Website Content to Enhance Sales

Many website business owners are confused by the concept of adding freely accessible content to the same website on which they offer products for sale. They understand that posting freely accessible content will help draw people to the website where they may purchase products, but they are unsure what types of content they should post.

As a result, the content they add often competes for the website visitor’s attention, and depresses sales instead of increasing them. In this short article I will clear up the mystery for you so you will always know exactly what type of content to add, and what type of content to avoid.

When adding freely accessible content to your e-commerce website, the types of content you generally want to add are things which encourage sales of the products you sell.

For instance, you may want to post product reviews where people have compared your products to other products, and show how your products are better. You may wish to include articles describing things which may be done using your products. Articles which teach people how to evaluate the quality of your products may also be a good choice, especially when your products are technology-based or based in some science which requires a thorough explanation to fully appreciate

You may want to include news of events in which people may get a closer experience with your products, with you, and with your message. You would also want to include any news stories that tell of awards, degrees, or accolades you receive, establishing your credentials as an expert in your field.

Essentially the content you want to add to your e-commerce website is content that would help persuade the reader to buy your products. In no way do you want the freely accessible content to compete with the sale of your products. This is particularly true when the products you sell are information products, which teach people how to do things

When selling information products, the temptation is great to post content which demonstrates your expertise by teaching people how to do the same things your paid products teach them how to do. In this situation, it may be advisable to post content which teaches people what to do, but not how to do it. Also, you may post content which describes how other people have used your information to accomplish great things without specifically explaining what they did.

This is done quite often in Internet marketing promotions in which they talk about the topic of a person’s business, and the money results that they got when following a specific marketing process, but do not reveal the actual marketing process used.

In personal development niches, this is often done by describing the levels of success a person attains after having gone through a specific personal development course. These levels of success may be described as heights of happiness and joy that person enjoys on a regular basis, or it may be the confidence that led them to start your own business, or the confidence that helped them improve their relationships.

Obviously this is much easier to accomplish when selling physical products. With physical products, no matter how much you talk about the product, the information will never replace it. However as you have seen in the examples given here, you have to be careful about what types of content you post when selling information products.

Whenever you are considering whether or not to add a piece of content to your e-commerce website, keep this one question in mind — Will this give the reader a reason to buy my product, or does it replace my product?

If it replaces your product, throw it out.

Creating Viral Ebooks

Creating a viral ebook does not need to be a complex or difficult project.  In fact, if you already have written material, it can be a very quick and easy task to do.

Let’s start out defining what a viral ebook is and what needs to be included.  A viral ebook is usually a PDF file containing enough valuable content that people want to pass it on to others.  Most of the time, it also contains a marketing message that inspires people to come to your website and take some action, such as signing up for your mailing list, or buying one or more of your products.  This marketing message isn’t as important when your only goal is to get your message out there, but when you want to accomplish more, then this marketing message becomes more important.

In short, a viral ebook is a package that includes both content and marketing, and is presented in a way that people want to pass it on to others.

What Viral Ebooks Can Do For You

Viral ebooks accomplish several things for you.  First, they introduce you to a larger audience.  Many times, your name and your message will reach far across the Internet in places you never could have found on your own.  When you consider the cost of advertising, this is an incredible result, sometimes worth millions.

The second thing viral ebooks do for you is they help to establish your credibility and expertise.  When people have a chance to try out some of your material, and get a feel for your style and the quality of your ideas, they are much more likely to trust you and respect your suggestions.  Of course, this depends on the quality of your information and the way you present it.  If people can’t understand you, or if your ideas don’t work, then viral ebooks will just speed up the process of people finding out.  Luckily, if this were the case, the viral ebook wouldn’t be passed around as much, and the damage would be limited to the few who actually read it.  In effect, there is a tremendous upside, and not much downside to this.

Another thing viral ebooks do for you is that they can be a great way to promote partners without cluttering up your website.  You’ve most likely seen websites that have banners all over the place, making it very hard to find what you’re looking for.  Other websites have so many articles that you can spend all day reading without ever discovering what the website sells.  (Guess what this does to the sales on that site?)

In my own experience, having too much content on a website can completely kill sales on that site.  After several rounds of tests, I eventually concluded that a sales site cannot have any content that does not persuade a potential customer to make a purchase.  Content sites are great for attracting lots of visitors, at which point you can sell advertising.  Otherwise, it’s not a good idea to put a lot of content on a website where you want to sell products (or services).  The only exception to this rule is a site that offers product reviews, which eventually lead the visitor to make a purchase elsewhere, such as through an affiliate program which pays you a commission on sales resulting from your referrals.

In fact, viral ebooks can help you make money without ever having a website of your own.  You just need to know where to upload them and get the process started.

What to put in a viral ebook

Okay, so now we know some of what viral ebooks can do for you.  Let’s take a look at what needs to be included.

Obviously, you need to include enough valuable content so people will pass it on to others.  How much content do you need?  Not much, actually.  10-15 pages can be enough if the information is well presented and demonstrates an idea that can be put to immediate use.  One of the basic principles here is that a successful viral ebook has enough valuable content that people would be willing to pay money to get it.

How much is too much content?  This depends a great deal on what you intend to accomplish with your viral ebook.  If all you care about is getting your message out there or establishing your reputation as an expert, then include everything as long as the reader will not be confused by the sheer quantity of material or the way it’s presented.

Finding the dividing line between enough content and too much content can be as much an art as it is a science.  If your intention is to have readers of your viral ebook come back to your website and either join your mailing list or buy your products, then the reader must finish the ebook with the feeling that you have more to offer them.  In short, you give them enough to whet their appetite, but not enough to satiate their hunger.  There are 2 main ways to do this.

One way is aptly described as, “tell them WHAT to do, but not HOW to do it”.  With this approach, you may tell your readers that they need to make a closer connection to their spiritual source of inspiration, and that once they make that connection, many new ideas will come to solve whatever problem they may face.  However, the book never tells how to make that connection, which is reserved for those who purchase your paid product.

The other major formula is to give them both the WHAT and the HOW for one small task, but direct them to your paid products for solutions to the other pieces of the puzzle.  With this approach, you may explain how to find the limiting beliefs behind a specific issue, explaining both the importance of doing so as well as the processes for doing so, but direct them to your paid products to find the information regarding how to change those beliefs.

There’s a 3rd approach too.  You can give away an overview of everything, and sell the details.  This is the approach I tend to use most often.

Either way, you present some good information, but you hold something back.

How do you determine what content to include?  A number of Internet Marketers teach that you want to give away your BEST material, and there are some logical reasons for doing this.  First, your perception of what your best stuff is and what your audience sees as your best stuff doesn’t always match.  For a long time, I considered the idea of “Master Beliefs” to be my best stuff, since I understood the power they represent.  However, many of my readers couldn’t fathom how to make use of this concept, and while they understood it had power, they were more interested in the practical processes for changing beliefs.

Along a similar line, if you give away your high-level content, most of your readers won’t be ready to use it, and will be more interested in your beginner’s guides.  In this, it’s kind of like a young boy who watches a master martial artist doing extremely complex kicks and flips.  He’s not ready to learn those moves, but he becomes motivated to start learning the basics.  You may know people who were motivated to learn yoga the same way, by seeing a master doing complex postures.

Another reason for giving away your best material is because your readers will see it and think, “WOW! If they’re giving this stuff away for free, the stuff they sell must be FANTASTIC!”  For a long time, I wondered how I could give away my best stuff and still impress those who purchased my paid products.  Eban Pagan finally explained the concept to me when he pointed out that the paid content should go into more depth on all of your material, and what will impress your customers will be the depth in which you cover the ideas, not just the ideas themselves.

Okay, now that you have an idea of what content to include, what else goes into a viral ebook?  Remember the basic formula — content + marketing.  You want to include a marketing message that will get readers back to your website.  This can be an offer for a special bonus, a description of what you sell on your site, or it could be an overview of what they will find on your site, such as articles, blog postings, or resources.  Including a resource section in your viral ebook (for websites and products related to the topic of the ebook) can be a great way to promote multiple things in a single ebook.  You have to make sure that each resource is described persuasively so people want to go check them out.

Some authors include full sales letters in viral ebooks.  This can be good when the sales letter is written in a non-pushy style, like the rest of your content, or like a news story.  This is how I like to write my sales letters anyways, and this style can be quite effective.  The more your sales piece is seen as content, the more of a response you’ll get when using it in a viral ebook.  Of course, magazines and newspapers continue to sell ad space, so even blatant advertising in a viral ebook can produce some results.

