Start Online Business

By Mike Koziol | Start a business

Aug 05

Start An Online business – Your Step by Step Guide on Building Your Online Empire Selling Inexpensive Digital Products

Table of contents – Start an online business

1.The How – the money making online business formula
   What is a sales funnel?
   What you need to start your business online?
   The Value Magnet Sales Funnel
   How much can I make online?
   How to get traffic to my website?
2.The What  – what can I sell online? How to find a business idea for an online business?
   How to find a business idea?
   How to package your business idea?
3.The Who – who is your perfect customer?
   What is a buyer persona?
4.Summary
5.Bonus: Tools to build your online business.

 

When you are thinking about running an online business, you might have couple questions pop up in your head. Questions like:

  • What is the first step to start an online business?
  • Do I really need to create this big, expensive, online course that I have no idea how to create, that would take months to create anyway, and that would be very hard to sell?
  • What if I don’t have any business idea?

I totally get your concerns – we have been in your shoes ourselves when we were just starting out, just a couple of years ago.

If you don’t know our story – in 2014 we left very well-paid jobs in a corporate world and decided to start our own online business. We had no idea what kind of business, where to start, what to sell, and how. We just knew we wanted the freedom of running a business online. Fast forward to today, we moved to the other side of the world (from Poland to Canada) and are happy running our own online empire.

Somewhere along the way, we worked out how to make money online and how this whole “online business thing” works. And on top, how to set it up in a way that supports our lifestyle and our urge for freedom.

The thing is: people seem to overcomplicate things in the online world and focus on things that… don’t matter. In reality, there are really 3 main things you need to know and have in place to run a business.

You need to know WHAT is it that you will offer as a product, WHO will your audience be, and HOW you will provide them the product (aka, what is your sales mechanism/vehicle). That’s it.

And in this post, we’re going to lay it all out for you! How to go about making money the easy way, so you won’t get stuck with a half-baked business, no clients, and a massive pile of overwhelm. 

Ready to start your online business? We will start with the sexy part – the HOW. And if you need answers to WHAT to sell online and WHO will buy it from you – just continue reading to find answer towards the end of this guide.

Let’s dive in!

1. The How – the money making online business formula

Ok, let’s talk about how to build all the pieces of your online business. We need the strategy, the tactics, and the tools. And we’re going to cover it all.

First of all, let’s talk about a sales funnel! Wait, what? Hold your horses, mister.  WTF is a sales funnel?

Let me fill you in (it’s going to be a fun ride)…

When trying to learn how to build an online business, you will often find people talking about a sales funnel or a marketing funnel. A funnel is a kind of a recipe that you use to get all the online business ingredients together to cook something delicious for your lifestyle 🙂 Something that brings money – a successful online business.

What is a sales funnel?

A sales funnel – in simple terms – is a process (a journey, a path, if you will) that a person who has never even heard about you (nor about your brand, your business, your product) needs to go through to purchase your stuff. It will all become clear in a sec, so keep reading!

Why you need a sales funnel?

You should never leave your business operations to luck or randomness (that’s why relying on referrals sucks!). If you only had a website with some products on the page, you would leave sales to entirely random acts of luck – maybe someone will find your store, maybe not. Maybe someone will buy, maybe not.

And because you need to be in control of what’s happening in your business, ALL-THE-FREAKING-TIME, you need to design and create a process that your potential clients will go through. A process that you control and a process that will take care of all of the sales funnel stages – from getting to know you, to being interested in your offer, to buying from you. You need to take care of getting as many people from one stage to another. And that is why you need to know how to create a sales funnel! Because a sales funnel is…

No, not really magic. Just some good marketing flow and math 🙂 Ready to cook your own funnel?

BTW – this is a long post? Would you like to download a PDF version of it so you can read later? If so, click >> HERE <<

What you need to start an online business

Before we go into cooking the secret sauce to make some cheez 😉 let’s talk “How to start a business” ingredients. Ready for it? There are just a couple of things we need before we jump to action.

#1 Ingredient – website

To have a business online, you need to have a website. You will use it to publish your content, drive traffic, get subscribers and make sales.

There are two really good platforms that we recommend to start with WordPress and ClickFunnels.

WordPress gives you more options for blogging and to play the long-term business game. Btw, you can totally start earning money blogging! This guide will give you some ideas for creative ways to make money blogging 🙂 So, for WordPress we recommend using ThriveThemes to build your WordPress website as it is a very powerful marketing and sales platform. ThriveThemes offers tons of homepage and landing page templates.

ClickFunnels is great if you want to test out your ideas quickly. You just build a sales funnel and see if your idea makes sense. ClickFunnels gives you tons of templates for you to use as well. So, it’s super quick.

Besides this, you will just need to buy a domain and have hosting (hosting is a place on the Internet, a server, that you keep your website on). We buy our domains at Sibername and use Siteground for website hosting.

#2 Ingredient – email sequences

Email is the main online communication channel these days. You will need a system that both builds your email list with and also sends automated emails and email sequences while you sleep. We use and love ActiveCampaign. It has some very easy to use but powerful automation options. It is one of the best email softwares for small business

For example, dig this: you can send an automated email to a person that visited a specific page or product on your website and say “Hey, Joe, I noticed you visited my 10 Tips To Lose Weight Website, is there anything I can help you with?”.

And that’s super powerful stuff!

#3 Ingredient – lead magnet

Let’s start by explaining what a lead magnet is.

A definition of a lead magnet: simply put, a lead magnet is a piece of valuable content that you give out for “free” in exchange for contact information of the person visiting your website. In other words, someone “pays for” access to content with their name, email, phone #, etc. This free content is meant to help your visitors start fixing their pain or problem.

