Depending on the opportunity you choose to go after, you’ll
find that you’ll need to get proficient with skills you
probably don’t have right now.
I’m probably not starting with what you’d expect: some
Skill #1: Learn to
document what you’re doing! Very often, you spend a
lot of time learning how to do something, do it, then don’t do
it again for days, weeks or months. Then when you need to ...
you have to start all over again. Use the free Keynote software I recommended in Tools of
the Trade to keep written procedures of everything you do
that’s new and took some figuring out.
Just an example: how to set up a new site on your chosen web
host. Each host can be different, it can be months since you
last did it, and only when you try to add a new one do you
remember that it took you 23 attempts to get it right the first
time, you blew a whole day on it, and in the end you only
succeeded because you read something that explained ... oh,
damn, where DID you put that article ...
Skill #2: in line with Skill #1, try to
“proceduralize” everything, for two reasons.
First, once a procedure is developed and documented it’s a
tremendous timesaver. And second, you might reach a stage where
you’d like to “offload” some tasks to others ... family,
employees, or outsource resources. And the procedure lets you
For example, I developed a baby-step procedure for choosing
a target market, doing the keyword research, doing the market
research, performing specialized keyword analysis to identify
the site structure, finding and downloading articles from the
‘Net, building the template on XSitePro, building the site,
uploading it via FTP, and so on. Now, my wife and my daughters
can literally just follow the steps. Their productivity is
Skill#3: Focus. As part of
my consulting practice we show people just how devastating the
North American habit of “multi-tasking” is. Contrary to most
intuition, it can shrink productivity by 70%, and extend the
duration of tasks and entire projects by 200% and 300% and even
more. If you’re going to develop a site ... focus on it.
Once a day, review e-mails and answer only those you need to.
Don’t wander along to forums “for a break.” Don’t be tempted to
re-read the sales page for that really neat new tool for the
3rd time. Don’t split your time between 3 different projects
because they’re all urgent; they’ll ALL be completed sooner if
you focus and don’t multi-task.
Skill#4: Get organized.
Have a spreadsheet with columns to list details of every
affiliate deal you’re involved with, for example (or use
XSitePro’s affiliate wizard to do the same
thing).. And use it. Keep log-ins and passwords and user
names in Roboform, religiously. Set up a new folder
whenever it’s necessary to store a new “favorite” web site
address on Linkstash; add a couple of keywords in the
comments section, to help your searches in months to come;
don’t allow yourself to have a “miscellaneous” section! Have
a spreadsheet or use keynote to keep track of the URLs of
your domain registrars, the domains registered there. You
get the drift, I’m sure.
OK, to some technical skills.
Skill#5: If you’re
going to be building more than 1 site take the time to get
competent with Wordtracker, for keyword research. Read
the tutorial I mentioned in Tools of the Trade, by Andy
Williams. For anyone with a website, understanding how
keyword research leads to better rankings in the Search
Engines, and therefore to more traffic, is crucial; and
almost no-one understands this. Effective keyword research
prior to building your web site is a huge competitive
Just to make a point ... if you want to get traffic from a
good Search Engine position, starting as a newbie, would you
rather find yourself competing with 2,500,000 sites on the same
topic, or against 1000? What do you think your chances are to
get into the top 10 against 2,500,000 others? Don’t you think
this might be a good thing to know before you plan your site’s
pages? And if you have a choice of a search term where 30
visitors a day visit a site with 1000 competing web sites, or
3000 visitors a day visit a site with 2,500,000 competitors ...
think about this for a moment. You CAN get a chunk of those 30.
You almost certainly CANNOT get even one of the 3000. So don’t
you think it might make sense to aim for 100 pages on your
site, each getting a chunk of the 30-visitor, 1000-competitors
traffic, rather than any number of pages competing against
(Incidentally, if you do it right, you’ll use the low-volume
low-competition to help get some other of your pages well
ranked even against the high competition sites; but in the
meantime, you’re making money from the low-volume
Skill#6: If you’re going to have anything
to do with Adwords, learn what you’re doing! Those who don’t,
inevitably pay a hefty “stupid tax.” Read Chris Carpenter’s
GoogleCash for superb introduction and a
strategy that can make you money in minutes, without a web
site; and Perry Marshall’s Definitive Guide to Adwords that
takes it to a whole new level. You’ll know more than 99% of
It’s real easy to blow a budget very, very quickly with
Adwords if you don’t know what you’re
doing. While if you DO know, your risk is as little as $5.
