If I had to start again

by Rob P
36 replies
Hi all.

I've been making my living online for the last three years and it has been sooooo hard. I've really, really struggled and if I started again this is what I'd do differently knowing what I've learned recently.

Firstly I would be much, much more organised from the start. The biggest drain on my time has been trying to find files on my computer. A decent filing hierarchy is a must. I'll add to this and clarify what I mean later.

I would have installed a help-desk from the start - answering support emails gets messy very quickly.

I would have outsourced more. I now have two part-time members of staff (one of whom is my absolute saviour and my business couldn't run without him). Technical problems used to cost me HOURS every day. Not any more. Want to get ahead? Get a techie!! :-)

I would have concentrated my time on three main areas - List building/traffic, List management/relationship-building & product creation. INstead, what I spent the majority of my time on was research (also known as being distracted by every single offer out there), checking emails every five minutes (also known as a total waste of time) and product creation. Time MUST go into the three main areas - particularly traffic generation.

I would have a plan for generating traffic and I would apply time to it consistently every day. My traffic has grown dramatically since I started doing this. (Obvious I know yet it took me two and a half years to realise it!!).

I would concentrate on recruiting affiliates as my main source of traffic.

Once recruited, I would then focus on giving them resources, checklists and tools to make sure they got the most from my products.

If you give affiliates a step-by step plan (Send this broadcast today, send this free report out tomorrow, send this ezine article out three days later, send this offer out 2 days later... etc.), together with the right tools - articles, graphics, adverts, keywords, emails etc. there is much more chance they will get results.

I would concentrate on the following products - a decent free report or Camtasia video to offer at the squeeze page, an opening offer of a recurring subscription product with a free or $1 trial and an upsell to a coaching program.

There. That's what I'd do. As it happens, I've managed that now but it has taken me AGES and several buckets of blood, sweat and tears to get there.

If I'd focused on the fundamentals from the start my progess would have been swifter so I encourage anyopne who is starting out to avoid the many distractions out there which suck your time and your life.


Concentrate on the three main essential areas (traffic, product/offer creation & list management and put time in on each of them every day.

With regard to traffic, concentrate on a few key strategies - be it ezine articles, press releases, twitter, forums, blog hopping, whatever. By focusing you get better at the strategies you've chosen and you find you get more done than if you try to use every available strategy.

Phew. Sorry for the soap box. I'm recovering from an accident and so have lots of time on my hands at home. :-)

Rob
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  • Profile picture of the author KateD
    Hi...

    Great post. The question I have for you is: what results are you seeing from the actions you detailed above?

    KateD
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob P
      Hi Kate,

      A good question which I'm happy to answer.

      Like I say, I've been online full time for three years. It was very, very hard at times but at my best I was doing up to $12,000 in online income alone plus more for live training (up to $2k for a full day) through the site Behaviour Needs home page. Behaviour Needs. (Don't get me wrong - I wasn't earning that every day but I was getting regular bookings).

      Unfortunately, my accident 5 weeks ago was very serious and it has meant I've had to scale things right back. I've had to cancel my personal live training (though I do use other trainers) and my online earnings took a big hit as we were about to do some launches.

      Fortunately I have some subscription products which tick over nicely and I'm managing a couple of hours here and there getting things back up and running.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob P
    HI,

    My margins haven't really changed. I operate on around 70% profit for live training on a public course, 80% on an in-house course. For online sales we sell mainly digital goods. Our merchant is very cheap and we sell about 20% hard copy DVDs/CDs.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob P
    Here's the extra bit I was going to write about folders etc.


    Having templates for your free reports, sales letters, squeeze pages - in fact for every aspect of your system - are going to save you time.

    Something which I find really useful now is to have 'project files' (hard copies and then duplicates on my computer). I have so many things going round my head on multiple projects that I need somewhere to 'download' or my brain would explode.

    I used to just keep one big 'to do' list but it just got longer and longer (and longer) until it was obvious it would never end. Now I do it like this...

    I have one piece of paper at my desk called 'Today'

    I have another pieice of paper called 'this week'

    I have several project folders (which are really just places to put ideas for products etc whcih I may never actually get round to - it just gets them out of my head in a place I know I can find them).

    Finally, I have three folders titled: 'Traffic Generation', 'Relationship Building' and 'Product Creation' whcih I call my 'Essential' folders

    My system works like this:

    I work on my 'Today' list of tasks and try to avoid distractions. I schedule work into 20 minute blasts. Any more than that and I wander. After 20 mins I have a little break then get back to work.

    My 'Today' Tasks are made up from tasks taken from my 'This week' list. I update my 'Today' list every night so that I know exactly what I'm going to do tomorrow.

