Once you target your audience, you will select your schedule, set your budget, design your ad, add in calls to action, and then place your order.
When you have ads running, you can track their performance and cost in the Facebook Insights section.
It is a relatively easy process and the ads have shown they can be very effective.
Facebook continues to focus on improving the experience for their users by limiting the amount of organic business posts in news feeds in favor of friends and family posts.
Facebook ads can help you to still get the exposure you need to reach your desired audience!
When designing an ad for Facebook, keep in mind that visually appealing ads do best.
Be sure to choose engaging media whether it’s an image or video.
You will also want to invest some time into strategizing your ad copy as you have a small amount of space to engage and interest the reader to click through.
It can also be helpful to create different messages to different audiences.
You can create an ad targeted at people who have never heard of your business before, one to retarget those who have previously visited your website, and one for those who have watched your videos, etc.
Lastly, once your ads are posted, be sure to always follow up to gauge ad performance and make adjustments accordingly.
Better yet, try out this tool to check out the ads that have worked for your competition and save yourself some of the guesswork!
Next up are banner ads.
These are advertisements that you can purchase that will show up in rectangular displays horizontally or vertically on host web pages.
They are typically image-based with some text and can link to the destination that you choose.
You can pay host sites for these advertisements using 3 pricing models: views, clicks, and conversions.
If you are interested in investing in banner ads, you can buy them direct from websites (i.e. Waze), by joining an ad network, or by hiring an ad agency through a catalog type environment where you buy remnant from various publishers (i.e. Google Adwords).
There are various sites available for banner ads, but here are some options you can check out:
If you have a website, you have to understand online traffic.
Entrepreneurs who know how to drive traffic to their sites (and convert it), are the ones who are making 5, 6, and 7 figure incomes.
As for those who haven’t quite figured out the traffic formula…they are more in the 2, 3, and 4 figure range.
As you can see, traffic is a crucial piece to the online business puzzle.
So, we created this guide to teach new digital marketers owners how to use it effectively.
We’ll start by introducing you to online traffic and all the basics.
Then, you’ll learn tried-and-tested traffic strategies that work, so you can hit the ground running!
Since there’s a lot to cover, we’re breaking the training down into 2 parts:
Part 1 (that you’re reading now) will teach you the methods of driving free traffic
Part 2 will dive into paid methods of driving traffic
Let’s get started!
Online traffic basics
What is online traffic?
Online traffic or web traffic is technically the data that moves between online visitors and the websites they visit.
But, from a marketing standpoint, traffic really refers to the flow of visitors to a location online – whether that is a website, a landing page, a social media profile or anything of the sort.
Why is online traffic important?
For one, online traffic equals people visiting your website.
In the digital world, this is the equivalent of people coming into a physical store.
The more people who visit, the more opportunities you have to close sales.
More sales mean more revenue and who doesn’t love that?
Plus, traffic can provide great data and insights into a website’s performance.
For example, you can see where traffic is coming from, allowing you to invest more into the channels with the highest ROI.
Or, alternatively, you could see that a sign-up page isn’t as effective as it needs to be, and enable you to make edits to your copy – improving conversions accordingly!
How is online traffic measured?
Online traffic can be measured very simply.
All web servers generate a log file where traffic statistics are kept.
This data can be easily viewed and managed for free through Google Analytics or various other heat map/analytics tools.
When looking at online traffic statistics, the key metrics which you can learn from include:
The number of visitors pages receive
Average page views generated by each unique visitor. Higher page views indicate a visitor showing an interest in a site and looking at the various pages it offers.
The duration that each visitors stays at a particular website. Again, the longer they stay on a website the more interested they are.
The duration they spend on each particular page.
Times when most traffic is generated.
The most popular pages.
The pages first viewed. This helps to show which pages are attracting people to your website.
Exit pages. Those that cause visitors to leave a website.
Paths. How visitors navigate through your site.
How do websites gain traffic?
Earning traffic can be done in numerous ways, some of which are free and others which are paid.
In this first part of the series, we will take a closer look at the following free methods you can (and should be) utilizing:
Free Traffic Methods
The first free traffic method we’re going to cover in Part 1 is email marketing.
Email marketing becomes a traffic source when you drive traffic from your emails.
By adding links and enticing copy to your messages, you can direct subscribers to visit your website, an affiliate offer or another place of interest online.
Email marketing traffic should always be driven by personalized emails that are relevant to where the recipient is in the buying cycle (i.e. new visitor looking for information, has shown interest in specific products or services, has made a purchase, long time loyal customer).
This way, the messages help to engage readers and nurture them further through the buying cycle.
How effective is email marketing?
It has shown to offer the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic!
Email Marketing Best Practices
Emails are a great opportunity to entice your audience with promotions.
A key to successful conversions is segmenting your audience properly.
You want to send the right message at the right time.
For example, a 10% off coupon would be a good idea when someone has left their shopping cart before checkout.
Besides promotions, you can stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind by sending regular monthly newsletters which share what’s new, links to blogs (more on those next), recent projects, or industry related news.
This helps to build the relationship and keep your audience engaged.
By choosing your links wisely, you can drive customers back to your website on a regular basis.
You can use Sendlane to engage your audience and send out timely, personalized emails right now!
Next up is blogging.
You probably read a few blogs regularly but may not know they are a key tactic for increasing traffic to a website.
Research shows blogging can increase traffic by 55%.
Blogs provide an opportunity to inform potential customers about your company while sharing information that is useful and interesting to them.
Blogs work to drive traffic through SEO tactics and links.
In the example below you’ll notice this blog article has internal links to a variety of helpful resources available elsewhere on the site.
The author is sharing valuable content that not only teaches the reader about the subject, but also more about what the company can offer:
Blogging Best Practices
When writing blogs you want to think along the same lines as you use on social media which means quality, engaging content.
