Yearly Archives: 2004

How to publish an eBook without writing a word

There are many, many advantages to selling eBooks online, not least the fact that once the eBook is written, the sales and delivery process can be automated so that as the seller, there is literally nothing for you to do when you make a sale.  To illustrate this point, I have sold over 15,000 copies of the above eBooks since I first wrote them but other than carrying out an update every few months, these products now don’t involve me in any work whatsoever.

Of course, one of the main disadvantages of selling your own eBook is the fact that you have to write it in the first place!  The vast majority of people are probably not natural writers and even those that do have the ability often find it very difficult to sit down and bash out an entire eBook that is of a good enough quality to sell.  I have written several eBooks myself but I do find it hard work.  In fact, I have probably started and abandoned far more eBooks than I have actually completed – I get bored very easily.

It isn’t just eBooks that people struggle to write – the same goes for ‘normal’ paper books.  I have some experience of the process that a new book goes through before it reaches the bookshops and regardless of the quality of the author’s draft, it will usually be reviewed by an editor who will often re-write large parts of the book.  In fact, sometimes the entire book will be written by a third party rather than the person that actually has their name on the cover as the author.  This is regularly the case with biographies – after all, just because someone is famous or has a story to tell, it doesn’t mean they can write a book.

You may already see where I am going with this and many of you will have already worked out that these third parties that write books for the author are often referred to as ghostwriters.  But did you know that ghostwriting is becoming more and more popular in the eBook industry?

Many info-product creators are now opening their eyes to the opportunities offered by ghostwriters and are realising that it is perfectly possible to get someone else to research and write an eBook for them for just a few hundred dollars.  Not only does this save an incredible amount of time but it also means that you don’t have to write a single word if you don’t want to. 

Look at it like this, let’s say you hire someone to research and write your eBook at a cost of $500.  In addition, you get someone to write the sales copy for your web page at a cost of $200.  You now have a complete new product for just $700.  A new product that you can sell over and over again and retain all of the profits for yourself.  Using ghostwriters it is perfectly possible to build up a large portfolio of products in a relatively short time period – certainly much faster than if you were to write the eBooks yourself.  You can even have eBooks written about subjects that you know very little about since you can pay the ghostwriter to do the research for you.

Because of the incredibly high profit margins available with eBooks, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that big-name Internet marketing gurus are starting to use ghostwriters to help build up their product portfolios.  And given the ease at which you can hire a ghostwriter, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider this option too.

One of the most popular ways of hiring a ghostwriter is via the eLance website.  At the time of writing, a search for ‘ghostwriter’ brought up 198 different individuals/businesses that would be happy to consider quoting to write your next eBook.  If you are interested in learning more about having a ghostwriter turn your idea into an eBook, do have a browse through the eLance site.

How to increase your profits by 40% or more with no extra work!

Before I expand on the above heading, I do have a slight confession to make – you will have to do ‘some’ work for this process to work but I promise it really isn’t much and the long-term benefits can be absolutely incredible.

The process that I want to discuss in this article is ‘upselling’.  Upselling may be a method of marketing that you already use in your own online business but if not, I am sure you are familiar with the process…

Let me give you a couple of ‘real world’ examples of the upselling technique:

1.  You visit your favourite burger joint (McD’s, Burger King, wherever, they all use upselling).  You order a burger and you are asked, ‘Do you want fries with that?’  Assuming you say ‘yes’, the next question is, ‘Large?’  A high percentage of people will go for this option because for some reason it is easier to say ‘yes’ than ‘no’.  You will probably then be asked if you want a drink and again, if you want it large.

2.  If burgers are not your thing, how about a visit to your local bookstore?  How many times do you see the piles of ‘three for two’ books?  Of course you can buy just one book but if you find another two that you like, you get one free so that’s surely a better deal right?

Both of these are examples of upselling and as you will have worked out, upselling is quite simply a marketing method used to persuade your customers to spend more money than they had originally intended.

However, there is more to it than just forcing a few extra dollars/pounds out of your customer’s pocket.  You see, for upselling to work properly, there has to be something in the deal for both parties.  This means that the customer has to benefit too.  Indeed, the upsell has to be attractive to the customer in order for them to even accept it.  To take the book example above, it is no good offering a pile of ‘three for two’ books if there is only one title that is popular or a new release – they all need to be good titles that people will want, otherwise the customers will just buy the book that they were originally interested in.

