June 1, 2009
Life has a funny way of forcing your hand. I’ve been playing around at this online thing for several years now and have made some decent money at it, but never really committed to it. I’ve talked about doing it full time. I’ve dreamed about doing it full time. But I haven’t been DOING it full time. Then a month ago I was laid off from my job as a JAVA developer. I spent some time putting together a resume and talking to recruiters before realizing I didn’t really want another job working for someone else. I wanted to work for myself. Full time.
So, after a series of events unfolded (which could be the focus of a later post), my wife and I decided to take the plunge and start our own business. So, I am very pleased to introduce MantyWeb Designs (www.mantywebdesigns.com), a full service web promotion and web design company. We will be specializing in helping local businesses with underperforming websites turn their websites into a valuable part of their marketing plan. I’ll be focusing on helping people increase traffic and improving conversion rates. My wife will be concentrating on sales.
While we are based in Houston, we’re available to help people all over the U.S. So, if you’re in need of assistance, contact me. You can leave all well wishes in the comment section.
May 15, 2008
You’ve finally completed the groundwork for your latest income strategy, be it a sales letter
or something else. It looks beautiful. You’ve slaved over the copy, put the images where they should be, and then you posted it to the Internet and started driving traffic. The problem now is, you’re job is only half done.
Now it’s time for the optimization. This is a fancy word that means you:
- Change some more
- Beat your head on the wall
- Scream at your computer
- Pull on your hair
- Then repeat until you have a sales letter/opt-in form/solo ad/whatnot that does what it’s supposed to do.
I’m currently at this stage in my latest ebook release, but not far enough along for the hair-pulling or scremaing yet. Have no fear, I’ll get there eventually.
You may have already noticed already that it’s not my favorite thing to do. It won’t be yours either, but it’s an absolute necessity if you want to successfully sell. Unless you’re a prodigy, you’re not going to get whatever you made right on the first shot. That’s quite all right, because that’s the way it works for the vast majority of us.
So, here are a few things you might want to change or test if your site or strategy isn’t performing as planned:
Initial impressions: The initial impression is the very first sensation someone gets when they land on your site. You don’t have long to make a good one, so if you’re not garnering any conversions and your site stats say the visitors are only staying for a second or two, you have an initial impression problem. Headers, layout, and colors all affect this.
Your headline: You’ve probably seen The Big Read Headline. It’s the “Attention” portion of AIDA, and makes a huge difference in whether or not you get and keep someone’s attention. Make your headlines short and hard-hitting, and if its not working, tweak the wording, word-wrap breaks (which you can manage with a
<br> HTML command), and embellishments like quotation marks or underlines.
Your copy: It helps to go back to your copy once you haven’t looked at it for a while, because you give yourself some objectivity. You may notice things like awkward sentences, weak selling, and bad layout that makes it unpleasant to read. Again, these are things which require tweaking over time, and small things like the font family and its point size.
Images: Chances are I’m going to have to get a header for my new site, and I’ll be doing that soon. As I stated last week, other images like your picture, ebook covers, return guarantee ribbons, and fancy ‘Buy Now’ buttons might be necessary to add, or you may have gone too far and have to remove a few things.
Yes, I find optimization is about as much fun for me as a dental appointment, and even worse, takes much longer than a dentist would. It is a necessary evil though, and obligatory to make your sites convert like they should.
December 24, 2007
I have some very cool news for you…
StomperNet is giving away their new website conversion software “Stomper Scrutinizer”. You can click here to check out their video message and then download it or you can read about it on the Stomper blog.
Very cool gift!
If you try it out, please let me know what you think of it.
August 22, 2007
A while back, Jeff Hunsaker asked me what steps I was taking to creating an online product. Since I am currently working on creating two products I merged the steps from each of them to create a generic set of steps that I am taking to create e-products. I am not including all the details, because that would give away the nature of the products.
Here are the 39 steps to create a new product:
- Conduct Market Research
This is one of the most important steps in the process.
YOU MUST KNOW YOUR MARKET!
That is a little easier when you are part of your target market (like with my project). That said, there are many resources for doing market research. During my market research stage, I used some techniques that I learned from the Reese Report, and some that I learned from elsewhere. I am not going to go into detail on the market research that I have conducted, but I will go ahead and tell you about a simple tool I used for quick demographics research. It’s called “Microsoft adCenter Labs Demographics Prediction Tool” and it’s pretty cool. When you type in a search term the tool displays demographic data about the people who search for that term. For instance, if you type in “make money online”, you find out that 52 percent of the people searching for “make money online” are male. 26.8 percent are between the ages of 18-24 and a majority are under the age of 34. It’s not a bad way to get a quick look at your target market’s demographics. However, you will want to do a more in depth look at your market than just using the Microsoft demographic tool.