    My 'This week' tasks are updated at the end of the week by purging through the three 'essential' folders and project folders.

    I add to my three 'essential' lists and project lists whenever an idea pops into my head or whenever I hear about somrthing I should be doing. For example, if I go through my emails and find a really good traffic idea, I add it to my traffic list. I know where it is so I don't get distracted by it and I don't have to think about it. Then, at the end of the week I go through my folders and decide which of them I want to work on next week and add them to my 'This week' list.

    Phew, I hope that makes sense!! It is easy in practice! :-)

    I had to do this because my mind is just a constant stream of ideas. Without this organisation I would truly get nothing done.
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    • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
      Originally Posted by Robplevin View Post


      I used to just keep one big 'to do' list but it just got longer and longer (and longer) until it was obvious it would never end. Now I do it like this...

      I have one piece of paper at my desk called 'Today'

      I have another pieice of paper called 'this week'

      __________

      My system works like this:

      I work on my 'Today' list of tasks and try to avoid distractions. I schedule work into 20 minute blasts. Any more than that and I wander. After 20 mins I have a little break then get back to work.

      My 'Today' Tasks are made up from tasks taken from my 'This week' list. I update my 'Today' list every night so that I know exactly what I'm going to do tomorrow.

      My 'This week' tasks are updated at the end of the week by purging through the three 'essential' folders and project folders.

      I add to my three 'essential' lists and project lists whenever an idea pops into my head or whenever I hear about somrthing I should be doing. For example, if I go through my emails and find a really good traffic idea, I add it to my traffic list. I know where it is so I don't get distracted by it and I don't have to think about it. Then, at the end of the week I go through my folders and decide which of them I want to work on next week and add them to my 'This week' list.

      Phew, I hope that makes sense!! It is easy in practice! :-)

      I had to do this because my mind is just a constant stream of ideas. Without this organisation I would truly get nothing done.
      THANKS! I can't believe I haven't thought of making weekly and daily to-do lists! Seriously, I just make a general to-do list, it grows really fast, and suddely it's overwhelming, and I get nothing done.

      Also having 20minute intervals seems to be a good way for me as well.

      Thanks again,
      Preben
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      • Profile picture of the author Rob P
        No problem Preben.

        That one little tip is responsible for me turning my business round more than any other. I had a business consultant come and visit me at home a year or so ago and he saw the mess I was in - files everywhere, piles of paper, unfinished projects, and me pulling my hair out. I was in a huge mess.

        The system he gave me wasn't really suitable but it enabled me to develop my own - and it works like a charm - as long as you are ruthless about the tasks which you add to your 'today' list - too many and they won't get done!! :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author andybeveridge
    Hope you make a speedy recovery Rob.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob P
      thanks Andy, that's kind of you. :-)
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      • Profile picture of the author Rob P
        And these are the specific tasks I'm concentrating on...

        I am concentrating on 3 main areas and this has helped turn my business round. Time needs to be put into each area - preferably each day. That means having a pre-written schedule which you write down the night before and then work through the next day. (just focus on a few things - don't list too many things to do or you'll not get them done and it demoralises you. :-)

        1. Product - either your own or a good selling affiliate product (preferably one with recurring paymjents. If you haven't got products of your own go to clickbank marketplace and do a search for products which offer recurring payments.

        There is a report on my blog to download on creating your own products (www.marketing-needs.com) but it doesn't really mention front-end products such as ebooks and reports.

        Interviews are a fantastic, quick and easy first product. Find an expert in any niche (search authors in clickbank or on Amazon), get yourself Skype and Pamela to record the call then approach a few experts. You will find many are only too happy to be interviewed and of course once you have spoken to them there is a good chance they will JV with you once you've produced the interview and had it transcribed.

        I would look to put together a series of interviews - it gives you potential for a membership product from scratch and I'm in the middle of two of these right now. (Well I was... until my close shave with death last month but we won't let things like that get in our way will we?? :-) .

        Line up 12 interviews, record them and transcribe them (you could do the whole lot in under two weeks easily). Then set these up as a 6 month subscription product offering 2 interviews a month for 6 months. (Most people drop out of membership programs within 6 months so I would set a limit on the subscription period - it's an easier sale than an ongoing payment forever).

        Have a free offer and a squeeze page on your site. (one of the interviews could be your offer - or a free Camtasia vid or report).

        That's a great subscription product done and dusted in just a few weeks. Bingo.

