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“Can I Make Money In Any Online Business Using A Simple…?” No, You Cannot.

April 8, 2014 2 Comments
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A dear friend from high school asked me this morning what I thought about an advertisement disguised on Facebook to look like an article titled “Learn How to Make 6-Figures In Any Online Business Using a Simple 3-Part Blog Formula” in which the authors are touting a free online webinar promising to teach others:

  • Why there’s only 5 Ways to Make REAL Money with Blogs and which you should be using.
  • How to steal Oprah’s model and have the “experts” write blockbuster content for you.
  • How to setup an online funnel that works while you sleep.
  • How Top Marketers are using blogs to make 6-figures and why they’d rather not tell you about it.

Of course the page was redirected from the LearnToBlog.com URL via an advertisement testing/tracking link to a webinar sign up landing page for good measure.

L. Scott Harrell on Starting a Business BlogHere are my thoughts on this specific “blog to riches” advertisement:

If you want to start a blog and need a primer then I think you should sit through that webinar, take copious notes and let us know what they have to say. I’ve learned to not be suspicious of these sorts of offers any longer; I KNOW that they are going to try and sell one or more products during the webinar or they wouldn’t have taken the time to put together the webinar and pay for advertising. I’m only skeptical about how much useful information I am going to get and how many follow up emails I’m going to receive at whatever email I address I’ve decided to give them. When evaluating online offers, I like to consider “information density,” how much useful information did I receive in what space of time – more information over less time equals a quality experience.

Yes! People are making money on YouTube and with their blogs, it is certainly possible but it requires a niche focus, a viable monetization strategy, a SHIT TON of patience and very real WORK. I called my previous blog an “online magazine” and used it to sell information products with tremendous success. I was fortunate enough to have sold those online assets to people that could continue to build value and revenue in them beyond my interest or capability, then moved to the Caribbean and haven’t done anything productive for one and a half years. Sounds easy enough but I had a plan, a product and I worked my ass off for several years. I have two new online blog-centric projects in the pipeline right now – one about video content creation and the other a video entrepreneur magazine.  (I apologize to any of you that visit those links as the websites are in various stages of being built out at the moment – I literally started ReelCozumel.com yesterday.)

Of course, I believe in the concept of making money via blogs.

Make no bones about it, you have to commit to A TON of content and building a readership by transferring value and developing trust before thinking you’ll start to make any sort of revenue at all. If you do not work from an editorial calendar then at least have a mile-long list of potential article titles/subjects growing at all times. Curating other people’s content only works for portal type online properties and building a social network following.

You could probably avoid their sales pitch and first Google “monetizing a blog” and reading every article on the first two pages of results. This is a good article but requires more in depth research into each method if you are unfamiliar with the concepts… http://monetizepros.com/blog/2014/50-blog-and-content-monetization-strategies/

In my opinion here are the top 5 ways to make money with a blog:

  1. Sell memberships 
  2. Sell products (information is my favorite product)
  3. Selling your expertise via speaking, coaching and consulting
  4. Affiliate sales 
  5. Direct advertising sales

I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of each of these as I could probably write and sell an information product on this topic alone. Rest assured, there is plenty of great information readily available online with just a bit of research.

This whole thing about dropping Oprah’s name in the ad copy is silly and a thinly veiled attempt to target a specific type of audience while creating some implied emotional link to their “method” for uber success. Oprah’s model was to attract very successful people to her show and create a connection, real or imagined, with her star-powered guests by demonstrating how generous she is. These people watched their idols on her show and a measure of the affinity they had for these stars was transferred to Oprah. To put it more simply and give you a concrete example: People watched an episode of Oprah’s show because they were in love with Tom Cruise and he was going to be a guest. They all saw this big love and adorable craziness (blech) between Tom and the host. Many of Tom’s fans became loyal Oprah fans as a result.

The same thing happens in the blogging world. If I want to build a fan base, then I can try to attract a popular blogger to write a “guest post” for my blog and hope that the guest blogger will tell his or her fans about their post on my blog and, in turn, hopefully some of these readers will also become my readers. We call this process building joint venture partnerships in business, too.

Hiring writers and finding guest authors isn’t much of a trick provided you have a blog on a specific subject rather than a personal, “day in my life” or “here’s my story” type of blog.

Of course, Oprah also has writers and producers working for her to create content and organize the talent – she’s not going it alone.

Setting up an online funnel that works while you sleep is a euphemism targeting lazy folks. A website stays up and is active 24 hours a day, no surprises there. What they are really implying here is that they are going to tell you that you need to have a way for visitors to give you their email address in return for free content using an automated system that requires very little intervention or manual processing by the blog owner, regardless of the time of day.

The power in building an email list of people interested in a specific topic, in this case starting a money making blog, is that you have “qualified” these people as prospects for a whole range of products and services. An opt-in email list of people interested in a specific subject is a gold mine and is EXACTLY what the authors of this “Learn How to Make 6-Figures In Any Online Business Using a Simple 3-Part Blog Formula” are doing through their free webinar.

Building a “sales funnel” means that they’re going to tell you that you need to implement things like “squeeze pages,” “landing pages,” and “calls to action” in order to get your reader to buy what you’re selling or take some other beneficial action. Sales people quite rightfully say, “Get ’em saying yes and the sale is easy.” A sales funnel is the same concept.

So, simply, this is how it all sort of works…

  1. Start with a product or service you want to sell.
  2. Identify the type of person you believe wants what you’re selling.
  3. Set up a blog (because that sounds easier and less expensive than “building a website”) using information to a) drive traffic b) establish trust and c) prequalify prospects.
  4. Bring prospects into your sales funnel by enticing them into giving you their email address using a “freemium” information product based up their interest. Manage this list via an opt-in list management service like MailChimp or Aweber.
  5. If the prospect doesn’t buy right away, keep sending them more information and offers until they do or until they unsubscribe from your list. If the prospect does buy, then deliver that product and offer them an upsell or complimentary backend products. In this case I would try to sell you (through affiliate links) list management, web hosting, web design, ecommerce shopping cart, credit card merchant account, traffic building systems, in-person seminars, coaching and consulting, etc. – everything you’ll need to build that 6 figure blog, without which you’ll never attain your dream.

Funny, but the one thing conspicuously missing from the “Simple 3-Part Blog Formula” ad copy is how to build TRAFFIC.

Holy shitballs, Batman, that’s probably because getting eyeballs on your website (and sales pitch) is where the REALLY difficult work in building an online business comes in. Building traffic in today’s online information glut is not for the weak, timid or lazy. No fear, they probably have some system or snake oil to sell you for that, too.

Blogging for Money is Hard Work

Yes, friend, it can be done!

You can make money online with a blog, but

  • not just any ol’ blog
  • it won’t be simple and it won’t be easy,
  • Oprah isn’t coming to help
  • and it won’t happen magically overnight while you sleep.  

For ANY business, online or offline, to succeed you have to follow a well-worn and time-tested formula:

Have a product, have a plan, build a system, be flexible, measure results, adjust to get better results and WORK YOUR ASS OFF!

It’s as simple, or difficult, as that.

My problem with this advertisement is the fact that they are selling to the lazy people – the kind that want six pack abs without doing sit ups. It’s a big and easy target to hit, but the message itself is deceptive and I cannot support advertisers who use those sorts of tactics.

About the Author:

L. Scott Harrell is a noted private investigator, startup founder and mentor. His passion lies in competitive business strategies and being an insatiable entrepreneurial animal.

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