In my last blog post I asked for suggestions of topics to cover on the blog.
Thank you very much for all your comments – it was really overwhelming and I really appreciate it 🙂
And congratulations to Yvonne Finn who was the randomly picked winner of the contest. It’s only a small prize but I hope that you’ll spend your $50 Amazon Gift Card wisely Yvonne!
As you would expect a whole host of topics and questions were raised in the comments.
Trying to write a blog post which covers them all would make pretty difficult and convoluted reading so I apologise in advance if you asked a question which is not covered here.That’s actually quite likely I know but I promise at some stage we’ll return to the other issues in the future.
Here is an overview of the some of the main issues that were raised:
- How Can I Tackle Overwhelm & Information Overload?
- I Don’t Know What Niche/Product To Sell?
- The Best Method For Time Management?
- How Do I Actually Make Money?
- How Can I Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome?
- How Do You Plan For The Year?
- How Do You Consistently Motivate Yourself?
Given than we are still near the start of a brand new year I think it is a nice idea to cover these as a solid foundation for success during the next 12 months.
So here we go…
The first thing to say is that I’ve struggled with all of these myself and I’m pretty sure virtually every other online business owner has too.
So you’re in good company! 🙂
The good news is that in the majority of cases there are little tricks, habits and thought processes you can use to break down these barriers.
Having a core skill set for building your online business is crucial (WordPress, autoresponders, basic terminology etc) but even with that in place any one of these issues can break you down to the point where you are not moving forward.
My point is that if some of this seems easy to dismiss as “wishy-washy” mindset stuff then that might be true but this is absolutely crucial stuff.
Plus, as I hope you know, I don’t “make stuff up”. 100% of the information you read below is from my own experience and works for me.
If you make a conscious effort to make these things a habit then there’s an excellent chance they will propel you forward as well.
But be warned: If you ignore them, they might well eat you up!
Issue #1: How Can I Tackle Overwhelm & Information Overload?
As you and I know, this is the evergreen and inevitable curse of the internet marketer.
This said, I remember reading somewhere that studies have been done which show that as the amount of information and choices are increased the quality of human’s decision making capabilities actually falls.
Stretching this a little you could say more choices means worse results.
Interesting stuff but how do you actually get past this obstacle?
The first thing to say is that overwhelm is always at its worse when you begin and therefore the good news is that things will get better as you progress.
Some will be thinking, “Well that’s all very well for you to say Rob but I’ve been in this constant state for X number of years now and I see no sign of improvement!”
In this case I recommend the following:
1) Subscribe to an absolute maximum of 5 marketing email lists
Whether I’m included in these 5 is up to you to decide (thank you if so :-)) but you need to make a decision about this so you can reduce the amount of information “coming at you”.
Top tip: Generally, the less “hypey” the information the better.
2) Stop feeling you need to watch and read everything
You are NOT going to miss much if you don’t open every single email or watch every webinar or video.
The secret to success is not gathering even more information but instead reducing the information down to a manageable amount that is coherent with the path you are following.
By “path” I mean whether you have chosen to focus on local business marketing, product creation, paid advertising, and so on.
Aside from these tips you might like to take a look at an older blog post which has 3 Tips For Beating Information Overload.
Issue #2: I Don’t Know What Niche/Product To Sell?
I was really pleased when this was asked as it gives me the opportunity to talk briefly about one of the biggest conundrums that I see people experiencing:
“How can I create content or a product when I’m not an expert in anything?”
If you are lucky enough to have an existing passion or skill then research it online to see if you can monetize it.
This is what I call the “Passion To Profits” model and it’s been extremely successful in so many niches such as wine making, woodwork, vegetarian/vegan, scrapbooking, herbs, drawing, magic, confidence building, school teaching and many many more.
If you don’t have a passion or specific interest then you are in the majority and you still have some great options!
The first is to deploy the “Publisher” model where you do the project management and marketing but someone else is the expert.
One of the best examples of this model is Dummies.com who bring in specific experts to write their books.
