At the beginning of December, I worked two full time jobs, office job from 8:30-5:30, restaurant from 6-12. My fiancé and I never saw much of each other, and I spent months struggling to save enough money to pay for our wedding. We had often talked of starting our own business, but kept getting stuck in minutia.
Then, one Saturday afternoon before my night job started, I had THAT AMAZING MILLION DOLLAR IDEA that would revolutionize our lives in a matter of weeks!
Or so I thought…
It would be a songwriting tutorial, with a whole slew of information and software. I KNEW it would be a success, but we decided to test it first. Here’s what we did:
Set up a simple adwords campaign to run for one week.
Created a sales page for product priced at $170
Created an Order Now page with credit card boxes.
Created a Thank You Page that said “Sorry, but at this time we are currently out of stock.” (see www.pxmethod.com as an example)
We did this BEFORE creating a single piece of the product.With everything in place, we turned the adwords campaign on, held our breath, and waited…
The next day at work I turned on my computer and looking at google analytics. We “sold” four within the first 24 hours! I literally had to leave the office, unable to control my excitement. I had visions of quitting both my jobs, driving a sports car, traveling the world… you get the picture.
But I kept both my jobs, and got to creating the product. Within a month, we were finished and ready to sell.
Then something strange happened. Our real sales did not reflect our tested sales. In January, we spent $300 on adwords, and only sold one… We had lost money.
For months we went back and forth on how to improve the conversion rate. Change the background color? Different headline? Lower price? Longer copy? Every change we made seemed brilliant, and yet, at the end of the month, we were still losing money.
How could this happen? Looking back, it could have been a lot of things… Analytics might have tracked our own clicks…spiders crawled the page…maybe it was Christmas week (what a shock!)
Groan… where had we gone wrong?
Rather than give up, in June we purchased some taguchi split testing software and began testing the sales page. We also created landing pages that offered a free sample of the product (15 page ebook). We then followed up with prospects and stayed in their minds, offering additional tips.
I also read several books on adwords, and got our cpc from .22 down to .09 by improving the quality score on our heavy hitters. I also deleted ad groups that weren’t pulling their weight.
June was also the first month we turned a profit. July was better and August was good…this month is looking to be our best yet!
Are we millionaires yet? Far from it. Money really doesn’t interest me, but time is everything. We’ve determined that we could live on $1500 per month if we travel through Thailand, India or Nepal, and this would give us some time to really work on this business. Currently, we average about $400 per month. It ain’t much, but it’s growing…
Here’s a couple lessons the past nine months have taught me:
- Test your advertising constantly. We weren’t profitable until we started testing.
- Delete non-performers. You can improve your conversion rate just by deleting a few ad groups that don’t perform well.
- Set short deadlines. Even though I worked two jobs, I still created the product in less than a month. The idea of all that money really lit a burner under my ass.
- Do not quit your job at first. I’ve since quit my night job, but still work during the day. This income keeps us afloat while we work on other projects (just launched one new product, and have plans for a third next month). Don’t let dreams of dollars tomorrow leave you broke today…
- Do not waste time “studying.” Learn as you go. Fail often, and learn quickly. I didn’t know a thing about marketing, business building, adwords, web development, or html ten months ago. I still don’t know much, but am learning every day (thanks to this forum!)
My fiancé and I are buying our plane tickets today to Bangkok. One way. We’re leaving January 15, 2009 and will probably be gone for a year. In a lot of ways, this is a dream come true.
Looking back, this year may have been hard, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything… How about you? What lessons have your learned this year?