The Ultimate Guide to Making Money Online
In 2008 I had an idea for an internet-based business.
I did a little research, wrote up a business plan, and figured I’d hire someone to build a website. Surely this internet thing would be a piece of cake.
I shopped a few web firms but couldn’t find anyone to build it for less than $10K. As a college student, I couldn’t afford that, so I set out to build it myself.
When I started, WordPress was fledgling blogging platform. I didn’t want a blog. I wanted a website. So I built it in Joomla. Big mistake.
It got hacked. I fixed it. It got hacked again. I fixed it again. I later realized that the hacker added hundreds of pages on my domain with one goal, to sell Viagra. Fed up after a year and with only a couple hundred visitors, I migrated to WordPress.
That’s when I realized how much I had to learn.
The Learning Stage
In 2009, I found sites like IncomeDiary, Blogussion, and Copyblogger. I subscribed to all of them, read their archives like a novel, and learned as much as I could from the people who I thought were doing it the best. I went from 409 visits in 2008 to 10,498 in 2009. It was a good start.
In 2010, I kept reading and learning, experimenting and testing, analyzing and strategizing. That year my blog had 52,611 visits. I was finally on to something. But I wasn’t making any money.
So, in 2011, I started a second blog. This one was going to be my money maker. I launched it in March and between the two blogs, I had 230,692 visits for the year. I learned a lot about getting traffic, but I still barely made enough to cover the costs of hosting, email marketing, CDN, etc.
Three Years is a Long Learning Stage, Huh?
I was doing something wrong. Even after three years, I still had a lot to learn.
Towards the end of last year, Michael asked me to create something for him … something that would teach me more in a few months than I had learned in the previous three years. I said yes.
What Did Michael Ask Me to Do?
Looking back, I originally met Michael when I interviewed him for a book we were creating in 2010. Through that project I learned a lot about the interview process and how to turn a conversation into something valuable. Michael knew that.
Here’s the email he sent me:
Two hours later:
Michael’s idea was to create the ultimate resource for internet entrepreneurs by gathering the collective knowledge of the top 20 Internet marketers in the world.
It was a tall order. So I asked 6’4” Nick Scheidies if he’d like to be involved. (Frankly, we couldn’t do it without him.) He said yes and we were off.
The Greatest Learning Experience of My Life
What started as a 26-minute Skype call turned into the most mindset-reframing, learning experience of my life.
We researched, we planned, we scouted, we targeted, we asked, we listened, we produced, we delivered, and today we’re bringing it to you.
The Ultimate Guide to Making Money Online
Imagine going to a conference and seeing a real-life blogger who you’ve been following for years. You stand there, introduce yourself, giggle a little, have a 2-minute conversation, and walk away thinking, “That was sooo cool!”
Now imagine doing that a few times per week, except, those two-minute conversations are hour-long brain dumps resulting from questions that you spent hours crafting to make sure you squeezed every ounce of value from every second that you were speaking with them.
That’s what we did.
And here’s a tiny, step-by-step synopsis of what I learned.
Step 1: Make a Website
To make a substantial amount of money online, you need to have a website. There’s plenty of information out there about how to get hosting and set up WordPress, so we didn’t want to get into that.
But we had a few questions about the finer details of setting up a successful blog:
- What does it mean to have a good web design and what’s the best way to get one?
To answer those questions, we recruited award-winning designer, Jacob Cass.
- What are the best practices for creating and running membership sites?
To help us with this, we talked with Matt Wolfe who pulls in a steady 5-figures every month from his membership sites.
- What if you don’t want to build your WordPress site?
We recognized that lots of people don’t want to bother with making a website, so we asked outsourcing-master Tyrone Shum to tell us how he finds, motivates, and manages a staff of full-time, outsourced labor.
Step 2: Create Content
Once you have a site, you need traffic. The preferred traffic source for nearly every internet entrepreneur we interviewed was a blog. To have a successful blog, you need to know how to create content.
I was particularly interested in this step because, despite getting lots of traffic through my content, I wasn’t attracting the right audience and I wasn’t doing a good job of connecting with them to solve their problems.
- How do you maximize the distribution of your blog content?
One reason everyone knows our interviewee, Pat Flynn, is because, by design, his content shows up everywhere.
- How do you create hard-hitting content that makes people take action?
