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You know what email is and you know what marketing is – so why is email marketing so hard to get right?

It shouldn’t be. And it won’t be after you read this article.

If you think email marketing can help you grow your online business, you’re right.

In terms of marketing investment, email is still the biggest bang for your buck.

Why?

Because speaking directly to people who have ASKED to hear from you is the most effective way to get (and retain) customers.

This article will show you everything you need to know about email marketing — including how I use it to sell products every day and what business tools I recommend.

Chapter 1: Email Marketing Defined

Chapter 2: How Does Email Marketing Work?

Chapter 3: Email Marketing Platforms

Chapter 4: Email Marketing Strategy

Chapter 5: Email marketing tips

What is Email Marketing?

Email marketing is the digital marketing activity of sending commercial messages – to a group of people – using an email service provider. In the simplest sense, every email message sent to a person for commercial purposes would be considered email marketing.

Chapter 1: Email Marketing Defined

A basic email marketing definition:

Messages sent by email with commercial intent.

In other words, any time a business uses email to reach prospects or customers, it can be considered email marketing.

If you are picturing the digital equivalent of flyers stuffed into a mailbox, it’s no wonder. Ever since marketers realized they could sell products directly to consumers via email, inboxes have been inundated with “special offers.”

No printing costs, no postage, and instant delivery to inboxes all over the world — email is an advertiser’s dream.

Early on, it was a free for all: companies bought and sold email lists, sent endless spam, and used pushy sales tactics.

Today, email marketing is much different, and better.

Sure, there are still bad actors buying lists and sending spam. But service providers filter out junk mail and (mostly) keep it out of your inbox.

And many countries have implemented laws banning spam.

What else is different about modern email marketing?

It’s permission-based.

Most marketing messages you see in your inbox are a result of you asking to receive them.

That means voluntarily joining a list, submitting your email, and agreeing to receive messages from a business.

We’re surrounded by advertising we didn’t ask to see — flyers in the mailbox, commercials on TV, promoted social media posts, billboards, and even podcast sponsorships.

The difference with email marketing is, generally, we’ve asked to see it.

And done right, marketing emails can actually be welcomed and appreciated.

It’s relevant and personalized.

Whether it’s a newsletter, a product pitch, or a reminder to complete the purchase in a shopping cart, the receiver is interested.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t have signed up.

How much more targeted can you get?

It’s respectful.

Opting into an email list is now a transparent and respectful process.

Businesses typically explain what kind of emails they will send, and with what frequency.

For example, Further promises to send one email per week, with a specific type of content:

The focus of email marketing should be providing added value to the customer. Giving away useful content and resources is usually part of the strategy — not constant sales offers.

And respectful marketing emails clearly explain how to unsubscribe and stop getting emails.

But the purpose of this guide is not to give you a long-winded history. It is to teach you how to use direct email marketing to grow your business, and why it’s essential that you start today.

The most compelling reason:

Every other marketing channel puts you at the mercy of someone else’s agenda.

When you have an email list, you own your traffic.

Consider these popular marketing channels:

  1. SEO: Google updates the search algorithm and suddenly your blog posts are buried on page 43. You had a steady stream of website visitors, but it dries up overnight.
  2. Social media: Your target demographic starts drifting to a new platform, and fewer people are seeing your posts. You now have to start from scratch building followers while you are losing sales.
  3. YouTube: Your niche becomes crowded with competitors and suddenly, nobody is watching your videos (or clicking the links to buy).

All the time, effort, and money spent on those traffic sources up in smoke.

Unless… you’ve been building an email list.

When you collect email addresses (with permission) from people who are interested in your business, you retain a lasting benefit from all of your marketing efforts.

If you take care of that email list, it’s an asset that will drive your business for years to come.

So, how can you use email marketing to grow your business in 2019?

Let’s keep going to find out.

Chapter 2: How Does Email Marketing Work?

By now, you should be convinced:

Email marketing is essential to the success of your business.

But if you don’t have an email list, how do you get one?

This section is a step-by-step guide on how to do email marketing when you’re starting from scratch.

Step 1: Sign up with an email service provider

Email service providers are basically software services for managing subscribers and sending email campaigns.

Make sure you read Chapter 3 before you commit to a service. It covers my top picks for email marketing companies, and how to choose the best one for your business.

For now, just know the email service provider is the software you will use to:

  • Store email addresses and customer data.
  • Manage lists, add tags, and process unsubscribe requests.
  • Create sign up forms on your website.
  • Design and send emails to subscribers.
Step 2: Create an opt-in offer

What will you offer in exchange for an email address?

People are, understandably, reluctant to sign up for more email. For most of us, Inbox Zero is a cruel joke. But we still want free stuff!

“Sign up for my free newsletter” is not likely to convince anyone.

You need to provide a compelling reason for someone to hand over that email address. For example, here’s a lead magnet we use to attract people who want to learn how to start a podcast.

An opt-in offer is an instant benefit, free of charge, you will provide when someone joins your email list. In digital marketing, it’s often referred to as a lead magnet.

Lead magnets can be different things, depending on the type of business.

Here are three examples for you:

  1. A discount offer like free shipping or a coupon code

2. A digital resource like an e-book or course

3. A free trial of the service

Whatever you decide to use as an opt-in offer, it must provide real value.

Try to think like your customers and ask yourself, “Would I hand over my email address for this?”

Here are a few tips for coming up with an enticing opt-in offer:

  • Save time by re-purposing resources you’ve already created into a new format. For example:
    • Books and guides >> video tutorials or email courses
    • Multiple small resources >> a bundle or a comprehensive package
    • A paid course >> offer one module for free
    • A book for sale >> give the first chapter for free
  • Target a specific and immediate problem your audience has. For example:
    • Don’t know what to make for dinner? Faster Than Takeout: Top 10 Recipes to Solve Dinner
    • Yearning for chiseled abs? 7 Workouts to Blast Your Abs Fast
    • Are new parents desperate for sleep? Bedtime Cheat-Sheet: Get Your Kids to Sleep On Time TONIGHT
Step 3: Place an opt-in form on your website

The opt-in form (also called a sign-up form) is how people will submit their email and join your list. I use Thrive Leads for creating my forms, it enables me to create forms within my WordPress dashboard.

Here’s how it works.

First, choose which type of form you want.

When you log into your email service provider, you will find a variety of form options.

Choose a design and function to suit your website, the placement, and the opt-in offer.

For example, here are a few common types of opt-in form:

Popup box: Pops up in front of the page to grab attention.

Inline form: A box that can be placed anywhere on a page, including within the text of a blog post, or at the bottom of any page.

This example is taken from the Soul Salt blog where they are offering a content upgrade to how to find your purpose in life.

Ribbon: A banner across the full length of a page, usually at the top.

Next, customize the form.

The objective of an opt-in form is to convince the maximum number of people to opt-in.

Make it as easy as possible to complete.

Every extra field to complete means more work for potential subscribers — and more opportunities for them to change their minds before they hit “submit.”

These are the only things you really need to include:

  • Headline
  • Offer
  • Place to type an email address
  • Call to action button

With the text on your form, remember to focus on the benefit of signing up — think about what the opt-in offer does, rather than what it is.

You can also customize the colors on forms to stand out from the rest of your site.

If your website is on WordPress, you can take your opt-in forms to the next level with Thrive Leads:

  • Create all kinds of high-conversion forms.
  • Test different offers and forms: Automatically display variations of forms to see which ones get more sign-ups.
  • Target different users: Automatically display different forms, depending on which type of content they are interested in.

Finally, place the form on your website.

Your email provider will produce a block of code representing your customized form.

Copy and paste into your website.

After you save and refresh the page, this:

Will look like this:

If you use Thrive Leads, you won’t have to deal with any code — opt-in forms are created and placed from within your WordPress dashboard.

Step 4: Write a welcome series

There are two common mistakes that can derail your email marketing before you see any return on your investment.

    1. The first mistake is not sending enough emails. A new prospect gives you their email address, only to have it sit there for weeks until you feel like sending an email blast.Weeks later, they don’t care nearly as much as they did when they first signed up. In fact, they may have forgotten signing up. Your first email is likely to go straight to the trash.
    2. The second mistake is asking subscribers to buy something right away. Not only is that off-putting, but it’s ineffective. It’s a quick way to lose your new subscriber.

    Both of these mistakes tend to get you reported as spam, which harms your deliverability. Being marked as spam means your emails are more likely to be filtered as junk mail.

    Having a welcome series in place right from the start,..

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Learning how to be an entrepreneur is simple – all you have to do is start a business!

Then why does it feel so damn intimidating?

Because most businesses don’t succeed. In fact, they fail.

It takes a combination of mindset, skill, hard work, and sometimes luck.

The good news is you can change your thinking, learn new skills, and choose the right business idea to improve your odds drastically.

Follow these 9 steps to becoming an entrepreneur, and you’ll be well on your way to being your own boss.

Step 1. Think like an entrepreneur

How to be an entrepreneur: change your mindset.

Waking up one day to $20k in recurring monthly revenue is usually the result of months (or years) of trial and error.

Successful entrepreneurs stick with their vision through the ups and downs, from one project to another. Their mentality enables action, growth, and quick recovery from setbacks.

Many entrepreneurs start side hustles while working full-time and slowly transition to being their own boss.

Cultivate these entrepreneurial mindset characteristics to think like an entrepreneur:

1. Decisiveness

Making a decision when you’re not 100% ready is still better than making no decision at all.

Entrepreneurs avoid the pitfalls of procrastination with decisiveness — both in starting a business and daily operations.

Without decisiveness, you can research your potential business for years without ever deciding on one idea. You can delay launching your website while you deliberate over choosing a hosting service.

It’s easy to put decisions off indefinitely under the guise of learning more, while we’re actually just spinning in circles.

Get to work as soon as you know just enough to decide.

2. Confidence

Learning as you go is key is learning how to be an entrepreneur. So even if you’re not feeling confident, you have to keep going.

Every entrepreneur knows they’re not perfect, and they certainly don’t know everything there is to know.

But just because they haven’t perfected a new skill, doesn’t mean they’re unfit to get out there and start using it.

As you improve, confidence will come naturally. Until then, feel free to download and print some motivational quotes for your wall.

3. Accountability

Becoming an entrepreneur means forgetting about blaming the system or the people around you for your situation.

When things go wrong, it’s not always your fault. But it’s always your responsibility.

Accountability means showing up and doing the work, knowing that you can only rely on yourself.

When you fail, the failure is yours to learn from. And when you succeed, the success is yours to celebrate.

4. Resilience

There are many obstacles on the path to becoming an entrepreneur, but if you really want to become one – you can’t let them stop you.

You will make mistakes, and that’s ok. Resilience means you don’t let your failures define you.

Learn to handle failing as an inevitable part of life — and building a successful business. Even if you fall a hundred times, stand up the hundred and first.

5. Humility

It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to admit when you don’t know how to move forward. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to change the world or just make money online, entrepreneurs have to be willing to admit when they need help.

Life-long entrepreneurs also understand that they must keep learning and growing to stay relevant. The world is changing fast, and there are always new things that are going to help them do business even better.

Humility means understanding that you don’t know always know the answers, and you can’t always do everything by yourself.

Step 2. Act like an entrepreneur

Some people are born entrepreneurs, but most of us had to learn and practice.

Once you start thinking like an entrepreneur, it’s important to act like it. Emulating characteristics will help you change your old mindset.

Practice acting like an entrepreneur in your everyday life, even if you’re not starting a business right now.

For example, make decisions quickly, whether it’s choosing a restaurant or asking for a raise.

Act with confidence by trying that new workout class, even if you’re worried about looking stupid.

