent setting up a sales system for my new product, as well as some way to track referrals from affiliates so I can pay them for the sales coming from their efforts.

For this, setting up a PayPal account is the first step.  Depending on the affiliate programs I joined earlier, this may have been a required step.  If not, now is the time to take care of it.  It's free, and payment processing fees are very reasonable.

As far as the technical side of handing sales, product delivery, and affiliate tracking, there are TONS of choices.  If I truly had to start over again, and didn't have many resources to pay for software and tech support, I'd go with WordPress to manage the pages of my website, WooCommerce to handle the sales and digital product delivery, and an affiliate plugin (some are free), to track referrals from my partners.  WordPress makes installing the free plugins extremely easy, so very little technical know-how is required.

If I had more resources, I'd buy a copy of aMemberPro for $179, which I've used for years, and integrates everything (sales, delivery, and a basic mailing list manager) in one unified system.  It even integrates with WordPress, Drupal, and many other "Content Management Systems" I may choose to use for my website.

Setting all this up would take about a day, especially since I'd probably spend some time researching the various options, testing a couple out, and picking one that seems to work the way I think it should.  Part of the setup will be to define the opt-in page as an affiliate destination, so my affiliates can get credit for sending folks there.

I can also set what percentage my affiliates get as a commission.  50% is standard, but 75% would get more potential affiliates excited about sending more people my way, and in the early stages, the more people I can get onto my list, the better.  I'll have other products to sell in the near future, so I don't mind giving my affiliates the lion's share of the first one.

One good affiliate can add 1000 new subscribers to my list in a matter of days.

Depending on the specific affiliate plugin I've chosen, I might also be able to pay my affiliates a fixed amount for each new subscriber they send me, without any commissions given on the resulting sales.  Since this is a new product, with a new sales letter, I'm safer paying a commission.  A pay-per-lead program can come later, if at all.

The way an affiliate program works, when my affiliates use their special link to send folks to my opt-in page, a cookie is set on the visitor's computer, which stays there for a period of time defined in the affiliate software.  In most cases, I set this for 90 days, 180 days, or even forever.  The less well-known I am, the longer the affiliate cookie lifetime should be.  This lets my affiliates earn commissions on future products as well, and will encourage more affiliates to promote my free gift offer.

When the visitor comes back to make a purchase, the affiliate software checks for the cookie, and if it finds one, credits the referring affiliate with the sale.

All this is explained in the help files that come with the software.

Day 19 would be spent writing a basic sales page for my new product.  Although I'd love to have a week to make it the best I possibly could, I know I can crank out a workable sales page in just a few hours, so a full day is enough to make a good one.

Day 20 is where I write a few emails for my affiliates to send out to their list, announcing my free gift.  While many of them will prefer to send folks directly to the sales letter, I'll make sure to point out that when people join my list, I can promote the main product many times over and get more of them to complete the purchase, and anyone who won't sign up for the free gift probably won't buy the product either.

With the sales page and sample emails done, I can start to contact potential affiliates and let them know about the new opportunity I've set up for them.

But since it's been a week since my last rest day, it's time to take another one, and start again on day 22.  Taking time away from my work can help my subconscious process what I've been doing, and bring things to my attention that should be addressed.

For those just coming into this series, I'm describing what I would do if I had to start all over again, without any of the resources I've gained from being in business online for these past 15 years, as if I were a complete newbie, but with the knowledge and experience of an internet veteran.

I'm doing this to help those who would like to start their own online business, but don't know how to proceed.  If you follow the general flow of this outline, you'll find yourself making more money sooner than most folks getting started online.

Up to this point, I've described what I would do in the first 9 days, with the idea that I need to be profitable within the first 30 days.

Actually, if all goes well, we're already profitable after the first week.  Be that as it may, not everyone hits a homerun their first time at bat, and even the experts don't always know what's going to work right out of the gate.

That's why part of this process involves testing and tracking the results of those tests, and then making modifications to our ads and other marketing messages until the system we've set up is profitable.

Okay, so let's continue with what I would do starting on day 10.

On day 6, we implemented our first ads, and by this point, we should have plenty of data to know how well those ads have been working.  With the analytics options with Google Adwords (or other PPC ad platform), we should have a clear idea of what percentage of folks are joining our mailing list from each of our ads and keyword targets.

