Are you a beginning blogger that is struggling to earn more money with your blog but you just don't know how to do it?
Do you ever get that hopeless feeling every time when you read how easy it was for your favorite blogger to successfully launch a product? Many times influencers and gurus from any niche appear to be infallible.
That's why I decided to ask 46 top entrepreneurs the following question:
What was the biggest mistake you made when you first started selling a course or product online?
After reading their answers I can tell you one thing, my dear readers: don't worry! Even the top experts did some huge errors when they were beginning bloggers, so there isn't any reason for which you can't become successful like they are.
The answers I received are arranged by category since I discovered 9 common mistakes:
MISTAKE 1: Launching a product too fast without being prepared enough
MISTAKE 2: Waiting too long before launching a product
MISTAKE 3: Not researching enough what your target audience needs.
MISTAKE 4: Not having or not communicating well with your email list
MISTAKE 5: Not building a trustworthy relationship with your audience
MISTAKE 6: Technical difficulties
MISTAKE 7: Doing influencer outreach wrong
MISTAKE 8: Not differentiating from the competition and not setting your goals right
MISTAKE 9: Not having a proper content marketing strategy
MISTAKE 1: Launching a product too fast and not being prepared enough
~Ron is a full stack marketer, specialized in digital B2B marketing funnels and influence marketing campaigns.
The Internet is a worldwide marketplace that people all over the globe can take advantage of.
I found that there were some mistakes that I could not afford to make if I wanted to be successful in selling products to this vast audience.One of the mistakes was not allotting enough time to develop an effective marketing plan. Click To TweetSuch an efficient program could reach a particular target audience. Instead, I spent most of my initial focus on setting up an attractive website.
To that end, over time what I have learned is the site that was launched could have been used as a big part of my company’s marketing strategy.
This is because there is much invaluable information online that could tell me how to post engaging content. Engaging content would capture my audience attention after the target audiences were identified.
Additionally, I found that I would need to invest some of the funds to use some of the paid marketing channels. Paid campaigns could help with the advertising of my products on the site. By using these marketing campaigns, I would also have an opportunity to increase conversion rates.
~ Gini is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a digital marketing communications firm. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.
I had to go back and break it up into several lessons. The other thing, that goes along with that mistake, is repetition is good.
Very, very good. I suspect those who educate for a living understand that, but it was a big wake-up call for me.
We planned out enough material to make sure each session left the audience with practical and actionable knowledge. However after the course ended we received many requests for additional sessions.
We simply didn't expect this and because of that were not able to scramble quick enough to ride the wave.
My advice…Always plan at least the frame-work for one or two additional lessons. Click To Tweet If nothing else, you can always use it for your next 3 blogs.
For example, if you decide to sell a course and your customers have a hard time setting up their accounts, retrieving their account confirmation emails or understanding how to use your membership site or learning management system and they have to each contact customer service for 15-30 minutes and you have not calculated that cost into your course price you could lose a lot of money quickly.
~ Colin is a full-time internet marketer and entrepreneur. He provides consulting services in internet marketing and business development.
I don’t think I made one big mistake, but a host of smaller ones. Each small mistake might alter your results only 2-5%, but that compounds with each mistake and through the funnel.
This can be the differences between a produce that gets no traction and basically no sales, or a product that does 5 or 6 figures per month!The first mistake is that I created only 1 product and didn’t have a funnel or upsell.Click To Tweet This is leaving money on the table in a few ways.
A) It is much harder to get a buyer for your product initially than it is to get them to continue buying from you,
B) JV partners who you get to promote for you will not promote if they are not getting a good CPC/ROI (Cost per click, return on investment), one way to beef that up is to provide commissions on multiple products,
C) if you are not earning a lot per customer (going ‘wide’ not just ‘deep’, meaning really focus on monetizing current customers) you won’t have the metrics to use paid traffic (Facebook ads etc.) as you would be outbid by your competitors who do have the metrics and finally,
D) you need to have some recurring monthly offer as this allows you to scale and continue to support your product. It is hard to sell that on the first product, so it is better to sell a 1 time payment upfront and then a upsell to your monthly recurring.
The other ‘critical’ mistake, was that I did not segment my list*! This is the biggest income killer. Initially I just built 1 list and had no idea who purchased what product from me.
You need to be able to promote your offers with ‘Marketing Automation’ to the right segment. This means people only get relevant offers.
The other key here is to ‘Onboard’ your new customers. Provide them with training based on where they are in their business and how they plan to use your product. This also allows you to offer them beneficial products from your partners (to earn affiliate income and increase the value per customer.)
To do this most critical step, I switched to Ontraport. However, I am now using Platform.ly to automate my marketing.
This service provides the 4 key pillars for anyone to manage their online business. This is no longer an option in 2016, it is now vital to provide the level of service that will allow you to scale to 6 figures a month
~ Matthew is a multi award-winning businessman, internet marketing blogger and international keynote speaker.
One of the biggest mistakes I ever made when I sold my first produce online was that I didn't have any upsell or downsell in place.
That means that I left an awful lot of money on the table and at the time I didn't even know it.You should always invest time in creating at least one upsell for your product.Click To Tweet To show you what I mean take a look at this image . a recent product launch of mine
As you can see, 14% of buyers also bought the upsell which added $14,722 in sales for the upsell alone! Take a look at this step by step tutorial if you need help with your first product launch.