You will often see this funnel in action yourself – you land on the page, and you are being offered a free PDF guide. You are then asked for your contact info so you can get access to it. Then you are either taken to a Thank You Page where you can view the content, download it, or you are shown a Thank You Page telling you that the link to the material was just emailed to you. Because you left your contact information, you will then receive a bunch of nurturing emails talking about products or offers the business has for you.

Now, here’s the thing: The lead magnet does not have to be a PDF – it can be a free short video training, a checklist, Excel sheet, etc. Something tangible that will help your visitors in fixing their problems.

Why are PDFs the most popular lead magnets?

  • It is very easy to create them – you just need a document that you can effortlessly create and design using your Microsoft Word, Macbook Pages or even Google Docs software. Snappa.io to create a beautiful cover for your ebook
  • It is very easy to deliver them – you need an email system (we highly recommend Active Campaign ) connected to the form your visitor fills out and that automatically sends out the PDF to the subscriber
  • If you don’t want to build landing pages, you can use paid Facebook Lead Ads to promote the lead magnet and capture lead contact information

It will make more sense once you see the full recipe below.

#4 Ingredient – Tripwire offer

What is a tripwire? In marketing space, a tripwire is a small product/offer that you show to a person that visits your website and signs up to your email list. You make the tripwire offer a very low price ($9 or something like that) to remove any objections to purchasing that your website visitor might have. You also limit the time the offer is available to them (we recommend DeadlineFunnel countdowns). You are not going to make any money on the tripwire, but there are a couple of fundamental reasons why you want to ask your new subscribers for sale – read the full recipe below to get the details!

#5 Ingredient – One Time Offer

This is something bigger than a tripwire, but still a smaller than your Cash Cow Offer (next point). It might be part of your Cash Cow Offer or something totally separate.

You introduce the One Time Offer (OTO) because you want to convert your readers into clients as soon as possible. Your OTO is also a bridge to your core offer. I’ll explain it all in a sec.

#6 Ingredient – Cash Cow Offer

Last ingredient – the offer that makes you money. Some call it a backend offer. We call it a CCO – the Cash Cow Offer.

This is your main offer to you promote to your current list and subscribers as well as to any guests and strangers – people that are not on your list. The difference is that the offer is more expensive to strangers than it is to the “insiders”.

Okay, you have it all.

This is a one-pot, simple, 6 ingredients recipe. Let’s start cooking, lol

BTW – this is a long post? Would you like to download a PDF version of it so you can read later? If so, click >> HERE <<

The Value Magnet Recipe – The Sales Funnel

Let’s move on to putting it all together into a sales and marketing template. Yeah, we’re getting into the nitty gritty now!
So the flow goes like this:

Start an online business sales funnel

Confused? Keep reading, explanation below. Or watch our FREE training!

 

Let’s imagine for a second that your company is in a weight-loss space (but this same funnel will work for any business). Let’s also imagine Sarah, who is interested in losing some weight. Here’s a potential flow and an email marketing example:

  1. Sarah searches Google for “How to lose weight in 10 days” (crazy!), and your page shows as one of the results. Alternatively, you were running ads on Facebook and Sarah saw your ad with the headline “How to lose weight in 10 days”. Sarah clicks on the ad, and again, she lands on your blog post. Hurray!
  2. She reads the blog post that is titled “The best weight loss tips for quick results” (Value Magnet) and finds it very interesting. In the text of the blog post, you offer an Ebook (Lead Magnet) that describes “The 10-day foolproof diet to lose weight”.
  3. Sarah finds it interesting and wants to get it. She fills out a form – leaves a name and an email to receive the file.
  4. Once she hits the submit button, she is taken to a Confirmation Page where you say “thank you”, and you also present a time-limited offer to purchase your 45 minutes video training “My 10 minutes a day home workout routine for weight-loss” where you show some basic at-home workout routines ($10 Tripwire). Your offer is valid only for 10 minutes and is heavily discounted 90-75% off vs. how much it costs on your website outside of this promo-offer. If the timer goes to 0 or if Sarah does not decide to purchase and clicks “Not interested” button, she is taken to a final Thank You Page with some links to your blog posts. If she purchases the limited offer, she is taken to an Order Confirmation Page.
  5. Because Sarah left you her email address, you can now send her the free ebook (Lead Magnet) she signed up for. But you also send her sequence of 3-4 emails in the first week, that helps her lose some weight. Your emails are written in a way that takes Sarah on a journey where you show her some tips but also show your expertise in the weight-loss space.
  6. In the last email you invite Sarah to purchase your One Time Offer (OTO): “30-day weight loss routine that works even if you don’t have the time” at a discount for 24 hrs. It’s a fast action bonus – 75% off (= $37 One Time Offer). If she grabs the offer – great. If not, 24 hrs later you give her an option to purchase your OTO at 50%. This discount is valid for another 48 hrs. The flow splits here:
  • If Sarah purchases the OTO at any discount price, she will receive another sequence of emails (Clients Sequence) that welcomes her to the OTO and helps her use the materials she purchased as effective as possible. A week or two later you put Sarah (automatically) in another sequence of emails that is again taking her on a journey. This time to purchase a bigger product from you – your $500 Cash Cow Offer “My complete six months weight-loss transformation program.” In a similar fashion to OTO sequence, Sarah might be given an opportunity to purchase the Cash Cow Offer at various discount levels.
  • If Sarah does not purchase your OTO, she is NOT being put on the Cash Cow Offer sequence. You send her an email with some additional links to your other resources – other blog posts, training videos, etc. If you have more than one value magnet, you will link to that new value magnet as well.

