Note: The following is a massive case study from 39 entrepreneurs - if want to learn more about being a successful businessman visit my business category, with posts like:
- How To Sell Shovels In A Gold Rush
- My One, Two, Three Punch For Effectively Choosing Ideas (And Aligning Them With Your Goals)f
If you want to make money, you have to sell something.
I think, that much, should be clear.
However, many of us get tripped up on the simple question
"What should I sell?"create affiliate sites
In the digital age there are a thousand different options to selling to an audience, and I have never read a single article that discusses, in depth, what you should sell.
So I decided to do the next best thing, which was to ask a bunch of successful, experienced entrepreneurs about the first thing they ever sold on a large scale, and how that went for them.
The answers I got were downright amazing and went well above and beyond the call of duty.
We have essentially 39 case studies on how to sell your first product/service.
Want to know what was the first thing Zac Johnson ever sold, before he made millions?
We got it!
Some of these answers are basically blog posts in and of themselves, and this "article" is now well over 12,000 words.
If you take the time to read this (as you should) you'll see that not everyone hit it out of the park on their first at bat.
In fact, sometimes there were failures.
But no matter what happened, there was always one thing; lessons.
So please have a look, and then, before you switch to something else, make sure to check out the bottom for my analysis on what made for a successful sell.
And above all, be sure to go over to these guys' blogs, as seen in the author bios, and give them a shout.
Tell them where you found them, and thank them for providing such amazingly, valuable content - for free!
Table Of Contents
- Cliff Notes – Best Teaser Snippets!
- Vladimir Gendelman: Branded Presentation Folders
- Michael Chibuzor: eBook on Amazon Affiliate Marketing
- Sean Ogle: House Painting Services
- John Corcoran: Course On Power Networking
- Kiesha Easley: eBook 10 Week Game Plan For A Top 100k Blog
- Stuart Walker: Reselling Social Media Services
- Nick Reese: Email Marketing For Luxury Real Estate
- Adam Connell: Service Targeted At Marketing Agencies
- Nick Loper: Door To Door Sales For House Painting Business
- Stephen Guise: eBook Of A Blog Post
- Jill And Josh Stanton: Course Badass Guest Blogging
- Steve Goedeker: Online Store Offering Home Goods
- Suraj Sodha: SEO Services For UK Businesses
- Amanda Abella: Ebook For Building Your Own Online Business
- Crystal Stemberger: ebook How To Make Money Blogging
- Sean Twomey: WordPress Web Developement
- Brian Carter: Course On Facebook Marketing
- Jason Chesters: Betting Service
- August Turak: Myself
- Jon & Susan Rodriguez: Weight Loss Coffee and Tea
- Zac Johnson: Reselling Web Hosting
- Fervil Von Tripoli: SEO Service
- Jason Levesque: Proactive Management of Third Party, Contracted Call Centers
- Philip Taylor: Financial Blogger Conference
- Ali Rittenhouse: Virtual Assistant training program
- Sheila Viers: Launching of premium gym and yoga bags
- Eugene Farber: Strategic Content Launch Pad
- Cody McLain: A Hosting Company
- Jon Cooper: Training Course on Link Building
- Hugh Culver: Marketing Flights to The South Pole
- Herby Fabius: A Small Music Studio
- Joel Runyon: Impossible Tri
- PJ Jonas: Goat Milk Stuff
- Lewis Ogden: Private Blog Network service
- Steve Scott: Selling Evil Eye Jewelry
- Tung Tran: Membership Site On Niche Sites
- Robert Farrington: Investing 101 Course
- Josh London: Magic Show
- Agatha Kulesza: Online Course 6 Week Money Mojo
- Amber Ludwig: Services For Authors, Speakers, Coaches
- Conclusion And Analysis
Cliff Notes - Best Teaser Snippets!
I get it - 12k words is a lot. You're probably not going to manage to read everyone. So I took the liberty of grabbing some of the best takeaways I could find. I didn't manage to get every entrepreneur in here (it wouldn't much for cliff notes if I did), but I got some awesome lessons all the same.
We had to fail in order to realize we desperately needed to pivot what we were doing with our brand, refocus ourselves, and start teaching what we knew: Affiliate marketing. - Jill And Josh (Tweet To Jill And Josh!)
Over the years I have discovered that being successful online is about providing the best information you can at no cost, and to help other people out as much as you can. If you do this well then the money will follow!!- Jason Chesters (Tweet To Jason!)
The most important thing every great salesman has is the absolute confidence that the prospect will buy. And this starts with believing in who you are and what you stand for.- August Turak (Tweet To August!)
Vladimir Gendelman: Branded Presentation Folders
Michael Chibuzor: eBook on Amazon Affiliate Marketing
Sean Ogle: House Painting Services
John Corcoran: Course On Power Networking
The first product I really tried to sell to a wide audience was a course called Power Networking. It was a live course taught via a couple of webinars which I later turned into a digital product which I still sell.
Secondly, my personal preference is to take live online courses but a lot of people prefer self-paced courses.
I let my personal bias get in the way which is why I originally created it as a live course.
It's much better to survey your list and see what they prefer, which is something I've done with later courses.
I'm currently in the midst of launching a new course called Connect with Influencers which I created after doing extensive research and testing -- something I did not do with Power Networking.
Kiesha Easley: eBook 10 Week Game Plan For A Top 100k Blog
My first large scale sale was my book: "10 Week Game Plan for a Top 100k Blog" The book was based on a reality blogging contest experiment that I had held the previous year.
The launch of book went over well. The ebook did far better than the hard copy (of course).
I called on the help of several popular bloggers who either allowed me to promote my book via guest posts and via their email lists.
Second largest successful thing: I was able to attract freelance clients from all over who needed help with setting up a blog, editing books/ebooks, writing and other related tasks.
I started teaching college courses full time, so I've had to turn many clients away, but some contact me or refer friends for services every summer.
So offering high-quality freelance services a really good way to generate an income.
Stuart Walker: Reselling Social Media Services
First thing I tried to 'sell' online was social media services though I was making / trying to make money online before this through other means.
It was mostly getting Facebook fans and Youtube views, Twitter wasn't too known at the time if it was even started I don't remember.
