I got published in the Sept / Oct 2011 issue of the Internet Marketing Magazine on page 16 & 17, check it out!
Two little mistakes sneaked into that publication (can you tell what they are?), so here is the hopefully error free version of my article…
My name is Frank Bauer and like so many, I started to build my online business from scratch, with zero business experience back in July 1996.
But unlike many others that get overwhelmed by the massive amount of information out on the net and that give up after trying for a few months to a year, I was simply too stubborn to give up on my dream of building a business for myself. A business that would feed my family and supply us with a recession prove way of not only maintaining our lifestyle, but over time improving it substantially.
But I am getting ahead of myself here. The path I took from nothing to 7 figures in annual sales wasn’t straight forward and I had to learn many things along the way.
Let me share with you the route I took, share with you the mistakes I did so you can prevent doing the same and the lessons I learned that got me to where I am today.
One of the very first tasks I started doing online in July 1996 was publishing my own email newsletter. Looking back, starting to build my own mailing list from the start was a very good idea.
Today, with every single site I build online I am always asking the visitor to provide his email address first to be able to follow up with that visitor at a later time. If you don’t ask for the visitors email address first, there is no way for you to contact that person again once he or she leaves your web page.
While building my mailing list, I soon reached the limitations of the mailing list program I used back then. So I started looking around for a better solution. This was at a time before services like Aweber where even a registered domain (they registered August 1998).
All solutions that I found back then where either not good enough, or way too expensive for me to be able to afford. So I decided to use my programming knowledge (I started programming when I was 12) and to build my own solution.
Fast forward to September 2000, after using my very own mailing list solution for a while, I finally figured out that I could sell it also to others.
Again, to be able to build my mailing list, I released that month a light version called Add2it Mailman Free as well as a paid version called Add2it Mailman Pro. While actually being able to sell them and to make money from those scripts, it took me a while to realize some important drawbacks from my approach.
The first lesson I learned was that it’s important to first research if there is a large enough market before you develop your own product to sell online. Back then I just assumed that because I needed the product, others would as well.
There where potential customers out there as I was able to sell my product, so that way I was lucky, but the initial approach I took offering it for sale as a “newsletter script for webmasters” did cost me a lot of sales.
If I would have done my homework before (research), I should have realized that my ideal customer was not a technical person like myself (webmaster), but Internet Marketers that understands the importance of building a mailing list for themselves.
Targeting anything else then the ideal customer with your web page sales copy can cost you lots of customers. Also, developing a product that hardly anybody wants can be the kiss of death to your online business. Avoid these mistakes that I did in the early beginning like the plague.
What helped my business from the early stages where I did this on the side while still having a full-time job as a Computer Hardware & Software support guy to the point where I was able to quit my day job and work full-time on my own online business in December 2001, was selling my personal services online.
What I realized soon was that skills that seem simple to yourself (like programming was for me) where actually in demand by many others. So I started to offer script installation and customization services and then later on, created custom software script solutions for paying customers.
The biggest breakthrough came to me after attending an Internet Marketing Seminar in March 2006. Not only did I realize at that time the long term value of selling automated services online for a recurring monthly or annual fee, but I also signed up for my first personal mentoring & coaching.
It was in March 2006 when I joined Mike Filsaime’s mentoring program where I not only learned a lot of the viral marketing strategies that helped me grow my online business from five to seven figures in annual sales, but also realized that being mentored & coached speeds up the learning process at an incredible rate.
Selling automated online services in a membership model with recurring fees has many advantages over selling software products at a one time fee.
Not only did a lower amount of customers that way turn into higher profits, but by providing the services from my own servers, I avoided installation issues on customer servers that where causing every now and then a lot of added support time consumption on my end.
Now you might say to yourself that if you are not a programmer like me, this is not a path that you could personally take, right?
That’s the point where I should introduce my business partner Colin Klinkert to you. My strength is his weakness as he is absolutely not technical. But he had a great idea for an online services that is almost famous today, ViralURL.com.
In the middle of 2007 he approached me with the concept and idea for ViralURL.com. He had started to outsource the development of that service site to a programmer in India, but hit a brick wall where he was about to give up on the project.
That’s when he asked me to partner with him on the project. With my help we released the initial version of that site in October 2007 and we improved it ever since then until today. That site alone generated over $3.1 Million in sales for us in just over 3 1/2 years. All with a web site that provides an automated free service on the front-end and then offers additional services at a recurring fee on the back-end.
Once we figured out all the details to our income producing online service system, we rinsed and repeated the process. In August 2009 we released ViralHosts.com, in February 2010 the German market version, ViralURL.de and in April 2011 we released ViralinBox.com.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my business partnership with Colin is that a single person will take more then twice the time to reach any given business goal. By partnering up with another person with complimentary skills, both can leverage on each other and reach bigger goals even faster.
Along with that understanding came the fact that as your business grows, you will eventually need the help of others to maintain the highest possible level of support to your customers while growing your business even further.
That’s why I started to hire full-time staff in early 2008. Starting out with a single VA (Virtual Assistant), I got a second one within a year which was then followed by a COO (Chief of Operations).
To sum it all up for you, here are the 7 steps to build your own big online business from scratch to 7 figures…
1. Before you start to develop it, make sure you research if there is a big enough market for the product or service that you plan to offer.
2. Can your product or service be sold at a recurring fee? If not the initial product or service, can you think of added products or services that your customer would need next that you can sell them at a recurring fee?
3. If you don’t have the skill to develop the product or service you want to sell, either outsource the development or better, find a business partner with the needed skills.
4. Get a clear picture about your ideal customer before you start on the web page sales copy. If you can think of multiple types of potential customers, don’t sell to them all from a single sales page, but build one sales page for each customer type instead.
5. Make sure you always collect an email address before you ask for a sale.
6. As soon as you can afford it, get a VA from the Philippines at $400 – $600 per month to free up your personal time to do product development and marketing instead of support work and traffic generation tasks.
7. Always provide an affiliate program for any product or service you sell online. Without affiliates and JV partners (higher paid affiliates), I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Frank Bauer, expert on Internet Marketing, Affiliate Marketing, JV Marketing & Viral Marketing is the director of Add2it.com Marketing Pty Ltd and co-founder of ViralURL.com, ViralPlugin.com, ViralHosts.com, ViralURL.de and ViralinBox.com. To learn more about him and to get free access to his “How To Get Endless Traffic To Your Sites” video, please visit his blog at FrankBauer.name. To become the next Viral Marketing King (or Queen) yourself, please visit Frank & Colin’s blog at ViralKing.com.
Did you spot the differences to the publication? Hope you enjoyed it and got something out of it that will help you while building your own business.
‘Whatever the mind can conceive and believe… it can achieve.’
Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich
To your success in business & health in life,