Questions for which I haven't found answers

22 replies
Hello Warriors.

This is my first post after having spent countless hours reading the forums.

I run a brick and mortar business. I have a thorough understanding of how businesses are run, managed and marketed. I'm looking into the possibility of developing an information product and I have a few questions.

I'm looking at the Google Predator system and thinking it'll be a great way to organize an all out campaign for my own e-book.

I apologize if these questions are reposts. I've looked around quite a bit and these are the questions I can't find answers to:


1. I've read here on the forums that review sites are a great way to move information products. Given that I'm offering my own product, does it seem wise to set up a review site that reviews my competitor's products as well as my own? I'm considering setting up affiliate connections with them so that, even if my own product doesn't sell, I'll still get a cut. Is that brilliant? Or, is it fantastically stupid?

2. As per the Predator system (or a slight *******ization of it), I've registered 6 domains, each of which contain targeted keywords pertaining to my niche, each of which comprising my linkwheel. In setting up these domains, I'm wondering about identity. I see a lot of IM sites that have an "about me" page with a bio. Are these completely manufactured? Is it considered white hat to make up an identity for a targeted micro-blog? In my B&M business, I make a solid living building trust with my customers. I'm not convinced that the internet works any differently.

3. I've read lots and lots of posts on WF that say something along the lines of, "think of this as a real business". I have a REAL business. I know the value of business plans and positioning. In IM, there's a BOATLOAD of hype about stated earnings and potentially faked earning statements. What I want to know is, if you're seriously starting an online biz in IM, how on earth do you project earnings in order to develop anything like a legitimate business plan? It seems to me that lots of people start these burgeoning online "empires", only to suffer bitter disappointment. The same thing happens in the offline world and it can most often be attributed to big dreams without a grounding in reality. Where's the reality in this market? Is there a book that WF members can recommend that has the details? I'm not interested in a "make a million while you sleep" program. I'd like to know if there's a legitimate document out there somewhere that spells out the details of IM as a legit business.

Thanks for humoring my questions. I know you all have wisdom and experience I can draw on. Hopefully, you won't see this as another noobie making the same stupid mistakes...
#answers #found #questions
  • Profile picture of the author hawaiidave
    These are merely my opinions:

    1. If you are selling your own product, set up an affiliate program - let your affiliates do the review page - concentrate on a solid sales page for you product that has no external links - just a buy button.

    2. There are a ton of made-up abouts pages floating around. You can just do a generic about page without attaching a name, but if you are looking to be an authority you should probably keep it real. I don't know about you, but keeping up multiple online personas isn't my idea of a good up and up business practice.

    3. The internet is the wild west and things are constantly changing, so you are correct that a start-up IM businesses will have a hard time creating a business plan with projected earnings. My best advice is to create the plan and a budget and do what you can to make it profitable. Adjust it quarterly as needed. The fact that you'd even make a plan puts you light-years ahead of most people...
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
      Thanks for the input Dave. Solid advice.
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      • Profile picture of the author Shaunman
        If you are making an informational program you might want to set up a merchant account with clickbank. They will give you the stuff you need to allow people to pay you online and you will be listed in the clickbank market place where a lot of affiliates look for new products to promote.
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    • Profile picture of the author ghostkeeper
      That is very sound advice, the more I learn about IM, the more I realize it takes REAL work and REAL dedication to make it happen... no $5,000 a month in 90 days for some one just starting out
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  • Profile picture of the author johnhayesfc
    I agree with hawaiidave on his 3 points and thought I would give you my 2c. An affiliate program for your information product is the only way you will create a viral aspect around your product. You must remember, traffic+offer = MONEY. Depending on your list and social media efforts combined reflects a large percentage of your marketing efforts.

    1. Using your competitors (not really competitors, but marketing partners), you can set up a jv venture with them. JV partners can send an enormous amount of traffic to your offer if the offer is worth their time. I would suggest knowing your specific analytics and track and test everything so you can be specific. For affiliate promotion of their products, you can offer or just join their affiliate program. Most IM will allow you to promote their products. Now, the best way to implement their programs into your promotion is to find products of potential partners that compliment your product. The big idea is to cross-sell those products in your own promotion through upsells. This can be easily done. Just PM if you don't know how to do this.

