I believe the number one reason why people fail at building anything online is a lack of focus (and for good reason).
The online world is like a magical treasure chest, full of bright shiny objects to distract you from what you actually set out to do in the first place.
This post is by Natalie Sisson.
Everything seems exciting, and the possibilities to make money and become known are endless.
There are so many options to choose from that you want to get started on them all at the same time. Like launching your first blog, creating a digital product, video, or podcast.
Should you have an affiliate program or get traffic with an adwords campaign?
You scour the internet wanting to learn anything and everything from as many `gurus’ as you can find. They tell you to find a niche, write epic shit, and start an email list.
Then others tell you it’s all about Facebook advertising, you need a product, start a membership site, do a joint venture, get into webinars…..
Before you know it you are completely overwhelmed, confused and have forgotten what it was you were wanting to achieve.
In fact I reckon, that if you’re reading this and nodding your head, by now you probably have one giant mess.
I’ve read a lot of comments from readers here and the overarching struggle is knowing what to focus on, understanding what you need to do to make it happen, and finally believing that you’re capable of it.
As one commenter put it:
“It has been a failure to learn how to market and advertise my ideas and products. It is further a failure to develop multiple streams of income, so that if one dries up, I am not left broke and wondering what to do… “
I agree entirely, and trust me, I know this from experience. I’ve done just about everything wrong when it comes to building my blog and online business.
You’re Stuck in Amateur-ville
If you’re like most people I talk to, you started out online in search for more freedom, money and to live a life on your own terms, doing your own thing.
Yet your enthusiasm has probably been replaced by frustration and fear of failure.
And you’re not alone.
I threw spaghetti at the wall for far too long, hoping something would finally stick.
When I started out, I had no real structure in place, or tactics on how to grow my blog. It took me a year to develop an editorial calendar, and my marketing plan and strategy was pretty pathetic for a while.
Little wonder that I wasn’t getting much traction on my blog, or that my email subscriber growth was slow. I certainly wasn’t making any money consistently and to be honest I struggled to know where the next dollar would come from.
I felt like all I was doing was working my ass off for next to nothing in return. And then it all changed. I had my ah-ha moment. It didn’t happen overnight, but when it happened, it was quite transformational.
Strike forward to today and the great news is I’ve just celebrated my two-year anniversary of the Suitcase Entrepreneur blog, and my business is thriving.
So what the heck did I learn from my failures that actually led me to this success? What was this ah-ha moment, and how can you apply it to finally create your online masterpiece?
The Secret to Thriving Online is Laser Like Focus
Yep, that’s it. Not so secret after all really, but much harder to do than you think. If it was easy, we’d all be the most singular focused legends and have it all figured out.
The reason focus is so hard to achieve is that there are so many facets to building an amazing online business and platform, so it’s easy to get distracted 24/7.
The commenter mentioned above, went on to impart this key piece of wisdom:
“The end result is this… Once you begin to comprehend how to set up a leads / marketing / advertising / sales funnel, and promote your ideas and products / offers, day and night, growing into the role of a seasoned marketing professional, your whole life will change seemingly “overnight…”
This man speaks the truth.
It’s so easy to get distracted if you don’t have a focus in the first place, and if you don’t take yourself seriously from the get go.
It’s time to leave your amateur ranks behind and turn pro.
So how do you cut through all the noise and get down to business?
You Start With Why
Without your why (i.e. why you do what you do) you will never ever achieve what you want.
If I’d known this from day one I think I’d be a millionaire by now making real world impact. Except it’s a journey, like most good things in life, and it takes time and effort.
But once you get crystal clear on why it is you do what you do, then everything else falls into place.
Your marketing message, the products you create, your online strategy, the clients you target – everything.
The key message is `people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it’.
If you didn’t know me from a bar of soap, and I approached you saying:
Hey, I have this weight loss program that will help you lose inches off your waist. It’s a really easy to follow program and has modules, workbooks and training videos. Wanna buy it?
You’d likely click away from my sales page. Contrast it with this:
I believe everyone deserves the right to look and feel like a million dollars. Your health is the most precious asset you have, and I am here to make sure you optimize it. I have this weight loss program that will help you lose inches off your waist. It’s a really easy to follow program and has modules, workbooks and training videos. Wanna buy it?
How much more effective was that? The implied meaning is totally different right?
You can see a perfect example of a fantastic why right here on Think Traffic.
At Think Traffic we teach you how to grow your audience and earn more.
But we also teach you how to build something that really matters, to you, to your visitors and maybe even to the world.
