What’s Working: Action Report + The Cycle of an Online Business (Which are You In?)

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Resources Mentioned: RAQ, Mixergy, App Sumo, Corbett Bar, M6Method, Sean Ogle and HDR Photography, 3 Internet Marketing Secrets of the New Rich, Cath Duncan, Laurie Foley, Norcross, Craigslist, Google Forms, iThemes, 52 Rules of Thumb, Be like Water, Quotes by Mark Twain, JustAnswer, SupportSpace, Virtual Business Lifestyle, Ramit Sethi, Mailchimp, Evernote, Destination X

The image above came about by goofing around and getting my head on straight with the cycle of online business creation. It’s good to look at things that frame your actions. It’s similar to the M6 Method, a stellar framework for rapid business creation (reviewed by Corbett Barr, Virtual  Business Lifestyle, and Thrilling Heroics/Cody McKibben) and possibly by me if I ever get my butt into the city. The above is how I’ve approached online business creation and I was taking another look as things develop with my various ventures and core tech service/product site. I’m in the “make product available” stage and creating buzz there. The results from networking while having a very specific offering is doing wonders, but there are things to be scared of. What’s working and what isn’t below.


Where Things Are

IT Arsenal

Influenced by Noah Kagan of AppSumo lately, I changed the format of my website and got super specific (he still says it’s not niche enough). The homepage is less blog (changed the homepage to a page) and more obvious on what’s offered, why it exists. This works for business. Listening to various podcasts on BlogcastFM, I made a stronger call to my newsletter, and then actually released one. Out of a measly 40 people, 6 sales happened. Woah. Use a newsletter. Through mostly behind the scenes short, pointed e-mails with a specific request, I’ve been able to open up an exchange with tons of entrepreneurs. They’ve tested my information products, referred my services, used me like I want to be for technical aid, this grew my e-mail list, my website hits, and google contacts. How did that happen? I built something small and specific on my site (a training course on starting a website and a few sales pages on website setup) and constantly asked for feedback and offered anything I had in my back pocket to get real about it (coupons, work, free access to the course). Make small moves (that apply to a real goal, like more users or more money), ask for feedback (validate), network, build a  little bigger, release more, ask for the sale.

You’ll have a support network of people interested in you, a good validated product package, and avenues to go down for revenue by doing this.

Where Things Were (AKA don’t do or stop doing)

Blog style website, working on too many services and pages at once, and not asking anyone about them, or actually doing service or trying to sell, searching for complicated technologies to execute with, long e-mails re-explaining all my hard efforts writing sales pages and linking them up to newsletter auto-responders and payment gateways, setting up a e-mail list but not using it, trying to figure out the big picture, without any clear steps in front of me.

Other Online Business

HDVideoTest, MemoryPhotoBlocks, JustAnswer, SupportSpace: Dormant or sporadic depending on how I feel or interest, to be picked up later. I have enough going on. Although I still love being a JustAnswer expert.

Affiliates: I have some amazing online friends with products that they’ve put 100′s of hours into. I’m completely impressed, from M6′s video series (which you should go look at just for the sake of it, even if you have no interest in their product or business), David Damron’s Destination X and how he made a personal video for each of his online close buddies saying hi, and announcing his product, Greg Rollett’s 3 Internet Marketing Secrets of the New Rich, or how about Sean Ogle’s HDR beginners photography book, Make Your Photos Not Suck. Links and such at the top.

I’ve scanned and dug into all of these products, spoken with all these guys and would drop what I’m doing right now to help them out with a technical need or listen to their latest business idea. The quality of their output, and the quality of their heart is just downright inspiring.

I want to, and will go on about them separately later.


What’s working Now? (things to copy)

