What to do with that good idea

What do you do if you come up with a really great idea?

Do you just sit there thinking “oh, if only…”, or do you start looking at how to make it happen?

Taking action is the only thing that separates people who succeed from those that don’t. The people that really succeed in life have something in common. They start doing things first, and then try to work out the details later. As one of my friends says, “ready, fire, aim”…

Woody Allen pointed this out when he said something like, “80% of success is showing up”. What he meant was, the people who can’t even be bothered to try will never succeed. Well, of course not, but sometimes even the most obvious things need to be stated for you to notice them.

And trying to do stuff isn’t so hard either. All you need to do is decide you’re going to do something and then try to do it!

You’ll have problems. You may even fail completely on your first few attempts. It doesn’t matter, every failure is one step closer to success.

I remember reading that Thomas Edison failed hundreds of times to make a light bulb that could be used domestically. (He didn’t invent the light bulb, he improved on it.) When asked about his failures, he claimed that each one was actually a success because he knew he was nearing his goal. Which is an interesting thing to say in itself. It expresses a positive and persistent attitude.

If you can get into that frame of mind and hold it, and just keep working towards your goal no matter what, you will succeed.

It won’t happen overnight. It will happen eventually. I’m living proof of that.

It’s been a struggle for me. Technically very competent, but for years lacking in oomph to make things happen. So it’s taken me a while, and there are certainly things I could improve on, but every time I try something and even though I might fail, it’s still a success.

Because next time, I know how to do it better.

Have you started doing things yet? Or are you still just dreaming about it?

Make a plan. Today. Try to stick to it. Change the plan. Do what you can. Take action.

Just do something.

By |November 30th, 2007|internet business|17 Comments

7 Products In 7 Days – The Aftermath

Well, the final day of my marathon was reached yesterday and I, er, failed to create and set up 7 Products In 7 Days. I did 3 though.

I have 4 more lined up and with a bit of work I can get those out too, but it may be the new year now before I’ll have time to look at them.

In the process I learned something I’d like to share with you. It’s the kind of thing where you already know it, but you don’t really *know* it until you do it.

A bit like the difference between theoretical and practical.

For instance, I *knew* that I could create products very quickly, in a day easily, in just a few hours even.

And I *knew* that setting up a web page was a total pain in the butt, and took ages to do. But that part was in my blind spot. I knew it took ages to set up a web page properly, but my brain played a trick on me and I ignored it, instead concentrating on the product creation part.

Here’s 7 lessons learned and shared with you…

Lesson 1

What I should have done was give myself two days per product. The first day for actually creating the product, and the second day to set up the site to promote and deliver it.

That way I wouldn’t have felt so wiped out and feeling I’d missed something. And I wouldn’t have had to cut corners when doing all the associated set up work.

Lesson 2

The creation process can wipe you out. I had to drink a *lot* of coffee to keep my brain ticking over, and even so I found myself making mistakes. And let’s not forget that the creation process isn’t just limited to the product either.

I had to write the sales copy too and I really don’t think it’s that good. It’s just about good enough, but I’m not proud of it. Even so, it was hard to do as I was so tired.

Lesson 3

Autoresponders take way more time than you think they do to set up properly. I use:-

http://www.FrankHaywood.com/recommends/Aweber/

which is an excellent service. But parts of their interface leave something to be desired.

For instance, you would think that when setting up your autoresponder, they would have the links to your custom pages all on one panel wouldn’t you? No, they’re in 2 different places. By custom pages I mean, your “thank you” page and your “confirmed” page.

Having said that, I really like Aweber. Once upon a time, I would have recommended using a self hosted autoresponder, and in some cases that’s probably still okay for low volume niches. But for your main list, you need a service that can pump out thousands of emails to your subscribers without your host throttling them. (Many hosts do.)

And of course Aweber’s deliverablity is excellent because they work with ISPs to make sure your emails get through the filters.

Lesson 4

Setting up the flow through your web site takes A LOT OF TIME.

What do I mean by flow? Well, a (good) typical mini-site has a flow through it. Each page is designed to get the person viewing it to do ONE thing and ONE thing only, and that’s to take the next step.

And the flow can be different depending on what you’re trying to achieve, and what you think is the best for the product you’re trying to market.

I’ve studied this a lot, and tried out lots of different things, and the best general principle I’ve found is the site flow method I use on the SmartDD.com site.

This is a simple 3 step process to building a long term business asset (your mailing list), and also making some money on the way.

Step 1 – Get people to give their name and email address in return for something for free. This is text book.

(I see so many people failing to do even this tiny little very important thing. They offer a download and don’t even attempt to get an email address.

I believe the thinking is that the free ebook or whatever has their affiliate links in and they’ll make money through there. True, but dicey and inefficient. People read ebooks, and if they don’t click through that one time they read it, then it’s unlikely they’ll click later.

If you have them on your list, then you can remind them at a later date.)

Step 2 – Make the offer. Discount the price of the bigger associated item by a third or more.

Step 3 – Give them their freebie or purchase.

There are lots of different ways of creating your site flow, but the one above is probably the best.