Many authors will include an “About the Author” page in their viral ebooks.  This accomplishes a few things.  First, it makes sure that everyone reading that ebook sees your name, photo, and a list of credentials.  This builds your reputation in the public eye.  Second, this page can serve as a resource for more information.  Readers know that if they like the viral ebook, they’ll probably like the author’s other material, and will use this page to find more.  Even without a sales piece, the author page can lead people to buy more of your stuff if they like the content in the ebook.  A third thing you can do with this page is to give some of your background story, and build a relationship with your readers.  Many people want to know personal details about their favorite authors, and while this may not help sell your products directly, it can help to attract loyal readers.

So far, we have covered what content to put in a viral ebook, the marketing message, and the author page.  One more thing needs to be included.  Some motivation for the reader to pass it on to others.  Good content by itself will encourage some readers to pass on your ebook, but there needs to be greater incentives to get more people passing it around.

LOTS of people are motivated by money, and if passing out your ebook can earn money for your readers, many of them will jump on the opportunity.  There are 2 basic ways to help your readers earn money from distributing your ebook.

The first way is to put a price on the ebook and let those who buy it become resellers.  This way, a reader of the book knows that they can sell the ebook for the same price they paid for it and not only make back the money they spent for it, but can make a lot more.  The disadvantage to this method is that unless you’re already known in the marketplace, many people won’t buy your ebook because they don’t know who you are.  Obviously, this can be overcome to some degree by a good sales letter, but isn’t the best way to release your first viral ebook.  (Note, this is a mistake I made with my ebook, “Keys To Power Prosperity”.  I should have released a free ebook first, then followed up with a paid “resale rights” ebook.)

The 2nd way to allow your readers to earn money by distributing your ebook is to have an affiliate program where you pay commissions to people who refer sales to you.  (If you don’t know what this is, there’s plenty of information online to explain it to you, and I’ll cover it later.)  When you have a 2-tier affiliate program, you can attract even more people who will help you distribute your ebook, even if they don’t understand the value of what you have to offer.  The reason why having an affiliate program motivates people to distribute your ebook is because your ebook can be “branded” with your affiliate’s codes, and sales can be tracked back to which version of the ebook (and which affiliate gave it away) so you can pay a commission (a percentage of the sale) to the responsible affiliate.

Obviously, there are some technical details related to setting up an affiliate program and branding a viral ebook for your affiliates.  We will cover those details later when I go over the technical aspects of setting up your online business.

Money isn’t the only reason people will pass out your viral ebook.  Some will do it simply because they like you, or like your message.  To encourage more of these people to pass along your viral ebook, you’ll want to mention it.  At the end of your content, just tell the reader that you depend on people passing around the ebook and they can do their part to improve the world by giving the ebook away to at least 3 other people.  By asking folks to pass it on, you’ll get a wider distribution than if you just leave it up to their own inclinations.

Some people like the “chain letter” concept, where your ebook tells people that their wish will be granted if they pass it on to 10 others.  Personally, I don’t like this concept, but I felt I should mention it for completeness.

Tips On Organizing Your Content

A viral ebook can be put together in a day if you already have appropriate content to use.  This content could come from one or more of your paid products (such as a book), or it could come from a collection of articles you’ve written.  In fact, it can come from articles written by other people  as long as you have their permission to publish them.  (Hint:  most articles listed on article directory sites include permission to publish in a wide variety of formats.  You just have to include the authors “resource box” at the end of the article, which gives them credit for the article and helps them promote themselves to a wider audience.  You’ll find many of my articles in various article directory site for exactly this reason.)

Because my current viral ebook project is meant to help promote my current partners, I will choose to use articles they’ve written that match the overall theme of the viral ebook.  (Viral ebooks are best when they have a theme.  You really don’t want to package a bunch of random content and call it an ebook.)  I’ll also include one or two of my own articles to get some of the exposure as well.

If you’re creating new content for a viral ebook, approach it like any other writing project.  Start with a single declaration of what you want the ebook to communicate.  What is the central message that will motivate a potential reader to download and read the ebook.  What core message will readers want to share with others?  This declaration will be the seed to be grown into a full-fledged ebook.

Once you have a central message, create a short outline of what topics will be covered.  Start with the top level of your outline, and define 3-5 main sections of your ebook.  By approaching the outline process this way, your ebook will be highly organized and your readers will understand exactly what you are communicating.  Once you have the top leve of your outline, break each of the main sections into 3-5 smaller sections, and continue until you have enough detail to fill 10-50 pages.

Producing A Winning Ebook

From here, just start writing.  Take one point from your outline and write what you know about it.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Just get it down.  You’ll edit later.  The main thing is to get your information down.  Presentation style will be developed during editing.  Here’s another lesson I learned the hard way.  I spent nearly a year writing Choose To Believe, trying my best to get the presentation style as perfect as I could as I was wriring it.  Didn’t matter.  Once I recruited editing help, we found that there were a LOT of improvements that could be made on each and every page – and practically every paragraph.  I don’t think about editing any more when writing a first draft.

Write about each of your outline points, and save the introduction for last.  In your introduction, you want to be able to tell the reader what they can expect in the rest of the ebook.  You won’t really know what that is until you’ve written the rest of the ebook, so you need to save this for last.

Once you have all your points written, put it aside for at least a day.  Get some distance from it, so when you come back to it, you can see it with fresh eyes.  When you come back to it, read through and make notes about things like missing details, topics out of order, and other block-level things.  When you’re done reading through, go back and correct the problems you noticed.  Now, read through it again and see if it works better this time.  If it seems good, put it aside for another day.

When you come back to it this time, read through and notice the style changes you want to make.  Can you make improvements to the way ideas are presented?  Can you remove any chance the reader could misunderstand the message you’re communicating?  Don’t worry about whether your writing is entertaining or not.  Just make sure the message is clear.  You can go back through another time later for finer-level style changes.

At some point, you’re going to feel you have perfected your ebook.  Now, let someone else read it and give you feedback on how it reads for them.  Get a professional editor if you can, one who won’t try to change your style, but will focus on clarity and meaning.   You really want to put your best foot forward and make a great first impression.  At this point, hire a graphic artist to create a cover graphic for your ebook.  Cover graphics will motivate many more people to download your ebook, so it’s highly productive to spend $50 or even $100 to get a quality graphic created for your ebook.

While you’re getting feedback from others, this is also a good time to create your author page and the marketing message that will go into the ebook.  We’ll cover how to write a compelling marketing message later, but for now, knowing what to do is good enough.

Final Steps

With content written and edited, an attractive and informative author page, and a compelling marketing message, it’s time to compile it all into a PDF ebook.  For this, you can use a variety of tools, but my favorite is OpenOffice software, which is a free alternative to Microsoft’s office suite.  The OpenOffice word processor has some wonderful features that make compiling an ebook very easy, including built-in PDF export.

The main thing to keep in mind is that you want the final ebook to look professional.  Most ebooks use a standard letter sized paper format, although some use a more traditional book-sized layout.  Personally, I started off using letter sized layouts, but now use book sized layouts.  It makes it look more like a book, and if I decide to create an actual book, all I have to do is upload it to Lulu.com and order the printed copies.

At this stage of my postings, going into the details of how to do a professional layout is just too much detail.  If necessary, I’ll cover that later.  For now, there are plenty of good examples on any bookshelf, and there are scores of books on how to do book layouts.  It’s also beyond the scope of this quick posting to go into the technical details of setting up an affiliate program and making your viral ebook ‘brandable’ to motivate others to distribute it for you.  There are good sources of information on this, particularly from www.ViralPDF.com, which is where I get my software to create brandable viral ebooks.

Distributing Viral Ebooks

By their very nature, viral ebooks encourage distribution by others.  Once you get it in the hands of interested readers, they will take care of the rest as long as you’ve done a good job creating it.

You can post a viral ebook to forums that allow such uploads.  You can email it to your friends and family.  You can send it to your affiliates and partners.  There are “free downloads” sites where you can submit your viral ebook.  You could create a peer-to-peer “torrent” to appeal to those using such networks to share files.  You can create a page on your website offering the ebook to anyone wanting to download it.  You can use it as a subscriber gift to encourage people to sign up for yoru mailing list.  You can offer it as a bonus for your other products.  You can let others offer it as a bonus to their products.  You can submit it for use in a wide variety of free giveaway events.  There are a HUGE number of possibilities for getting your viral ebook out there and to your readers.

Promoting Other People’s Products As An Affiliate

On the Internet, there are many different ways to make money. However, when you boil it down to the basics, there are only 2 ways.