The Benefits of Knowing Your Why
To illustrate the power of why for you, it’s easiest to share my story. In the past, if someone asked what I did, I would say:
“Oh I’m a Suitcase Entrepreneur, I live out of my suitcase, travel the world and help others to build online businesses.”
People kind of got it, they thought it sounded cool and they wanted to know more. So I told them. When they went on to introduce me to others, they’d say:
“Natalie is an online entrepreneur, she coaches people to build online businesses”.
Good, although not exactly inspiring, right? Or clear. And way too broad. I realized that I wasn’t starting with my why. I was telling them what I did, but not why.
You see personal freedom is my ultimate priority in life and business. This is why I do what I do. So I took time out to write out my `why’ and this changed everything.
Here it is: I inspire people to create freedom in business and adventure in life so that they love what they do and they live with purpose.
I work with those people who know there’s a better life out there for them, where they dictate their own terms for work, life and love. I work with real go-getters who are prepared to go against the trends, to challenge the status quo, to confront societal norms and rebel against what everyone else stands for in order to achieve their ideal lifestyle business.
Much clearer right? Much more compelling.
In an instant people either resonate with that or they don’t. They know straight away what I stand for, and whether that’s what they stand for too, or want in their life.
How You Achieve Your Why
Now you have a strong foundation on which to build. People get you, they get what you stand for, they understand your story and if you’ve inspired them, they will want to join you.
So now you tell them how you carry out your why. Let’s continue with my example:
How I do this is by showing them exactly how to use online tools, technology, social media and world-sourcing to streamline their business and save time and money so they can truly live their life on their own terms.
I’ve written up a four page Painted Picture – a vision for what I want my business and life to look like in 3 years from now. In that I break down my `how’ even further.
For example, my how includes that I:
- Speak at events around the world, to spread this message, and show people just what’s possible in this new way of working
- Work one-on-one with my ideal clients as a strategic consultant and intuitive coach, to ensure they fast track their progress to building a freedom business
- Teach my motivated customers the real world skills they need to set up their own profitable business through my digital product and program offerings
- Give away a veritable wealth of free strategies, advice and step-by-step learning through my blog, podcast, videos and webinars, and free eBooks
What Follows Your How
I hope you can see by now that starting with why gives you all the clarity and focus you need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
If you stop and take a look at what you’re currently doing, is it clear to you and others, or is it a little all over the place? Do you have a narrow focus, or are you trying to cater to everyone?
From here you have illustrated how you achieve your why, and so it follows that what is the way you actually deliver.
Most people start with this first, which is the completely wrong way to do it.
That’s why you need to focus now on what it is that you do to achieve your why.
For example, here’s my what:
1. Digital Offerings
My BYOB product suite includes a series of eGuides to ensure you build a profitable online business and a life you love. They cover the step by step process to build your foundations including understanding the type of business you want, who your customer is, your online sales and marketing funnel and the key tools, social media and outsourcing you need.
2. Business Coaching/ Consulting
My one-to-one coaching focuses on taking my clients vision for their online business and making it a reality. I also conduct group coaching through my joint WE Mastermind program that ensures you launch your first product or service online, and develop the right success-focused mindset through a powerful mastermind.
3. Trust Marketing
I am an affiliate for a variety of great products, tools and programs I love to use, and recommend them to my community and clients so they too can benefit. I conduct reviews and write-ups on these tools to help people better understand their benefits. I also have my own affiliate program, to ensure those who want to support and spread news of my work and offerings, benefit with healthy commissions.
Completing the Puzzle
As I said above, the clarity you will get from figuring out your why will translate into absolutely everything you do. Everything you create and do will be focused on living and breathing your why.
From here you get to work on taking your why, how and what, and building that into an online sales and marketing funnel that actually works.
This is definitely the missing piece for most people attempting to build an online presence, whether it’s through their blog, webinars, video or digital products.
At the moment I would hazard a guess that you are partaking in a load of activities that are driving you new traffic and potential leads – many you would have learned thanks to Corbett’s epic posts and programs, particularly How To Measure What Really Matters.
Once visitors are on your blog or website are you directing them to where you want them to go?
I’m talking about those website leads you got from the ad hoc guest posts you’ve run, the webinar registrations, the visitors from Facebook and Twitter and the people who grabbed your free opt-in and subscribed to your newsletter.
If you’ve got any of this going on, then you’re off to a good start. As you gain more focus, you will see the need to only engage in activities that will support your why, and therefore your blog and business growth.
Let me ask you a question though. Do you know the percentage of people who came from these various lead generating activities?
More importantly, do you know what they do when they get to you? Can you track it? Can you measure your conversion rates from people reading your blog post, visiting your sales page or joining your newsletter?