MISTAKE 2: Waiting too long before launching a product
~John Paul is a blogger, entrepreneur that helps bloggers and small business owners use blogging and social media to get MORE followers, customers and more sales.My biggest mistake I made when selling a course was waiting too long to launch. Click To TweetI kept waiting to grow my following more and my email list before I launched.
Now I see that was a mistake.
You want to first grow a following of people that see and believe you know what you're talking about to give you the best chance to make sales... but at some point, you have to launch it.
When that time is will be different for everyone... but if you feel you have a goof following on your blog, you are getting your posts shared nicely across SM on a regular basis, then I think at that time is good to launch a "starter" product.
Something low-priced, that shows you know what you're talking about and helps you test the waters to see how well your following reacts to you "selling".
If the results are positive, THEN you work on a full course at a higher price.
~ Dustin is a social media enthusiast, designer,, consultant, and speaker. He is also the co-founder of Warfare Plugins.
The biggest mistake I ever made when I first started selling online was that I spent too much time trying to make it LOOK good.
As a designer and a recovering perfectionist, I tend to spend more time on the presentation of the product (website, landing page, visuals) than building the actual product itself.My first course, for example, took me an hour and a half to create.Click To Tweet I could teach the content better than I could describe my face.
But I must have spent two weeks tweaking the sales page, editing and re-editing the copy, creating the graphics and images to go along with it all… and at the end of the day, I probably wasted a week and a half of selling just so I could quench my silly perfectionism.
Get over yourself, get it done, and forget being perfect. Be like Nike and just (freaking) do it
Shane Melaugh IMImpact.com // @
~ Shane is the founder of Thrive Themes, a company that produces conversion-focused WordPress themes. He is also the creator of several software products.
I'm happy to say that I did more things right than wrong, the first time I launched an information product. As a result, the launch went really well.For much too long, I thought building a website was too complicated and I couldn't do it myself.Click To TweetLooking back, my biggest mistake was simply not doing it sooner.
I allowed myself to be intimidated by the technical aspects of running an online business, without actually having any first hand experience with it.
Now I see that I could have easily gotten started a few years sooner, gotten a website and product off the ground and avoided working in some really crappy jobs.
The lesson you can take away from this is simple: test your assumptions!
Tim Brownson ADaringAdventure.com
~ Tim is a blogger and a life coach with 10 years experience. He is also a hypnotherapist, a NLP practitioner and the author of 9 books.
I think the biggest mistake was commited before I sold my first course, even though I have screwed up since.
I was convinced that I needed at least 5,000 people on my list (don’t ask why, I have no idea where I got that figure from), so I put off trying to sell until I got to that number.Then when I finally launched I sold out in under 48 hours and I realized what a mug I’d been.Click To Tweet
If you warm your audience up, offer great value and build up win/win relationships, that is far more important than having a huge disengaged list. Now I have a separate highly targeted list of under 1,000 that I regularly sell to.
MISTAKE 3: Not researching enough what your target audience needs.
~ Zac is an entrepreneur and a super affiliate, with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space.
The biggest mistake I made when selling a course online was not knowing my exact audience well enough.
I knew exactly who my audience was, but being in the "online marketing" and "blogging" space, I was going after a more newbie market that didn't have money to invest in a new training, course or product.
As I continued to learn more about this newer audience and how to cater to them, I also learned a few things along the way that I can pass on to you.
~ Ian works with consultants, coaches and other professionals to help them get more clients. He’s known for his expertise in online marketing.Absolutely, without a doubt, the biggest mistake I made was not testing the market first.Click To Tweet
I put a lot of time and effort into creating what I thought was a brilliant product.
I did a ton of what’s regarded as best practice marketing: the whole product launch formula approach. But sales were disappointing. At the end of the day, the core of the problem was that I hadn’t hit the right spot for my audience.
The product was great, but not what they wanted. Nowadays I always do two things before investing heavily in product creation.
I always survey my audience to find out if they want the product and exactly what they want from it. Then I always launch a paid pilot first to make sure people are willing to actually buy it.
Once I have enough people signed up for the pilot, I start creating the material, not before.
~ Sharyn is a business learning consultant. She provides marketing content for coaches, consultants, and educators.
I had quite a few failures online before I found my sweet spot. And in almost every case, the biggest reason was lack of enough research.
In one case, it was a matter of not thoroughly researching the nature of the competition in the market. The big players had massive resources at their disposal for marketing and SEO. I was a newbie with what I thought was a great idea, according to my keyword research.
Well, keyword research is just a little portion of the research you need to do before getting started. In fact, I don't believe it's as important now as it once was. In the case of my current business, people don't specifically search for my type of products online.
In another case, my mistake was not doing enough research into my target audience's needs and challenges. I thought I knew what they wanted, but I was off the mark.
The problem was that I listened to my most vocal customers exclusively. It's great to get feedback from your customers, but you can't assume they speak for the majority.
I'd gotten a couple of requests for courses on a specific topic, jumped into creating that course, launched it, and.... I sold about half of what I normally do. Ok, so maybe some people wouldn't consider that a total flop or a huge mistake. But it taught me to look at more than customer feedback.
Now I also look at trends in past sales of different course topics, and I look at hot topics in my customers' market. Sometimes, customers don't know what they want until you offer it, so your research has to involve keeping ahead of your market. That way, you can tell them what will help them solve their problems.