  1. Create a product and sell it.
  2. Help someone else sell their product.

That’s it. Money is made when a product is sold to a customer. So you either sell the product directly, or you help someone else sell their product. Everything else you find is a derivative of either of these 2 profit producers.

Now, a “product” may be a physical thing, a digital download, a service, or an experience. It could also be an idea, viewpoint, or feeling. Anything a person may be interested in paying money to obtain, or to promote to others. A community-service message to stop whale hunting is an example of a “product” that is more an idea than a thing. And while there isn’t much money to be made in promoting this “product”, there is money to be made in helping folks promote it. Advertising is used for more than just commercial ventures.

Okay, so now we have the foundation set, let’s see how we can make money by helping someone else sell their product as an affiliate.

What Is An Affiliate?

The term, “affiliate”, may be interpreted to mean several things. At it’s most basic level, the word ‘affiliate’ simply means someone who has a business relationship with another. For the purpose of this chapter, we’ll use the word ‘affiliate’ to mean someone who earns money by promoting one or more products they did not help to create.

This definition of ‘affiliate’ leads to the following 4 types of affiliates:

  1. Retail stores selling products created by others
  2. Commissioned sales reps
  3. Advertising brokers
  4. Media ad sources

In the above list, the first is the least common definition of an affiliate, although it is a very common business model. There are many online businesses that set up a storefront to sell products created by others, yet these businesses are not normally thought of as affiliates. Amazon.com is one example of this model. We will not address this type of affiliate here, however, since it is far more complicated than our other choices.

We also won’t discuss the last type of affiliate — media ad sources. This is because, in actual fact, media sources which sell advertising are selling their own product — the advertising itself. This business model is also complicated and beyond the scope of this book.

Most affiliates become so by signing up for one or more “affiliate programs” offered by various merchants. These merchants may offer to pay their affiliates a set amount for every visitor sent to the merchant’s website (Pay per click), a set amount for every person who fills out a form on the merchant’s site (Pay per lead), a set amount for every sale placed by those the affiliate refers (Pay per sale), or a percentage of the sales placed (also Pay per sale). There are other compensation plans too, but these are the primary ones.

Why Are Affiliates Paid?

To truly understand affiliate marketing, perhaps it’s best if we start by answering the question, “Why would a merchant pay an affiliate to promote their product(s)? Why not sell their own products and keep all the money?”

A merchant may not be very good at promoting their own products, and need the services provided by affiliates. There are many such merchants doing business online, and would not succeed if it weren’t for talented affiliates helping them describe their products in such a way that people see the value of owning them.

Alternatively, a merchant may be excellent at promoting their own products, yet still invite affiliates to join them in their promotional efforts. The reason for this is simply because there are SO MANY possible promotional opportunities, the merchant cannot pursue all of them, and relies upon affiliates to reach a larger audience than they can do on their own.

In either case, affiliates serve as an extension of the merchant’s marketing department. In the first case, affiliates may be the merchant’s ONLY source of marketing, whereas in the second case, affiliates merely augment the merchant’s marketing activities. When you view your role as an affiliate in this light, it becomes much easier to understand the types of activities necessary to be successful when promoting other people’s products.

In short, it’s advantageous to think of yourself as the merchant’s marketing department, or at least an extension to it. However, there is another way to think of your role as an affiliate, and that is to think of yourself as a source of advertising for the merchant. In this case, you may serve not only merchants, but other affiliates as well.

Most merchants spend money to place ads in various media, such as newspapers, radio, TV, search engines, website directories, blogs, forums, and so forth. If you become a media source, and attract a large audience, then you can sell advertising to help merchants and other affiliates sell products. The thing to realize about becoming a media source, is that this is a business unto itself, and requires much more than simply promoting products. While it is possible to make money as an affiliate by becoming a media source and attracting a large audience, you really have to want to be a media-based business to be successful with this model. Otherwise, if your heart just isn’t in it, it’s too much work.

Before leaving the topic of media, let me say that American business has relied upon media advertising for many decades. Newspapers, radio, and TV would not be the large industries they are if it were not for the effectiveness of ads placed in media. However, studies have shown that this form of advertising has lost much of it’s effectiveness in recent years, as the volume of advertising increases every year. Most people have learned to “tune it out” and do not respond as they once did. This isn’t to say that traditional advertising doesn’t work — it just needs to be better and repeated more often to get the previous level of response.

How Affiliates Earn Money

Each type of affiliate operates using a different strategy. Retail stores operate with the strategy of making the purchase process enjoyable for customers. Large selection, quick delivery, generous refund policies, regular specials, and an easy-to-use website are the foundations for this type of affiliate. Media sources focus on posting quality content, easily found, on a frequent basis to attract large audiences, to whom are shown ads in and around the content.

Commissioned sales reps generally focus on collecting leads and following up with those leads to complete a typical sales process. These affiliates may use quality content to attract leads initially, but do not focus on this once they begin the sales process. Commissioned sales reps may also represent a variety of merchants, and thus a variety of products, but do not show the prospect anything other than what the prospect may be interested in at the time. We’ll cover this in a bit more detail later.

The advertising broker type of affiliate is perhaps the least involved with the sales process, and merely places ads in media sources on behalf of the merchant(s) they represent. This type of affiliate may use advertising “creatives” (ad copy, graphics, banners, viral ebooks, etc.) provided by the merchant, or they may create their own (or hire others to create) before placing the ads. In most cases, this type of affiliate pays for the advertising out of their own pocket as an investment leading to the payoff, which is the commission earned on sales generated from the advertising they place.

Making Money As A Commissioned Sales Rep

One of the best guides for making money as a commissioned sales rep is Rosalind Gardner’s “Super Affiliate Handbook.” Her guidebook explains everything from setting up websites to review and promote affiliate products, to the backend stuff like keeping accurate records and choosing profitable programs to join. What I can offer here is a mere shadow in comparison.

The primary focus of a commissioned sales rep is in attracting people who may be interested in the products he/she represents, and then giving them enough information to make a purchase decision. Whereas some people see the role of a salesperson to be a manipulator attempting to get people to buy stuff they don’t need, successful salespeople do not see themselves this way. They see themselves as consultants who help people make choices leading to happy endings. If a product is not right for a prospect, a successful sales person will say so and lead them in a different direction, even if that means losing the sale. The reason for this is because it builds their reputation, and when folks talk, their reputation will attract more and more people who can be served with the products the rep handles.

Online, this often takes the form of writing product reviews and posting them to a resource site. Rosalind Gardner started in the area of online dating, and created several websites devoted to helping people compare the various online dating sites to help them decide which one was best suited to them. Quality reviews point out the negative aspects of a product as well as the positive one. Customers appreciate this, and will trust the advice given in a review more when negative aspects are brought out in the open. At the end of each review, a summary should be given, as well as a personal ranking of the individual product as it compares to others in the marketplace. And finally, a link to the merchant’s website, which includes your affiliate code so the merchant can track your referral and award you a commission if it results in a sale. The benefit to having a resource site is that you can offer your prospects a complete picture of the products you represent, and a sale can happen quickly.

Sometimes, a commissioned sales rep will create a mini-site offering a free guide to the topic they represent, such as online dating, personal development, spirituality, or romance novels. This mini-site offers a free guide in exchange for the visitor subscribing to the affiliate’s mailing list. Once a person is subscribed, an autoresponder will send them a series of emails providing information on each of the various products the affiliate represents, giving similar information as the reviews mentioned above. The benefit to this approach is that you can stay in touch with your prospects and send them new information any time you add a product to your database.

A third option is to create viral ebooks which carry a marketing message to sell one or more products. The advantage of this approach is that an ebook can go places a website cannot. We’ll talk more about viral ebooks in a later chapter.

While there are other structures in which a commissioned sales rep may operate, these are the 3 preferred formats. They take little work to set up and yet are quite effective.

Making Money As An Advertising Broker

There are advantages and disadvantages of working as an advertising broker. One of the advantages is that you don’t have to create a website. No domains to register. No scripts to install, configure, and update frequently. And no mailing list to maintain. In short, you don’t have to do much except place ads for other people. But that’s the disadvantage. Generally, you have to spend money to make money. And if you quit working, your income stops too. This is a good situation for the right type of person, but it’s not for everyone.

If you work with a merchant who is good at creating marketing materials, you can simply use what they offer and your job is easy. However, if you’re working with a merchant who isn’t as good creating marketing materials (and you should get a higher commission to do so), then you have to either create the materials yourself or hire talented people to do it for you. Either way, you have to start off with quality marketing materials, otherwise any ad costs will be wasted.