    2. You mention if your product doesn't sell. Back to 1. Test and Track everything and run a small test promotion. If you are interested in launching a product, you could run a product launch (pre-launch videos, launch, post-launch promotions). Monitization is where you will make most of your profit. The most important thing is to make sure you have a market to sell in and that the market is responsive. Target a very specific individual and stay away from generalization.

    3. Targeting specific clients: Personally, I do not create seperate identities for myself in my marketing, but rather create a specific client identity. Read that last sentence again. Although I do have many friends who run businesses in many niches under different aliases, some of which are very successful but all in all they may only have one other alias and this mostly falls within the dating niches. Stay yourself and market yourself and you can enter any market as an authority once you are established.

    4. Big Dreams - Yes IM is about selling a dream, but there are those who sincerely care about the success of others. They are far and few between, but when you discover them do not disregard their teachings. Hype (AKA Copywriting) is just that. In order to sell anything whether it be online or offline, you must use psychological triggers to build a potential customer to the point to buy from you. Without trust and a display of those fake accounts, you will never make a sell. Word of advice - Do NOT take this route as you will get greedy and in the end not care about the relationship you have with your customers. These are what I label the political gurus. It is about who knows who in that area and they will not work with you unless you follow their rules. Well, that is not owning your own business. That is somebody else telling you how to run your business and ultimately doing it for you by taking control of your marketing. Yes, you will make money, but is it worth it in the end?

    5. My philosophy is to offer free informative information to my customers to build that customer relationship aspect of trust and loyalty. Once a client becomes a customer, the playing field changes and I only provide my customers with the knowledge I have aquired, am still aquiring (as we never stop learning), and do everything I can to help in the learning process as well as the sales process. When you truly care about your customers and prove that (not through hype or made up account screen shots), you have a real business that is not only rewarding in your lifestyle, but rewarding in your happiness as well.

    I hope that this has provided you with the answers to your questions. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to PM me or visit my site and post a comment with your questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Your Marketing Comrade,

    Johnathan Hayes
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
      Thanks for the rocking information, you guys. I'm going to dig into the details today and get a clear picture of everything suggested so far.

      Perhaps I should start this in a new thread, but I'm really wanting to know if there are any books (real books, with pages and everything) that lay out the process of developing an online biz. One of those essential, "my biz never got off the ground until I read ________________" kinda books.
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  • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
    I have never understood the obsession with "proof of income" - all of which is easily faked. If you were selling a printed book, offline, you wouldn't expect to include a copy of your business accounts with it - why should online be different.

    If you have sound knowledge, good experience and a good product, a well put together sales page should sell - proof of income and fake testimonials are not required. Once your product starts to sell the testimonials WILL come - so will the income.
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
      Originally Posted by rosetrees View Post

      I have never understood the obsession with "proof of income"
      Perhaps I could have been a little clearer in my OP. I'm not asking anyone for proof of income. I'm trying to build an online business. As an entrepreneur in the offline world, I have learned the very real value in developing a solid business plan. A HUGE part of developing a biz plan is evaluating the projected income of the business, its viability, and whether or not it's worth the time and energy. (It's called a pro forma statement and, in uncertain times, it can save your rear many times over.)

      Let's say you were considering opening a local coffee shop. You'd need to determine who your competition is, how much traffic they get, how much people spend on average, how much traffic your shop could expect, how much the business would gross, and would it be enough to cover overhead and leave a tidy profit for you.

      If you were opening the coffee shop online, using the conventional IM approach (at least the way it appears to me. I'm not trying to knock anyone here.) you'd just make coffee and, having done the keyword research, offer it to the coffee niche until "the income will come".

      Surely, I'm not the only one who sees huge flaws in such a plan???

      I'm not even remotely interested in seeing someone's earning statement. What I'm after is a real, solid approach to drawing up a pro forma so that I can evaluate the viability of my strategy.

