Online Success Story:
Copy Writing Course sells a self-paced SEO and website copywriting course I developed (and have updated several times). It is targeted to website owners, marketing managers and freelance copywriters.
1. When did you set up your website?
The first site went up in 2002 when the original Course was published.
2. What gave you the idea for this particular niche & website?
At the time, everybody had copywriting books. Nobody had a full-fledged copywriting course. This was the first. (Almost called it the Step-by-Step Copywriting Workshop <bg>.) The problem with books and ebooks was that they didn't offer the kind of direction copywriters needed...
Were you doing it right? Was this what the author of the book meant when s/he explained whatever? I wanted to deliver a self-paced actual course that people could take on their own AND get feedback. So I created lessons, practice assignments and an answers section to show them how I completed the work.
3. Did you have any experience with online business prior to creating this website?
I had about 20 years of copywriting experience, but ZERO experience with product creation and online sales of this type. And, at that point, nobody that I knew of to show me how.
4. What did you do for work prior to setting up an online business?
I previously worked at various full-service and in-house advertising agencies.
5. How did you initially promote your website, and if different - how do you promote it now?
LOL... initially all I was concerned about was search engine rankings. I used to hang with a heavy-hitting SEO crowd so that's where my head was at the time. I had tunnel vision. But I quickly learned that even #1 Google rankings aren't everything. Yes, I quickly got to #1 for several important keyphrases, but sales were slow. And since that was all I did, they stayed slow for a while.
Gradually, I began to actually market the Course and some other books I'd written. I'd send out review copies, I tried some PPC ads, etc. Nothing made that big of a difference. Don't get me wrong, books were selling, just not as much as I wanted.
I knew I wasn't doing a good job of getting the word out, but I was clueless about what to do next.
Then, about 2 years ago (maybe 3), I came across Lynn Terry :) Turns out, she'd come across me, too. To be honest, I really had little desire to get into "affiliate marketing" because I thought it was all about strongarm sales tactics and loudmouth, over-hyped, old-school sales letters with giant red headlines and ridiculously overblown promises. <gag> You introduced me to real affiliate marketing techniques and invited me to NAMS. Light bulbs went off immediately as I sat in on various sessions.
Thanks to the instruction of you, your forum and the other NAMS conferences I've attended and spoken at, I have redesigned my website, set up a more proactive affiliate program using autoresponders to guide new affiliates to what they need to do and how they need to do it, uploaded a 7-part copywriting tutorial so I can capture names of site visitors and stay in touch (and help them grow more comfortable with me) and a bunch of other stuff.
6. Is your website profitable? Can you share some basic traffic & profit stats with us?
Yes ma'am! Within 6-8 months of implementing the changes above, I increased sales of the Course by 35%. The tutorial autoresponder is new so I can't report on it specifically. I've also started doing webinars (did 2 with you!) with experts in other fields (to widen my reach) and doing webinars on my own. Those have played a big role in increasing sales as well.
7. What are your plans for the site going forward?
Keep up the good work and keep adding touch points to the process. I want to create more of a funnel between products that can prove the quality I offer and then walk people through the steps of knowing me, trusting me and buying from me.
8. What ONE piece of advice would you give someone interested in starting their own niche site or blog?
Never stop learning. If I would have stopped and given up a few years ago, I'd still have so-so sales figures. If I would not have implemented what I learned from Lynn and the NAMS folks, I would still have so-so sales. Now, the book portion of my income is regularly in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Keep learning and IMPLEMENT what you learn.
Read every article on Lynn Terry's website before you start.
(No, not sucking up... 100% true!)
-Thank you Karon, and congratulations on your success!!