Are you worried that you may get hacked by malicious opportunists online? Do you want to keep your digital information close to you and out of reach of hackers? Do you want to know what makes you vulnerable to hackers?
No matter how well others protect their online information, it seems cyber security hackers always find a way around them. The recent Zoom hacking incident is a good example of it. However, there is still hope.
There is a way for you to secure your personal information online. It starts with arming yourself with the knowledge of the weaknesses in cybersecurity.…
Due to financial hardships stemming from COVID-19, many people in Louisville are behind financially and struggling to keep their homes. If your home goes into foreclosure, it can be devastating to your credit and your financial situation.
Believe it or not, there are things that you can do to put an end to the foreclosing of your home. The key is to find a strategy that works best for you and your unique situation. Continue reading to learn ways to get out of a foreclosure.
The best thing you can do to increase your chances of avoiding the repossession of your home is to jump on it at the first signs of trouble.
When starting as a freelancer, people do everything to make a name for themselves and make more money. It is tough to get projects and clients at first, and as people struggle to get gigs, they overlook some aspects of the business side of freelancing.
People think that freelancing has lesser responsibilities than the regular office job. As a result, freelancers end up making mistakes that cost them a lot. Here are some of the freelancing errors you can avoid.
Most freelancers start working without signing a contract. This leaves room for serious misunderstandings. Part of the reason this happens is that the freelancer does not have the time or resources to draft an agreement.…
Industries have preferred to move their businesses online that have allowed them to grow organically. However, everything is not so bright as they are perennially faced with the risk of data breaches.
The security threats in the industry are immense and can be estimated from the fact that 4.1 billion records were compromised in only the first half of 2019. There have been significant data breaches at Clearview and Marriott, with almost 5.2 million records being breached at the latter. According to the 2020 Data Breach Investigation Report from Verizon, 70% of the breaches were caused by outsiders, and 86% of the breaches were financially motivated.…
Typically, you’ve spent many years building your wealth for your family’s future. Whether you have personal assets or businesses, you always want these things to go to your loved ones in case of incapacity or death. However, this isn’t always the situation. There are instances when you need to prepare for the unexpected, and these can include lawsuits from the creditors and other adverse judgments. This is where the legal concept of asset protection comes into play.
In simple terms, asset protection is the process of protecting one’s assets from unfortunate situations, including seizure, lawsuits, judgments, and other relevant losses. It’s composed of many strategies that can guard an individual’s wealth without violating the law on concealment, fraudulent transfer, and contempt.…
Oh, you guys. Parenting during a pandemic: it is not for the faint of heart. Like many people, El Hub and I have had to make some tough decisions about sending our kid back to school, so it’s been a rough week… So rough that even lipstick could barely get me through it. But you know. We’re brave. And we’re tough. And we can do things we never thought we could do, right? At least that’s what I keep telling myself 10 million times a day.
I’ve started doing this thing where I set reminders on my phone with my affirmations, so they pop up throughout the day, and I can just read them over and over again.
You know what they say — fake it ’til you make it.
You know what they also say? When the going get tough, the tough eat pasta, which is why you’re looking at that pasta picture at the top. (I should’ve probably intro’d with that, whoops!)
If any picture were able to convey that Connor is 100% her mother’s daughter, it would be this one…
Which reminds me, I made this lemon tagliatelle pasta from Laura in the Kitchen a few days ago…
I gave Connor her plate, stepped out of the room to go check something, and when I came back this was how she was eating her food.
Good morning and TGIF! Extra TGIF, right? 😀 So…you know your world has taken an unexpected turn when you choose to wear a wrinkled shirt and low-key bronzed J Lo.-inspired skin to go get your blood drawn at the hospital and it’s like you’re about to walk the red carpet at the Met Gala.
All is well, by the way. I just had my annual checkup to make sure everything’s working correctly, and it is (*knock on wood*).
So yeah, I was wearing this look under my mask when I went to the lab, and I felt happier and more outgoing than I have in ages. I cracked jokes with the lab tech who drew like 10 vials of blood from my arm (it was actually three, but who’s counting?), and I more than enthusiastically told everyone I ran into to “HAVE A GREAT REST OF YOUR DAY!”
There’s definitely something to be said for pushing yourself to do the things you know make you feel better, even when you aren’t really feeling it at first!
By the way, the blush/bronzer and eyeshadow are all from the same palette, a multi-use powder palette called the Pixi Summer Glow Palette.
