Striving for online success is like striving for fitness – you won’t get fit without training regularly, and you won’t succeed if you don’t develop habits. Here is what you really need.
Many “marketing influencers” will tell you what you need for online success: Books that will teach you how to market anything online (ranging from as low as $5 to as high as $99 and more), online courses teaching anything from creating your products to setting up sales funnels and following certain launch formulas that promise to give you instant success (courses often sell for $1000 and more), tools that will allow you to do anything from creating better signup forms to full-blown marketing automation setups (you can easily spend 100s and more per month just on tools).
Here is the truth: This is not what you need to be successful.
Don’t get me wrong: A lot of these products hold tremendous value. But they are not what you “need to be successful.”
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To be able to sell something online (whatever that may be), there is only a basic setup needed. All the rest comes down to information (which you can often acquire in other ways), easing processes (which you can often perform the hard way even though it might save you time to use tools), and sometimes scaling your business upwards (which also means that you need to have a business before you can do that).
This article is about what you really need. And you will be surprised on how cheap you can set up and run an online business.
Why will you not find this advice in any other blog article about online marketing that is floating around on the web? Easy: Nobody would pay for this – not because it isn’t good advice, but because it doesn’t provide enough content. That is why online marketers like me offer bigger products all the time: To have something that you are willing to shell out money for.
These are often products that provide good value – but it is also important to understand that these are not a requirement for success.
So, let’s get started:
Things you really Need for Online Success: A Strong Mindset
To really succeed online, you need a healthy mindset that lets you focus on your ultimate goal while being able to segment the road to your final goal into small steps. This is the singular most important part of any online entrepreneurial success story.
I recently watched a presentation by Tim Ferris – the author of The 4 Hour Workweek, and he put that into perfect words:
If you are able to focus and single-task in a multi-tasking oriented world, segment your road to success into little steps and take each of these steps at a time, then you hav a super-power.
Tim Ferris – Author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Before you try anything online, you should examine and work on your current mindset by asking the following questions:
- What’s your goal?
- What are good milestones to measure your success striving for this ultimate goal?
- What are the steps to your first milestone?
- What is the next step you can do?
- What is the step you are going to do after that first step?
These are the questions you need to ask yourself over and over again.
When you’ve done that, it’s time to develop habits.
Things you really Need for Online Success: Habits to Improve Your Life
Almost everyone who ever reached online success did so by developing habits. Why? Because habits are what allow us to work on things in sequential order without getting overworked and burned out.
Here is an example: Let’s say you are still working a shitty job for 8 hours and you want to improve your life. The way to do that is probably not to just quit your job and start working on your life for 8 hours a day – that would be dangerous because you might actually go bankrupt. A better approach would be to keep your job for the time being and developing the habit to put in another 9th hour of work every day for the improvement of your life.
During this 9th hour of your life, you can start working on other things you need to set up your business. But the important thing is that it needs to be a habit: You can’t just do it once a week and then procrastinate. You need to do it.
During this hour you can do the things you need to set up your business – like setting up a website (see below), writing blog posts, creating your products, …
This is just an example. There are many ways you can develop good habits that will improve your life. But for the sake of the argument, I will assume that this 9th hour a day is what you chose to develop for the rest of this article. But the point is that these need to be habits, not singular events. One key to online success is persistence, and habits allow you to be persistent.
Things you really Need for Online Success: A Website and a Blog
Yeah, well – this is kind of basic, right? You are striving for online success (lasting online success…), so you will probably need a website and a blog.
This is where demotivation starts for a lot of people, as many people just find the task of setting up a website and a blog confusing and hard.
Well, this is where your habits are important: I promise you, you can easily set up a website yourself within less than a week, even if you are a total newbie, if you put in 1 hour per day.
1 hour per day will allow you to get the information you need (read it and save it somewhere for later). Once you have the information you need, you will need to execute on that information.
Things you don’t need at this stage: A designer or a programmer (they cost a lot of money, and premade designs are available plenty, and real programming isn’t even involved in setting up a simple page and blog).
Instead, you will have to do it yourself:
- Buy hosting and a domain.
- Install WordPress and set it up.
- Select a (free) theme.
- Start filling your site with content.
- Start blogging regularly.
There are many web hosts out there that allow you to set up your website within less than an hour. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to do it with our preferred and recommended host Cloudways here.
Things you really Need for Online Success: Content Creation Processes
This is where you will need to develop another habit: Create content.
Write blog posts. Write blog posts. Create Youtube videos. Create Instagram or Snapchat stories. And so on. (If you have no idea how to do this – get on Google and search for the information you need, do that in your 1 hour per day habit until you know what to do. Don’t buy 1000s of dollars worth of products, the information is out there for free.)