When you catch yourself blaming someone else (a busy schedule, a sick child, a mean boss) for your lack of progress, stop. Practice accountability by finding ways to move forward, instead of fixating on what’s keeping you stuck.

Facing a setback with your health, your personal life, or your job? Resilience asks that you shake it off, and try again.

To act with humility, address your weak spots. Ask for help, take a mindset course, or find a mentor to point you in the right direction on your entrepreneurial journey.

All of these things will help you prepare to start your first business. But nothing happens if you’re not taking action on your ideas.

That’s why the first principle of successful entrepreneurs is:

None of this works without action

So take the first steps.

Let’s say you’ve thoroughly researched your business. You know the ins and outs of your market. If someone woke you up at 5 am and asked you to recite your business plan, you’d nail it.

But if your plan is still on paper – you don’t have a business.

Nothing is happening. Things just seem like they could work out.

So, how can you become an entrepreneur?

By taking action.

Taking action is the only thing that can tell you if you’re right. As James Altucher says, “without action, your business is still a dream.”

Building a successful business is a process of testing your ideas in the real world, and adjusting course as you go.

Step 3. Choose your market

Once you’re thinking and acting like an entrepreneur, it’s time to put your entrepreneurial mindset to good use.

The next few steps will guide you in deciding what kind of business you should start.

What are your skills?

Chances are, you already have some valuable knowledge, skills, and experience. To make an impact with a successful business, first consider what you can do.

When thinking about your skills, consider everything. Not just professional skills attained from formal education, or work experience, but hobbies, as well.

After that, it’s important to see if your skills are in demand. Even if you’ve got obscure skills like crocheting, that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them into a business.

For example, people spend money to learn crafts like crochet. They buy supplies, pattern books, and classes. Looking at existing businesses is a clue — it shows you if a market for your skills exists, no matter how unusual it may be.

Again, how can you become an entrepreneur? By being decisive and resilient. Even if you’re facing obstacles, find a way to overcome them – don’t mourn the fact that they’re there.

Why would someone come to you for help?

At this stage, it’s important to understand what your competitive advantage is.

Find something that differentiates you from everyone else in your niche.

Maybe it’s personality or style. For example, you could be a total badass who teaches leadership qualities.

Maybe it’s a unique set of skills. For example, a personal trainer who’s also a nutritionist has an edge in the health niche.

Or maybe, you have special insight into what a particular group of people needs, from lived experience. Overcoming a personal challenge or achieving a big goal gives you first-hand knowledge that could set you apart.

Find what makes you special, and let that guide you towards the market you can serve.

Step 4. Look for problems to solve

As an entrepreneur, customer research should be your first priority.

Once you’ve identified the people you want to help (your target market) you should find out what problems they have.

For example, if you want to get into the web development business, think beyond obvious needs, such as not having a website.

Think about the finer aspects of your prospects’ needs.

Maybe they don’t fully understand that they need your services, maybe their budgets are tight, maybe they want to work with someone who’ll understand them – even if they can’t tell the difference between a sidebar and a landing page.

Or if you wanted to teach people how to start a podcast, you would need to think beyond what kind of mic they need.

You can find out all of this (and more) by performing customer research:

  • Take to social media and message boards. Explore your key terms and see what people need (and if they need what you can offer)
  • Create and share a survey
  • Check out competitors’ customer research
  • Research in your area, talk to your neighbors and your friends. What problems do they have? How could you help?
Be a painkiller, not a vitamin

People who have their needs mostly satisfied are not very motivated to buy.

On the other hand, people who have a glaring problem are very motivated. They are looking for immediate help.

They are most likely to buy a product or service if it promises to ease their pain.

To help you generate business ideas in your market, think about what’s causing pain.

I’m not talking about profiting from people in physical pain. Being a painkiller also means solving an inconvenience, a frustration, or simply removing an obstacle.

Successful entrepreneurs lean towards creating painkiller products – delivering immediate solutions to alleviate customers’ pain.

They can become vitamins later with upsells and extra services, but being the painkiller – the immediate solution to pressing problems – is a priority.

Step 5. Decide what business to start

Once you understand your market and your advantages as an entrepreneur, it’s time to answer the big question:

What business should I start?

If you already have a promising business idea, that’s great. Congratulations!

If you don’t have the answer yet – don’t worry.

You can find the best business idea for you with the information you uncovered in Steps 3 and 4.

Basically, you need clarity on these three things:

  • Who are you helping? Identify your ideal customer.
  • How will you help them? What product or service will you provide to solve their problem?
  • What makes your business different? Give people reasons to choose your business over the competition.

Your best business idea will leverage your skills and interests, and match them with a problem or need in your market.

Step 6. Execute on your idea

Remember: none of this works if you don’t take action.

By the time you reach this step, you’ve already done your research. You understand your market, understand your audience, and you know what your competition is doing.

It’s time to start creating fearlessly. This can mean putting up a website and creating content to build an audience. Or it could mean starting to build a product.

No matter what you do, get started.

How to be an entrepreneur: Create something out of nothing

Why do people want to become entrepreneurs? Often, it’s out of a desire to create.

Entrepreneurs take ideas and turn them into communities of people making a change in the world. They take business plans jotted down on napkins and turn them into profits and delight.

Whether it’s a more fulfilling life, a thriving business, or selling online courses that help people, entrepreneurship is about creating.

That means entrepreneurs experience all of the ups and downs that come with creative work. Anxiety, fear of failure, and imposter syndrome are par for the course.

What if it’s a terrible idea? What if nobody likes it? What if I’m not cut out for running a business?

If you want to be an entrepreneur, put aside all that creative angst, and just do the work.

Start with the end in mind

Keep your end goal in mind at all times. If you are looking to start online, you need to choose an online business model before starting – and stick to it.

Many businesses don’t get off the ground because the scope of the project keeps getting bigger.

For example, the cooking blog you want to start turns into an idea for a recipe app. Then you decide the recipe app has to include shopping lists and video tutorials, plus you can’t think of the perfect lead magnet to build your email list.

All of this before you’ve finished building the initial idea — learning how to start a blog.

If you keep the end in mind, you’ll avoid scope creep – uncontrolled growth or demands of your project.

Scope creep can derail your entire vision, so it’s important to keep your end goal in mind for each stage of building your business.

Don’t be afraid of the blank space – the nothingness. Your job as an entrepreneur is to make things happen in that space.

More importantly, don’t be afraid to launch.

Step 7. Launch and learn

One of the most critical steps to becoming an entrepreneur is launching and learning.

Most successful entrepreneurs have projects behind them that turned out less than stellar. But they don’t consider their early attempts failures.

Why?

Because every project that that doesn’t turn out right is not a failure — it’s a lesson.

If you aren’t embarrassed by your first version, you waited too long to launch.

The first version of any project or product is rarely perfect, but it has to be out there to become better.

Once there’s an existing version that customers can interact with, you have a chance to learn. You will find out what your market needs and doesn’t need.

Without that first imperfect version, you’d still be speculating. You might invest even more time (and money), on products or features that aren’t needed. Instead, you will get customer feedback that leads you towards a better product.

Entrepreneurs take action and launch before they’re ready, not because they’re risk-takers. They do it because they know that no research can replace the first-hand experience.

Your business will never be worse than it is today

Your project can’t get any worse by launching a version. It can only get better.

The same is true for you, as an entrepreneur. You will only get better at all of these steps by doing them. If your first idea doesn’t work out as planned, you’ll know more about choosing your next one.

Launch and iterate.

That’s when you really start growing.

Step 8. Start small, but think big

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Think what you want about motivational quotes, but sometimes, a few simple words hit hard.

The right words at the right time can change your mindset and become a catalyst for change in your life.

But here’s the thing:

The best hustle quotes and motivation quotes aren’t always from self-help gurus and motivational speakers – artists, athletes, and even rock ‘n’ rollers often say exactly what we need to hear.

Here is the quote that did it for me:

”On the day I die, I'll say at least I fucking tried. That's the only eulogy I need.' - Frank Turner, EulogyClick To Tweet
My life is now dictated by this sentiment. I refuse to not take action –  on my passions, online business ideas, and everything I want out of life.

Do I succeed 100 percent of the time? Nope, not even close.

In fact, doing some quick math – and switching to a basketball analogy – I sink about two out of every ten shots I take. But, you know what?

I take shots every day. Every. Day.

I refuse to not try. I refuse to not fail. I refuse to sit on the sidelines.

This is who I have become. And this is how I play the game. Life is short, so you might as well play as hard as you can.

It can look easy from the outside, but I haven’t always been like this. I spent years spinning my wheels and getting no traction. For a long time, I failed to make the changes that would allow me and my family to live a better life.

But no more.

Perhaps it’s age or perhaps it’s that I’ve learned to stop caring if something will work or not.

Do you know what absolutely will not work?

All the stuff you are too scared to try.

Guaranteed.

If you are looking for a change in your life, these 101 motivation quotes are for YOU.

1. Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Jack Reacher has the best one-liners. This quote is a reminder that plans aren’t always enough. You also have to be able to take a hit and get back up.

'Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.' – Jack ReacherClick To Tweet 2. No one gets remembered for the things they didn’t do.

Quit talking and start taking action. Frank Turner basically lives by this creed, as a relentlessly touring musician and songwriter. He even finds time to write books!

3. No such thing as spare time, no such thing as free time, no such thing as down time. All you got is life time. Go.

Henry Rollins doesn’t believe in spare time — every second life is passing by. It’s up to you to make the most of it.

4. No one is you, and that is your power.

Dave Grohl, professional rocker, wants you to embrace individuality. Whatever kind of weird you are, stop hiding it and use it as a superpower.

'No one is you, and that is your power.' – Dave GrohlClick To Tweet 5. Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.

This mindset quote from Dale Carnegie is a light in the tunnel. When it feels like it can’t get any harder, you just might be about to achieve something great. Don’t give up.

6. Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.

We should listen to Samuel Johnson on the subject of perseverance. After all, he did single-handedly write A Dictionary of the English Language — before the existence of typewriters.

7. Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.

In other words, keep your eyes on the prize. Short-term thinking can keep you from achieving big goals.

8. It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

Every journey must be taken one step at a time. It’s amazing how much progress you can make when you keep taking those steps. Use this goal setting worksheet to break down a big goal into tiny steps.

9. You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

Perseverance and grit — these are qualities Margaret Thatcher had in spades. Failing on your first try is no reason to quit.

10. Dreams don’t work unless you do.

Positive thinking won’t get you far without positive action. Leadership expert John C. Maxwell is right — you have to put in the work.

11. Don’t play the game. Be the game changer.

12. Success is not given. It is earned.

13. Take a moment and realize how blessed you are.

14. A positive mindset is one of the attributes of successful people.

Focus on what’s possible, what’s good, and what you can do. Author Sandra León writes that a positive mindset for entrepreneurs and leaders is the way to live an abundant life.

15. If you live for the weekends and vacations, your shit is broken.

Gary Vaynerchuk says your work should not be something to escape. If you’re not excited to go to work, it’s time to make a change. Whether you start a side hustle or explore a new career, do something that excites you.

'If you live for the weekends and vacations, your shit is broken.' – Gary VaynerchukClick To Tweet 16. Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.

This is one of the best growth mindset quotes because nobody wants to fail, but it’s necessary for success. Fail more, learn more, and do better next time.

17. It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

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We all start as employees. But some of us, with enough drive and focus, learn how to make money online and start our own businesses.

None of us are born as entrepreneurs. We are driven to start.

My guess is you are one of us — the driven few. The ones who are willing to put in the work NOW to change our lives TOMORROW.

So what’s holding you back?

For most of us, it boils down to three things:

Time: Racing through the day with no time left for yourself, your family, or realizing your dreams.