If your answer is not really or no, then you have a seriously leaky bucket and we need to plug those holes up right now.
You do this by building out a sales funnel that helps you turn these prospects into customers by driving them to the exact destination you want.
How To Build Out Your Sales Funnel
This could be a whole blog post in itself you know, so below I’ve given a big picture overview of what you need to consider.
1. Breakdown all the activities you’re currently doing to drive new traffic, for example:
- Posting on your own blog
- Guest posting
- Social Media marketing
- Live events (online and offline)
- Joint Ventures
2. Decide on what you want people to do from there and what call to action (CTA) you can include. Some examples:
- Opt-in box to get your freebie and newsletter at the bottom of each blog post
- Strong bio in your guest post and a link to a specific landing page and CTA
- Include a tick box to allow webinar registrants to opt-in to your newsletter
- Continue to promote new webinars to these registrants via a dedicated list
- Include a CTA to a unique URL for podcast listeners to get a freebie
- Tell people who’ve watched your video to subscribe to your channel
- Have a strong CTA at the end of your video to send them to a landing page
- Create a tab on your Facebook Page to receive your newsletter + free gift
3. Build Out Your Sales Funnel through a carefully planned out decision tree.
What the heck am I talking about? Well if you know someone signed up to your webinar on `How to become ridiculously productive in a week,’ how do you follow through with them?
Of course you will send them the webinar replay and CTA to join your program or buy your productivity book (otherwise why were you holding the webinar if not to upsell people to work with you?).
But what’s next? Do you never contact them again? No, you build in a series of autoresponders that share valuable information on productivity tips and tricks that lead them back to your blog posts.
From here you’re building a relationship with them, and the more interactions you have and trust you build, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Research shows it takes 5 `touches’ before people will buy from you on average.
Here’s a typical example of how people move through my sales and marketing funnel.
- They will find a blog post I’ve written via a social media share. They’ll love reading it (because you should only write epic shit, remember?).
- They will click through to a related blog post, read that, and maybe watch my video. They navigate to my start here page, and then sign up for my Highflyer newlsetter.
- They receive some carefully crafted and insanely helpful emails over the next 10 days, no selling, just pure value.
- In one of those posts I talk about my BYOB guide. They click on the link to the sales page and buy.
- They stay in my community for 5 or so months, consume more of my content, listen to my podcasts and eventually reach out to me for 1-1 coaching.
4. Build a Loyal Customer Base, Repeat Business and Referrals.
According to Tina Forsyth, author of a must read book `The Entrepreneur’s Trap’, when it comes to sales (by phone) 10% of businesses get 81% of the sales out there by not quitting.
This is because only 2% of sales are closed on the first call compared to 81% after the 5th. When do most people quit? 48% quit after the first call!
The same happens online. We reach out to someone once with a call to action, and when they don’t buy or say no, we shrink back into our caves, assuming that’s final.
As I demonstrated above, that’s so not true. People can be reading your blog for a year before they buy from you. Once they have though it’s your job to treat them like gold and ensure they stay with you.
If you’re truly living your why, they will be as dedicated to what you do as you are, and will naturally want to spread the word.
If you wow them with your quality products or programs or services, they will happily refer you to their friends.
Referrals and repeat business are the key ingredients to a happier and more successful you.
The trick is you have to make the ask!
Within your digital offerings for example, ask people at the end to tweet out about it using a service like ClickToTweet.com to make it super simple for them.
Ask people to forward your newsletter on if they like it to 5 friends.
Tell people you have a referral program, and they get 10% of the contract price of your package, if the person buys from you.
And don’t forget to regularly reward your current customers. If they bought an eBook from you, don’t leave it there.
Follow up with an email 2 weeks later to ask if they’ve read it, and suggest a few pages in the book they should definitely read. Ask for their feedback or a testimonial.
If you’ve mapped out your decision tree, you should have a series of contact emails to keep in touch with them, even recommending a related product at the appropriate point in the future.
Your Final Masterpiece
That’s what you should have, if you start to put these strategies into action from today onwards. It’s not going to happen overnight, but it will happen.
Like Picasso, you need to keep working on your masterpiece, stroke by stroke. Over time it will come together and be something you’re proud to hang your credibility and brand name on.
Remember it starts with why. People don’t buy what you do they buy why you do it.
Then you focus on your how, which ways will you make this why a reality – speaking, consulting, writing, publishing.
Finally you deliver with your what – what you offer, the features and benefits of your products and services.
All of this gives you the big picture from which to masterfully paint into a sales and marketing funnel.
One that shows the people, who get and resonate with your why, exactly where to go and what to do next to be part of your movement.
Now that’s something I’d buy any day.