I aimed the service at unsigned bands and musicians looking to get more exposure but the whole service was flawed.
The people I was passing the work onto failed to deliver on time and when they did the service was poor so I had lots of angry customers.
Plus the bands didn't really get any benefit from any of it so weren't usually too happy.
I soon decided that wasn't really a good business model and gave up on it.
It was a short lived venture that wasn't very profitable.
Nick Reese: Email Marketing For Luxury Real Estate
The first product I tried to sell was email marketing for luxury real estate.
I initially found the idea by working within a real estate company and seeing the dysfunction of the email marketing options.
Then knowing the market inside out I just had to build a better solution and email my existing contacts.
It worked great and within 4 years I was selling $100k/year of the service.
Adam Connell: Service Targeted At Marketing Agencies
In 2013 I was operations manager for a marketing agency here in the UK. Initially we were focused more on helping local clients (although worked with plenty of international clients at the time) but we wanted to expand quickly and ramp up business while utilising the skillset we had in-house.We made the decision to launch a new service that would be sold into other agencies.We knew there was big demand for the service because we initially struggled to find a supplier that we could trust to do the job right. Early in 2013, we quickly built out a new website and a sales page – we rolled out the service pretty quick.
When we launched, we needed to get the service in front of the people who would have dire need for it.There were two key strategies that we used which seeded the launch: Publishing blog posts that specifically targeted the people that would find our service useful Contribute to relevant industry blogs that already had an established audience Within around 5-6 months (or something like that) we were up to 5 figures/month and growing rapidly.
Considering that I initially spent about 10 hours each month marketing the service, I’d say that wasn’t too bad at all.
Part of the reason why the launch went so well was because we validated the need for the service before we considered taking it to market.
Nick Loper: Door To Door Sales For House Painting Business
So like a lot of entrepreneurs, I've sold a bunch of different things over the years. But I'll share the story of my very first "grown-up" sales experience. In college I was hired for this "management / leadership / entrepreneurship" internship, which was a fancy way of saying, "you're going to run a residential house painting company."
I was assigned a territory, given a couple days of intensive sales training, and a one-week crash course on how to paint a house. Then my fellow interns and I were set loose into the wild to try and drum up some business.
The #1 way of getting new customers? Cold calling.
So here I am, an introverted college freshman driving through my assigned territory on a rainy weekday evening, wondering what I've gotten myself into.
There's only so much "scouting" I could do from the car. Nothing was ever going to happen until I got up the nerve to pick a neighborhood and go ring that first doorbell. I sat in my truck for probably 15 minutes psyching myself up, going over my pitch in my head.
Why was I so nervous? I wasn't even selling anything! I was offering a free estimate for house painting, a service that, statistically, one homeowner in 10 will purchase each year. OK, deep breath. Here goes nothing!
And then a funny thing happened: it wasn't so bad. Sure, some people weren't exactly happy to see me and others were a little rude, but I got through it. I even got my first few leads! Maybe this isn't so scary after all.
That summer I ended up doing around $70,000 worth of business, and it all started with ringing that first doorbell.
Stephen Guise: eBook Of A Blog Post
I suppose the first product I tried to sell to the masses was essentially an in-depth blog post on my blog. It was 4,000 words long, or about half the length of a short ebook. I used an up-and-coming micro transaction processor called TinyPass to accept payments. I released it after 1.5 years of blogging and I had 440 subscribers. The price was 77 cents.
I sold 4 of them, and made about $2. Since I don’t buy items from the McDonald’s dollar menu, it was hard to call it a success. Yeah. It failed. Later, I hypothesized that selling it as a mega blog post was probably the biggest mistake. People expect blog posts to be free!
So if you count that, my first product was a complete bomb. My second one, though, is a different, happier story.
I wrote a book called [easyazon_link asin="1494882272" locale="US" new_window="default" nofollow="default" tag="avocadopesto-20"]Mini Habits[/easyazon_link], and since I launched it in December of 2013, it has sold 12-13 thousand copies in just four months. At one point, it was the #1 best-selling Non-fiction book in the USA (and #15 overall). So obviously, it’s also been #1 in all of self-help books and in smaller categories like motivational. The term #1 best seller is thrown around a lot these days, but Mini Habits is really a #1 best seller!
I sell it exclusively through Kindle, and leverage Amazon’s incredible presence in the digital book market. I've long been an Amazon customer, so it’s been pretty amazing to work with them now, and I get 70% of the sale, which blows away any traditionally-published book royalty rate. And Mini Habits dominates similar, traditionally-published books in sales. It’s truly a new era where any author can succeed because the power is in the hands of the consumer!
If there are any authors out there, if you want a chance to succeed, invest in your book. Get a great editor and cover designer. You have to present it as a professional product to compete. Indies can produce books on par with big publishers, but most aren’t willing to risk the money to do it (which is understandable).
Mini Habits is selling well because of the content: it’s a product strategy that changed my own life, and it’s packed with science to back it up. Others have found it effective for exacting change in their lives too, which is why it’s rated so highly. So the reason I wrote it is because I wanted to write a book and I was dying to share this strategy with the world. I’m very happy that thousands of people now have a chance to read it.
Jill And Josh Stanton: Course Badass Guest Blogging
The first program I ever tried to sell online through our personal brand—ScrewTheNineToFive.com—was a guest blogging course, called Badass Guest Blogging.
We were super excited to launch it because we were convinced that we would crush our goals, and money would come flooding in. It didn't matter that we didn't do our proper research because we figured “Hey we know our audience well enough, we've got this locked down”!
Well, we were dead wrong and when we launched the product, there was nothing. No sales. No traction. No response. Just crickets.
At the time it devastated us, but after a solid day of feeling sorry for ourselves it dawned on us that this had to happen for a reason. We had to fail in order to realize we desperately needed to pivot what we were doing with our brand, refocus ourselves, and start teaching what we knew: Affiliate marketing.
Once we realized that, everything changed for us. We repositioned Badass Guest Blogging, started making sales, and revamped our entire website— top to bottom.
I never imagined I would be this thankful for such a gigantic and embarrassing failure, but each time I think back to that launch day I am filled with immense gratitude for falling flat on our faces.
After all, it's the struggle that makes the success that much sweeter.
