SPI 327: How to Write Copy that Sells with Ray Edwards

CONTENT WARNING: You’re going to want to have a pen and paper handy for this one. Today we’re talking with Ray Edwards, a fan favorite from Episode 182 and Episode 300 and a member of my mastermind group. Today he’s going to teach us how to write copy that sells—written words that encourage readers to take action and result in profitable sales. Stick around!

Knowing how to write solid marketing copy for your business isn’t nearly as simple as it might seem. In fact, it’s really one of the most important parts of running an online business, particularly when it comes to selling. So how can you do it well? How do you write engaging, strong, and convincing sales copy?

Ray is here today to give us techniques, hints, and blueprints for doing exactly that! Like I said at the top, you’re going to want to take notes. In this episode you’ll learn how techniques like the PASTOR model and If, Then, Lead can help you outline and craft powerful copy, connect with your audience, and drive successful sales. Did I mention that you should take notes? Scroll below for a special, twelve-step infographic from Ray for understanding The Buyer’s Journey!

If you’re looking to hire a professional copywriter for your business, check out Ray’s ESP (Endorsed Service Providers) list. It’s in the navigation bar of his website, RayEdwards.com. And if you enjoyed this episode, look out for Ray’s book, Permission to Prosper, coming out in March 2019.

The Buyer’s Journey, courtesy of Ray Edwards

A twelve-step infographic of The Buyer's Journey, by Ray Edwards

If your business has anything that includes a subscription model of any kind, recurring payments and the like—you’re going to want to pay attention to this. Commonly we entrepreneurs experience failed payments, which can be frustrating. I didn’t even realize how much I was losing until I got on board with a company called AllGravy.io. That might sound familiar if you listened to Episode 312 with Casey Graham, who put the company together to help people recover failed payments. A lot of shopping carts use auto features to try and recover payments, which is pretty standard, but AllGravy.io is a team of real humans who get involved with your brand and reach out to customers in a friendly, very non-scary way. They’ve recovered tens of thousands of dollars for me from failed payments I didn’t even know were happening. I’m sure they can make a huge impact for your business too. Check out AllGravy.io/pat—it literally pays for itself. I love this company and what they do for others.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes.

Special thanks to Ray Edwards for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How the PASTOR model can help you make successful sales.
  • Why including different types of urgency in your copy is huge for increasing sales.
  • Why you should write your copy when you’re in an excited state.
  • Why 80 percent of your sales copy should be about connecting with your audience.
  • How to use the Instant Empathy Exercise to write incredible sales copy.
  • How to use the If, Then, Lead technique when writing copy.
  • Why your job is to be Yoda (rather than Luke Skywalker) on your buyer’s journey.
  • Why you should prove to buyers that your solution is worth 5-10x more than you’re asking for it.
  • How to craft the perfect bonus for your pitch.
  • How to hire a professional copywriter for your business, and more!



SPI 326: From $50k in Debt to Business Success in Less than a Year—How to Be Mindful and Ruthless

Today’s special guest is Sagi Shrieber, coming at us from Tel Aviv, Israel, who bailed himself out of $50k worth of debt by taking massive action. Today he’s sharing his journey, why he hired a coach (even though he was deep in debt), and how he’s building an amazing community in the design and entrepreneurial spaces now. Sagi’s also breaking down some of his favorite design tools, as well as quick and easy tips so you can boost your design game and maximize conversions for your business.

Sagi is what’s known as a Full Stack Designer, a designer who also knows how to get great results for sales and conversions (he uses the metaphor of an MMA fighter). It’s that kind of mindset—Sagi calls it the Full Stack life—that got him through some of the tougher times. In the end, he managed to push through the discomfort and learn to trust his gut instinct, which is where the name for his Facebook community comes from—Mindful and Ruthless. There’s a lot that we can learn from Sagi’s story, and if you want to learn how to take your design strategy to the next level, you’re going to want to stick around. Put that device in your pocket and let’s get started!

If you want to check out Sagi’s design course for 50 percent off, go to DesignPrinciples.co/pat. Sagi will also be offering a three-hour webinar soon—you can get more info on the site. If you want to learn how to communicate better with designers and developers, and create designs that stand out and create emotional connections, you won’t want to miss out!

Thank you so much to everyone who’s left a review for the show, it goes a long way toward helping convince someone who hasn’t heard the show whether it’s worth their time or not. If this podcast is something you’ve enjoyed, please leave a review on iTunes and subscribe if you haven’t done so already.

A lot of people have been asking me how I do my online courses. I don’t have a course on how to create an online course (yet), but I can tell you that it makes it really simple when you have an all-in-one platform. I host all of my online courses on Teachable. If you want to learn more about the platform, try it out, and get some free goodies to along with it, check out Teachable.com/pat. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for Teachable.]

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Sagi Shrieber for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How Sagi got started in design and entrepreneurship, and why he quit his day job.
  • Why Sagi doesn’t regret not having a salary for six months.
  • Why Sagi decided to hire a coach even though he was $50k in debt.
  • How Sagi launched a design course in Tel Aviv in four months and nailed it.
  • What a vision map is, and why it can be a total game-changer.
  • What a Full Stack Designer is and how to take advantage of design principles in your business.
  • Tools, plugins, and templates for creating amazing landing pages and websites.
  • The one simple rule for creating fantastic design compositions.
  • Quick and easy tips for designing your web pages to maximize conversions, and more!


SPI 325: How to Be an Amazing Coach with Michael Bungay Stanier

Today’s guest is Michael Bungay Stanier, author of the Wall Street Journal Bestseller: The Coaching Habit—my choice for top business book of 2017. Why, you ask?

Because everyone is a coach. Seriously. Think about it. If you tell anyone how to do anything, you are a coach. If you are helping anyone else in any sort of way, you are a coach. But here’s the trick: You aren’t supposed to just tell someone what to do, if you want to be a great coach. You have to listen and ask the right questions. I’ve directly applied lessons like these—not just in AskPat and this podcast—but in every aspect of my life, personal and business-wise.

I’m just going to say it: This is the most useful book I’ve ever read. In today’s episode, we’re going to dive into the principles of the book and I’m going to ask some followup questions. This is probably one of the most important episodes of the podcast. The Coaching Habit has been a huge game-changer for me in terms of how I help others, and I’m directly applying these lessons to my business (on AskPat, for example). My goal is to help as many people as possible, and this book has been huge in helping me progress toward that goal.

As Michael puts it, “If you interact with other human beings, this could be useful for you.” Let’s get rolling!

You can find Michael’s organizational, corporate-based training at BoxofCrayons.com, and his personal site is MichaelBungayStanier.com. In this episode, Michael also mentions his new app—Ask More, which uses a Tinder-like interface to help you track your behavioral changes when coaching.

If you want to potentially win a signed copy of Michael’s book, leave a comment below answering the last question in the seven questions of The Coaching Habit: What was most helpful for you in this episode? I’ll select ten winners at random to receive 1 copy of the book each in the mail.

Make sure you subscribe, because we’ve got more content and fun giveaways coming your way and we’re trying to do more as a community. And speaking of community, if you haven’t yet joined the SPI Community yet, you can check that out on Facebook.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Michael Bungay Stanier for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How Michael persevered and self-published The Coaching Habit.
  • Why most of us are so advice-happy, and how to break the habit.
  • Why everyone should strive to be more coach-like in their life.
  • The best question to ask when coaching anyone, and why it’s so effective.
  • What steps Michael follows during a coaching session.
  • How Michael’s coaching strategy applies to being a better podcasting host.
  • Why it’s important to slow down the coaching process in order for it to work.
  • The three principles of being more coach-like: Be lazy, be curious, be often.
  • Why the rescuer-mindset often does more harm than good and makes negotiation difficult.
  • What to do if you get stuck when you’re coaching, and more!