Luckily, when it comes to selling a course online you have the freedom to fail without it having a tragic effect on your finances. If you can confirm the demand for your core idea first, with some market and competitor research, you can always test and tweak it as you go along and get more feedback.The first launch of your course or product is a form of research in itself. Click To TweetKeep it as 'light' as possible, without pumping tremendous resources into the launch. When you see the reaction, what works and what doesn't, you can learn from those first mistakes. Then each launch after that will be a bigger and bigger success.
Louie LucBuzzNitrous.com // @
~ Louie shares traffic building tips and puts the latest online business ideas to the test on his authority blog over at BuzzNitrous.com.
When I first created a digital product and tried to sell it, I made a few mistakes that led the business to a... complete failure.
Mistake #1: Not understanding my audience.
I thought I had picked the right niche, but I missed to comprehend how much money my audience was willing to spend to buy my product.
I'm not objectively referring to the price I've set. I'm talking about online consumer habits and purchasing power. That's where I was wrong.It’s hard to make money from a set of individuals that prefer free stuff to solve their problemsClick To Tweet
Lesson learned:Don't just try to find a bunch of people interested in what you have to offer. You still need to learn if they are actually going to buy it.
Mistake #2: Picking the wrong partner.
Another problem that contributed to sink the business was the partner I chose to work with.
Our partnership started wonderfully. I was very much impressed by his skills, willing to do more and going beyond what was originally planned out.
I remember telling myself: "I’ve nailed the partner picking part!! Couldn't have found a better guy to join me."
Nevertheless, just like with the best marriages, we only really start getting to know the other person when darker days arrive.
As soon as my partner saw the panoply of obstacles that arose along with amount of extra work and grind needed to overcome them, his excitement and willpower suddenly faded away until he completely lost interest in the business.
I saw myself in a weird place. I had to remind and ask him to do his work and even had to confirm if he was really taking care of his tasks... To make things more complicated, getting in touch with my partner became harder and harder.
We even did reach a point where all he wanted was to get his half of the profits without doing anything!
Lesson learned:Be careful and pay close attention when picking and choosing who to work with. Even if that person is a friend or a relative (like it was, in my case), partnering up with wrong person can make your business fall apart.
Mistake #3: Underestimating the competition.
Sometimes you get in a business simply my measuring your competition and thinking you can do better than them: «it will be nice and easy to overtake these guys.»
You might be right… until you find out that it isn’t always the case.
I had a fair amount of competition* on my product’s niche and I made the mistake to assume that I could beat them easily just by coming out with a better product.
I then set out to develop the best and more up-to-date solution on the market thinking it would be enough to be number one. Oh boy… was I wrong!
To get straight to the point: quality is NOT all it matters.
There are some brands out there that have very loyal followers; even if their products are not that good. It almost feels like a love affair between the customer and their favorite brand. Or just like that brand is the school’s most popular kid.
No matter how hard you try or how good you promote your product, it simply doesn’t work!
Lesson learned:Don’t make the wrong assumption that all it takes to beat your competition is having a better product. Quality is definitely not everything. Emotional attachments and popularity also play a big role in the game.
*In case you’re wondering, my competitors had a different monetization model than me, so they did take some money out of it too.
All in all, I’m not sorry about having made all of these mistakes and errors during my first product attempt. They taught me great lessons I couldn’t have learned otherwise.
You need to see them as learning steps and think positive - they’ll make you stronger.
After all, you first need to walk before you can run.
~ Allan is a SEO guru, internet marketing specialist and web business developer.
Back in 1999, I launched my first major online business UCanBuyArt.com. I had a very Field of Dreams attitude to the internet at that time. I believed if you built it, visitors would come.
After building and launching the site, I realized my mistake when the site had no visitors. To make things worse the money used to build the site was my entire savings. With nothing left to market the site, I was in a difficult situation. This was not my biggest mistake.The biggest mistake was deciding to try to sell original high-end art online.Click To Tweet At the time the Internet was still relatively new and online purchases were not as common as they are today. People were nervous about whether they could trust paying via online transactions.
Not only were people nervous using their credit cards, but the normal way to buy fine art was to visit a bricks and mortar gallery. People needed to see the paintings before people felt comfortable enough in spending $2000 or 3000.
My site was completely an online shopping experience that offered only small 300 pixel wide images of the products. This was the time AOL and dial-up access so I had to make sure the pages would load up quickly regardless of the person's Internet connect.
So there I was in the worst possible situations with a website no visitors, selling things people weren't comfortable buying online, and at a time when people weren't ready to buy. I probably should have mentioned that I didn't know anything about art or know any artists willing to go on my website.
This online venture was a very big mistake. However, a few months later, I had over 300 artists and several million dollars in inventory and over 2000 visitors/day and a few sales each month.
What turned my horrible situation around was my natural talent for SEO and sheer determination. When I designed the site, I made each page target popular keywords and trained the artists on how to market themselves and the site. The site was able to make money and generate a modest income, but it was a major learning experience for me.
My takeaways from the experience were: Always budget as much for the marketing effort as you put into the web development costs. This is often the biggest mistake others make they put everything into the development, but realize that is only the beginning.
Once built the next step is to promote. Always understand you market and the demand for your product from the very beginning. When I plan to launch a new product or site, I check the Google's keyword planner tool to see how searches there are for that product so I know what the demand is like.
Also, I like at the top ranked sites and use SEMrush to determine how competitive they are, so that I will know how much effort will be required to break into the market space.Ultimately, every mistake even the biggest ones can be good as long as you learn from them and don't repeat them in the future.