Amazing, right? And while there are few points that require some work here, trust me, it’s totally worth it!

So if it seems like something you may want to use in your business, keep reading, because some of the best stuff is still to come!

How much can I make online

With simple calculations and a low scale, here’s how it can look for you.

Calculate sales funnel online business tripwire

Not too bad, eh? Imagine what happens when you get more traffic! Also, some people might purchase OTO at 50% or 100% price…

I bet I know what you are thinking now 🙂 If the below is not what crossed your mind when reading this guide – message me HERE and let me know.

So if you’re still thinking: “Ok, great, this Mike-guy seems reasonable. But is there enough people to buy my products? Is there really any money in this space?” 

The Money!

Here comes the most shocking statement in the whole guide. Online business is a numbers game. It’s all math. Not magic!

Here’s how it works:

  • You have a well-thought-through offer
  • Your perfect audience visits your website
  • They are interested in what they see (because it is high-quality traffic as mentioned above)
  • Some of them will be ready to buy right away (#win)
  • Some of them won’t buy but will sign up to your email list (#win)
  • Purchases x Price = $$$

This is obviously simplified, and there are variables to the bullet-points here, but the main idea behind it is this: the more traffic, the more purchasers, the more $$$ you make. Obvious, right?

Do you think you have enough in your Zone Of Genius (if you’re not sure, read below to find out your Zone Of Genius) to create a $10, $37, $500 product?

I am sure you do!

Do you think you can have 100 people buy a simple $10 digital product from you?

A product that will help them achieve a result, help them save money or do something faster, more efficiently. A product that will help them find the best vacation packages, or the best workout routine to get the stubborn belly fat out of their life. It’s just 100 people. It really is not that hard.

To put it into perspective:

  • There are over 2 billion active Facebook users PER MONTH – do you think you could find 100 of them to purchase your $10 product?
  • 450,000 people are searching for “Golden Retriever” on Google EVERY-FREAKING-MONTH – do you think you could find 100 of them to buy your Golden Retriever-related $75 product?
  • 90,000 people search for Apple Crisps Recipe on Google each month – surely some of them would be interested in your $37 recipes ebook
  • Are you in the fitness niche? 110,000 people search for burpees every month on Google – why not remove their pain and give them a full-blown 3 months $250 burpees workout online course to help them lose weight?

You get the idea… It is totally within your reach!

BTW – this is a long post? Would you like to download a PDF version of it so you can read later? If so, click >> HERE <<

How to make the sales funnel effective?

What is really important in this funnel is smoothness, consistency and “keeping the scent.” The funnel has to be designed to move people from one step to another. From a visitor to a subscriber, from a subscriber to a client, then to a regular client, and finally to a lifelong fan.

Sarah landed on our imaginary page because she was interested in a weight-loss topic. You did a great job at having her interested in your Value Magnet – you got your foot in a door. Now, you just need to ensure that the next steps make sense for Sarah.

So for example, if your Value Magnet is “The best weight loss tips for quick results”, then the blog post leading to your Lead Magnet cannot be “The best hosting for your website.”. C’mon this makes no sense, right?

It has to be something that is a next logical step for Sarah to take – in this case we are offering her “The 10-day foolproof diet to lose weight” ebook. This is a way better fit! If Sarah opts in to receive that ebook, this clearly means she is totally interested in the topic, right? And that means you can send her a sequence of emails that help her lose weight.

Again – because I need to make sure you really get my point ;), if you sent her emails about anything other that weight-loss, for example, the best bikes, that would not make sense, even if you gave amazing discounts on bikes!

Sarah wants to learn more about the weight loss, not bikes! So your email strategy has to make sense!

So everything you do – from Value Magnet to Lead Magnet to Tripwire, to One Time Offer to Cash Cow Offer has to keep the scent.

Of course, you can deviate a bit from “Weight Loss diet” to “Best shoes that help lose weight” but make sure that it makes sense to Sarah and fixes her problems! Always remember your audience’s needs and their pain points and don’t push offers that make no sense to them.

Why do I need a Tripwire?

Tripwire is optional. You don’t need to implement it, but we strongly recommend you do. When people sign up to your email list to receive the Lead Magnet, they are taken to a Thank You Page. And 99% of subscribers will read this page. This is an AMAZING opportunity for you to introduce your small offer. Something that is a no-brainer for them. The Tripwire should cost under $10.

Again, you are not making big money on this, but the main reasons to have Tripwire are:

  • 5-10% of people will purchase the Tripwire. If you don’t introduce it, you are leaving money on the table.
  • If you are running paid ads (we really recommend Facebook Ads) to promote your Value Magnet, you might be getting some or all your marketing budget back. Let’s say 5% of your page visitors purchase your $10 Tripwire. Let’s assume you get 500 people to visit your website a month from Google (so free, organic traffic), and you also get 500 people to visit your website from Facebook Ads (let’s say it costs you $1/visit). So in total you got 1,000 visits, it cost you $500 to get that traffic, 5% of those visitors (50 people) purchased your $10 Tripwire. Guess what – you got yourself free 1,000 visitors, as the Tripwire revenue covered your marketing spend. From here, everything that you make is profit. At this point, this funnel is called a Self-Liquidating Funnel (SLO Funnel) as it liquidates the marketing costs. How cool is that?
  • It is 7x harder to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Your current customers are also 50% more likely to buy new offers than new customers. And they also spend over 30% more on average. So by introducing Tripwire you not only might get your marketing for free, but you also increase the chances of making more money in the long term. Remember that you still have OTO and Cash Cow Offers for them!

As you build your business, you will find more tripwire marketing ideas!