How to Use Regional Sales Tax Using Simple Shopping Cart

Using PayPal and the Simple Shopping Cart with regional sales tax is pretty simple. In this tutorial I will show you how to do this step by step. You will need to set this option up in your PayPal account. Once you have set this up, PayPal will automatically charge the appropriate customers tax based on their region.

Step 1 – Finding the Sales Tax Option in Your PayPal Account.

First, you will need to log into your PayPal account.

Once you have logged into your PayPal account, you need to go to Tools > All Tools > Scroll down to Tax Calculator.

PayPal Regional Tax Simple Shopping Cart

Step 2 – Configuring Your Tax Options in PayPal

After you have selected the tax calculator option you will come to the following screen. You will need to configure the tax options you want.

PayPal Regional Tax Simple Shopping Cart

  • Domestic Rate – This will let you set the rate for the country you are located in as a whole.
  • International Rate – This is where you can set regional tax options.

Click on the add new sales tax link to add a new tax option and select the country you want to set the tax for.

In this example I selected the United States and you can now see there are options to set tax based on states or by postcode.

It will look like this:

PayPal Regional Tax Simple Shopping Cart

Now all you have to do is click the continue button and save this entry.

You can repeat this process for each region you need to charge tax for.

Now when your customers click the checkout button when you are using the Simple Shopping Cart, PayPal will automatically charge them sales tax if they are in one of the regions you have specified.

Note: Tax will be applied once they have landed on PayPal’s site and login or choose to pay with a credit card. This will not show up in the cart on your site. This is so PayPal can calculate the appropriate tax based on the customers location.

How to Use Regional Sales Tax Using Simple Shopping Cart originally posted at TipsAndTricks-HQ

BONUS: A Huge Announcement (& Lessons on Evolving Your Business)

Today we have a very special and important announcement from ConvertKit’s founder Nathan Barry, who’s here to talk about how to evolve your business by making critical decisions and getting uncomfortable . . . which ties in perfectly with the big news that Nathan’s about to drop. Stay tuned! [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]

Last time I had Nathan on the show (Session 244) we talked about how he bootstrapped ConvertKit from nothing into one of the best email service providers out there (the best email service provider out there, in my opinion). And actually, Nathan was on the show all the way back in Session 75 (!) talking about how he was making six figures by self-publishing books.

ConvertKit reached an incredible goal recently, hitting $1 million a month in monthly recurring revenue. If you want to read more about how Nathan got his company to that level, read The Million Dollar Tweet: 8 Lessons to Grow a Successful Business on my blog. But Nathan is determined to take ConvertKit to the next level–even further than the success he’s already achieved—and that’s part of what his big announcement is all about.

If you want to see Nathan’s video announcement for this big change, you can watch it right here.

Even if you don’t use ConvertKit, you can still take away a lot from today’s episode because the truth is this: What got you here won’t get you there. If you have bigger goals and aspirations for your business, you’re probably going to have to change something to get to that next level.

By nature, change is never easy. It’s hard, even scary, and there’s always that voice in the back of our heads saying “what if.” What if the change makes things worse, or what if our audience or customers don’t like it? All of these what-ifs can really hold us back if we let them get under our skin. We can’t predict the future. The only thing to do is to move forward and make the changes that we think will make things even better. If it doesn’t go so well, hey, we learn. If the changes are successful, we start thinking about what we have to do next to grow even more.

Nathan has a lot to teach us about navigating change so that we can grow even more. Stick around! [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Nathan Barry for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How Nathan grew ConvertKit to epic proportions.
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid to reinvent your business and start from scratch.
  • What hardships and stresses Nathan has experienced and how he’s overcome them.
  • Where ConvertKit’s mission—”We exist to help creators earn a living online”—comes from.
  • How ConvertKit identified the core of its mission and built successful projects out of it.
  • Why ConvertKit is rebranding and how they landed on their new name.
  • What new features ConvertKit is introducing under its new branding.
  • The nitty gritty of rebranding including legalities, design, planning, and marketing.
  • How ConvertKit is shepherding its affiliates through the rebrand, and more!


The 2 Quickest Ways to Generate an Income Online — UPDATED!

Today, I’m sharing the two quickest ways to generate an income online. In this post, you will learn:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk’s timeless lesson on patience and hard work.
  • How your skills are foundational to your online business success.
  • The many benefits of starting with freelancing.
  • How to adopt affiliate marketing into your business.
  • Why quick has value, but how being too quick can also set you up for failure.

On my podcast, AskPat, I’ve collected over 3,000 voicemail questions related to starting an online business. The most common question of those I get is this:

“What’s the quickest way to generate an income online?”

Before I get into my answer, let me tell you exactly why this question is tricky and a little problematic. There are two specific reasons for this:

  • First, the emphasis on being quick. I’ve witnessed several new business owners who’ve put speed over quality and value, only to end up further behind than where they were when they started. Quick can be good, but if that’s your focus, you may be setting yourself up for a stumble down the road.
  • Second, it implies trying to avoid the work it really takes to make money online. Building a successful business takes a lot of effort and strategy. From research to execution and everything in between—it takes blood, sweat, and tears. The question is in search of a magic button, but there is no magic button.

Gary Vaynerchuk puts it best. In order to succeed, you need “micro hustle, and macro patience.”

Micro hustle is focusing all of your work and effort on the next task at hand (not the task ten tasks from now), while macro patience is about allowing time to give you the results, because they will not often happen right away.

The question “What’s the quickest way to generate an income online?” is the opposite of Gary’s advice.

I’ve thought for years about how to best answer this question. I’ve been asked this question in person before, and even during a live Q&A on stage in front of hundreds of people, and my answer usually reflects the two points I’ve made above.

After I share my thoughts with those who’ve asked this question, their body language usually very clearly reflects disappointment. They were expecting an all-in-one solution, after all, and it’s not that simple.

As I’ve thought more deeply about how to answer this question over the years, I’ve come to a realization that the problem is not the answer, but the question itself. For those who’ve asked it, I don’t think it’s always coming from a place of “quick money.” If we reframe the question, I think there’s room to empower and actually help those who’ve asked it—to give them a foundational understanding of what it really means to generate an income online.

Here’s how I would reframe the question:

“With the resources I have available to me now, what can I possibly offer to others in exchange for money?”

Now this is a question we can begin to answer. And, as you can likely tell, the answers will come to each person on an individual basis based on the resources they have available, and to whom they may be able to share and offer those resources.

The answer doesn’t come from me, it comes from the individual.

If you’re ten years old, you might not have much, but perhaps you may have access to a lawnmower in your garage, so you (after asking your parents) offer to cut the lawn for your neighbors, in exchange for money.

If you’re a writer who’s been trying to build your own brand and sell your own books, offering your talent to others who need it would be the best way to go. It’s a resource you have available to you now, and it’s something others (i.e. non writers) may be willing to pay for if they need writing for their website or blog.

By the way, today’s post is on “quick,” but if you have more time and want a more in-depth look at how to make money online, check out my recent video on how to create multiple streams of income online:


Okay, back to our topic today: If you’re struggling to figure out how to make money online FAST—in a way that focuses on your strengths—that’s how you do it. Think about the resources you have available to you, the skills and talents you have, the superpowers that you’ve so severely underrated these past years, and journey out there to find those people who are looking for the resources and skills you offer. They are out there.

Remember, the skills you have are an asset, they are your “unfair advantage.” They are essential to your unique personal brand, and you can start making money online using those skills if you have the right strategy, tactics, and mindset in place. Another way to describe this is your “unfair advantage,” a term I was first introduced to by Lain Ehmann in SPI Podcast Session #37.