Steve Goedeker: Online Store Offering Home Goods
In 2008, the economic recession hit our brick and mortar appliance and retail superstore hard. We knew we had to change strategies to stay in the game. We created Number1Direct, an online version of our store that offered appliances, furniture, mattresses, plumbing, and housewares.
It was a huge success. Now, over 90% of our sales come from online customers across the United States. We transitioned our website from Number1Direct to Goedekers.com, and our original showroom is now used for warehouse space and online operations.
Suraj Sodha: SEO Services For UK Businesses
Within a few months of offering this service I had landed 5 new SEO clients, 2 of which were worth £30,000 per year each in retainer fees. Those two clients were a law firm and a business services firm and both remained my clients for the next 5 years.
I had a team who would create the content and then distribute that content and build backlinks for our clients and I decided that I wanted a few big clients as well as lots of smaller clients. So I started going networking to local and national events, conferences, seminars and trade shows to promote my new SEO service. I started participating in local business forums and people started noticing what I was saying and began calling me to get advice on how they could improve their SEO and get more organic traffic.
These clients loved to work with me because I wasn't a big city agency. They loved the access they got directly to me without having to make an appointment to get some advice over the phone or in person. I did whatever it took to keep these clients happy and that resulted in them recommending me to their contacts, which helped to grow my business much faster than I could by myself.
Amanda Abella: Ebook For Building Your Own Online Business
I suppose the first ever product I tried to sell was a little e-book that flopped because I had no idea what I was doing. I'd only been blogging for a year and thought it may be a good idea. In retrospect I realize it wasn't very large scale at all.
My first official big launch was actually in January 2014 when I launched my book, Make Money Your Honey, on Amazon. It shot up to #3 in the Budgeting bestsellers and top 50 in entrepreneurship. I was quite proud 🙂
The idea came to me from past experience making the leap into full-time entrepreneurship and helping clients with their business and money hang ups. I realized that no matter what stage of the game you're in money hang ups will come up and try to bring you down when you're trying to build something for yourself - whether it's wasting your time on things that won't make you money, asking for money or having to manage it.
Once I got this hit I did informational interviews with clients and colleagues and asked them about their work and money fears. Then I sifted through countless emails that had come in through my blog over the years from millennials trying to get their footing in a world where job security no longer existed. Most of these emails were asking about entrepreneurship and how to get started. I figured if they got their money mindset straight then they could get to where they wanted to go much faster.
Essentially I just addressed everyone's business and money issues (including my own) in a guidebook they can use again and again to set up a solid foundation for building their own businesses. I did it with my audience in mind, involved them in the process and created community around the idea that money didn't have to be so scary. Needless to say when launch day came it was a great success.
It just goes to show that even if you flop the first time it doesn't mean you can't be successful down the road.
Author Bio: creator of the FIRE Coaching process, business coach to millennial entrepreneurs, and the author of the Amazon bestselling book [easyazon_link asin="0615935524" locale="US" new_window="default" nofollow="default" tag="avocadopesto-20"]Make Money Your Honey[/easyazon_link]. Check her out at AmandaAbella.com
Crystal Stemberger: ebook How To Make Money Blogging
The first product that I ever sold on a large scale was my first eBook, How I Make Money Blogging, which still is being bought at least a few times a month. I was motivated by my fellow blogging buddies to write it. After procrastinating for more than a year, I buckled down and completed it in 27 days and published it in July 2012. It was written for all bloggers, but it targets those that are just starting their blog or have started and want to grow quicker. So far, it's sold more than 500 copies through E-Junkie and Amazon.
It wasn't a million dollar idea, and I was not the first person to write about making money online, but I am still very proud of the end result and will never regret spending the time to write my very own eBook.
Sean Twomey: WordPress Web Development
I have since expanded into more areas including consulting and copywriting and am over time building up a successful virtual team of professionals that I can bring onboard for specific projects as needed.
Brian Carter: Course On Facebook Marketing
I don't know if it was large scale- I guess it was back then- but I sold an AdWords "Kickstart" back in 2004, and because I had a couple of the top ten placements for "adwords consultant", I got a lot of clients for it. It was super cheap, looking back- I think it was $299 to launch somebody's AdWords or tune it up.]
Then on a bigger scale I marketed (with another consultant, Barry Tubwell) a Facebook Marketing course called FanReach in 2011. We mainly went after the small business market. It was a series that started with a free "101" course, and we sold 201 (posts), 301 (ads) and then 401 (profits). The 401 course came about after students of the earlier courses began to profit and told us how they were doing it. We had about 6,000 people opt into the 101 course and about 400 buy the rest of it.
Our biggest learning there was that people often bought just because we were going to raise the price- I know for a fact some of them never even logged in after buying it. It was too hard to maintain because Facebook changed its look every month or two, and though the training was still valid, people questioned whether it was current, and that raised too many doubts. That's why I then pivoted that into writing the 1st edition of The Like Economy, which is now in its 2nd edition, translated into four languages and an international bestseller. So I guess it went pretty well! 🙂
Jason Chesters: Betting Service
I had to make the money back but I knew that gambling was not a wise idea, so I had to come up with something quickly, so at the time I thought it would be a good idea to start a betting service and charge a monthly fee! I did some research and found that the newest form of betting was LAY betting, which basically involved betting on your horse to lose. I saw a gap in the market and thought that a lot of people would be interested in this concept!
I set up a very simple website and used lots of different free resources to gather information that my members would want! I then subscribed to there betting services and then approached the site owners and asked if they would send an email out promoting my new service! a couple responded and I paid them £100 to send out an email to their list. (Nobody really knew much about affiliate marketing in them days, so we kept it simple)I launched my new service and I immediately got 30 new members paying £100 per month each!!!
I couldn't believe it, I Just made £3k from a £100 investment.
I new I could attract more members so I paid other sites to promote my service and before I new it I had 100 members paying me £100 per month. I'll let you do the math but It's safe to say that my first 'service' was a massive success! At this stage I realised that it was important to start building my own list, and I explain exactly how I did this here.
After about 12 months the service started to die down a bit and that was because other people started to do what I did and they released other LAY betting services. They had better looking sites, more info and a better knowledge of making money online! This is when I transformed into an internet marketeer and from here I learned everything I could about making money online as I quickly realised that I needed to adapt to keep up with the big boys.