Fear: Staying frozen in place rather than face the possibility of failure and ridicule, losing your security, the unknown.

Knowledge: Not knowing how (and desperately wanting) to make more money without trading away more of your time. Plus, not knowing where to start.

By the time you finish reading this article, you will have everything you need to take action today.

Find the Time: Where to find the time to build your online business while working a full-time job.

Overcome Your Fear: How to get unstuck today – and move closer to your goal (of financial independence) every single day.

Uncover the Knowledge: The one thing you need to know to take action today. Plus, where to find your profitable online business ideas.

In this article, we are going to learn how to make money online fast in 2019.

We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s jump straight into it.

How to find the time to take action

Let’s be clear. This isn’t about how to make money online so you can live a fantasy life with mansions and fast cars. It’s not about startups and buyouts.

But it’s not about creating another job for yourself, either. That’s trading time for money, and you already know it’s not the answer.

This is about making enough money to buy back your time.

It’s about starting small, and learning as you go. Most of all, it’s about fearlessly creating and launching your ideas out into the world.

It’s about freedom.

The freedom to sleep late tomorrow if you want, or not work at all next week and take your family to Hawaii for a last-minute getaway.

“No such thing as spare time. No such thing as free time. No such thing as down time. All you got is life time. Go.” – Henry Rollins

Not to get morbid, but we’re all going to die one day. And when we’re laying on our deathbeds, we are not going to reminisce about season six of The Walking Dead.

Every day 1000s of people are choosing to start profitable side hustles rather than watch Netflix. What will you choose?

We are going to remember the chances we took, the places we visited, and the things we produced in this world.

From Consumer to Producer

We spend our entire lives consuming other people’s products and services.

We buy new phones, clothes, and cars. We use apps and watch Netflix without even contemplating these purchases — and this is great for producers.

Producers create every app, song, video, phone, website, podcast, and pair of headphones that you own or use — and they get paid to do it.

They build something out of nothing. They get paid to create, inspire, and do work they love.

You can do that too if you learn to be a producer.

Before you consume anything, think about the people behind your purchase. Consumers pay for producers to live bold, exciting lives, on their own terms.

Which side of that exchange do you want to be on?

You know that show that you are watching but it’s not really that good? Give up one episode of it each night. In that one hour, you can accomplish an astonishing amount.

The beauty of not endlessly consuming other people’s creations is you now have hours every day to work towards your goal of making money online. You need to move from being a consumer to producer.

Here’s what I propose: start small. Start something now that gives you ownership of your time and money. And grow from there. Use our goal setting worksheet if you need help getting started.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s overcome the fears and anxieties you may have around starting an online business.

How to overcome your fear of failure

The biggest killer of online businesses and entrepreneurial dreams is not what you would expect. It’s not lack of financing, the economy, or bad ideas.

It’s doubt.

Self-doubt kills many dreams, long before any external factors can come into play. Most people are afraid to start pursuing their dreams.

Or if they do start, they turn back at the first signs of struggle, convinced they don’t have what it takes.

This is why your mindset is so important to get right in the beginning. Here are 21 business hacks to get you rolling right.

There are so many misconceptions around starting a business, it’s no wonder there is so much doubt (and so little confidence).

The truth is, you can start to make money online from home without quitting your job, knowing how to code, and without a million-dollar idea.

The most important thing is to start off with the right mindset. You need to go into this journey knowing you can get past any obstacle that comes up — you can and will.

Don’t worry, I can help you do it. Check out my entrepreneurial mindset course now.

Learning how to be wrong

Not only are failure and being wrong inevitable in business and in life, but you should actively search for them to learn valuable lessons.

All forms of education are tied to a cost – the cost of failure is time, resources, and humility.

It’s not always easy to make mistakes and fail, but it is essential to your growth and your success in online business and in life.

When you make a mistake, it’s not catastrophic. Keep moving, iterating, and using what you’ve learned to determine your next move.

When you enter your bedroom in the dark, you reach for the light switch.

If you miss, do you stop looking for it?

Do you decide to wait for the sun to rise and provide you with light?

My guess is you would never think of doing that because without even thinking, you take what you’ve learned (the light switch isn’t where you just touched) and reach out to another spot on the wall.

Again, if you miss a second and third time, you never think of living in the dark.

You instantly reach out again: you don’t get beaten by the defeat, and it never crosses your mind that you might not be cut out for living in a well-lit bedroom.

Think of making money online as a light switch. It doesn’t matter if you’ve tried and failed in the past, you need to know that it will work once you get it right.

Don’t struggle with failure (learn to enjoy it)

As Seth Godin said, there is a difference between failure and your struggle with failure.

Failure is inevitable in business and in life, but somehow we are better equipped to deal with it in day-to-day life.

We don’t know if our business ideas are any good. We don’t know if we have the skills and perseverance to pull it off. We don’t know what will happen if we fail.

Learning to fail and not allowing it to sideswipe you is essential. The good part is, the more you fail, the better you get.

Failure is not catastrophic, it is simply an opportunity to redirect and reiterate your project or ideas.

Of course, you could try to avoid the possibility of failure by never taking any chances. But you will still face risks that you can’t control You can live your whole life taking the safe route, and still have the rug pulled out from under you.

You could get laid off, the stock market could crash, or your job could become obsolete.

Best case scenario — if you silence the voice in your head and push down that feeling in your stomach long enough — you can retire and live with your regrets.

Either way, life is a risk.

How to make money online


There is a lot to learn, and plenty of opportunities to get stuck when you’re starting an online business from scratch.

Even if you’ve run a business in the past, taking your expertise online will involve learning a whole new set of skills.

From creating and selling an online course to writing a sales page that converts, it’s daunting for anybody. Especially those who don’t consider themselves technically inclined.

I get it. I’ve been there.

But I learned the hard way that trying to learn everything all at once, before you start, means… you’ll never start.

The sheer volume of information and challenges ahead will overwhelm you. You’ll get buried in it, and you might not be able to dig yourself out.

“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” — Aristotle

You can read the best business books, take courses, and wait for the perfect idea for years without launching anything. It’s procrastination by learning.

It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking we’re taking action by researching, studying, and reading endless books before we launch our business.

Just-in-time learning

There is no replacement for action. You don’t have to learn everything before you start.

You learn only need to know enough to move to the next step. You take one step, then you learn the next thing.

I call it just in time learning. You learn what you need to know just in time, right as you are about to take action.

You NEED to LAUNCH something.

And once you have, I want you to keep improving your process with all the experience and knowledge you gained the first time through.

Until you jump into the pool, you are not going to learn a damn thing about swimming.

Producers do not have to learn to design and code. Producers need to take an idea and turn it into reality. Creating something out of nothing is your job as a producer.

The producer of your favorite T.V. show does not hold the camera and edit the final show. She simply takes an idea and organizes the right people around her to create the best final product possible.

The internet itself was built by people like you and me.

Now let’s take a look at the best ways to make money online for those who are looking to take action today.

  1. Start a blog and use content marketing

Is it still possible to make money online with blogging? Yes, it is.

Now, I won’t lie to you. It takes time and effort to learn how to start a blog.

It only takes a few hours to set up your first blog, but It will take you a ton of work and time (think months or years) to start seeing decent passive income. You may even feel stupid for spending so much time on something with an unpredictable return on your investment of time.

But once it starts, you are off to the races. Trust me — once you get that first win, things start to change pretty fast.

Here are the 3 steps to set up a blog:

  1. Pick a name for your blog (and buy your domain)

Choosing a good name for your new blog can be overwhelming. After all, the domain name you choose is the first impression people have of your blog.

Depending on your topic you can always use your own name for your domain – James Altucher did this and it’s worked out incredibly well for him.

So how do you find a perfect blog name?

It’s much easier to come up with ideas once you know what niche you serve and who you target.

Spend some time writing down words to describe your audience. Focus on how they describe themselves.

Do your search over at Namecheap, my #1 recommended place to buy your domains.


Grab your domain now and save 19% (for a limited time)

To help you decide, here are a few characteristics of an ideal domain name:

  • Original and available: Do not try to copy another popular name.
  • Clear and simple: Keep it simple, so it’s easy to remember.
  • Simple spelling: Don’t get too creative with invented words, or people won’t know how to spell it.
  • Common extensions: These extensions are common, therefore easier to remember:  .com |  .co | .org | .io

Choosing an ideal domain name will take some brainstorming. But once you have the perfect name, the next step is finding hosting for your blog.

  1. Get the right website hosting

Now that you have a name for your blog, you need to find a place for it to live. This place is your website host.

If this is your first time setting up a blog, then you might not even know what website hosting is. And while this can be confusing, it doesn’t have to be.

Once you understand the fundamentals of how website hosting works, you will be able to make an educated decision.

Website hosting 101:

A website is a bunch of different files connected to the internet. These files hold data and need a ‘space’ that’s secure and accessible to the internet.

This ‘space’ is what a hosting company offers.

The function of a host is to keep the data of your blog safe and accessible.

The worst thing you can do for your blog early on is to choose a hosting company based on price – or going with the cheapest hosting you can find.

You’re looking at endless problems, like slow loading times, and crashing. Add some terrible customer support into the mix and you’ll never want to blog again.

Instead, here’s what to look for in a hosting company:

  • Excellent customer support: Get help quickly when you need it.
  • Quality hardware: You need your website to be fast and secure. You can’t do that with crappy hosting.
  • Economical pricing: The best hosting is less than $10/month.

My recommendation:

If you’re serious about the speed and security of your new blog — as you should be —  SiteGround is the best option you can find. Here’s a complete SiteGround review to give you an inside look at their product and service.

SiteGround is one of the few hosting providers recommended by WordPress itself, and that says a lot about their quality and integrity as a hosting company.

Sure it can be a few dollars more than the cheapest hosting available, but it is infinitely better.

If you want excellent service, a blazingly fast blog, and peace of mind with automatic backups, then SiteGround is a perfect choice.

  1. Pick an effective design for your blog


Now that you have a domain name and hosting, it’s time to get to the fun stuff — designing your blog!

There are two ways to go about this:

  1. Hire a WordPress Developer
  2. Get a WordPress Theme

Developers are expensive. When you’re just starting out it is faster and more effective to go with a predesigned WordPress theme. With a theme, you can make a great-looking blog without hiring a developer.

Your blog’s design should reflect your brand’s identity, while also touching on a few key components such as having a fast load speed, easy navigation, mobile-optimized for all devices, and friendly user experience.

There is no perfect design for a blog – but, there can be a perfect design for your blog.

All WordPress themes are not created equal. Some are fast – others are slow. Some are secure – others will get your site..

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Do you want to know how to start a blog?

Cool, welcome to the party.

It’s true, blogging can be a great hobby to share your knowledge.

But in 2019, blogging is also a viable online business model – not just for thousands of bloggers who make a living from their sites – but also (possibly) for you.

But if you’ve never set up a website before, it can be intimidating.

Fortunately, I’ve compiled everything you need to get your blog up right here.

I’ve covered every step, from choosing a blogging platform to setting up Google Analytics, and lots more!

I’ve left out all the fluff and to help you get started on the right foot — without wasting any time.

How to start a blog (in 6 steps):

Step 1: Choose the right blogging platform

Step 2: Give your blog a name

Step 3: Get the right host

Step 4: Designing your blog

Step 5: Five pages every website needs

Step 6: Essential WordPress plugins for bloggers

[Bonus #1] Google analytics set up guide

[Bonus #2] Google Search Console set up guide

1. Choose the right blogging platform

You can start a blog and manage it quite easily today. But with so many options, it’s hard to choose a content management system.

