I have gotten so much out of this forum and although I try to post helpful answers when people ask questions I feel like I have not given enough back. So here is my contribution.
If you are already a self made internet marketing bazzzzillionaire guru, then this probably isn't for you. I was once a fresh newbie and I know how hard it is to get started. The people in this community helped me so much and because of their help my life is completely different for the better. So this is for all the newbies. I'm just trying to pass the help along. So here it is...
10 THINGS I WISH I WAS TOLD WHEN I FIRST STARTED
1) DEVELOP A SUCCESSFUL MINDSET
Developing a successful mindset is the first thing I always tell someone when they are trying to get into internet marketing. If you don't cultivate a strong success oriented mindset, you lower the chances of you being able to push through the hard parts and come out on the other side. Many people will just quit, not knowing how close they were to succeeding. Others may never even start because they've talked themselves out of even trying! So here are a handful of ways that you can develop a successful mindset.
Realize that there is no such thing as failure. There is only results. Either you are succeeding, or you are learning new ways how not to succeed. When you get results other than the ones you wanted, don't think negative thoughts about yourself or what you are doing. Instead figure out what you can change to get results you want. Do not quit until you get the results you want. Keeping these things in mind, over a certain period of time, success is inevitable.
Eliminate your limiting beliefs about money, hard work, and success. These beliefs will cause you more problems than anything outside of yourself ever can. After recognizing and eliminating your limiting beliefs, replace them with empowering ones.
Develop a burning passion. Know what success will mean for your life, and also know what not succeeding will mean.
2) TEST EVERYTHING
You must test every aspect of your sales funnels to make sure that they are converting the optimal amount of viewers into sales.
You need to install Google Analytics. This will let you see at what point your traffic leaves your sales funnel, and how many people click to the next section. Once you have Google Analytics set up what is called A/B testing. This mean on a given page, you change a single variable and split your traffic evenly between the two pages. The one that goes on to the next page of the sales funnel is the one that is converting better.
Don't change more than one thing at a time. If you change more than one thing, you don't know which variable is making the difference. So first you might change the wording in your sales copy, run this for awhile until you have your results and then make the more successful option permanent. Then you might try two different "buy now" buttons.
A/B testing should be done for your ad campaigns, landing/sales pages, and even the price on your payment page. If you have a blog then you should be testing placement and type of ads you're running. Test everything you can think of. You never know what will make the difference in sales. It's good to run a test for at least a week, maybe two. Especially if you still don't have a high amount of traffic. It's easiest to test pages in the order that your traffic will get to them. Ad>Sales Page>Payment Page, etc.
3) BUILD A LIST AND GROW A RELATIONSHIP WITH IT
You should always be capturing email addresses from the traffic to your site. You will hear a lot that the money is in the list. This is very true. With a targeted list of emails, you now have an audience to sell new products to whenever you want, and many of your customers will keep buying from you if you've built a good relationship with them.
To build a good list there are a couple things you can do. First, you can offer a free product to anyone who joins your list. Just set up a website offering the free product and drive traffic to it. You want to make sure that the free product is of high quality and helps them solve a problem. If the product is of an incredibly high value, people on your list will be impressed, and will be more likely to buy your paid products later on. If you're giving away for free such a high value, then they will be curious about how great of value a paid product is. Another good way to build a list is to create a product and upload it to an affiliate site. This doesn't have to be an expensive product, something cheap like $7 for a 20-30 page report will do. Give your affiliates 100% commission for the product and capture the email addresses of anyone who buys. This will build your list slower than the free product method, but you will now have an email of proven buyers, and they will be more likely to buy future products from you.
Once you have people on your list, you need to send them free tips on a regular basis. This will build a strong relationship with them, and will also help when it comes time to sale them a product.
4) DON'T LEAVE MONEY ON THE TABLE
One of the biggest problems that beginning internet marketers don't even know they have is that they leave a lot of money on the table. When someone is buying from you they have already made a decision to give you money. It is possible that this customer may be willing to give you more money, and you need to have options for them to do so.
For every product you sell, you need to have a related, yet more expensive backend product ready for your customer to buy. This product needs to have a much higher value since you will be charging more for it. If you're selling an ebook, your backend product could be audio and video versions that also include more premium information. If you're selling a service like web design then you can sell a premium service where they are getting a lot more site features than the original package. Not everyone will buy the backend product, but some will, and this is money you would not have if you didn't sell anything.
Even when selling your original product, it's a good idea to give bonus products. If you're doing an ebook, then give away a few free reports with it. The value of getting multiple products means you can charge a little more and people will be more likely to buy since they are getting so much for their money.
5) BECOME OR HIRE AN EXPERT SALES COPY WRITER
No matter how amazing your product is, nobody will buy it if your sales copy is terrible. If you can't write good sales copy that converts, then you need to spend some decent money and hire an expert. Trust me, it will pay off in the end. If you want to learn to write it yourself, then keep these important things in mind.