I’ve actually 90% written an ebook called “Site Flow Secrets” a few months ago, which I was going to finish off and put out as part of this product creation exercise. I’ll still do it, but not right now as I have some other more urgent things I need to do. More on that in another post.

Lesson 5

Creating your web page can also take a lot of time!

I tend to do all my writing in a simple plain text editor, and then copy and paste it into the medium it’s being presented in and edit there. (This document is being written in my favourite text editor.) I just find it easier without any of the formatting clutter to distract me.

If publishing medium is a web page, then you either have to have a decent looking template you can use, or just go for something basic. I prefer to have a good looking page design created for me (it’s money in the bank, long term), and if time is a problem, I fall back to a basic layout.

That’s what I did for my first two products in this exercise:-

http://www.flipthisproduct.com/keywordinspector/ (opens in a new window)
http://www.flipthisproduct.com/ebooklayout/ (opens in a new window)

both with basic design, just a border round the copy. (At some point I’ll get a proper design done.)

But once you have the page design, it’s not so bad is it? You just paste the copy in, edit it a bit and you’re done.

Well… Yes… If you’re not using a script to control the site flow. Because you have to make sure the page has the relevant script variables embedded inside it at the appropriate points, and then of course you have to test it all out, tweak it, test it again, and so on.

It takes time.

Lesson 6

Don’t forget the support! Even with simple products like the ones above, you’re still going to get support questions. They eat into your productivity if you’re doing it yourself.

(This leads into a brand new product I’m having developed right now. It’s a support desk, integrated knowledge base, and live help system. It should be done in time for a February launch. Low cost too, unlike others in the same feature bracket.)

So you need some method of providing support, either by email or via a support desk. I’ve been using email and help blogs for a while now, but it’s just getting too much.

I’ll be moving to a single support desk (my own) instead in the new year. All the questions and answers will be in the knowledge base.

Now I know this will take time to set up, but long term it saves time because people tend to ask the same questions and some can’t be bothered to read the docs (in my experience). A searchable database is much better.

Lesson 7

Find somewhere you can get some peace and quiet! And clear your calendar!

It just so happened that during the 7 days we had one of our children ill at home for a couple of days, a hospital appointment for my wife, and me babysitting because my wife had to take her mother for a hospital appointment.

And *then* my wife having to disappear to spend a couple of nights at her moms as her mom became unexepectedly ill (now all better).

(We don’t think that last one was caused by the hospital visit, but you never know!)

AND my developer / partner Paul called me to tell me that the final pre-beta of SmartDD v2 was available for me to have a play with!

All these little things here and there contributed to slow me down.

Here’s the first of 2 tips for uninterrupted work.

If you want peace and quiet to write, and can’t get it at home, use your local library. My local library allows me to go book an hour slot on one of the PCs, and often I can get 2 or 3 hours there when it’s quiet, they don’t mind. They let me plug in my memory stick so I can save everything to there.

Or if you want to, you could save direct to your blog as an unpublished document, and then lift it from there when you get home.

And if you REALLY want peace and quiet to work, or maybe you need to create some videos, here’s the second tip.

Take a laptop, go find a cheap hotel and book a room with a desk. Tell reception that you’re there to work on a project you need to finish off and that you don’t want to be disturbed.

If necessary, book in as early as you can, work as late as you’re able, get a little sleep, and leave as late as you can the following day.

You probably won’t need to do that because you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can create a product when you get down to it.

Especially if you’re using a PLR (Private Label Rights) product. (More on PLR another time.)

Conclusion

In conclusion, I failed in my attempt to create 7 Products In 7 Days, but if I’d collaborated with somebody else, it would have been achievable. Maybe I’ll do that in 2008 now that I’ve learned the lessons above.

On the positive side, I created 3 products in 7 days, and proved to myself that creating and setting up just one product per week and really giving it a professional polish is easily achievable if you set your mind to it.

I’ll release the third product tomorrow. (I want to test the site flow some more.)

If you want to learn more about creating your own product and setting up a sales page, or if you have any questions, please leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you.

By |November 28th, 2007|internet business|13 Comments

Survey – do you have a mailing list?

Do you have a mailing list? If you’ve just said no, you’re not alone.

99% of people who want to run a business (or already do so) when asked that question will say no.

Well I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list. I’ll explain why later on.

The importance of having a mailing list was something I’ve known for a while, but it was only 12 months ago that I started to build my list in earnest. Almost immediately, I realised that this was something I’d been missing out on for 3 years in business online.

Why the blimmin eck didn’t I start earlier? I just shake my head now and realise it as one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.

I’ll tell you a little bit about what I used to do. Just a quick potted history of my career. I’m sorry if you find this boring, you can just skip to the survey if you like.

http://www.shareitwithus.com/survey.php?id=1

After leaving school, I went to work for a couple of small steel companies that were part of a larger group. I worked in wages first and then I moved into time and motion study – it was that last bit I didn’t like. I was nobody’s friend.

After 4 years of that, I went to a local technical college for a 6 month course in computing, and then found myself working self-employed through a management consultancy and contracted out to Land Rover which is just a few miles from where I live now.