A classic route to take with the publisher model is of course to interview experts on Skype then package those interviews up to sell. It works in pretty much any niche and it’s been done successfully loads of times.
Plus if you start thinking outside the box then you can consider repurposing the content into cheat sheets, resources lists, ebooks, special reports and so on.
I’ve used this model many times myself in my products and it’s work very well (I once sold over 200 copies of a single 60 minute audio interview I recorded with an expert for example).
Ok, so we’ve covered “Passion To Profits” and “Publisher” model but what else can you do?
The next option is very very lucrative indeed: Software
The great thing about this is that a lot of people think it must be extremely difficult to create software.
From experience, it’s not hard and the fact that many people aren’t willing to have the belief in themselves to do it means lower competition (which is obviously great!).
Plus software has higher perceived value in all sorts of markets. This is because humans generally prefer to acquire a tool than learn a skill.
Don’t fancy software either?
Well my last offering for you today is the “Utility” style product.
This will usually involve you doing a little bit of research or learning first and then writing a report, eBook or mini-series of video tutorials to share this knowledge with others.
An excellent example is John, one of our Gain Higher Ground Members who took some time to learn how to create infographics.
He then created a small (but extremely good!) product showing how others could do this themselves. He even added some extra tutorials on how to sell the graphics you’ve created to make money.
If you’d like to take a look here it is: http://30minuteinfographics.com/
(By the way John has a full time job and a young family so it just goes to show this can all be done with a few hours per week – even if it takes you longer than you’d ideally like it is well worth it.)
Other actual examples that have made significant money are:
- How to create an information product at zero cost using purely free tools
- How to secure your WordPress website
- How to learn Microsoft Excel
- How to improve your productivity
- How to create a Squidoo Lens in under 1 hour
- How to write a business plan
- How to write a killer cover letter for your job application
Can you see the similarity here?
The theme is on “How To” products. This works in all sorts of markets and it’s what people actually want!
Plus to be absolutely clear this is about teaching people to drive loads of traffic or some ridiculously thing like make $16,283.48 by this time next Wednesday.
It’s just simple “how to” information that is useful for people.
In purchasing your product customers save themselves a huge amount of time in research (even if the information is available for free online – see this blog post for undeniable proof if you don’t 100% believe this!)
By the way, just because the topics above have already been done doesn’t mean you can’t improve on them and cover the same topic and take a nice slice of the pie for yourself. Far from it and as you know there are multiple products selling well in virtually every niche out there.
There’s so much more I could share on all of these models but that’s for another time and perhaps another place.
In summary though we’ve touched on the Passion To Profits, Publisher, Software and Utility/How-To style models.
So, do you think you could do a nice little product using just one of these methods?
I’ll bet you could 😉
Issue #3: The Best Method For Time Management?
It’s true that time can certainly slip through our fingers like sand.
Really the only effective way I’ve ever found of combating this is brute force focus:
1) Decide on the task in hand for the next 30-60 minutes
2) Shut down all distractions such as Skype, IM chat, Facebook and actually log out of email
3) Focus and do it!
So no big revelations here I’m afraid except to say that a great motivator is to decide upon a post work related reward before you start.
For example, you say to yourself, “After I do this task for the next hour I’ll have a walk/coffee/tea/relax on the sofa/etc”
Simple but it does really work and I do it (virtually) every day!
Issue #4: How Do I Actually Make Money?
Big big topic here but here’s a very brief overview:
1) Find a niche that you are interested in that also has a decent audience size and is proven to be profitable (evidence of other products selling is mainly what you want here).
2) Build an email list
3) Create trust and recommend products (your own or affiliate ones) to your list
Now there are only 2 ways to build your list:
1) Give something away for free on a squeeze page (report, video, audio, resource list)
2) Sell a product
I do both and recommend you do the same. But the most valuable subscribers you’ll ever get are from the second option because they are proven buyers.