So how does upselling transfer to your Internet business?

Usually it is as easy as adding an additional ‘upsell page’ in between your normal ordering page and your payment page.  This is especially easy with eBooks and other digital products but there is no reason why it cannot be applied to any product being sold online.

I personally use upselling on most of my websites and in a number of different ways so it is probably as easy to look at how I use upselling as this will help you to begin to apply the technique to your own website business.

I use upsells on my eBook sales by directing the customer to an upsell page after they have decided to purchase one of my products.  A typical upsell will be to offer the customer the chance to purchase both the eBook that they are interested in plus one or more associated eBooks for a heavily discounted price.  I ensure that the discount is considerable as this makes the deal far more attractive for the customer but involves me in no extra work if they decide to go ahead with the upsell.

With my membership sites, the upsell is slightly different and subscribers are offered the chance to make a large saving if they opt to pay for an annual subscription rather than month by month.  Again, a great deal for the buyer but no extra work for me.

Upselling is an extremely simple concept yet incredibly effective.  On average, 40% of my customers opt for the upsell if it is offered and I have seen situations where as many as 70% of buyers upgrade to the upsell offer.

Remember, the key to successful upselling is to give the customer a superb deal – it isn’t all about forcing that extra bit of cash out of the buyer’s wallet.  If you don’t offer great value and quality products, your customer will end up requesting a refund.  But if you DO offer them a bargain then you will have a happy customer that will buy from you again and again.

To put a cash value on the power of upselling, just consider the following comparison for a moment…

You offer a product for $20 and 100 people buy it.  Your income is $2000.

You offer a product for $20 and again, 100 people buy it but this time buyers are offered an upsell which costs $40.  40% of buyers opt for the upsell offer.  Your income is now $2800 – a 40% increase!

How much extra work would be involved in handling the second scenario above?  None really.  If you are selling a digital product then there is no extra work but even if you are selling a tangible product, you are shipping to the customer anyway so how much additional effort is required to put the upsell product in the same package?

Powerful stuff and if you are not using upsells already, you really should be.

At last, the real secret of Internet marketing…

I am going to share a real secret with you this week.  A secret that can be summarized in two words.  A secret that ALL successful Internet marketers know and apply.  A secret that really is the difference between the success and failure of your online business.  Sounds pretty important huh?

Well, it is and because of the fact that this is so important, I am going to share this secret with you for nothing – that’s right – you can have this secret completely free of charge!

Ok, here goes…

The secret is:  HARD WORK.

Yup, that’s it – hard work.  Surprised?  I am sure that many of you are.  I am also sure that many of you are thinking ‘Oh yeah, heard it all before’.  Well, maybe you have heard it before but have you actually DONE IT?

You see, this is often the only difference between those that are successful and those that want to be.  More and more I see people looking for the easy option or the ‘get rich quick’ scheme.  Let me tell you now, they don’t exist and whilst the Internet can eventually provide you with a very comfortable lifestyle with very little work, it comes at a price and that price is usually two or three years of hard work.  That means working long hours for little or even no reward.

Let me give you some examples of the sort of thing I am talking about and see which category you fit into:

Several of my websites are based around helping people find wholesalers for a range of products that can be resold on the Internet or anywhere else for that matter.  Dealing with wholesalers and finding that elusive product takes a degree of skill and commitment and often time it will be necessary to phone or visit several suppliers before you find what you are looking for.  At the end of the day, you should expect to have to put some effort in – after all, if it was as easy as just clicking on a website order button then everyone would be doing it right?  Common sense you might think but I still get people emailing me after spending 15 minutes surfing through a couple of wholesale sites stating that they can’t find what they are looking for and can I do the research for them?

Talk about the lazy option.  What is wrong with these people?  They haven’t even bothered to pick up the telephone, let alone drive to a wholesalers to see what stock is available that isn’t listed online.  It is as though they expect someone else to build their entire business for them and I am sorry but this is not going to happen.

Let’s talk about eBooks.  Over the years I have promoted numerous different eBooks and other info-products and I am very careful to review every single product before making any mention of it in my newsletter or on my websites.  I want to be sure that if I put my name to a product, I know that it contains quality content that will help the reader improve their online business or generate an income. 

