Lessons From Meeting Pat Flynn And Erica Douglass

I was down in San Diego last week, visiting my brother at UCSD. While there, I decided to see if I could meet up with two of the more influential business bloggers – Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income and Erica Douglass at Erica.biz.

I have been following both Pat and Erica for awhile now and I really admire what both of them have accomplished. Pat is a real inspiration; two years ago, he was laid off from his job as an architect and now makes a full-time living as an internet marketer and blogger. Erica is also a seasoned entrepreneur, having sold her first business at age 26 for $1.1 million and is now hard at work on her next venture.

As a fairly new blogger, I'm always looking for exposure and I was lucky enough to write guest posts on both Erica and Pat's blogs. I'm also eager for guidance, and Pat and Erica were generous enough to give me a couple of hours of their time. 

Needless to say, these conversations were some of the best learning experiences I've ever had. Here were some of my biggest takeaways.

Have A Great Story

Pat's rise to professional blogger is awesome, but what's even more incredible is the story behind it. When Pat lost his job, he was quite worried because he had a young family to support and no real training in internet marketing.  Pat is an architect by trade and his story is appealing because he has learnt everything about internet marketing along his way to success. In two years, he's gone from a complete unknown to one of the most recognizable bloggers in the "make money online" niche.

One of Pat's recommendations for me is to better articulate my own story in a way that helps me connect with people. This is something that I've really taken to heart, and I'm working hard to address this. 

Erica's blog also does a great job of telling her personal story. She emphasizes her ups and downs, and this constant fight for success resonates strongly with her audience. She does an excellent job of constantly referring to her own experiences, which adds a very nice personal touch to her brand. 

Create A Journey

Pat attributes a lot of his blogging success to his "monthly income reports." In these posts, Pat walks readers through his earnings for the month. He breaks his income down by category, and analyzes it in significant detail. 

These monthly reports accomplish several objectives. First of all, they distinguish Pat from many bloggers in the "make more money" niche. While other bloggers are often reluctant to reveal their sources of income, Pat is completely transparent. This has helped him generate a ton of buzz.

The reports are also important because they represent a journey. Readers can see Pat's growth and success over time. They can also see how his blog has grown to contribute more and more to his earning power. This is inspirational and keeps readers coming back, month after month, to see how Pat is doing.

Pat also helped me realize that my own blog can be used to benchmark one of my personal goals – more to come on this soon!

Visuals Are Important

I've never been a very visual person. For me, the content is everything. But that is not the case for most people. Visuals do matter, and the simplicity and elegance of Pat and Erica's designs has taken them a long way.

With that in mind, I'll soon be doing a full redesign of There's Money Everywhere. I'll be asking my readers for some input on this, so stay tuned – I'd love your feedback!

Good People Matter

Erica is currently in the process of building her new business, a service called Whoosh Traffic. Even though she only launched a few months ago, she is already doing quite well. 

When I asked about the driving forces behind her success, Erica told me that the right people were the most important factor. Things go wrong in any new venture, but with the right team, you have a much better shot of getting through it. 

Erica is a master of delegation. She has done an amazing job of vetting her employees and figuring out exactly how to maximize productivity. I recommend checking out her blog archives if you're interested in learning more about how she does this.

Thanks Pat and Erica for a terrific afternoon! Hope to see you again soon!

The Definitive Guide to Staying Productive and Motivated

RRRRRINNGGGG! Its 7:00 AM. I put my head over my pillow to drone out the noise.

RRRRINNNNNGGGGG – there it goes again! Ah, I really don’t want to get up and go to work today…

Sleepily, I wander over to the shower. I jump out, put on some clothes, grab some breakfast, and head off to work.

Once I’m in the office, I start perking up. I suddenly remember I have lots of things to do. The day starts flying by. Before I know it, it’s time to go home.

Continue reading The Definitive Guide to Staying Productive and Motivated →

Taking Risks While You’re Young

I was visiting my alma mater a few months ago. While I was there, I had coffee with one of my professors. This professor is one of my heroes – he’s an authority on international law and travels around the world consulting for governments and non-profits. The cool thing was that he took a fairly unorthodox route to get there –  after graduating from college, he spent three years traveling around the world, paying his way by doing odd jobs, before finally going to graduate school.

Over the years I’d heard some pretty fantastic stories about his travels, but I was still curious about one thing: How did he end up deciding to do this – taking a risk, trying something off the beaten path?

His answer was simple. “Vik,” he said, “I’m going to tell you the same thing a professor of mine told me. As you get older, you don’t regret the mistakes you made. Instead, you regret the times you never even tried. The worst mistake you can make is not making any mistakes at all.”

It’s so easy to get comfortable. We make one compromise which leads to another compromise, and suddenly our options have diminished. We have spouses, kids, careers, and mortgages…all wonderful things, but they don’t leave a lot of time for other priorities.