- Write The Business Plan
I talked about my business plan a little while ago. In short, I filled out the business plan from the SCORE template gallery. It is an extremely useful step, one that shouldn’t be skipped.
- Write A List Of The Tasks That You Need To Accomplish
This list of 40 steps is an example of the list of tasks that I created for myself. Some of the steps listed here are broken into smaller steps in my actual list.
- Assign Estimated Times To Complete Each Task
You need to estimate how long each task in your task list is going to take and write that number down. When estimating how long each task is going to take, you need to allow some time for unexpected circumstances. I estimate on the conservative side, because I find that I often underestimate how long tasks will actually take.
- Assign Tasks From The List To Yourself Or Others
If you are doing all the work yourself, then you will be assigning everything to yourself. If you are relying on other people to do some of the work, then you need to assign their names to the tasks they will be doing. This will help you with the next step.
- Create A Time Line
It is very important to create a time line for finishing your project. Creating a deadline helps motivate you to take action. I recommend creating a Gantt chart using Microsoft Project, Microsoft Excel or with a free Gantt chart creator like ganttproject.org. A Gantt chart is a chart that tracks a project’s progress over a period of time. For those of you who are intimidated by the thought of creating a Gantt chart, or you just don’t want to, I have also developed a “lazy” method of creating a timeline. What you do is add up all the days from your estimates. Go to a calendar, and figure out when you will be done. A Gantt chart is better, because you can factor in other things like dependencies (tasks that are dependent on other tasks being completed). However, having some sort of timeline is better than nothing.
- Select A Domain Name
This can be a fun process. I wrote a good article about choosing a domain name for blogs and it applies to regular websites as well.
- Come Up With A Name For The Product
This goes hand in hand with previous step. You should choose a good name for your product. Names are very important.
- Set Up A Mailing List
I wrote about setting up an email list two weeks ago.
- Promote The Mailing List
There are many ways to promote your mailing list. In my case, I am currently only using this blog to promote my list by displaying it prominently in the upper right hand corner of the navigation. I will have to write more about promoting email lists in a future post.
- Choose Affiliate Management Software
If you are going to have an affiliate program (and in most cases you should), you will need to determine what affiliate software to use. There is a plethora of choices, and I am not going to cover them in this article. I will cover this sometime in the future.
- Determine All The Tools And Technologies You need To Create The Product
This can be a time consuming process. You need to figure this out early on, in order to come up with an accurate budget for your product.
If you are starting a new corporation for your product, then it goes without saying that you will need to incorporate. Just like with the product name, it is a good idea to choose a meaningful and memorable name for your company.
- Conduct Pricing Research
There are many methods of finding the right price for your product. I recommend reading the free ebook – “Make Your Price Sell!” to learn the basics of choosing the right price for your product.
- Choose Payment Processor/ Merchant Account
If you are going to take payments over the Internet, you will need to determine how you are going to handle that. In most cases, you will need to have a merchant account. There are many things to consider when choosing a merchant account, and I recommend you do some research before choosing your merchant account.
- Choose A Web Host And Purchase Web Hosting
Choosing a web host can be one of the most difficult decisions you make in the process and it can be an easy decision. If you are like me and you want to find the “perfect” web host, then you will spend years and years researching web hosts until you discover…
“All web hosts suck!” 🙂
Once you discover that all web hosts suck it will be much easier to choose one by flipping a coin, playing darts, whatever method you deem acceptable 🙂
Ok, all web hosts don’t suck! In fact I like mine, but you can certainly find some fascinating stories by searching for your favorite host along with the word “sucks”. In other words, don’t spend all your time searching for the perfect host, because there isn’t such a thing. Find a host that suits your needs, and preferably one that comes highly recommended by someone you trust.
- Come Up With Unique Product Launch Plan
I strongly considered buying Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula for this launch (and I still might). However, after watching quite a few product launches and after talking with a few established Internet marketers there is a good chance that I am going to make do without the Product Launch Formula for this launch. I am putting together a product launch plan and my wife and I brainstorming ideas to make our launch out of the ordinary. If I was launching a product in a niche other than the Internet marketing arena, The Product Launch Formula would be a more appealing purchase.