Sometimes, a good advertising broker will arrange for the ad results to be tracked and analyzed. This will shed light on which ads are working and which ones are not, helping to increase profitability for all concerned. Without tracking, you never really know how effective any given ad may be. To be fair, tracking is something that all affiliates (and merchants) should do, and isn’t just for advertising brokers. However, it may be more critical for an advertising broker than it is for any other type of affiliate.

People who are good with numbers usually make the best advertising brokers. Sometimes, you may want to negotiate price breaks for volume ad purchases, so a bit of selling skill certainly doesn’t hurt. In some respects, being an advertising broker is like being a banker. You spend some money on one side (much like a banker pays interest on savings accounts, CDs, and other investments) and earn money on the other side (for the banker, it’s interest paid on loans). The best advertising brokers keep meticulous records of how much every ad cost and how much profit it produced.

Because advertising brokers have little involvement in the fields they represent, they have an easier time representing many different merchants in a variety of fields. As such, a slowdown in one industry has little effect on the advertising broker’s income, as they can easily take on new clients in booming markets.

Choosing Your Pathway

None of these affiliate types are ‘better’ than the others, except how they fit with your own personal personality. When deciding which type of affiliate you want to become, consider the structure and format for that type and imagine how you will feel doing that kind of work. You’ll always be more successful doing the type of work you enjoy doing than working at a job you dislike.

How I Built A Mailing List of 1800 In Less Than 2 Weeks

Everywhere you look, there are Internet Marketing experts telling you that “the money is in the list,” and that in order to have a SUCCESSFUL online business, you need to build a large mailing list.  Many of these top players claim to have lists of over 200,000 subscribers, and sometimes even over a million.  And yet, there are many who have lists of less than 1000 subscribers when there is absolutely no reason for it.

In this article, I’m going to show you an easy way to quickly build a mailing list.  In fact, by using this simple process, I was able to build a list of 1800 subscribers in less than 2 weeks.  The principles are easy to understand, and may be adapted to any niche, and may be put into action by anyone with a few dollars to invest.  Although it’s possible to do this without spending any money, the truth is that you’ll get a lot better results when you can invest in building your list.

Why a large list is important

Before we get into the actual mechanics of how this process is set up, let’s take a quick look at the value of having a large mailing list, and what it will be worth to you.  After all, before you make a decision to invest any money to build a list, you probably need to know what kind of return you’ll get from your investment.

The best way to demonstrate the value of a large list is to report the results of a few promotional events.  Being someone who runs an affiliate program, I know firsthand exactly what types of results were obtained by a number of affiliates across several promotions.

The first example I’ll share with you is a sale I ran right after reading Willie Crawford’s report, “Really Fast Money“.  In his report, Willie describes a process of creating windfalls of cash by running a special sale event.  The simplest execution of the principle is to simply reduce the price of an established product for a short period of time, and so I decided to run a sale on my KTP Mastery System product.  This was in July, 2007.

Those in my affiliate program know that I pay commissions of 40% plus bonuses.  At that particular time, bonuses were awarded on monthly sales, and could actually double the commission percentage.

At the end of the July 2007 promotion, my top affiliate walked away with over $1000 in commissions from the sale of a $27 item.  Considering that he had a mailing list of 90,000 subscribers, this came as no surprise.  The number 2 affiliate had a mailing list of 25,000 subscribers, and earned over $600 in commissions from that one event.  Other top affiliates also had large mailing lists, although none as large as these had.  With very few exceptions, the larger the mailing list, the more they made.

With such successful results from that promotion, I ran a similar promotion the next month with a different product.  This time, I reduced the price on my KTP Persuasion course from $97 to $37 for a week, and that’s when the excitement really began!  (Incidentally, we did $5000 in sales the first 24 hours of that event, and over $15,000 for the week.)

For this event, my affiliate with the 90,000 subscriber list didn’t participate as he had prior commitments, and the affiliate who came in at number 2 for the first promotion came in first for this one, which was no surprise.  What WAS surprising, is that he was responsible for half our sales that week, and earned a commission check of over $5700.  And all that for just sending out a couple of emails to his list.

On the other side of this business, as a product creator, whenever I create a new product, I can announce it to my own list for quick sales.  And obviously, the larger my list, the more sales I make.

Are you sold on the idea of having a large mailing list?

Basic principles behind building a list

Now that you understand WHY you want a large mailing list, let’s get into the HOW.  Rather than just give you the step by step process, I want to give you an UNDERSTANDING of what you’re doing, so you can modify the process and still make it work.

Core principle:  Most people are busy, and simply want a solution to whatever problem they may be facing.

Although a lot of people surf the Internet as entertainment, we generally make our money from people who are looking for a solution to a problem.  And when they start looking, they find that there are THOUSANDS or even MILLIONS of websites claiming to offer a solution.  With time being in short supply, they don’t want to waste any trying to figure out what any particular webpage may be offering.  The offer must be clear, direct, and seem to be exactly what they’re looking for.

Secondary principle: Most people assume the answer they seek may be found for free.

Although enough people understand the value of their time and eventually realize that it’s better to just buy a solution to their particular problem, there are many others who think their time is worthless and are willing to spend hours looking for a free solution, even if a $7 solution is presented to them.  Even if someone only searches for a short time, they will pass over paid solutions if found early enough in their quest.  And rarely do they ever bookmark such a site to go back to it when they’ve given up searching.

It’s for this reason that we must offer SOME kind of solution for free, even if we know it’s not nearly as good as the solution we sell.  Think of it as a sampler to your paid product, or at least an introduction to you as a person.

Third principle:  People don’t want spam, and won’t give out their email address without a good reason.

In the early days of the Internet, all you had to do was put up a subscription form and people would join your list just to get the emails.  Then, email was new and exciting, and something to look forward to.  Not so any more.  These days, you have to give them a very good reason before most people will consider giving you their email address.

With these 3 principles, you can set up a process to collect thousands of email addresses with relatively little effort.

The process, step by step

Here again, I’m going to describe the process in general terms before describing the specific steps I took.  I want you to UNDERSTAND what to do for your own situation.

First step: Decide what type of people you want as a subscriber.

This may come as a surprise, but it’s the key secret behind making money online.  Do you want a bunch of freebie seekers as subscribers, or do you want people who value good information and simply want a source of guidance to make good purchase decisions?   It’s easy to get freebie seekers.  Less easy to get quality subscribers.

Also, this is where you decide on the subject you will focus your mailings on.  Will you focus on theory and general principles, or would you prefer to focus on concrete action steps?  Will you focus on “how to make money”, or does “mindset matters” appeal more to you?  Do you want to focus on YOUR materials, or would you prefer to open your list up to a wider variety of viewpoints?  There are advantages and disadvantages to all of these, and you have to decide for yourself how you want to proceed.

I think it’s probably clear what my recommendation is here.  Try to avoid the freebie seekers and go after those who are more interested in saving time and effort to solve their problems.

Second step: Choose a format for your mailing list.

Do you want to create a private list, where the only people who get to read your messages are those who are subscribed, or do you want to set up a more public ezine / newsletter?  If you want a private list, will you make archives available so subscribers may access them online, in case they want to read something they deleted, or missed because their ISP filtered it out as spam?

This question addresses the technical infrastructure of how your list will be run.  I run both private mailing lists and a public one, and there are advantages to both in different situations.  My recommendation here is to run a public list as a “front end” to your sales system, and a series of private lists to sell individual products.

Although the subject of setting up the technical side of all this is important, it’s beyond the scope of this article, and will be something I’ll cover in another one.  For now, I will suggest that you use either WordPress or Drupal to run a public ezine.  Private mailing lists may be run with practically ANY mailing list system.  Services such as AWeber, GetResponse, 1ShoppingCart, or PremiumWebCart are excellent when you want someone else to handle the technical side of things.

Third step: Choose a gift to offer new subscribers.

Although this is where most people start, they often give it too little consideration.  It’s not enough to offer something in exchange for a person’s name and email address.  You want to offer something that will attract the right kind of subscribers, who will be interested in the subject you plan to cover in your mailings.

The best gift to offer your subscribers would be a buyers guide, which offers to simplify the process of finding a solution to their particular problem.  This is usually a collection of product reviews, with comparison charts, and enough educational material to help them understand how the information applies to them.  A buyers guide is also great when you represent many (if not all) of the products included, since anyone who uses the guide will tend to click on your affiliate links inside to look for more information and to make their purchase.

The downside is that creating a buyers guide takes a significant amount of time to produce, and product creators won’t always make review copies available until you can demonstrate that you are serious about your business, or that you have already published reviews of other products.