For example, platforms like Tumblr, Medium, and Blogspot let you post your writing without too much effort.

But if you’re serious about blogging in 2019, your best bet is WordPress.

WordPress is highly intuitive to use and extremely versatile. Instead of pre-set templates, WordPress works with third-party themes and plugins.

That means you can make your blog look and function almost any way you can imagine.

Without getting too technical, here’s why WordPress is great for bloggers:

1) Easy to use

WordPress has a well organized and intuitive interface that’s perfect for beginners. If you want to set up your blog with the least amount of hassle, WordPress is a smart choice.

2) Great ecosystem

With 32% of the internet running on WordPress, you’ll be part of a massive ecosystem. That makes it easy to access resources like guides and tutorials for WordPress users of all skill levels.

There’s also massive support in forums on Reddit and StackExchange in case you get stuck.

3) Good third-party support

WordPress works with themes and plugins created by external designers and developers. Don’t worry if you don’t know what I’m talking about — you will soon understand how great this flexibility is for your blog.

For now, all you need to know is that themes make your blog look amazing, even if you suck at design. Plugins add cool functionalities to your blog, like a shopping cart or live chat system.

The WordPress universe can be a little confusing with all the hosting, themes, plugins, etc. Let’s start off by clarifying how it works.

Is WordPress free?

Yes and no — let me explain.

WordPress.org is free open source software.

Here’s how to use it for your blog:

  • Set up an account with a hosting company: Keep reading to learn more about hosting.
  • Install WordPress: It’s free and easy to install. It’s also easy to use — you won’t have to learn code.
  • Build your website: Use themes and plugins to make your blog look and function exactly how you want.

There is a cost of running your blog this way, and it’s determined by:

  • Your hosting plan
  • Any themes or plugins you purchase

For a totally free WordPress blog:

  • Use the free starter plan at WordPress.com
  • Start a simple but very limited blog
Why do I not recommend the ‘free’ approach?

WordPress.com has a free hosting plan that lets you set up a blog and run it through their platform.

This might seem like the obvious choice — who doesn’t want free and simple, right?

If you plan on building a business around your blog or doing anything beyond sharing with friends and family, you need more power and flexibility. WordPress.com will run ads on your blog and collect the money for YOUR traffic.

Using WordPress.com, or any other free website builder to start your blog really limits what you can do.

Here are the biggest reasons NOT to get a free website: 1) You don’t get your own domain name

With free options, the name will include the platform associated with your blog.

For example, instead of yourblog.com, it will be something like this:

  • yourblog.wordpress.com
  • yourblog.blogspot.com
  • yourblog.tumblr.com
2) Limited modifications

Free is fine if you want a small cookie-cutter blog. If you plan to take your blogging seriously, you will need more options.

As you build an audience or start an online business around your blog, you’ll become frustrated with the limitations of a free plan.

For example, free plans limit how many videos and images you can post.

You might want to start building an email list, or selling products. And you will definitely want to promote your blog and get found on Google.

When you do, you’ll be forced to upgrade to a paid subscription anyway.

3) You’re not the owner

When you host your blog for free, whether it’s on WordPress.com, Medium, or Wix, they own it. If they want to delete it, they can!

Plus, when you’re ready for a more custom platform, you’ll have to start from scratch.

Now how does the free approach sound?

Not cool, right?

What about Wix?

Enough said.

While these website builders are free to use, they severely restrict key functionalities, will hold you back from growing your audience.

If you’re serious about blogging, avoid the dumpster fire.

Your ‘free’ account can end up costing a lot of frustration and money when you’re forced to upgrade.

WordPress.org (self Hosted blog)

Instead, I recommend the self-hosted approach — using free WordPress software on your own web hosting account.

While the self-hosted approach requires a bit of extra work, it opens up the entire functionality of WordPress. More importantly, it gives you complete ownership.

The bottom line for starting a blog:

If you’re serious about blogging and want to make money from it, a self-hosted website is the way to go.

The good news?

Hosting is not expensive, and WordPress CMS is free.

If you follow the steps in this guide, your blog will only cost $5 to $10 a month. That’s chump change considering the value you get in return — a custom WordPress blog that looks pro.

2. Give your blog a name

On the internet, every website, blog or resource has a unique domain name. It’s like an address — a name typed into a browser to get to your blog.

For example, when you type my domain name ‘hacktheentrepreneur.com’ into your browser, you’ll go straight to my home page.

Picking a name for your blog can be overwhelming. You want it to be perfect. After all, the domain name is the first impression people have of your blog before they see any of your writing.

It’s much easier to come up with ideas once you know what niche you serve and who you target. This is the same process we use to generate viable online business ideas.

Spend some time writing down words to describe your audience. Focus on how they describe themselves.

For example, if your blog is for dog owners, what kind of dog owners are you targeting? Do they identify with the term dog mommy or does that make them cringe?

Then, start brainstorming:

Combine a word that identifies your niche with your unique contribution.

For example, my blog serves entrepreneurs. My contribution is helping entrepreneurs grow an online business efficiently and effectively.

Hence the name ‘Hack – The – Entrepreneur.’

So what’s the best name for my blog?

It’s easy to get hung up on trying to figure out the best name for your blog.

While it is essential — it’s more important that you decide on a name and move on to the next step.

To help you decide, here are a few characteristics of an ideal domain name:

  • Original: Do not try to copy another popular name.
  • Short and clear: Keep it simple, so it’s easy to remember.
  • Easy to spell: Don’t get too creative with invented words, or people won’t know how to spell it.
  • Common extensions: These extensions are common, therefore easier to remember:  .com .co.org.io

Pro tip: You know you have a good domain name when someone can understand it over a call with bad coverage.

Fun Fact: Most people change the name of their blog at some point. Your domain name doesn’t have to be permanent, so don’t get hung up on perfection.

Where do I get a domain name?

Once you have some name ideas, it’s time to head over to a domain registry service.

You can research to see which of your choices are available, then pay a fee to register your final choice.

My recommendation: Namecheap

GET 46% DISCOUNT ON YOUR DOMAIN

Why do I recommend NameCheap? 1) Affordable pricing

Namecheap lives up to its name.

For as little as $9.00, you can register your domain for a year. While this isn’t the cheapest you’ll find (Godaddy starts at $7.95), it’s actually much less expensive in the long term.

This is why you have to read the fine print:

Godaddy’s price is more than double to renew. In the second year, it jumps from $7.85 to $16.95.

While Namecheap has a slightly higher initial price, it stays the same every year — no surprises. Search for your domain name now!

2) Free WhoisGuard

Domain registrars are required to keep a WHOIS database for all the domains they host. They submit information about who owns the domains to a central authority.

This can result in anyone, including spammers, finding your contact information.

Namecheap includes free WhoisGuard protection for as long as you keep renewing the domain. That’s a considerable cost saving of at least USD$7.99 per year.

Sweet, right?

3) Live chat support

Unlike other companies, Namecheap has a fantastic customer support team that you can reach via phone, email or chat.

How to get a domain with Namecheap Step 1: Go to Namecheap and enter your domain name

Step 2: Choose the best available domain name and add to cart

This part can get tricky — if you use a common name, the .com extension might be unavailable.

If that’s the case, you can try:

  • Changing up the name a little.
  • Choosing a different extension like .org, .co, .io.
Step 3: Apply my Coupon Code: NEWCOM

Then simply confirm your order and SAVE 46%!

GET YOUR DOMAIN NAME NOW

3. Get the right host

Now that you have a name for your blog, you need to find a place for it to live.

If you don’t know much about computers, a topic like ‘website hosting’ sounds like rocket science.

In a nutshell, hosting companies:

  • Operate networks of computer servers.
  • Store and protect the data that makes up your website.
  • Make your website accessible to people on the internet.

Just think of hosting as a place (servers) to store (host) your website (data).

I can’t emphasize enough how important good hosting is for your blog.

What’s the best web hosting for a blog?

The function of a host is to keep the data of your blog safe and accessible.

When you’re just starting, you might want to pick the cheapest hosting service. This is the worst thing you can do for your blog.

You’re looking at an endless spiral of problems, like slow loading times, and crashes. Add bad customer support to the mix and you’ll want to throw your computer out the window.

Instead, here’s what to look for in a hosting company:

  • Excellent customer support: Get help quickly when you need it.
  • High uptime rating: Percentage of time servers are working and accessible (vs. downtown when your site is crashed and nobody can access it).
  • Economical pricing: The most expensive hosting is not necessarily the best.
My recommendation: SiteGround

GET SITEGROUND HOSTING

Why do I recommend SiteGround?

You shouldn’t have to do a deep dive on the technical aspects of servers and web-hosting. You just want your blog to work – and so do I. With that said, here’s why I recommend you use SiteGround when setting up your blog.

1) Well-trained customer support

SiteGround support is excellent — the reps know their stuff. If you’re setting up hosting for the first time, they can walk you through it.

When your blog is down (which almost never happens with SiteGround), their support is fast and easy to access. There are multiple ways to reach them, so you can choose which one you prefer: phone, email, and even live chat.

Fun Fact: They offer priority support with higher tier plans.

2) Top-notch servers (with 99.99% uptime)

SiteGround uses some of the best servers loaded with the best technology and architecture in the industry.

It also has the highest uptime rating of 99.99%. That means you can reasonably expect your website to be live 99.99% of the time.

So you can rest assured your blog and its data will remain secure and accessible to the internet at all times!

3) Ease of use

Customer support is helpful, but it’s even better when you don’t have to use it — an interface that’s easy to understand goes a long way.

It’s really simple and easy to manage your blog hosting with SiteGround because it has an intuitive interface.

The interface is well-organized in sections, with detailed icons so beginners can understand what they’re looking at.

For a more detailed review, I recommend checking out my SiteGround review.

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You already know lead magnets are essential – that’s why you want to learn how to craft the perfect one.

But did you know that the right lead magnet can transform your simple online business ideas?

For prospects to hand over their email address, you need to make an offer they can’t resist.

Here’s the thing, nobody cares about your free newsletter. At least not right now.

When someone first lands on your site, they don’t know anything about you. You’ve got 30 seconds or less to make them an irresistible offer to give you their email address.

Once you’ve got their email, then you have time to build the relationship – and maybe even make them love your newsletter. Grab them first, nurture them later.

In this guide, you’ll learn strategies for creating a lead magnet that will guarantee conversions down the line – no matter if you are looking to sell courses online or physical products from your garage.

You’ll also get plenty of ideas from killer lead magnets working right now to build huge email lists.

Let’s start at the top.

What’s a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is something you offer to your website visitors in exchange for their personal information.

The aim is to attract potential customers (leads), in the hopes that they will agree to be contacted directly by your business.

In digital marketing, a lead magnet is used to build an email list. It can be any valuable resource, offered free of charge when someone signs up to your email list.

Here are just some of the forms a lead magnet can take:

  • eBook
  • Checklist
  • Cheat sheet
  • Video course
  • Discount on products
  • Free trial of a service
  • White paper
  • App or software tool
  • Goal setting worksheet

For example, BidSketch offers a Sample Client Proposal as its lead magnet.

Now that you know what lead magnets are, the next question is:

How do you create lead magnets that attract leads like crazy?

Read on to learn about creating the best lead magnet for your landing pages, blog posts, and affiliate marketing campaigns.

Features of an effective lead magnet

Lead magnets that do a really good job attracting and converting leads have a few characteristics in common.

They are:

1. Specific

A lead magnet works best when it’s ultra-specific.

It’s important to have a narrow scope in the problem your lead magnet will solve. Aim to address one specific need of your target audience.

For example, Just Creative offers a Logo Inspiration eBook.

This lead magnet aims to attract people who need branding and design services for their business. An eBook on graphic design would be too broad and generic.