People want to be informed, entertained, or inspired… not blatantly sold to.
So write about topics related to your industry that customer want to know about and that they will find interesting.
You want to show users how your products or services can be used in daily life, and guide them through FAQs about them.
Once they are interested in the actual messaging in your blog posts, they may find subtly included links to your products and services helpful.
As far as optimizing blogs, keywords will come into play and long tail keywords are helpful.
You will want to optimize all posts with keywords, tags URLs, and Meta descriptions which work like the directions for search engines to find them.
Also, Google looks for active sites that are providing consistent content so you will want to plan a blog schedule with regular posts and stick to it!
Practically everyone is on social media nowadays, which means these platforms are senda great source for traffic.
In fact, you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you didn’t make efforts on the different platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.).
To use social media channels effectively you will want to post content that your followers see as relevant.
This should also include links to your website, so customers can easily make the jump, like this example from the Sendlane Facebook page:
Most importantly, social media shouldn’t be used just to promote your website but should have content that will interest your followers.
For example, share relevant blogs, free eBooks, videos, online courses or webinars that will draw followers to your website – like the “Free Training” shown in the example above!
Post on a consistent basis about stories, thoughts, photos, and videos that relate to your business but are not just about your business.
Remember: People don’t go on social media to be sold, they want to be entertained, engaged, and are looking to interact socially, so humanize your brand and post content that people will find helpful.
Social Media Best Practices
As we said, social media is a place to engage with people and it offers a broader reach than most any other marketing medium. (1/5th of the world’s population is now on Facebook!)
One of the best ways to reach an audience of people who will likely be interested in your business is to look to influencers in your industry.
Who is making big waves and generating a lot of attention?
You want to target their audience and build relationships with them.
To do this, you can begin engaging with the influencer’s page with likes, comments, and shares.
You can also create infographics, tutorials, or whitepapers that offer value to others in your industry (not just your customers), add your name and link to them, and send them to influencers.
This can be a great way to get more exposure and build your network as others share your work.
After some rapport has been established, you can ask if you would be able to guest post on their page, channel, site, or blog, or if they would like to work out another type of collaboration.
Furthermore, you want to become known in your industry yourself and can do so by joining groups and participating actively.
Remember you don’t want to go in with a mindset of sales, but of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your niche with helpful and relevant information.
Comment on issues, reply to any messages, and participate in conversations.
This will build trust and credibility.
Once your audience starts to flock, be prepared with a call to action button on your page for those who are interested.
Also, continue to nurture your relationships with consistent valuable content.
A good practice is to provide 80% engaging content and 20% promotional on social media.
Next up is SEO, which Google in particular has made very important for businesses.
Just “Google it” is such a common phrase because search engines have made information so easy to find!
All you have to do it a quick search and a world of information is at your fingertips.
From answers to the most random questions to the “best of” specific products and services.
Because of that, having your website featured on the first page of search engine results is paramount!
It takes time but the first 3 search results account for about 65% of clicks!
The top results are often viewed as the most credible or highest quality, which is great for anyone who does the work to make it there.
Plus, when you get there organically, you have the added benefit of retaining your position longer than paid results.
Even if you stop SEO efforts, it takes about 3-6 months to drop off.
To improve search engine rankings for a website, you need to make sure your website includes a number of SEO techniques.
Of course, you need to start with quality content, but others include the use of keyword targeting as well as inbound link building amongst others.
In the screenshots below, you can see the landing page for Macy’s women’s dresses.
This page ranked #1 for women’s dresses so let’s take a look at what they are doing.
They display all of their dresses for sale first and then accompany the page with a keyword-packed piece of content at the bottom of the page.
These keywords shows search engine crawlers what the page is about and help it come up for a variety of searches.
This page would trigger results for cocktail dresses, little black dress, bridesmaid dresses, and more.
If you are unsure of how SEO works, take a look at our SEO 101 article to learn more.
From there, you’ll develop an understanding of how to be sure your website hits all the marks.
SEO Best Practices
While SEO is a very detailed topic that experts take years to understand and perfect, there are a few best practices that can help.
First, keywords are the bridge between seekers and results.
You need to perform an in-depth analysis of what words your audience uses when looking for your products or service.
Over time, you can track, test and optimize your keywords.
Also, functionality is very important as web consumers these days will leave after mere seconds of waiting for your web page to load.
This means anything that causes slow loading (rotating banners, clunky media, etc.) needs to be trimmed.
On the same note, mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor now so you need to be sure your website is responsive and designed with mobile customers in mind.
Build your site for speed, this not only means fast loading but easy navigation, content written for easy scanning, and have the most pertinent information prioritized.
Lastly, your website is on the world wide web, right?
The key word there is web – meaning the more connected it is, the better.
Links are the way you make connections.
Integrating them should be done to direct visitors deeper into your own website, as well as making connections from other sites to yours.
The more high authority sites that link to your site, the more valuable you will look to search engines.
Drive Traffic to Drive Sales
Traffic is what will make or break an online business.
But it doesn’t magically appear once you create a website.
Your website is just one piece of a larger puzzle which only attracts traffic when it’s all put together.
So is driving traffic to your website easy?
I wouldn’t say so.
However, it is very possible when you know what to do and have the dedication to follow through!
Plus you have these 4 methods to get started with right away!
Ready to learn how to drive even more traffic to your website?
Check out the 2nd and final section of our traffic academy on paid traffic options.
In the first 12 hours, I generated $5,000 profit, which is more than I did for the entire launch of my first course with this site.
The reason why I’m focusing on the initial $5,000 I made in the first 12 hours of launch is I remember that was my goal for my first 2Create course launch, and I didn’t even come close to that.
Let me put this all into perspective with some numbers…
When I launched my first course on this site in 2014, my list had around 30,000 subscribers.