What I'm looking for at this point are ad/keyword combination that have at least 100 clicks, and at least 10 new subscribers coming from them.  If any combination has less than 100 clicks, there's not enough data to make a proper judgement on it. However, if we see an ad/keyword combination with 50 clicks and no subscribers, it's fairly safe to say it's time to try something else.

In these first 4 days, we may or may not have any ad/keyword combination that meet this requirement, although it's important to keep on top of the stats to eliminate any problems before they can affect us.

I'm also looking at the percentage of clickthroughs on each ad.  Google tracks this for you, and it's relatively easy to set up multiple ads to test, with results showing how well the ad did across all keyword options.  This is also a critical number, because Google won't show ads that don't get clicked.  We need at least a 1% clickthrough here.

If a keyword phrase gets 1000 searches a day (30,000 per month), a 1% clickthrough gives us only 10 visitors per day.  This is why we want to submit many different ads for every keyword we can think of that relates to our target market, the products we represent, and future products we plan to offer.

Unfortunately, at this point, since the money we're making is through an affiliate program, and we can't track the full pathway from PPC ad through to the final sale, we're at a disadvantage in knowing exactly which ads are profitable and which ones aren't.

It's possible we're getting lots of subscribers from an ad source, but those subscribers aren't buying anything.

Until we have our own product to sell, we have to take it on faith that the more subscribers we get, the more money we'll make somewhere down the road.

So at this point, the only metric with which we can gauge our success is our cost per subscriber.

This is best described with an example.

Let's say that 50% of our visitors from a particular ad/keyword combination are joining our list, and we're spending $0.50 per click.  This means it takes 2 visitors to get 1 subscriber, and our cost per subscriber is twice our cost per click.  In other words, we're buying subscribers at $1 each.  This is actually a really good number.

Let's also say that another ad/keyword combination is only getting 10% of visitors to complete the opt in process, and we're spending $0.20 per click here.  10 clicks to get 1 subscriber.  Doing the math shows that we're buying subscribers for $2 each in this case.  Still, not a bad number.

With my experience and writing ability, I know that I can produce a quick product to address a major concern of my target market, offer to sell that product for $10 to $20 to my mailing list, and get enough sales to produce $1 per subscriber within a short period of time.  I've done this several times.  Sometimes in as little as a week, including both product creation time and a 3-day sale to my list.

Many internet business experts say you should be able to make $1 per subscriber per month.  In the personal development space, this number tends to be a bit lower, but it's still possible to get $1 per subscriber in a month, and at least $6 per subscriber per year.

So, spending $2 per subscriber is okay.  If I see an ad/keyword combination where it's costing me $5 per subscriber, I'll pause that ad for that keyword until I know I can recover that cost in a reasonable time.  Meaning, when I have a really hot product that everyone wants, and can make tons of sales very quickly.

All of this is to say that on day 10, I'm going to be analyzing my numbers, cutting the ads that aren't working as well as they should, and writing new ads to test.  The more ads I can test, the quicker I can find the BEST ones to hit home runs with.

At this point, it's all about getting as many folks onto the mailing list as possible, as quickly as possible, without spending too much money to do it.

This is why once I start to see some success in my advertising, I'll roll it out to other PPC networks, and take the key ideas behind the successful ads to write up an article or two to submit to other websites and ezines, with a brief "about the author" box at the end, with a link back to my website, where those who are interested in the topic can sign up for my free gift.

Submitting these articles and PPC ads to other websites will be the focus of days 11, 12, and 13.

By the time day 14 comes around, I'll be ready for another rest day.  Gotta keep up my strength and maintain my focus, so I can do my best work.  Working tired and distracted never ends well.

Which is why I generally spend at least 30 to 60 minutes at the end of every day in meditation, where I make conscious contact with the Divine Mind within and reaffirm my goals.  This connection always helps me see better ways to work, and assists me in ways I could not do on my own.

This is good enough for today's post.  We'll continue tomorrow.

In the first 2 posts in this series, I've described what I would do in the first week in the fictional case of having to start all over again with nothing -- none of my previous products, partners, mailing list, or other assets.

Up to this point, I've researched a need that exists in the current marketplace, picked out a couple of affiliate products to represent, and have created or found something I can give away for free to encourage folks to join my new mailing list.  I've also set up a basic website and mailing list management system to handle actual visitors and new subscribers.

I've even set up some advertising to get people to the new website.

Starting on day 8, my plan of action starts to depend more and more on the actual results I get from the things I'm doing.