Instead, this eBook addresses one aspect of branding — the need for ideas and inspiration for a new logo. It’s specific.

Here’s another example to demonstrate how to narrow down your lead magnet. DebtHelper offers a Free Budget SpreadSheet to help their audience stop losing sleep over their expenses.

It solves a single but important issue.

There’s no need for your lead magnet to be an all-action warrior.

To convert site visitors into email subscribers, focus on providing a solution to a single problem for your audience.

2. Easy to use

When you get a new email subscriber, you haven’t won them over yet. They can easily unsubscribe from your list if they don’t get anything useful from your lead magnet.

Here’s an example of a lead magnet that’s simple to use. It’s a one-page pdf, and the information can be put to use immediately by bloggers and marketers when they write their next headline:

Even though it’s free, your subscribers expect to achieve the desired result right away from your offer. That’s why lead magnets should be easy to implement and valuable.

If you’re offering a report, guide, or eBook, make it easy to read, with short sentences, short paragraphs, and bullet points.

The same ideas apply to video, audio, or email courses. Keep it simple so your leads can benefit right away.

3. Targeted

When it comes to lead generation, quality over quantity is best.

Strive to attract a specific group of people with your lead magnet — the people who make up your ideal customers. On our list of 101 best business books, we offer a free download of our book. You can’t get much more targeted.

Customers want to feel like you understand their needs, so be clear about who you are trying to help.

If you’re in the finance industry, for example, a report on the latest changes in the investment industry is way too generic — it’s for anyone who has investments.

To get more targeted, narrow down which investors you want to help. “Baby Boomers’ Guide to Minimizing Estate Taxes,” makes it clear immediately that the lead magnet is for older investors. Even more specifically, those with sizable assets pass on to their kids.

The lead magnet below from MuleSoft targets SaaS providers. Specifically, SaaS executives who want to sell their product at the Enterprise level:

Don’t cast your net too wide or you’ll attract passers-by who don’t care about your business.

4. It’s action-driven

Your potential lead should be able to take action immediately based on the information in your lead magnet.

No matter what form it takes, the content that works best is actionable and easily digestible — that means keep it short.

If it’s too long, your new subscribers will read or watch halfway without getting the promised result.

Marie Forleo offers 3 Secrets to Copy That Connects and Converts as a lead magnet for a copywriting class. The target audience will perceive “3 secrets” as being short, which means they can apply them right away.

Make sure your tips can be implemented right away. That’s why checklists, cheat sheets, and templates make some of the best lead magnets. They promise instant execution.

5. It solves a problem

Pain is highly motivating. If your lead magnet promises to solve an urgent problem (or show the steps to fix it), they will rush to fill in that opt-in form.

Just remember: your lead magnet has to deliver on that promise.

When you ease that pain point, you immediately build trust. And you’re well on your way to converting leads into customers.

ConversionXL offers a lead magnet promising a solution to low conversion rates. The good thing is the user can download and apply the tactics right now.

Even though your lead magnet is a free offer, it has to deliver. Make sure it really solves a problem (besides your need to capture email leads).

If you begin your relationship with a subscriber on the wrong foot, you lose your best chance to win them over as customers.

6. It’s delivered immediately

Never make your potential lead wait.

Don’t forget they want that solution right now. In most cases, there are two ways you can deliver it “right now.”

One way is to place the lead magnet on your thank you page after the lead has entered their information.

AdEspresso delivers their “Guide to Facebook Custom Audiences Guide” on the thank you page.

The other way is to send your lead magnet by email. If you use a double opt-in, which is advisable, you will be asking new subscribers to confirm their subscription.

You can send the lead magnet through an automated welcome email once they confirm.

7. It’s free

The worst mistake when it comes to list building is adding a price tag to your lead magnet.

People are giving you something valuable in exchange, which is access to their inbox.

No matter how much time and money you invested in creating it, you should expect to recoup those costs by converting leads into paying customers down the line. If you don’t, your email marketing strategy needs to be improved.

For example, Erin Stutland’s lead magnet is valuable. She offers a free audio workout.

The rule is simple: You should offer your lead magnet completely free. That’s the fastest way to build your email list.

Lead Magnet ideas

Many forms of lead magnets can work online. It’s difficult to say that one format is the best.

However, there may be the best format for your business. By testing different offers, you can find out which ones convert.

When you hit on the right format, you’ll know. Your conversions will skyrocket.

What are the types of lead magnets you can use on your landing pages and other website pages?

1. Guides and Reports

Guides and Reports are some of the most popular types of lead magnet.

People are always looking for information about topics that are important to them. In fact, it’s usually what brings them to your website in the first place.

If you make a guide about a topic that your site users (i.e., ideal customers) need help with, they will gladly sign up to receive it.

Reports can have the same effect. Did you research a trend in your industry?

You can summarize the results of your research into a report. One example of this is the State of Inbound Report conducted by HubSpot.

Original research reports can provide new industry insights that can’t be found elsewhere. Professionals in that market will be very interested in getting the inside scoop.

HubSpot has many guides and reports on its website. One of them is a guide for people new to online marketing, promising to teach the essential building blocks.

2. Toolkit

This type of lead magnet includes resources like templates, a glossary of important terms, or step-by-step instructions and SOPs.

For example, a fitness business might offer a workout tracking log. You could get specific by gearing it towards achieving a short-term goal with pre-set exercise routines.

Another example of a Toolkit is MindTools’ lead magnet. When a user fills out their form, one of the tools they’ll get is the Activity Log shown below.

Below is another example by Trello, featuring templates for specific outcomes.

Check this out if you’d like to learn the best online business tools for small business.

3. Free trial

Offering a free trial as a lead magnet works especially well for apps and software platforms.

Free trial offers are powerful because, in the end, users are very motivated to upgrade. They’ve already invested time exploring the tools and features. Plus, they know without a doubt if the product delivers on its promises.

ActiveCampaign offers a free trial of their email service. Users love it because they don’t even have to use a credit card to sign up.

When you offer a free trial, you have the opportunity to convince your lead to upgrade to your paid service.

4. Cheat sheet

Everybody wants a shortcut once in a while.

A cheat sheet doesn’t need to provide too much explanation about a concept. All it needs to do is show your lead how to complete a task better.

Below is an example of a cheat sheet by Jon Morrow. Knowing how much bloggers struggle to write compelling headlines, this lead magnet gets straight to the point with a “Cliff Notes” on how to do it.

5. Discount/Free shipping

If you have a product that’s in demand, you can offer a discount or free shipping to increase sales.

58% of buyers abandoned items in the cart when they saw shipping charges. Interestingly, half of the customers surveyed said they can wait a few days for free shipping.

This can serve as an incentive to someone who’s interested but doesn’t want to pay the shipping fee.

In e-commerce, making that first sale is key for growing an email list. Customers who have already made a purchase are the most valuable subscribers — they are more likely to buy again than brand new leads.

Kate Spade, an e-commerce store offers 15% off plus free shipping.

The same thing applies to discounts. They’re mostly used by e-commerce stores to incentivize an initial purchase.

Rosegal offers a 15% Off for new users. However, the user has to create an account and subscribe to their newsletter to claim the coupon.

6. Quiz/survey

A cleverly crafted quiz can be irresistible to your website visitors. People love to learn more about themselves.

After completing the quiz, visitors will have to submit their email address to get the results and recommendations.

In fact, it works so well that we have our own quiz as a lead magnet.

But guess what? A user has to enter their email address before they can see the quiz results

Creating your own quiz is simple to do with the Thrive Quiz Builder.

7. Assessment/Test

This is similar to a quiz but it’s usually related to a website or a type of content.

For people to have access to the results, they’ll need to provide their email address.

Below is an example by HubSpot with its Marketing Grader.

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Are you looking for an honest (and easy to understand) SiteGround hosting review?

Cool, I’m glad you’re here. This article is for you.

Here’s the thing …

After reading countless hosting reviews myself and searching for the fastest WordPress hosting I could find – I found SiteGround.

As of today, I have been using SiteGround for 5+ years. In that time, I’ve learned the pros AND cons – the ins and the outs.

So I decided to write a fluff-free SiteGround WordPress hosting review to share what I’ve learned.

I’m going to go in-depth, but at the same time keep the jargon out of it.

Whether you are looking to get a side hustle idea going, you’re starting a podcast, or you want to get an online business idea up and running, this review is exactly what you need to choose your website hosting.

Here’s what we are going to cover in this review.

SiteGround hosting reviewed
  • Another WordPress hosting review?
  • What is website hosting and why is it important?
  • My love and hate relationship with SiteGround
  • My recommendation (fully explained)
  • Final verdict: do I recommend SiteGround?
Another WordPress hosting review?

If you’ve been looking for a hosting company that you can trust your online business with, you’ll find the internet flooded with hundreds if not thousands of hosting reviews. Most of them are total BS.

Unfortunately, they’re mostly written to talk YOU into buying the hosting that offers THEM the highest commission.  

Do I get paid a small commission if you decide to purchase SiteGround hosting through a link on this page?

Yes, indeed.

Is that why I chose to write a review about SiteGround?

No. I’m writing this because I’ve been using SiteGround since 2014! And it’s the one that powers my entire online businesses today.

It’s also why I recommend SiteGround as the very first tool on my best online business tools page.

Here’s a screenshot of my bill for SiteGround’s GoGeek Hosting

Bottom line: I’ve used SiteGround long enough (5 years) and am aware of pretty much everything there is to know about it.

Also, I host this website with them. Further on in this article, I’ll show you the results of some speed tests I ran while writing this.

Affiliate Disclaimer: This review contains affiliate links that pay me a commission if you sign up through them. However this in no way affects my recommendation. I do not recommend SiteGround for everyone. (more on this later)

What is website hosting and why is it important?

If this is your first time building a website, you might not know what website hosting even is. While this can be intimidating, it doesn’t have to be. Once you understand the fundamental principles of how hosting works it’s quite simple.

For simplicity, here’s a quick breakdown.

A website is a bunch of different files connected to the internet. These files hold data and need a ‘space’ that’s secure and accessible to the internet.

This ‘space’ is what a hosting company offers.

As you can see, your website host is responsible for holding all the data of your online business.

This is why website hosting is super important to your success, and in no way should be neglected.

Here’s what happens when your hosting service sucks.

A host to a website is what a foundation is to a house. If it’s shaky, it’s all going to come tumbling down.

My love and hate relationship with SiteGround

Just like in every relationship you will have the good and the bad. The same is true with SiteGround.

While there’s a ton that I love about this hosting, there are also a few things I don’t.

Here’s a brief breakdown.

What I love about SiteGround web hosting

1) Well-trained customer service

Sure, if you’re an experienced website developer, you don’t need customer support. However, for the rest of us, it’s crucial.

When you’re new to the world of WordPress and websites, you’ll run into problems and when you do – having reliable support to get help from is a real lifesaver!

SiteGround’s customer support is excellent!  Stellar, in fact.

They invest in trained experts, not general support that acts like they understand your problem.

At times when I’ve had to communicate with them, I’ve found their customer reps to be extremely friendly, helpful, and patient.

You have multiple ways to reach them ranging from live chat, telephone to a ticket based system.

Note: They even tell you how many customers are ahead of you, and in most cases the wait time is minimal!

2) 99.99% uptime rating

Uptime is the number of hours your website is live and available on the internet. Downtime is the exact opposite.  

Ideally, you want 100% uptime because a downtime implies your website is not accessible to people trying to access it.

To a business, this can lead to lost traffic, leads, and sales — lost because you chose a crappy hosting company and your website is down.

Downtime can also have a negative impact on SEO, and this will prevent your website from getting to the first page of Google, and that’s the last thing you want.