      And, I'm looking for a book to guide me in that regard. Any suggestions?
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      • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
        By the way, just to be clear, this information product is very much not about "how to make money online". It's about a very specific offline business that has the potential to skyrocket in the next few years. I have very in-depth knowledge of the business and the market and thought I might be able to generate another revenue stream by sharing my experience.

        There will be NO proof of income on my sales page!
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        • Profile picture of the author rosetrees
          Originally Posted by Quarl421 View Post


          There will be NO proof of income on my sales page!
          My bad Quarl - now I've reread your original post I see you weren't asking about proof, just mentioning it as something that could be faked.
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          • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
            No problem, Rose. No offense taken.
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            • Profile picture of the author Fun to Write
              I think you should adopt the knowledge you already have about creating a business plan to the online market. Most internet marketers don't create a business plan as much as they follow specific strategies to make money.

              You need to develop a strategy to promote your book online. Tools you'll need to reach your customer - website, autoresponder, ebook cover, sales letter. Figure out who your target customer is for this information. Decide whether or not to have an affiliate program - if so, how you'll set it up.

              I suggest you break down each thing into action steps, then find the specific information you'll need to complete each step.

              As for identity, you should use your own professional identity. It could be your real name or a moniker - The xyz guy. Stick to the credibility building that you already know how to do. People online want to learn from trustworthy individuals, the same as they do offline.

              You should focus only on your own product - show that you believe in it. Reviewing similar products alongside of yours, reduces the confidence people will have in your specific offer.

              Go to the WSO section of this forum and notice that everyone is promoting their own product, even though there may be dozens like it. You want your target buyer to focus only on your info product.

              Having said that, yes, review sites can work well. But, since you are going through a lot of time and effort to create your own unique information product, I think you'd be selling yourself short, as an entrepreneur, to allow your mind to believe that someone else's product may sell better than yours. It's kind of defeating the purpose of creating your own product to begin with.

              Affiliates create review sites because they don't want to do what you're doing.

              So, you're either going to be a full on information product creator/seller in your niche, or, a full-time affiliate.

              Believe in your product and sell it with gusto!
              Signature

              Focus+Smart Work+Persistence=Success

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              • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
                Thanks, Fun to Write, I appreciate your input. I think I will definitely focus on using affiliates for selling the book. However, I think I might also be inclined to stimulate a little action myself via the 6 keyword related sites I just bought. Otherwise, what am I going to do with all that 'net real estate?

                Originally Posted by Fun to Write View Post

                since you are going through a lot of time and effort to create your own unique information product, I think you'd be selling yourself short, as an entrepreneur, to allow your mind to believe that someone else's product may sell better than yours.
                Perhaps this one could have been better worded in the OP, as well. The idea isn't so much that I'm expecting my product to NOT sell. But people can be fickle. And they reeeaaalllyyyy like to have buying choices. I was thinking I might review the other products (mine would be the only one to get 5 stars of course ). But, if my product didn't appeal to them, for whatever reason, at least I wouldn't lose out entirely if they bought the competitors product.
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  • Profile picture of the author Andyhenry
    Hi Quarl421,

    Welcome to the forum.

    It's good to see that you've got your focus on how to make real sense of your actions within an overall plan - many people don't do this and waste time doing things with no real idea if they'll help.

    You can approach this in a similar way to an offline business.

    So yes you can do projections - but only once you have done your research to identify the most effective strategies to accessing your market. If you know you have 50 potential partners and will do one JV a week for the first year, you'll quickly get a sense of what results to expect.

    People like to think IM is all guess work and trial and error but you don't have to be so vague about it.


    The truth is - you don't need all the techy stuff with link wheels, profile links, rss, bookmarks and all that jazz.

    The thing that will make the most difference is - understanding your market.

    If you have a clear idea who your target audience are and you know you can access enough of them to make selling your products/services achieve your desired goals - it's all about focusing on how to get in front of them.

    There are many ways of accessing your market without giving a hoot about trying to compete in organic search results.

    It's trendy to talk about SEO like it's some sort of secret weapon to making money online but the truth of it is - it's just one way to do things and not necessarily the best at that.

    People tend to focus on seo because you can do it for free and many people getting in to IM don't want to spend money and they don't value their time - so spending hours chasing links makes sense to them.