As mentioned in my previous post, I'll need to track the results of my advertising and tweak it until it becomes profitable.  This may happen right away, but it may also take a few days to get the right mix of marketing messages.

The better my research, the less time this testing phase will take.  In fact, if I use the same key points used by the merchants selling the popular products in my chosen market, there really shouldn't be much testing and tweaking needed.

Before I go any further, let's make sure everyone understands how this plan is moving towards becoming profitable.

With Google Adwords PPC advertising, I can run my ads for a month before I need to pay for them.  So, for the next couple of weeks, this isn't costing me anything, although I will need to make sure I have the money to pay for the ads before the month is over.

My ads are displayed whenever someone does a search involving the specific "key words" I've chosen.  In the ideal case, someone searches for one of my chosen keywords, they see my ad, click on it, go to my website where they sign up for my free offer, and get the free gift.

Once on the delivery page, they see an ad for one of the products I represent as an affiliate, click that ad, go to that website, and purchase the product.  When they do, I've just earned a commission, usually about 50% of the product price.

If I've selected the right products, used the right marketing messages, and have set up my system to work as it should, I may already have a profitable business, and just need to get as many folks to my website as I can.

If anything in the system isn't quite right, I can tweak the system until it is profitable.  In fact, I can still tweak the system to make it MORE profitable, even if it starts out okay.

Okay, so that was the BEST CASE SCENARIO.  What if my visitors don't buy the affiliate product right away?

That's where the mailing list system comes into play.  Once they've joined my mailing list, they'll start to get the sequence of emails I've programmed into it to go out over the next 7 to 14 days.  These emails introduce me, my ideas, and why I feel the products I represent will benefit my new subscriber.

If they did buy the product, this just helps to reinforce their wisdom in doing so.  Remember, I'm writing my emails with a soft sell approach, so I'm not hitting them over the head to buy anything.  I'm just recommending they check out the products I'm talking about.

If they didn't buy the product right away, these emails will give them new information, and possibly a new reason to make the purchase.  The more emails I send out giving useful tips and good information, the more my new subscribers will pay attention to what I have to say, and the more my recommendations will influence their decisions.

On days 8 and 9, my primary focus is on writing as many good emails as I can to add to the autoresponder sequence going out to my new subscribers.  At this point, it doesn't matter that I probably only have a few subscribers on my new list.  I'm not working to educate just a handful of people.  I'm working to educate the many thousands to come.

There is absolutely no reason for me to hold anything back when writing these emails.  In my 15+ years of being in business online, I've found that the better the information I give my subscribers, the more they buy from me.

Notice I didn't say "the more information I give them", but "the better the information I give them."  It's not about quantity, it's about quality.  It's definitely possible to give too much good information.  You don't want to overload them.  You want to give them the sweetest part of the fruit.

That's what makes them want more.

While you don't have to mention a product in every email you write for your new subscribers, it's usually a good idea to mention a product here and there as a followup resource through which they may learn more, or get additional benefits in the case of a non-information product, such as a guided meditation, software program, or template.

When you work as an affiliate, you're free to talk about your experiences with different products, and what you noticed as you worked with each one.  Tell your subscribers what you liked and what you didn't like.  Telling folks what you don't like about a product lets them know that you're not holding anything back, and they trust you more because of it.  This way, when you recommend something, they're more likely to take action on your recommendation.

And here's a great opportunity for me to show you exactly how this works.  I've just given you some of the basic rules I've learned about how to write effective and profitable emails.  I really don't have time to write down everything I know, and I'm probably not the best person to explain this anyways.  If you want to learn more, I can recommend a great resource that will serve you much better than I can.

It's called Autoresponder Alchemy, and it's a course created by Terry Dean, who happens to be one of the nicest and most down-to-earth "internet gurus" you'll ever find.  Terry's personality, his caring, and his experience really comes through in the 14+ hours of video in which he teaches this material.  (BTW - there are PDF resources included with the course as well, so you don't have to watch videos for everything.)

I bought this course about 2 years ago, and found it to be a much better product than I expected.  Terry covers a lot more than just how to write an effective email.  He also explains how to position your business so people don't take you for granted, how to discover the secret reasons people buy products like those you represent, the current "hot buttons" your competitors may be missing, and how to present yourself and your offers so people quickly see why your product is worth much more than you're asking for it.

