For two and a half years, every two weeks I sifted through over 140 blog posts and podcasts that talk about how to build successful online businesses. I found the best content, summarized it, added a bit of my commentary, and delivered it to the inboxes of entrepreneurs around the world…for free. I’m no longer writing Signals in the Noise issues (because my business partners and I are focusing on other parts of Clarity Lab), but please enjoy these archived issues. There’s a ton of useful information in them!
1. How to make money blogging.
“What if you could quit your day job and blog during working hours? That would be the life, right? You’re not alone. Many people start out blogging for passion and then realize they’d love to earn at least a little income from their hobby blog. And plenty of people do make money blogging. So why shouldn’t you be one of them?” That’s Danny Iny, from Firepole Marketing, on why you, too, could eventually leave your job and become a full-time blogger.
Danny is one of the only people in the internet marketing space who share’s my love of telling it like it is. No bullshit. Almost every time I begin with a new consulting client, our first conversation leads to a point where I say something like “Yes, you can totally make money online. From blogging, selling online programs, running sponsored ads, etc.. Sometimes a lot of money. Six-figures, multiple six-figures, even seven-figures. But no, it is not as easy as many internet marketing gurus would like you to believe…especially when they want you to sign up for their own online program that will teach you how to make money online.”
Danny is straight-forward with his community, and in this free, crazy in-depth guide on How to Make Money Blogging, you’ll get a huge dose of exactly what it takes: strategies, tactics, tools, business models, what to do first, second, and third. Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone give away this level of training for free. It’s brilliant.
2. How to Create Awesome Online Courses.
One of the ways that Danny Iny discusses in his free guide to making money from blogging (mentioned above), is by using blogging as a way to build an audience that you eventually sell an online membership program to.
Right now, David Siteman Garland is in the middle of launching his online program called…wait for it…Create Awesome Online Courses. This is a traditional video-based product launch in the style that Jeff Walker pioneered several years ago. One reason to watch David’s launch is to observe how a video-based product launch unfolds, and how it leads to selling seats in an online program. There’s quite a lot that goes into engineering a successful product launch, and yes, there are some great programs out there that teach how to do just that, like Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula. (I purchased and went through Jeff’s PLF course a few years ago, and there’s a ton of great things in it that can help you launch a successful business.)
The other reason to check out David’s launch? Is because there’s some great introductory level training right in his free series of videos that you can use to get started on your own path of creating online programs that you sell. If you’re new to the realm of selling knowledge in online programs, check out David’s free training videos now, as they will most likely come down at the end of his launch…which will probably be within the next week or so.
3. It’s not all about you.
Most of us initially want to start an online business, or continue growing the one we’ve already built, to generate enough money to allow us to live a lifestyle we’ve dreamed of for years. Make your own hours. Travel and work from your laptop. Spend more time with the people you love. Uncap your earning potential. Be your own boss. Stop helping someone else achieve their dreams and start achieving your own.
But there’s a funny thing that happens at some point for many online entrepreneurs. After you get above a level of revenue that allows you to stop worrying about how you’ll pay for rent next month, or groceries next week, you might have a desire to make a bigger impact on other people. People other than just you and your immediate family.
If you’re interested in coaching, consulting, or selling online training programs, it means that you most likely LOVE helping people make their lives better in some way. Which means you have a heart. And compassion. And that you care (yay for awesome people like you!)
When you and your family are taken care of, you’ll probably want to help more people than just your customers. It’s not easy to build in some kind of social entrepreneurship model into your existing business model, but it’s something that’s getting more and more popular. (And it’s something that I personally spend a lot of time thinking about in the case of my own businesses.)
I get a lot of inspiration from people like Blake Mycoskie, founder of Tom’s Shoes. Tom’s has a beautiful one-for-one model: for every pair of shoes you buy from them, they donate a pair to a child who doesn’t have shoes in a developing nation. Their model has inspired not only small business owners like me, but dozens of large companies.
Maybe you’ll find inspiration from companies like these, and go on to solve the nut of how to build a profitable business that also makes an impact in the world beyond your immediate customers.
4. Access to clean water changes everything.
Speaking of inspirational people doing amazing things in the world, if you don’t know about Charity:Water, or Scott Harrison’s story of how it came to be, I highly recommend that you watch his moving story here, in an interview with Marie Forleo (founder of B-School).
I heard Scott tell his story live at the World Domination Summit conference in Portland, OR [LINK] a few years ago. I was in tears within 10 minutes of him sharing the story.
This past November, I ran my own Charity:Water fundraising campaign, and while I didn’t reach the dizzying heights of campaigns like Marie’s (who raised $63,000 for Charity:Water), I was able to raise about $800, which is enough to bring clean water for 18 people in Ethiopia. I did it by riding my bike up mountains, climbing the height of Mt. Everest (29,290 feet) in 19 days, and having people sponsor my ride by donating to my Charity:Water campaign.
I mention that not to brag about my charity work, but to say that there’s more than one way to integrate work that matters on a large scale into one’s life and business.