That may sound like a lot, but many of these people on my list were not even engaged anymore and were either not opening my emails or weren’t receiving them (junk/spam filters).
When I launched my latest course for Passive Shirt Profits, my list was at 1400. The difference is this list was much newer/fresher and the audience was more engaged AND niched down.
In other words, most people on the list wanted to learn the same things.
There’s always so much emphasis on “growing a list”, but what’s the point if the people on the list want a dozen different things?
That was always a challenge with this site because I covered so many different topics over the years.
By the time I was ready to sell a course in 2014, I had attracted an audience that wanted to learn everything from WordPress, starting a business, YouTube to affiliate marketing. I also never took advantage of segmenting my list like I should have.
So what else went wrong with my first course launch on this site?
I Was Low-Balling My Products
I thought that offering a very low, affordable product with tons of content would actually make MORE people buy, but I actually think it hurt in some ways.
Not only does it make you LESS motivated to market it (too little profit), but it attracts a lot of people who never even open the course because they didn’t invest a lot.
Super low prices can also send a message of low quality.
I know because some of you flat out told me that.
One subscriber almost didn’t sign up because he assumed it was lacking value due to the very low price.
When he finally did sign up, he was blown away by the amount of content for such a low price.
To this day, I still struggle with what to charge for my courses, but I DO know that it’s NEVER a good idea to sell super low.
It’s better to pack the product with value and charge what it’s worth.
I Didn’t Pay Attention To What People REALLY Needed
This was even more problematic than me low-balling my prices.
I believe this is where most first-time course creators stumble (in addition to not having an eager-to-buy audience.)
Had I really nailed this part with my first 2create courses, my conversions and engagement would have been much better, even at lower prices.
As newbie course creators, we have a tendency to focus on what WE want to sell instead of listening to what people in our audience REALLY need and want.
In 2014 (my first course launch on this site), not many people were asking me to create an affiliate marketing course. The hype for affiliate marketing had cooled off by then, at least for my audience.
But I chose that topic because that’s where I had made most of money, and was still making the majority of my income at that time. I didn’t know what else to do.
And why launch a Photoshop course in addition to the affiliate course? That didn’t even make sense for THIS audience, but it was what I wanted to teach. SMH
Looking back…. it was a such a strange combo of courses to launch to this particular audience.
Again, I was making it about ME and what I wanted to teach. I had learned how to use Photoshop to create images for my sites.
However, learning the program wasn’t really in demand for THIS audience — especially with free products like Canva and Picmonkey on the rise.
I had this big ole’ audience, but didn’t really take the time to utilize it to RESEARCH and ASK what people wanted from me at that current time.
Given the state of my business and the evolving Internet Marketing space in 2014, it would have made more sense to create a course on building authority and credibility for a website.
Looking back at my biz, those are two, foundational things that have served me VERY well amidst the changing times, numerous websites and online evolution. It’s been the BACKBONE of my business, hands down. It’s also something any new website owner or influencer needs, especially when trying to sell products.
Nevertheless, I would have ASKED people on this list what they wanted instead of just hoping people would want to learn what I wanted to teach.
Another disadvantage of not really delivering content people NEED is I never received many questions, comments or interaction on my 2create courses.
Not to mention nearly half of the people who signed up for my courses never even opened them.
I believe a lot of people bought them because they were cheap, but it wasn’t really content they needed or wanted.
So you might say, “So what if half of them didn’t open the course! You still got your money, right?”
If people aren’t even taking the course, they aren’t interacting with you or your content. Interaction is important because it generates feedback on what to improve and clarify.
I learned from my Merch By Amazon course (no longer available) that having specific questions from students helps me learn where the course is lacking and what I need to improve on.
As a result of the many questions, I kept adding to it and improving the course. Consequently, I began hearing success stories from my students on a more regular basis.
When my students get results, that allows me to add testimonials to the landing page, which in turn helps me sell more courses in the long run.
It’s a win for my students and a win for me!
When I added testimonial screenshots from my students in my private group, the sign-up rate tripled for my Merch course.
I Created Buzz For The Course
Because I did a better job of getting in touch with what my potential students struggled with, it gave me a certain confidence with this course that I hadn’t had with previous launches.
As a result, I was more aggressive with promotion.
Before launch, I used my podcast, YouTube, and my list to remind people what was coming.
I also made sure people knew that there will be a limited-time launch discount only, and that I don’t frequently discount my courses.
In the past, I never built much of a buzz before launch. I may mention it in passing on a blog post, but didn’t do a lot of direct marketing prior to launch.
I believe that also made a HUGE difference.
I Was More Strategic About What I Shared for Free
I remember when I thought about launching my first course for this site.
I was so intimidated by the process because I had already shared so much here and on YouTube.
Not that you can’t include info you already have for free, but I always wanted my courses to have so much more valuable than the free content.
That was more difficult to do with 2 Create because of how much free information I already had online AND I waited so long before creating my first product.
You also have to remember, I had a different income model with this site. I was heavily reliant on affiliate marketing and AdSense, so my strategy was to give away tons of free content in exchange for ad / affiliate revenue.
However, when you’re planning to sell courses, your strategy has to change and that was a big adjustment for me.
I didn’t have that much of an issue with PSP because I knew I was creating that site to sell courses, and I didn’t wait years before I launched a product.
Finding The Right Price/Value Balance
I have learned that you should not low-ball your products, but trying to find the happy medium between what it’s worth and making it affordable has been difficult for me.
Nevertheless, it always bothered me when people told me I should charge soooooo much more. Why did that make me so uncomfortable? I wasn’t really sure why until this recent launch.
Just because someone has a large presence on YouTube or social media, doesn’t mean they know how to create products that are worth thousands of dollars.
One thing I KNEW about my courses is I had to improve upon helping people get more RESULTS.