I honestly believe that my business has benefited more from buying this one course than any other course I've bought for my online business, and that includes Jeff Walker's Product Launch Formula, which was a $2000 course.  (A topic for another day, but PLF was a severe disappointment.)

Terry's Autoresponder Alchemy is less than $200, and well worth your time to check it out.
http://autoresponderalchemy.com/

So, to recap, on days 8 and 9 of this fictional 30-day process of starting over, I'd spend my time writing the best emails I could to introduce myself, my ideas, and my affiliate products to the 1000s of subscribers I plan to attract, and get these emails into the mailing list system I selected earlier.

Since I can normally write a good email in 30 to 60 minutes, this should give me another 15 to 20 emails for the autoresponder series.  With the handful of emails added earlier, I now have at least 21 days of emails to develop a strong relationship with my new subscribers.  Plenty to start bringing in a nice cash flow.

Let's continue this on Monday.

By the end of yesterday's post, I had described what I would do in the first 5 days of having to start all over again, without any of my previous products, partners, or subscribers.

I'm writing this series of posts to help those who want to start a new business, but aren't sure what steps they need to follow.  Since every situation is different, I can't tell you what YOU should do — at least not without sitting down with you and getting to know you — so describing what I would do is the next best thing I can do here on the blog.

BTW - if you would like to have me coach you through a unique startup plan for your particular situation, contact me, and we'll work something out.

To recap, day 1 would be spent centering myself and connecting to the Divine Essence within for guidance and help in manifesting a new profitable business.

Day 2 would be spent researching current questions and problems that folks need help with, as they relate to my areas of expertise.  In this, I would select a few products I could promote as an affiliate for commissions and bookmark the necessary pages to get pre-written marketing materials.

Day 3 would be where I map out a plan of action, and decide on the specific web pages and email messages I'll use to build my list and promote the products I've chosen to represent.

Day 4 is where I create (or find) a free gift offer that will encourage folks to opt in to my mailing list.

And day 5 is spent setting up the actual webpages and emails in a mailing list management system, such as a free starter account at MailChimp, and a low-cost web hosting account and domain name with a company like HostGator, Bluehost, or GoDaddy.  About a $15 investment.

This brings us to day 6, in which I would start promoting my free gift offer and start growing my mailing list.

Advertising and marketing are the key ingredients to any successful business, and even more so online.  However you choose to advertise your website, it's going to require an investment of either time, money, or both.  No way around it.

Even the magic of SEO (which stands for "Search Engine Optimization"), requires you spend a great deal of time attending to hundreds of details to convince Google and the other search engines that your website is worth recommending.  Free traffic is anything but free.

In the 15 years I've been in business online, the closest I ever got to actual free traffic was in submitting articles for publication and recruiting affiliates.  Recruiting affiliates does take time, although if you have a good product, a good offer, and a good commission for your affiliates, it doesn't take a lot of time.

And while you don't pay anything upfront to your affiliates, you do end up paying them after the sale.  50% commissions are standard.  50% may seem high to some, but compare that to not making any sales at all.  Some online marketers are happy to pay 100% commissions as long as they get to add people to a mailing list.  These marketers know they can make more money down the road, and that first sale is just the tip of the iceberg.

In our current example, I'm the affiliate, so I can't offer commissions to anyone else to send visitors to my website.  That has to wait until I have a product I can sell directly.

There used to be tons of article directories, where you can submit your articles for publication, and ezine publishers would send your article unedited to their email lists.  While there are still a few, and this does happen from time to time, it's a lot easier to contact ezine publishers and bloggers directly to get your articles published.  Either way, writing articles and submitting them takes time.

The quickest way to get traffic to your website is to pay for it.  Buying an ad.  There are several types of ads you can buy.

Banner ads are graphical billboards displayed on other websites to promote your website, and can be quite effective if they are well designed.  Anything over a 1% clickthrough is considered good for banner ads.

Text ads, such as you see on the right side of Google search pages, AdSense blocks on content websites, and in ezines, are another form of advertising you can buy and get quick results.

You could also pay bloggers to post something about your product or website.

Most advertising online is paid on a per-action (per-click, per-lead, or per-sale) basis.  Meaning, your cost of advertising is directly proportional to the success of that advertising.  As long as you know how well your sales system performs, there's no way you can overspend for advertising.  Your only risk is when you have an untested system, as is always the case when you're first starting out.