Because what you want to do with your blog and website is to attract an audience, and the way to do that is to do that is providing a constant stream of content for SEO and Social Media. A good introduction to why this is important is this article: The Difference Between Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and SEO.
Forget landing pages, advertising, sales funnels, and all the other fancy stuff for now and just start your own content creation habits. Long before all this becomes important, you need to develop content creation habits.
It is important that this is a habit and not just something you do when “you are in the mood” for 2 reasons:
- This needs to be done regularly.
- You need to practice to become good at it and (more importantly) comfortable with it.
A habit will allow you to constantly improve what you are doing – and finally reach the point where you will reach the online success you are striving for.
Things you really Need for Online Success: A Constant Research Habit
Yes, another habit.
This one should probably be done in addition to the 1 hour per day. Because many people can put it into their daily lives without even noticing, they are doing actual work. Are you reading a book on your way to work? Read a book about online marketing instead of Stephen King’s latest novel. Get your smartphone out on the Bus and read this blog, or Neil Patel’s blog, or Jeff Bullas’ blog, …
This will allow you to continually improve your expertise on online marketing success. And with that knowledge, you will consistently develop new habits that will enhance your online success over time.
Things you really Need for Online Success: Social Media Marketing and SEO Habits
From all that research you do, you will mainly learn about 2 critical factors in online marketing: Social Media Marketing and SEO.
This knowledge will transform into steps on your journey – you will try out some things in online marketing that will work and some that don’t. You will turn the ones that do work into new habits.
This is a 3-step process:
- Try something out. If it doesn’t work stop doing it, if it does, continue to step 2.
- Try to develop a time-saving process for the activity and optimize it until it can be done in little time. Automate what you can, simplify what you can.
- Develop a habit of repetition for the remaining process.
Things you really Need for Online Success: Something to Sell (Products, Services, Affiliate, Advertising)
(Even advertising is something you sell – although, in today’s world, this aspect is often masked because you give away your advertising space to Google Adsense and they sell it for you.)
I do believe that you should start thinking about making money from the outset – but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily will make a lot of money right from the start. In fact, you probably won’t make any money for at least 2 to 3 month when starting out fresh. The first 10 bucks, 15 bucks or even 100 bucks you make as a blogger or online marketers will feel very special.
But if you start thinking about monetizing right from the start, you will begin to make another habit out of scouting opportunities (“maybe I could place affiliate links in this article”), developing product ideas (“I could write a How-to guide on this topic and sell it”), and researching services you could sell (“this article did get a lot of traction, I could offer consulting on the topic”).
This is what will then allow you to transform your project into a moneymaking machine on the fly once you are ready.
Things you really Need for Online Success: Start Growing your Email List
If there is anything that I regret, then it is learning about email marketing too late in my life. For anyone trying to make money online, email is the most important topic of all.
That is why email marketing should be part of your activities right from the start.
Right after setting up your website and blog, just after publishing your first article on your blog, you should set up your email marketing service provider. There really is no excuse not to collect email addresses, as several email providers allow you to set this up for free.
- The popular service MailChimp allows you to set up an account for free with up to 2000 subscribers.
- Our recommended email service Drip allows you to have 100 subscribers for free.
These services can be integrated into your WordPress site easily – read this article to learn more about how to grow your email list by generating subscribers.
Once you’ve set this up you need to develop one final habit: Send regular emails.
My recommendation for this is to do it at least once a week! If you write fewer newsletters to your audience, then they will begin to forget about you – and unsubscribe when they get your first newsletter.
It is important to remember that you need to provide value to your audience with every newsletter you send out. Simple promotional emails that only try to sell won’t lead to the online success you want – but if you do it right, you will turn email into your highest converting traffic source.
Here are a few ideas for your newsletters:
- Send out an email broadcast every time you publish a new blog post.
- Send newsletters with short tips regarding your audiences interest.
- Curate the best posts from your niche that others have published and send it to your audience.
Over time, you will want to start automating certain aspects of your email marketing. That is when you will slowly start to develop your own sales funnels. The point is that you want to develop a repeatable process that will slowly drive your audience towards a particular action – like buying one of your products.
But like anything else in this post – this will be a step-by-step process towards reaching your next milestone.
I know, I started by saying that you shouldn’t shell out money here and there on your journey to online success. But that doesn’t mean all the products out there aren’t worth their price. Just be very careful what you pay money for – and evaluate whether the money you shell out is worth the price you pay for it.
For some steps of the journey, spending some money can save you a lot of time and keep you from making mistakes. For instance – if you are trying to develop a successful social media marketing routine, have a close look at our book The Social Traffic Code – which is a bargain considering its current price.