Ya know, I go through phases. Sometimes, I’ll diligently wear makeup every day, and I’ll remember how much better I feel when my brows are combed and my lashes are curled and coated with mascara (at a minimum), but then for any number of reasons nowadays I’ll slip into a pit of semi-despair (sounds dramatic, but it feels that way sometimes) and forget to put any makeup for several days…
During those phases I’ll tend to also let other things slide, like I won’t do my hair, and I’ll rock wrinkly clothes that could easily double as pajamas.
Eventually, I snap out of it and realize, yet again, that when I put in a little effort and “show up for myself,” I feel better all around. So it’s cyclical, I guess.
One thing that helps me is reminding myself that I don’t have to don everything and the kitchen sink. Even a little bit of self-care counts and makes a big difference in my mood.
Sometimes I feel like I have to do “spicy” or “exciting” looks, partly out of habit, and sometimes just so I can talk about them here on MBB.
As a team of established beauty experts, we’ve got our fingers on the pulse when it comes to knowing the latest the beauty industry has to offer. Want to be kept in the know? The Trend Report is our weekly feature where we share with you the latest launches and news across the industry; from new product launches, beauty concepts and store launches to the latest trends you need to know about. So, what’s trending in beauty this week?
KEYS SKINCARE LAUNCH
e.l.f Cosmetics announced their next exciting new venture this week: a lifestyle beauty brand collaboration with none other than Grammy award-winning artist Alicia Keys. Producer, actor and best-selling author too, Keys is adding another string to her bow with this project, and even though the brand name is yet to be released, the products are said to be inspired by Keys’s skincare journey. Dermatologically developed, the cruelty-free collection will be available next year.
YARDLEY’S PERSONALISED PERFUME
Finding the perfect perfume with all the scents you love can be a little tricky, but fragrance experts Yardley have you covered. The London brand has announced the launch of their new Fragrance Diagnostics Tool, a section on the website which allows users to pick out their favourite ingredients for a more personalised recommendation when shopping for a scent.
MEGAN THEE STALLION IS REVLON IN IT
Houston-born rapper Megan Thee Stallion has gone from strength to strength in the past year, and this week she prepped us for a major beauty announcement: she’s been unveiled as the newest global ambassador for Revlon. Pictured in a killer icy blue cut crease look for Instagram, the star is sure to bring playfulness to her pro-level makeup as she said: “I’m so excited to for all of y’all to live bold with me”.
JAPANESE VEGAN SKINCARE IS HERE
Lone Design Club, a London-based hub for independent designers, has recently announced the launch of Japanese vegan skincare brand IRÉN Skin in the UK. The brand backs the clean skin revolution, empowering those who want to know exactly what ingredients they’re putting on their skin, and which will benefit them most. It’s all about plain-speaking, skincare for all, and we’re here for it.
[unpaid/sample] I feel a bit guilty about Maria Nila Hair Care – I’ve had it put in front of me by their PR several times and each time I’ve felt unexcited about it. It was only when Lucy took it to the pool last week because it was the first thing she could find in my office and came back absolutely raving about it that I gave it a go (more or less straight away because Lucy doesn’t rave often!).
True Soft Shampoo and Conditioner are best for dry hair and in particular, in my view, fine dry hair that is prone to static and puffiness. I mean, everyone’s hair is puffy in this heat and there is a point at which nothing is going to help, but freak tropical days aside, it’s a beautifully hydrating shampoo that leaves tresses super soft. It’s actually just about perfect for post-swim where salt or chlorine takes the moisture from your hair – argan oil and fatty acids in a light feeling mix don’t weigh strands down, but do revive them.
You may or may not need the conditioner as well – I used it for testing purposes but could, I think, have done without, having no chlorine to contend with. The scent is something you’ll definitely notice – it’s a lovely combination of lily, jasmine and rose that I reckon owes a lot to fabric fragrancing because it reminds me of fresh linen and linen sprays in that it’s a very clean, gentle aroma that’s both relaxing and refreshing. Maria Nila hails from Sweden – the pared back design is a clue to the Nordic chic element as is the muted sage green packaging that’s so easy on the eye. And, given its heritage, perhaps no surprise that it’s both fully vegan and climate-compensated (meaning every purchase contributes to tree planting). I’m really a new fan of this brand and looking forward to trying more products. The best place to get it, I think, is Sally Beauty who have 100ml sizes of both products for £6.99 each HERE – otherwise it’s about £16.99 for a full size of each, rising to £44 for the litre bottles (more eco friendly, but make sure you love it first).