Old traditional advertising, where you pay a flat fee, still exists.  With this approach, if you get lots of response from your ad, your per-action cost is lower, but if no one responds, your ad spend was pretty much wasted.  It's possible to spend a flat fee per month on banner ads, or a flat fee for a "email drop" where someone sends out your email to their list.  Do this only when you KNOW you have a high-performing ad.

In the current example of having to start all over again, I would choose to start with Google AdWords, because I can start getting traffic the same day, and with free tools provided by Google, I can test the effectiveness of these ads, tweaking them until they are profitable.

Luckily, I can run the ads for a month before Google asks for a payment.  Gives me time to make the money to pay for the ads, although with most affiliate programs, the timing may not completely work out.  Good thing for credit cards!  (In the example of losing all my money.)

Of course, the ads aren't the only things I'll tweak.  I'll also adjust the copy on my opt-in page, confirmation page, and confirmation email to make sure I get the most folks possible onto my mailing list.  Google Analytics (or the freely available Matomo, installed on my own website) helps me see which pages need tweaking.

This testing phase will take more than a day, and is something I'll have to devote at least a little time to each day until I know my system is profitable.  Maybe an hour or less.

Once I know my system is profitable, I can roll out my advertising to get everyone I can to my website as quickly as I can.

So, day 6 is all about setting up my first Google Adwords campaign, and getting the testing and tracking code in place on my web pages.  This shouldn't take the full day, so I'll spend the rest of the day adding a few more emails to my autoresponder sequence.

By the time I get to day 7, I'm going to need a break.  Take some time off, meditate, and reconnect with the Divine Self within.  Go for a walk, make love to my wife, watch a movie, whatever it takes to keep myself focused and positive.

Probably enough for today's post.  Let's continue this tomorrow.

A popular question posed to many business experts is, "What would you do differently if you had to start all over again now?"

What beginning business owners hope to get from the answer to this question is an idea of how they may best start their own business.

Several years ago, a college kid by the name of Joe Kumar posed a similar question to many Internet Marketing experts.  His question was,

"If you suddenly lost everything -- your business, your money, your reputation, your products, your mailing list, your JV partners -- and had to start from zero and be profitable in 30 days, what would you do?"

The answers he collected to his question became a 2-volume product called, "30 Days to Internet Marketing Success".

In today's post, I'm going to reveal what I would do in such a situation.

As several experts featured in Joe Kumar's books, I would take the first day and collect my thoughts.  Whatever the problems that may have led to my starting over again, I would not be able to do my best work unless I can free myself from their shadow.  I would take an hour or two to meditate, connect with my Divine Self, and ask the question, "How can I be profitable again in 30 days?"

I've learned there is a source of guidance within me that is never wrong, and as long as I can clear my mind, relax, and trust what I get from that deeper wisdom, I'll do okay.

But I'll go further than this.  Also on the first day of this 30-day journey, I would also focus my mind on the idea of prosperity, wealth, and abundance, knowing that the more I can center myself into this space, the more I will be led to do the right things at the right time to produce my desired results.

Day 2 would be spent on research.  What problems are people complaining about?  What's popular right now?  What expertise do I have that may serve the needs and desires of folks searching for a solution?

In the theoretical situation proposed by Joe Kumar, I would still have my expertise — my knowledge of manifestation, business, and marketing.  These are the areas I would focus on, rather than wasting time learning something new just to meet a popular demand.  Besides, these are "evergreen" topics, for which there will always be a demand.

On day 2, I'm just looking to find the specific questions people are asking about RIGHT NOW, and what conditions they're struggling to overcome RIGHT NOW.  I find this information by reading blogs, forums, and browsing large product catalogs like ClickBank's marketplace, in which products may be listed in order of current popularity.

Going to the Spirituality, New Age & Alternative Beliefs category in the ClickBank marketplace, I see numerology is a popular topic.  I have some knowledge of this, but it's not my specialty, so I move on to find something else.

A product called "15 Minute Manifestation" is near the top of the list.  Yes, it seems everyone wants to know how to manifest quickly, so I make note of this.  More profitable to promote a quick solution with sketchy results rather than a long, drawn out development process that actually works.  I guess I can package my expertise to give the core process up front (which can take as little as 2 minutes, which might be the advantage in the quick-results market), and provide tips and processes for improving results over time, much like I did in my Harmonic Prayer material.