And you can do so much more with Adwords than you’d first
think. You can use it to check a title for a new website or
a new business or a new product and get clear-cut data on
which name works best. You can drive traffic to a 1-page
survey ... in 24 hours you can learn what people REALLY want
to know about a topic. So you can design a product to hit
hot-buttons, and write a sales page that hits every
Skill#7: Learn a little bit of html
coding. You’ll use it if you do anything with web
sites, or with landing pages. Probably also if you use EZines.
You don’t have to become good at this; keep a handy reference
book on your shelves or keep a good html tutorial page
bookmarked, for when you need it. But do learn the basic
concepts. Everything you need is available in your public
library or for free, on the ‘Net. Here, for example.
Skill#8: A lot might disagree with me, but
in my opinion it’s worth taking a walk to the library (physical
or virtual) and picking up a book or reading articles on
MySQL. I find I’m not in a minority when it
comes to knowing almost nothing whatsoever about it, and my
ignorance DOES delay me in a lot of mini-projects. This is a
decent starting point http://www.phpfreaks.com/
And some tactical skills.
From my perspective, beyond Keyword Research, the three most
valuable tactical skills are:
- Basic Search Engine Optimization,
- Copy Writing,
- List Building.
Skill #9: Basic Search Engine
For some SEO experts this is almost a religion (because beliefs
enter into it), almost a science (but not quite because
cause-effect isn’t always clear), almost a black art (and I’m
not just talking the black-hat stuff ... all the experts have
their own, secret tricks).
There are experts who test (literally) hundreds of thousands
of combinations of variables on web sites to determine with
some statistical assurance what really works. And, what really
works today, versus last month. And the reason that this
incredible effort is of any value whatsoever is that the
Optimization formulae of the different Search Engines are kept
secret; they change regularly, but getting to number one for a
popular, money-connected search term, and staying there can
make you a fortune. Literally.
So no, I’m not suggesting you get into it to that level! If
you really, really want to know what’s going on, subscribe to
Jerry West’s newsletter - it’s
pricey and not necessarily for the newbie, but it's red hot
good. If you’ve got a solid business emerging and the
difference between where you are now and a top 10 position
will generate you more than US$67 a month, give it some
serious thought. (If you've a money-generating site that
benefits from Search Engine Traffic, then what you learn
from Jerry West could generate enough added income in a day
to pay the monthly subscription.) The man is seriously
Another rock-solid product if you want to really, really
focus on SEO is Stomping The Search Engines. It’s US$299
for a slew of CD’s, transcripts, and bonuses, going from
keyword research through to taming Google, and it’s all pure
know-how from a guy who’s been #1 in the Engines for a
highly competitive search term for a while (and he’s
translated this into, literally, millions of
I can sure recommend these products, but I’m not
automatically suggesting them. Not until you’re already into
business and making money and aware of just how small an
investment these tools really call for. Spending US$300 when
you’re not seeing a nickel from your site and aren’t sure you
ever will is a big deal, but when you’ve already seen first
hand how a small shift in positioning makes hundreds of dollars
a week difference, it’s a no-brainer.
But all I’m suggesting is, learn the basics, and make it a
habit to apply them, because they do pay off.
Brad Callen, developer of the excellent SEO Elite software, offers a 90-page free
e-Book in pdf format called “Search Engine Optimization Made
Easy.” You can download it from Andy Williams site. (Register for his
excellent newsletter while you’re there; you also get a
couple of free, but extremely valuable, reports on keyword
research and niche marketing.)