- Create Marketing Plan
Along with the product launch, Jill and I are coming up with a marketing plan to encourage people to buy the product. That said, I only want people who REALLY need and will REALLY use this product to purchase it. I don’t want people to buy it just because it’s the latest and greatest thing. I don’t want people to buy it because they think it will answer all their problems. I know this is likely to mean I will have less customers, but I would rather be able to sleep at night than sell the product to someone who is not going to use it and/or doesn’t need it.
- Purchase The Tools And Technologies I Need From Previous Step
This is both one of the least fun steps (parting with money) and the most fun steps (getting cool new tools) of the product creation process.
- Create The Product
This step needs to be broken down into many other steps. For instance, if you are creating an ebook, you will need to research the book, create an outline, write the book, create an ebook cover, etc.
- Decide On Delivery Mechanism(s)
How will your customers get the product? Is it a download, does it ship on CD, is it an audio file, video, membership site, email course, etc.? You may want to offer a product in multiple formats to maximize your earning potential. For instance, if you are selling an ebook, you might want to let users also buy it in audio format or have a hard copy mailed to them. You can charge more for the various options.
- Consult Attorney On Legal Aspects Of The Business
It is always good to consult an attorney to help prevent potential legal problems.
- Build A Swipe File For The Sales Letter Based On Similar Successful Products
One of the first steps people use to create a sales letter is to find similar products that are selling well and “swipe” their sales letters. In other words, you leverage succesful sales letters as a guide for creating your sales letter. Don’t use these sales letters verbatim, because that can get you into legal problems for copyright violations. However, take a close look at the things in your competitor’s sales letter that convince you to buy their product. Use those same techniques in your sales letter.
- Create Sales Letter Based On Your Product’s Swipe File And Based On Copywriting Products That You Own
I am currently working on creating the sales letter for the new product I will be selling from this blog.
I own a product from Yanik Silver called Instant Sales Letters. When creating a sales letter, I like to go into the Instant Sales Letter members area and use one of the letters as a guide for writing my first rough draft of a sales letter. It helps me to focus on creating a sales letter with all the right components. I also will sometimes review some of the copywriting principles I have learned from other products I own (like Instant Web Profits System, etc.)
- Create Camtasia Video For Sales Letter
While not necessary, video does increase your conversion rate. You can create a sales pitch with the video, and/or show success stories, and/or show a behind the scenes look at the product. If it is in your budget, you should definitely create a video to help sell your product.
- Create Camtasia Videos For Help System (optional)
I marked this as optional, because most products don’t need video to help their users understand how to use it. However, videos that help users understand how to use the product can help, especially with more complicated products and higher end products. They can also be a major selling point and increase the percieved value of the product.
- Create Affiliate Training Material, Sample Ads, Sample Emails, Banner Ads, etc.
You should create as much promotional material as possible to sell your new product. Affiliates will love all the options and they are more likely to promote your product if they have less work to do. You can also offer your affiliates training. Studies have shown that giving your affiliates training will improve their conversion rate.
- Create Incentives For Early Customers
It’s important to come up with incentives for people to buy the product when they first learn about it. You should always offer an incentive for ordering immediately.
- Create Website That Will Sell The Product
This is fairly self explanatory. You have to create the site that is going to sell your new product. This can be broken down into many steps, including a few steps I mention in this list.
- Test The Product To Make Sure It Works
Testing is important, not only with your marketing, but also with any product you create. Make sure you have created a product that your customers will value. In fact, you need to over deliver on your promise. Make sure your product is BETTER than you say it is.
You need to have good legal terms of service, privacy policies, membership agreements, financial disclosures, etc. You need to make it clear how people are allowed to use your product and/or website.
- Create Customer Service Plan
Create a customer service plan to keep your customers happy. Don’t neglect your customers, they ARE your business. This might include decisions like whether or not to offer phone support, whether to have a customer support ticket system , whether to outsource your customer service, whether to have a customer support forum, etc..
- Create A Company News Blog And/Or An Affiliate Blog (optional)
While blogs aren’t a necessity, having a customer/product news blog and a blog for your affiliates will help you grow your business faster.
- Set Up Affiliate Contest For The Product Launch (optional)
Most product launches I have seen have run contests for their affiliates. If you can afford it, come up with a good contest for your affiliates.
- Recruit Affiliates
If you have an affiliate program, you need to spend a good amount of time finding people to join your affiliate program. Having a powerful group of affiliates promoting your product will make a HUGE difference in the amount of money you make.