    This is not how you could begin to make a normal business profitable.

    There are 4 basic ways to approach getting results that you might want to consider:

    1 - Finding people who already have access to your target audience and leveraging that access.

    This can be with JVs, paid advertising, ad swaps etc. etc. and these could be via websites, forums, youtube, facebook, yahoo groups, ezines etc.. etc..

    2 - Paying for traffic

    PPC is hands-down the quickest and most powerful way to get started. You get immediate traffic, you have complete control over it and you can test it to death before spending time and money getting it with other techniques.

    3 - Plugging yourself straight into your audience.

    Your own youtube channel, twitter, facebook, forums, linkedin etc.. etc... there are a lot of places where you can find people in your niche and communicate with them quickly. Twitter is a classic example as you can find people quickly, get some followers quickly and start building a network of people who are tapped in to your niche. You could put a book on Amazon and in Clickbank to get exposure to affiliates and customers.

    4 - Find affiliates who are already marketing to your target audience.

    Again, this is about leverage. If you find people promoting related products (you can start with looking at current PPC ads) and give them a no-brainer way to make more money by including your product in their marketing mix.

    You don't need anything more than your common sense to do well - no info products or tools needed.

    Good luck

    Andy
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    nothing to see here.

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    • Profile picture of the author DeadGuy
      Originally Posted by Quarl421 View Post

      3. I've read lots and lots of posts on WF that say something along the lines of, "think of this as a real business". I have a REAL business. I know the value of business plans and positioning. In IM, there's a BOATLOAD of hype about stated earnings and potentially faked earning statements. What I want to know is, if you're seriously starting an online biz in IM, how on earth do you project earnings in order to develop anything like a legitimate business plan? It seems to me that lots of people start these burgeoning online "empires", only to suffer bitter disappointment. The same thing happens in the offline world and it can most often be attributed to big dreams without a grounding in reality. Where's the reality in this market? Is there a book that WF members can recommend that has the details? I'm not interested in a "make a million while you sleep" program. I'd like to know if there's a legitimate document out there somewhere that spells out the details of IM as a legit business.
      Being in the brick and mortar arena as well, I can commiserate with you. The answer to your earnings projection question is, you can't. As you already know, there are no believable statistics for you to follow and the massive data sets available through a variety of Government agencies will do you absolutely no good. (The only statistic I find useful is the year-over-year percentage increases in retail and B2B online purchases.) A viable option to gathering data may be to inquire with other businesses that have added IM to the lineup. They should be able to give the skinny on whether IM has added to their bottom line or not.

      But the reality is this. You shouldn't need either the projection information or a business plan to generate supplemental income through IM, for a variety of reasons. IM is one of the few business boosting options that can be deployed with very little to no cost. Unless, of course, you select PPC as your marketing method. You do need a marketing plan of attack, but a business plan? Probably not.

      The IM world is totally different from its real world counterpart in that it comes down to a go, no go, analysis for the most part. Coupling the facts that there is very little downside to pursing this option with a potential for improving your revenue stream, it is worthy of a thoughtful consideration. Especially in this economy.
      Signature

      You are making this work at home stuff way harder than it is. Ready for some sanity? Clear your head and start over.

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      • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
        Originally Posted by DeadGuy View Post

        But the reality is this. You shouldn't need either the projection information or a business plan to generate supplemental income through IM, for a variety of reasons. IM is one of the few business boosting options that can be deployed with very little to no cost. Unless, of course, you select PPC as your marketing method. You do need a marketing plan of attack, but a business plan? Probably not.

        The IM world is totally different from its real world counterpart in that it comes down to a go, no go, analysis for the most part. Coupling the facts that there is very little downside to pursing this option with a potential for improving your revenue stream, it is worthy of a thoughtful consideration. Especially in this economy.
        That's very sound. The other side of the token is that there's more to the decision than simply "will I make money eventually?" Running one business is stressful enough. Running a second one after my two sons have been tucked in their beds is likely to add to the stress. Will the returns justify the effort? (I already know the answer, it's hypothetical)

        Perhaps the most important reason for being able to predict income is to avoid the little eyebrow lift I usually get when I tell my wife about this great new idea I just got!!!
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
      Originally Posted by Andyhenry View Post

      Good luck

      Andy
      Andy, Thanks for the straight talk. I'll admit that I've been sucked in by the hype of SEO. Your extremely well worded post has given me a nice kick in the pants. Thanks for doing it before I had already invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars!