Lain described an unfair advantage as a skill or asset that you have that no one else has, or very few others might have in your specific niche. There are a few different types of unfair advantages, including:

1. Your Rolodex: The People You Know

You know and have access to the right people in your industry, people who others do not have access to. You’re a connector, and you can provide value to a specific audience by using the connections you’ve made over time.

Who do you know that others in your industry may not know?

2. Your Experience: What You’ve Been Through

I watched an episode of Shark Tank once where I was introduced to Major Robert Dyer. Major Dyer was pitching a new energy drink called The Ruck Pack Energy Drink. It’s not like the world needs another energy drink, but he was able to convince both Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjevic, two of the investors on the show, to give him $150k in exchange for 20 percent of the company.

Major Dyer used his experience in the Army to create an energy drink that was perfect for a combating soldier. He was actually in Afghanistan when he came up with the concoction.

His experience became his advantage because he was in extreme conditions that allowed him to create and test a drink of this kind of caliber, one that provided this kind of energy and focus that a combating soldier needed. I doubt the guys at Red Bull or Monster put themselves in the line of fire when testing the capability of their drinks.

When I started SmartPassiveIncome.com, I already had experience with a successful, automated online business at Green Exam Academy. A lot of people were providing online business advice at the time, but most were using other people’s businesses as examples, or just spoke theory with no real case studies to back it up. Here, I was able to use my own experience as evidence, and it helped me become more credible right from the start.

What experiences in your life have given you the ability to prove yourself or your business more than others?

3. Your Story: And How To Tell It

Stories are incredible marketing tools. They stick. People who listen to or read stories transport themselves into the situations that are described and the storyteller is better able to make a deeper connection with their audience.

We all have a story to tell. If you have a good one, tell it and use it to your advantage.

I know I have a great story. I’ve shared it here on the blog and I even went deeper into the story for my first book, Let Go.

It’s funny because when I’m interviewed for podcasts and radio shows, many times the interviewer will apologize and say, “I’m sorry . . . I know you’ve probably told your story hundreds of times before, but I’d like you to tell it again if you don’t mind.”

I always respond with “Of course!”

I love telling my story, not just because it reminds me of where I came from which always gives me a motivational boost, but because I know it’s a great way to connect with an audience. To have the opportunity to share it right from the start is awesome.

Of course, your stories should always be true, but if you have a good one make sure there’s a way for people to hear it.

What’s your story and how can it help your business?

4. Your Hustle: How Much You Put In and Where

Gary Vaynerchuk would probably agree with me when I say that sometimes all you need to do is hustle. I mean like, truly hustle. The all-out just insane amounts of work kind of hustle.

Not everyone has the time or ability to hustle, and of course the work that’s done has to be the right kind of work – the right kind of hustle.

John Lee Dumas, host of Entrepreneur On Fire, is a perfect example of someone who is using his ability to hustle to his advantage.

John has a daily (yes, daily) podcast where he features an interview with a successful entrepreneur. Now, John enjoys many hundreds of thousands of downloads per month, he’s written a book, has products and has opened up a ton of opportunities for sponsorships and partnerships that wouldn’t have come otherwise. He’s not the first person to have a show dedicated to interviewing rock star entrepreneurs—not even close—but he’s definitely the fastest to see these kinds of results.

He’s not just working hard either, he’s working smart. Hustle doesn’t mean just pure physical and mental work, it can mean spending the time to put the right systems into place to generate more output.

What’s something successful that other businesses are doing that could use your hustle to stand out?

5. Your Personality and Your Ability to Connect With Others

Out of the 7 billion people in this world, you are uniquely you. Within specific markets and niches, you are definitely uniquely you. If you have a personality that people can easily connect with you shouldn’t be afraid to share it.

In 2009 when struggling to get traffic to this blog, I had a chat with Jeremy Frandsen from Internet Business Mastery.

He told me I had a magnetic personality and I should find other ways to share it. That’s when I started my YouTube Channel, and then later, my podcast, which just passed 33,000,000 downloads.

How will you connect with others and grow your business by being you?

6. Your Ability To Listen, Build, Measure, and Learn

All companies build something, but not all of them measure, learn, and then adapt or shift.

In Eric Reis’s The Lean Startup, a fantastic book about how today’s entrepreneurs and startup companies are approaching the way they create and innovate, Eric talks about how vital it is to use validated learning and scientific experimentation to be able to steer a company in the right direction. In other words, to use customer feedback and quantified data analysis (of real, non-vanity metrics) from a minimal viable product to make decisions and pivot a business one way or another.

If you have the ability to see what holes lie in existing markets before you enter it, the ability to listen to a target market (or become a customer yourself who is extremely conscious of the overall customer experience), and learn from the wins and failures of the companies that already exist, you will have an edge over your competition.

Like I mentioned earlier, coming in late in the game can be an advantage if you listen, learn and provide solutions for what seems to be missing. Even coming into a market with a minimal viable product, you’ll have the advantage of being able to get deep into the customer experience to shape your product or service to what it should be, again, all based on what you’re able to measure and learn.

There is a lot more to be said about lean startup methods and the build-measure-learn feedback loop.

7. Your Specialization: Who You Serve and Your Ability To Do So

It’s not just the skills and experiences that you have to offer that can give you a competitive edge, it can also be that fact that you want to serve a more specialized segment of a market.

Generally, the more specialized you get, the less competition you have to deal with. In addition to that, the more specialized you get, the better you can hone in your skills for a particular group of people. Your advantage is your knowledge of and ability to serve that particular segment of the larger market.

Take for example, shoes.

Everyone (well, almost everyone) buys shoes. If you wanted to enter the shoe market, you might think your competitors are retailers like Zappos, EastBay, Sketchers and other large online retailers. Then there’s Nike, Reebok too. It’s virtually impossible to compete with them, especially when you’re bootstrapped. So what can we do?


Instead of getting into the market to sell all types of shoes, how about serving a part of the market that’s looking for a specific type of shoe: running shoes, walking shoes, children’s shoes, etc.

Even at this level of specialization, however, it’s not quite an advantage yet because companies already specialize in these types of shoes: Foot Locker, The Walking Company, and Stride Rite, respectively. Now what?

Specialize again.

Within running shoes, how about soccer cleats? Within soccer cleats, how about women’s soccer cleats?

When your target market is women who are looking for soccer cleats, it’s much easier to do market research and enter the build-measure-learn feedback loop. You have an advantage over others who are targeting a larger segment of the market.

Trunk Club, is a great example of this kind of specialization at work.

Like lots of other businesses, they sell clothes. That in itself is not very special.

But, their target market and who they serve is special, and it’s not everyone. Their target market is specifically men who want to dress well who either don’t like to go shopping, or don’t have the time to do so.

It works like this:

You speak to a personal stylist over the phone, they ask you a number of questions to get to know you a little better and figure out your style, and then they send you a Trunk with a number of pieces of clothing in it based on your conversation.

You try stuff on, keep what you like, and ship back what you don’t like in the same trunk. Shipping is already paid for.

Boom. New clothes and I didn’t even have to leave my house. No membership fees, you just get a trunk whenever you want, and they charge you for pieces that don’t return.

I’ve received two trunks so far and another is on the way. I’ve kept roughly 35-40% of what was shipped to me.

I heard about this service from a friend, and I’ve definitely passed this service onto others. Not everyone, but other men around the same age who are in situations where they might need to dress up and they might be too busy to go shopping on their own.

You see, when you specialize and can provide value to a specific segment of a market, those people within that market tend to talk to each other about you.

How can you specialize and become the topic of conversation when those people get together?