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
[unpaid/sample/affiliate/ad] Dedicated as I am, I’ve drawn the line at testing my all-time favourite product from Mio – Liquid Yoga, which is best experienced after a work out in a hot bath. I actually think I’d need resuscitating. As soon as the temperature cools, it’s the first thing I’ll be trying but until then, the line is drawn :-).
Instead, I’ve been looking at the two new shower/body products – Clay Away Body Cleanser and Sun-Drenched Body Wash. You can use Clay Away either as a purifying body wash (good for bacne or clogged pores) or a two minute flash mask for a more intense body treatment before washing off. I did the latter – my skin definitely felt smoother as a result although I can’t speak for any longer term effects as I don’t have body blemishes (at the moment).
It’s got a bit a of eucalyptus kick to it and looks a bit like avocado puree. The clay element of this mask is good for excess oil so you could easily do some patch masking on just the areas that need it rather than doing the whole body – which is a faff unless you’re really in the mood for it.
This is my favourite of the two. Sun-drenched Body Wash uses minerals to give a pearlescent quality to the formula which I think accounts for the ‘illuminating’ claim (it left just one or two little twinkles on my skin). The draw for me is that it’s a body micellar which I like – I can’t remember coming across one before – but in use, you won’t particularly notice that it’s micelles doing the cleansing as it feels like any other body wash. Maybe a bit more moisturising actually because of the andiroba oil (same family as neem); there’s no stripping feel. You will notice a gorgeous citrus scent which is a combination of orange and orange blossom.
Both are very welcome in my bathroom but I’d usher in anything orangey first! Clay Away is £21 and Sun-drench is £19 HERE, non affiliate HERE. I like these for being a bit different and for having another element that’s over and above washing your skin which makes them feel more ‘beauty’ than utility. Liquid Yoga when the sun goes away :-).
All products are sent to me as samples from brands and agencies unless otherwise stated. Affiliate links may be used. Posts are not affiliate driven.
As a marketer, you want to connect with your audience.
You want customers and clients to think your brand is friendly, approachable, and easy to work with.
So when your manager comes in and suggests increases in automated efforts, you’re skeptical.
How can a human connection be automated?
How can you make customers trust you without personal emails and phone calls?
Whether you work at a small company that’s growing or a large company that’s disconnected from its customers, you can add a personal touch to your customer communications, even if you have hundreds or thousands of contacts.
Here’s how to use online automation while keeping and cultivating a personal touch:
Look for holes automation can fill
You shouldn’t use automation just because some online marketing expert told you it was a good idea.
You should use automation to fill existing gaps, and as a time saver so that you can focus on more big picture initiatives.
Take a look at your marketing process, and see which activities (particularly ones that you do over and over) could be automated.
Here are some holes that companies often fill with automation:
Welcome emails for newsletters, courses, and events
Sales cycle emails
Transactional-based emails such as confirmations, notifications, and shipping information
Scheduling of blog posts and social media updates
Use automation to personalize
It’s easy enough to automate email marketing efforts, and you can use automation to send high-performing personalized campaigns.
According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and Experian reports that personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates.
Email marketing providers like Sendlane offer integrations and APIs that allow you to pass data from Shopify and other CRM or ecommerce platforms directly to your email list.
You can setup automated emails so that every time a customer makes a purchase, or leaves something in their online shopping cart, they automatically get a personalized email:
Use automation to open communication
Automation is not a barrier between you and your customers.
Instead, it’s an open door.
Each time customers receive automated messages, you can encourage them to contact you if they have any questions.
If you send an email, tell customers to simply reply back with any concerns.
You can put links to your brand’s social media pages in your emails so that customers can connect with you.
For example, if you’re interested in buying a new home, Trulia automates daily emails for the latest listings based on your criteria.
At the end of each email, they provide a link to get more information, so you can get in contact with the agent if you see a property of interest.
This automation strategy consistently provides information, while still encouraging you to get in touch.
Write like a friend
If you want to ensure that your automated efforts still feel personal, make sure that you write like you’re talking to a friend.
When you create automated emails, speak to one person, not the crowd.
Here’s how to write like a friend:
Use the second person, which means using “you” rather than “our customers.”