Because of this, it is extremely rare for me to get refund requests on products I have recommended but of course, from time to time, it does happen.  This is fair enough and there can be many reasons why someone may not be happy with their purchase but you know the reason that really irritates me?  It is when someone requests a refund a couple of hours (or even minutes) after making their purchase and states that they have read the eBook and the ideas contained within won’t work. 

In 99.9% of cases, this translates as ‘It all looks like too much hard work and I can’t be bothered…’

The fact is that the majority of methods of earning a living online will be hard work – of course they will – do people really think that they are going to buy an eBook that will provide them with the knowledge to earn $100,000 a year for doing NOTHING?  I wonder sometimes and this kind of attitude often leaves me staring at my computer screen with my jaw hanging down because I can’t believe that anyone can really believe that they are going to get the rewards without the effort.

When I started my online businesses, I would work 15 hour days, 7 days a week for several months at a time.  I was rarely away from my PC and this went on for two or three years.  Nowadays I work considerably less but if I am developing a new product or site I can easily put in a 60 – 70 hour week. Ask any successful online marketer and they will tell you the same.

So which category do you fit into?  Are you committed to working your butt off for a few years to establish your online business or do you expect to sit back and hope that it all happens around you while you get on with your real-world life?  If you are in the second category I am afraid you are going to be very disappointed.  If you are in the first category then I have every respect for you and you are exactly the type of person that can make a superb life for themselves based around an Internet business.

The Internet – a numbers game

If you take a close look at this ‘working online’ business, you will see that it is quite simply a numbers game (this is actually the case with most if not all businesses).

At the most basic level, building a successful website is just a matter of getting sufficient visitors to the site and ensuring that some of them purchase something.  I am a firm believer that you can sell pretty much anything if the price is right and whilst your products may not appeal to everyone, they will appeal to someone.

So, back to the numbers game.  Once you know the percentage of visitors to your site that will actually buy something (the conversion ratio), you can give yourself something to aim for…

If one out of every 100 visitors buys something then you have a conversion ratio of 1% (which online is actually not that bad).  This means that 500 visitors to your site should result in five sales.

To increase the number of sales there are a couple of things you could do.  Firstly, you could increase your conversion ratio by improving your sales page or reducing your prices etc.  Alternatively, you could work the numbers game and increase your traffic – you already know that 500 visitors will give you five sales so if you can get 1000 visitors to your site, you should generate ten sales (assuming that the quality of the traffic is equal to or better than that which you are already receiving).

This may seem obvious but it is often the most obvious things that people miss.  I was talking to one of my customers recently and they had managed to build their site up to the point whereby it was receiving around 250 visitors a day and was generating approximately $50,000 a year in sales (this was a site selling physical goods so this figure is the sales cost, not profit).

Despite this, my customer was finding it hard to visualize the steps that he needed to take to improve his business further.  His target was for the business to generate sales of $200,000 a year and the difference between the current earnings and the target earnings seemed too great to be achievable.

To get over this perceived problem, I asked my customer to look at things in a slightly different way.  I asked him to forget about the sales figure and concentrate on visitor numbers to the site.  If 250 visitors a day generate $50,000 a year in sales, then it is fair to assume that 1000 visitors a day will generate $200,000 in sales (as long as the quality of the visitors remains constant).

This made the task seem fair more achievable since my customer ‘only’ had to find another 750 visitors a day instead of $150,000.

Of course, finding that many new visitors a day is a big task but if you are mentally prepared and believe you can achieve your target, you are far more likely to succeed.

This numbers game principle can be applied to pretty much any aspect of an online business, for example…

If you write a newsletter and you have 1000 subscribers that generate income when you promote a product of, say, $100, then to increase this figure to $500 you simply need to increase your subscriber numbers to 5,000.

If you know that each time you add a new page of content to your site that this will generate, on average, ten extra visitors a day from the search engines (once the page has been crawled and indexed) then adding 100 pages of content to your site should earn you an extra 1000 visitors a day! 

If you are a regular contributor to online forums and know that each post you make (that contains a link in your signature to your website) will gain you 5 new visitors to your site a week, then making 10 posts a day should boost your visitor numbers by 350 a week.

If you create your own products such as eBooks or software and currently earn $250 a month from each one, then it is perfectly possible that every new product you develop will earn you an extra $250 a month (once marketed and established).

And finally, if you have one website that earns you $50,000 profit a year, what would happen if you had two websites?  Or three? Or five?…

Online business is just a numbers game – the principles behind the numbers are far more complicated and I am not suggesting for one moment that doing any of the above tasks is easy BUT if you keep the numbers at the front of your mind it should make the targets seem far more achievable.