All of this brings me to the first way to generate an income online, and that is:


When you think of all of your skills, and what you have to offer the world, your “unfair advantages,” chances are there’s someone out there who will pay you for it. No, it’s not at all passive, but it’s the quickest and easiest way to get paid for something that can actually help people and solve one of their problems.

There are two more major benefits of going down the freelancing route:

  1. It’s a fantastic way to immerse yourself in an industry and get to know the lay of the land—the marketplace—so you can carve out your own niche in the future in some way, shape, or form. You’ll also be able to connect with the people you need to connect with, and build on those relationships to create more opportunities.
  2. A freelancing service is something that can, with the right strategy and action, turn into something more productized and passive. Brian Casel, featured guest on SPI Podcast Session #158, talks about how he was able to turn his stress-inducing one-on-one design service business into something that was actually more productized, passive, and profitable. I highly recommend you listen to that episode if you have a service-based business and you feel stuck.

You can also check out my post, How to Start Freelancing (and Get Your First Client), which walks you through the steps you’ll need to kick off your freelance gig, including:

  • Why there’s huge opportunity in freelancing.
  • The many freelance skill sets you can build into a freelancing career.
  • The secrets to landing your first freelance client.
  • Five ways to make more money as a freelancer.
  • Career and business options for freelancers.

And once you get started, here’s a great video on FIVE WAYS to make even more money as a freelancer:

Okay, so beyond freelancing, what else can you do to make money online? Well, you could literally just start contacting everyone you know and offer a service today, right now, right at this moment.

I’ll just wait a moment while you do that 😀

There is one more method of generating an income I’d like to share with you. This method is:

  1. Even easier and faster than freelancing.
  2. Something that has helped me earn more than $3 million since I started my online business.
  3. Something you’re likely, in a way, already doing.

What is this sorcery I’m speaking of?

It’s not magic. It’s simply recommending products you already use to those who trust you. In online business terms, we call this:

Affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is the process of generating an income through a partnership you have with a company by recommending their product(s) to others.

To learn about the basics of affiliate marketing, watch my Affiliate Marketing 101 video series:

Just think of how often you’ve shared with a friend or online network an amazing tool, service, or product that you love. What if you could potentially earn a percentage of the sale of any products you helped sell through your recommendation? Well, that’s possible, and it’s been around for a while.

The term affiliate marketing has taken a bad rap over the years, primarily because people are abusing just how easy this is to do. Internet marketers are finding products they don’t even use because they come with a sweet commission, and are spamming everyone until they either buy, or unsubscribe. This is also known as the dark side of affiliate marketing.

That’s why I sometimes hesitate to even say I participate in affiliate marketing. But that’s not how I, or you, should approach it. I’m here to lead the change and show people there is so much opportunity out there in affiliate marketing the right way (and the smart way). It’s insane to me that more people aren’t really realizing their full potential with this.

There are products that already exist in this world that provide solutions for your audience (and future audience), and when you align your attention to really help them, with the products out there that already exist, it’s a recipe for success and a win for everyone.

How do you make affiliate marketing work for you? There are a few affiliate marketing principles I stand by:

1. Affiliate Marketing Starts with the First Impression

First impressions are huge because they set the tone for a visitor’s entire experience through your website, including any possible transactions that may take place now, or in the future.

What is the first impression that you get when you go to a site and it’s splattered with advertisements, for example? What does a site like that say to a first time visitor?

“Hi, nice to meet you – click here so I can earn a buck?”

It’s like if you met someone for the first time and the first thing they ask you is if you’re interested in buying something from them. I’d much rather get to know somebody first, trust them, and then have them tell me what they might have to offer. Or better yet, be genuinely interested in what they’re doing, and ask them about it myself. This is the kind of philosophy that I use when promoting other people’s products.

2. Only Promote Products That You Have Used

As I mentioned in a previous post on the 3 Types of Affiliate Marketing Explained, the way I earn money with affiliate links in ALL of my online businesses is by promoting only products that I have used, and only what I would recommend to my friends who want to achieve similar results. I feel that anyone with an audience has a responsibility to do the same thing.

There’s something fishy about someone promoting Apple Computers who only uses a PC.

3. Always Describe the Product You’re Promoting

If you have an affiliate link that’s just a banner ad, or a link at the bottom of a post with no real description – it’s a waste. If you’re actively promoting a product (that you’ve used), you obviously know something about it. Share your knowledge with your audience, and they’ll be intrigued and more likely to click through to learn more.

4. Content First, Affiliate Link Second

Although I just said you should always describe the products you promote, the content that you write should drive the affiliate links that you offer, not the other way around. Don’t write posts just for the sake of placing an affiliate link within.

5. Share Your Experience with The Product

When describing whatever it is your promoting, share your experience! If you can throw in some data or graphs to go along with it, even better. Back when I was more actively writing about eHow, I promoted an ebook that I read which helped quadruple my earnings per article. I created a graph that showed how much I earned before I read the book versus how much I earned after. To this date, that ebook has been one of the most successful affiliate promotions I’ve done on this blog.

6. Only Promote One or Two of the Same Type of Products

There are a number of reasons why you should never promote more than two of the same type of products:

  • The more products you promote, the less believable each of them becomes. If today I recommended Company X, and tomorrow I recommended Company Y and Company Z, each of their “stock” immediately goes down.
  • The more products you promote, the more difficult the decision to choose between them becomes. I’ve been to a number of personal finance websites that offer sign-up bonuses for 4 to 5 different banks (sometimes within the same post!). It hurts my brain.
  • If you keep promoting the same products time and time again, your audience will begin to realize that there must be something special about the specific ones you keep bringing up.

7. Starve the Horses and Feed the Stallions

This is a fancy (and thankfully not literal) way of saying that you should only promote the products that you know make you the most money, and forget about the ones that don’t. You will only know this after trial and error, so see what works, and get rid of the rest.

For a while, I had a number of banner ads on this blog that were not generating any type of income for me. There’s no point in wasting valuable ad space with banners that don’t pay out.

Test, test, test.

8. Utilize a Resources Page

A resources page is a page that consists of helpful links to websites, products and services related to your niche. This is a perfect spot for affiliate links, so take advantage of this if you haven’t already.

It takes the “books I’m reading” area you often see in blogs (within Amazon affiliate links) to a whole new level. not only is this great for you, but it’s extremely helpful for your readers who may be looking for additional resources related to your niche. Plus, they may come across products or services they weren’t originally looking for while on your resources page.

Everybody wins.

To start your affiliate marketing journey, make sure you sign up for my Affiliate Marketing Masterclass, which will walk you through five steps to finally begin generating an additional passive income stream using authentic affiliate marketing strategies I’ve used myself. Click the link below to sign up for the next Affiliate Marketing Masterclass:

Sign Up for My Affiliate Marketing Masterclass!

So there you go! There are two QUICK ways you can generate an income online. So go get started today!

SPI 324: From College Nerd to Wildly Successful Personal Brand with Thomas Frank

Thomas Frank is a massively successful YouTuber and the creator of CollegeInfoGeek.com. We’ve been friends for a while, and this episode has been a long time coming. We’re sitting down to chat about how he built his brand, how he got into the online business world, and the strategies, tips, tools, and tricks that he’s using to kill it on YouTube.

If you’ve ever thought about building a niche site or launching a YouTube channel, you won’t want to miss out on this episode! Thomas has crafted an invaluable, supportive website in the student success niche, and his Resource page is one of the best on the web. I actually use it as an example for my affiliate marketing students. Thomas’s Essential Books for Students page is another inspiring resource page.

