Over the past few weeks I’ve been receiving several emails on which WordPress plugins to use, how to setup a website and all the rest of it.
There’s no point doing any of that if you don’t understand how an online business works, and chances are you probably don’t.
Today I am going to give you a blueprint which you can use for just about any online business.
Time And Money
Anybody today can start an online business and you’ll need two things, they are:
If you don’t have enough time you won’t be able to take your business seriously. If you don’t have money, you’re going to need even more time.
Time saves you money. Money saves you time.
Let me explain, if you don’t know how to setup a website or how to write awesome articles, you’ll be faced with two choices:
- Spend time learning how to do it yourself
- Spend money hiring someone else to do it for you
The good thing is you don’t need them in equal amounts. For example, if you work a full-time job you won’t have much time, but you should have plenty of money to pay others to do things for you.
Let’s say you’re broke with no job, while you don’t have money you’ll have plenty of time to learn things and get stuff done.
If you’re not willing to invest time and money, you won’t make it so give up now, and just become an online freelance by buying my awesome book which I’ll be passively promoting in this article.
The Sales Funnel
A sales funnel is the path a person takes before they become your customer.
A typical sales funnel looks like this:
- Traffic sources (Facebook, Google, Twitter etc)
- Email capture
- Build trust with prospect
- Sales pitch
- Sell to them even more
At the very start every customer is a website visitor. Once you get their email address they become a lead. Once they buy your product they become a customer.
Visitor > lead > Customer.
Let’s say you bring 1,000 visitors to your website. Of the 1,000 visitors, 100 give you their email address.
You now have 100 leads.
When you pitch your offer, of the 100 leads you make 10 sales.
You now have 10 customers.
A sales funnel is top heavy and the further you go down, the fewer people it contains. As you learn more about running an online business, you tweak every area to maximize your chances of turning visitors into customers.
Don’t bother turning visitors into customers right away, it will not happen as I’ll explain later. The only exception to this is when you affiliate other people’s products, or when you’re a household name like Nike or Amazon.
1. Traffic source
Without getting targeted traffic to visit your website your online business is nothing. You can sell the best products in the world, but without traffic they are worth $0.
Let’s bring my eBook in the picture, its core audience is digital nomads or aspiring digital nomads.
How do I bring them onto my website? Well with articles like this which get found in Google. I’ve also got an active Facebook and Twitter presence along with web forums and the like.
But don’t be fooled by the sentence above, driving targeted traffic to your website is very hard as a newbie… unless you’re willing to spend money… and even then it takes a bit of getting used to before you can yield a positive ROI.
It can take a long time to write enough articles to rank on Google and bring in over 1,000+ visitors to your website each day if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The good thing about money is you can buy just about anything with it, including targeted traffic.
- Key takeaway: invest either time driving traffic yourself, or spend money to get it right away.
2. Why you should always want their email address
Okay so I’ve managed to drive you onto my website, now what?
If you’ve never visited my website before there’s very little chance you will buy my eBook.
You don’t know who I am, I’ve provided you with no value (unless you read all my articles already), and the most important thing is you don’t trust me.
Who the f*** is A Farang Abroad anyway?
If I’m being honest, if I landed on this website for the first time, I wouldn’t be buying anything from myself.
Remember this: people don’t do business with people they don’t trust. I don’t help my cause by having Bangkok escort banners on my site, but whatever my books only $9 and my website is more of a hobby than anything.
Okay let’s get back to it, how do I convince you to trust me?
One way is via all my free web content on my site, another way is send you an awesome free gift if you give me your email address. If you scroll to the bottom of this page you will see the free gift waiting for you.
What is the free gift? You will have to give me your email address to find out.
The whole point of the free gift is to give you something for nothing to build a relationship.
It’s very hard to bring traffic to your website and on average, 80% of visitors will never return to your website again.
Getting their email address is the perfect way to get them to re-engage with your brand and make sure the first step of driving traffic was not all done in vain.
The gift can be anything (it’s usually virtual) as long as it provides value. If you plan on setting up a clothing business, your gift could be a free 10% off voucher on their first order. Selling private Spanish lessons, give everyone a free 15 minute lesson.
Bro-tip: people are not going to handover their email for no reason to get spammed, you need to bribe them with a gift.
The reason you want their email address is because you can contact them anytime in the future and sell them more useless shit they don’t need.