Fortunately, SiteGround offers 99.99% uptime which in the web hosting industry is the gold standard.

Note: If you ever experience more than 0.1% downtime on a yearly basis SiteGround will compensate you credit in your next subscription.

Cool guarantee, bro. I’d rather have a site that doesn’t go down.

4) An extremely intuitive interface

Another benefit of SiteGround hosting is how it simplifies the complex process of managing a website server  right from setting up the website to creating a new one and later transferring it.

A glance of SiteGround’s interface consists of well-organized and highly descriptive icons that make it extremely easy to identify what’s what.

Their hosting is great for anyone new to websites, as you won’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure things out.

Alright, on with the SiteGround reviews!

5) Free website migration (for GrowBig/GoGeek)

If you already host a website with another service, you will need to do a website transfer, which can be a difficult and complicated process.

If you don’t have the technical know-how, you’re going to run into problems.  Sure you can hire an expert to transfer it for you, but this comes with its own set of challenges.

Fortunately, SiteGround simplifies this process by handling the transfer for you – and for free!

What does ‘free’ really include?

SiteGround’s free website transfer lets you move everything from your old host – the website, FTP accounts, configurations, etc. – at no extra cost.  

Note: this service is free exclusively to GrowBig and GoGeek tiers.

Basically, you’re going to have everything transferred from your old host by an expert who knows what he’s doing – and that means no bugs, unforeseen issues, or downtime!

Okay, how does the website transfer work?

Step 1: Sign up with SiteGround

SIGN UP WITH SITEGROUND

The first step is to sign up with SiteGround. Remember, if you want to take advantage of the free website transfer,  you’ll have to pick either the GrowBig or the GoGeek plan.

Step 2: Request your website transfer

After you’ve signed up with SiteGround you have two ways to request a website transfer:

1) Request website transfer through the setup wizard:

I recommend this method if you haven’t set up an account with SiteGround.

All you have to do is select Transfer a website in SiteGround’s Account Setup Wizard and click Confirm.

Next, an inquiry will be generated to which SiteGround’s amazing support team will promptly respond.

2) Request website transfer through support section:

Alternatively, you can directly raise a support request by heading to your SiteGround User area and then to Support > Request Assistance From Our Team > Proceed to contact us here link.

Among the list of services select Advanced Technical Services and click the ‘Transfer Website’ option.

From the dropdown under Select Account choose the website you want to transfer. Next, choose the radio button  ‘I am transferring from another web host.’

Note: If your previous host is not running CPanel you will have to transfer email accounts, configurations, etc. manually.

Lastly,  fill in the all the required fields and click Submit. SiteGround’s support team will be notified about your inquiry and get back to you.

CLICK HERE TO TRANSFER YOUR WEBSITE

5) Cloudflare CDN with one-click activation

Setting up a  Content Delivery Network (CDN) can be complicated. However, with SiteGround you can activate your CDN with a single click.  

Cloudflare’s CDN significantly reduces page load time and is recommended by WordPress in their speed optimization Guide.

6) Great affiliate program (Up to $150 commission!)

Another thing worth mentioning is SiteGround’s affiliate program that offers generous payouts of up to $150 per referral.

Now while this may not be directly related to the hosting itself if you use it right  — you can pay for your entire subscription by simply recommending it to friends and family.

Pretty cool right?  Yeah, I thought so too.

Alright, you get it, I’m a HUGE fan of SiteGround.

But what do other people think of it? Let’s take a look.

SiteGround Reviews: What Do WordPress Users Think?

Lastly, I looked at what the community has to say about SiteGround. In my research, I found a popular WordPress hosting group on Facebook.

As you can see, it’s not just me. Many other WordPress enthusiasts recommend SiteGround as their #1 hosting solution.

This is just one of many other polls conducted where SiteGround takes that number one spot – and for a good reason!

What I don’t like about SiteGround

Now onto the bad stuff you won’t see in those “genuine” SiteGround hosting reviews.

1) Higher renewal prices

SiteGround may seem quite affordable at the beginning especially with all the services they offer.

However, when the time comes to renew your bill will be quite hefty. This is because their first subscription is offered at an introductory price!

The renewal price is much higher than their introductory price, which will come as a shock.

When you look at the hosting service you’re getting in return, you’ll find the cost well justified.

Here’s the thing, if your online business can’t afford to pay your hosting after a year, you’re doing something wrong.

2) Limited resources (and the hidden benefit)

While SiteGround’s features are amazing, they are not the most generous in sharing their resources.

The three plans offer a limited amount of bandwidth and storage, which could be troublesome if you have a massive site.

But remember, I run 5 websites and get 10s of 1000s of visitors a month, all on my single GoGeek account. With 100% uptime!

That said, here’s exactly what you’ll get with your SiteGround hosting account.

You’ll get a limited amount of space. This varies with the plan you sign up for:

  • 10GB of storage for StartUp plan
  • 20GB of storage for GrowBig plan
  • 30GB of storage for GoGeek plan

But where’s the hidden benefit I mentioned?

This limit on storage per account is a blessing in disguise and benefits you and your websites.

How exactly?

Multiple users share a single server in a shared hosting plan. So if one user experiences a surge in traffic, he’ll end up using more resources from that server.

This means fewer resources for others in the same pool, and you don’t want that!

However, by setting a limit on the space per account SiteGround ensures everyone uses the server fairly – this ensures that no one ends up hogging more server space and resources.

This translates into a faster website for you!

With the pros and the cons behind us, let’s move this SiteGround hosting review onto a comparison of the three tiers.

Tier Comparison: StartUp vs. GrowBig vs. GoGeek
StartUp GrowBig GoGeek
$3.95/mo $5.95/mo $11.95/mo
Single Unlimited Unlimited
10GB 20GB 30GB
10,000 visits monthly 25,000 visits monthly 100,000 visits monthly
Get Started Get Started Get Started
What is the best SiteGround tier?

The three tiers offered by SiteGround all have their limits (bandwidth and storage), but these limitations are not linear – making some SiteGround hosting tiers better than others!

Wait… what?!?

Let’s crunch a few numbers:

  • StartUp 10,000 monthly visits for $3.95 = 2,500 visitors per dollar spent
  • GrowBig 25,000 monthly..
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If you’re looking for online business ideas, you’re in the right place.

These 71 ideas will deliver all the inspiration you need to start making money online in 2019.

The best part?

I’ve included plenty of examples of people just like you, CRUSHING it with a location-independent online business.

Let’s get started…

1. Blogging

Because so many businesses have a blog, it’s easy to forget how many businesses started as a blog. Blogging can help you establish authority in your subject while earning money in a variety of ways.

Here are some of my favorite examples from the podcast:

With a well-read blog, you can create a business through advertising, affiliate marketing, or selling products.

2. Virtual assistant services

When it comes to internet business ideas, a virtual assistant business is easily scalable and always in demand.

Businesses always need help with administrative tasks like data entry, managing emails, and scheduling appointments. Instead of hiring in-house receptionists and executive assistants, many are choosing to hire VA services instead.

You can freelance through Upwork and Fiverr to get started. Or, you can strike out on your own and build a client base like Travinia Barber of Priority VA.

3. Job search consulting and resume writing online business

Help people find job opportunities, write resumes, and prepare for interviews.

This idea will be more successful if you focus on an area of expertise, or an industry where you have experience hiring (or being hired). In return, you’ll get plenty of referrals and happy customers while living your remote work dream.

4. Online store ideas

Crafters, makers, and inventors can make money by starting an online store. Thankfully, there are options that make it easy to set up, even if you are lacking in tech skills.

If you want to sell artisanal products, Etsy is a great platform. For everything else, there’s Shopify.

Just about anything can become a successful online store — just check out this impressive temporary tattoo business, powered by Shopify.

5. Start a monthly box subscription service

An online business focused on providing monthly subscription boxes for a particular niche can be very lucrative.

With big players like Dollar Shave Club and Bark Box, this business model has obvious potential.

Examples of just how niche you can get with this idea:

6. Copywriting and content writing

Writers can create an internet business that provides copywriting and content writing services.
You can find freelance writing gigs through platforms like Upwork and Fiverr, or by networking and reaching out to potential clients.

Michael Brown started out with freelance content writing. He was so successful pitching article ideas, he had to hire writers to help.

This was the beginning of online content agency and platform, nDash.

7. Publishing

Selling your books on Amazon is a great way to monetize your blog, podcast, or social media channel. It has never been easier to self-publish a book, using Kindle Direct Publishing.

You could also help other authors get published by starting an online publishing agency, like Angela Lauria at Author Incubator.

When it comes to publishing, stick to what you know well and work on becoming the authority on your subject.

8. Editing and proofreading

Editing and proofreading is a great way of making money online. With so much content being published every day, there is plenty of demand.

You can turn it into a full online business in a few different ways:

  • Use platforms like Upwork and Fiverr to find clients.
  • Partner with a marketing or content creation agency.
  • Set up a website and offer a monthly service.
9. Bookkeeping and accounting online business ideas

If you’re an accountant, you’re the real superhero. Especially during tax season.
Browse through platforms like People per Hour, and you’ll see just how many people could become your clients.

You don’t even need advanced software. Quickbooks works just fine in most cases, so you’re cutting your startup costs significantly.

Depending on your credentials and experience, consider these small online business ideas:

  • A service to help small businesses transition to cloud accounting software like Xero
  • Monthly bookkeeping services
  • Individual tax return preparation
  • Tax consulting for individuals or business
10. Customer support

If you’re good with people, customer support calls, or online community engagement, this is the online business idea for you.

Customer support consulting through platforms like Modsquad, you can make money with these skills while maintaining control of your own hours — and working from anywhere.

11. Teaching languages

The old saying goes: The more languages you speak, the more of a person you are.
This is true even today, which is why you can start a small business online by teaching through platforms like DaDaABC.

Using Skype, you can privately tutor people who want to learn English (or another language you know) from anywhere. You can even create passive income teaching languages through online courses, like Go Natural English.

12. Translation online business

Translation can be very lucrative if you are fluent in more than one language.

You can help companies translate their content into different languages and reach a wider audience, or work with individuals.

Your first work can come from freelance sites, but once you have a few regular clients, referrals will help your business grow.

13. Fitness and nutrition services

More and more people are turning to healthy cuisine and lifestyle, which is why the fitness and nutrition industry is huge — and a solid online business idea.

Here are a few ways you can make money online while helping people get healthy:

  • Sell custom meal plans (paleo, weight-loss, plant-based).
  • Create and sell digital products, like workout plans, e-books, or online courses.
  • Remote personal training service.
  • Health coaching.
  • Check out this interview with Mike Matthews of Muscle for Life to get inspired.
14. Create an online business from your knowledge

If you want to start an online business from home and you’ve got skills that are in demand, why not create and teach classes?

If you’re worried about the technical side of selling online courses, don’t be. There are services that make it easy. For example, Podia enables to create, upload, and sell online courses all in one platform.

What to do you know how to do well? Anything from hobbies like baking bread, essentials like productivity, and professional skills like marketing can become a successful online course.

15. Start a YouTube channel

Starting a YouTube channel is the best online business to start when you want to build an audience.

Of course, with enough people watching your videos, you’ll make money from advertisements on your channel. Just look at Reza Izad and Studio71, the agency behind some of the top creators on YouTube.

But you can also use your channel as a launching pad for a full-scale online business. As your audience grows, you can make money through affiliate marketing, sponsorships, branded merch, or selling books and courses.

16. Start a podcast

Just like a blog or YouTube channel, a podcast can be a great way to get your voice out there and build a following. All you need is some gear and interesting topics to talk about.