Thomas stumbled into the online space without thinking too much of it, but once he hit his first breakthrough, he caught the bug and couldn’t stop. Now he has a highly-successful YouTube channel and personal brand. We’re diving deep into his YouTube strategy to find out how he found his stride, and how he designs videos like “The Method Elon Musk Uses to Manage His Time” for success. Thomas is bringing loads of nuanced strategies and tips to the table, so grab something to write with, because this episode is stuffed with gold nuggets that you won’t want to forget. Let’s do this!

In this episode, I mention a picture of Frank and I from BlogWorld in 2012. Here it is (check out how young we look)!

Pat Flynn and Thomas Frank at BlogWorld 2012, smiling and looking at camera wearing lanyards

Oh also—that home-video ninja video that Frank mentions at the top of the episode? I got it for you guys! From ninja videos to videos on Elon Musk, Frank’s clearly been killing it from a young age :-).


I’m starting to do more live trainings on Smart Passive Income: Podcasting, affiliate marketing, how to get started, finding your niche—you name it. We’re doing live trainings every month now. You can register, watch me live, and learn some new things by visiting SmartPassiveIncome.com/trainings.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Thomas Frank for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How one rejected blog post launched Thomas’s online career.
  • Why Thomas keeps his personal and business branding separate.
  • Why certain videos get more plays, and how Thomas draws viewers to his channel.
  • The one question you should ask yourself when planning YouTube content.
  • Why experimentation is key to finding your rhythm on YouTube.
  • How Thomas uses scripts, editing, and multiple takes to craft the perfect video.
  • The difference between A and B roll, and when to use each.
  • How the concept of familiarity translates to crafting engaging, entertaining YouTube videos.
  • How Thomas grew a 200k+ email list with one free book.
  • Thomas’s advice for reaching the breakthrough point with your YouTube channel.
  • The tools, programs, and resources that Thomas uses to finesse his videos, and more!


How to Launch a Brand New Website (With a Bang!): The Ultimate Guide—UPDATED!

So you’re here because you want to know how to launch a brand new website (with a bang!). That’s exciting, and you should feel proud! This post will show you exactly how to do that and will cover a wide range of website launch tips, including:

  • What an ideal website launch day looks like.
  • How to maximize your reach and website traffic on day one of your launch.
  • Why you need to be able to pitch your website in seven seconds.
  • What content to choose to be live on day one of your launch.
  • How to create your viral piece: a beastly resource page and a round-up post.
  • Why I also recommend having how-to content, case studies, and more.
  • How to create a well-designed website people want to stick around for.
  • Why you should create a Google Alert for your brand.
  • What is a Share Page, and why do you need one, too?
  • How to build a pre-launch coming soon teaser website landing page.
  • What you can do to build relationships and buzz for launch day.
  • And the connections, promotions, and content building you will create after launch.

Before we jump into how to launch your new website, I first need to share some personal context:

I’m often asked about the biggest mistakes that I’ve made while starting and running my online businesses. I typically answer with the following:

  • Not starting sooner. 
  • Thinking about money before serving an audience.
  • Trying to do everything on my own.
  • Not immediately starting an email list.
  • Using a trademark in a domain name.

I learned a lot about how to launch a website through trial and error with my Niche Site Duel project back in 2010. I was challenged by a friend to create a niche website, and within 73 days I was earning $700 per month and was able to propel the site to #1 on Google search results for my target keyword. That site I built eventually became SecurityGuardTrainingHQ.com.

While some of the content in my Niche Site Duel project may be a little dated, I bring it up because it was a revelatory and essential part of my online business journey. I learned so much, failed a lot, stumbled a bunch along the way, and now make my living online.

And so can you.

One of the mistakes I want to talk about today is one I made when starting each of my first online businesses:

Not creating a launch plan for my websites.

While you don’t need a launch plan in order to build a successful website or online business, without one you miss out on the opportunity to make the noise on Day One that could easily put you three to six months ahead of where you would be if you just started publishing content without a plan.

Without a launch plan, you’re publishing content for nobody.

When you first create a website, nobody knows about it but you. Your best content is wasted and eventually over time gets hidden in the archives. There are ways to bring new life back to old blog posts, but when you’re first starting out you want as many people to read those posts as possible. More readers = more sharing, and more authority right off the bat.

There’s no reason you should ever be writing for nobody.

Let’s explore how to avoid that.

An Ideal Launch Day: The Goals

On the day that you launch and share your new website (which is different from the day that you start it), the aim is to have lots of traffic coming your way. “Lots of traffic” is relative, of course (and for any brand new website, any traffic is something to be proud about), but there are ways to maximize your reach and traffic on day one, which we’ll get into in this post.

You’ll also want your new visitors to perform a number of different actions—as many of the following as possible:

  1. Read your content (duh!).
  2. Subscribe to your email list.
  3. Share your content and website with others.
  4. Engage on your website and leave comments.
  5. Get excited about what’s coming next.

The main purpose of the launch, beyond getting maximum traffic and engagement on day one, is to truly establish you and your brand as a new authority in the niche that you’re entering—one that’s worth paying close attention to. If you want a little extra challenge to kick off your launch on steady footing, I created Build Your Own Brand, a FREE five-day challenge that’s designed to help you build a brand and website you can be proud of (click the logo below to sign up!).

Build Your Own Brand

Entering a niche late is actually an advantage because you can see what’s missing from an existing market, come in to fill those holes, and be the solution that has yet to exist. With a launch plan in place, if done correctly, you can definitely ride the “New & Noteworthy” wave.

Ideally, you’ll want people to think something along the lines of: “Finally! Where has this been all my life?”

What to Do Before You Launch

You’ll want to think of the launch of your new website like an event—something important that happens on a specific day, at a specific time, where your brand and everything it has to offer becomes available to the public.

Doing this puts the launch in the correct frame of mind—not just for you, but for those you’ll be contacting before launch day to help you promote, as well as those who visit your site on launch day. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed (believe me, I get it!), I created what I call the PAT Formula that helps you plan anything—even a website launch.

The specific date also helps you schedule what happens when, and gives you a target date or deadline to shoot for, which will help you avoid procrastination and putting things off “until tomorrow.”

Before you contact anyone, however, there are certain things you should have in place and figured out first:

1. Your Seven-Second Pitch

The first and most important thing to do is find the right way to quickly let people know what your brand is about and why it’s worth paying attention to. This exercise will become the foundation for everything else that happens in and around your launch.

If you can’t pitch your website in seven seconds or less and it doesn’t sound like a no-brainer for those you are pitching to, then you’re not ready to launch.

Therefore, a significant amount of time should be spent on your seven-second pitch and determining the right language to use. It will help you figure out your tagline and the copy to use on your website to get people to stick around and subscribe to your list when they visit, and it’ll also help you figure out how to send the perfect (and quickest to read) emails to people who help you promote.

Why seven seconds?

It’s sort of an arbitrary number, similar to the 30-second elevator pitch, but the fact of the matter is that it’s quick—really quick. It needs to be the MED (Minimum Effective Dosage) of pitches because online you only have a small window to make a first impression before people leave and look for a better solution. Or, in the case of an email, you only have a small window of time before people read it and think, “This isn’t worth my time right now.”

2. Content That Will Be Live on Day One

On launch day, aim to have multiple pieces of highly valuable content already available to consume—not just one single post.

If you don’t have a launch plan, it doesn’t matter. Hardly anyone is there to read that first post anyway. But if you plan a launch, you’re going to set yourself back if all you have is one piece of content to read.

I made a mistake like this when I launched the SPI Podcast in July 2010. I only created one introductory episode before submitting my podcast feed to iTunes, so when people listened to the new show, all they could possibly listen to was that first episode. I actually received a number of low ratings and comments from people saying that the show actually had very little value to offer, which was totally true at that point. All of the good value was to come, so if I were to do it all over again I would wait until I had three or four episodes already in my feed.