Tor Refsland TimeManagementChef.com // @
~Tor helps online entrepreneurs NETWORK with influencers and position their BRAND so they can attract the right CLIENTS fast. He is an award-winning blogger.
In the start I created a huge course on time management called Time Mastery. It contained everything I knew on time management and it would literally save people several weeks in a year. It helped online entrepreneurs how to become more productive and get more stuff done.
Each module in the course was presented in video (where I was drawing and explaining on a white board), audio and text. In addition, I had worksheets for each module.
It all sounds good so far, right?
The only problem was… that I created the course BEFORE I knew what my audience wanted.I did the FATAL mistake to believe that I thought I knew what people wanted.Click To Tweet
And hey! That´s just stupid. Because we can´t read minds.
This is something that many bloggers and marketers have done wrong, including the successful marketer Eben Pagan (yeah, he told me that he had done it too).
So what happened?
And to be honest, it sucked BIG time.
Then I got fed up of failing
I needed to listen to my audience.
Even though my blog initially started in the productivity niche, people were more interested in learning how I built my brand so fast.
Blogger outreach helped me get featured on 158 blogs in my first 14 months and I built an email list of 3600+ subscribers.
So what did I do?
I needed to verify if people were really interested in blogger outreach.
Derek Halpern from Social Triggers says that you should create a free product BEFORE your create a digital product, since it will test if there is a market.
I thought that it made sense. However, there was no way I was going to waste my time creating a free course BEFORE I knew that it was something people really wanted.
So I created something that I call…
The Pre-Free Technique
It basically means that you create an opt-in for your free course BEFORE you have created it.
I decided to only have 100 spots, and if those spots were taken, it meant that there was a market for that specific topic.
I published a post on blogger outreach strategy and waited in excitement.
The 100 spots were taken in…
The post had a conversion rate of 18,14%.
That was crazy. And it meant that this was obviously something people were interested in.
Then I made the 100 spots into a VIP list (with some exclusive benefits), and created a new waiting list for the rest.
Long story short.
In about 3 months, I´ve built a very laser targeted list on 600 people who are interested in blogger outreach.
I have created an awesome course How To Blog Outreach Like A Boss, where I give them some of my best blogger outreach tips (that no one else uses).
And the feedback I have gotten is amazing.
In the end of March, I will be launching an advanced course on how to network with influencers.
And it will contain a step-by-step guide:
- How I built genuine relationships and got testimonials from some of the biggest names in the industry, Evan Carmichael, Jon Morrow, Yaro Starak, Jaime Tardy and John Lee Dumas
- How I networked with an influencer with 306 000 subscribers on his list
- How I used blogger outreach to build an online business that went from zero to $3000 per month in less than 3 months
The course will have limited spots, and I will over-deliver like crazy.
Don´t waste your time on creating a product before you know if there´s a market.
Heck, don´t waste your time one creating a free product before you know there is market.
Learn from my stupid mistakes.
Start using The Pre-Free Technique and you can in a very short time see if your audience are interested in your product.
~Francisco is an online business entrepreneur, specialised in inbound marketing, SEO and social media marketing.
Well, what can I say? I think that one of the biggest mistakes I made when creating a product (digital) was that I have NOT done my homework properly.When I mean homework, I mean a thorough market analysis about my target audience and competitorsClick To Tweet Turns out that I was so focused on thinking that "it was the next big thing" that I totally forgot to do the basics.
Instead of looking around at what already was there, "spying" on social networks to see what people are having problems with related to the product I was preparing to launch, I simply created it, prepared a landing page and started to market it with "paid advertising".
Well, needless to say that it was a total disaster.
Was it all wrong? Not completely, I always see the "bright side" of things. The disastrous results served as a launching pad for me to do things properly the next time. It gave me some important lessons. One of them is what we tend to often overlook. Don't forget the basics.
~ Bradley is the founder of Learn To Blog is a community of passionate entrepreneurs, marketers, visionaries, small business owners who are using blogging to grow their mission online.
The biggest mistake I made in starting to sell my courses online was assuming I knew what my audience wanted instead of asking them what they wanted. It's so easy to think I am my customer and I know what they want.
Many times I would create stuff and waste so much time only to find out that people don't want it.Just recently I surveyed 4,000 customers because I thought I had an idea to a brilliant product.Click To Tweet
The feedback I received from the Google Form was that people were interested in the service, but not willing to pay for the product.
I scrapped the idea and it only took one hour of my time to create the form and write the email. That is what they mean by failing fast.
~ Jane helps entrepreneurs and professionals become bestselling authors.
The biggest mistake I made putting my course online, is that I assumed I knew exactly the right course to create.I never asked my audience and list what their biggest challenge is.Click To Tweet I assumed I knew, and went and built courses based on my assumptions. The results were disappointing.
Once I started asking them what the biggest problem they would like me to solve, my course gets better reception and sell more. The reasons are twofold.
I have created solutions to my audiences’ main problem, because I use some of their responses verbatim in my marketing and sales page for the courses, it resonates deeply with them.
They think “Wow, she really gets me,” so they trust that I can, in fact, help them, and they buy the course.
~ Jason is a business and executive coach. He helps entrepreneurs create the business, life, relationships and love they desire and deserve.
I didn't think through the additional revenue streams I could reach by targeting a specific audience.I started selling 'life coaching' services and not 'business and executive coaching.'Click To Tweet
When I could get access to the corporate or business markets, it was much easier to upsell additional programs and offerings because I can point to specific ROI I helped the individual achieve.
