I started out small, selling a digital product that I wrote myself, on a website that I cobbled together using available tools and techniques. I had no experience as a Digital Marketer.
I am a guy that barely graduated from High School, but was aware enough to see that the future of sales was online. In time I went to college and took a ton of online training in Digital Marketing.
I applied my formal education and training by changing the way I ran my online operations, with varied success. My work started to feel too mechanical, so I took a break to assess what the hell was going on.
5 years ago, I went back to my roots.
The basics never failed me: Offer a quality product, that makes people feel good, at a killer price, using a crew of loyal foot soldiers.
In a neighborhood far, far away.
I’ve dabbled with various forms of entrepreneurship, although I didn’t know that was a thing, since my early teens.
And it all started with a paper route. It was perfect because I walked around delivering papers, meeting people, getting to know them, and collecting money every few weeks.
And then I slowly turned my newspaper customers on to all sorts of opportunities.
I sold them seeds, mowed their grass, sold them pizza kits, and even pushed Krispy Kreme donuts. I’ll skip the more interesting details, but you get the gist of it.
How did I learn how to do all this? Well, the backstory is a little sketchy. Let’s just leave it at: “I had a very colorful Uncle that didn’t really have a W-2 job but could make money appear out of thin air.”
I learned how to read people, and then sell them stuff they thought they needed.
Yeah, yeah, I know. Slippery slope. But if you haven’t read Breakthrough Advertising (Schwartz, 1966) you should, if you can find a copy.
And then suddenly, we could do all this nonsense online.
I started trying to sell digital products back in the late 1990’s and finally started getting some traction around 2003. Compared to today, it was an absolute bitch, but I did well enough to keep the lights on.
Since I had absolutely no idea how to sell stuff from my hand jammed website (HTML and CGI scripts written in PERL all running on Apache server), I had to do two things:
- Hit Micro Center often to buy a shitload of books (No StackOverflow!)
- Fall back on lessons I’d learned as a kid about how to appeal to base desires and raw emotion to get people to buy stuff from me.
Eventually, it all started to click.
What’s the bottom line man?
I wrote my own info products. Maybe spending 15 hours to crank out a decent first edition, making updates along the way if anyone actually bought copies. I’m still selling some of them today.
I found complimentary websites that would link back to my site or sell my product from their site (early affiliate marketing tracked with “coupon codes”) and I gave them a cut of each sale.
I wrote long sales pages (Killer training by Yanik Silver) to convince readers that buying my product would make them feel good, look good, save money, eliminate pain, and make their life absolutely fucking amazing. It was super easy to rank on Google back then, so my pages would pop in the SERPs for my targeted keywords.
I would beg visitors for their email. If they gave it to me, I would send them a few chapters for free, because everyone likes a taste before they lay down a chunk of change.
And people bought my products.
Landing pages, squeeze pages, CTR, PPC, conversion rates, inbound marketing, sales funnels, A/B testing?
Nah man, just give the people what they want.
But honestly, back then I had no idea what these technical marketing things were. I’m still not all that sure what most of it really means, or how to improve it if there is a problem.
I mean, there are absolutely ways to manage this stuff down to the gnats ass, but is that really the best use of your time? Is every action you take providing value?
I like to use money as the marker. If it’s coming in, then I’m good. When it falls off, then I start trying to figure out what’s up.
So I keep it pretty simple.
Yes, Virginia, you can make bank by thinking like a drug dealer.
That sounds bad, but it’s not.
I mean marketing is marketing right? Find a supplier that gives you good product at a killer price, apply an insanely huge markup, build a crew of people around you that can sell, and remove the barrier to trial by providing a free sample.
If the product is any good, they’ll be back. And they will buy.
Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail.
Find an inexpensive supplier of quality product.
Whatever your niche is, it is possible to find (or create) products to serve the needs, wants, and desires of the market.
This means you are going to be providing product that is produced by someone else, but you are aiming to sit at the top of the retail pyramid.
- Create info products yourself to keep costs ridiculously low.
- Find suppliers of physical goods on Alibaba.
- Find problems that can be solved by breaking the problem into chunks. Outsource labor to Amazon Mechanical Turk, and deliver a deceptively simple solution.
The key is to ensure the product you are selling to YOUR customers is of an acceptable quality, or you won’t be around for long.
The possibilities are 100% unbounded.
Mark up the finished product by 1000%, or more.
Check out this chart provided by the London School of Economics. It provides details on the markup of cocaine, cannabis, and heroin.
People, I’m obviously not telling you to sell drugs. But there are multiple layers of people that you are going to need to pay in order to keep your operation running smoothly, while also providing you with a killer income.
Whatever it is you are selling, mark that stuff up at least 1000% from whatever you paid wholesale.
If you find yourself priced out of the market, then you need to find a better (less expensive) supplier.
Recruit a team and give them a cut of the action.
Affiliate marketing is absolutely killer. There are tons of people that are blogging and looking to make money online.
I’m assuming you know what affiliate marketing is, but just in case you don’t — basically affiliate marketing is that you sell product for me, and I give you a percentage of the sales price.
As an example: I create a digital product (a book) that I sell for $50. As one of my affiliates, I promise to pay you 50% of each sale. On your blog you write a review of my book, with links to my sales page. If someone you send my way buys a copy of the book, I pay you $25. I make $25, you make $25.
There are quite a few ways to quickly create your own affiliate program.
Gumroad is one option. You can sell your products there, and use it to sign up and track your affiliates. Yes, absolutely check out Gumroad. I use it and I love it.
Give away the first taste for free.
Everyone does it. I think the proper term is lead magnet.
It can be anything that provides value to your visitor in exchange for them providing you with their email address.
It could be a chapter from the info product you are selling, a set of instructions for a physical product you are selling, a list of valuable tips and tricks for a software product you are selling.
Just give them something and make sure it’s valuable.
Because if you send them a piece of junk, they won’t listen to anything you have to say ever again.
A bogus lead magnet blows the deal, and the email address you just collected is useless.
The tried and true methods that are used to move physical product, on streets all over the world, apply to the online world as well.
- Inexpensive source of supply
- 1000% or more markup
- Build a network of dealers
- Eliminate barriers to trial by providing a free sample.
Online marketing can be a bitch, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on some online training class to get good at it. And you sure as hell don’t need a $100,000 degree in Digital Marketing.
Take some time. Do it yourself, you will learn more that way.