Also, having a product of your own opens new doors to traffic: Joint ventures, affiliate networks, product library and deals websites and so on. If you are just an affiliate with a free optin offer you can’t leverage these methods and instead need to put more work or money into driving the traffic yourself.
Build even a small list in this way and you’ll virtually guarantee yourself a residual income month after month going forward.
We’ve touched a little on product creation above so I won’t elaborate on that but the trick for your first product is to keep the complexity low but the quality high.
This way you’ll convert more visitors into sales and also attract more affiliates to promote (you’d be amazed at the amount of sales pages I get asked to promote and I just won’t because it would destroy trust with my subscribers).
I can hardly do justice to this particular question here give the scope of this blog post but I hope you’ll take something from the information above for now.
Issue #5: How Can I Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome?
This is kind of related to information overload in a way but it’s really all about distraction.
It’s quite possible not to be overloaded with information but still get distracted by shiny objects of course!
After you have chosen your path (see above) look at products and services you can invest in that are a good fit for that.
When other things come along by all means have a glance at them but do so through the eye of a producer not a consumer. In others words ask yourself questions like:
- How is this product being marketed?
- Why does it appeal to me?
- What was the subject line that made me open the email?
- What scarcity or social proof tactics are they using?
Thinking along these lines instead of simply, “Should I buy this product?” will help enormously.
Issue #6: How Do You Plan For The Year?
Another great question this one.
I don’t plan for the year as it’s just too far out.
When I worked in the investment industry people would forecast company profits years in advance. But the accuracy was so low it just wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.
In big companies like the one I worked for this is usually required and expected but the advantage we have in running online businesses working from home is that we can dispense with this red tape.
And we should!
I’ve never ever found planning 12 months in advance to be useful or effective. Basically because things inside and outside your business and personal life change.
Instead my maximum time horizon is around 3 months.
So over Christmas and New Year I sat down and thought, “What are the 2-3 projects I can work on in the next 3 months that will make a big difference in my business?”
If you are starting out then just focusing on one project over a similar time horizon will get you the best results.
Issue #7: How Do You Consistently Motivate Yourself?
I’ll explain exactly what motivates me in a moment but the first thing to point out is the huge difference between being employed and working in your own business.
In a job you can have a bad day, week, month or quarter but you’ll still be paid every week or month.
But when you start a business the work is front loaded.
In other words you have to put in work up front on a project and receive the reward later. Not only will this reward likely be further out than the monthly employee payment cycle that you were used to but there is no absolute guarantee that you’ll get any reward at all!
So ask yourself truthfully, are you really prepared to work for nothing for a while which the chance of an uncertain reward?
That’s the essence of starting any business online or offline.
The good news is that if you follow the steps carefully and consistently with an online business you have a huge probability of success.
No guarantees of course because there are never those in business. But the odds will be massively stacked in your favour if you take a proven plan through to completion.
But of course, so many people don’t see even one project through to completion and so fail to even give themselves the chance of getting these odds!
This whole process can of course bring down motivation in a big way. You get started and everything seems fine.
Then one day you wake up and think, “What if this doesn’t work after all?”
The doubts set in and eventually you slide out the focus and onto something else (probably a shiny object!).
If all this sounds a little daunting then don’t worry, I was exactly the same. If you are aware of it you will adapt. After I while you’ll start to feel more and more like an entrepreneur and less and less like an employee.
So here’s what motivates me:
1) I keep a notebook to document my business and progress
Nothing fancy, just a Word document. In it I put in new things I’ve tried and learned. Tools and resources go in there too.
When I feel the need for motivation I simply look back at how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come.
I’ve had this same document since I started back in 2010 and because of that the first 10 or so pages are purely learning with no money to show for it whatsoever!
But it still motivated me to continue and succeed, even back then as it does today.
2) Other people who are quitters
My first challenge ever was registering a domain name which I didn’t know how to do.
More recently it has been implementing more automation and testing traffic sources.
But at the time, every challenge seems like a big roadblock no matter what stage you’re at.