Do your keyword research before you choose a market or a
theme or a domain name, all of which come before you give any
thought to the site itself. Use keyword thinking as you design
the overall structure of the site, choose the page titles,
decide on the linking techniques, and create the site. Do the
correct on-page optimization, keywords in the title, in the
description, in the keywords metatag; use a <H1> tag and
include keywords. And so on. Read Brad Callen’s SEO stuff. Read
Andy Williams niche site materials.
Then do at least some of the off-page optimization if you
want good rankings and improved traffic ... make the effort to
get incoming links, and make sure the anchor text is
appropriate. Write a few articles, and submit them to
One of the absolute best ways to get 1-way incoming links is
through a service called "1 way linking" ...
you write a short article, submit it, and it gets posted on
multiple bogs, each of which carries a link back to your web
site. You can control how many links, and you can control the
rate at which links are added, so it all looks perfectly
natural to Google.
Search Engine traffic is NOT reliable traffic because the
algorithms change all the time, and you can be #1 one week and
off the first page the next. But if you get the basics right,
you’re going to get more traffic overall, and traffic should
convert into money ... if you get the next skill right.
Copywriting. “Salesmanship in print,” as
someone said (and millions have quoted. I seem to have now
joined those ranks).
You do NOT have to be a good writer to make money on the
‘Net. You don’t have to have perfect grammar, or perfect
English. A couple of the gurus-in-training have strong accents
and English is clearly their second language but their copy is
still good enough to do what it’s supposed to do.
But one things is certain. The better you are at writing
copy that converts to an action - where the action might be a
click on a link to visit a site or download a free report or
buy a $1000 product, or the action might be to Opt-in to a list
or subscribe to a newsletter, or to join a membership site -
whatever the desired action is, the better your copy is at
causing that action to happen, the more money you’ll make.
Let’s say you get 100 visitors a day to a site selling
(pre-selling) something. 1% take a buy action. You make $25 per
sale. Your income is $750 a month. You might find that a change
to a single word in a headline, to a single opening line of an
opening paragraph, to the precise wording of your offer, can
increase that conversion to 1.5% or 2% or 5% (rare but
sometimes do-able). Increasing your income by 50% or 100% or
500% ... without attracting a single extra visitor to your web
site! Think about this! If you’d kept the conversion rate as it
was you’d have had to double your traffic to double the income.
So here’s a skill where even a little bit of an improvement
(combined with a commitment to testing) can provide massive
The guys who are good at this are REALLY good at this, but I
don’t think you’ll find a Professional who isn’t. Even the ones
that hire others to write for them are usually pretty good in
their own right.
I’m going into this Skill at length here because most of the
material you can buy to help you become very effective at copy
writing is expensive, so I’m trying to point you to some good
The modern guru of direct marketing, before and after the
‘Net, and with an emphasis on writing good copy, is Dan
Kennedy. I’d guess that every other professional,
without exception, will tell you that they learned a lot from
Kennedy. Anything and everything of his that you can get your
hands on, is worth reading or listening to. He’s expensive, but
you can find a lot of free interviews and tele-seminars if you
search, and a lot of his material sells (used) on eBay. It’s
timeless. Although it covers a lot more ground than just copy
writing, I recommend you sign up for some of his free marketing tips.
John Carlton has a rather unique style;
this free tele-seminar where he was interviewed
by Perry Marshall gives you a taste (and some valuable
material). His newsletter “Rants” are also excellent:
take a look at his past copies, for free. Of course he also
sells material, worth every penny but the investment sure
When it comes to writing a 1-page sales letter (and
remember, a 1-page sales letter for a mini-site selling an
information product or software tool may be 20, 30 even 40 or
more printed pages long!) ... you’ll find there’s a basic
formula to follow. You can always “cheat” here, and get your
hands on a copy of Bob Serling’s Power Copywriting for the Internet. It’s
not a new book but I still use it today; it’s as effective
now as ever, and it takes you step by step through the
formula. If you want the outcome (the letter) without
learning the “craft,” I strongly recommend this guide.