Granted, no course is going to help every single person, but I always wanted to challenge myself in that area. I knew I needed to improve, and I made that my personal mission for my latest course.
I always got “great course” feedback on my courses, but not enough “I’m making money because of your course” kind of feedback until the latter editions of my Merch By Amazon course.
Again, because I got a lot of feedback from students, I continued to add/update the course to reflect any questions/feedback I received.
That was HUGE for me as a course creator. We cannot improve without feedback, and I rarely got constructive feedback on my 2create courses.
Again, that’s a result of the low engagement, and I take FULL responsibility for that.
Within two weeks of launching my latest POD Niche Site Success course I had 4 different people tell me they started making money right away, and a couple of them posted in my private, student group.
Another testimonial came in that same day!
I have blocked their names/faces by request because this is a private, student-only Facebook group.
Yes, within two weeks of launch I’m hearing about success! I’ve never, ever gotten that kind of feedback so quickly.
So with regards to price, I wasn’t all that keen on raising them too much until I got better with helping people GET RESULTS.
As far as the pricing strategy goes, I have yet to test the limited-time enrollment.
I know people are making oodles of money doing this. For some reason, I’m not ready for that just yet. Maybe I’ll test that this year.
The Indirect, Less Obvious Value of YouTube
People always measure one’s success on YouTube by their subscriber numbers.
You know how I feel about the hang up on vanity metrics. [rolls eyes]
Subscribers don’t mean as much if you aren’t using them to help your bottom line, and this time I did a better job of that.
Not just by promoting the upcoming course in my videos, but the comment section was immensely valuable to my course creation process!
I can now say that YouTube was single-handedly my best resource in 2019 when it came to discovering what people in my PSP audience TRULY value.
I uploaded more videos in 2019 than I have in a very long time, and they were mostly focused on Print on Demand (earning royalties from T-shirt designs).
I hadn’t been doing many videos on the T-shirt biz, so I was out of touch with what people wanted and needed in that space.
I used YouTube to help attract more people to my channel that would be interested in the T-shirt content.
I debated on whether or not I should start another channel. I’m glad I didn’t. Even though the majority of my subscribers subbed for different content and my channel viewing engagement is pretty low, I decided to use the same channel because the newer content is still about earning online.
As a result of uploading more videos, I was rewarded with 10,000 more subscribers this year and finally received the 100K Silver Play Button plaque from YouTube!
Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of that milestone, but what good are new subscribers if you aren’t using them to help your bottom line?
I’ve been on YouTube since 2007, and this was the first time I effectively used my videos to help me grow my product income.
Not just by promoting my upcoming course in the videos, but actually soaking up the comments and using them for inspiration for what to include in a course.
YouTube comments can be one of the best research tools for figuring out what to sell. I took notes on the most common issues with regards to print on demand and used those as a blueprint for my latest course.
It’s a shame people put so much emphasis on subscribers because there’s so many other indirect benefits of being on YouTube.
I wish the mentality of “followers automatically equals success” would die, but I know it never will.
So What Took Me So Long?
I was having brunch with one of my good friends and was telling her about the recent launch. I mentioned how I’ve struggled with selling over the years.
Her response was…
As if to say, “You’ve been out here all this time and you still struggle with that?”
The majority of the money I’ve made online has not been because of selling products to people directly.
It was passive income from ads, YouTube partner income, reselling domains and affiliate links. In fact, I still have some passive income streams that I created over 15 years ago.
So when it came time to actually sell my first course in 2014, I realized I had a lot to learn.
Just because I had a big audience that likes my videos and content, didn’t mean I knew exactly what or how to sell to them.
Passive Shirt Profits has taught me so much and reinforced things I already knew but never really implemented myself…
It’s not the size of the list but how targeted the audience is.
People value ACTIONABLE steps with SPECIFIC examples in a course — not just a conglomeration of information crammed into one course.
It makes a huge difference when you build buzz on multiple platforms before launch.
Your popularity shouldn’t be the only determining factor when it comes to pricing products. You have to consider the RESULTS the product yields as well.
As far as pricing goes, a lot of you all warned me about low-balling, but sometimes we have to make the mistake and learn things the hard way.
And instead of just focusing on how much you can charge or earn, put as much emphasis on making sure your course generates RESULTS.
Passive Shirt Profits has never gotten close to the traffic or income this site has received.
Not. Even. Close.
But my products/courses have converted far better than any site I’ve ever created because I’m learning to be more results-oriented and my audience is more targeted.
This course launch meant a lot more than the first Passive Shirt Profits course launch in 2017.
It’s hard to know for sure, but I would imagine a lot of those initial customers came from this site because I hadn’t really built much of an audience for the T-shirt space in 2017.
However, this launch was different.
I put 2create on hold last year and directed all my energy and content to the T-shirt space. So the buzz I generated for this recent launch more than likely came from YouTube uploads and podcast content I created in 2019.
It goes to show, that learning to sell online is a process, and don’t expect it to come easy just because you have a large following of people who admire you.
I’ve had to rebuild over the years because a lot of 2create followers are no longer engaged.
Also, earning passively from ads and affiliate links is much, much different than selling a product.
You have to learn how to create products people actually want, need and then you have to generate RESULTS for your customers.
And guess what?
I’m STILL learning to this day!
So the journey continues. Looking forward to growing and helping even more people in 2020!
Thanks, everyone for your support and hanging with me even when I haven’t had much to share here.
Can you believe it’s been a YEAR since my last blog update?
I have no idea how many of you will even read this, so I’ll just start out by saying helloooooooo to anyone reading this post.
…..all three of you! LOL!!
Before I jump in, let me touch on some personal things. Many of you have continued to reach out and ask about my dad since I’ve been gone. I appreciate you for that.
Not only is my dad doing well, but he’s back to traveling the world!