        2. List management/relationships - focus on your autoresponder series. It shouldn't be a series of sales messages - the people who sign up to your free offer are PEOPLE - not cash dispensers so they need to be treated well. LThey need to know, like and trust you. Send free stuff, reveal a bit about yourself and always respond to their requests and queries to try and remove buyer resistance and build the relationship.

        Spend time looking at each stage of your list system - opt-in pages, up selll p[ages, landing pages, free reports etc. etc. with a view to making it an enjoyable experience to be on your list.

        3 - Traffic - The trick with this is consistency. That's why you can't possibly use all the traffic methods out there - unless you're outsourcing of course and I really encourage you to do that when you can.

        If I can be of more specific help PLEASE feel free to ask. I have lots of time at present and am happy to be of assistance and help you learn from the MANY mistakes I've made over the last three years.
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  • Profile picture of the author VeitSchenk
    I adopted a similar system, learned it from Jimmy D. Brown -- changed pretty much everything (ok, a dose of self-discipline to actually work in 20min lots helps, I do 33mins...)

    fantastic post, should be required reading for anyone who's struggling to make it online.

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  • Profile picture of the author Bruce NewMedia
    Rob, I hope others at different stages of building their business read your posts here.
    This is good solid simple info that will pay off....btw, thats too bad about your accident. Hopefully you will be back to speed soon.
    _____
    Bruce
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob P
      cheers Bruce - for the feedback and the kind words.
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  • Profile picture of the author tommen
    If I had to start from the beginning the first thing I would do is learn how to do keyword research.So many people just write blogs posts and submit articles and fail because they write about things that are too hard to rank for or no one even searches for.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob P
      Hi Rich,

      That's quite funny - I do know Lee - we used to live near each other - and I have met him several times but I hadn't realised my stuff was similar. I'm flattered, he's a great guy. :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author johnben1444
    I agree with you, listing building is very essential to our success, too bad many people take this for granted.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
    Rob, this thread is so useful that I've bookmarked it using my "Delicious" account.

    Starting out in IM is a bit driving a car for the first time; your senses are constantly being fed a ton of information as you travel along, and it takes a while to understand where your priorities should be and what you should be paying most attention to. Your clear explanation helps newbies to gain that understanding.

    Thanks very much for taking the time to spell it out!
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  • Profile picture of the author millionebook
    Great post, I now really try to build my lists and something I never did when I started but now recommend is submitting aticles. Great post though and I agree that organisation ...folders etc is key , having a set plan and making sure it all comes together
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  • Robplevin, This is a great post. Thanks so much for taking the time to remind of the important stuff we SHOULD be focusing on in our daily work.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!


    Andrea, The English Webmistress
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  • Profile picture of the author shakingspear
    I think the main thing I would have done differently is have more seed money. Opportunities seem to grow when you have more to invest.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jamian
    Even though you're struggling, don't give up, just think that all of your struggles are just obstacles on your success.
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  • Profile picture of the author birdfood
    This post is a godsend for anyone at the beginning of the IM career.

    For people already on the IM career path the points you make are also good analysis and improvements. This includes me so thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author entrepreneurjay
    Listbuilding is your main priority build that list. And traffic is its lifeblood without traffic it will be very hard to build a huge list one day. Blog commenting, article marketing, video marketing, forum posting, press releases SEO. Concentrate on these areas to build traffic, and increase your opt-ins and your earnings.

    Adswaps are essential too to grow your list that much faster.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rob P
      Thanks folks for your feedback and kindness.

      Just a quick one on seed money (I think it was Skaingspear's reply above).

      I can't remember who said this but it was something along the lines of 'If your business isn't a success when you have no money to invest, it won't be a success when you do have money to invest'.

      I have borrowed many, many thousands of ££££s (MANY thousands) over the years - with the intention of creating a profitable business - and I can say in all honesty that my business only started working when there was none left to borrow.

      Once the supply lines had all been cut, the banks wouldn't touch me and my relatives had been bled dry, the only way forward was to make the business work. Out of desperation comes success. :-)
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      • Profile picture of the author John Henderson
        Originally Posted by Robplevin View Post

        I can't remember who said this but it was something along the lines of 'If your business isn't a success when you have no money to invest, it won't be a success when you do have money to invest'.
        As Warren Buffett says when he talks about borrowed money: "Smart people don't need it and dumb people shouldn't have it."

        And yes Rob, I'd be interested in a copy of your report...
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        • Profile picture of the author Rob P
          I'm going to add something here. I have realised another importasnt area to focus on since I wrote this post and that is 'System Development' - in addition to the other three main area I suggested concentrating on (trafrfic, product development and list management/relationship building).