It’s also easy to be scared of failure. But that’s no excuse; we all fail, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least make an effort.

After talking with my professor, I realized I really needed to think about what I enjoy doing most. I realized that I love giving people advice and helping them with their problems – whether in personal finance, college counseling, or relationships.

In fact, this realization was a major reason for starting this blog. Writing and promoting this blog takes many hours each week, and who knows how it will turn out? Maybe no one will care about what I have to say. But whatever happens, I know that looking back, I will have given it my best shot.

So if you’re young, figure out what you really want and try it. You’ll be glad you did.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Do you regret it?

Using A Platform To Throw Parties For Free

Last week, I wrote up a post on Tim Ferriss' new book, the Four Hour Body. As I mentioned, everything about the book screams national bestseller. 

Today, I opened my Google Reader to yet another reason why the Four Hour Body will sell a million copies. On the Four Hour Workweek Blog, Tim had written up a post titled:

Let me promote your product or location to millions

First of all, that is a KILLER title for a post. How could I not want to know what he has to say?

The idea is simple: to give people motivation to buy his book, Tim wants to giveaway free products and services to people who purchase multiple copies. Instead of purchasing these himself, he asks his readers whether anyone is interested in contributing their products in return for free publicity.

This is a GREAT deal for companies. If their product is selected, they'll get a HUGE amount of publicity at a very low cost. I don't think Tim's going to have any trouble having some pretty sweet giveaways…and at zero cost to him personally!

But he doesn't stop there. In addition to the free giveaways, Tim is hosting a big VIP party to generate buzz. He wants to hold it at a swanky venue, but these places are usually really expensive.

The solution? Tim will guarantee a tremendous amount of coverage for any venue that is willing to host the event at little to no cost. He even has a little application form on the site to submit details on your ballroom or nightclub. 

Basically, Tim Ferriss has successfully gotten companies to give him free stuff that will help him promote his own book. Nicely done =).

How did he manage this? It's simple: Tim has a platform. A platform is simply a means by which you can reach a large, engaged audience. It can be television, a book, a radio show, or a blog, but the key is that you need to have a group of people who are responsive and involved. 

You can always generate money if you have a great platform. Guys like Ramit Sethi are making money hand over fist with the products he's created. Pat Flynn often makes more than five figures a month from his personal blog. 

But the only reason they're doing so well is because they spent time cultivating their brand. 

What goes around comes around…and sometimes in a good way. Create something that influences people positively, and you will have constructed a platform that can carry you the rest of your life.

Making More Money By Playing to Your Strengths

I’ve been doing college counseling off-and-on for several years now, helping high-schoolers and parents navigate the difficult applications process. I recently met with the family of a high school freshman who asked a very common question: what is more important – being really well rounded or having a few key strengths?

Well, having both is obviously the best option – but if something has to give, I always tell people to play to their strengths.

Why? It’s simple – we live in a world that rewards specialization. No one is good at everything, and colleges (and future employers) will recognize that.

Instead, make an effort to show that you are really good at a few things. Paint a picture of why you stand out from the crowd. Highlight your passion and your strengths; it is better to be top-tier at something rather than being a jack-of-all-trades.

Continue reading Making More Money By Playing to Your Strengths →

Why “The Four Hour Body” Will Sell A Million Copies

Ever since The Four Hour Workweek hit the top of the New York Times Bestseller list in 2007, hundreds of thousands of readers have eagerly anticipated the arrival of Tim Ferriss' next book.

More than 40 months later, Ferriss finally announced that his second book, "The Four Hour Body," will hit bookshelves in December of 2010.

I'm psyched =). What's interesting is that I'm psyched for the wrong reasons.

The content of the book doesn't interest me. I don't personally care too much about "hacking the body."  What's more exciting to me is to see (and study) another amazing example of brilliant product marketing.

Even without reading the book, I can already tell that it will be a runaway bestseller. I think it's going to sell a million copies. That's an amazing achievement for any book, even bestsellers.

There are many reasons for this. First of all, Tim Ferriss is already a well-recognized name in the media and blogging communities. Anything that he puts out instantly has an audience.

But that's not the only reason this book is going to sell big.  Like the Four Hour Workweek, this book will sell because it solves pain points in a very unique way.

The Four Hour Workweek sold because it appealed to people's desires to be free from the constraints of a job or a single location. In a world where people are constantly overwhelmed by the pressures of daily life, the Four Hour Workweek sold a dream of a better lifestyle.

The Four Hour Body also sells a dream; an amazing body and perfect health…with less hard work and better results. This dream actually has a MUCH larger potential audience than the Four Hour Workweek. After all, almost everyone wants to be more attractive and energetic.

When I first read about the Four Hour Body, I took a careful look at the front and back covers. I was instantly impressed.