  • Forcing myself to read, it stops online figiting and causes reflection. Reading: 52 Rules of Thumb, Be like Water, Quotes by Mark Twain.
  • Mini actions and monthly goals. Get 20 new newsletter sign ups, tell 1 person who would buy my products/services about me.
  • Networking with Giving. I’m all about giving always. It’s who I am, and the backbone of IT Arsenal, this with reaching out and introducing people to other people, comes back to you 10 fold. Specifically people like Cath Duncan and Laurie Foley have made me realize that networking with “coaching types” are good for my business, and well they both have sent multiple people my way who have immediately gone into agreement with me. The relationship works, I will continue to give as much as I can (know your boundaries) and work your relationships with giving. The Go Giver, awesome book.
  • iThemes super plugin pack. More likely to be explained at IT Arsenal soon, but the ability to drop in a testimonial slider, an image carousel and features posts with short codes basically puts the power to make a dynamic enticing page anywhere you want.
  • Gatejumping – finding ways around problems that are un-traditional. find a tool and use it weird, make a trade with someone, find an alternate solution. I’ll likely be covering some ways to do this website development with Greg Rollett next week.
  • Using a quick image/mind map tool like Omnigraffle to create homepage variations
  • Google forms to gather specific feedback often
  • Using salespages/documents I’ve created as the backbone of hourly service work. As clients come, there’s no more “whatever I’ll do it work” … all work gets built off a framework from a standardized agreement document from a specific salespage.
  • Paypal introduced an invoicing feature. It’s nice.
  • eJunkie can auto-add buyers to a Mailchimp list. Awesome.
  • Bought Mailchimp account (stopped using free one), made a solid newsletter, manually added users and told them that in the newsletter and sent it out. It’s dang useful too, it was well received. Sign up here, if interested. (Ramit Sethi says one way to make your own newsletter better, or at all, is to sign up for others, probably ones more widely sent out than mine, but still)
  • Partnering. It’s hard to figure out who can be your partner. A real relationship two people can benefit from. I’m still working on this, but it starts by approaching people, and broaching the subject.
  • Posting at craigslist for feedback.


What isn’t Working Now

  • Saying yes to everyone, it increases time spent on hourly efforts, instead of information that can be re-used and live on after an e-mail is sent and benefit more people. I’m trying to capture anything that is useful when interacting with one person into an Evernote notebook to publish later. Try to re-use your given expertise everywhere!
  • Too many projects. I may be making small moves, but small moves on 10 plus projects still creates overwhelm, granted I’m loving the content, I wouldn’t mind more time to chill and more focus on one project.
  • Being slow. I still fall into writing long e-mails for the already busy, and brainstorming master plans without putting quick things into action. I have a document of actions I want to take with IT Arsenal. I call it the ITA Nucleus (get it, like a cell’s center) I add to it more than execute against it…shame shame… producing buyable goods should be more at the forefront. Workshops like Andrew of Mixergy.com, short inexpensive training courses, ebooks, ect.
  • Not showing up in other places. I’ve gotten a few e-mails and offers about being “featured” or being a guest somewhere and I’m all about it, but I let these things get lost and don’t schedule hard time. Then don’t do them. Not smart. I’m not sure why I do this? Publicity fear? peh, get over that like now.


Awesome I like: Cath Duncan, Norcross, Laurie Foley, Stephen March. Stephen March is new client of mine and we’re working on validating a business idea he has. Smart guy, and a cool idea. He’s currently looking for songwriters who need some back tracks. Let me know if this is you.


Goal Updates

  • 8/20 newsletter signups
  • $1598.00/$5000 (5k might be a high number to hit without raising prices)
  • 2 Trainers sold
  • 3 Build Me Ones sold
  • Business Cards ordered. They’ll look something like this… http://i.imgur.com/NCv8a.png m00.com $20 for 100 cards with 100 different backs
  • 7 books to read this year -> [ ] booked solid, [current ] 52 rules of thumb, [X] art of non conformity, [ ] running lean, [ ] the lean startup, [ ] start over finish rich, [ ] the netwriting masters course
  • Write backlog of posts for IT Arsenal. A few not great posts, but their coming along.
  • PARTIAL COMPLETE – Answer 100 tech questions for free. This is hard to track, so I created the RAQ, and I’m working on it.
  • NOT COMPLETE – Schedule a big convention to go to for 2011
  • NOT COMPLETE – Connect with 3 bloggers and provide tons of value to their audience
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  • http://twitter.com/BobbySoFamous BobbySoFamous

    My favorite business card back is the one with the icons on the back with thumbs up/checkmarks etc. Love it!

  • http://www.itarsenal.com/ Rob

    Thanks for stopping by Eric! Your reports encouraged me to do my own.

    I totally agree about moving the newsletter opt up, and because I’m really starting to focus (meaning actually produce) on providing exclusive help and tech tactics to the newsletter, I’m going to move it up.

    I’m of the mind not to use popup domination or push my e-mail sign up in people’s face just to gather addresses though, I want to make sure if I gather an address, it’s going to get only the best from me….and just as a preference I hate those pop-ups, it will be a tough day that I decide to use it. I would use this instead… http://dannyvankooten.com/wordpress-plugins/scroll-triggered-box/#moved

    ps. thanks for checking out IT Arsenal, just started using the snap engage, I like it.

  • http://www.my4hrworkweek.com Eric | My 4-Hour Workweek

    Hey Rob, this is probably something you’ve thought of already, but on IT Arsenal, why not consider getting your newsletter opt-in above the fold, or using something like Pop Up Domination to have the opt-in form pop-up when someone lands on the page?