Use custom “from names” to show the messages come from a human
Employ casual language, like you would in a friendly email
Some companies, such as Dubsat, use a custom “from name” in automated emails, so that the emails feel personal.
Dubsat goes as far as to send the emails from the individual’s account executive.
Online Automation Final thoughts
Today’s tools make it easy to automate email, social media, advertising, and content marketing efforts.
The key is to assess where your brand has gaps, and fill it in with deliberate automation that prioritizes a personal touch.
If you automate your online efforts, you can save time, increase efficiency, and provide customers with a more comprehensive and fulfilling experience.
Automatic doesn’t mean robotic.
Use these tips and tactics to create automated marketing that feels personal.
Your turn: What’s your experience been with automation for online marketing efforts?
What are your struggles, and where have you seen success?
We’d love to learn about your experiences, so we can share your insights with our readers.
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.
Because size doesn’t matter as much anymore… engagement is what we are aiming for, right?
Now, here’s a quick disclaimer: if you read something and worry about it going against what you’ve heard in the past, don’t let that deter you.
This entire article is based on my experience with Sendlane and the data we’ve analyzed over the life of the company.
Basically, the information comes from email marketing that is happening right now in the REAL world!
Now, I want to start off by debunking some MYTHS about “Cleaning Your List” so let’s dive right in!
1. You need a service to clean your list
If you built your list the right way and have opted in subscribers (people who actually gave you permission) the idea of a “clean up service” is not the one for you.
Clean up services were created for people who buy data – aka buy email lists.
They will generally clean up known bounces, bad emails, spam traps, and more.
But if your email is permission based (which it should be) this should not be a concern.
So save your money – unless you REALLY want to spend it
2. They will open my email eventually!
Back when I started in 2009, I remember building my first email list.
I BABIED them.
I was scared to email them.
And when they stopped opening my emails, I started to get worried but I kept trying.
But, inactive subscribers aren’t just waiting for you to send the perfect email before they take action.
Here are the facts – 4 easy reasons why subscribers usually become inactive:
They no longer own or use the email (aka they changed emails)
They ignored enough of your emails (the email algorithm is now placing your messages in their spam).
They marked your email as spam (Ouch! I know, but it’s human nature, either by accident or on purpose).
They are simply no longer interested (and too lazy to unsubscribe).
Look, these are not the ONLY reasons – but these make up MOST of the reasons why a subscriber may no longer be active.
3. It’s my Autoresponder service
If you are blaming your problems on your provider and thinking you have to move your list you might be right.
It’s true – not ALL Email Marketing Services (aka Autoresponders) are created equal.
But any reputable one, with a mass number of customers, will be pretty equal at the end of the day.
So, if you are bouncing back and forth between big providers (Sendlane, MailChimp, ConstantContact, etc.) expecting great results, you are doing yourself (and your marketing) a disservice.
Look, I wish I could sit here and tell you that Sendlane is the absolute best, but that would be a myth…
Your service doesn’t determine your activity.
But I will tell you what does if you keep reading!
Let’s focus on reality now
Now that we’ve gone over those 3 myths, let’s hone in on what is REALLY going on.
And luckily, these are also things you actually have the power to change.
So, here they are – 5 things that really affect your delivery:
Your actual email – simply put, the words that YOU put in your email can cause spam. Avoid the spam and email “curse words.” Really though, just STOP using these words!
Your links – You would be SHOCKED at how many links are blacklisted. Get a tool like ClickPerfect and keep yourself protected.
Your FROM email address – This is something people overlook. Is your domain aged? Does it have a website attached to it? Does it have good reputation? Consider an email address that reflects you professionally.
The TIME you send your email – Simply emailing at different times of the day can EASILY affect your open and click rates.
Your list is INACTIVE – Yes, I said it. If Joe Schmoe from 2011 doesn’t read your emails then it’s time to let them go!
And just as before, these are not the ONLY reasons for your delivery problems, but are 90% of why your emails are most likely not getting delivered.
Now that you’ve heard the 3 myths and their breakdown, let’s jump into the actual logic of properly cleaning your list!
How To Clean Your List (The right way)
It’s time to start talking about the actual task of CLEANING your list, the proper way.
List cleaning is actually much SIMPLER than it sounds – but also scary to a person who may or may not be accustomed to the idea.