5. Frantic is the new black.
“If digital technology saves time, how come so many of us feel rushed and harried? Technological utopians once dreamt of the post-industrial society as one of leisure. Instead, we are more like characters in Alice in Wonderland, running ever faster and faster to stand still.” That’s Judy Wajcman in a beautiful, rich article about how the pace of life continues to quicken, despite the promises of Silicon Valley founders.
More and more, we’re going to have to fight against the speed and business of our lives for time and space to slow down. And the culprit? Isn’t likely technology. As Judy argues, it’s we who are to blame for this frantic pace of life we’re leading. Thankfully, with a little awareness of the situation, we can do something to change our state of “always frantically busy.”
Here’s a good bet for a new kind of business: digital detox retreats held on “analog islands”: group events (like meditation retreats or adult summer camps) in places outside of cell phone range that have no internet connection. No gadgets of any kind are allowed.
6. Dear Everyone, I’m not writing to you.
One thing that often suffers as we move towards a life mediated by online technology is a loss of simple connection. Connection with those we are serving through our business, in this case.
If you build an online business, the volume of emails you will both send and receive will increase dramatically. And as your audience size grows, how can you possibly create an intimate feeling of connection with the people who will open your emails when there are 1,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 people on your email list?
Don’t write as if you’re addressing them ALL. Drop the “Dear Everyone” mindset and write to just one person on your list. Thank you to the brilliant Bernadette Jiwa for that great reminder…
7. Step One: Make great content. Step Two: Let the world know about it.
It was bound to happen. So…here’s the thing: I’m not the only one who curates good content for online entrepreneurs (which means that I’m not actually a special unicorn. But you know what? That’s not going to stop me from sending you metaphorical unicorn rainbow poop cookies.)
Here’s a great list of curated tools and resources to help you promote the content you create as part of your content marketing strategy. (You do have a content marketing strategy…don’t you?)
8. $600,000/year selling digital doll clothing patterns?
I’m a huge fan of selling knowledge online, which is why a lot of the things I write about and link to in these newsletters are for online entrepreneurs who want to build a business around selling knowledge in one way or another.
After reading this post though, I think I may need to change my target market and products. “Ummm, honey…how would you feel if I decide to, um…start a business that designs and sells downloadable doll clothing designs?”
There’s some great stuff in that post about pivoting your business model and finding better ways to scale by shifting towards a digital, downloadable product model (which is very similar to selling digital, downloadable information products.)
9. Go get ‘em, tiger.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. Yes, it can be incredibly rewarding on many levels. But, holy shit, can there be some really challenging periods that bring you to your knees.
Sometimes, you just need an amazing quote from a brilliant person to keep you going through the darker days. Here’s a great one.
+ Sidenote: That article I just linked to is unfortunately on a website that loves to throw autoplay video advertisements in your face as you’re trying to read. Very annoying. If you don’t know about the great Chrome browser plugin called Clearly, go here to install it in Chrome (WHAT? You’re not using Chrome for your browser?).
Then, when you end up on a website with all kinds of horrible blinking ads, just click on the cute little Clearly icon in your browser’s toolbar, which looks like a little desk lamp, and you’ll see the article or blog post with nothing but the main article text. No ads. No autoplay videos or blinking GIF images. It’s a deep sigh of Zen reading relief.
10. The Weekly Rain (the week’s top pick podcast from the Rainmaker.fm podcast network)
“[This is] how I believe that marketing and business should be. With a lot more heart and a lot less babble, and a lot more attracting people to us by doing great work, as opposed to “Let’s fight the competitors, how can we beat the competitor?”
A far better thing to do is to say, ‘How can we make a difference for people,’ and then the business, the money, and the success will follow.”
That’s Bernadette Jiwa (yes, you’re getting a double dose of Bernadette this week!), in a great interview with Demian Farnworth on how to do marketing differently.
They cover a lot of fascinating territory in this episode of The Lede podcast, with some especially poignant points on how to tell the story of your business. Bernadette lays it down: “You can’t begin to tell a story without understanding why that story should matter to the people you want to serve.”
This is one of the things about marketing that continually captures my interest: in order to create a successful business, you have to really, really understand the interiors of the people you are seeking to serve through your products and services.
Empathy, understanding, and compassion are not just fun tricks to use once in a while…they are vital to creating a successful business that gives you the lifestyle you want.
And as I mentioned earlier, a big part of that lifestyle is having a business that creates a bigger impact in the world. As Bernadette puts it, “As soon as we open our eyes in the morning, what we want most is to matter. To live a life and to do work that has meaning. We have evolved to feel this way. Man’s first thought was, ‘I am.’”
Okay, that’s all for this week’s issue. I hope you enjoyed it! If you did, I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me spread the word about it by sharing it with your friends. Here’s some easy peasy links to do just that:
Until next time, here’s to you building a kick ass business!
Editor at Large
Signals in the Noise
p.s. You can find the archive of past weekly content roundups right here.