Grab there attention with a good headline. The headline should be relevant and sum up the offer quickly. Mix the problem with the benefit. An example would be "This simple push button software will solve your article writing problems for good!"
Build interest by relating to them. Make them feel like you understand what they are going through. Emphasize that you had the same problem until you found the solution.
Recognize their desires. What do they want? What are they trying to accomplish? Also, what do they want to avoid or get rid of?
Get them to take action. Tell them that you and your product or service is the solution. Use scarcity tactics. Limited quantity/time, price increase, removal of bonuses. This will make them want to buy immediately instead of later.
6) APPLY THE 80/20 RULE
The 80/20 rule is a principle that says most of the results in any situation are determined by a smaller number of causes. In business this can mean things like 80% of your money usually comes from 20% of your customers. So it's important to keep these customers happy first. Give them the most attention and tailor any future products to their needs and desires. The 80/20 rule can be applied in other areas as well.
When working in internet marketing, 20% of the time you spend working is what actually gets 80% of your results. If you focus on more of that kind of work, you should be more productive with your time and end up having greater results.
When dealing with customer issues, 20% of your customers will be causing 80% of your problems and headaches. This can be stressful and time consuming. Figure out a way to help those customers in an automated way by writing FAQ's, or even hiring a help desk to deal with them. If you have any particularly headache inducing customers, it might be beneficial to just drop them as a customer altogether.
If there is anything that can help take your business to the next level, it's outsourcing. Paying others to do your grunt work will save you time and energy to focus on more important things. You can get products created faster, and if you have a service based business you will need to outsource if you take on more work than you can handle by yourself.
Let's say you want to write an ebook. Instead record an audio file of you talking about all the ideas in your ebook. Then pay someone to write the ebook for you, using your audio as the first draft. This will save you a lot of time that you can use to be working on a bonus or backend product.
You can hire someone to write sales copy, set up your sales funnel websites, and even run A/B testing for you. If you have a product or service that requires a lot of customer interaction, you can hire a help desk to take care of most of it for you and they can just forward you any of the more complex problems. Hire article writers for any article marketers, and then hire someone else to submit them to directories for you.
Build a working relationship with the workers who have the best performance.
8) BE CREATIVE, NOT COMPETITIVE
If you are working competitively you are spending all your time and energy trying to beat others who are doing the exact same things as you. They are spending all their time and energy trying to beat you. In the end the person who succeeds is the one who has more time and energy. This will leave you drained and stressed and with a very uncertain amount of money.
If you are working creatively you are outside the reach of competitive people. You are making new things that solve your customers problems in a way that no one else has. You are not stressed and drained of energy. You can be confident that your product will make you money and that others aren't selling the exact same thing.
Creating your own unique products and services is the best way to truly succeed in internet marketing. Things like blogging and affiliate marketing can be profitable, but you are constantly competing against many others doing the exact same thing. You're just sharing the money that is out there for any given niche. It's better to create a product that has no competition. Any and all money will go to you, not shared with a competitor.
9) SET UP AN AFFILIATE PROGRAM
So you have created your own products. You need to remember that you are only selling to a limited audience. If you want to greatly multiply your sales, you need to set up an affiliate program for your product.
There are countless sites to do this on. Clickbank is a very popular one. After you've ran a successful product launch through your email list, go to one of these sites and put your product on there. Generally my rule is to offer 75% commission for any product that costs less than $200 and 50% commission for any product that costs more than $200. This may seem like a lot, but with such high commissions you will attract more affiliates and also the bigger affiliates who have massive email lists.
You can also hire an affiliate broker who will personally contact top affiliates and try to get them to join your program for a big launch. If you do a big launch like this, make sure to have FAQ's written about your product, and hire a help desk to deal with any customer issues. Also test to make sure sales page and payment page are working properly. You want everything to go smoothly so that you can minimize refunds.
If you are doing a big affiliate product launch, offer contest prizes to the top sellers.
10) HAVE A BACKUP TO PAYPAL
There are a lot of horror stories of people having their paypal accounts put on a temporary hold. This can be because of many reasons, but it usually comes down to paypal seeing something you're doing as a possible risk and they just want to protect themselves. It may happen if you all of the sudden have a large amount of money coming in compared to your normal activity. Or it can happen if you have an high percentages of refunds request.
To minimize this happening, it's a good idea to always leave a good amount of money in your paypal account. Paypal sees this as less risk because that money can cover any problems that may arise. Also, have a second bank account not tied to paypal. Move your money to this second account and paypal can't touch it.
In the case that you do get a hold on your account, have other pay services set up so that you can quickly change to one of them in an emergency. It's best to have two or three difference options for accepting payments, especially if you are making a lot of sales.
So there you have it. 10 tips that should be able to help a lot of you who are just starting out and maybe it was even a nice refresher for some of you veterans.
If anyone wants to add any tips that they think are important please feel free to add to it or expand on any of the ones you see here.
Keep up the good fight, warriors!
UPDATE! There is a lot more great information below, so if you're looking for some more tips make sure to read through the thread.