When faced with one I say this to myself:
“This challenge/problem/crisis/disaster is just another point which someone else will give up.”
And it’s true!
Everything you face has been faced by others before you and will face more people behind you.
The more roadblocks you overcome the more you get ahead of the game as the quitters drop out.
So seeing problems as an opportunity for getting ahead of the game is very motivating indeed.
This might sounds harsh and I don’t mean other people bad luck at all (you know that, right?!) but it’s a brilliant mind trick to track your own progress and stay on course.
3) Success, No Matter What
I remember hearing an Australian lady say when she started online she said to herself, “I’m going to succeed with this, whatever it takes.”
I liked the sound of that although it is quite a scary phrase to adopt!
I’m no psychologist (anyone?) but what this does, I think, is to remove the control you have in choosing to quit.
By adopting this phrase you simply don’t have the option to give up and therefore you progress more and achieve the success you want.
I think points 2 and 3 above actually complement each other quite nicely giving you both a carrot and stick form of motivation.
I’ve just been as transparent as I can with the above and I know some of the advice might sound like a bit of an ordeal.
But the truth is this:
1) If you want to start/build your business and make some serious money you absolutely can.
2) You need to fully acknowledge this is a business and that involves challenges, work and tenacity. With the right mindset though which I’ve done my best to outline here the strongest feeling you’ll have on your journey is fun.
Thoughts? I would love to hear them below. Please also SHARE/TWEET if you found this helpful. Kind regards, Rob 🙂
PURE gold Rob !
“This challenge/problem/crisis/disaster is just another point which someone else will give up.” Should be written in stone !
If you compare this post to this: “gainhigherground.com/what-i-would-do-differently-if-i-had-to-start-again/” you actually see that most of your problems in the start was exactly what many asked about.
This goes to show that we are all starting at the same point. And that it does not exist any magic pill out there. If you want it, you have to put in the work, and learn along the way.
Great to hear you enjoyed it and found it useful.
I could have linked to a lot of content from this post but decided to keep it fairly tight and focused but you are correct on that link.
Once again Rob your so right……. the problems/challenges just keep coming one after the other EVERY day.
“THEY SAY” just click this button here and upload that file there and it all works perfectly……….. NOT!!!!!! it all just never works the way it is supposed to.
THAT’S WHY US BEGINNERS NEED MENTORS LIKE YOU.
Glad you enjoyed it Steve and thanks for your thoughts and kind words 🙂
Points that I can use immediately (or am already):
1) publisher model
2) 3-month plan
3) shiny object avoidance
Points where I have slight disagreements or complementary approach
1) shiny object avoidance
2) dealing with overwhelm
3) “success no matter what”
Things I thought I would see, but didn’t
1) “Resource” product (e.g. “7 things I learned from …” or “5 software tools I personally use for …”)
2) How to spy on competition (actually, you touched on it in your discussion of shiny object avoidance, but didn’t develop the point completely)
All in all, good, solid information, but very high-level. I think this would have made 6 or more good blog posts.
Thanks for you comment Howard, much appreciated!
I hope 2014 works out well for you 🙂
I think perseverence is a vital key to success online.
When the challenges that treaten my progress come, what do I do?
Get frustrated, angry, feel intimidated, flame off an email? Or do I chill out, kick back, have a coffee and think; “this is not an obstacle; it is a learning opportunity – other people have had this problem – what search terms did they Google to get it solved?”
See what I mean? This is exactly what happened to me when I threw in the towel first time around on 15 Steps To Success. I just panicked at the Worpress part. Thought I’d never handle it. Now I’m building my own website!
Great comment Barry and you’ve touched on a very important point there.
Often we can’t have control over what happens but we most definitely can control how we react.
The calm, methodical approach always works the best in my experience.
Thanks for all the ‘down to earth’ experienced based advice you give in this post Rob, it is the reason why I read your posts – no hypey or promotional type information, just really solid good information I can take action on.