Making tens of thousands of pounds profit from my first online venture was obviously great! But my most successful launch came a few years later when I joined up with JV partners and launched a brand new service. It brought in £70k in the first weekend!! My knowledge of IM and SEO had grown a lot by this stage though! I then started to venture into other online products/services. I used my knowledge to create affiliate sites and then I launched DoSEOyourself.com.
Over the years I have discovered that being successful online is about providing the best information you can at no cost, and to help other people out as much as you can. If you do this well then the money will follow!!
At the minute I still have other services which I have people running for me. I am also working hard on my SEO blog as well as building a Private Blog Network to help with ranking future sites! So feel free to drop by and I'll do what I can to help you with your SEO
August Turak: Myself
Well, the first product or service I tried to sell on a “large scale” was actually myself. I grew up the oldest of 8 without much money in Pittsburgh PA. When I was 13 I heard that exclusive New England prep schools were offering scholarships to kids like me in order to diversify their student bodies away from all Rockefellers and DuPonts. I convinced my father to let me try and I ended up winning full scholarships to several schools and then eventually settling on the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. Hotchkiss turned out to be one of those transformational moments that Radically reoriented my life.
In looking back on this experience I already see the germ of the character trait that enabled me to go on to a very successful career selling products as diverse as 3M copy machines to MTV: Music Television and eventually selling my two companies: Belief in myself. Even at 13 I had a sense that “all they can do is say no” and that I had as good a shot as anyone. Later when my father dropped me off at Hotchkiss he said, “Wow Augie, I hope these boys like you.” According to him I replied at 14, “I’m more worried about whether I like them.”
The most important thing every great salesman has is the absolute confidence that the prospect will buy. And this starts with believing in who you are and what you stand for.
Jon & Susan Rodriguez: Weight Loss Coffee and Tea
We actually were approached 2 weeks ago by a good friend that started in this business that has made 7 figures in past businesses and they helped us start this business. We are now 1 week away from being homeless with 3 children so it's all we have and are working it as hard as we can regardless of our situation. We are targeting small business owners, people who want to lose weight, coffee lovers, coffee shops and anyone who needs an extra income. I believe this is going to be a story that will have a very sweet ending.
Zac Johnson: Reselling Web Hosting
Fervil Von Tripoli: SEO Service
The first service I’ve ever tried selling on a larg scale is a full-scale SEO service (starting on keyword research, to on page SEO, then to link building including content marketing and social media promotions) for medium to bigger websites. Not all of the business I came to help ended successful actually. There were many reasons behind failing. Some might be: disclosed thinking from the company, not prioritizing what needs to be done fast, and loss of communication.
I’ve been paid by some clients with salaries ranging from $500/month
to $800/month for a monthly retainer SEO service. It was a ballsy move for me to take 3 to 4 contracts all at once. I know I’m able to do it but sometimes you really can’t accommodate all the work you needed done. You know how to help but you cannot save them all. So I’ve tried outsourcing from the local to help me with my tasks. Some had some wins while others left unhappy.
It was really an opportunity at stake for me to have those contracts but I was really after the wisdom that I would get versus the salary I was earning. I personally think that investing time in learning new and effective things is more valuable compared to settling down on what you already have or know. I wish to flourish my skills in internet marketing and would like to use it as my weapon in targeting high paying clients i.e. real estate investors, physicians, dentists, etc.
Jason Levesque: Proactive Management of Third Party, Contracted Call Centers
The first service we offered shortly after Argo Marketing was created was the proactive management of third-party, contracted call centers. There was a growing need among direct response marketers worldwide for this type of service, and we had the logistical expertise and experience necessary to successfully manage the many complexities involved in call center operations.
With an enormous amount of dedication and a heavy focus on quality, training, and analytics, we quickly became a nationally recognized marketing consulting firm. We soon later built our own call center in-house, and after experiencing rapid growth, we now have 3 state-of-the-art Customer Engagement Centers where we continue to provide exceptional service to our clients and their customers.
Philip Taylor: Financial Blogger Conference
My first product was the first annual Financial Blogger Conference FinCon.
My goal was to sell a ticket to this event to all of the personal finance bloggers actively blogging across the U.S., Canada, and beyond. This was a community I was already an active member of, so I was essentially just asking a bunch of my friends to come hangout at a party with me.
I ended up with around 225 ticket buyers by simply leveraging my existing network and offering them an original, unique experience that would connect them face to face with their online friends and business partners. But I wasn't just selling tickets, I was also selling sponsorships (which would help subsidize the cost of the event). That proved more challenging as I had to convince companies of the value of this group of attendees, and offer them a seat at the table to become a part of the event. There's a balance to be had there.
And I didn't hit a home run, but I got close enough, and 4 years later I've tripled the size of the event and the list of partners continues to grow.
Ali Rittenhouse: Virtual Assistant training program
Well, The very first product launch that I did was a Virtual Assistant training program that teaches VA's how to manage online technology tools for their clients. I had a list of less than 200 and filled my first program. At the time, I was moving away from being a Virtual Assistant and knew that there was very few VA's out there with my same skill set, yet almost EVERY client needed this type of support! We still offer the program and it still continues to fill up each time we offer it. We cover things like email marketing, WordPress, and managing Product Launching!
Now I have several different products that service Online Entrepreneurs in different ways!
Sheila Viers: Launching of premium gym and yoga bags
The first product I ever sold on a large scale was when we launched our first bag in our line of premium gym and yoga bags, called the Core. It went really well. We already had a following, as we had been blogging about our health and fitness journey for about a year and a half already.
In the first year after the launch the Core was featured in top fitness publications including Oxygen, the German edition of Shape, and Experience Life to name a few. It was also featured on many top health and fitness blogs like KathEats.com and OhSheGlows.com, which really helped us spread the word too.
Eugene Farber: Strategic Content Launch Pad
The very first product of my own that I sold on a large scale was my blogging/content guide called "Strategic Content Launch Pad". Although, looking back on it, I probably should have come up with a better name.