The same goes for your website. You’ll have one viral piece of content that you’ll be promoting heavily, but you also want other cornerstones, pillar-type content published on your site, too. Sometimes, it’s not that initial piece of content they read that gets them to buy into you and your brand, but those other posts that may actually be more relevant to them.

Plus, as a whole, your site will already look like a resource to serve that audience that will be worth subscribing too. Again, it should be a no-brainer for your new visitors.

So what kinds of content should you initially publish?

First, let’s talk about that viral piece that’s going to put you on the map and help you promote your site.

Your Viral Piece

All of the content that’s initially on your site is important and should be of the highest quality; however, there should be one incredible stand-out post that you’ll use as your promotional tool from day one, and it should help your site experience some viral qualities right off the bat.

In my eyes, there are two types of viral pieces that you can create. They take some work, but the work can definitely pay off. They are:

1. A Beastly Resource

In SPI Podcast session #67, Neil Patel from QuickSprout.com mentioned that one of the best ways to promote a new website and make noise in a particular market is to create a highly detailed guidethe ultimate one-stop solution for people in that particular market who are trying to learn something. This guide is not a downloadable guide, but rather something formatted within the website itself which will help promote sharing, as well as search engine optimization.

For example, I recently created a helpful resource for how to create and sell an online course. These types of pages are packed with value and really can be a powerful draw to your website if done well.

Not only that, it almost proves authority and expertise right away to new visitors.

This is how Trevor Page from SPI Podcast Session #55 got started so quickly. Within a year, he built and monetized a website with a published ebook and membership site, and it all started with a beastly resource for those getting started with Java programming. It was picked up on LifeHacker.com and things just started to happen right out of the gate for Trevor, which is awesome. Similarly, Lucas Hall from SPI Podcast Session #232, built and sold an “ultimate resource” blog.

A website could contain several of these guides covering many different topics within your niche, but when you start out, pick the one you know is just right for your target audience—the one they are probably already asking for or hinting at elsewhere on the web.

The resource doesn’t have to be a 45,000-word, book-worthy piece of content like what Neil typically creates, but something more substantial than a regular blog post can definitely do the trick. Of course, the length of the piece isn’t what really matters (although that can make an impression), it’s the quality and usefulness of whatever is provided.

2. An Expert Round-Up Post 

An expert round-up post was first mentioned here on SPI when Corbett Barr from ThinkTraffic.net was a guest on SPI Podcast Session #08, and it’s exactly what he used to launch ThinkTraffic.net back in 2010 and take it from 0 to 60 in a very short time period.

(Here’s a link to Corbett’s round-up post.)

Compared to something like a beastly resource, an expert round-up post isn’t quite as instructional or step-by-step, but it can definitely be just as useful and impactful for the launch of your site.

Here’s a round-up post I created that compiles online course creation tips from students of my first year of creating online courses.

An expert round-up post is simply a post that’s made up of answers to a specific question that other experts in your field have answered for you and your audience.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Determine the most important question that your target audience wants answered.
  • Email other experts in your niche, asking them to answer that one specific question.
  • Compile all of the answers into a single blog post, and you’ll begin to see just how much of a resource this post will be for new visitors!

The beauty of this strategy is that not only will you be able to provide this massive resource to your audience, but you’ll have made connections with several influential people in your niche. If you approach these people correctly and follow up with them after your blog post is published, you can easily have several of them sharing the post that they’re featured in with their friends and followers.

If you’d like some help emailing influential people, check out Derek Halpern’s video here.

So which one is better: a beastly resource or a round-up post?

It really depends on your niche, but one is better than none. They both take a lot of different kinds of work to complete, but like I said, you can be put on the map on day one if you do it right.

I’d avoid having both available on day one because they each deserve full attention and promotion.

Other Types of Content to Have Published on Day One

Besides a beastly resource or a round-up post, you’ll want other pillar-style content published on your site as well. An additional three or four pieces can go a very long way.

The most important thing when it comes to all of the content on your site is this: Don’t write about what you want to say, write about exactly what your target audience wants to read. This is always going to be the case, but it’s especially important during the launch of your website.

It’s also a good idea to mix up the types of additional content you have posted on your site. Very much inspired by the content pyramid, different types of posts will appeal to different types of readers. Touch on them all, and you’ll resonate with your audience one way or another.

Forget your personal story—that should be reserved for your about page, and you can touch more on that later. (By the way, I recently created this video to show you how to write an amazing About Page!)

Forget current events and news articles—that stuff isn’t evergreen material. Once you establish some authority, you can definitely tap into what’s happening in the news if you want.

With whatever you write about, make sure to craft that content using three different variations:

  1. Analytical or Rational Content: This type of content appeals to those in your audience who are left-brainerspeople who are all about the numbers and analytics, reasoning and logic. An example of this would be if I were to write a post titled: How Much Does It Cost to Start and Run a Food Truck Business?
  2. Philosophical or Theoretical Content: This type of content appeals to the right-brainerspeople who are all about design and theory, intuition and emotion. An example of this would be if I were to write a post titled: 10 Reasons Why People Buy from the Food Truck Parked Next to Yours.
  3. Case Studies and How-To Content: Case studies and how-tos are the backbone of the SPI blog, and it’s what people enjoy reading the most. The niche site duel is an example of a case study, as is information about Green Exam Academy and FoodTruckr, for example. How-to content examples include How to Get More Email Subscribers (17 Lead Magnet Ideas) and How to Write a Book: The Secret to a Super-Fast First Draft. The common thread is that this content is made up of examples, experiences, and results) from real-life that people can learn from. An example of this would be if I were to write a post titled: How the Patty Flynn Food Truck Went From $15,000 in Debt to $50,000 in Profit in 6 months.

Putting all of these hypothetical posts together, we get:

  • How Much Does It Cost to Start and Run a Food Truck Business?
  • 10 Reasons Why People Buy from the Food Truck Parked Next to Yours.
  • How the Patty Flynn Food Truck Went From $15,000 in Debt to $50,000 in Profit in 6 months.

That’s a nice set of articles to initially have on a site and would definitely give first-time visitors a great first impression of the types of content to expect in the future.

A Well-Designed Website

Before you launch, you’ll want to have a well-designed website in place to house all of the amazing content you’re going to create and publish in the future. It doesn’t have to be fancy or include all of the latest in website design and technology (and really, it shouldn’t), it just has to accomplish a few major things.

All in all, it should leave a great first impression. Your content will help the cause, but before the content is even consumed people are going to make snap judgments about your brand and the website based on the design, and you want that judgment to be favorable.

A clean website that’s easy to navigate and isn’t too overwhelming (e.g., too many options, especially advertisements) is what you should be aiming for.

The branding elements including your logo, tagline, and any other graphical elements on the site should make it easy for new visitors to understand why the site exists and why they should stick around. Remember, people will be approaching your website asking themselves, “Why am I here and what’s in it for me?”

The quality and design of how we present our content can mean the difference between:

  • A new visitor staying or bouncing.
  • A regular visitor reader getting excited or bored.
  • A potential customer buying from you, or buying from your competitor.
  • An existing customer being satisfied, or asking for their money back.
  • You can have the best content in the world, but without good design, you might not make that lasting first impression.

First Impressions

Design and presentation are vital for first impressions. Online, first impressions mean a lot more than you think.

The average person spends about 7 seconds on a single website, which means you have about 7 seconds to make a good first impression on your new visitors, or else they’re going to leave.

This means having a strong visual impact right from the moment the page loads, especially when it comes to what your website is about and exactly what it can do for your visitors. Can you tell exactly what your site is about just from looking at the homepage?

This means including something that makes you stand out from the other 200+ websites they visited that day. Why do things the same, when there is an unlimited number of things you can do to be different? Think of what makes your brand, and you (because you are your brand) unique. Implement that within your website design. Make it your own!