Not sure where to start? Check out the free guide, Launching a Remarkable Podcast, over at Showrunner.fm.

You can make money with sponsorships, or build a business around products and services your audience needs.

17. Consulting

Help others succeed, while you start your small online business — consulting as an expert in your field.

To get started, you can charge for services like on-demand consulting calls, while you work towards recurring revenue with long-term consulting clients.

18. Start a membership site

People are always looking for fresh resources, and many are willing to pay for premium access.

If you like producing content and have the knowledge to share, a great online business model can be to start a membership site. Your site can contain a library of valuable content, and a forum for members to learn from you and each other.

You don’t need to hire developers or learn how to code. In fact, you don’t even need a website. Showrunner Community uses Mighty Networks to process memberships, share content, and host a robust members forum.

The best part of this business model is monthly recurring revenue, that grows with every new member.

19. Dropshipping online business

Dropshipping is a form of e-commerce in which you don’t have to deal with any physical products. That’s right — no manufacturing, storing inventory, packaging, or shipping.

To start a dropshipping business, partner with a manufacturer or wholesaler of products in your niche. You make sales through your online store, and pass orders on to the manufacturer for fulfillment.

All you have to do is set up an online shop, and work on attracting customers.

20. Affiliate marketing

Affiliate marketing is a very simple online business idea: someone needs their products advertised, and you’ll do it – for a cut of the profits.

If you already have an audience through a blog, podcast, or social media channel, affiliate marketing is an easy monetization strategy to try. Just remember only to pitch products you trust, so you can feel good about recommending them.

Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is one of the biggest for physical products, and ShareASale for digital products. Check out this guide to learn more about affiliate marketing.

21. Amazon FBA

Speaking of top online businesses, Amazon FBA lets you sell customized products without having to take care of storage or shipping.

FBA means “Fulfilled by Amazon” because Amazon handles fulfillment. But unlike a dropshipping business, you have to invest in inventory up front.

Manufacturers will customize and package a product with your private label branding. The inventory is then shipped to an Amazon warehouse for storage and order processing.

You can learn more about selling on Amazon from Greg Mercer of Jungle Scout.

22. Designing merchandise

If you’re creative, what better way to show it than by starting an online business selling your artwork on merch like t-shirts and tote bags?

If you want to keep it simple and just stick to design, there are many options. You can use Merch by Amazon, Teespring, and Society6 to name a few. They do all the printing and order processing, and you get paid when someone orders one of your designs.

23. Productize your service and start an online business

A productized service is a way to earn monthly recurring revenue, or flat-rate packages, instead of continually chasing after clients. If you can provide a service online, you can productize it.

This online business model is scalable because you can hire out some of your workload as you grow the business. It works for many services, including:

  • Graphic Design
  • WordPress support
  • Content writing
  • SEO
  • Consulting and Coaching
24. SEO business

SEO is the lifeblood of online marketing, so if you have the knowledge, start your online business by offering search engine optimization services.

Check out my interview with Brian Dean of Backlinko to learn his approach to SEO and how to rank in Google.

25. Online ad management business

A lot of businesses want to run Google Ads and Facebook Ads campaigns, but they don’t know how. If you’re skilled at advertising and know your way around bids and CPA, you have a business idea that’s in demand.

To get your first clients, start with local businesses who want to test the online marketing waters.
You can also learn from these marketing experts who have found success helping business owners with ad campaigns and sales funnels:

26. Social media management

There’s no marketing without social media marketing. If you’re good at creating content and engaging with audiences in social media, you have a perfect online business idea.

Social media marketing is a perfect business for scaling. You can use CoSchedule to handle multiple social accounts for multiple clients and campaigns as you grow your online business.

27. Digital marketing services

Digital marketing is a catch-all term for everything about creating a presence and making sales online. It could include creating websites, email funnels, SEO, and copywriting.

Of course, it’s very much in demand. If you already do this type of work for your employer, you could be running your own online business.

28. Start a stock photography business

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If you’ve been flirting with the idea of selling an online course, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most powerful ways to monetize content.

According to Forbes, experts predict the global e-learning market will be worth $325 billion by 2025.

That’s a ton of money. It’s also a ton of opportunity.

The catch? There’s a lot to consider.

If you want to learn how to build an online course that sells, read on.

Step 1: Draft a list of relevant audience challenges

Your first barrier is figuring out what to teach.

It’s much easier to make money selling online courses when you aim to solve a problem for the intended audience. That’s why it’s one of our favorite online business models.

Instead of wondering, what’s a good idea for my online course?

Ask, what challenges does my audience face that I can help them with?

When framed this way, you’ll spend less time judging potential course ideas and more time focusing on the real goal: delivering something of value.

For example, go to when I go to Google and type in “WordPress plugins,” I get seven questions people are asking.

Seven problems that 100s or 1,000s of people have searched to find an answer to. This information is gold for a course creator.

This works in any market. Plus, it’s free and simple to start the brainstorming process.

So how can you determine which audience challenges might be a good fit for an online course?

Consider what you’re already paid for

Whether you’re working full-time on your business or part-time on a side hustle, your earning potential rests on your knowledge and experience solving a certain type of problems.

Take, for instance, Seth Godin’s spin on librarians:

The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work at a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.

Where do you act as the interface? Start there to uncover genuine areas of expertise.

Scour Reddit and Quora to find market gaps

Some of the most viable online course ideas will come from your audience. This is why social networks like Reddit and Quora –– where opinionated consumers readily discuss their problems –– are another great source for market research.

If you can understand their challenges as they understand them, you’ll stand a much better chance at identifying meaningful ways to help.

Survey your audience

If you have an audience, don’t neglect to get their take. There are a few ways to approach asking your audience for their opinion:

  • Include a question at the end of your next email blast.
  • Post in your community forum.
  • Ask for input on your social media feeds.

Use your industry knowledge as well as what you discover while trawling Reddit to ask the right questions.

For example, armed with a little research from the WordPress subreddit, I might ask my email list:

Hey, I’m thinking about creating a course to help you with the biggest frustrations you have around your website.

I know people are struggling with:

  • Using WordPress plugins
  • Setting up payment and checkout systems in WordPress
  • Monetizing blog traffic

Hit reply and let me know what’s causing your website headaches.

I listed a few ideas to make it easy for people to send a quick response. But I also made it clear that I want to hear any other topics my readers are struggling with.

Step 2: Evaluate course ideas and commit to a topic

Want to know which ideas have merit? Research which courses already exist.

If you discover several courses around a promising topic, press on. If there are books, apps, or services devoted to an area of interest for your audience, take note.

As long as people are paying for help solving similar problems, there’s a market for your course.

Eliminate anything patently generic. An idea that’s too vague, too broad, or not tactical enough is less likely to make an impression that leads to sales.

Successful online courses are results-oriented and unambiguous.

They promise to:

  • Solve a specific problem
  • For a specific audience
  • To achieve a specific result

When narrowing your options, ask, What should my students be able to accomplish when they’re done?

Step 3: Build course content around results

Effective course content helps students achieve something concrete, like getting on the first page of Google or creating a website in 15 minutes.

But being an expert can get in the way of being a good teacher. With so much knowledge, where do you begin?

A) Start with the end in mind

What should your students be able to do after the course?

Whether it’s growing their subscriber list or brewing the perfect cup of coffee, use the end goal as a compass to guide your course content.

B) Write a compelling “why”

This is the high level, intangible benefit of your course.

What value will your students ultimately gain?

Is it working from home in their PJs, improved self-confidence, or both?

No matter the topic, it comes down to achieving a sense of mastery and freedom. Open your course content with the why.

C) Provide the steps to get there

The meat of your course is the step-by-step instruction to ensure the end goal. For instance, if you were launching a course about how to write cold emails with better response rates, you might start by discussing the importance of choosing a profitable niche.

By the end, your students would have every trick and tool you’ve battle-tested at their disposal –– and, if they act on your advice, the response rates to prove it.

When creating course content, ask whether each module builds towards helping students achieve the promised end result.

Step 4: Write with radical empathy

You will be doing a ton of writing to create and sell online courses. There’s the actual course content, which can include video scripts, slideshows, and PDFs. Then there’s marketing content: promotional emails, social media ads, and ultimately, writing a sale page that converts.

For any of it to be effective, your words need to channel empathy. They need to echo your prospects’ reality enough to persuade them to purchase.

Here’s how to channel empathy:

A) Ask yourself why you care

For most entrepreneurs, selling online courses is about much more than money.

Why do you care about your prospects’ problem?

Why does it bother you on a personal level?

B) Look for language

One of the best ways to engage an audience is using their own words. Find book and course reviews on your topic to unearth those gems. Reviews are flush with opinions about what worked and what didn’t.

Market research from Reddit or Quora can also help here.

C) Identify shared “villains”

This could refer to actual bad guys (like mediocre course creators who make big claims), but it can also refer to any obstacle, limitation, or struggle your audience encounters. Bonus points if it’s a shared obstacle.

D) Try Problem-Agitate-Solve (PAS)

This classic copywriting formula does well selling online courses. The genius lies in its simplicity.

  • Problem: Describe the problem your course will solve
  • Agitate: Rub salt in the wound –– what pains does the problem cause?
  • Solve: Present your solution
Step 5: Choose an online course platform

The best place to sell online courses is the one that meets your business needs with minimal fuss.

We use Podia for all our online courses because it is built by a small, hardworking team who we admire — and they have built a beautiful, intuitive platform for independent course creators like us.

That being said, look at all the options in this section and choose the best fit.

Here’s the scoop on three of the most popular online course platforms.

Teachable

Teachable is a simple, straightforward way to sell online courses –– sort of.

With Teachable, you can:

  • Build a sales page with your choice of colors, logo, and typography
  • Offer 1-step checkout, 1-click upsells, and an affiliate system
  • Send course updates and announcements

Things get tricky when you need to do anything else. As a standalone platform, Teachable’s simplicity comes with a lack of sophistication:

  • You can’t change the appearance of individual courses
  • You can’t use your sales page to collect leads out-of-the-box
  • You can’t send drip campaigns without additional third-party software

Adding to the list of cons, you’ll need at least a Professional plan to access live chat support, which is only available during normal business hours.

Finally, Teachable charges transaction fees and has a complicated payment scheme that involves waiting 30 days for course revenue.

Bottom line

Teachable is great for anyone who wants an online course sales page without built-in marketing. It’s also fine for someone who doesn’t mind pasting code snippets from various marketing tools (and having that data spread across systems).

For those who’d prefer native email marketing, centralized data, and design and product flexibility, pass on Teachable for an all-in-one platform.

Kajabi

If you’ve done any research on online course platforms, you’ve probably heard of Kajabi. It’s a robust, complex, and customizable all-in-one platform that can do a lot more than sell an online course.

With Kajabi, you can:

  • Collect leads with a purpose-built landing page
  • Sell standalone digital products (e.g. ebooks or videos that aren’t a part of your course)
  • Create and sell membership sites (where you store and add premium content)
  • Use a library of different product and website themes to differentiate offerings
  • Build email sequences to nurture leads before your course opens
  • Automate pre-recorded webinars
  • Lock course content

Unlike Teachable, Kajabi doesn’t charge transaction fees and offers 24/7 live chat support.

Bottom line

Kajabi positions itself as a toolkit for building your online business for a reason. If you want to do more than sell online courses, it’s a solid option –– but its useful features don’t come cheap.

Podia

Right away, Podia feels different. Its purpose is clear, its website is friendly, and it has all of the marketing power of Kajabi, save for a few integrations. It’s also way more affordable.