- Get Testimonials
Testimonials offer the social proof you need to convince people to buy your product. You can never have enough testimonials. For those of you who don’t know about social proof, social proof is a psychological trigger that occurs when people see other people behaving in a certain way and, therefore, assume that behavior is the appropriate behavior to take. For instance, say you go into a new town and are trying to find a place to eat. You find two local restaraunts. At one of the restaraunts the parking lot looks pretty full, the other restaraunt only has two cars in the parking lot. Which restaraunt do you assume has better food?
The restaraunt with more people.
That is social proof in action. Testimonials offer social proof that your product is good.
- Submit Articles Promoting The Site To Article Directory (optional)
Writing articles that other people can reprint on their website, or in their eZine is one of the most effective ways of getting free traffic to your website. Writing articles allows you to get free traffic from websites that reprint your article, you get a link to your website which in turns helps your Search Engine rankings, and allows you to develop a reputation as being an expert in your field.
- Write Press Release (optional)
Press releases are an excellent way to get your online business free publicity, and free traffic. Publicity Insider has a good article on the details of writing a good press release.
- Hire Accountant
Last but not least, you need to hire an accountant to take care of the millions and millions of dollars you are going to make after your product is releaseed to the public 😉
Be sure to set deadlines on each step and don’t waste a lot of time on any one step. If you spend a month trying to find a web host, you just aren’t spending your time productively.
The steps above are fairly generic, so you can use them as a starting point for the products you create.
If you would like me to write a more detailed post about any of these steps, please let me know.
April 26, 2007
In my interview with Allan Gardyne, Allan mentioned that affiliate programs work really well on review sites. Anik Signal has just started a Private Label Product Reviews membership site at http://www.plproductreviews.com/.
Anik is providing 100 product reviews in 10 different niches per month. This sounds to me like it could be a really good way to make money online with affiliate marketing. You could set up a product review blog, take the private label product reviews change the text a little, add your affiliate links, and post them to your blog.
The only thing I am not so sure about is that the reviews don’t really reflect your personal opinion about the products. I am not sure how to get around that one without feeling like I was violating some ethical standard I have set for myself.
What do you think? Do you think that http://www.plproductreviews.com/ is a good idea?
I guess it’s sort of like outsourcing your product reviews. Would you outsource your product reviews or not?
April 17, 2007
Have you tried Kontera ads on your website or blog? What do you think of them?
March 20, 2007
I have bought many Internet Marketing products, listened to many Internet Marketing teleseminars, read many Internet Marketing blogs, experimented with many Internet Marketing techniques, and this past weekend I finally decided to join one of the top Intenet Marketing gurus membership sites: John Reese’s – Reese Report.
After years of listening to him speak and getting to know some of his techniques, I decided to download his free preview of the Reese Report. I was very impressed with his free preview, but it took a recent teleseminar for me to finally decide that I wanted to learn as much as I could from John Reese.
John won’t let me tell you the things I learn exclusively from him, but I will certainly be able to let you know how things work out. I plan on implementing his strategies in my online business and will let you know the results of those changes.
I will still continue to do my own experiments and reveal the details from those experiments.
Anyway, if you are interested in checking out John’s free newsletter, click here to download it. It’s definitely worth checking out.
February 22, 2007
Last May I wrote a post called the Key to Making Money Online. After writing it I realized there was an important factor missing from my equation – effective monetization. Given that missing ingredient, here are the three simple steps you need to take to make money online.
1. Produce Quality Content
If your site has good conent people will like it. Whether it be video games, educational materials, product reviews, news, etc. Producing quality conent is the first step to making money online.
2. Get Quality Links
If your site has good content, that is a great start. However, you must get visitors to your site. You have to let your target audience know about it and get quality links to your site. There are many ways to get links to a site. Having a site that is worth linking to (step 1) really makes this process easier.
3. Monetize It
It goes without saying that you have to monetize your site to make money online. There are many ways to monetize a site, ie. Affiliate Marketing, pay-per-click advertising, selling your own products or services, text link ads, etc. This is the missing step from my original formula. I guess I overlooked it, because back then I took it for granted. Now, I see that you should never take monetization for granted, because you can almost always find a way to make more money with your current traffic. I will discuss monetization methods more in the future.
So here is my original formula:
GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS = TRAFFIC
TRAFFIC = MONEY
GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS = MONEY
Here is the new formula:
GOOD CONTENT+GOOD LINKS + EFFECTIVE MONETIZATION = MONEY
It’s really quite simple when you think about it.