Why do I need a One Time Offer?

As you already know, it is easier to sell to an existing client than to acquire a new one, so there is that. Here are a couple of other reasons:

  • By introducing the OTO, you show your subscribers that your website, blog and email list are a business, where you will make offers to them. It is not just a blog that you run on the Internet. It’s a business, you have some great products, and they should expect to be pitched from time to time in exchange for the great value that you give them.
  • When introducing time-limited OTOs, you teach people to act fast to get your best deals. The worst thing that can happen is your audience learning from you, considering a purchase, and then going to your competitor to grab that amazing… One Time Offer they made! And that would be a bummer!
  • Here’s the thing: you make the majority of profit on your Cash Cow Offer. But nobody who just learned about your existence will drop everything they were doing to spend $500 on your product. It is just too soon! If you go “straight for the kill” and offer your Cash Cow Offer right at the beginning, you will fail. And we don’t want that. In the beginning, your audience doesn’t know you. They are “cold”. They don’t trust you. When you introduce your OTO, you warm them up. You start building a relationship. You can show them that you put your money where your mouth is. You show them the quality of your products, the results. They get to know you, they get to know your style, they get to like and trust you. And this “Know – Like – Trust” trio is an explosive combination to be successful in the online business space! Your OTO and Tripwire are low price-tag offers, so in your audience’s mind, they are ready to “risk” that $10 – $20 – $50 on testing an offer from someone they don’t know yet that well. But, sorry to break it to you, they won’t spend $500 at this stage.

What is the difference between One Time Offer and a Cash Cow Offer?

In general, One Time Offer is a small product. It might be a standalone product, or it might be a part of a Cash Cow Offer. What does it mean?

For example, if your Cash Cow Offer is a 6-modules course, your OTO might be just one module. If it is a standalone product, it should offer a partial solution to a bigger problem while your Cash Cow Offer solves that big problem.

Why is OTO offered at a low price? To remove the entry barrier. It’s also a low-maintenance product (no fancy one-on-one consults, no calls, no extras that require your additional time).

In terms of pricing here’s a rough framework you can follow:

Of course, you can decide on different pricing for your offers, smaller discounts or even no discounts at all, etc. It’s your business after all. But that’s something that works for us, so why not give it a try.

Why is the Cash Cow Offer only for those who purchased OTO?

You need a warmed up audience. People who know, like and trust you to pay you a little bit more money. If someone has not purchased the OTO from you, it might mean that this person needs more time with you. They look for more proof that you know what you are talking about, or simply are not ready to purchase now. If you offered your Cash Cow to them, your conversion rates would be really low.

How to “keep” those who did not purchase OTO or Cash Cow Offer and how to warm them up?

If someone is not ready to buy from you, that is ok. You still can win their hearts.

If you have more than one OTO, you can move them to a different funnel (with ActiveCampaign it is done automatically). You should stay in touch nevertheless. Just keep sending them valuable emails with hints, tips and tricks, and links to your new blog posts and trainings – webinars, Facebook Live videos, etc. It’s part of your email marketing strategy.

How many emails and email sequences do I need?

You will need a couple of introduction emails sent to those who sign up to your email list (with links to download the PDFs or training videos you offered as a Lead Magnet). These are very simple, few paragraphs emails that are sent out automatically.

This begins your email sequence. An email sequence is just a series of emails that are being sent automatically to your subscribers.

Assuming you have one Tripwire, one OTO, and Cash Cow Offer, you will need two main email sequences.

  1. One Time Offer Sequence.
    The first sequence is sent out to those who join your email list (sign up to receive a Lead Magnet). This should be a series of 3-5 emails that provide value and take your subscriber through a path that introduces your OTO
  2. Cash Cow Offer Sequence
    The second sequence is sent out to those who purchased OTO and are taken through a sequence that expands on the OTO and introduces them to the potential of your Cash Cow Offer.

Can I have more than one funnel in my business?

Yes, please do! But don’t start building them all at once, okay? Start with one, and then go from there.

We have 3-5 funnels active at any given time in our business. Of course, you would need to have multiple Value Magnets, Lead Magnets, Tripwires, OTOs. But numerous funnels create multiple entry-points for your business and give you an option to move subscribers from one sequence to another.

So for instance, if you have three funnels, you would have three OTOs. If a person goes through one funnel but doesn’t purchase the OTO #1, you would automatically move this subscriber to a different sequence offering OTO #2. And in few weeks, they may even enter a sequence offering OTO #3.

Do you see what we did here? The funnels are not exclusive. You can connect them together. People who enter one funnel may then move on to the next one, and next one, etc. The sky’s the limit! 

BTW – this is a long post? Would you like to download a PDF version of it so you can read later? If so, click >> HERE <<

How to get traffic to my website?

Now, this topic is huge, but no worries, you’ll feel like it’s a walk in a park after you read this part.

Let’s start with the basics. In the online marketing space, when we say you need to get “traffic”, we mean to get eyes on your product.

And when I say “quality traffic” I mean people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer. Some people fall into the trap of trying to attract as much traffic as possible, yet they end up with empty bank accounts. Why? Because if you try to sell your weight-loss program to fit-moms, it won’t work, will it? That is why you need to make sure that you are going after the right crowd and that you make it irresistible for them to purchase your product (or at least be interested in learning more).

Going back to the source of traffic – there are two main ways we recommend these days to get quality traffic. They are: Google organic traffic and Facebook Ads.

How to get organic traffic from Google

Google organic traffic is nothing more than people “googling” (it is a verb, isn’t ?) their interest or their goal.

