We’ve all seen them – those 20-page online sales letters full of yellow highlighting. They have attention-grabbing headlines about how you can make a million dollars a week while you sit on the beach in Maui.
Truth-telling time – I once tried publishing one of these sales letters for my business. It made me really uncomfortable. I hated every line of that letter, from the smarmy headline to the last post-post-post script at the bottom. The whole thing made me feel slimy. And when I did manage to swallow my pride and publish it, that letter didn’t make me a single dollar.
As a blogging consultant, I want all of my clients to be able to sleep soundly at night. I want them to feel good about what they do online, to be proud of what they’re putting out in the world. I always tell them they don’t have to make a deal with the devil in order to make money – serious money – online.
Want to know all the things you DON’T need to do to make money in an online business? You don’t need to:
- Create a hundred tiny niche websites about topics you hate or are bored with
- Run ads on your sites for products you dislike and don’t actively support
- Write slimy 12-page sales letters full of yellow highlighter that start with totally misleading, used-car-salesman headlines
- Try to trick the search engines by practicing unscrupulous SEO techniques that make you fear the wrath of Google if you’re caught
- Write five blog posts a day to get your website started, then get a divorce and/or check into a hospital for exhaustion after six months
So what CAN you do to try to get started with making money online?
Step One – Create (and grow) an authority website about a topic you know well and really love. Use self-hosted WordPress to start your site, so your online presence can grow with you. Include an email opt-in on your website, so you can start building your email list.
Step Two – Build the content on the site by posting 2-3 top-quality, well-written articles every week. Write the best stuff you can, and put together a publishing schedule that won’t burn you out. Remember that building your content is a critical part of your business.
Step Three – Start growing your audience by seeking out guest posting opportunities on other blogs that reach your target audience. Approach other bloggers (both in your niche and outside it) with great guest post ideas.
Step Four – As you grow your audience, start researching products that your audience needs and wants. What problems do they have? What questions do you get asked over and over?
You’re doing this research so you can eventually create your own products – and the quickest way to create a product that doesn’t sell is to create it because YOU like it and think people will want it. It’s not about you. Check in with that blog audience you’ve been engaging with. Ask them what they need, using surveys or open-ended blog post questions.
Step Five – Seek out affiliate opportunities that fit your values, your ethics and your business models (affiliate relationships allow you to sell other people’s products and make a referral fee for each sale.) Take that list of things your audience needs and start looking around for other people’s products and services that fill those needs. Then become an affiliate for those folks, and start reaping the benefits of making useful recommendations that you feel good about.
Step Six – As you build your audience and grow your online authority, start creating your own products. This is the absolute best way to make money online. Create information products, if you have stuff to teach – most of us do! Try coaching programs, paid teleseminars and webinars, or downloadable e-books.
Remember – before you start creating any product, do your research. Use all that client data from step four, and you’ll create products people will happily pay you for – because you’re solving their problems for them!
Yes, this process takes work. It takes dedication. You will not make a million dollars in your first month. But if you start out right by following the first step – picking a topic you love – this work won’t seem like drudgery. You’ll put in the effort, grow your audience and your authority, and opportunities to make money will start coming in from all directions.
And once you’ve got an audience that likes and trusts you, you can make them offers by writing authentic, honest sales letters for your products that don’t make you squirm when you hit “Publish.” You can hold your head high and keep that yellow highlighter in your desk drawer where it belongs.