I took my family to Jamaica earlier this year to celebrate family and good health. A few months later, my parents went to Australia, and my mom joked that my dad walked her all over the continent.
What a blessing considering he couldn’t walk at all for nearly 3 months in 2018. And if you saw him walk, you’d never know he broke both of his ankles when he passed out. There’s no visible limp whatsoever!
If you had told me 3 years ago that I would be making a good portion of my income from my own digital art, I would have laughed!
It all started with the Merch By Amazon program.
I’ve earned nearly $150,000 in royalties selling digital art on Amazon alone. That doesn’t include any additional royalties from other sites and niche shops on Spreadshirt, TeePublic, Etsy, RedBubble and more.
I have a handful of shops on different niches, and a few with some random topics. My niche shops always, always outperform the random ones.
In Summer, 2018, I realized Merch By Amazon (MBA) was getting more competitive, and I knew that the glory days would be coming to an end sooner than later.
I wanted to diversify and focus on one niche.
So instead of doing all this random keyword stuff, I took a keyword/niche that I had discovered on Amazon the previous year and began building a shop for that audience.
It’s not a niche I am all that passionate about, but the low demand really got my attention. Plus, I was already selling in this space on Amazon. So I figured I could dominate this market by increasing my volume of designs.
I opened up a free RedBubble shop, and it was super slow going in the first few months. I’m talking about $5 monthly earnings. Yikes!
Slowly but surely, things began to pick up. I now have sales everyday.
I chose RedBubble because I didn’t have a following in this niche, and I knew they already had a lot of organic traffic. Plus, they offer tons of products and are constantly adding them.
In September of this year, I hit my first $3,000 month with this brand alone.
It’s important to note that $3,000 in one month is not just coming from shop sales. I began licensing certain designs to people who want to print and sell them on their local shops.
This was never the plan, but people kept reaching out to me and asking about licensing and custom work.
I didn’t want other people selling the same designs I was selling, so I decline some requests. However, if someone needs something completely different then I will create the image and charge a licensing fee. The price depends on how they plan to use it.
I setup a simple landing page on my domain where people can order a license with PayPal. So that added another income stream I wasn’t expecting.
I was very lucky that I found a niche that was completely underserved from an ecommerce standpoint. These people are elated that someone is actually devoting unique designs and a single shop to their niche. That has been key!
Now it’s time to go back to my roots of website building and marketing — especially now that I’m focusing on a single brand.
In 2020, I’m going to put more energy into actually building the site up so it can act as another way to drive traffic to the shop. In other words, it’s time to build some more link juice!
Wow….link juice! I just realized I haven’t used THAT phrase in a long time!
I was pleased to see that one of my pages is now ranked 4th on Google for its desired keyword on such a small site. Good ole’ Google! I have to say, it does still let you play in the long-tail keyword game.
Long gone are the days where you could pick a fairly competitive keyword and start ranking a site quickly. I plan on using long tail keywords as the focus of the content to drive additional traffic.
And when I say long-tail, I mean LOOOOONG tail. The keyword I’m ranking for is about 6 keywords long. Nevertheless, it’s still used according to the Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension.
So the majority of the sales are coming from free, organic traffic on RedBubble, but I want that to change. You KNOW how much I hate relying on one source of traffic.
That’s one of the reasons I haven’t shared the niche. I’m very protective of it, and I’ve had to deal with enough theft of my ideas WITHOUT even using my name on this brand and sharing it. So I don’t even want to think about the copycats that would surface if I revealed it.
Maybe once I have a steady traffic source that is not relying so much on free traffic, I can start sharing more. That would also help with teaching because people can actually SEE what I’m doing.
I did branch out and start using Pinterest last year to promote my shop designs. So that has helped me diversify traffic a bit.
I love Pinterest because it can bring so much traffic for a long period of time. You don’t get that same traction with Instagram or Twitter.
I even have proof that Pinterest actually brings sales to my shop, thanks to Google Analytics.
Let me tell you. If you have an ecommerce shop and you are NOT using Pinterest, you are really, really missing out.
Pinterest is actually not a social media site. It’s a search engine that tons of people use now, and the traffic does convert!
I have been a Pinterest fan since it launched in 2011, but I was never able to track sales. Well, thanks to RedBubble, I can. It’s good to see that it actually does convert.
I know many of the gurus have said that it does, but I needed to see for myself!
A Parallel Universe
Probably one of the most fascinating things about running Passive Shirt Profits is the discovery of the parallel problems between both audiences.
When I think back to the many years of running this website and my YouTube channel, the issue people always had was aligning what they want to sell with what people actually want to buy.
Sometimes they are not the same, and you have to adjust if you notice the two are not lining up.
I’ve had people come to me with these enormous, complex website visions, yet the audience hasn’t been clearly defined. So they are never able to execute because the idea doesn’t really make sense with what is actually in demand.
When people set out to make money online (no matter the method), they often have tunnel vision with regards to their idea, and it can be very difficult to redirect it.
Just because you have an idea for a website or a T-shirt, doesn’t mean there is an audience that is receptive to the idea, OR maybe you aren’t connecting with people because of the way you are delivering it.
So instead of trying to find an audience that will accept or understand your idea, you need to actually research what the audience wants FIRST.
When I think back to the success I’ve had on this website, YouTube and with selling shirts, it has LESS to do with my technical skills of web or T-shirt design. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have a lot of natural design talent.
It’s really more about understanding the audience I’m talking to and connecting to them in some way with my content.
That could be done by communicating via a blog post, YouTube video OR on a T-shirt. It doesn’t matter what you sell, you have to KNOW and be able to speak to your audience. But you can’t do that unless you truly know what they want and need.
It’s very tempting to stay married to your idea, T-shirt design or website direction, but it always needs to align with what is actually in demand.