Selling online? Get ready to meet these guys (and girls!)

If you are thinking about starting an online business, I need to warn you about some of the people that you are going to ‘meet’.  Once you have a website or any form of online presence, these people will seek you out – I guarantee it!

The Advisor
The Advisor is far more common than you might think.  He (or she) will choose your website at random and then email you (often at considerable length) to explain exactly what is wrong with your site.  The Advisor will often not have a website of their own but will be a self-appointed expert in website design and online marketing.  The beauty of this advice is that it is free and you don’t even have to ask for a review – The Advisor will just send his opinion to you.

The Advisor is ALWAYS right.  Regardless of how successful your site may be, The Advisor will always find something wrong with it and kindly inform you so that you can correct it.

Irritability Factor:  7 – fairly irritating but easily ignored.

The Whinger (also known as The Whiner)
Whingers and Whiners are a breed unto themselves.  As the name suggests, they will whinge and moan about ANYTHING!  You can spend hours helping these folk (free of charge) yet they will still find something to gripe about.  It is impossible to please a Whinger and the best thing to do is to avoid getting involved in the first place.  Learn to spot the signs of a Whinger from the first email they send you.  If the email contains more than three ‘moans’ in as many paragraphs, you have probably got yourself a Whinger. 

Irritability Factor:  5 – best to ditch the Whinger ASAP or they will become highly irritating.

The Magical Critique
These are one of my favourite types of people.  The Magical Critique surely does possess magical powers.  They are able to review your products without ever having seen them!  That’s right, they will offer their considered opinions on your products (whatever they may be) regardless of the fact that they have never made a purchase from you!  The review will almost always consist of just a single sentence (but hey, this is magic so you really should be grateful for whatever is thrown at you!).  An example review could be:

‘Your eBooks is complet and utter trash and anyone that byes it is an idiot’

Quality stuff I think you will agree.  Also, please note the spelling mistakes – The Magical Critique will invariably have a poor grasp of the English language but as I have already said, this is magic so don’t knock it.

Irritability Factor:  4 – more amusing than irritating.

The Furious Emailer
I think it is fair to say that the Furious Emailer probably has serious personality issues that need to be dealt with.  You will recognise the Furious Emailer immediately as the first email you receive from them will be full of CAPITAL LETTERS and obscene language.  It is likely that the reason for the initial contact will be that the Furious Emailer has made a purchase from you and something minor will have gone wrong (for example they did not receive a confirmation email after paying etc).  Whatever the problem, it will always be obvious to any normal person that it isn’t your (the sellers) fault as they will realise that computers and the Internet are not 100% reliable and these things do happen.  Unfortunately the Furious Emailer will not realise this and will spend a few minutes working themselves up into a rage before blasting you with the email equivalent of an Exocet missile!

Strangely enough, when you reply to the Furious Emailer and resolve the problem, they will usually roll over and become one of the nicest people you have ever corresponded with.  Apologies will flow and everything will be happy and calm once again – like I said, serious personality issues.  Be aware however that this is not always the case and in the event of further ‘furious emails’, you may well have found yourself a Complete Fruitcake (see below).

Irritability Factor:  8 – can be very irritating simply because of their lack of manners.  After all, they wouldn’t walk into a store and speak to the assistant in the same way would they?  Easily dealt with though (especially if they are asking for a refund).  Simply reply and explain that you don’t respond to abuse and if they would like to apologise and send a polite email, then you will deal with their request immediately.

The Complete Fruitcake
This type of person is difficult to quantify and will often display traits of several different types of character.  It will usually be possible to spot a Complete Fruitcake due to the fact that their emails won’t make any sense or will not even relate to your website or products.  If you reply asking the Fruitcake for more information or details about their purchase etc, you will simply receive further emails that make even less sense than the first. 

Irritability Factor:  9 – The only way to deal with a Complete Fruitcake is to reply with a similar nonsensical email to that which you have received.  Be warned, this can result in you going round in circles having a meaningless conversation with someone that really needs medical attention.

On the plus side, if you do work online, you will find that 99% of the people you meet are perfectly pleasant folk.  I have made some excellent online friends since I started my web businesses in 1998 and I don’t include any of you in the list above (because I always delete members of the above groups from my mailing list as soon as I possibly can!)