          Without systems your business can become unmanageable - very quickly - and as a business owner I don't think your time can be better spent than building systems to automate areas of your business so that other people can perform tasks on your behalf. It makes growth much easier and more organised.
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          • Profile picture of the author Alan Ashwood
            Originally Posted by Robplevin View Post

            Thanks folks for your feedback and kindness.

            Just a quick one on seed money (I think it was Skaingspear's reply above).

            I can't remember who said this but it was something along the lines of 'If your business isn't a success when you have no money to invest, it won't be a success when you do have money to invest'.
            I have borrowed many, many thousands of ££££s (MANY thousands) over the years - with the intention of creating a profitable business - and I can say in all honesty that my business only started working when there was none left to borrow.
            Once the supply lines had all been cut, the banks wouldn't touch me and my relatives had been bled dry, the only way forward was to make the business work. Out of desperation comes success. :-)
            Never Said A Truer Word Rob.
            I have come across so many people who, for a variety of valid reasons, simply don't have the dosh to pay for their education. Mnay friends said I was a fool when I set up one of my blogs specifically for those folks working on a shoestring budget. Their argument was that I was targetting people who simply can't afford to spend, so I would never make any money with it.
            Maybe not, but I wanted to help prove to newbies, that they didn't have to spend a fortune to start making money online. It does make things much harder, and slower, and you have less choices; but it can be done. As many know, I now run free coaching courses too (full up at the moment), where I can help 'skint newbies' to start to change their lives. The courses have, in return expanded my knowledge.
            What's the one big plus for these people?
            They can't afford to buy loads of 'under the radar, magic button, secret systems', so they don't. I know my folks are not being distracted by things they can't buy.
            Unfortunately, the flip side is the fact that: Money Equals Choice.

            Originally Posted by Robplevin View Post


            I am thinking about putting this into a free report with some other info on getting organised systems in place.

            Having systems in place has been the most importaant factor in sorting my business out and I'm sure many people will find this useful.

            If you are interested in the report let me know and I'll sort something out. I'm actually away for the next two weeks so it won't be immediatey but I'll do it as soon as I return.
            Yeah, yeah, yeah . . . Absolutely! Although I do try to induce my students to get organised from the off, they often find i 'boring, and nowt to do with IM'. Having a reference document to use as a guide, would be a brilliant asset.

            Put me down for one, please.
            Can I have a free one, before you realise you can make money by selling it? (Oh - that gave the game away).

            [/QUOTE]

            Originally Posted by Robplevin View Post

            I'm going to add something here. I have realised another importasnt area to focus on since I wrote this post and that is 'System Development' - in addition to the other three main area I suggested concentrating on (trafrfic, product development and list management/relationship building).

            Without systems your business can become unmanageable - very quickly - and as a business owner I don't think your time can be better spent than building systems to automate areas of your business so that other people can perform tasks on your behalf. It makes growth much easier and more organised.
            Yup, you're right. I'm not the most organised bod on the planet, and in the early days I simply dived in and splashed about. I didn't have preset homes for everything, and eventually you couldn't find my desktop below all the folders and files.

            I'm better now (a bit), but could always do with a good purge and sort out.

            Thanks
            I just want to thank you for the extremely useful thread you've put together here. Very valuable advice, which is greatly appreciated. (I'd say 'awesome', but I'm not American). Jolly spiffing old chap.

            Toodle pip from the Forest.

            Alan
            .
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            Time for a cuppa.
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  • Profile picture of the author envyusbrandon
    Great input on your experiences you've had and the hurdles. Hopefully it will help someone to avoid some mistakes.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob P
    Hi,

    I am thinking about putting this into a free report with some other info on getting organised systems in place.

    Having systems in place has been the most importaant factor in sorting my business out and I'm sure many people will find this useful.

    If you are interested in the report let me know and I'll sort something out. I'm actually away for the next two weeks so it won't be immediate but I'll do it as soon as I return.

    Best,

    Rob
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    All the suffering in this world comes from trying to make yourself happy. All the happiness comes from making others happy. (GK Gyatso)

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  • Profile picture of the author mrv1983
    Rob,
    I just started this week and found your posts and this discussion compelling.
    Any Mac based marketers out there who can point me to the best tools for list building and auto response?
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  • Profile picture of the author MarteJ
    Thanks a Lot! Great information!
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  • Profile picture of the author nthmarketing
    Thanks Rob,

    As a newbie here this is the gold that I need. Definitely something I'll be bookmarking for future reference.

    Aloha,
    Fred
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  • Profile picture of the author Rob P
    my pleasure, stay tuned for the free report
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  • Profile picture of the author rekerlolz
    Hey Rob! This is some really great advise for anyone in the internet marketing. I really appreciate these tips.
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