Prior to launching my current site I had been experimenting with all sorts of content/blogging campaigns with a previous site. I decided to really focus in on content marketing and using blogging to drive traffic and leads. That's when I launched my new site with the intention of eventually selling this product. It was all planned out ahead of time...although the launch of the new site was fairly experimental too...and it was successful.
I was targeting small business owners that knew they wanted to use content to promote themselves, but weren't necessarily sure how to go about it; what concrete steps to take. It's one thing to create content...it's another to actually handle the "marketing" side of content marketing.
So I figured the best way to get in front of those people was to leverage other experts' audiences...those who already had the attention of my target audience. The launch was a three part series group interview (example ).
To be honest the launch and the product were more successful than I could have thought. It was my first (non-affiliate promotion)...and I figured I needed to get a few failures under my belt first :).
I don't really heavily promote the product any more, but it's still making sales to this day. It's a great surprise when I see a purchase confirmation in my email.
The best part is the feeling of providing real value to the customers. I assume people are happy with it given the fact that I provide a no questions asked money-back guarantee on the product and no one has really taken me up on it. Maybe I'm not charging enough 🙂
Cody McLain: A Hosting Company
Whether it was band, choir or art - we all typically chose something that suited our interests. To me though, none of that was really particularly interesting. So out of pure boredom I chose the one at the bottom of the list, computer class. It happened to be a class full of misfits who chose the class thinking it would be the easiest hour of the day.
For me though, it was more than just a class. Being only 15 at the time, it was incredibly interesting. Our computer teacher had a witty sense of humor, and taught us a great deal of applications like Word, Excel, Photoshop and more - all in middle school. It was here that I learned that I had a passion for technology, and a drive for learning.
At the same time, my friend and I were both quite lackluster in terms of our financial situation (who isn’t?). Just like every other teenager, we had to get that new Xbox which just came out around the time. But how could we get the money? We frantically tried to find ways to make money online, and had been unable to come up with any good ideas.
That is…until he told me about reseller hosting. Apparently you could signup at a host and resell their hosting services for about $25/month. I wasn’t quite sure about it, but he was quite the convincer. I put in my half of money, and we signed up for a HostGator account later that day. I was in charge of the website, while my friend was trying to figure out how to find customers.
Unfortunately being best friends, our partnership quickly ended about a week in after a silly argument. It was here I had my first lesson that friends and partners don’t really mix. I however - kept on pushing. I’m not sure what it was or what I found - but there was something about that company which stole my attention, which gave me a purpose in life.
Without many friends, or any real interest in sports I had finally found something that I felt could define me as a person. It was here I made my first dollar, and met my first few customers.
I went around posting ads on various forums, trying to advertise it as cheap, yet quality hosting - all along hiding the fact I was just a 15 year old. I remember the day when customers first started signing up; I was ecstatic. I went around to all my friends and told them that I was a business owner. From that point on, my only real interest was in building that company.
I was tired of being bullied in school, and for me, being able to build that company was my way of telling the world I’m not a pushover. I did this by focusing all my time, effort and energy into building something that meant the world to me.
The hosting company was really all I had. I valued it more than any material possession or experience I had at the time. I was driven from an early age to succeed, to be somebody. I didn’t exactly know how I was going to make it, just that I had to.
Being as young as I was I didn’t know much about running a business but did the next best thing by learning what my competitors. I took the best aspects from competitor’s websites and tried to redo them, just better.
This was in combination with a never-ending thrive for research in my industry. I immediately looked for ways to be different, to shine the brightest and attract the most customers.
Soon, I discovered my niche. It was called FFmpeg, which is Linux software that converts videos into FLV format. This allows them to play on the flash video player on a website. Once YouTube launched, everybody wanted to have their own video-sharing site and I was able to enter the market at just the right time. This accelerated my growth past most of my competitors and I was able to own the market in a very short period of time.
All my effort, from dawn to dusk went into working on the company. I spent more of my childhood on it than I really should have, but I was surely dedicated to it. I was always trying to improve the business on some scale, as I knew that was really what would set me apart. It was pretty difficult to balance school and work, as I was handling sales calls in between classes and responding to customer emails on my PDA.
Throughout the rest of high school, I kept running that hosting company. Through the 3am server crashes and the occasional upset customer - I kept pushing through it. Where most of my friends quit because of a loss of interest, I knew there would be no chance I’d have any luck without an incredible amount of persistence.
Later on, I went on to sell that very same company - to none other than HostGator. And that, is the story of how I started my very first company.
Jon Cooper: Training Course on Link Building
The first product was a training course on link building. It's setup as a portal; not an eBook, although you can grab different modules as PDFs. It's actually still live on my site & I'm still updating it: HERE
The reason I created the product was that I blogged mostly on advanced link building, and I noticed a good portion of my audience wasn't at that advanced level yet. I was hitting home with some of my audience (the influencers, who then the share my posts as a result), but there was a huge chunk of those looking for link building info that needed the background before they could start making sense of a lot of my posts.
So I created the course to fill that gap. However, I did a pretty terrible job at splitting up whether it should be for beginners, and/or the advanced level folks as well. I ended up putting both beginner & expert content in there, but I regret not segmenting that up into separate products somehow, so I didn't have to serve both audiences with only one product.
Anyways, getting it prepped for launch was kind of a mess, as I couldn't figure out a solid payment solution. I launched with Paypal, and the first day went quite well (drove around 100 sales within 24 hours), but I eventually switched to ClickBank as I wanted an affiliate program.
Since then, I've kept updating it, and I've actually been planning for a while to add a lot more content to it, but my hopes were a little too big as to how much I wanted to push, so it's been taking me a little while to finish up.
Hugh Culver: Marketing Flights to The South Pole
My first big sale in business was for $245,000. And it was for something what didn’t exist. I had just joined three partners and my job was to market flights to the South Pole. It was a nerve-racking time. We didn’t have any money (it was all sitting in 55 gallon fuel drums on the ice) and nobody had done what we were proposing. I made an appointment with a guru in the tourism industry, drove to Seattle to meet him, and laid out our plan. It only took about an hour of him asking me questions, and me basically guessing at the answers, before he gave me the go-ahead.
By the end of three months I had secured $1.2M in sales and never looked back.