I only have one product, but if I had a series of eBooks, courses, consultations etc, and a whole list of emails of aspiring digital nomads who want to make money in Thailand, I would be filthy rich.
An email list is a money tree, and using the right tactics each time you send an email you will print money. It’s why you’re getting spammed to death by businesses you bought from before.
3. Sending out emails the right way
Now that I’ve got your email, I can’t just spam you with offers because it’s annoying as hell, you will unsubscribe and my ploy to steal $9 off you will all be in vain.
Instead, what I do is send out an email once a week of every new blog post I write.
I’ll never spam my readers with cringe worthy offers or anything of the sort. That’s not because I’m a decent guy, it’s because I don’t have any cringe worthy offers on my site (asides from my ebook) to spam you with.
But seriously, you need to build trust with your audience before you can go in for the sales pitch.
I use something called an email autoresponder which will automatically email every new subscriber. After you receive my awesome gift, I send an automatic email 24 hours later asking how you found my free gift and that you might find my ebook on how to become an online freelancer of great use.
Every few months when my rent is late, I’ll setup a 24-hour special offer by reducing the value of my already cheap as chips eBook by another 20%, I’ll email everyone in my list when I’m sending a new blog post telling them of this offer.
This always works like a charm:
Why? Because people hate missing out on a deal, limit any offer to 24-48 hours and people are like:
“Oh the sales on for 3 weeks, I’ll check it out later”
And they never do check your website.
Now just imagine if you have 100 products and an email list of 500,000 people. That’s a lot of clam chowder you can make.
4. What if somebody doesn’t take my offer the first time?
If you don’t buy my eBook the first time I pitch it, I never email my readers again telling them to buy it.
Because this blog is a hobby and I won’t be getting rich from selling $9 ebooks. Although I do mention it now and again in the blog emails, but it’s more of a PS than me actually focusing on it.
But… if you run an online businesses you should send them another series of emails offering awesome value for free and a few weeks down the line re-pitch them your offer.
Then you keep doing this until they convert. Not everybody will convert and some will leave your list, but that’s business for you.
After you’ve gotten a good sample size, you will find out the fears of your prospects and why they aren’t buying, then you tailor all your blog and email content to address their needs to convert even more people.
5. Refer-a-friend and upsells
Depending on what you sell, you can incentivize your customers to refer their friends to receive free credit and vouchers. This is awesome because they drive traffic to your website for free and you do nothing.
You can also sell them more useless shit.
Most businesses have a category of products. For example, Let’s pretend these are all the products I sell:
- Freelancing eBook = $9
- Profile description template for your freelancer profile = $1.
- Private online freelancing course = $49
- 1 hour private Skype consultation = $99
Once somebody buys my eBook, their next step in my sales funnel would be to buy my template and then my course. Once they’ve completed that then I could offer them private consultations. Build a business around a number of products which the customer can use.
The last time you bought a laptop were the sales reps or websites trying to sell you anti-virus software, a carry case and extra memory? That’s because they are using the same system I’m talking about above.
Ever super sized your Macdonald’s order?
How about the the shoe clearer most sports stores sell after you buy some shoes?
Always have something else to sell them after they’ve bought something. Once somebody has bought from you, it’s 7x cheaper to resell to a current customer than a new one.
Wow that sounds easy
Yes it is very easy, and it’s pretty easy to setup websites using the template above. But if you really want to get serious, you need to be highly knowledge in several areas which I didn’t even cover, and have time and/or money to invest.
Before you even buy a domain name or write your first blog post, you must setup a system on how you will acquire website visitors and turn them into customers.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I willing to invest either time and/or money into my online business?
- What products or services will I offer?
- How will I drive traffic to my website?
- What action do I want them to take once they land on my website? (It’s much easier to get someone to give you their email address than to sell them your own products on the first visit).
- What will my free offer be?
- How many value based emails should I send before pitching them with an offer?
- Is my system scalable?
There’s little point in setting up a website and doing stuff without answering these questions first.
The only time you don’t have to do this is when you’re affiliating other people’s products, but even then you should still have your own products to sell.
That’s pretty much the system 99% of online businesses use. Visit almost any website and you’ll see a pop-up or scroll banner on your screen. Some of the websites will even serve you ads later on YouTube and Facebook because they just don’t give a f***.
But yes, that’s the basic blueprint to setting up an online business, it does get more complicated than this.