After 5 years (!) as a contractor, I was offered a full time job as they realised they’d invested a lot of money in me and now couldn’t afford me to leave.

(Hah! I wonder how many thousands of times that’s happened in large companies?)

Feeling settled, I took a pay cut and signed the dotted line, and spent the next 16 years there.

Looking back, I suppose I had a pretty good career there by anyone’s standards. My biggest claim to fame was being the data manager for the projects that introduced both the current Range Rover and its predecessor, both times reporting directly to the project managers.

And I moved round the company a lot. I think I worked in all of the functions at one point or another.

The last few years though I wasn’t so settled and knew I needed to be doing my own thing. So eventually I left.

But before that, in early 2003 I started dabbling on eBay buying and selling used mobile (cell) phones. A hobby while learning the ropes.

Then in mid 2003 I decided to up the ante a little.

I’d spotted that chemical glow sticks were selling quite well and were fetching a decent price, around £12.50 ($25.00) for a tube of 100 eight inch sticks including £2.50 shipping.

So I did a bit of research…

I found a Chinese manufacturer that seemed reputable and after a bit of email tennis I committed to spend £3,000 ($6,000 USD) which I sent them by wire transfer.

I’d never done anything like this before and to say I was worried that I was never going to hear from them again was an understatement. I knew it was going to take 3-4 weeks to put my order together and then another 4 weeks before it would arrive by ship here in the UK.

I fretted about it until I received the bill of lading and the other documents via Fedex. Phew!

Then I fretted about all sorts of other things.

Where was I going to put all these boxes and boxes and BOXES of glow sticks? I cleared my garage.

How was I going to get everything through customs? I looked around and found a local freight forwarding agent that would not only clear customs for me, but would also deliver to my door.

(I didn’t even know they were called freight forwarding agents until a couple of days of research.)

So one day at the beginning of October, a 17 tonne lorry came down my sleepy little road and a mildly exasperated driver “they should have sent a 7 tonner down here!” dropped off something like 100,000 glow sticks – 1,000 tubes.

(EDIT: It was actually 200,000 sticks and 2,000 tubes – I got my calculator out! 🙂 )

I can’t remember exactly how many there were, but that seems about right from memory.

I can still feel the emotion of looking at all these boxes of glow sticks all the way up to the roof of the garage and thinking “What have I done? I’ll never sell all these! What a waste of money!”

I worked out how much each tube had cost me, including import duty and delivery all the way from China to my front door. £1.50 ($3.00) per tube.

I sold them at the going rate on eBay for £10.00 ($20.00) per tube, plus £2.50 shipping.

In 6 weeks they’d all gone. And I’d turned over a 600% profit on my initial £3,000.

That was it. With a sudden £18,000 ($36,000!!!) in my pocket, I *knew* I could make it on my own one way or another.

Things have been a bit bumpy since then, and there’s been more than a few times when we’ve wondered if we could meet the mortgage payment.

But here I still am.

No one said it would be easy.

BUT!

I could have made my life so much easier if only I’d started building my mailing list from day one.

You see, I was selling both on eBay and on a couple of web sites I owned (I’ve sold one since I stopped selling glow sticks). Two thirds of my sales were coming from eBay.

About 20% of those eBay sales were from repeat customers.

Now here’s the REALLY annoying thing. Some of the repeat customers were buying from my main glow sticks web site (cheaper prices), but the majority would only buy from eBay even though there was no advantage for them to do so.

It was a habit.

So they were paying more money, and I was having to pay eBay fees. Madness.

IF, if, if…

If I had a mailing list, things would have been a lot different.

I would have been able to run special offers, special bundles, you name it, and let my customers know exactly where to take advantage of those deals.

I must have lost thousands in whatever currency you care to choose, just because I didn’t have a list.

So, going back to the start again.

I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list.

Why? Well, you always have to look for the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?

This is the motivator that gets people to do things. If you can point out the WIIF THEM, then people are more likely to go do it.

I *hope* with my (true) story you can now see the real benefit of having a mailing list.

And the reason I want you to start building a mailing list immediately is because with a list, you join the game. People start to take you seriously when you do a promotion that results in $4,000 in sales for them from a single email.

And of course you get half of that…

Do I have your attention?

I want you to build your own mailing list because it’s in BOTH our interests for you to have one.

I know from the affiliate payments I make each month that those that make the most money are those with a list of their own.

And with you as a list owner, I could be sending you some of those big fat juicy (sorry) affiliate commissions.

I have a series of new products that I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks and months, and the bigger your list, the more of my products you’re likely to sell.

(Yes I’ve been very busy and yes I know I should only be working on one project at a time…)

There’s a double whammy WIIFM there. The bigger your list, the more you profit. The more you profit, the more I profit.

Win-win. I love that.

So, this is where we start. Go fill in the survey and we can see where we stand today. I’ll share the results and analysis with everyone that participates.

And then you and me will talk about list building.

http://www.shareitwithus.com/survey.php?id=1

BTW – the survey script is one of my upcoming products. Very useful… 😉

By |November 15th, 2007|internet business|35 Comments