I have been struggling to plan for a whole year ahead – and like your idea of three month schedules. I also like the way you suggest we look at combating shiny object syndrome by treating ourselves as producers and not consumers. Studying those emails that trigger a ‘want to buy that’ reaction and adding them to a swipe file for editing and use later may be helpful too.
Thank you Moria, that’s great to hear and it’s always good to hear your thoughts here on the blog 🙂
Thanks for my winnings and the congratulations, much appreciated!
Thanks as well for this informative article post chuck full of wonderful insights and actionable tips …
Such as the quote from your #1 >
“Stretching this a little you could say more choices means worse results “- 0r, no results because we never make a choice.
Also another proven idea as to why packaged information sellls so much better is that humans, generally, do prefer to acquire a tool rather than a skill.
Thanks again, Rob!
Thanks for your contribution on this and the last post 🙂
Making choices can indeed be difficult but it’s often better to make a bad choice than no choice at all in this business!
All the best,
Epic post Rob,
Firstly – thanks for the mention. I appreciate that. Some great stuff here for people to take in.
On the product creation side of things – I think it is very much learn by doing. I faced a few obstacles along the way and I know that I will face more along my path, but as you say this is where other people may quit. I would prefer to learn the skill and more on….
Totally agree with you on the mindset properties too – I used to suffer big time from “shiny object syndrome” – now I look at the marketing techniques, not all are to my taste but if its what works then I try to take something out of it.
Thanks for a very informative post.
It’s a pleasure, you have a great product there 🙂
Learning by doing is usually always the best way, 100% agreed.
Thanks for your thoughts!
Many golden gems here Rob and really appreciate all the advice as it can be hard to keep going, especially if there are a multitude of distractions and yes it is willpower that will see you through those “iffy” moments. You’re so right about the constant bombardment of emails and most of them are worthless and very time consuming, which could be used doing something productive. As I said, all good stuff here.
You are very welcome and hear you found this helpful.
Best wishes for 2014 going forward 🙂
Nice information Rob, I would like to add something and it has to do with my own self….I followed this and read every word with a heightened anticipation…I was expecting something that would be “magical” when actually it’s just common sense…
some things you mention involving a product to sell involve my comfort zone….do an interview with some one…my fears are first: contacting some one and asking them (they don’t know me from Adam) to do an interview…. and secondly: how do you FIND (name, contact number etc…) some one to ask…
one of my problems with others giving advice on “what to do” is they tell you what to do…but…they give you bits and pieces of telling you “HOW”….your article is motivational but not anything that hasn’t been said a million times…most people don’t want to figure it out for themselves it’s not that they want an easy way but they want a viable way and sometimes it involves hand holding…I want to share something with you concerning an email I received and when you read it you may see why it sparked me:
“Different to my previous courses, This will not be a video course, but a private coaching program, web class, and member’s club.
Having taught online marketing strategies for so long, I know for certain that the way people get results is with up close and personal guidance.
……..but an SEO coaching program. It’s designed for anyone who wants more targeted traffic for free, whether you are doing affiliate marketing, ecommerce, or sell your own products.”
I don’t know if what this marketer is saying is true or not but it is what I would want from some one who legitimately is trying to assist me…and I would hope that the up close and personal would be actual “contact”…meaning we can talk on conference calls…they look at my site they tell me what tools I should use…they actually show me what they are doing for SEO and monetization and a log is kept as we went along…different strategies are discussed for blogs, ecommerce, affiliate marketing..etc…
Please excuse my rant…now back to my point about myself….that “magical” thing that I sometimes anticipate just doesn’t exist…I know it but I still find myself sometimes hoping for it….
the other problem with wanting a “mentor” is…for some one to give me what I want would probably carry a nice price tag which I don’t have…so right now I have to continue to try this on my own….one guy told me everybody needs help and I have noticed how sometimes the “experts” will mention some one who helped them along the way…I don’t mean through an email or through a blog but actually talked to them and helped them…
anyway I respect you and I did like what you had to say but it only requires some one to look in the mirror and be honest with themselves and if they’re truly being honest with themselves they would have (eventually) came up with the same thing….thanks Rob and once again nice info….