I see so many people trying to force their ideas on an audience that hasn’t been validated yet, and they do the same thing with T-shirts.
One of my YouTube subscribers wanted me to look at his Etsy shop because he couldn’t understand why no one was buying. He told me that he doesn’t like doing research. He prefers to design what he likes.
Welp! There’s the problem right there!
Selling a product, no matter the arena, is not always about what YOU want. It’s more about what a defined audience wants and how well you can deliver it.
That’s the main lesson I wanted to bring back here. It doesn’t matter if you plan to create a website, design a T-shirt or sell a weight loss product on YouTube.
If you haven’t taken the time to really understand that audience so you can connect with their needs, pain points and desires, it won’t matter how “great” the idea is.
It’s also why it’s never a good idea for anyone to tell you what niche to go into. So much of that will depend on what you have to offer the audience.
Having websites in two very different spaces really highlighted how many people struggle with that all-important step of defining WHO they are going to reach and how they are going to connect with them.
Market / niche research is one of the most boring parts of earning online, but it cannot be skipped no matter how you plan to earn.
Anywho, just wanted to check in and say hello! Drop me a line and let me know what you’re up to! Hope 2019 has treated you well!
Ya know… it’s been so long since I blogged here, I almost forgot my WordPress password.
How’s your 2018 been going for you? Mine has been super busy but extremely productive and more profitable than I expected.
So I thought I’d catch you up on lessons I’ve learned with my new site, struggles, personal growth and other insights.
The Golden Ticket
The year started off on a fun note. I received a Golden Ticket and was invited, along with a few other high-volume sellers, to meet with Amazon about the Merch By Amazon (MBA) program!
We had to sign NDAs (Non Disclosure Agreements), but I CAN say that it made me even more proud and excited to be a part of this amazing passive income opportunity.
They even created a shirt design for us that we got to print ourselves!
The team was super cool and treated us to a nice dinner with some delicious desserts! We were all pretty vocal about the things we like/didn’t like, suggestions, etc.
I can’t lie…
Before the meetup, certain things about Merch would really frustrate me. But after talking to the team it made realize how hard they’re working to improve on many different fronts.
One thing’s for sure…
These people LOVE THEIR COMPANY. You can see Amazon has a certain standard for the kind of people they hire.
The Merch team is extremely passionate and dedicated to the program, and it was really cool to see their energy and positive outlook on the future of (MBA).
Merch By Amazon caused a COMPLETE detour with my business in late 2016. I saw the potential and knew I had to focus on it as soon as I got in.
To date, I’ve sold nearly 10,000 shirts on Amazon alone, and never dreamed T-shirts would be a big part of my income stream.
But I’m actually glad Merch distracted me because I was about to make a BIG mistake by creating the site about selling online courses from your WordPress site.
I was trying to force myself into a niche that I wasn’t really passionate about JUST to have a more focused/niche site.
I also felt some pressure to start a new site because I really wanted to see what it was like to begin TODAY so I could share more relevant lessons. I was definitely forcing ideas for that reason as well.
Thank you, Amazon, for rescuing me from THAT inevitable failure!
The PSP Journey Begins
When I launched Passive Shirt Profits in June of last year, I knew that social media wasn’t going to be a big part of my marketing strategy.
That may sound crazy to you in 2018, but if you know me, you already know that social media marketing has NEVER been a strength OR favorite of mine.
As a matter of fact, MARKETING IN GENERAL has never been a strength.
What you need to understand is that being proficient at teaching, making videos, and being admired online doesn’t automatically qualify you as a great Internet marketer who knows how to sell their own products.
All I knew was that I wasn’t going to stress myself out trying to grow another social media account I would probably abandon.
So I decided to start with podcasting. I really wanted to see how much traction I could gain with doing nothing but focusing on that.
I also wanted to challenge the “Be Everywhere” strategy that a lot of newcomers feel they need to adhere to when starting a website.
My goal was to commit to podcasting weekly to see if it would drive people into my courses. I launched my first show in May, 2017.
Sales Were Off To a Great Start!
You may remember that the initial launch for PSP was great.
It was a good decision to offer a bundle package that was priced lower than the total price of all courses individually because most people bought the bundle.
I made more in the first 3 days of launch than I typically made on Udemy in a month (WITHOUT Udemy discounts.)
But let’s be real.
The sales were mostly from people who found out about PSP from THIS site.
The REAL tell would be the results AFTER the initial launch.
Well let me just say that after launch, things were slow.
So slow that I wondered if I should keep podcasting.
But the more I did it, the more I enjoyed it so I decided to keep going in spite of doubts creeping up.
It’s funny how I’m always giving you all pep talks about never giving up, and I had to remember and start using my own advice!
Then in December, things started to slowly turn around.
Suddenly sales went from very sporadic to several per week.
Then in January it was like someone flipped a switch. (I think it had a lot to do with Merch accepting people into the program again.)
So my listeners and email list subscribers who had been waiting to get approved, decided to enroll.
My podcast downloads started increasing and so did my course sales!
I launch a show every Monday so those are the peaks you see. I think it’s very important to maintain a rhythm with podcasting.
I took a 6 week break between Thanksgiving and the New Year, so that’s why you see the spike on January 8th.
But here’s the cool part….
I recently had my BEST.WEEK.EVER. for the PSP courses, and it was really encouraging to finally have a bit more momentum.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not getting numbers like this all the time, but compared to how things started, I’ll take it!
PSP doesn’t get many comments or social shares.
And if that’s what you view to judge the success of a website, well then you’d see it as a complete failure.
But ironically, it’s converting better with courses than this site did with a larger traffic base!
So yeah, no complaints here!
Don’t get caught up in social shares, traffic and comments. They don’t always equate to more income.
Keep Pushing No Matter What!
Let me tell you. It gets quite discouraging in the early days of building a new site as many of you know!