I also see a product called "Total Money Magnetism", which I remember from years back.  Still popular, so that's definitely something to pay attention to.

One option here is to start my business as an affiliate to these products and others like them.  I can always start here and create my own products later when I have more time.  Probably the best way to go right now.  So, while I'm at the ClickBank marketplace, I'll go ahead and create an affiliate account, and bookmark the pages where I can get pre-written marketing materials for the products most like the one I plan to create.

When I'm ready to develop my own product, I'll take this basic information and look for a way to help people manifest money quickly.  Maybe give it a name of "5 Minute Money Manifesting" or something like that.  The important points here would be to keep it simple, and make sure most folks will actually see some results when using the information I produce.

Also on day 2, I'd take time to read through the websites selling the popular products and take note of the main leverage points they use, or "hot buttons" as some people call them, to elicit strong emotions in the folks considering a purchase.  If I NEED to be profitable in 30 days, I need to focus on what works rather than trying to do better.

And this will also help me better promote the affiliate products, and become more profitable sooner.

On day 3, I'll map out a plan of action.

At this point, I have a target to shoot for, but not a full plan of action.  I still need to know how I'm going to attract folks to my website, and how I can get them onto a mailing list where I can nurture a relationship for future sales.  Once I have them on a mailing list, I can use the pre-written materials to promote the affiliate products I've chosen to represent while I develop my own product to sell later.

The core of a successful online business is focused on building a list of prospects who may potentially be interested in the products you represent or sell directly.  This requires ads or free content that may be placed on other websites, with links back to your website, where you can describe a free gift offer available if they subscribe to your list.

You need 3 main pages to start.  A page describing the free gift with a form to subscribe, a page telling them to confirm their subscription by clicking a link in an automatically-generated email, and finally a page to deliver the free gift.

You also need 2 email messages.  One to get the confirmation so you don't accidentally get spam complaints, and another email with a link to the gift delivery page.  Although these are the minimum required, I'll go ahead and add a few more.  I'll start with a few emails to introduce my way of thinking, some helpful tips, and the pre-written materials posted on the pages I bookmarked earlier to promote my chosen affiliate products.

These first few emails can be scheduled quickly.  In fact, the first 7 to 14 days are going to be the most important, and it's perfectly okay to send daily emails in this introductory period.  As long as the emails are informative and beneficial, no one is going to complain if they also happen to promote a product or two.  While I could use the pre-written materials as provided, I've found it useful to write my own using them as a guide and template.  The best emails are those which are exciting, educational, and use a soft-sell approach to introduce the featured product.

Okay, so by the end of day 3, I've drawn out a plan of action, consisting of a sequence of webpages and emails, marketing messages to educate folks on why they should consider the products I represent, and a possible product to develop later.

Only 3 days into this process, and I already know what I'm going to sell and how.

On day 4, it's time to create a free gift offer (short video, audio, or written report) to entice folks to join my mailing list.  This needs to set me apart from everyone else, and inspire folks to stay on my mailing list and actually read the emails I send them.  It also needs to address the main questions being asked right now, as uncovered by my earlier research.

The free gift can be pure information, such as a written report or educational video or audio.  Or it could be an experiential product, like a guided meditation.  It could be a spreadsheet template if this is something that will help folks in your chosen market.  The point is to create something useful that addresses a significant concern in the market, and leaves room for a paid product to provide additional benefit.

I recall a phrase that says, "It doesn't have to be perfect.  It just has to be done."

So, one way or another, by the end of day 4, I'll have something I can offer as a free gift.  If nothing else, I could do a search for "resale rights" products related to manifesting and purchase a license to a product I could sell or give away.  Quickest way possible to start a viable business.

In fact, I could skip the whole affiliate marketing idea and just focus on resale rights products.  I wouldn't feel comfortable charging much for them, as they tend to be of lower quality, but even so, they can be a great way to get started.  The only downside is that I'd have to set up my own sales system to process orders.  If I had to earn money fast, I'd stick with the affiliate products for now, and maybe use a resale rights product as a free gift.

Day 5, and it's time to set up the mechanics of building my list.  I need an opt-in page describing the gift, a subscription form to add folks to a mailing list, a confirmation page telling folks to click a link in an email to get the free gift, and finally a page where they can get the gift itself.  In the case of a video, this page is where they can watch the video.  If I were offering an audio or report, I might give them a download link so they can take it with them.