Because of this, a buyers guide is best offered as a website, where you can offer a small collection of reviews to start with, and add to them over time.

Other than a buyers guide, the next best subscriber gift would be a sample from a paid product you either sell or represent as an affiliate.  If you look at the signup page for one of my mailing lists, at http://www.powerkeyspub.com/WhyBeliefsMatter, you’ll see an example of this.  (Actually, that page is a great example of how to structure your signup page.  Notice how it is set up as a sales page, with a benefit-laden headline, bullet points, and a call to action.  You want your subscribers to be people who respond to sales material, and one of the best ways to do this is to structure your signup page as a sales page.)

If you don’t have a sample available, you can make do with a similar product, such as an ebook, MP3, or video which addresses the same topic as the product(s) you plan to sell later.  With so many products available with resale rights (and even giveaway rights), it’s fairly easy to find things to give away as subscriber gifts.

Fourth step: Create your signup and delivery pages.

Once you have your subscriber gift, you’ll need to set up pages to offer the gift and provide a means to obtain it.  Your signup page is where you offer to solve the problem your prospect may have, describe the solution you are offering, and direct them to fill out your signup form to get it.  As I mentioned above, you want your signup page to look like a sales page, because you want to attract subscribers who respond to sales pages.  You also want to describe your gift as the solution to a problem, and if you’ve picked a good gift, it will solve a problem, although it may be a portion of a larger problem solved by a paid product you’ll introduce later.

Your delivery page may be a simple page which repeats the description of what they get and presents a link to download it.  It may also be a page with the contents of your gift right there on the page.  For instance, if you offered a buyers guide, the delivery page may be a webpage with links to various reviews, charts, and informational pages.  If you offered a video, your delivery page may have the video ready to be played within your subscriber’s web browser with the click of a button.

Overall, you want your signup and delivery pages to make the process as easy as you can, taking into consideration that people want to solve their problem as quickly as possible and get back to more fun things.

Fifth step: Get as many people to your signup page as you can.

Even if you do everything else perfectly, if no one sees your signup page, you won’t get any subscribers. This is also where you can maximize your results when you can afford to invest in building your mailing list.

Before I talk about how to spend money to build a mailing list, I want to touch on some of the many ways you can do it for free.  There are many discussion forums online where you may announce free gifts, and those who browse those forums may see your announcement, visit your signup page, and join your list.  USENET newsgroups may not be as active as they once were, but are still an opportunity to post a free gift announcement and gain a few subscribers.  Other places host discussion groups, with Yahoo and Google being the biggest ones.

There are also many websites that act as directories, listing places that offer free gifts and other resources in a particular niche.  Get your site listed on such directories and you may pick up a few subscribers here and there.  Along a similar line, there are directories specifically for ezines, and if your list qualifies as an ezine / newsletter (public list instead of a private one), then you can get listed in these directories as well.  Some directories offer free listings, although others require a payment.

If you have money to invest, there are more effective means of attracting subscribers.

Obviously, as mentioned above, there are directory sites that require a payment to be listed.  Yahoo offers one such directory, and the last I heard, they were charging $300 as a yearly “application fee”, which did not guarantee placement in their directory, just that they would evaluate your site for inclusion.  However, $300 per year to be listed in Yahoo’s directory may be money well spent if you have a good offer.

Pay per click search engines, such as Google AdWords, Yahoo (which bought out Overture), and all the rest may also be good sources for subscribers.  If your signup page captures 20% of visitors as subscribers (a reasonable number), and you spend 50 cents per click, then subscribers cost $2.50 each.  If you end up selling a $50 product to 10% of your subscribers (another reasonable number, representing just 2% of your overall traffic), then your profit per sale is 50%, or $25.  Many high-level marketers are willing to spend 100% of their first sale to get subscribers, since they can make so much more on later sales.

Once you know for sure what your conversion percentages are, you’ll know how much you can spend to get a subscriber.  Let’s say that spending $2 per subscriber is perfectly reasonable for your situation.  You could offer JV partners that $2 for every subscriber they send to you, and you’ll get a BUNCH of people promoting your free gift offer.  Of course, it’s also possible to get some people to promote your free gift offer to their list without paying them, since they want to maintain a good reputation with their subscribers.  However, you’ll get a lot more JV partners if you can offer them a financial reward for participating.

As an example of this last idea, when Rich Schefren hit the Internet Marketing scene, he produced a valuable free gift offer and paid his JV partners $1 for every person who downloaded the report.  He built a mailing list of over 10,000 subscribers in about a week.  Luckily, he had the financial resources to spend $10,000 to create his list, and everything worked out because he had a solid business plan behind it all.

The bottom line is that you’ll spend either time or money to build a list, and you can build a much larger list when you can afford to invest some money doing it.

Having said that, there IS a way to get the best of both worlds — letting JV partners make money while building your list.  This strategy even has the added benefit of ensuring that you only get subscribers who will spend money to solve problems.

If you haven’t heard of the “$7 Secrets” report, you should find a copy and check it out.  Jonathan Leger describes the process of setting up a system where you sell a cheap, but valuable product, and give your JV partners 100% of the sales as an immediate payment when someone buys through their affiliate link.  Rather than getting $2 or whatever you would have paid for a subscriber, your JV partners get $7 instead.  The downside is that you get fewer subscribers, but the upside is that you get BETTER subscribers.  When you get a copy of the “$7 Secrets” report, you’ll find a link inside to get a free script to run the technical side of paying your JV partners and building your list.

Sixth step: Keep your list interested with both content and good promotions.

After you’ve build a good-sized mailing list, you’ll want to keep them subscribed and interested so you can sell things to them over and over again.  The best way to do this is to give them good content on a regular basis, and continue to promote good products to them as well.

If you’re really on the ball, the content you give your subscribers will pre-sell them on the idea of buying a product you represent.  As an example, you may be an affiliate for a particular type of tool.  You may offer articles describing many interesting projects that may be done using this tool.  Or let’s say you represent a personal development course.  You could offer articles about how people have created highly desirable lives after going through that course.  In this case, you could also offer articles that describe small portions of the course, which help your subscribers solve a portion of a larger problem.

As an example, this article offers good, solid content.  It’s also demonstrating my knowledge of Internet Business, and serves to ‘sell’ me as a consultant for such work.  And when I finally complete my Spiritual Business Kit, this article will serve as a sample of that product.  At that time, the end of the article will include a short description of the product for sale, and direct the reader to the sales page.

The more you can mix content and marketing, the more effective your business will be.

How I used this process to build a list of 1800 subscribers in less than 2 weeks

You now have more than enough information to go out and set up a system to build a large mailing list.  I know from my own experience that we often need to see a specific example of the process in action before we fully understand the principles involved.  So here is such an example, taken from my own experience.

It was December 2008, and I wanted to do some market research to determine what types of products I should create in 2009.  I was thinking of switching my focus away from ebooks to audio programs, particularly brainwave entrainment audio programs.  I had purchased a commercial license to a piece of software called NP2, and therefore had an easy time creating a bunch of BWE audios as a “subscriber gift”.

Because I wanted to attract people who were interested in brainwave entrainment, I choose to offer a small collection of such audio programs as a gift.

At the time, I wasn’t thinking ahead as much as I would now, and instead of a signup page that looked like a sales page, I set up a survey page instead.  A survey served my purpose, since I wanted to do market research, and needed to get feedback from people to certain questions.  The bottom of the survey form had a place for the person filling it out to include their name and email address to claim a set of BWE audios as a thank-you gift for filling out the survey.

Those who filled out the survey and included their name and email address were added to a new mailing list.

Once everything was set up, I announced the survey to my regular mailing list of about 6000 people.  Since some of my subscribers have mailing lists of their own, I soon noticed that several of them announced the survey and BWE audio gifts to their lists, and with no other effort, I quickly had about 1800 subscribers on the new list.

Notice here that I only promoted the survey to ONE list of 6000 subscribers.  Yes, it was my own list, but it could have been a JV partner’s list instead.  If I needed to duplicate the experience, and did not have a list of my own, I would approach others who already have lists to offer the free gift to their subscribers.  And if I couldn’t get anyone to promote it for me, I’d start posting announcement to forums, discussion groups, and everywhere else I could.

I would even start writing articles to be posted to ezine sites like this one, with a resource box offering the free gift to anyone reading the article.


Alan Tutt, author of “Choose To Believe: A Practical Guide to Living Your Dreams“, offers a free report and audio program proving the power our beliefs have in our lives, beyond what most people think is even possible.  To claim your copy of these life-transforming gifts, go to http://www.PowerKeysPub.com/gifts.