February 21, 2007
I am still a bit under the weather, but I thought some of you might be interested in this.
Today, Feb. 21st at 8pm EST the first Internet Marketer I ever heard do a teleseminar (Alex Mandossian) and two of his partners are holding a live webcast.
They are going to reveal why web-audio and web-video, when combined with special list-building strategies are the secret to so many successful online businesses.
Of course, they are going to be giving a product pitch as well. They are going to be pitching one years worth of access to Audio Generator (AG), Instant Video Generator (IVG) & Marketing Makeover Generator (MMG), for the price of one.
Anyway, you can find the details about the webcast by clicking here.
February 14, 2007
I am done creating anything that is boring on the Internet (well mostly done). I can’t think of one blog or website that I visit on a regular basis that I consider to be the least bit boring.
Whenever I get bored with a website or blog, I stop visiting it.
One of my BIGGEST goals in 2007 and beyond is to be remarkable, and to NOT BE BORING!
You should make it one of your goals too! Stop being boring! Nobody cares about boring websites except their owners. Just stop it!
Be remarkable, Be exciting, Be interesting, Be unique, Be everything you want to be, but…
DON’T BE BORING!
January 17, 2007
In 2005, the best business blog post that I read was this post from Alice Seba.
In 2006 there were a lot of excellent business related blog posts. However, at the end of 2006 Anik Signal (aff) posted what I considered to be the best blog post of 2006. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you go check it out. In fact, I highly recommend that you read it more than once.
December 29, 2006
One of the things that you told me in one of my polls is that you want me to review more Internet Marketing products. So I have decided to give you what you want…
A few months ago, I purchased a new Internet Marketing course called “Instant Web Profits System” by Dan Lok. Dan has created a niche for himself in copywriting as “The Website Conversion Expert”.
For starters, I get a really good vibe from Dan Lok. His staff has always given prompt answers to my questions and they were always very upbeat and positive. Dan strikes as me as someone whose truly desires to help people make money online.
As for “Instant Web Profits Systems“, I wanted to start by letting you know what this course is not:
- It is not a course on blogging
It is not a course on making money with Adsense
- It is not a course on Affiliate Marketing
It is not a course on making money without raising a finger
The purpose of this course is to reveal how to increase the online sales of your products and/or services.
I SO wish I had this product when I was starting out. I know it would have made a HUGE difference in the success of the first product I created.
The one thing I don’t like about the course is Dan’s occasional use of colorful language. However, many times in the course it did help him get across the importance of the message he was conveying.
For the most part, it is NOT a step by step guide. With one exception…
The step by step CD that gives you the 11 steps for creating a winning sales letter. I can see how following the 11 steps that Dan reveals in this course can produce an awesome sales letter. I will certainly follow them the next time I need to create a sales letter.
There is a lot of excellent business and Internet Marketing advice in the audio CDs, much of which you can use even as an affiliate marketer or blogger.
What is included in the Instant Web Profit System?
- 4 audio CDs that reveal 101 Ways To Make Your Website SELL Like Crazy!
- 2 audio CDs that reveal How To Avoid The Deadly Mistakes That Can KILL Your Online Business!
- 1 audio CD that reveals 11 Steps To Creating Killer Web Copy!
- 8 CD Roms that show Dan Lok making over other people’s website sales letters (this was my personal favorite part of the package).
- 6 Audio CDs with uncensored Interviews with some of the world’s top Internet Marketing experts!
- Plus a 1-hour “private” mentoring session with Dan Lok.
While Dan covers many topics in this package, the topics that are hit the hardest are copywriting and website conversion. This product shows you how to write better copy and how to convert your visitors into customers.
My favorite part of the product is the 8 CDs that contain video of Dan transforming underperforming sales letters into sales letters that sell. I found these videos to be worth the price of the whole package. I have seen free videos on these topics that don’t come anywhere near the quality and depth that these videos go into. I strongly recommend them to anyone who wants to learn how to sell a product or service.
The audio CDs were sprinkled with some Internet Marketing advice that I haven’t heard too many people talk about outside of products that you have to pay for. Here are some (not all) of the main topics discussed in the audio CDs:
Increasing Website Traffic
This a solid product, that I believe will really help you convert your visitors into customers. It is an excellent product if you have a product or service to sell. Go sign up for his free newsletter by clicking here and you can learn more about Instant Web Profits System and Dan’s other products.