Also, I could get the "business" to pay for it versus an individual.
~ Ben is a blogger, athlete, entrepreneur, writer and optimal health enthusiast.
I made the mistake of trying to make products that appealed to everyone and solved all of their problems. As a result, I confused everybody and no one had a clue what I was really offering. Confused people don't buy.
As a result, I confused everybody and no one had a clue what I was really offering. Confused people don't buy.For your marketing to be effective, the reward needs to be simple, clear and focused.Click To Tweet Most successful products promise a breathtakingly simple reward.
There's two online courses, that have brilliant, clear and simple rewards. Let's take a look Michael Port's Book Yourself Solid and Ramit Sethi's Zero To Launch:
Book Yourself Solid - "Get more clients than you can handle, even while working less"
Zero To Launch - "Break The Shackles Of Your Job, Your Calendar, And Your 9-To-5 Income"
See what I mean! Both have simple, clear and focused rewards that sell a lot of product.
Clarity = Power.
MISTAKE 3: Setting a price too low
Stuart Walker NicheHacks.com // @
~ Stuart is the CEO and Founder of Niche Hacks. He is an online entrepreneurs specialised in affiliate marketing.
Selling my products too cheaply for far too long. Only in the last couple months did I put them up to a more reasonable price.
I was selling the digital info-products for $7. And my membership for $9.99 per month.
But they are worth far more than that.
The content contained within those products made me tens of thousands of dollars and anyone putting it to good use can potentially make a lot of money too from them.The lower you price your products the more refunds and lower quality customers you seem to get.Click To Tweet The ticket buyers take up more of your time in support and complaints than anyone else.
So recently I put the price of the digital products up to $29.99.
And the membership is now $29.99.
And honestly people are still getting a bargain, they 6 new niche reports every month which are worth more than $29.99 each (you can see what they get here) so it's a good deal.
So far fewer complaints.
And whilst it's too soon to jump to conclusions about revenue it looks promising so far that it will increase my bottom line whilst cutting out more of the bad customers.
Can't be bad, can it?
~ Ryan is the founder of Blogging From Paradise, where he teaches people how to earn money from blogging, generate more traffic, all that while traveling to exotic places.
Under pricing! I didn't shoot for the fences; I shot for the basement. I figured I'd make my eBooks cheap so people could afford them. But I soon learned this; people buy what they value.Folks perceive products or courses based on the price they pay for the products or courses.Click To Tweet It's an energy thing. I formerly priced all my eBooks at 99 cents. To attract tire kickers.
Then one day, I shifted from "making my eBooks affordable" to "charging more for the average eBook because I know how to live in Fiji for 4 months as a pro blogger and Bali for a year as a pro blogger."
Naturally, one should look at what others are charging for some product or service. Then, one should develop a benchmark price. Then, one should charge a bit more. Offer a premium product. You're valuable enough, and your value shared is worth it.
If you don't believe that, your fears will be reflected back to you through the injurious mistake of underpricing your products. You'll attract broke folks. And struggle to make appreciable income. But if you charge a premium, folks will pay for it.
You literally create the market for your product based on your belief in self and in your abilities, and as you see your worth expand, and charge a premium, the Universe mirrors back the belief to you, through folks who'll greedily and happily and gratefully pay the premium to listen to your brilliant, helpful story, and to gobble up the colorful, one-of-a-kind value you have to share with the world.
~ Ionut is the co-founder of Themeisle and the founder of Codeinwp. He is an engineer and a full-time traveler.
As anyone who just started selling products online, I also made and learned from my mistakes.
Probably my biggest mistake was thinking that price was the solution for our customers needs.
Truth is people don't buy a price, they buy a solution and by sacrificing price you end up offering a lesser quality product.You have to be the best, not the cheapest. Click To Tweet
MISTAKE 4: Not having or not communicating well with your email list
~ Sujan is the leading expert in digital marketing.He is also the co-founder of Content Marketer and Narrow.io, tools to help you scale and automate your social media and content marketing efforts.
The biggest mistake I've ever made was when I launched my ebook 100daysofgrowth.com last year.
I didn't setup an email nurture campaign for the people who purchased the book to continue hearing from me.
Although I addressed the issue 3-4 months later I lost out on building a stronger connection with 10k+ who purchased the book during that time.
The worst part of this was that I already had a weekly newsletter from my personal blog SujanPatel.com.It was a huge loss from simply forgetting to connect a few dots together.Click To Tweet
~ Tim is the Head of Marketing at Ahrefs and founder of Blogger Jet. He has founded two plugins for WordPress: Tweet Dis and Content Upgrades PRO.
I’ll tell you a story of two products that I’ve launched.
Both products are premium plugins for WordPress.
Both of them have similar pricing.
And the structure of their sales pages is pretty much identical.
But with the first plugin it took me 13 months to earn my first $100 while with the second one, I made $100 before even having a working prototype on my hands.
So what made the difference?
Mistake #1: Not building an audience of potential customers.
Back when I released my first plugin I didn’t have an email list of people to promote it to.
So I ended up hustling real hard to bring people to my sales page and make it rank in Google for a bunch of keywords.
But with the second plugin, I already had an email list of regular readers of my blog. So I sent them a short pitch with a link to my sales page and immediately landed a few sales.This clearly illustrates why online marketers are so obsessed with growing their email lists.Click To Tweet
Mistake #2: Not selling my product before I build it
This one is absolutely genius!
Most people think that in order to sell something they have to build it first, right?