It was a remarkable experience, but not unusual in some ways. Even though I was selling an exclusive opportunity (to this day, our company is still the only one that flies people to the South Pole), I’m convinced it was my wide-eyed approach to the sale that made it happen. There is something exciting about being around people would are enthusiastic about doing something good for other people.
I’ve never forgotten that day, and the switch what went off for me when I got the “Yes”. Everything changed at that moment. I instantly became a believer in the power of focus and passion that’s connected to a plan. Take away any of those three and you are on shakey ground.
Herby Fabius: A Small Music Studio
The very first thing that I tried to sell was access to a small music studio that my friends and I had created. Early on, we convinced ourselves that we wanted our own music studio to make music and of course,rent it out to make money. Well, it didn't really work out that way.
We bought a bunch of studio equipment (which none of us knew how to use.) We thought just having a cool studio we'd be able make money, and also have fun in the process. Butas it turns out, we were all in it just forfun; we made very little effort to get people to pay for it.
The reason being, we lacked the confidence and business knowledge to make it work. We were unexperienced on all ends, the producing side and the business side.
In the end, we ended upwasting a lot of money and valuable time. Lesson Learned!
Joel Runyon: Impossible Tri
The first item I ever tried to sell was "Impossible Tri" - it bombed fantastically. I sold a few hundred bucks worth of it - and probably broke even and while it was a great learning experience, I didn't make much (if any) money on it.
The main problem was the fitness was a segment of my audience and triathlons specifically was a very small segment of my audience. On top of that, triathlons are more intimidating than say a 5k. So, in order for my product to be successful I had to market it to a small segment of my current audience AND convince them they could do it (while still getting over the hurdle that they may or may not have already done something like a 5k). I learned that just because I think a product is a good idea, doesn't mean my audience does as well. I also realized that I need to start at a much wider base with more common goals that apply to larger populations before cinching down and hyper-focusing on a sport I hadn't particularly done a great job of building up audience interest in.
PJ Jonas: Goat Milk Stuff
The first product I ever sold on a large scale is our goat milk soap - which is what we still sell here. I had been making soap for our family for years. I wanted a natural soap that wasn't filled with chemicals to use on my children's skin. But when I put it in the shower, my husband's fingers stopped cracking and splitting - so I knew I had a great product.
We put up the website, but had to figure out a way to get people to visit. Rather than investing in adwords, we decided to sign up for a local craft show so we could get some customer feedback. We were excited to sell our soap, but we were equally excited to give out free soap samples with a card that had our website address on it. Our plan worked and soon we were selling more soap on our website than we were at craft fairs.
Lewis Ogden: Private Blog Network Service
My first large scale service I tried and thankfully succeeded with was my Private Blog Network service Rank Source. This service actually only started in February this year so it's still quite fresh in my mind!
Before Rank Source I was always a behind the scenes kind of guy. You know the type, an SEO guy, working alone, ranking niche sites, that sort of thing. It wasn't until I started my blog and was 7-8 months down the road that I began to realise that I had a great audience that needed someone they could trust to offer them a service.
My first tip would be;
1 - Listen to your audience.
The first nudge from my audience came from a good number of emails I was receiving from readers of my blog, asking questions on the best way to rank a website and what backlinks should they build.
I then set about creating the best resource on that which was a guide on "how to build a private blog network". To date, that one article has over 200 comments and drives over 2,000 more visitors to my blog each month. Pretty powerful stuff. This then opened the floodgates of questions from people wanting to know more and if I had a service they could buy.
2 - Take Action
It was a scary thought was I first decided to build a service and try to sell it. Sure I knew I had the audience but would they really pay me money? I decided that there was only one way to find out and in any case, if it didn't sell I would still be able to use it to rank my own websites, as I had been doing before.
I also started to notice that the blog network chatter was getting louder as more and more people began to take notice of what SEO's were doing to rank websites to well. I knew I have to take action sooner, rather than later. Otherwise I would risk missing the boat.
3 - Minimum Viable Product
A lot of planning and research went into the service before I had even built anything. I crammed all of that into just a few short weeks and then set about building out my website for the product. I wanted an MVP (minimum viable product) so that if the service was a flop I wouldn't have wasted lots of time upfront.
I think that was one key for me actually taking action on this too, I mean if there is a huge task ahead of you, often it's hard to get started. In this case I told myself that I was only going to build a simple site that provided just what was needed to make sales and communicate with my clients. Everything else could come later, once I had a proven model.
4 - Proof of Concept
Before I spent a ton of money on building out my network, I first announced the imminent launch to my audience by way of a small mention in a monthly roundup blog post. My thoughts on this were 2 fold;
1 - My audience were already used to reading these reports and the link wouldn't look out of place.
2 - I would be able to gauge the interest in the service by the number of people who clicked the link and provided their email address.
This method was perfect for me and I would recommend it to others thinking of launching their first paid product. I had immediate data right there in front of me that people were indeed interested in my service. I managed to obtain 50 opt-in's from that single mention and the proof of concept was complete. All I did was add a contact form to my website, with an email address field and a button that read "get priority".
5 - Build it fast or at least try too
From that point I knew I had potential clients just waiting to pay for my service. The trouble is, with working a full time job and having limited time to dedicate to the build phase I really struggled to hit my initial 20 day launch window. In fact this actually doubled to 40 days before I actually began selling.
What was the result of such a delay? - It's hard to tell as I don't know how many clients would have bought my service had I delivered in 20 days, but I do know I had them knocking at my door each week asking for the launch date.
When I did finally launch I had just under 50% of the priority list sign up for the service. On that single day I had sold my first product/service, repaid myself for the initial investment and time I had spent on building it. There is no other feeling like it.
6 - Growth
Now I had clients I had to improve and grow. Within the first month I had doubled the size of the network to take on more clients. As I began to mention the service elsewhere on on my blog, more and more people signed up and became paying customers.
Today the Rank Source service is more than earning a full time income and I have a team of VA's who I have trained to perform most of the tests required. I still like to manage the customer service side of the business as that is something I feel really makes a difference and that personal touch really helps sales.
What has this experience taught me?
1 - You should start right now - if you don't have an audience, get in front of one.
2 - Use paid advertising to test your concept. If people opt-in or buy, you have a winner.