First of all, the name is obviously smart. The Four Hour Workweek is a recognizable brand. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Secondly, the tagline is one of the best I've ever seen:

An uncommon guide to rapid weight-loss, incredible sex, and becoming superhuman

The word "uncommon" is very powerful. In a saturated market full of diet and fitness books that all say the same thing, this instantly tells the reader that the book has something unique to offer.

The phrases "rapid weight loss" and "incredible sex" could not have been better picked. These are MAJOR pain points. Almost everyone wants to lose weight and improve their sex life.

The final phrase, "becoming superhuman," is also very effective. It adds an element of intrigue. The word "superhuman" is vague, and it motivates the reader to find out exactly what Tim is talking about.

The copy on the back cover is equally appealing, beginning with a series of fascinating questions:

Is it possible to:

Reach your genetic potential in six months?

Sleep 2 hours per day and perform better than on 8 hours?

Lose more fat than a marathoner just by bingeing?

I don't know if I'd ever want to sleep just two hours a night or binge on strange diets, but I am curious about learning more….

Powerful stuff.

In addition to the great marketing effort and outstanding brand name, I am confident that Tim has put in a good deal of work into making this an excellent book. Three years is a pretty long delay between books, so I expect real attention to detail.

I'm preordering the book. Even if I don't learn anything about my body, I'll certainly learn something about how to market and sell ideas more effectively.

Do you think the Four Hour Body will sell a million copies? Why or why not?

How to Build An Army of Profitable Salespeople Without Paying A Single Dollar in Salary

That’s right. You read the title correctly.

Last year, I was in Santiago, Chile exploring a business venture. One night, I decided to check out a local pub.  I grabbed a seat at the bar and started up a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. In his own words, he was a “health food supplements salesman.”

I was intrigued. The guy seemed fairly intelligent. Was there a lot of money to be made in selling health food supplements?

Continue reading How to Build An Army of Profitable Salespeople Without Paying A Single Dollar in Salary →

The Single Most Important Concept In Making More Money (Finish)

Bill Gates. Warren Buffett. Steve Jobs. The Google Guys.

What do they all have in common?

Ok, they are all rich. We know that. What else?

They're all smart? Also true, but less important than you might think. Plus, they are all smart in different ways.

So what is it?

It's simple: they all understand the importance of ownership.

In the end, it all comes down to how much stuff you own. If you are an owner, you control the cash flow. If you aren't, well…you don't.

It doesn't matter if you're the most kicka$$ employee in the world. It doesn't matter if you have amazing skills, or a unique knowledge base. You're never going to get rich just because you know how to do stuff.

Unless, of course, you are doing it for yourself.

So why don't more people own stuff of value? Why do most people just work for others their whole lives?

Here's the thing: ownership requires effort. In order to own something of value, you have to make an investment.

This investment isn't just money. It can involve your time, or even your personal brand.

It's not an easy path. Over the past few years, I've been lucky enough to meet many successful business people – dating coaches, best-selling authors, and even billionaires. All of them have said that there were points where they thought they were going to fail, and all their effort had been for nothing.

But if you do it right, it's all worth it. Trust me, there's no better feeling in the world knowing that no matter what I do or where I go, I have a stream of cash flow coming in to help pay the bills.

That stream of cash flow is all mine. I own it. No one can "fire" me and take it away. No one except me. And I plan to keep on growing it over time.

BlogWorld 2010: A Lesson In Personal Branding

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend BlogWorld in Las Vegas.

Overall, the event was a blast. I met a ton of fantastic bloggers, drank a lot of great scotch (courtesy of McCallan), and sang Karaoke with a live band in front of hundreds of people.

I even got to enjoy a free helicopter ride across Vegas (courtesy of Infolinks). They picked us up in a champagne filled limo. Not bad; seems like being a blogger is already paying off =).

Anyhow, here are some of the big takeaways:

Make Friends With Influencers: A good strategy at conferences is to make friends with a few influential people and then have them introduce you to everyone else. For me, those people were Srinivas Rao at BlogCastFM and Chris Ducker at Virtual Business Lifestyle. Both of them were amazingly helpful in plugging me into the blogging community.

Be Active On Twitter: Up till now, I never really took Twitter seriously, but now I realize just how powerful it is. Throughout the conference, I was tweeting people to find out where they were and what afterparties were going on. I also learnt that you often get a better response out of Twitter than e-mail when trying to connect with someone in new media, so that will be my strategy going forward.

Have Deep Conversations With Smart People: On Sunday, I was lucky enough to sit down with Sid Savara, a well-known blogger in the personal development space. Sid had some tremendous insights on how to generate more traffic for my blog and also improve sales within my online marketing business. We must have talked for 3-4 hours, and I really got a lot out of it. I'll probably write up a post in the future about these specifics.