In our example, they would search for “how to lose weight while working long hours” or “15 minutes fat-loss program without equipment” or “how to lose fat when working out at home.”

The advantage of Google traffic is that you get traffic hitting your page that is looking exactly for the solution you have to offer.

The disadvantage is that there is a big competition to be organically (a.k.a. for free) ranked high on Google and that it takes time to prepare the content that will be ranked high. I am not saying this is not doable, and many of our blog posts rank in the first 5 search results giving us a lot of free traffic!

The other thing to consider with Google is people find you, but you cannot control who, how and when.

Showing up on Google and trying to rank high is an attempt to utilize “pull marketing.” When your potential clients visit your page to consume your content, they are “pulling” information, actively searching for the information that you provide.

That’s why you need to make sure your content is good, and you have all the relevant keywords in place. Based on that Google will show your page as part of the results.

How to use Facebook Ads to sell online

Running Facebook Ads agency, this is our bread and butter. Advertising on Facebook is different from Google’s “pull marketing” – it is “push marketing.” Because you are kind of “pushing” your ads and content in front of your ideal customers’ eyes. You know, they were not actively looking for it, it just popped up on their newsfeed.

The cool thing about this: you have control over who sees your ads – age, demographics, geographical area, interests, behavior, etc. You control when, and where your ads are displayed. There are many types of facebook ads to support your situation. 

The disadvantage of Facebook Advertising is that while it gives you fantastic targeting options and saves you time (as you don’t have to wait for someone to type in and search for the content and you don’t have to wait for the content to be ranked anywhere), you need to pay for the ads. But it’s still well worth it!

What we recommend to do is a mixture of both – free organic traffic from Google and Facebook advertising. Works like a charm!

 

2. The What – what can I sell online? How to find a business idea for an online business?

Ok, so you know now HOW to build your online sales funnel. But if you are just starting out, you still might have a question or two about the first steps in the online world.

The biggest question we had in our heads when we left our warm corporate gigs was – what are we going to do in our business?

And we were not alone. We were asked this very question by our old office friends ALL-THE-TIME (and we still are!).

“Yeah, cool, I wish I could leave my job too as I want to [paste your freedom definition here], but what am I supposed to sell? How am I going to make money online?”

This sounds like a huge problem, but in reality, it’s not!

3 main ways you can make money online

#1 Open an ecommerce store and sell physical products.

We added this leg to our service-based business (with a simple WordPress website and a Woocommerce store) and did really well, but…we did not enjoy this model. There is a lot of hype around “dropshipping” these days and how it is “easy money,” but here’s the thing: once you start doing it, you realize it is not really that easy. Trust us, running marketing Facebook Ads agency and helping various businesses with effective marketing strategies and advertising, and we have seen stories you would not believe!


We did not go the dropshipping route, but we came up with our own products – a planner for entrepreneurs, the Rebel’s Agenda [still available] and the [discontinued] Renegade Desk – a portable standing desk. We designed those products ourselves and outsourced the manufacturing. What we don’t like in this model is that it is not passive, there is a lot of work with order fulfillment and a lot of customer service. And if you don’t want to be the one packing & running to the UPS store few times a day, you need some fat margins that are not always competitive.

#2 Sell other people’s products – affiliate business

When you are an affiliate, you promote someone else’s product/service in exchange for a kickback (it’s called affiliate marketing). This is a great model if you have tried the product yourself and if you have a big audience that you can promote to. We do have a bit of affiliate-based revenue mainly through affiliate links to tools/services we use and recommend. We genuinely love the products we recommend (check the tools chapter below to take a look at some of them), but this is not our primary source of income.

# 3 Sell your own digital products – our favorite model!

This one is a beast!

There are so many advantages of selling digital products/services online! I am listing just a few of them below. Here’s  why we love this model so much:

  • It is scalable – when you have a digital product, there is literally no limit in scaling sales of it. There are millions of people in every industry that are your potential customers. You sell a $100 digital product – 5 sales a week pays for your car lease; if you get to 10 sales a week, you are covering car lease, grocery, and some bills. Selling 20, dude you are doing great – you are doing $8,000 a month selling just a few $100 products on the Internet! This is TOTALLY doable. And If you follow the next chapters of this guide, we’ll show you exactly how.
  • It can be a passive income online – what is it? Passive income definition goes something like this –  passive online income happens when you get income on a regular basis that requires no (or minimal) effort. This definition kinda sucks. Let’s put it like this – let’s say you sell an online course. You recorded it ONCE. Now, every time someone buys the course, you do not have to do ANYTHING except for paying taxes at the end of the year (anyone knows how to avoid this part of running the business? 😉 ).

There is no fulfillment, there’s no shipping, nothing.

And you don’t need to create an online course. There are many other digital products you can create and sell!

Keep on reading, my friend to find the answers, we’ll show you the way!

[Spoiler alert – you can make money online with simple digital products! But, shhhh, don’t tell anyone!]

  • It is done online so you can work from home, a campground (yep, done that!), from the road, from the other side of the world. As long as you have everything set up the way it should be (read below for details), and as long as you have Internet access (at least from time to time – blessed be Starbucks and Tim Hortons) you are good to go! Some of the online businesses need more extensive Internet access. Some need less of that. But the point is, if being online is the only thing that you need, there shouldn’t be ANYTHING that’s stopping you from starting your online business.

If you are still reading this, it means I succeeded in convincing you to start or grow your online business selling digital products. But we need to answer one more question, which I know is in your head – what the hell am I supposed to sell if I don’t even have a business idea. You’re like “dude, I am just starting out, and I am confused as hell.” I feel you. So I answered that for you below.