Lessons Learned from Frank Kern & Mass Control Marketing

I admit it.  I get sidetracked very easily, especially when it comes to learning new stuff that can make me more effective in what I’m doing.  This time, however, I didn’t have to invest in another high-priced course, since I had a friend who had purchased Frank Kern’s Mass Control Marketing package and gave me a chance to watch the videos and read through the manual.

Even with limited access, I now understand much of what Jeff Walker tried to teach in his Product Launch Formula package I purchased last Winter.  Specifically, how to craft your “marketing character” and develop a storyline for your marketing.  I also learned some really nifty ways to add scarcity to a launch without coming across as manipulative.  Furthermore, I learned how to prove your system works even if you haven’t actually used it yourself.

And what may be even more significant, I finally understand what the “magic bullet” of the LOA field really is.  (Hint:  controlling the uncontrollable)

Here are some of the core principles Frank Kern teaches.

First, he fully believes in what I’m calling “Karmic Marketing”, where you give away good value to attract interest and sales.  He recommends you create 4 content pieces to use in your marketing.  One to spark interest and desire to know more, one to bond with your prospects, one to prove your product works (or at least the principles behind your product), and a sample of your product to demonstrate the quality of what you’re offering.  Of course, each of these pieces is designed to promote your product and inspire your prospects to buy from you, but since you’re giving good content, this is okay.

Knowing Your Market

In relating to your market, you need to fully understand the fears and desires that motivate your ‘average’ prospect.  The more you understand your market, the easier it will be to provide them with what they want, and the more profitable your business will be.  Sounds logical, right?  You’d be amazed how many people charge into a market with a product THEY think is good without ever considering if anyone else even wants it.  Although Frank doesn’t talk about doing surveys in his Mass Control material, he mentions them from time to time, and it’s clear that using them is important.  Luckily, the material I have from Glenn Livingston provides extensive information on using surveys to gather market intelligence.

Once you understand your prospects’ fears and desires, you can note down the parts of your own life that relate to them.  There’s a saying that people will buy from those they know, like, and trust.  People tend to like others who are like themselves.  When you can show your market that you are like them, or at least you used to be, then it’s easier to win them over and get them to trust you.  This was something I focused on when creating the home page for the new PowerKeys Publishing website.

Your Marketing Character

According to Kern, you want to define 5 main things for your “marketing character”.  These are, your backstory, your beliefs and values, your “magic powers”, your fables and stories, and finally, your “secret language”.

Your backstory is simply that part of your past which shows that you are (or were) like your prospects.  Show how many mistakes you made, how bad your life was before finding the secrets you want to share with them, your own fears and desires and what you did to try to work through them.  For me, my backstory includes the fact that I was a good student in school, but still failed in life.  I couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t maintain a relationship, tried reading every self-help book I could find, and had absolutly no control over anything in my life.

Your beliefs and values, at least in this context, must relate to what your prospects want in their lives.  As an example, my values include things like, “perfection is possible”, “principles are more valuable than recipes”, “quality for a low price”, and “everyone can have what they want in life”.

“Magic Powers” relates to the things you (or your product) can do that your prospects want to be able to do.  In marketing, this is usually something like making a million dollars in 30 seconds with no work.  With LOA materials, it’s usually about controlling the uncontrollable, getting results where no physical process will work.  In our field, “magic powers” really is about having magic powers.  However, for some in our field, “magic powers” is about finding peace in a hostile world, or living in joy no matter what may be happening in the world around you.

Here’s one of the major breakthroughs I experiences when going through Frank’s Mass Control materials.  YOU don’t have to have the magic powers.  As long as you can demonstrate that SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE has done amazing things with the principles, system, or technique you’re selling, you can reference THEIR success in your marketing.

And this gets into the proof element mentioned above.  The more examples you can show where people have had success using your product (or the key elements of your product, such as affirmations, visualization, etc.) the more of a response you’ll get to your marketing.

Fables and stories are just the stories you can tell that demonstrate the effectiveness of your product.  If you’re selling an ebook on using affirmations, then you want to have a set of stories on hand that demonstrate how you used affirmations to create change in your life, or stories about other people doing the same thing.  If your product is based on a new technique, then you want to use stories about how this new technique has been responsible for significant and dramatic results, either in your own life or in the lives of others.

And finally, secret language refers to the terms and phrases that bond you with your audience as a unique community.  For example, online marketers use a secret language that includes words and phrases such as PPC, CPM, Google Slap, co-reg leads, broadcast, autoresponder, landing page, and so forth.  Our field uses a secret language when we talk about affirmations, visualization, creating a thought-form, centering, grounding, and in my business I have things like “belief scale”, “belief archeology”, “pacing and leading affirmations”, and so on.  When you use your secret language in your marketing, you give you prospect the feeling of being a part of something important, something special.

Marketing Storylines

Jeff Walker talks a lot about using storylines in marketing, but I never quite understood what he meant.  It seemed like he was suggesting we write the equivalent of a movie script to entertain our prospects as we move them through the sales process.  Framk does a MUCH better job of explaining how stories are used in marketing.  It’s not that we’re trying to entertain our prospects, but more that the story is the backdrop behind the marketing messages we send out.

Here’s an example, using the storyline most often talked about – the reluctant hero.

  1. You discover something (affirmations, meditation, using pyramids, a magic formula, whatever)
  2. You try it and find it works
  3. You tell a few people you know, they try it and it works for them
  4. News gets out and now everyone wants to know what you discovered
  5. Although you’d rather be doing something else, you will go ahead and go through the work to record your discovery in a way that others can learn about it.
  6. Because you want to be doing something else, this product won’t be around forever, and people need to buy it quickly while they can.

Frank talks about 2 other storylines, “us versus them” and “hometown boy (or girl) makes good”.

Mass Control Formula

The next thing I’ll talk about here is what Frank called his “Mass Control Formula”.  It’s something that was in the Product Launch Formula materials, but is defined in more detail in Frank’s course.

Here’s the formula:  Magic Bullet + Proof + (Low Self-Esteem Success Chance) = Lots of money

Magic Bullet – this means that your product must be perceived as the answer to your prospects’ prayers.  It must be as close as possible to pushing a button and getting everything you ever wanted.

Proof – Jeff Walker harps on this when he says, “no proof, no launch”.  If you can’t prove your product works, then who in their right mind would buy it?  Fortunately (or not), in our market, few people actually demand proof.  If it sounds good, a lot of folks will give it a try.  However, the more proof you can show, the more people will buy your product.

Low Self-Esteem Success Chance – I’ve watched myself using the logic Frank describes here.  “If I could get even 10% of the results they got, I’d be happy.”  For most people, this comes from having low self-esteem, where they believe it isn’t possible for them to get the same level of results.  Essentially, the examples and case histories you share with your prospects must be significant and dramatic.  If you can only show that buying your $10 product will produce a $10 result, no-one will buy it.

Using GOOD scarcity

And finally, here are a few ideas I got about using scarcity in a product launch.

Only 400 copies of this will ever be produced because the agreement I signed with ______________ limits me to this number.

Only 1 copy will be sold in any one city to limit the competition you’ll have with other customers.

I made enough for our list, but now I found out that _____________, who has 200,000 people on his/her list will be promoting this, so I don’t think there will be enough.  Better get yours quick!

If I sell this for any less, _____________________ will be very upset with me.  (similar to the “my accountant is out of town this week” kind of sale)

How Even Non-Experts Can Make BIG BUCKS Selling Information Online

As my first content post to the KeyWebTools website, I thought it would be a good idea to show how ANYONE can make money online, regardless if they are an expert in a subject or not.

So this post will focus on how someone could start an online business and start earning money as a non-expert. What’s really surprising is that setting this up can be relatively quick and easy, and depending on the subject matter, can even be highly profitable.

While most of this information is fairly basic, it’s a good starting point for everything else to follow.

Step 1: Define your business type

The first step in any business is to define the type of business you want to run. To simplify this, I will assume that you want to run an information-based business on the Internet. There are many reasons to choose such a business, such as time-freedom, low start-up costs, and sheer profitability.

As an example of how profitable this business can be, I just picked up a collection of 50 products for just $17 that I can resell to others. I got that price because I was already on the right mailing list and responded as soon as I got the announcement. As another example, I have a membership to a resale rights club. For just $29 a month, this site offers many new products you can resell to others. Because there are so many choices available in all categories, you can easily find products to sell.