3 - You don't need to build it before they will come
4 - Step outside your comfort zone - there's a warm fuzzy feeling waiting for you!
Steve Scott: Selling Evil Eye Jewelry
The first thing I sold online (in earnest) was evil eye jewelry. Like many people, I got my start selling things on eBay. Back in 2003, I noticed that people bought a lot of evil eye jewelry on eBay, but there wasn't a reliable resource for it because it had to be imported. So I struck a deal with a manufacturer in Turkey to ship directly to me and I would resell them through eBay.
Once the income started to increase, I decided to build my own website -- Mizambar.com (I no longer own this domain.) I ran this site for a year or so, learning a lot during this time. Specifically, I realized that I HATED selling retail products. Eventually this led to me branching out into affiliate marketing and selling information products.
This experience validated all the notions I had about being able to work hard, travel the world, and do what you want to do.I’m just an ordinary guy who has a relatively normal existence on the Jersey Shore. I live in a modest two-bedroom apartment on the ocean. Most of my days are spent working. And during my free time I like to do fun activities like running, hiking, skiing, surfing, reading and spending time with my loved ones.
Tung Tran: Membership Site On Niche Sites
Honestly, I don't have much experience selling my own products or services, as I have been focusing on the affiliate marketing business model since the beginning. However, on February 14th 2014, I launched my first product and learned many valuable lessons along the way.
Let me tell you a little bit about my background and the reason why I created the product.
I've been doing online business for about 4 years and making money mostly from building and selling my own profitable affiliate websites. On February 2013, I started a personal blog called Cloud Living Journey (now Cloud Living) as a place for me to document my journey and share my knowledge in order to help other people succeed online with affiliate marketing. By posting only high quality and in-depth content, the blog quickly became one of the go-to places to learn about building successful affiliate websites.
By September 2013, I already got over 10,000 monthly readers to the blog and about 1,500 email subscribers. However, I still felt like there wasn't enough information on the topic as I was getting ~ 10 emails a day from readers all around the world asking for my advice. So I sent out a survey to my list and asked them to tell me more about their problems and how I could help them to succeed.
The answer showed that they were needing a step-by-step guide that teaches them:
how to build a successful affiliate website...
...that make $1000 or more per month...
... in under 90 days.
All the numbers were from the survey.
I immediately went into creating the guide for my readers.
At first, I was about to release it for free, but the guide took a lot of my time, so after consulting with my more successful entrepreneur friends on the DC, I decided to turn the guide into a premium product.
The official launch went really well, here are some stats:
Launch period: 3 days
Product price: $99 (3-month subscription)
Unique Visitors to sales page: 950
Conversion rate: 7.5%
I would consider this as a successful launch although I made many mistakes before and during the launch. Here are some lessons learned:
1. A blog is not a business. Don't work for free unless your free work can earn you more money in the long run.
This is the mistake that I and many bloggers made during the first 1-3 years. They put a lot of money and effort on creating content and building an audience but never thinking about how they can monetize their hard work. Yes, it's good to see your traffic grows day after day but all those visits are worthless if you can't convert them into sales.
Don't get me wrong, money alone is not the reason why we create blogs. But you have to value your time. And the fact is that by monetizing the traffic, we can actually build a better blog.
2. Dont be afraid to sell. People want to buy from you, especially if you have established a trusted brand.
I was pretty nervous when launching my product. I was afraid of losing my audience as they might think that I jumped the shark and turned into the dark side by charing people for information.
I was wrong. Dead wrong.
it turned out that people were actually willing to pay for my product as they trusted me. So don't be afraid to sell. It's easier than you think. Just make sure you create something of value.
3. Charge higher price for better product and service.
You can't deliver a great product with excellent customer experience on a $7 ebook. You need to charge higher. Don't compete on price.
Charge what you're worth. (This is a MUST video to watch) Honestly, I think I wasn't charging high enough with my product.
4. Rarely sell to your audience, but when you sell, sell HARD. Derek Halpern taught me this. Listen to this podcast and you'll master the art of selling hard.
5. Remember to make sure everything is working before you launch.
This is critical. I had to set up everything again 1 hour prior to the launch as something messed up and I couldnt fix it. Dont be like me, always check things at least 1 day before your launch.
6. Learn to sell effectively.
Successful business people know how to sell. This is the most important skill you need to learn. I highly suggest you to learn copywriting and how to write a high converting sales copy. Follow these people:
Okay, that's everything that I want to share today
Robert Farrington: Investing 101 Course
The first product that I tried to sell large scale was my Investing 101 Course. After several years of running my site, The College Investor, one of the biggest questions I always received as "How do I actually get started?" All of the gurus say you should take your #1 question and monetize it, so that's what I did.
As I got closer to launch, I started hyping it up to my email subscribers and on social media. On launch day, I followed as strategy I saw on ProBlogger with having a post, and then several follow up emails and social media reminders. Everything was going well, except for one thing - my membership site and payment processor weren't working for the first few customers! Painful! I had to spend several hours and a bunch of emails, but I eventually got it all working.
The course did amazing the first month, a little less the next month, and it has since trickled off to just a few sign ups per month. My goal this year is to relaunch it and build a conversion funnel that will hopefully drive more sign ups. For example, I have a small free video investing training video that leads to an opt in page, which has boosted conversions a bit. All in all, I'm glad I launched it!
Josh London: Magic Show
The very first offering I ever sold was a magic show. Being a magician from the age of 5 I never knew how to do anything else except magic. From elementary school to middle school to high school I lived, breathed and slept magic and performing.In school, I would constantly have my cards taken away from me because the teachers thought I was gambling and taking lunch money.
While there were times that I did do 3 Card Monte for a few bucks, by and large I was honing and practicing my sleight of hand and performances.My first “big” break came from being booked by Sony at age 16 to perform at their annual Holiday Party.
I got paid hundreds of dollars (I think $400 or so) to mingle around with the employees and their families and show close-up magic during the cocktail hour.Not even being legal drinking age I was rubbing elbows and entertaining Sony executives with card tricks. After that, I knew that I wanted to perform magic for a living.
Then the real work began.
I had a service to provide that was needed at events, but how do I go about monetizing it and making it a business?