If you’re using any email platform (such as Sendlane, MailChimp, Aweber, Get Response, Constant Contact, etc.), you’ll have simple and powerful segmentation tools available to you.
These will help clean your list painlessly.
The cleaning itself is generally done using the “Segmentation” tool.
Using Google, Wiki or a search in your AR tool’s help desk will reveal how simple it is to create a segment for your inactive or active list.
Now before you start, here’s the ONE basic rule of thumb:
“If a person has not OPENED an email from you in the last 120 days (4 months) – It is time to delete them from your list.“
Listen, I know that seems “short” but on the Internet, it is a LONG time.
If in 4 months they haven’t paid attention to your emails, what makes you think they will 121 days later?
Scroll above and read MYTH 2 again
BUT WAIT – What about “List Re-Engagement?”
The age old question – one that everyone who is CLINGING to their email list asks.
I’m going to give you the hard truth again.
If the person on your list has been IGNORING YOU for 120 days and you send an email saying, I’m going to delete you… and they open that email, does that really make them an active subscriber?
In the day and age where each subscriber costs you money (in the form of the monthly subscription to your autoresponder service) AND each subscriber can affect your overall delivery, why are you looking to re-engage someone who hasn’t OPENED an email in 120 days.
It’s the harsh reality and even if it sounds crazy, it’s time to let them to go.
You only want people on your email list that are ACTIVE and want to listen to you.
What Do I Do With My Old, Inactive Email List Segment?
If you have a segment of your list that hasn’t open an email in ages, there’s still lead potential to be had.
You can upload it into your custom audiences on Facebook or Google and create advertisements for them.
They are a warm lead as they opted in with you AND they were at one point active with your newsletter.
So take advantage of that!
Create a targeted ad and get them to buy or opt in to your list again.
Closing Thoughts and the Truth About Cleaning Your List
This is one of those articles people will either love or hate.
Those that love it will understand the importance AND benefits of cleaning your list.
Those who hate it, only hate it because they know what they NEED to do and the thought of removing people from your list is very scary.
But here are the 3 things you will achieve with a proper list cleaning:
You’ll have a more active and engaged list, one that will want to hear from you more often, buy from you, and respond to you.
You’ll save money. Each subscriber adds another tick mark to your list size. That list size determines how much you pay monthly. Don’t pay for dead weight.
Your OPEN and CLICK rates will increase. This happens for people every time I recommend it, and even in regard to my own list. Because you’re delivering LESS email and it’s getting HIGHER engagement, the ISP (like Gmail, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, etc.) will favor your emails for the engagement and push it into the inbox.
So today is the perfect day to start!
In the comments below, let me know which one of my tips were your favorite and if YOU plan to clean your list after reading my article!
Our brains just process and analyze negative experiences longer than positive ones.
And this is no different online.
If you position your headline with negative superlatives – won’t, avoid, worst – you can attract 63% more readers.
Looking on BuzzSumo, you can see that using the word avoid in headlines can bring a lot of shares.
2. Use Numbers in Your Headline
A number in a headline makes it final.
It creates a box around the idea and attracts people who want to open the box.
15 Unique Ways to Crack An Egg
Makes you want to see what those fifteen ways are, right?
What’s great about creating a listicle type postis that it will get shared more often than a non-numbered headline post.
What else does a number do to a reader?
It makes it specific – People like to read something specific and that has boundaries. So, if the headline promises 53 ways, they have an idea of the length and what they’re getting into with the post.
It allows for scanning – Believe it or not, people don’t read word for word; they scan content looking for the important things. And numbers create signposts that help them navigate and find the valuable content in your post.
Our brains enjoy numbers – That’s right. We are genuinely attracted to numbers. It acts as an organizational system, and we all know people love lists.
Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
For example: 23 Unlikely Methods You Can Use to Find Clients on Instagram
4. Get Help From a Headline Generator Tool
We all know that crafting your own headlines is ultimately the best way, but if you’re struggling or have a bad case of writer’s block, there are headline generator tools and analyzers to help you out.
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 2020 has treated you well!
I wanted to update you all on some things since it’s been a while since I’ve posted.
The number one email I’ve received in the last few months has been regarding my 2Create courses. You may have noticed that most of them have been set to “private.”
After my dad got sick in March, I knew I wasn’t going to have time to focus on supporting students for two websites. PSP was my main focus, and I also have a private student group to support.