Other benefits of Podia:

  • Free migration of existing courses from other platforms
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Zero transaction fees and instant payments
  • The ability to sell product bundles
  • Unlimited bandwidth: file size, number of courses, customers, sales, etc.
  • Available in multiple languages
  • Supports custom analytics and tracking

Like Kajabi, Podia has built-in email marketing and supports multiple use cases. It allows creators to easily collect leads pre-launch as well as sell one-off digital products or membership sites.

Bottom line

Podia is more affordable than Kajabi, and possibly more specialized. This is a great option for anyone on a Teachable budget who needs more than a simple sales page.

Step 6: Use goals-based pricing

Forget about finding the “perfect” number. It doesn’t exist. And fretting over price will delay progress. You can’t launch without it.

Here’s an easier way to price an online course: Define your sales goal and let that inform your strategy.

  • If you want to maximize the total number of sales, make your course so affordable the right people won’t be able to resist. Research similar courses in your niche to find the sweet spot.
  • If you want to maximize revenue, don’t hedge. Pack your course with enough value to warrant premium pricing and prepare to deliver first-class treatment. People who spend upwards of $1,000 for an online course expect one-on-one time (and courses that sell include it).
  • If you want to generate leads, give it away for free. It doesn’t have to be about how much you can make selling online courses. You can market other products to your students once they’ve completed the course.

Pricing will vary somewhat on your niche, so note the costs of similar courses to confirm what constitutes high and low. Just don’t overthink it.

Take the next step towards selling your online course

There’s never been a better time to transition from selling your time to selling your knowledge. An online course is a great way to do it. And getting started is a matter of asking the right questions.

Do you want to learn how to make more money from online courses? Check out this step-by-step guide from Podia.

The post How to Create and Sell Online Courses: A Comprehensive Guide appeared first on Hack the Entrepreneur.

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Selling stuff online is easy. Getting started isn’t.

Are you ready to finally start?

Great, then this article is for you. And yes, these online business models are tested and proven to work.

Why this matters to you …

In the past 8 years, I’ve launched 13 businesses and products, helped 100s of people start, and interviewed 483 of the smartest entrepreneurs in the world.

In short, I know how to sell stuff online.

Maybe you’ve got a side hustle idea, or you just want to stop working for someone else and start working for yourself.

This article will show you six profitable online business models, how to choose one, and how to get your first customers.

We’ll take a look at good and bad examples, list pros and cons, and get you where you want to be: On your way to becoming an online entrepreneur.

What is an online business?

An online business is any commercial website – product or service based – that exchanges value for money. Unlike a traditional brick and mortar business, an online business uses the internet and a website as its storefront.

For an online business to be successful, it needs to accomplish two things:

  1. Choose the right business model for the market
  2. Find traffic sources of potential customers

In this article, we will provide you with six business models and six traffic generation methods.

It will be your job to mix and match the combination of online business models and traffic sources for your market.

Alright, let’s jump into it.

1. Make money with digital products

The best way to make money is by sharing your knowledge. Since we’re always online, we turn to Google whenever we need information – not the library.

You can profit off of this if you sell digital products like eBooks and courses. This is also called content production, and it’s a great online business model.

The main things you’ll need to make money with digital products are:

  • A product that provides value and solves a real problem
  • A website to sell digital products (but just a landing page works to get started)
  • A roadmap to finding customers

When it comes to the product, it’s best to stick to a subject you understand well. You can create and sell online courses, or write eBooks and the best thing is: you only have to do it once.

A great example of digital products done right is Nathan Liao’s CMA Exam Academy. There’s a lot of content on becoming a Certified Management Accountant and passing the CMA exam.

What Nathan found was that the existing products in this market weren’t preparing students for the real world – and he wanted to solve this problem himself. In the process of solving this problem, he has created a successful online business that has enabled him to travel the world while building his business.

Pros of selling digital products:
  • Low barrier to entry (Anyone can do it)
  • You can start small
  • It’s scalable (If your customers need more, you can always produce more)
  • It’s passive (Create content once and get paid over and over)
Cons of selling digital products:
  • One-time payments (You won’t be getting a steady stream of recurring revenue)
  • It’s not an asset

However, don’t get discouraged! We’ll be covering ways to get traffic and clients later on. For now, we are focused on choosing one of these online business models to focus on.

2. Advertising or podcast sponsorship

If you want to make it on your own, this is a great online business model.

You can make money if you start your own blog and build enough traffic. Or, you can do it by starting a successful podcast.

This online business model allows you to do things at your own pace, but traffic is a big caveat. You need to be popular enough for advertisers and sponsors to want to promote on your site.

If you’ve got a hobby or a particular niche that interests you, you should definitely consider starting a WordPress blog or a podcast.

Blogs have always been popular (and all you need is a domain and hosting), but here’s what you need to start a podcast:

  • Equipment (microphone, headphones, etc.)
  • Skype or similar software for interviews
  • Recording and editing software
  • Podcast hosting like Libsyn

We’re going to be a bit biased, and mention Hack the Entrepreneur podcast. It started as a labor of love and turned into a podcast full of interviews with entrepreneurs, where everything from copywriting to Amazon FBA is covered. It’s a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs, and people who’ve yet to join the party.

Doing what you love is always a good choice, and when a topic is high-profile enough to attract sponsors and advertisers, here are the pros and cons you could be looking at:

Pros of podcast sponsorship:
  • It’s scalable
  • It’s in high demand (good content never goes out of style)
  • Relatively passive
  • It has a huge growth potential
Cons of podcast sponsorship:
  • There’s a high barrier to entry (you need a lot of traffic, which takes time and effort)
  • Advertising and sponsorship are defined by contracts and one-time payments
  • It’s not an asset

Another great reason to use this business model for online business is building authority. As your popularity and traffic grow, you’ll be building up your credibility and becoming a resource in your niche.

It’s easy to diversify your income by producing content or appearing as a guest speaker at events when people in your industry perceive you as an authority.

Additionally, as the demand for advertising on your blog or podcast increases, so will your ability to select sponsorships that fit your brand, and that could provide you with steady streams of revenue and good PR.

3. Make money with software or app business models

Software business models have become very popular lately with the rise of SaaS (software as a service) companies. Instead of paying for software license once, you can provide your future clients with a lot of value and charge them by the month.

Apps work very similarly to software. The main principle is providing a product that your target audience will use, and to maximize your online business’ profitability – charge them for a subscription.

There are three distinctive payment models when it comes to software and apps:

    1. Freemium

This means that customers get limited access to your software or app’s features. If they’d like to use more features, they can upgrade to a paid subscription.

    1. Free trial

Customers get the full software or app functionality for a set period of time, after which they’re charged if they want to keep using it.

    1. 3)Free software business model

Software or app is free for customers to use, but you earn revenue from advertising (see #2: Advertising and sponsors).

A great example of using software business models is Ahrefs, a tool for SEO. Ahrefs offers a variation of the free trial model, at $7 for 7 days of full access. During the trial, you can use all the features, including keyword research, competitive analysis, and content research. If you find it valuable, you can continue to use it starting at $99/month.

Pros of selling software:
  • It’s scalable (add new features)
  • It has huge potential
  • Subscription-based recurring revenue
  • It’s a saleable asset
Cons of selling software:
  • You have to offer customer support
  • There’s a high barrier to entry (you have to hire developers unless you know how to build software)

Software business models are one of the most innovative online business models, and for a good reason.

They provide a steady source of recurring revenue, and they’re also a saleable asset, which is especially useful if you’re in the mood for change.

4. Affiliate marketing

Passive income is the dream, and affiliate marketing is a great way to start. This online business model typically means you’ll be selling another brand’s products, and earning a commission from each sale.

Commissions are typically in the 5-10 percent range, and they benefit the brands because you’re doing their marketing for them. Usually, you want to rely on organic search engine traffic, to cut your overhead costs. This can be done with SEO techniques which we’ll cover later on in the post.

One of the most popular affiliate programs is Amazon Associates. It’s important to pick a good niche when you want to make money from affiliate marketing. However, a niche can be profitable even if there’s a lot of competition.

If you want to see a good example of an affiliate business model done right, you don’t have to look any further than Skyscanner. A flight search aggregator, this site advertises numerous airlines. They also show how you can scale up this business model and achieve the profitability dream.

Pros of affiliate marketing:
  • It’s extremely scalable
  • It has huge potential
  • It’s easy to start
Cons of affiliate marketing:
  • Non-recurring revenue
  • It’s not an asset
  • You don’t have active ownership over the products

The key to succeeding with affiliate marketing is to choose your niche carefully, produce great content, and become known for great product recommendations.

This can sound like a lot of work, so you can skip on to part 7, and we’ll show you how to streamline it!

You can also learn more about affiliate marketing in this definitive guide.

5. Making money with membership sites

It takes a lot of time to wade through content online to find the golden resources you need. Membership sites remove this from the equation and provide customers with all the info they need in one place.

What is a membership site? Essentially, it’s a resource hub. Customers pay a subscription fee, and they’re guaranteed access.

Resources can be tutorials, videos, posts, and any other form of content that your target audience finds useful. We’re all using them one way or another, and you can easily create a membership area if you already have a website.

It’s even easier to use an all-in-one platform like Podia. You don’t have to worry about the headaches of setting up a website, and you can sell memberships, courses, and digital downloads all in one place.

A great example of the membership site online business model is The Showrunner Community. It’s a paid community where podcasters get access to valuable resources like webinars and professional advice. Not only do members learn from the content, but they also benefit from a supportive and engaged community.

Pros of membership sites:
  • They provide recurring revenue (subscription-based)
  • They’re scalable
  • They have decent potential
Cons of membership sites:
  • Membership sites are not an asset
  • You don’t have active ownership

Membership sites are a great option if you’re ready to produce content, and you’re sure that people will find it useful. Make sure you stake out the competition and find a way to differentiate yourself from them – especially if they’re offering your premium content free.

6. Coaching and consulting

If you’re an expert on a topic, you can achieve the dream by actively coaching and consulting others. Coaching and consulting mean selling your expertise to your clients.

Unlike other online business methods, coaching and consulting rely on personal relationships. It’s in your best interest to work based on referrals, and become the authority in your industry.

A great example of the coaching model done right is Beverly Burgess. She’s a homeschooling coach and consultant helping parents navigate the muddy waters of educating their children at home.

Pros of coaching and consulting:
  • Possible recurring revenue
  • High demand
  • Low startup cost
Cons of coaching and consulting:
  • It’s not a saleable asset
  • You don’t have active ownership

If you’re an expert at something, it’s time to get to work and build up your credibility. Help yourself by helping others resolve their problems with your expertise!

How to get traffic to a website (and build an audience)

You can have a great business idea, but it’s important to find the audience for your product or service.

Most online businesses use a combination of these methods to get traffic to their website and grow an audience they’ll convert into paying customers.

1) Content marketing: blogging and guest blogging

Blogging and guest blogging consists of creating content for an audience. You can have your own blog and optimize it for keyword and SEO (later on in this post), and also generate leads by guest blogging on other relevant blogs in your industry.

Pros:

  • You can use other people’s network
  • Builds authority
  • Low cost

Cons:

  • Production time can be huge and it’s a lot of work
2) Podcasting

Listen to the Hack the Entrepreneur podcast on Spotify.

Podcasts are a great way to reach your audience and get in touch with significant people in your industry. Your focus should be on providing unique commentary, and value to your listeners.

The goal here is to convert your leads to customers by showing them that your product or service is useful because you’re an authority.

Pros:

  • Builds authority in your market
  • Relatively low cost to get started with a podcast
  • Opens up alternative sources of income (e.g., advertising and sponsorship)

Cons:

  • High time commitment
  • Interviewees can be hard to reach when you are getting started
  • Most podcasts fail
3) Start a YouTube channel

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