In case you don’t already know, the resale rights concept is a great way to run a business online because you simply purchase the license to sell a product to others. As the examples above show, it’s possible to purchase many different resale rights licenses for very little money.

Of course, as usual, you get what you pay for. The products found in these massive packages are usually well-worn products which have been sold a lot, or never sold well. High-quality resale rights products are available, but you usually have to pay more for them.

Step 2: Define your business format

There are many different formats for running an information business online. Some people use the mini-site format (a single page website that sells one or more products), whereas others use a shopping cart format to offer many choices to each customer. I’ve used both of these formats, and both are good for different situations. My recommendation to anyone just starting out is to go with the mini-site format. The reason for this is because it’s a lot easier to set up, maintain, and helps your customers understand what you have to offer.

The main reason I do not recommend starting with a shopping cart format, is because there is a lot more investment required, and can backfire if you’re not very careful. By offering too many choices to your customers, you risk confusing them and losing sales.

With a mini-site, it’s possible to sell a single product or multiple products. If you offer multiple products, each product choice must be a variation of a single product type. For instance, you can offer a base product, a package including your base product and a few supporting products, or a larger package with even more supporting products around your base product. Do not try offering completely different products from a mini-site, as this can easily confuse your customers and lose sales.

Step 3: Define your product delivery format

Once you’ve decided on the format for your business, the next step is to decide how you will deliver your information to your customers after they pay for it. Do you want to offer physical products that must be shipped, or do you want to deliver your information digitally as a download? Digital information is much cheaper to deliver, and is the best choice for someone just starting out. While you will get more refund requests when delivering information products digitally, your profitability will still be higher than if you were to deliver physical products. I’ve done both, so I know this from experience.

Digital products may be delivered to your customer in several ways. You could manually send an email to each customer with a copy of the product they purchased, but this takes a lot of work and isn’t good for a variety of reasons. You could set up an account with a site like Payloadz.com to deliver your digital products, and this works well if you use PayPal to process your customers’ payments.

You could also set up a basic download page for each product you sell, and this can work too, but leaves much to be desired. For example, someone could post the URL for your download page, and then anyone could download your product without paying for it. If you want to protect your digital products from online thieves, you will need to use some type of website software to manage things.

There are many types of website software you could use to protect your information products. Rather than discuss all the various types and their advantages and disadvantages, I’m going to simply recommend you use software designed to run a membership site. This is what I do, and has always worked for both me and my customers.

Many people have the mistaken idea that running a membership site means you HAVE to add new content every month, every week, or even every day. This may be true if you charge a recurring fee, such as $20 per month, but there are no such requirements if you sell one-time fee memberships. In fact, a one-time fee membership is exactly the same as a direct product sale. The only difference is how the product is delivered.

The whole Internet landscape changes dramatically from month to month, and so I’m not going to make any specific recommendations for a particular piece of software here in this book. I’ve used aMemberPro with excellent results, as well as the Drupal CMS (Content Management System), and there are many other good options available. I will post further recommendations on this website from time to time.

Step 4: Define your marketing strategy

A website will never sell anything unless people know it exists. Advertising is often a company’s largest expense, often accounting for 40% or more of the gross revenue. Many times, when you place an ad, you have no guarantee it will generate any sales for you at all. On the Internet, you have better choices when it comes to advertising your website.

One of the best choices for advertising your business is to recruit others to do the promotion for you. In some cases, this is like hiring a commissioned sales rep. In other cases, it’s like you’re a manufacturer supplying a retail outlet with products they can sell. And sometimes, it’s like a grassroots movement that takes on a life of it’s own.

Using special software, your website can track every referral your online partners (called affiliates) send to your website. Using this same software, you can choose how you want to reward those who send you paying customers. Most website owners choose to pay their affiliates a percentage of all sales resulting from their referrals. Others choose to pay their affiliates a certain amount for the referrals themselves, and still others choose to reward their affiliates with special privileges, such as free products.

If you don’t consider yourself a expert in your field, I will say that affiliate marketing is the best choice you have. Experts can write articles, ebooks, and so forth to promote their sites for very little money, but non-experts shouldn’t try this, as it will just reveal how little they know.

Other choices for the non-expert include trading links with other website owners, paying for ads in ezines (electronic magazines or newsletters), and paying for classified ads in search engines –a.k.a. pay per click (PPC) advertising. Of these secondary choices PPC is probably your best one, but has to be thoroughly tested or else you could lose a lot of money with it. Personally, I’d stay away from buying ezine ads, since any publisher with a good mailing list will be advertising for themselves, either their own products, products they have resale rights to, or products for which they are an affiliate. Link trading can be good, but can also be a huge waste of time.

Step 5: Choose your niche

It may come as a surprise that I list this step here rather than first. The reason for this is because the format you choose for your business and how you want to promote your business are actually more important than the topic of information you sell. Once you have a business structure you are comfortable with, you can use the same structure for any information subject you want to work with.

The main thing you need to focus on when choosing a topic of information to sell is that the information you provide MUST solve a problem for your market. The bigger the problem your information solves, the more money you can make. However, you don’t have to solve the problem of world peace or cure cancer to make money. I remember reading about a guy who made a TON of money by showing people how to keep squirrels from getting into a birdfeeder. Others make good money by showing people how to do certain types of crafts. And still others do well by showing parents how to keep their kids entertained.

Part of choosing your niche involves figuring out what problems people want solved. The other part is finding good information that can solve those problems. Both of these parts involve surfing the Internet and keeping an open mind about what you find. Take notes as you read the questions people post to forums, blog comments, and elsewhere. Notice which posts are the most popular, indicating a strong interest in the topic. Pay attention to the experts people trust most, and whether those experts have released any information you can publish on your website or sell to your customers. Sometimes you can ask an expert for an interview with the understanding that you will have the right to sell the interview as a product.

Step 6: Package your information for sale

After you choose a specific niche to work with and collect questions and information answering those questions, the next step is to package that information in a format for sale.

If you’ve collected a series of articles (which may be done easily by going to the various article directories online), the best way to package these is to put them into a PDF file as an ebook. Most word processing programs can help you do this, including the free software available from www.OpenOffice.org. This is the software I use for most of my books and ebooks, including this one.

My recommendation for someone just starting out is to collect several ebooks, MP3s, and other pre-packaged content. It’s a lot easier to sell a whole package of information than it is to sell a single product, especially when everything in the package is focused on a single topic. This is especially true when you’re selling products created by other people.

If you follow my recommendation to deliver your products as a membership site, you’ll want to divide everything you’ve collected on this topic and offer some of it for free and the rest of it as part of the paid membership.

The reason for this is because you’ll get a lot more people join your site when you offer free stuff than if you offer ONLY the paid stuff. There are 2 reasons why this is important. The first is because you want more people in your affiliate program, who will then go out and promote your site for you, even if they only signed up for the free stuff. Who knows, they could send you a bunch of people who will gladly pay for the better stuff.

The other reason is because once someone joins your site, even as a free member, you have an opportunity to send them emails to encourage them to buy your paid package, or other offers you want to make from time to time.

The main thing to keep in mind is to limit the amount of free stuff you offer. If you offer too much, few people will see a need to upgrade to your paid package. Just make sure the stuff you offer for free is good, because people will judge the quality of your paid product to be equal to the quality of your free sample.

Step 7: Install the website infrastructure

Now that you have collected a variety of products to offer in at least 2 membership levels – free and paid, it’s time to put everything together onto a website so you can start making money. This step can be the most difficult, especially if you are not technically inclined.

There’s a lot of information available on how to do much of this, so I won’t go into too much detail. Actually, if I were to go into a lot of detail, this would be a book of it’s own. So, consider this a guide, not a set of instructions.

  1. Register a domain name, descriptive of your topic
  2. Install your chosen software
  3. Upload your products to your web hosting account
  4. Configure your software to protect your products

That’s pretty much it for this step. Only 2 more steps to go.

Step 8: Create a sales page to describe your products

This can also be a difficult step, although if you follow some basic guidelines, it doesn’t have to be too difficult. Basically, all you’re doing is telling people what you have to offer in a way that makes them want to have it for themselves. Keep in mind the information I shared with you about persuasion, and you’ll do fine.

Before I start describing what to write on your sales page, let’s address the other stuff – graphics, layout, fonts, and all that. All this can help enhance your sales page, but they will not produce sales on their own. You can sell your product without any of them, with basic text & no formatting, no graphics, and an amateur layout. I know, because that’s exactly how I started my first website.

However, the reverse isn’t true. You cannot sell without words, no matter how professional the graphics or layout may be. Here again, there are plenty of places where you can get a decent template for a website for very little money. Just search for “web templates”.