      I'm going to cut and paste your post into my save file for the occasional return to brass tacks!
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      • Profile picture of the author marcdonovan
        Hey Bro,

        Glad to see you finally started posting.

        Advice from your big brother, make this into a clickbank product and let them do your marketing. Forget about doing projections and let it run. This business is all about testing this vs that (true for b&m marketing as well, but this is way cheaper). And since you can test for very little money, there is no need to worry about pro-formas. This is the one business where you can build it and they will come. Or not, and it is back to testing something else. The only currency spent here is time and my opinion FWIW, is that you are wasting it with building a "plan" which will change the first day you start to implement.

        Pro-formas are to figure out if your investment will be justified and to keep the eyebrows from raising. You don't need that if you are writing a clickbank product because the only investment is time. Does a novel writer do a pro-forma? No way. They just start writing. Your sales page and your e-book are all that is important here, so just start writing and testing.

        Remember when you advised me to do a digital info product regarding asset protection? I know a ton about that subject and I never followed through, yet... Hmm, another iron in the fire. No more room for more irons. Oh, well, off to write my first clickbank ebook. I'm like a one-armed paper hanger over here.
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        1.5¢ per word article writing. Limited time offer. Check my WSO.

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        • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
          Originally Posted by marcdonovan View Post

          Advice from your big brother
          Alright, easy on the "big brother" stuff. I'm over 40, fer cryin' out loud.
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  • Profile picture of the author jbsmith
    Here are some responses to your questions -

    Your Question #1: Yes, you certainly can setup a review site and review your own product along with competitors...this is actually quite a savvy marketing technique, one I have used on occasion and I know others that have built a huge income around this model

    Your Question #2: You should have an identity and be consistent - that identity could be made up or it could be real, I have seen both methods work. In the made-up case, chances are you are going to have to come clean as your success grows anyway - but you can go that route in the interim as you build if you want.

    Your Question #3: First, treating your business as "Real" means that you do set targets, you do factor in costs as well as revenues, you do plan for growth and how you will scale your business, and you do spend enough time and energy and patience to make it grow. Second, on projecting earnings - with infoproducts it is not really that tough...I like to plan on what my desired income will be from a given market, then I work backwards in terms of a realistic number of units (anywhere from a few hundred to a few dozen depending on the price point and phase of business) and then set a price point that would be required to achieve that end goal...which then brings you back to product planning to figure out how you will achieve those price points.

    I often share the example, with our members, of having a $100K goal and a plan to develop a $17 ebook - when we break down the # of units required, it becomes extremely tough (not impossible because I know it has been done,,,but tough). So, instead we factor in a low-end entry product of $17, a mid-range offering (bundled package with videos, membership site or physical manual/home study course) at $197-$397 and a high-end offering around $1K which involves more customization or personal coaching/service. Then we balance sales of these over 12-24-months and get a much more realistic view of what it takes to achieve their goals.

    Great questions by the way...getting past these into taking action should be your next priority.

    Jeff
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    • Profile picture of the author Carl Donovan
      Good stuff, Jeff.

      In fact, I've begun taking action. I've registered a few appropriate websites, am shopping for the right host and template, etc.

      You obviously know your stuff. Thanks for your input.
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  • Profile picture of the author Xiqual
    Hello Carl.

    From a noobie to another,
    mine humble experience
    only can provide this hint:

    For the review sites, it works better when the review includes a top-o-the-tops product, then a more affordable option, then a cheapest one.

    If prospects are really interested in the information/service provided, some will check for the first, but mostly will get to the second option.

    If you prefer to sell your own product (mainly, because you get a greater piece of the cake), then just over-deliver: put in action some free bonus... differenciate... anything you think will fit
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