You can also get some free information from another master
of web copy, Yanik Silver. He has a
full-fledged course called the Ultimate Copywriting Workshop to teach you
copy writing from soup to nuts, and it’s not cheap - but
it's worth every penny, many times over. If you value a
product by mass, this is definitely a winner: according to
Willie Crawford, another professional with interesting
things to say, you get a more than 30lbs package with 3 huge
3-ring binders, 12 DVDs, and a pile of CDs and least 1400
written pages of material.) You can get some useful free
information from Yanik's site, too. But the real issue is,
even a tiny improvement in your copywriting skills will
repay your investment - and you almost can't help but gain a
massive degree of improvement from this course.
Brian Keith Voiles is another of the very
best; he has taught many of the people, including some who now
in their turn sell “how to” copy writing products. He’s very
expensive these days, but you can sign up for his
Michel Fortin has sort of emerged from the
background, as it has become apparent he has provided the copy
for some of the most successful product launches of some of the
best-known gurus, people you'd assume would write their own
copy. He offers a lot of free material on his site, SuccessDoctor.
Skill#11: List Building
Now, List building isn’t strictly speaking a single skill. It’s
a combination ... you have to have traffic. You have to have a
web page. You have to have good conversion rates, so you also
have to have good copy writing. You need to be able to write
not just good copy, but good e-mail copy. And you have to
become expert with autoresponders.
But the whole “package,” as a tactical skill, is probably
the ultimate key to a business that brings in money come hell
or high water.
And even some of the Pros never master it.
This is one of those areas where if you’re looking for some
quick and dirty Adsense income, you can just ignore List
building. If you just want to put an e-Book up with Clickbank
and collect income from sales, you can just ignore it, too.
But if you’re looking to build a business based on almost
any of the different opportunities, then along with
Copywriting, it’s a cornerstone. If you're looking to make the
most money from every visitor you get to your site - and why
not, you worked hard to get them there, one way or another -
then List building and management is essential.
And unlike Copywriting, you can’t just outsource “List
building” because it comes in and out of so many different
elements of the business. It pulls in some many different
skills. It starts at a strategic level, and has tactical
implications that reflect in day-to-day activities. If you’re
going to get into List building, be prepared to become a
student of the Skill.
That means, get your hands on anything that’s free, from the
experts. And, be prepared to pay for real expertise. Provided
you act on what you learn, the time it’ll take you to recover
your investment from good material should be negligible.
Let’s start with free stuff.
Craig Perrine charges almost US$1000 for
his List Profit Secrets course, and I’ve heard
rave reviews (this is another course I haven’t yet bought,
though, so this is third-hand reporting). While Joel
Christopher's course (next) offers the Insights of lots of
experts, this course is pure how-to, starting from scratch.
The freebie stuff comes in because if you go there, then
exit, you’ll be offered a free mini-course on a pop-in. It’s
Alice Seba also posted some interviews with
Craig, available for free on her web site, Internet Based Moms.
Joel Christopher is another of the top List
Building guys, and again he’s not cheap; at US$1,000, his
flagship course Build and Profit From Your List also has a
solid reputation. But here again, visit his site,
and you’ll be offered a free mini-course. Joel has
another, much more affordable course, his Master List Builder e-Book, for US$47; and
again, you can visit this site and be offered a different
Paul Myers’ eBook The Amazing List Machine is another
bargain even though it’s a little pricier at $67.
But there’s one other deal I have to tell you about; it’s a
subscription to a series called List and Traffic by Jimmy D.
Brown. I had somehow gone a long time without
bumping into his material - odd, because he commands the
respect of all the Pros - and I encountered a report of his
on the topic of Niche Market Joint Ventures (it was a bonus
when I subscribed to a certain membership site). It came at
the topic from an entirely new angle, and impressed the heck
out of me. In fact, it was one of those “Holy Cow, I’m glad
I read that before I did what I was just about to do”
moments. Then, months later, I somehow heard of a
subscription opportunity to something he calls List and Traffic. It’s $10 a month,
which is laughable for material of this quality, worth
much, much more than that. Terrific value.
If you can’t find an added $10 a month from the wealth of
know-how he packs into his monthly material, you have a
It's interesting for me to look back and see how I've
developed in all the areas I describe, and more; and to think
that even the masters STILL buy each other's materials, still
attend seminars ... they never stop developing skills, and
neither should you.