So I decided to set the 2Create courses to “private” to prevent new students from enrolling.
Then once things returned to normal in my personal life, I had to be honest with myself.
I wasn’t doing much with website building or marketing, other than passively using my podcast to promote PSP courses.
I’m making waaaaay more money selling my T-shirt designs than I am with the actual courses that teach what I’m doing.
I’ve had about 500 students enroll in my PSP courses. While that’s not bad, it could have been so much better if I did more marketing.
I’ve never been comfortable or efficient with marketing my products. It intimidates me. That’s one business hump I’ve never been able to get over.
I admire people who are diligent with tracking email campaigns and conversions. It all just makes my head spin.
I’d rather make a T-shirt.
Why The T-Shirt Biz is So Rewarding to Me
For a long time, affiliate marketing and AdSense were my favorite and most rewarding ways to earn online.
However, POD now holds that top spot.
I don’t come from a design background so I’ve had to learn a lot.
When I worked as an HTML Analyst for American Airlines over 10 years ago, my team lead forced us to use Photoshop, but the company provided us ZERO training.
I remember staring at the blank Photoshop interface wondering what the heck I was supposed to do with all those tools and buttons as they stared back at me.
I never actually learned much about Photoshop until I quit my full-time job in 2006 to work on this site.
Fast forward 12 years later, I’m now using Photoshop and Illustrator to create some very detailed art that I never thought I would be able to do.
To see how far I’ve come, and then to have people buy my designs by the thousands, is incredibly rewarding and slightly addictive.
It also goes to show anyone can do this regardless of your design background.
I have one T-shirt that has netted over $20,000 in royalties. Yes, from ONE T-shirt design!
Think Before You Leap
With all the income potential, print on Demand is not for everyone. Just like anything else, don’t get into this just because you are in desperate need of money.
You need the desire to learn the POD business and even something about software if you want to scale your income.
And for long-term success, you should be thinking of building a brand instead of relying on passive traffic and income like I’ve been.
Even if you’re a talented designer, you will quickly learn that’s just the beginning. You also have to understand keywords and find niches to design for.
It’s getting very competitive, so make sure you jump in for the right reasons.
If I’m honest, I was drawn to this venture for the money, but I’ve STAYED because of my love for the work.
When my dad was sick, I was super stressed. I found the creation process to be therapeutic.
A lot of my success has come because of creative ideas that just haven’t been done, and the creative work is what makes this fun for me.
On the flip side, you also have to be prepared for theft. That’s been the biggest disappointment of this whole experience. It’s why I use an alias for my POD accounts, and don’t share much of my work.
As a result of Amazon and other PODs not protecting our work with a wrinkle or watermark, my images have been stolen and re-uploaded to numerous sites.
Things have gotten a little better since using watermarks, wrinkles, etc., but you’re never going to be able to fully protect your work. As long as it’s online, someone will find a way to grab it if they want it.
I Enrolled in An Art Class
One of my goals for POD is to scan hand-drawn work. Then I could “ink it” (color it) after importing it into Illustrator, but I had to learn to draw first. LOL
Up until now, most of my designs have been created through shapes in software. Believe me. You can do a lot with this. That’s what I teach in my PSP Photoshop course.
Now I’m doing this more with Illustrator as I improve.
However, I wanted to learn how to draw free hand. So I enrolled in an art class.
We’re learning some basic drawing principles and how to shade using graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils.
Here are some cherries I drew with colored pencils. I was pretty proud of this because I was struggling with shading earlier in the semester.
I’m too embarrassed to show my first shading attempt. It was absolutely awful. LOL
So as you can see, I am now knee-deep in learning about drawing and T-shirt design. It has been a nice change of pace.
That’s All For Now
Anywho, I know most of you did not subscribe for all this print on demand stuff.
That’s why I haven’t been blogging much. I didn’t have anything noteworthy to share in this space. However, I wanted to update you on why I took down my 2Create courses since many have asked.
Those who have enrolled can still access them, but I have no plans to enable them for new students any time soon.
I DO plan to make updates for the existing students, however.
By the way, my dad is doing great!
He is walking again, and his ankles are doing well considering how severely he injured them.
Other than some initial stiffness when he first stands up, he’s walking well now! We feel so blessed and lucky he came through all that.
Thanks to all who reached out to inquire about his health. I really appreciate it!
Hope you’re doing well! Drop me a line below and let me know what’s up with you!