Most Sessions Are Meaningless: While there were a few good speakers (including Jonathan Fields), most people didn't really put a whole lot of effort into their talks. As a result, a lot of the content was fairly general and unhelpful. I quickly realized that my time was better spent networking with influencers around the conference hall.

Conferences make a LOT of money: At one of the afterparties, I was talking to a lady who organizes conferences for a living. I found the economics to be very interesting! Evidently, sponsors pay for all of the expenses, so ticket sales are basically pure profit. Blogworld is a smaller conference, but some of the big ones can net the organizers many millions of dollars.

Link To Cool People: I met a ton of cool people, and the best way to stay on their radar is by linking to them frequently. This lets them know that you value their content. In fact, I'm going to do it right now: here are some of the coolest people I met.

How have you gotten value out of conferences/networking events? Please share in the comments.

How Ramit Sethi Will Make Millions From The Earn1K

(note to Ramit: If you read this, I invite you to post a detailed response in the comments)

This year, Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich launched a high-end information product called the Earn 1K. The basic idea is a detailed, step-by-step guide explaining exactly how you can earn your first thousand dollars as a freelancer.

Ramit has always put out great content, so I figured why not take a look?

And then I saw the price point: $999

I was skeptical. I didn’t believe there was enough of a market to justify this high price. $100-$200 was a reasonable possibility, but $999? That’s crazy! But after talking to some third party sources, I heard that the program has actually been selling extremely well.

In full disclosure, I haven’t bought or read the Earn1K. I don’t feel like spending $1,000 to learn things that I personally already know. However, I was intrigued by this success and wanted to dig a little deeper.

So I started walking through the Earn1K sales funnel. I went to Ramit’s site and clicked on the Earn1K link. Then, I signed up for his newsletters. I also read his most recent blog posts from the last six months to get a good idea of the channels he was using to promote his offering. Finally, I took a long look at his FAQ section.

There are several things that I like about Ramit’s approach:

Honesty

On the Earn1K FAQ, Ramit is very upfront about the fact that this program isn’t for everyone. He goes out of his way to say that if you are in debt, you shouldn’t buy this product and instead focus on saving money.

This is a very unusual tactic. Most people would sell their product to anyone even thinking about buying, but Ramit has more integrity than that. He believes that there is a market for his product, but that there are also people who don’t fall in that category.

The good news: this integrity helps potential buyers trust him even more, which ultimately leads to more sales and a better overall brand.

Investment, Not Product

Ramit has done a masterful job of branding the Earn1K as an “educational investment.” People who complete the program are called “Earn 1K Graduates.” This helps put the Earn1K in the “online education” category of products, which are very expensive. Here, people aren’t just paying for information, they are paying for a brand and a credential.

The Earn1K is an impressive achievement in branding, especially considering that it isn’t an accredited program.

Price Signaling And The Allure Of Exclusivity

Ramit has a large number of preview videos and other material that helps drive sales. In all of these materials, he pitches the Earn1K as a very exclusive product. He implies that if you buy the product, you will have access to information that others simply can’t get very easily.

Another trick here is the concept of Price Signaling. By charging a high price, Ramit is implying that the product is worth a lot. The reasoning is that if others are willing to pay this high price, there must be something special about it…and I’ve got to find out what it is! This is the same concept that helps sell high-end cars and expensive timeshares.

While this is very smart marketing, I’m not sure I believe that this information cannot be found elsewhere for free, or at least at a MUCH cheaper price.

A Long Sales Funnel

Ramit doesn’t just try to sell you from the first moment. Instead, he first lures you in by offering a free “idea generation tool” which will help you determine ways you can make money. In order to get this tool, you have to sign up for the Earn1K newsletter. Ramit then sends you a long series of e-mails, starting out with softer sells that highlight his own successes. If you don’t buy, he then sends you significantly more aggressive e-mails.

In fact, one of his e-mails is actually called “The Hard Sell…Be Very Afraid.”

Some people might think this is over the top, but I actually think it makes a lot of sense. It is different, and bluntly honest. It is very refreshing from all the scammy stuff we see in e-mail marketing these days.

30-Day Money Back Guarantee

Some people are afraid to give a money back guarantee. Big mistake. Having a money-back guarantee is one of the best ways to increase sales, and very few people actually try to return the product. Tim Ferriss actually discusses this extensively in the Four Hour Work Week.

Payment Plans

This is actually a fairly new development. Evidently Ramit was getting a lot of questions about the price from people who wanted to buy, but didn’t have the cash on hand.

Creating a payment plan is a very smart move. It opens the product up to a new market, and as a bonus, Ramit is giving away another one of his information products, the “Scrooge Strategy,” to anyone who buys right now.

Have you heard about the Earn1K? What are your thoughts?