If you look at the top marketers of our planet - they sell stuff BEFORE building it.
Not only this helps them to validate the idea of a product, but it also pushes them to ship it faster.
That’s exactly what I did with my second plugin.
Instead of spending months to build it just to realise that no one needs it, I announced pre-orders with huge “early adopter” discount (just to see if people are willing to pay for this piece of software).
That is how I landed my first customers before even building the plugin. And I also got some money to pay for it’s development.
So whatever it is that you want to sell - try selling it before you actually build it.
And believe me, that people trusted you their money should really push you towards shipping that product to them as fast as you can.
~ Kim is a full-time internet marketer, a social media addict and blogger.
Wow... We've made so many.
I think many entrepreneurs online try to avoid mistakes. But mistakes are so important. Failure is actually a road you must travel ON the way to success.
There's no getting to success without making mistakes. Without having some failures. Everything you want in life is actually on the other side of failure.
And when it comes to product launches, we've made every mistake in the book. Everything from the shopping cart not working. To students not being able to get access to what they purchased.
In fact, those first few product launches we're a bit like riding a Wild Bull. You just hold on for dear life! You're never quite sure if the Bull is gonna throw you off or kick you straight in the face. But... Over the years, I learned (the hard way) from one product launch after the next.
But one thing that I think people don't often think about as much is the customer experience AFTER they've purchased. What does the customer journey look like after they click the buy button? Because that's when your work has actually just begun.The post-purchase sequence is the most important of them all. Click To TweetThis is where you turn customers into life-long fans.
If I were to travel back in time to my younger self, I would tell her to focus more on the post-purchase experience. This is something that we're continuously working hard to improve in our own business. And it goes WAY beyond the welcome email.
Your first job is to get the customer a "quick win". What can you teach them in 15-20 minutes to give them an immediate win? Give them a quick win and they will love you for life.
So my first few emails to the customer are focused on getting them to consume the product. And more specifically, to watch a 15-20 minute training that will get them their first quick win.
After that, we focus on getting them engaged in our private Facebook group. Where they can come to ask questions, share their progress, and stay accountable. We also like to hold monthly challenges to keep people engaged and taking action.
Then... a few weeks into the course itself we give them a place where they can share their testimonials / case studies. So we're focusing more on getting them to take action. Versus just overloading them with a ton of content. We want to create transformation. Not just information.
Because the real magic comes when your customers start taking action. And you can create a process that facilitates their success.
~ Beth is a content marketing strategist, social media expert, well-known speaker, author and staff writer for Copyblogger.
When I first started offering online classes, my biggest mistake was that I wasn't promoting in a smart way.
I usually sent ONLY one email to my list about a particular class, with no follow-up or reminders after that initial message.
I often assumed that if I didn't sell many spots in the class the first time I mentioned the program to my list, that the class was a failure (and I usually felt like a big failure, too!)
These days, I know I need to open and close my shopping cart on particular days and make sure I always send follow-up reminders, especially on the last day before the cart closes.Now, the last day of my online program registration period is almost always my highest sales day!Click To Tweet
If you're worried about nagging your subscribers with reminders, you can also segment your list a bit, and only send the final "Hey, we're closing the cart in two hours" email to the folks who already clicked on your sales page at some point in your promotional period.
That way, you're sending that final reminder ONLY to the people who have already showed some interest in the program, and you're not bothering the folks who aren't interested at all.
So here's the lesson: Make sure you always have open and close periods for your online courses, and don't be afraid to follow-up on the last day to let people know registration is closing. You're missing out on sales if you don't!
~ Dennis is an online entrepreneur, author, podcaster and blogger. He writes about SEO, business and startups. He is also co-founder of Leap Froggr, a digital marketing company.Back when I first started, my biggest mistake was about follow through. I didn’t know any betterClick To Tweet
For this example, I had a niche site that talked about solar energy.
I created a cheap ebook that I can sell to people. I just thought that would be awesome for making extra money.
I never thought about the long-term or what I could do with those that bought.
I started to get people on the site through search engines, which means most of my traffic were targeted and converted really, really well.
People started buying the ebook and that was it. I never “really” collected leads through email though I have the email list of buyers. I didn’t even think about what I needed to do next and how to better monetize them. I never even thought about communicating with them. The mindset was just to make a quick buck and that’s the worst mindset to have.
I never even thought about communicating with them. The mindset was just to make a quick buck and that’s the worst mindset to have.
If you are starting out, plan it out and look at the bigger picture. Sure, it’s really motivating to start seeing sales come in but nothing beats a lifetime customer list.
~ Tara is the creator of Quiet Power Strategy™ which offers hands-on business training and support for idea-driven entrepreneurs. She's the author of several books, a sought-after speaker.
The biggest mistake I made when I first started selling a digital product was not following up enough.I thought people who were interested would buy when I made an offer.Click To Tweet
It took leaving lots of money on the table, in the beginning, to realize that following up via email, social media, and advertising--more than I would have ever thought to--would lead to doubling my sales.
Sarah Arrow Sarkemedia.com // @
~ Sarah helps thousands of entrepreneurs improve their websites, blog better and generate more leads with just a few daily tweaks.
When I sold my first product online, I pre-sold it, then delivered it.I emailed my main list just once. That was a big mistake.Click To Tweet
I should have had some warm-up content, some beneficial actionable content and then some sales messages and follow-ups.
I just sent one email saying “Here it is, go and get it”. Ouch.