BTW – this is a long post? Would you like to download a PDF version of it so you can read later? If so, click >> HERE <<

How to find a business idea – your zone of genius

Here’s how we always recommend approaching this challenge (and that is precisely what we did a couple of years ago). You might not realize this, but every one of us has a zone of genius. Something we have experience in, something we are good at, something we love doing.

Check out this amazing drawing I did for you… 😉

The best case scenario is to start doing something that is in the intersection of the three + something that people are willing to pay for.

So yeah, your goal is to be in the “red” intersection of the four “circles.”

Here’s the thing though. You don’t need to be in that red intersection just yet. Your goal now is to start, to get momentum, to get that cash flow going, while you figure the rest of the puzzles out. Keep in mind – you are not deciding what you will do in your business for the rest of your life. Online business is very plastic and flexible, and you can always change directions (we did that couple of times already). You have to start somewhere. The biggest mistake we see people do is they procrastinate, trying to create this amazing, super polished, second-Facebook type of business. Read more, and you will realize that you don’t need to be even close to second-Facebook to make decent money online.

You are in a business of fixing other people’s problems.

This is the basics that often get overlooked. Every business needs to solve clients’ problems successfully. That’s how all the businesses in the world work. For a business to make money, you need to make sure that there are people who have a problem that needs fixing and that they are willing to pay for the fix. The secret sauce to make more money is to either solve more people’s problems or solve bigger problems.

Your goal now is to find that piece of your genius that other people are looking for to fix their problem.

Again – this is not set in stone. You are not giving your kidney away. Your job now is to start generating income online. The rest will fall into place with time.

This exercise of defining your Zone Of Genius is a fun one, but to some, it might seem a bit tough. Especially if you are in a 9-5, corporate setting, you might think that what you do in your job is the only thing that you are capable of. Nothing further from the truth!

When we did this exercise ourselves, we found over 20 different ways to help other people fix their problems. From small things on how to wrap your head around pivot tables in Excel (yes, it is a thing, and yes, people pay money to learn it!), to teaching people how to safely drive their cars in a snow, to self-defense, workouts, diet, building websites, creating productive habits, etc.

Think about the results that you got for yourself or others. And think if you could replicate those results – meaning if there is a way to help other people achieve what you’ve done either by teaching them OR simply replicate the results for them.

How do you do it?
There are a couple of questions to start with that might help you out:

#1 what are the things people pay for that you know how to do for free

Example – people pay designers a lot of money to get them a logo, business cards, social media posts (or really just anything) designed. But what most people don’t know is that there are tools out there that are super inexpensive (I love Snappa!) or even free (free Canva with some limitations) that can get very good design results. Our “how to use Canva” blog post was one of the biggest traffic-generators for our business in Poland.

So think about things that you, your friends, or family pay for and see if you know a way to do the same thing for free. You can take that knowledge and teach them (sell your knowledge) how to achieve the same result without spending money on additional services or tools over and over again.

#2 what skills do you have? Can you teach someone?

This is another angle to look at skills/experience you can sell. You have been on Earth long enough to have acquired some skills that other people are looking to have. Very often we simply forget what we know. As ambitious people (yes, I mean both you and I), we always look up and want to learn more from those who know more. But we forget that there are still people who are a step behind us. Those people are in a desperate need to be where you are right now. So show them the way.

This exercise was an eye-opener for me to go through. I did not realize there are so many things that I can share with the world.

It’s your turn now – map out every single achievement that you had personally or professionally, for yourself, a client, a boss – doesn’t matter. What matters is you were behind the results. You made it happen. So for example:

  • You lost 50 LBS in 6 months
  • Re-built ‘58 Chevy Camaro in 12 months with no prior experience
  • Built a 10k subscribers email list organically (we actually did that 🙂 )
  • Took your department from $100k annual sales to $500k in 6 months
  • Built presentations for all your friends in the office, and they were so great that the presenters were not once “grilled” by the management 🙂
  • Packed up a family of 5 for a 3-weeks trip in just 3 suitcases that fit in my Prius (#challenge)

As you can see not all of this is “business-related.” In my case, I went through all aspects of my life to identify what I can teach other people – sports, nutrition, marketing, tech skills, driving skills, etc.

What is important is that it has to be something measurable. So instead “I built muscle” you would write down “I gained 20 LBS in lean muscle mass in 10 months”.

Your task is to write down your achievements – it’s a very powerful exercise (that can make you some good money)!

#3 what do my friends/family say I am great at?

If you cannot think of anything you achieved or are good at – ask your friends! Sometimes the most obvious things are the hardest to spot. Your family and friends can help you identify your zone of genius. You can also use this as a research and feedback tool once you created a list in #2 above – take the list and ask your people for feedback. Mark those achievements that they also identified as the once you’re good at.

#4 what’s your hobby

This is a clear indicator of what you love doing. The question you want to ask yourself here: Is this something you are good at and can teach others? And, more importantly, do you want to turn your hobby into a business?

#5 what do you talk about all-the-time

This might – simply put – be an indication of a topic you are very passionate about and most likely have a lot of knowledge about. Question is –  can you teach it and make money on it?

How to package your business idea

Ok, now that you have some pointers on how to find your business idea, the next step is to think about the package. How to package that idea so you can sell it. And I’m telling you, this part is so cool!

This is an eye-opener for many – there are so many easy ways you can package your knowledge and sell it online. Here we go with just a few of our favorites.