Whenever I run into a problem I typically turn to books for the solutions. This is especially true for creating new magic routines as often the problem is already solved in an old magic book. Marketing is the same way, if you have a hurdle hit the books and start reading. The answer is usually always there.
Armed with a service that is good enough to sell, a little marketing knowledge and being only 16 I set out to offer the world my services as a magician.
The nice thing about being young is that you don’t know that some ideas will never work and you are fearless in everything you pursue. This helped me create systems and processes that led to many bookings for corporate events, private parties, birthday parties and all kinds of events where a magician is needed.
Over 3,000 performances later, the engine is still white hot with passion and desire to entertain the world.
Getting back to the question at hand, specifically the first “big” service I sold was a show for a Fortune 500 company for $7,500 at age 21. They flew me out on a private jet and even sent the VP to meet me and fly with me (I think he mostly wanted to be in sunny San Diego for the weekend though).
I was put up in the nicest hotel in the city and treated like a king. I was their entertainment and an investment and they didn’t want to make me unhappy.
The show was fantastic and the audience loved me and I loved them.
Looking back on it, that show was no different than any other show I’ve performed. My heart and soul went into it just like every show. The only difference was a bigger paycheck and a better story.
Agatha Kulesza: Online Course 6 Week Money Mojo
My first product was an online course called “6 week money mojo” that I launched back in 2008. I was still running my accounting business at the time so I thought doing an online finance course was my next step. I had no idea what I was doing and no confidence in my online skills so I made many mistakes.
Mistake #1: I had not done much market research before I created the course, so I was very scared about it all. because of my fear and lack of confidence I decided to hire tons of other people that I thought knew better than I did. So I spent $20,000 developing a mega website and hiring super fancy copywriters, branding folks, photographers, etc. You name it, I spent money on it to develop this thing. In the end, I learned that no one knows my market better than I do and I could have easily saved myself $15,000 in development costs by just sending out some surveys to my audience and doing more research.
Mistake #2: I did it just to make money and put myself online, not because I really wanted to help people with their finances. I actually wanted to get away from accounting and finance so this was more of a selfish move than one that was really intended to help others. Plus it was not authentic because I was trying to sell a product that was all about an industry I wanted to get out of! I feel my lack of passion definitely showed through. helping people with their finances is amazing work, but I just did not want to be the one doing it!
Mistake #3: I tried to come off like a fancy accountant, rather than my laid back geeky self. This was horrrrrrible for me! I felt like such a fake and a liar every time I did a speech or talked to anyone about the course. This was soul sucking. and when you are not yourself people can feel it and this can easily repel sales and customers. So no more of that shiz!
I think i sold 30 units of 6 week money mojo over the course of one year, which added up to about $3,000. So I spent $20,000 and made $3,000. yes, it was a total flop. But I would never take any of it back. i learned so much about myself, about what I really want to do with my life, and about online marketing. it wised me up really fast to not make those mistakes again and was like a crash course in the online world. So I am actually very grateful for it.
I sold my accounting business in 2013 and that has given me the freedom to fully focus on my blog heyagatha.com where i talk (and rap!) about business. I am having so much more fun. I am still refining my voice and message as I go, but luckily I am courageously doing that on my own instead of hiring people to figure it out for me.
Amber Ludwig: Services For Authors, Speakers, Coaches
My business (NGNG Enterprises standing for No Guts No Glory) has been primarily service-based since 2007. We work with authors, speakers and coaches to help them build a profitable, lasting business online.
We've been very successful at growing our service list, and thereby company, over the years. We started selling WordPress websites, then added copywriting, done-for-you social media, product creation and launches, as well as online marketing strategy sessions.
Every year since 2007 we've grown on average by 40%. My focus was on bringing in consistent results. One of the ways I was able to achieve that was through building relationships and making strategic partners. I connected with companies that could refer their already existing clients to us as well as those that could offer our services under their brand. Since I wanted to work with authors, speakers and coaches I focused on companies that already had grown that exact market. Leveraging pre-built networks is definitely one of the fastest and more reliable ways to grow a company.
My first major product launch was in January 2014 actually. It was the AuthenticBusinessSuccessSummit.com. I had brought together 15 online entrepreneurs and interviewed them each on the specific business and mindset strategies they implemented to build their multi-6-7-and-8 figure empires online.
We raised almost $15,000 the first month for charity through the AuthenticBusinessSuccessSummit.com program and sales are still coming in. I structured the program to offer lifetime access to all 15 interviews plus more than $5,700 worth of business building bonuses and access to a private Facebook Group for those that invest in the program for just $197.
In general, to have a successful product launch or service list, my advice is to:
* Survey your target audience and ask them what THEY want from you. It's much easier to sell a product or service you know people want, instead of guessing what they want and missing the mark.
* Be crystal clear on the offer. When people are confused they won't buy. Make sure your copywriting is rooted in emotion and is very benefit-driven. This will help your conversion rates.
* Study the marketplace to come up with a price point that makes sense based on your expertise, amount of value included and what your audience is willing to pay.
* Don't stop selling. The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make is that they start the launch, don't sell it hard, don't see the results they hoped for, get insecure and give up. It is the follow-through (especially when you are uncertain) that makes your success. Keep selling!
If you've made it this far you've digested a lot of content. Now, while everyone had a different sale, there were some underlying trends that are worth highlighting:
- LISTEN - The most successful people listened to their audience. Some went as far as surveying them. When it comes to selling it's the customer that decides the value - not you. You need their sign off to make a sale, so listen to them up front.
- BE YOURSELF - No one who was a success sold something that went against who they are or what they know. Find the intersection between what your customer's value and what value you can give.
- TAKE ACTION - Show me someone from this list who didn't take action. At the end of the day, you have to pull the trigger.
Here's What To Do Next...
If you want to truly make money online you need two things: Tools and Knowledge
What I have done is created both and combined them into a sweet starter pack that includes
- The 15 tools I use everyday to run my online business
- My Advanced Blogging Video Course (4 part series)
- 150+ quality, high traffic blogs that accept guest posts
- Links to 30 income reports from bloggers who made over $300k in one month
By combining the knowledge of how to make money, with the tools to actually do it - you can begin maximizing your revenue online.