I’d like to say I was naive, but I was too scared to sell my product to the people that liked me the most.
~ Lorand is a speaker, trainer, coach and entrepreneur. He is the owner of 4 companies: Coaching4you, Bizz.Club, Soleta and BusinessMastery.ro.
Well, I remember how excited I was to launch an online program. We worked so hard to come with a product that was complex and helpful and we were sure that we were about to rock the market.
The product was good, it was custom-made for my audience, but in the launching fever we forgot to target our messages.We were basically shooting everywhere without having a target.Click To Tweet Even though we knew what we had to do, we made the mistake of thinking that our product was that good that everyone would be interested.
The good thing was that we realized the mistake quite soon and we managed to rethink our communication.
The lesson I've learned after that experience was the fact that always we should position our messages about the final customer, and not the product.
~Jon is a wildly successful Internet marketer known for his Fat Stacks products.
Without a doubt, the biggest mistake I made when starting selling on courses online was not having customers added to a "customer" or "buyer" email list.
Since correcting this mistake, I've come to learn, what many product merchants have said for years, a buyers' list is very, very lucrative and it's imperative to set this up when selling online courses.
In fact, it's so lucrative, often a merchant can lose money on the first sale (i.e. from advertising costs) because the buyers' list is so profitable in the long run assuming they like the course and they're treated well via email.
I'm not very technical, so I opted to use JVZoo as the payment platform; however, I believe most current payment platforms offer options for having buyers added to a dedicated email list.Anyone selling products online should implement a dedicated email list for all buyers.Click To Tweet
MISTAKE 5: Not building a trustworthy relationship with your audience
~ Evan‘s goal is to help other entrepreneurs stay motivated and give specific strategies that can help you build a successful business.
The biggest mistake was just going for the close.People need to know you, trust you, like you before they will buy. Tell your story.Click To Tweet
Make people feel like you understand their problems, have been through what they're facing, and have a solution that will help.
Story tell more.
~ Mike is a content marketing practitioner, blogger and the chief marketing officer at SiteSell. He writes about content marketing, social media and SEO.
I would have to say that my first mistake was to fall into the same trap that has captured so many others, which is to think that all you need to do to sell something online is broadcast links to all your channels.
Because the so-called 'experts' all said how easy it was to make money online, and suggested that all you need to do is sign up for this or that affiliate program and then share it with your followers, I believed that would work. It took a while for reality to set in.
Using affiliate programs to represent other businesses and share valuable tools and information with your audience is a great idea.But before you can do that, you have to establish two things: Audience and Authority.Click To Tweet
You have to work hard at demonstrating that you're an authority in your niche, and in the process, connect with more and more people who are interested in that niche and recognize your expertise. Once you've done that, you can begin to "sell" to that audience in many ways.
At SiteSell, we refer to this as C=>T=>P=>M, which stands for Content, then Traffic, then PreSell, then monetization. Unfortunately, you can't skip to the end!
So, have an overall plan for your business and work on establishing that value before you try to sell anything at all.
~ Andrew is a growth and content marketing strategist and the founder of Shade Of Info.
Probably the biggest mistake I made was trying to joint venture with people when they had no idea who I was or if I was reputable.I learned that to really be successful selling anything, you need to forge those relationships.Click To Tweet
People have to know, like and trust you before they're willing to buy from you -- or even help you sell your products
MISTAKE 6: Technical difficulties
Jon Morrow BoostBlogTraffic.com // @
~ Jon is the founder and CEO of Boost Blog Traffic and the former Associate Editor of Copyblogger.My biggest mistake was depending on PayPal.Click To Tweet I launched my first product and the only way I had to collect payments was through PayPal.
Because I got such a huge spike in revenue, they flagged my account for fraud and held the money for six months!
~ Sean is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars.My biggest mistake would be on the conversion testing phase. Click To TweetI recall this one time when we were trying to improve the conversion of Qeryz and our goal was to increase freemium sign ups.
We weren't able to fully qualify the sign ups because the original version of the homepage didn't have a sign-up form in it while the variation version did.
The goal count was set for people who went to our sign-up page and then entered onboarding.
This was a major mistake because people who were seeing the variation version did not need to go to our sign-up page because there was a sign-up form right there in the homepage!
Because of the mistake in goal setting, the data in that A/B test was severely skewed,” he says. “We had to redo it and it took another two weeks for data gathering, which sucked.
MISTAKE 7: Doing influencer outreach wrong
~ Steve is a SEO expert and consultant, president and CEO of Wiideman Consulting Group.
The biggest mistake I made when starting to sell my first course was not partnering with the right influencers.
My response rates on email and on the website were reasonable, but when I see how industry leaders put the promotional responsibility in the hands of personalities who don't even have to sell, I regret not taking the time to nurture those relationships.I have a combined reach of 30,000 or so followers, subscribers, many are peers or lookie-loos.Click To Tweet Many already know about the industry or in a marketing profession of some kind.
Sending marketing communications to marketers is a lot like trying to sell to your peers, both awkward and non-effective.
Getting introduced to a new audience of prospects who have no idea what inbound marketing is could have resulted in a higher response rate.
My advice: before you start selling anything online, build relationships with authoritative leaders with a reach of followers in the millions; hopefully those who are in a similar or broader industry as you're going into. Put them on your board of directors if needed.
For example, if you plan on selling custom handbags, partner with fashion influencers to help light the fire. Influencer networks in this example might include: stylecoalition.com, womensinfluencernetwork.com, and tid.al.