And you want your website to be effective at converting traffic into leads and subscribers, as Sarah Peterson, head of content marketing at Sumo.com, reminds us.

And lastly, you’ll want to make it incredibly easy for visitors to do the following:

  • Read your content.
  • Subscribe to your email list. 
  • Share your content.
  • Leave comments.

An entire blog post could be dedicated to just the design of a website for launch date (check out my post where I go into detail about the design for FoodTruckr for NSD2.0). For now, these are the main elements to keep in mind:

Set Up a Google Alert for Your New Brand

Go to Google Alerts and set up an alert for keywords that match your brand name, your URL, and even your own name. The idea here is to have Google monitor activity on the web and send you emails the moment another site mentions your brand on their website so you can go there and thank them, but also capitalize on any PR that might be happening after you officially launch.

This is just preparation work for what happens after you launch.

Create a Share Page

After you launch, you want people to share your website in any way possible. So, you should create a page that makes it incredibly easy to share your website in any way that people desire.

Your share page should include:

  • Embeddable videos
  • Social images and website logos
  • Screenshots of website pages
  • Social messages
  • Sidebar images with calls-to-action
  • Interesting facts about the website launch

A great example of this comes from the website MyKidsAdventures.com. Click here to check out their share page. And here’s a little taste of what that looks like:

My Kids Adventures Share Page Example

Create a Pre-Launch “Coming Soon” Teaser Page

Before you officially launch your website, you can already begin the marketing process for your site by creating and promoting a pre-launch “coming soon” teaser page. People love to know in advance of the next big thing, so if you can convince people that what you’re creating is worth paying attention to and you create an environment of anticipation, creating this page will be well worth the effort.

Once you launch, you can send an email to your list and immediately have traffic coming to your website, not to mention a list that’s already greater than zero.

Furthermore, if you begin to notice a number of people getting interested in your website before you launch, that’s a huge motivator for you to keep going and get things done.

On this teaser page, you’ll want to make sure you:

  1. Let your visitors know what you’re doing.
  2. Spark some interest.
  3. Capitalize on that interest by capturing email addresses.

Think of these early subscribers as ambassadors. They will be the first to know when your new site is up and can be there to help you spread the word right from the start. If possible, give something away to them as a thank you for subscribing that will only be available before the launch.

So technically, how do you create this page on your site? 

The tool I have experience with is LeadPages, an incredible landing page resource that makes it super easy to create a sleek, WordPress compatible, mobile-friendly and responsive landing page in just minutes. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for LeadPages.]

LaunchRock is another that I’ve heard people use and have enjoyed, but I don’t have any experience with it myself.

Build Relationships and Buzz for Launch Day

Before you read through this section, first check out my YouTube video, FAIL-PROOF Launch? 5 Strategies to Launch Your Product or Business. In the video, I walk you through 5 unique strategies that will help set yourself up for success on launch day, including crowdsourcing a launch, running a contest, using “passive strategies,” and more. Check it out:

All of the previous sections of this blog post talked about stuff you create yourself, but unfortunately, we don’t live in a world where “if you build it, they will come.” Although it can happen sometimes, it’s never guaranteed and it never happens without the work and influence of other people involved.

You must get other people involved to help you maximize the effectiveness of your launch. 

If you want to launch with a bang, it’s important to start building relationships before you launch your website (or launch your book, like I did by creating a “street team” for Will It Fly?). Nothing else will help get your site off the ground more than other people talking about it, and if you have a relationship with other influencers and people with a similar target audience, you will have people on launch day who will genuinely want to help you, which is awesome.

To build the relationships, or that “street team,” you’ll need to build that buzz, here are a few essential tips:

  • First, invite people to be a part of your street team or launch team. Create a simple sign-up form using Typeform, Survey Monkey, or Google Forms, and send that out to your audience via email and social media to ask them to sign up and be a part of your launch. You can also text your friends and ask.
  • When you’re filling out your form, make sure to capture the following information: name, email address, social media channels. Also ask why they want to be a part of the launch team, what they could contribute, and ask them to share something unique about themselves.
  • Make it fun. While your community may want to help you because you’ve built that authority and trust, it’s also important to make it fun for them. Engage with them, and make sure to treat them. If you’re launching a book, you can give them an advance reader copy of the book. For a website launch, create a Facebook group, ask them to be a part of your building process, ask for feedback on content, make sure they know that they are truly part of the process.
  • Organize your launch team two months before your launch date. This will give you plenty of time to build up your team, foster engagement and excitement for the launch, and give you time to make adjustments and hone the product/website/book before your launch date.

Remember, always, that your launch team is a community comprised of individuals. Treat them well, engage with them, ask them questions, make sure they know how grateful you are for their support. Lean on them, and trust them.

The 200-Outreach Program Spreadsheet

First, it’s important to understand who you should be building relationships with. Taking advice from Neil Patel in SPI Podcast Session #67, you (or your virtual assistant) could organize a spreadsheet and follow the 200-outreach program.

Here’s how it works:

On that spreadsheet, list the top 200 websites that are highly relevant to your topic who may be interested in what your site is about. Next to that column, add a space for either a contact form URL or an email address so you can easily contact the owners of these websites.

In another column, start listing the top 200 blogs.

In additional columns, list the top 200 Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter Accounts, Instagram profiles, and LinkedIn profiles.

I would also add as many relevant podcasts to that spreadsheet as possible.

This spreadsheet will become your go-to resource for who to reach out to and start building relationships with, and yes—you can start building these relationships before you officially launch your website.

It’s really important to understand, however, that when you reach out, it’s not about you. It’s about who you’re reaching out to and what’s in it for them.

The Round-Up Post Resource

If you’re doing a massive round-up post as the featured post during your launch, your spreadsheet is exactly where you’ll want to start. As Neil recommends, I would customize each email slightly so they don’t read too “cut-and-paste.” Go to the websites you’re reaching out to before you send an email to the owner and mention something they’ve been writing about recently on their site in the email.

To take it a step further, even before you email people, retweet their stuff, thank them on Twitter and Facebook, and have legitimate conversations with them so they at least notice you’re there. Now is not the time to pitch your new website—that will come in a later email. Plus, if there’s a relationship at all, less pitching will be needed. Then, when you eventually email those people, it’ll feel less like it’s out of the blue because you’ve at least attempted to make contact with them before via social media.

What this does is introduce you to these influencers in your niche, and if your teaser page is compelling, these influencers will not be able to ignore a new potential player in this niche who is obviously trying to work with them, not against them.

If you’re doing a beastly resource instead, you can still reach out to these top influencers beforehand and even include them in your resource and mention that to them. Don’t be afraid to share that resource and mention your launch plan, too. A few of them might show major interest in what you’re doing and help you out in more ways than you can imagine.

Guest Posts

The old tried-and-true method of guest posting can definitely work before you launch your main site to help build buzz for your brand, kindle relationships with website owners, and build your email list at the same time.

Linking to your homepage before the launch in a guest post you publish on another site will drive traffic to the teaser page, which is exactly what you want. After launch, the teaser page will no longer exist and traffic will see your main site instead.

If you have a list of at least fifty potential posts to publish on your site over time, it’s definitely worth investing some of those articles into other websites to make a big splash on launch day.

Build An Off-Site Audience

Just because your site isn’t live doesn’t mean you can’t start building a community of fans and followers. You can create a Facebook Page and start to build a community there (and paid traffic is definitely a great option if you have the money to spend), but you could also go to where hordes of your target audience already exist.

Beyond other people’s websites, which you can get in front of via guest posts, you can actually have a lot of influence on forums, too. Provide value, answer people’s questions and don’t pitch, and if you include a link to your teaser/homepage in your by-line, chances are you’ll start to build a little bit of authority there which can easily transfer to your site on launch day.