It was a VERY humbling experience after having instant success with 2 Create a Website.
This site just TOOK OFF like a rocket thanks to Google back in the day, and PSP has been NOTHING like that.
I knew I wasn’t going to have the luxury of building up my search engine traffic to 2,000 visits per day in the first two months like I did with 2Create years ago.
Even though I was prepared for a slow start, it doesn’t mean it was easy to swallow.
It took 8 months for me to really feel like momentum was picking up, and I know many people would have given up LONG before then.
That’s why you have to keep pushing and give it time.
And that’s EXACTLY why I wanted to share this.
I think it’s equally important you hear when things are challenging, and not just when they’re great.
You Don’t Have to Be Everywhere
I know how overwhelming some of you feel when you’re just starting online today.
With Instagram, SnapChat, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and so many options to choose from, it can feel like you have a gigantic hill to climb.
But I’m here to tell you to START SMALL.
Most people are never GREAT with every social media site. They typically focus on one or two.
You have to remember, when you see big influencers with 5 and 6-digit followers on multiple sites, usually it’s because they focused on one or two and the other accounts grew because of the success of the initial accounts.
So it’s not like they are spending that much time and energy on every site.
And who cares about the number of followers if you aren’t turning those followers into customers!
Be careful of getting distracted by looking or being popular on social media.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Just because people are clicking LIKE doesn’t mean they will click ‘BUY.’” quote=”Just because people are clicking LIKE doesn’t mean they will also click ‘BUY.’”]
Now THAT’s what I need on a T-shirt!
So focus on ONE platform that fits your style and audience, and commit yourself to growing that for the next 6 months.
The beauty of concentrating on one strategy is it will very clear if it’s working or not.
Kim George wrote a really good article on follower obsessions, and how to choose your best social platform. I envy her commitment and dedication to social media. I just don’t have it.
Set Realistic Goals
I was so proud of myself for setting a podcast goal that I stuck to EVERY SINGLE MONDAY until the Holidays. (I did miss one other week due to a death in the family.)
Staying focused is often a challenge for me, but I stuck with podcasting, even when I wasn’t sure it was the best thing to do.
And the great thing about my show is every episode is only 5-10 minutes long. So it only takes me an hour or so to record, edit and publish each episode.
I set a realistic goal for myself that I knew I could meet, and that is so important.
Plus, it feels sooooooo good to know I don’t HAVE to be on every platform. I no longer get social media marketing FOMO (fear of missing out).
For the record, I’m not suggesting that you ignore social media. I believe most people SHOULD consider using it today. This was just a personal decision for ME. I have a unique situation with multiple income sources (some are recurring), so I didn’t feel like social media was something I HAD to do. Having said that, I TOTALLY APPROVE the podcast-only strategy for starting out — especially if you’re in a niche where podcasting is hot.
Just remember, you don’t have to be everywhere. It’s a myth.
What I Need to Work On & My Personal Growth
Even though I feel PSP has earned what I put into it now (effort wise), there’s so much more I COULD be doing to earn even more.
I’m very happy with what I’ve accomplished, but I still have a ways to go.
I haven’t setup many marketing funnels, don’t do much with landing pages, my email list, etc.
I am now getting help with those aspects of marketing.
Entrepreneurs who are incredibly successful focus on what they do best and outsource the rest. And I’m JUST now getting comfortable with doing more of that.
I’ve also grown a lot personally and professionally in the last year.
I’ve learned to be comfortable saying “NO” to unreasonable requests and being OK with not pleasing everyone (limiting certain levels of help to students only, no coupon expectations, pricing etc.)
I’ve set boundaries for what I will and won’t do in my business both online AND offline.
Boundaries are something a lot of women entrepreneurs struggle with. Google it. It’s like an epidemic!
Maintaining that boundary without feeling selfish or mean has often been a challenge for me. But I had to do something because things were getting out of balance in my business.
Don’t feel sorry for me. I created that monster by operating in “people pleasing” mode.
I just recorded a podcast on this very subject. Stay tuned.
It’s also been incredibly rewarding to create additional income streams. That’s something you HAVE to do as an entrepreneur.
My income sources look a LOT different from when I started online, and thanks to Etsy, PSP and Amazon, I’ve developed some new ones in the last 14 months.
And I have to mention AdSense because I’m always asked about it.
My response to that is…
Seriously, if I make a $1,000 month, I’m having a good month. Fortunately, I’ve more than replaced those earnings with other income streams.
One thing’s for sure…
If you expect everything to remain the same out here, you’re in the wrong place. The only constant is change!
Three years from now, I might be talking about Merch in past tense and on to something else. That’s just how it goes.
But I’m going to ride this Merch train ’til the wheels fall off! And it’s been a fun ride!
Anywho, I just wanted to update you all because it’s been a minute since I blogged.
Let me know what you are up to these days, and I hope your 2018 is going grrrrrreat!!
Because for the first time I feel like I’m doing things in the RIGHT order.
Even though 2 Create a Website has had tremendous amounts of success, I always felt like I did a lot of things backwards.
For example, I waited way too long to start a list, sell products, etc. That’s largely because I didn’t have to.
Having said that, it worked very well for me because I got an early start and was able to capitalize on search engine optimization, residual affiliate programs that I still earn from today and other advantages you gain as an early adopter.
But things have evolved since I launched this site, and my strategy has to evolve as well.
When I launched a website many years ago, I’d focus on building up a ton of content for search engine traffic and monetize that free info with affiliate links ads.
That won’t work as well today.
I also care more about building a list and selling my OWN products instead of someone else’s.
In this post I will discuss what I am doing differently with my new site, and how I’ve grown in a business sense.
Say Hello to Passive Shirt Profits!
If you’ve been following me lately, you can’t be surprised about a new website.