~ Andy is a web strategist and co-founder of Orbit Media. He is also a speaker, content marketer, environmentalist and author.
It took months to gather up my best content and package it up for sale. My plan to promote it was simple, get the big industry influencers on board, so they will share it with their armies of followers.
But I had the worst outreach plan in the history of influencer marketing. It failed on every level.
These days, when I want to get a strong endorsement for a piece of content from a major influencer, I follow (almost) every step on the 35-point online networking checklist. To me, this is the biggest benefit of social media. It's all about connecting with a few people on many social networks, rather than connections with a huge audience on one network.
MISTAKE 8: Not differentiating from the competition and not setting your goals right
~ Warren is a keynote speaker, IBM futurist, influence engineer, radio host, author and an influencer.
When I first started selling a course online I was fascinated by the idea of having an online product and focused more on that than making it successful.
I see this mistake repeated by new businesses and season veterans. It's a natural thing to get excited by a new channel, tool or idea and not stop to consider how it fits into your goals.I ask myself, and clients this often. “What is the goal?Click To Tweet” .. when the answer is not congruent with the mission of an organization, I stop the conversation and go back to finding how to meet the primary objective. Sometimes with the new idea, sometimes we drop it for something better.
~ Brandon has been a WordPress developer for over 5 years and started multiple web-based businesses.
What was my biggest mistake? It’s definitely hard to say because I made so many. But there is one that sticks out the most:
Not differentiating from your competitors.
I see a lot of people release products, courses, and services that are no different from what already exists.
One of my first products was a course: “How To Build A Successful WordPress Website Course”. Within it, I went over the basics of setting up your first site, adding blog posts and pages, choosing a theme, etc.
But there were already tons of courses on the market. And to make it worse, many of them were free.
So I asked myself: “Why would someone choose my course over all the others out there?”
The answer: there was none.
That was a defining moment for me. After that, every business I launched, I would ask myself that same question. And if I didn’t have an answer, I’d pivot.
When I started my current business providing unlimited WordPress support and maintenance, I asked myself that same question: “How am I different from my competitors?”
I even went a step further. I began asking my target market what they were looking for from myself and my competitors.
Over and over again, I heard people tell me they wanted quality work done on their site. And from many in the WordPress support space, they weren’t getting it.So I made my number 1 goal to make our work better than our competitors.Click To Tweet
Obviously, this is a harder metric to quantify.
But that simple point of differentiation has allowed us to grow. And we keep getting new customers who have left our competitors.
So, when you look at the product or service you are offering, ask yourself the same question: “How is this different?”
If you don’t have an answer, it is time to find one.
MISTAKE 9: Not having a proper content marketing strategy
~ Matthew is the global head of growth and SEO at HubSpot, award-winning blogger, global speaker and lecturer.
One of the early mistakes that I made when it came to selling products online was with my content strategy.When I first started out developing an editorial calendar, this was my ideation process:Click To Tweet
1. Find topics relevant to my product.
2. Align them against keywords to drive organic search traffic.
3. Give a link to my buyer persona.
What I ended up with was a load of good bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content but nothing that was going to just attract new prospects because it was too product-orientated. I had to rethink the way that I was building out content to start with the needs and problems of my buyer persona and then have a much softer sell into my product(s).
This gave me a wider range of top-of-the-funnel content to help grow my mailing list so that I could then nurture people through to becoming customers.
~ Andrea helps small business entrepreneurs by delivering content focused on strategies, tips, resources and tools for branding, design and visual marketing mastery.My biggest mistake was not promoting it in a strategic or consistent way.Click To Tweet I would lob a little one and done marketing out there about my product and then do nothing else for weeks.
I had no understanding of a 'marketing campaign', nor did I understand that sending one email and then going into radio silence was in no way helpful. No wonder I sold little to nothing back then!
It's so important to have a series of strategic paths to lead potential buyers down. Paths that are jam-packed with tons of value and a good dose of qualifiers.
This will help people build trust and excitement about your offering, AND help them understand if your offering is the right solution for them.
~ Patrick is the CEO and founder Elite Strategies, a company that provides internet marketing and design services.
What's really funny is that in almost 10 years I've never marketed my own product online. That said, I have launched a number of brands online.
The first being my agency, Elite Strategies. I'd say one of the biggest mistakes I made was not putting the effort into blogging that I am now.
Within the first year I started blogging, we saw an immediate increase in traffic and leads. I didn't realize just how much Google (as well as social networks) love blogging, and waited a few years instead.Another mistake I made was not paying enough attention to our branding in the beginning. Click To TweetI suppose I had more important things to think about, but when I chose our logo / brand / name I really didn't put as much thought into it as I should have.
A lot of people think they need to have knowledge in order to blog, but truthfully all you need to have is an opinion. People love to read the opinions of other people, especially new people to the field.
Remember, focus on quality, not quantity. Your readers don't want to read as much as possible, they want to read the best content you have.
The biggest mistake we made was not realizing the value of repurposing existing content vs. creating new content.Just like many business owners we had a basic editorial calendar.Click To Tweet Unfortunately, it was focused on the breadth of topics rather than depths.
Once we learned how to go deep into very specific topics and turn existing blogs into multiple formats (email course, infographics, ebooks) and how to build relationships with content, our marketing took off.
~ Susan is a Ph.D. executive coach and leadership consultant.
I made it all about what was in the course, all the nuts and bolts.I didn’t think to say how people would shift based on being in the course.Click To Tweet
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