Ask Your Existing Network

I remember a friend who launched a new iPhone app last year, and I did get an email from him about it, but it was on the day it went live!

He spent three months building the app, which was three months he could have used to build buzz and get people ready for its launch. I would have totally been down to not only help him develop a launch plan but simply be ready to mention the app to those who I thought it would be useful to on the day it went live. Because I didn’t know about it I couldn’t just randomly post about it and even if I did, it wouldn’t be as effective as if I knew about it beforehand.

Don’t be afraid to ask your existing network for help—like friends or family. If it’s something you truly believe in, even if it doesn’t 100 percent apply to those people, it’s something they will be proud to share for you.

And Remember. . .

The launch of your website should be treated like an event, so build anticipation for it and keep people who have given you words of support up-to-date on your plans. Then, when the date comes around and you turn off that teaser page, celebrate what you’ve just accomplished, but realize that you still have a lot of work to do.

After You Launch

The moment you flick off that teaser page there are a number of things you should do:

  • Email the list you’ve built. You already have an email list—awesome! Now it’s time to email your subscribers and let them know you’re live. Also, give them an easy way to share your new site by including a link to that convenient share page on your website. These are your ambassadors, and you’re definitely allowed to ask them to share for you.
  • Source your 200-outreach program. Beyond tapping into your existing list, send a quick, personalized email out to each website and blog on your 200-outreach program spreadsheet. You could even draft each of these emails beforehand so you aren’t spending time on launch day writing them. A quick mention that you’re live and a link to your ultimate resource can go a long way, and even if you get a two to five percent response rate, that’s more than you’d get if you didn’t send any emails at all. Don’t force anything or be aggressive in your emails, and remember what’s in it for them too.
  • Thank those who have helped you. If anyone has helped you get to this point, email them to thank them. It can go a very long way. If you’re thanking those in a round-up post, include a quick, easy-to-copy-and-paste link that they can share on their social media platforms. If you find people are retweeting your stuff or mentioning your new website on Twitter, reach out and thank them too.
  • Reply to every comment. On launch day, if you do it right and you have traffic coming to your website, chances are you’ll get a number of comments on each of the posts that you’ve already written. Respond to each one of them. You want to be as present on day one as possible because if new visitors see you’re actually replying to comments and active on the site, they’ll be more likely to stick around and share. You won’t always be able to reply to every comment down the road, but it’s one of the most important things to do within the first few months of a website’s start.
  • Reach out to local news. Local news stations are always looking for new stories, content, and events to share. There’s no harm in reaching out to all of the local news networks and pitching them your new website and seeing if they’d be willing to cover the story. What’s the worst that could happen? They’ll say no. . . and that’s not a big deal.
  • Keep producing more content. If things are going well, you’ll want to ride that “New & Noteworthy” wave as long as possible, and the best way to do that is to continue to provide more content frequently right from the start. Check out my blogging tips for a bunch of strategies for keeping your content train on the tracks.

Beyond those things, keep asking people (and providing easy ways) to share and subscribe to your list. Within the first week or two, you’ll be several months ahead of where you would be if you just started dripping content to an audience of zero. Keep your eyes and ears open around the web about you and your brand, and over time make pivots to better serve your audience in the way that they want to be served.

I hope you enjoyed this post. It came out much longer than I anticipated but I couldn’t shave off any of it because I want you to learn from my mistakes and have the best chance to make the most noise right from the start.

If you enjoyed this post and feel it’s worth sharing, please click here.

And before I go, if you want to level up your presence online, I run ongoing free webinars for people just like you in the areas of affiliate marketing and podcasting. Click below to sign up for the next webinar!

Cheers, and I wish you all the best!

SPI 323: How to Get Affiliates and JVs to Promote for You with Matt McWilliams

If you’ve listened to the show before, you’ve probably heard me talk about affiliate marketing. But what about the other side? What if you have a product—like a course or a new book—that you own and you want other people to promote it? How do you find those people? What should their commission be? Learn the answer to these questions and more with today’s special guest Matt McWilliams.

Every time I’ve done a joint affiliate promotion over the last few years, Matt’s been there. In fact, he’s been behind some of the largest collaborative affiliate promotions I’ve ever been a part of. He’s helped promote Michael Hyatt’s products and a few others too, helping them make millions of dollars in the process. He’s here today to tell you how to find people to become affiliates for your products, even if you’re just getting started. (And if you are just getting started, Matt has a special challenge for you, so make sure you listen to the end!) He’s also delving into a whole array of strategies and nitty-gritty tactics for starting your affiliate program and making the most of the affiliate relationships you create.

Even if you don’t have any products to sell yet, this episode will have you primed to take advantage of that process in the future. Working with affiliates is one of the best strategies for growing your online business, and it can be as fun as it is rewarding. Let’s dive in!

Check out Matt’s free report for finding affiliates for your business at MattMcWilliams.com/spi.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do, and be sure to check out the archives for more great episodes. You can subscribe via iTunes right here.

A lot of listeners have been asking me about how to start a podcast. If you’re wondering too then you’re in luck, because I have a free, three-day mini course that will get you up and running! Podcasting is an amazing way to share a message and connect with more people—it’s been life changing for me. Just go to HowtoStartaPodcast.com to get started!

Today have a special announcement. If you haven’t heard, it’s been ten years since I got let go from my job, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I celebrate Let Go Day every year, and this year I’m launching something special: A Kickstarter campaign for the first ever hardcover, coffee table-style edition of Let Go. This book is all about my journey from getting let go to becoming an entrepreneur. Most importantly, it’s about letting go of who you thought you were supposed to be and moving forward. For anyone looking for a boost of energy, you can grab the hardcover edition in this campaign. You can also get a special limited edition of the book, tickets to my first ever live event next year, access to me as a coach or speaker, and more! Check that out at SmartPassiveIncome.com/tenyears.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Matt McWilliams for joining me this week. Until next time!

You’ll Learn

  • How Matt McWilliams went from golf instructor to affiliate marketing expert.
  • How to start your affiliate marketing program without spending a penny.
  • The easiest way to find affiliates for your product or service.
  • What (beyond a link) to provide to your affiliates.
  • What to do if there’s no affiliate program automatically connected to your product.
  • What to pay your affiliates, and why affiliates are essential for your business’s growth.
  • How to encourage your affiliates to promote heavily and effectively in a short time period.
  • Why the lead up time to a launch is the most important for affiliate strategies.
  • Why Matt and his team are using more direct mail leading up to launches (rather than email).
  • The biggest mistakes you can make with your affiliates (and how to avoid them).
  • Why you should share testimonials and results with your affiliates, and more!


10 Years Ago . . .

10 years ago today I walked into my boss’s office and got let go from my dream job. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, but this was actually one of the best things that’s ever happened to me! Sometimes it takes letting go of where you are to get where you need to be.

I celebrate my Let Go Day every year. It reminds me of how far I’ve come since starting my journey. I’ve written about this journey before in my book, Let Go, but this year I’m doing something special.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of my Let Go Day, I’m launching the first ever hardcover edition, coffee table-style version of Let Go. Through my brand-new Kickstarter campaign, you can get access to it, as well as a limited, signature edition of the book. I have various pledge goals at different levels: You can get VIP tickets to my first-ever live event in San Diego, you can get $100 off my course, Smart From Scratch, you can get digital and audio versions of Let Go—you can even get access to me as a speaker, coach, and more!

Celebrate ten years with me! Go to SmartPassiveIncome.com/10years to learn more.

Thanks so much for being part of this journey with me. I hope that I can be a part of your let go journey too!