#1 Ebook

OMG, this is such a powerful way to sell (you will learn more about it in the next chapters), and it is so easy to create and deliver. When I say “ebook,” I am not talking about 200 pages, edited, professionally designed Amazon digital book. I am talking about 30-60 pages guide on a topic that you are an expert in. I am sure you have seen those cute recipe ebooks  (check out minimalistbaker.com for some good vegetarian recipes!) or some other guides that show you how to build something (a potato gun?). That is exactly what I am talking about. If your zone of genius is losing 50 LBS in 12 months, explain your process, describe your workout routines, share your meal plans, include images and instructions. And off you go to sell for $9-$29/piece. “$9, are you crazy? I thought we are talking millions here, Mike”. Patience! You won’t be disappointed!

#2 Masterclass video

WTF is a masterclass? That is a fancy word for a training video. You can easily record a training video that you can then host online (we use Vimeo to do that – click the link to get  25% off discount!) and sell access to. Yeah, I get it, not everything can be taught on video, but so many things can!

#3 Online Course

Let me just tell you, you don’t need to be a coach or a teacher to create an online course. They work whenever you have something you can help people with. You can teach them something, you can explain how something works, or how you use it. Opportunities are endless, really.

There are a couple of ways you can build your online course.

  • It can be a password-protected website (we use Woocommerce Memberships for WordPress) you give your students access to and where you store your content – exercises, images, video, etc. Once you start building ebooks (#1) and training videos (#2) you can then gather them all (assuming you have more than one of each) and create a more robust online course on a topic.
  • It can be a simple email-based course. We built a program like that and had over 1000 sign up! It was just a series of emails automatically sent out to people who bought access to the classes. Super simple to set up with ActiveCampaign and sell!
  • You can meet with people online and provide individual or group coaching sessions (Zoom is the best tool to host and record meetings!)

And here’s the thing about the courses – the online course DOES NOT have to be this crazy huge $5,000 signature program with perfectly edited videos, beautiful websites, expensive cameras, and voice-overs! It really doesn’t. Substance over form! You can make money, REALLY GOOD MONEY, with simple online courses and enough traffic. No need to go fancy-schmancy.

Off to the next point.

3. The Who – who is your perfect customer

Now that you have identified The What (what to sell online, how to find a business idea) it is time to work on The Who – who is going to buy your product!

The pressing question here is “who will buy my sh#t, Mike?!”

Well, it is pretty easy…

When you went through The What and your Zone Of Genius above, you came up with a list of skills you can turn into a product. Now, the easiest way is to take that product and offer it to people who are similar to you. Make sense, right? I mean, if you had some additional body fat that you lost in the last couple of months, it is logical that people similar to you – so those who currently carry those extra Lbs/Kilos – will be interested in losing weight as well. And because you were in their shoes, just a couple of months ago, it is going to be easier for you to find the “voice” and communicate your product to them. You still remember the pain points, you know what their problems and needs are. That’s why we always start with identifying your personal Zone Of Genius, as this will put you in an “authority” position and will allow you to speak from your experience. People will resonate with your message and your product because you are hitting their pain-points right in between their eyes.

This weight-loss example is quite broad, and you could go a bit more granular here. So for example, instead of going after everyone who wants to get lean(er), you go after people in a particular industry, doing certain jobs. You might be a corporate executive or a student, who was working/studying/partying long hours and as a result got some additional, unwanted weight. In this scenario, you could offer your product to people in this exact same situation. Again, this will make your story and your product resonate better with your audience. People will follow those who were in their shoes and were successful in getting a result they want to achieve.

But going after the “old you” type of audience is not the only way. You can offer your product to a variety of audiences – we call these types of audiences “buyer personas.”

What is a buyer persona?

Here’s a concise definition of a persona: it is a fictional portrait of your ideal customer. You create buyer persona to easily identify types of your clients/audiences. Differences between various personas might have an impact on how you communicate with them, what product delivery methods do you offer or even types or variations of your product(s). When creating a buyer persona you think about their demographics, patterns of behavior, their goals, what motivates them, where they spend their time, how do the “consume” content or other products of the same type as yours.

Let’s keep the weight-loss product as an example. Let’s say you are a former corporate worker, hustling the corporate ladder, working long hours and not eating right. Always busy creating new reports and management board presentations (story of my life, btw). You quit your job, as you were fed up with this whole corporate BS, you started an online business, and you finally had time to take care of your body. As a result you lost weight, and now you want to offer a product – Weight Loss Program For Corporate Hustlers.

If you’re concerned if the Corporate Hustlers are your best bet, so you are considering going after a different niche (sometimes called a “vertical”). What you would want to do first is to identify a couple of characteristics of your product and think about other personas who might be in the same situation:

Buyers Persona Sales Funnel

This is just an example table (that might or might not make much sense for the weight-loss space 😉 ). The idea is to try to find audiences that have pain-points that you can address with your product.

Also, to expand your market, you would offer your product to a new persona. Then you can take this intel and use to advertise, re-brand or re-package your product. It really can be the same product but communicated differently or provided via a different medium (website vs. app, text with images vs. video, etc.)

4. Summary

This is a damn long post, so let’s sum it up.

Here are the steps to start and grow your online business without building huge online programs, or dealing with difficult launches:

  1. Identify your Zone Of Genius and come up with a potential product to sell online
  2. Define your audience and their pain points
  3. Create a Value Magnet that will help your audience get rid of their pains and problems
  4. Generate Traffic (from Google or Facebook), so your audience visits your website and reads your Content
  5. Offer a Lead Magnet that is consistent with the Content
  6. Your audience signs up to receive the Lead Magnet
  7. Show them a Tripwire that 5-10% of your visitors will purchase
  8. Send a series of emails that introduce One Time Offer
  9. Present a Cash Cow Offer to those who bought your OTO
  10. Build more funnels, drive more traffic, make a gazillion of $

 

That’s it. Your 10 steps to freedom. A game-changer.