Thank you for your comment – it covers a lot of ground there!
Here’s some link which will help:
1. How to get people to agree to be interviewed: https://www.gainhigherground.com/how-to-get-experts-to-agree-to-be-interviewed/
2. Who can you trust online? hhttps://www.gainhigherground.com/who-can-you-trust-online-here-are-5-simple-tests-to-find-out/
3. In terms of “how” to actually implement all of this stuff, that’s exactly what the GHG members area is for: https://www.gainhigherground.com/op/membership/
Hope this helps 🙂
All the best,
My response to the ‘magic button syndrome’ is a bit like in The Life Of Brian film…
[Brian] “You’re all different, you’ve got to work it out for yourselves”
[whole crowd] “YES, we’re all different”
[lone crown member] “I’m not”
Most businesses need to be worked out along the way, in an individual way, bespoke to your industry, your product, etc. That’s the hard part, and also why you dont have more competitors.
Great Post Rob, jam-packed with excellent advice!
I particularly like the idea of the Three Month Plan, to really focus on the tasks which lead to completing the goals we set ourselves. (Simple I know – but sticking to it is another matter!)
Thanks Stephanie, glad you enjoyed this 🙂
Hi Rob, really enjoyed this post which is in your usual style of honesty and transparency – and l so greatly appreciate this aspect of all your articles.
I would dearly love to know which email lists you are following (or have been). As I respect your BS radar this would be a really interesting read. Cheers Alison
Thank you for your kind comment, I really appreciate that.
Highlights for me are Martin Avis, Tony Shepherd and Ben Settle. All very different and extremely talented (read: worked hard at their writing skills) in different ways.
Hope that helps a little 🙂
All the best,
Great stuff, and all good advice for anyone struggling.
Everything takes time, because we each find our own way for what works and what makes us money.
The funny thing is, when you eventually start making money online, you wonder what all the fuss was about.
Things just seem to “click” at a certain point, and then it’s all downhill.
I know what you mean, I wouldn’t necessarily say downhill in my experience but it certainly does “level out” a lot.
Thanks for your comment, always great to hear your opinions 🙂
yes this blog says it all for most wannabe internet entrepreneurs…
Thank you James, appreciate your nice to the point comment 🙂
All the best,
Many useful pieces of advice, but the one that stands out for me is the point that you make about our choices. I have made many of the common mistakes that internet marketers make . What helped me to keep going was the knowledge that I had only two choices: 1. quit 2. succeed. I am glad I went for the second choice, for now I know where I am going and I know how to get there!
Many thanks for the confirmation that we have only two choices .
That’s interesting to hear and glad you found the advice useful, it’s all from personal experience as I said.
You’re absolutely right: Choices are definitely an issue, it’s so easy to get bogged down deciding on trivial matters that take your focus away from the really important stuff.
Thanks for your thoughts 🙂
I would say that #1, 3, 5 and 7 (that’s ‘odd’) are closely linked. If you get your task planning ‘To Do’ system functioning at best for you, overwhelm and procrastination is a side-show and much less of an issue, because focus is up.
I killed a lot of distraction/focus/choice/shiny-object issues by doing this process in this video (from App Sumo chap)
I tweaked that process by adding “Frog” to the top of each day (Brian Tracy, Eat That Frog – general concept of the book – do the most important and maybe most painful job FIRST in the day – good book summary here http://www.actnow.ie/files/BookSummaryEatThatFrog.pdf ) – and listing the biggest, most important thing to do that day.
Also I have an app on my iPhone called Chime O’Clock (free) which pings and tells me the time each hour (you can set it to every 15, 30 or 60 minutes) and that tells me to write down what I just got done in the last hour, since I last wrote for the previous hour.
This process means I can reassess at the end of every day and week, what I got done, how much I went off-target, and what needs to still be done.
Keep it up,
Great tips – thank you for taking the time to share 🙂