Okay, so here are the basics you need on your sales page.

First, every good sales page has a headline. A big, bold line of text at the top that tells your visitor why they should read the page and not click on to another website. The ONLY goal of a headline is to get the visitor to keep reading. If you can sum up the essence of your offer as well, even better.

Next, you need your first sentence to keep the reader’s attention so they continue to read. Again, it doesn’t really matter what this sentence says, but it should involve some drama, excitement, or otherwise set the tone for what will follow.

From here, you need to get your reader thinking about the problem your product will solve, either directly or indirectly. You do this by talking about the problem itself (directly) or about the benefits of solving the problem (indirectly). It’s best to talk about one side for a bit, then talk about the other side. Address both sides as you write your sales page.

For the most part, write your sales page the same way you would talk to a friend who may need what you have to offer. Use the words ‘I’ and ‘you’, not ‘we’ and ‘the reader’. Be personal and personable. Show that you care about the reader. Show whatever proof you can that the products you have will solve the problem your reader has. (Yes, assume the reader has the problem. Why else would they be there?)

When you feel you have adequately described what you have to offer, sum it up in a list of bullet points. Summarize with a clear, direct claim that your product will solve the reader’s problem. Make sure you have clearly established the value of your product. Then mention your price. Follow this will a statement of guarantee, offering to remove all risk from your customer by letting them know you will refund their money if they are in any way unhappy with their purchase.

When you are offering a collection of items for free, then your sales page will be divided into 2 sections, and may even be 2 completely separate pages. The first sections describes what is available for free. Once you’ve ‘sold’ your customer on taking the free option, then you start describing how much more you have “for just a few dollars more.”

This is where most sales letters start talking about added bonuses. If you’re following my recommendations, then save the description of a couple of items from your package for this point. What happens is that when you have established the value of the first part of the package, then mentioned the price, then the added extras make the whole deal seem that much sweeter.

Finish your sales page with a “call to action”, which means tell them to click the order link, complete their payment, and download your product. Be specific and direct. Don’t be wishy-washy about this or you’ll lose sales.

Many professional copywriters suggest adding a PS with a summary of the offer, with benefits, values, and the final price. Sometimes, a visitor will scroll down the page to look at the price before deciding to read the page itself. I know I do this — to see if the product is within my budget to even consider. You can use your PS area to entice a scroller to go back to the top and read the page.

There is certainly a LOT more information about how to write a good sales page, and this is merely a brief overview. However, this should give you a good starting point.

Step 9: Launching your website

The last step in this process is the one that puts everything in motion. As mentioned above, no one will ever come to your website until they know about it. And even with an affiliate system in place to encourage customers to promote your site for you, you still have to do the initial promotion.

The thing to do is to go back to the blogs and forums you visited while looking for information on your topic, and let people know about your new website. Depending on the specific forum/blog, you may not be able to post the announcement directly. In this case, what you do is look for questions that can be answered by the products you’ve collected on your website. Whenever you find such questions, answer it the best you can using the information in your product package, and casually mention that the information comes from your collection.

Another option is to tell people about the free content available on your site. Most blogs/forums that discourage promotion will usually allow you to tell people about free stuff. That’s another great reason to offer a collection of free stuff as well as your “for pay” collection.

It’s also possible to produce a sampler ebook (like I described above using articles) and release that as a promotional tool. Such ebooks are usually called “viral ebooks”, since they can be passed around like a virus. The important thing to keep in mind here is that you must include enough information in this ebook to get people to come to your website to see what else you have to offer. Some people will include their whole sales letter in such an ebook, whereas others will include just enough to make the reader curious. There are advantages to either choice.

Conclusion

Learning how to make money online can, at first, seem like a daunting challenge. However, I can tell you from my own experience that when you follow the basic formula described above, you can create new websites very quickly and start making good money with relatively little effort. How little? Once you know what you’re doing, you can build a brand new website, stock it with quality products, and get the first sale within a few days.

The Bottom Line on “Product Launch Formula”

Jeff Walker is at it again.  Product Launch Formula 3.0 is being released this week, and it seems that all the Big Name marketers are talking about it.  But is it worth the hype, or is it just another name for a very old marketing strategy used by every corner grocery store?

At first, it sounds like the greatest thing since bread, sliced or otherwise.  And if you’re not paying close attention, you’ll come away from the various promotions thinking that Jeff Walker has somehow intuited the secrets of the marketing universe to come up with something that no one else has ever thought to do.

However, closer inspection reveals that the core of PLF is simple — run a sale, and promote the hell out of it.

Now, I will admit that there’s a bit more to it than that, but here is the core principle behind PLF for all to see.  It’s just the idea of running a sale with some window dressing to get people to focus on the product and not the price.

Other than this, what Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula” has to offer is an extensive grounding in basic marketing principles.  Strategies, tactics, mental triggers — all of these are important, and are covered in a great many marketing courses.  The only thing Jeff has that’s somewhat unique is the idea of “sequences”, however, if you dig a little, you’ll find this in most good books on direct marketing.  (As a reference, you’ll learn a LOT more from a $40 book from Amazon than you will from Jeff Walker’s PLF course.)

I can say this because I purchased PLF myself a couple of years ago, when it was released as PLF 2.1.  I know what’s in there.  From what I see in the current promotion, the major difference is that some of the ideas which were somewhat nebulous in 2.1 have been clarified and put into bullet points.

At this point, you may be asking, “If that’s all that’s in Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula, then how can he sell it for $2000?”

When you understand the answer to this question, you’ll have unlocked the TRUE secrets of marketing.

You see, most folks don’t go looking for marketing wisdom in a $40 book from Amazon.  In fact, many of them believe that such a low-cost resource CANNOT contain such valuable information.   They believe that in order to receive truly valuable information, they need to spend a lot of money for it.  These folks WANT to overspend for their marketing education.

Another reason is that Jeff Walker didn’t write a marketing book, but created a set of videos to teach his material.  Most people have an easier time learning from videos than from books.  This makes the product more valuable to those folks.

Thw hypesters will claim that a major advantage to PLF is the “swipe files” you get with it.  The reasoning is that you can rewrite the material for your own use, and be reasonably sure of getting a good result.  Easier said than done.  The problem here is that until you understand the psychology of sales, any edits you do could ruin the effectiveness of the samples, and when you DO understand the psychology, you’ll have an easier time writing your own from scratch.

It’s a believable pitch, which is why so many fall for it.  And it gives beginners a sense of confidence, so there may be SOME benefit there.

The other major reason why Jeff Walker can sell his “Product Launch Formula” for $2000 is because that’s the only price he sells it for.  Anyone who buys the hype and wants a copy has no other choice but to pony up the cash.  And since it’s only available “for a limited time only”, there’s not a lot of time to think it over and compare it to other options, such as a $40 book from Amazon.

As a former “Product Launch Formula” owner, I can tell you that if you pay attention during Jeff”s pre-launch videos, you’ll catch the majority of the details regarding sequences, arguably, his one true “claim to fame”.  The basic idea is to break up your sales message, and deliver it in pieces over time, rather than as a single sales letter, to be read all at once.

If that’s the only thing you take away from this, and USE IT, you’ll get at least 80% of the results you would get from PLF.

Oh, and study up on sales psychology.  That is also highly valuable, and will increase your results tremendously.  For this, there are many resources available, including that $40 book from Amazon.

Other resources you may find valuable

Treasure Map to Online Riches — A $39 ebook revealing the core secrets to several $2000 marketing courses, such as Jeff Walker’s “Product Launch Formula”, Frank Kern’s “Mass Control”, Mike Filsaime’s “Butterfly Marketing” and more.  Everything you need to determine the best type of business to start, the best market to be in (your most profitable niche), and 4 step-by-step plans to start making money within a week, no website required.

Keys To Power Persuasion — An in-depth encyclopedia of the psychology behind sales and marketing.  Covers the broad-stroke overview of the whole persuasion game, as well as numerous specific techniques of using NLP language patterns and “conversational hypnosis” to get anyone to do anything you want.  Actual word-for-word examples showing you how each technique can be used in everyday conversation.


Full Disclosure: I have absolutely NO FINANCIAL INTEREST in the $40 book from Amazon referred to in this article.  I just simply believe it is one of the best resources from which to learn about the type of marketing we do online, which is “direct marketing”.  There are other good resources I recommend, such as Joe Sugarman’s books on copywriting, and anything you can find by Dan Kennedy, whose books are often available for about $10.

However, the 2 resources listed at the end of this article are products I’ve created myself.