To understand the psychology of blogging, we asked Derek Halpern to share his closely-guarded secrets.
- How do you capitalize on the one medium that connects with people better than any other, video?
Gideon Shalwick, widely considered the top video blogger in the world, gave us a list of the tools that he uses and how he optimizes his videos for search.
Step 3: Get Traffic
So you have a blog and you’re creating good content, but you’re not getting the traffic that you expect. Knowing what I know about bloggers, this is probably where you’re stuck.
Almost all traffic comes from search or social. To answer every question we could think of, we recruited three brilliant traffic masters.
- What are the best practices for building out a blog that search engines adore?
For our SEO questions, we reached out to Michael’s SEO guy, David Sinick.
- What are the ins-and-outs of every social media platform and the little-known tips for maximizing each?
We could’ve asked any of the 1,000’s of people who claim to be social media experts, but we chose to talk with someone who gets the results that the experts dream of (i.e. 100,000 Facebook Fans and 1,000,000 YouTube views in the first 3 months).
- How do you implement a Facebook Ad campaign that earns money with nearly every click?
Few people understand the science behind Facebook pages and ads like our interviewee, Brian Moran from Get 10,000 Fans.
Step 4: Convert Traffic
Once you have more than a couple thousand visitors a month, it makes sense to focus on the details of converting that traffic.
This is where online marketing gets blurry for me, so Nick and I stockpiled an armory of questions that needed to be answered.
- What is the fundamental methodology behind website conversion and how do you implement your strategies?
To give you a detailed overview of website conversion, we asked co-founder Ben Jesson of the most sought-after conversion agency in the world, Conversion Rate Experts.
- How do you write words that sell?
With more than $15 million-worth of Internet sales, we asked the one and only Yanik Silver to spill all of his direct-response copywriting secrets.
- How do you balance an email marketing strategy that your audience embraces?
David Risley has been forming, testing, and re-strategizing his email marketing philosophy for nearly a decade based on feedback from an audience that loves to get his emails.
- How do you use webinars to grow your list and business?
To answer these questions, we recruited a gentleman who has conducted more successful webinars than just about anyone, Stephen Beck.
Step 5: Earn Money Online
Let’s recap. You have a website, you’re creating content, you’re getting traffic, and you’re converting that traffic into leads/subscribers. In other words, you have an engaged audience that has a common set of problems.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of ways to make money while helping your audience.
- What are all of the different routes to making money with a website?
Upon my request, Michael Dunlop agreed to answer the questions for this interview.
- What is the full-circle strategy for selling digital products?
To make sure that you know exactly how to sell digital products, we asked Lewis Howes to give you the step-by-step process that he used to amass a multimillion dollar internet business.
- How do you create a software product that sells itself while orchestrating a successful product launch?
Josh Bartlett, the brains behind the multimillion dollar Easy Video Player software, sat down with us to share how he created and launched his product without touching a line of code.
Step 6: Build a Successful Company Online
Making money online is exciting, but it becomes more meaningful if you can create a company from it.
This is what appeals to me most about the internet. I’ve had questions backlogged for years and I was excited to finally get them answered.
- How do you design an online business with a loyal customer base that pays continuously?
The king of continuity, Ryan Lee, shared his best tips for building and managing a multitude of programs that provide a steady stream of recurring income.
- How do you build an eager subscriber base that purchases everything that you recommend?
James Schramko shared with us the lessons he learned from running a $100 million car dealership to build an exclusive audience of buyers through affiliate marketing.
- What are the ins-and-outs of roaming the world while running an internet business?
Digital nomad, Cody McKibben, gave us a generous list of things that you need to consider as you take the plunge and move abroad to travel and work, simultaneously.
- How do you create a lasting internet-based company that sells to and services the largest brands in the world?
Perhaps no one else is better suited to answer these questions than 26-year-old founder of KISSmetrics, Crazy Egg, and QuickSprout, Neil Patel.
If You’re Struggling Online, You Have Two Options
One, you can continue stumbling through the internet reading random blog posts hoping to find a formula that works for you and your business (like I did).
Two, you can learn from the people who are the best in the world at what they do in a structured format that was designed from the outset to help you find success online (like I wish I could’ve).
I encourage you to do the latter.
If you have any questions about the 8-month-long project, the interviewees, or whether or not I think the ebook can help you, let me know in the comments. I’ll do my best to answer them.