This final gift delivery page is also where I'll start to introduce folks to my affiliate offers.  I can place banner ads here, or just add some text describing why I think my new subscriber may want to check them out.  Most critical here is that I use my special affiliate link to send folks to the affiliate sales pages.  If they don't click my link, I don't get paid.

Eventually, the final gift page will introduce folks to my own product, but since it isn't ready yet, I'll come back and edit it later.

Setting this up won't take a full day, especially since I already know that MailChimp is a great way to start, as they offer free accounts for those with small lists.  By the time I grow my list beyond the limits of the free account, I'll be making enough money to cover the list hosting fees.

And speaking of hosting fees, I'll need a domain and web hosting too for the website itself.  Lots of options to choose from, including BlueHost, HostGator, GoDaddy, and a variety of others who offer web hosting for as little as $5/month.  They will usually help you register a domain name too, which tends to be less than $10 per year.  So, my total investment so far is just $15.

To be honest, it really doesn't matter what domain name you choose.  Using your name, as in YourName.com (AlanTutt.com, in my case), is a good way to go, especially if you plan to create a string of products in the future, and your expertise and personality will eventually be what attracts folks to you.  Product-specific domains are also good, so in this example, with the product I think I might create in the future, the domain 5MinuteMoneyManifesting.com would be the first one I'd check on.  (Good news, it's available!)

Once I have a working system in place to get folks onto my mailing list, the next step is to add a few emails to an autoresponder series.  This will be a set of emails introducing people to my ideas, my personality, and the affiliate products I've chosen to represent.

The next step is to find places to advertise my free gift offer.  This will be the focus of Day 6, and an ongoing process until the end of time.

WOW!  I just noticed how long this post has become.  Let's continue this tomorrow.

On January 10, 2018, I launched a new e-course called "30 Days to Divine Power".

This was new for me in that I created it as a paid product, but allowed folks to decide for themselves what they wanted to pay for it AFTER they had already gone through it.

I set it up this way for 2 reasons.

First, because I've done a lot of "pay what you want" live events here in the Grand Rapids area, and they have all inspired folks to pay a lot more than I originally expected.  My workshops tend to average about $50 per attendee.

My second reason for setting up the new 30-day program this way was because I felt it would be a good way to start growing my mailing list again.  Since one of my goals for 2018 is to grow my list to 50,000 subscribers, this was the most important result I'm after here.

BTW - at this time, my mailing list is just over 2000 subscribers.  I obviously haven't spent any time on this for years.  Too much time on product development and goofing off.

At this time, 159 folks have completed the e-course, and I think sharing some behind-the-scenes data will help other online business owners.

What most folks will be interested in is how many of these 159 folks have paid for what they essentially got for free, and was the venture profitable.

As of right now, 17 of those 159 have made a payment for the e-course.  Right at 10.7%.

Total payments (so far) for the e-course are $649, making the average payment $38.18.  (Good thing this is just a side project.  😎 )

Average revenue per subscriber (within the first 6 weeks) sits pretty at $4.08.

If you have a mailing list, when was the last time YOU got $4.08 per new subscriber within 6 weeks?  I've heard Frank Kern say that his averages are lower than this.  Of course, he's working with much larger groups of people, too.

Actually, I've made more from this venture because the numbers above don't include sales of other products which have come in from these subscribers.  Not as easy to track, and I would prefer to keep the numbers "clean".  If I did include extra sales, I think the numbers would be about 50% higher.

What this means is that I can spend $2 to get a new subscriber and double my money.  And that's before I even start promoting my other products.  Spend $2000, get 1000 new subscribers, collect $4080, continue making money over time.  Great deal if you ask me.

Even if I end up spending $3 per new subscriber, I'd still come out ahead on the front end and essentially get to build my list for free.  There are plenty of places I can buy traffic in bulk at $1 per click, and I know I can get at least 30% of them to opt in to my list offer.  (Tracking stats are currently showing my opt-in page converting at 42.7%.)

Looks like I may hit my 50,000 subscriber goal in just a few months, especially if I open it up to affiliates to promote for 50% commissions.  Heck, with these results, I'd be happy to offer 75% commissions.  At current averages, affiliates would make $3.06 for every subscriber they send me, or about $1.30 per referral.

Time to start working on that.

With 50,000 subscribers, the next time I do a project like this, I can bring in $16,000 instead of just $650.

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