And yep, it’s that simple!

Okay, real talk: it’s not all easy-breezy, but it’s definitely doable, and totally worth the effort!

If you want to learn more and introduce this funnel for your business, join us on our FREE training

 

5. Bonus: What are the best tools to use to build an online business and a sales funnel?

Depending on what you want to accomplish in your business and how your funnel is designed, you might need a tool or two to get it running smoothly. Below is a list of some of the best tools we use in our business that we totally recommend. From online tools to books, to tools helping us relax and meditate!

Let’s dive in…

Thrive Themes – if you are using WordPress, Thrive Themes is a powerhouse of themes and plugins you need to create your online business. It is a Theme designed with marketing and making money online in mind

ClickFunnels – if you want to quickly test your business idea, or put a funnel together, ClickFunnels is a way to go. Super simple, but powerful tool to build websites and funnels

Ecamm – a great tool to run Facebook Live broadcasts. Allows you to schedule broadcasts, go live in your Facebook Groups, on your page, on your personal profile. You can interview quests, add overlays (ex. your logo), show live comments on the screen, go live from two cameras. If you’re using Mac, Ecamm is a must have!

Bookafy – if you want to schedule calls with your potential clients without the hustle of going back and forth with emails (the usual “what’s the best time for you to meet, can you do Monday, 3 PM EST, what’s your time zone, etc.”) then try Bookafy. It connects with your calendar, checks for your availability and allows for the second person to book a call directly in your calendar.

Zoom – this is a great tool to host online meetings with your clients, run webinars or Facebook Live broadcasts. It records your sessions as well. It is like Skype on steroids!

Woocommerce Memberships – it is a WordPress plugin that will turn your website into a membership site allowing you to hide your content behind a login gate. Perfect for creating online courses and selling digital products.

Woocommerce Subscriptions – another WordPress plugin that allows you to charge your customers on a monthly basis (subscription-based model).

Vimeo (25% off!) – one of the best video-hosting platform to upload your videos that you can use as your digital product. It gives powerful privacy options that limit the risk of piracy. If you wanted to store your training videos on Youtube (not a good idea!), they can be easily shared and downloaded by people who did not pay for them. With Vimeo, you can prevent that from happening. Click HERE to get a 25% discount!

Siteground – when it comes to building your website, you need to have a reliable place to host your pages and content. Siteground is super fast, super reliable, and has amazing customer service.

Sibername – if you need a new domain name, head on to Sibername. They even have a cool domain name generator.

ActiveCampaign – this is one of our favorite and most essential tools. It is an email marketing system that is VERY powerful. It can save you tens of hours a week automating your marketing and increasing your sales at the same time.

Gumroad – it is a cart and payment processor for your digital products. We use it, for example, to deal with sales of our “30 Simple Ways To Test Your Business Idea” book

Snappa – if you need to build any kind of designs for your online business – Facebook Page cover, Facebook Page Ads, Blog Posts Titles images, Ebook covers – Snappa is your choice!

WooCurve One Click Upsells – it is a must-have for anyone who uses WooCommerce on WordPress and who wants to increase the average order amount. Woocurve adds a functionality where another product can be added as an upsell to already purchased one. Something not normally available in Woocommerce.

Handsome Checkouts – another WooCommerce plugin that changes the ugly checkouts into the high-converting checkout machines. Also gives an opportunity to turn any page or blog post into a beautiful checkout!

Pixel Your Site Pro – if you are serious about your business, you need to install Facebook Pixel on your website. Facebook Pixel is a piece of a code that tracks what’s happening on your website. It allows you to create audiences out of those who visited your pages. Now you can show your ads to them and “follow” them with ads. It also allows you to create a lookalike audience = an audience that is similar to your current website visitors. Super powerful. With PixelYourSite Pro plugin you can do that with just a few clicks (even if you have no idea what Facebook Pixel is!)

SalesMsg – everyone uses text messages. If you want to leverage this channel in your marketing, then head over to SalesMsg. You can connect your email marketing with text messages marketing with ease using this tool! Go, and sign up for that trial!

DeadlineFunnel – this tool allows you to create that limited time offers for your Tripwires and OTOs. You can show the same countdown on your page, in your email and any other form of communication. And the countdown will be individual to each of your website visitors. Seriously, it’s that amazing!

Dotcom Secrets – if you want to dive in into learning more about funnels, grab this super extensive guide – it is a very good book, and it is FREE.

G-Suite – if you are running an online business, you need to have a reliable online office. Using Gmail is no longer an option. Sign up for a professional/business version of Gmail – the G-Suite.
Sign up using these codes to get 20% off the first year on either G Suite Basic or Business plans:

Basic Plan USA 20% discount code: RDFLXK3P6HV7JR7
Business Plan USA 20% discount code: NCEFYHXTYV6CLLM

Basic Plan Canada 20% discount code: F7NGWW9GQAFRV67
Business Plan Canada 20% discount code: F93DPQTQXYPHNC6

Google Play – we use a couple of great Android apps that help us stay productive throughout a day. MeisterTask for example. If you would like to purchase a paid app, click HERE to get a $10 Google Play credit (spend on whatever you want!)

MUSE – a fair share of our day is working out and meditating. I mean working with your brain all day, you need to give it a break. If meditating doesn’t come easy for you, check out this super helpful thing called Muse. What it does it monitors your brainwaves and gives you feedback on how to calm down. You will be more present and get the most out of your meditation. Works like magic! Click HERE to get  15% off!

Don’t forget to take advantage of our FREE training on how to build this kind of setup for your business!