Since getting into Merch by Amazon last fall, I have been completely obsessed with print on demand — the process of uploading an image, adding it to a product and earning a royalty when it’s sold.
By the end of this year, I will cross the six figure mark in royalties, and most of those earnings have come recently.
I’ve also branched out and I’m selling designs in over 25 different niches/topics thanks to Merch.
I’m just waiting for my reviewers to give me feedback so I can polish them up before launch.
One reason I’m announcing the site before the courses launch is so I’ll have people on my list.
And it feels super encouraging to have people in my private group actually ASK me when the courses are coming out!
That’s confirmation there is demand for what I’m teaching, and that’s always a plus when you create a site and product.
Also, when you wait a long time to launch a product, you may struggle with what to include and what to leave out because you already have so much published content.
This was a huge struggle with me on this site when I first launched my affiliate course in 2014.
It took me a full year of updates to finally get it to a point where there is a significant amount of different info that I don’t have elsewhere.
Now I understand why people say your first course draft is always your worst because you are constantly adding/improving over time.
And just for the record, it’s totally fine to include material in your course that you’ve covered in blog posts, emails, etc. (especially if you are upfront about it). I personally wanted it to have a lot of new material.
I didn’t struggle with that with PSP because I have very little content out here on this subject, and that was completely intentional.
I Simplified The Site Layout
I cannot believe I actually have a website with only one column!
At first I thought it would feel restrictive.
Then I realized I actually enjoy reading clean sites with lots of white space (especially on mobile), and I rarely pay attention to the sidebar links and widgets.
More importantly, when I check my Google Analytics I realized how many people have the same browsing habits!
Because more and more people browse on mobile devices now, that means the sidebar drops below the main content (if your theme is responsive).
As a result, many people don’t even see your sidebar, much less click on the links!
So I made the decision to go with a minimalist design approach. We’ll see how long that lasts!
There’s not a lot to do at PSP just yet, and that was done for a reason.
Right now, I’m focusing on podcasting and building my list for the upcoming courses. I’m keeping it very simple right now so I can track certain activities.
If you value your sanity and want people to respect that your time is valuable, you HAVE to learn to set boundaries for yourself and business.
There was a time when I would do a LOT for people for free, and while I know people appreciated it, I now realize some abused it.
It drained the heck out of me!
And PLEASE don’t feel sorry for me because I allowed it. I’m sharing this so YOU don’t fall into the same trap I did.
The one incident that sticks out in my mind was when I helped a gentleman with his website code. We went back and forth for 3 days until the issue was finally resolved.
He praised me for the help I gave him and I felt awesome.
A week later he was back with another site issue…
And then another…
Now multiply this story by several others over the course of many years.
From the outside, it looked generous and helpful. I genuinely DO enjoy helping people.
But trying to help everyone came with a price…
I began to feel overwhelmed, stressed and started to experience burnout.
I was teaching people that my time doesn’t cost a dime and some began to expect it.
I had less time to work on my own stuff
Keep in mind, I’m not just talking about answering questions that require one or two sentence answers. I certainly don’t mind it when people email me with questions.
In fact, I welcome that!
I’m talking about extensive work like helping people with code, coming up with strategies for their sites and things that took a lot of time — especially when you are doing this for several people per month.
(Not to mention I was also doing this for people in my personal life for free.)
That’s one of the reasons I decided to open my Facebook group to students only. That was my first small step into the world of setting boundaries.
Two years ago, I would have felt selfish saying all this, and would have NEVER admitted this on my blog.
Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for setting those boundaries. Also, don’t complain about people sucking up your time without paying if you’re allowing it.
There’s an old saying that goes…
You teach people how to treat you.
That holds true in every area of life, even business.
While I will never change how I operate in terms of integrity and ethics online, I have learned that it is OK to say “no” and set boundaries for what I will and won’t do for free.
If I Could Start Over…
Creating this new site caused me to reflect a LOT on 2 Create a Website.
If I could launch this all over again I would have kept the content much more focused instead of covering Internet marketing, earning online AND WordPress.
Website creation or blogging might seem specific enough at first, but it attracts people who want to create so many different kinds of sites and their reasons for the site varies.
I would get questions on how to create sites I had no idea or interest in creating, as a result, I alienated potential subscribers and customers right off the bat.
Looking back, I would have narrowed down the focus to tutorials for creating a specific kind of site like an infopreneur website — which is really what this site is.
So if you’re looking to create a site in this space, make note of that. Don’t be afraid to narrow the focus down.
Everyone and their mama has a how-to blogging site these days, but not many are “niching down” to a type of website (ecommerce, membership, infopreneur, etc.), and I think there are major opportunities there.
It may feel like you are alienating people, but what you’re doing is attracting a very specific audience that will be easier to target content to.
This Isn’t Goodbye…
…It’s more like “hello” to new lessons!
While I may not be blogging or podcasting here regularly (it’s not like I have been anyway!), I will certainly be back to share the lessons along the way like I am now.
Having a new site will make my content here even more helpful if you’re also doing some of the same things.
So you’re not getting rid of me that easily!
Having said that, I will be focusing more of my attention on PSP due to the fact it’s new and I will be dedicating time to helping students when the courses launch.
I’m Growing Up!
This has been such a journey, and I’m so happy to be able to share these lessons with you.
I’ve been in transition for quite a while now with my business, and I finally feel like I’m moving in the right direction.
One thing’s for sure…
There is a big difference between monetizing free content with ads and affiliate links and selling your own products when it comes to overall strategy.
I have learned how much I truly did NOT understand about business and setting boundaries.
It’s ironic that people often come to me for coaching on starting an online business when I feel like I’m JUST now grasping many of the core fundamentals.
Kinda crazy, right?
But I don’t regret a thing I did or any mistake I made because that’s how I learned.
You have to put things out there and make mistakes so you can learn what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do!
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