If you are serious about building a business and intent to use the internet to market (Highly suggested; more on that in a moment), you must develop a group of skills. I failed countless times and anybody that has known me from the start can attest to this. I put in thousands of hours to figure this stuff out.
What about the projects I started that didn’t end up going anywhere? What about all of that time spent? The average person sees this as a complete loss. They just think of all the time they could have spent watching Netflix or drinking beers with their buddies.
Negative. That’s not how an entrepreneur and business-minded individual thinks. I developed countless skills that I now rely on every single day. I can get things done 10 times faster than you. Why? I put in the work. I earned this.
You can do it to. That’s the entire point of this post. I am writing this to completely de-mystify the process. Building an online business is possible. I have done it. You will do it if you follow this guide along with all of the other resources throughout this site.
Success is eminent if you are willing to brave the “dark days.” The good side? I did it before you. I figured it out in the trenches so you don’t have to. That’s a huge competitive advantage. 99% of people will read this and do nothing. To the 1% that takes action (Notice a trend here? There’s a reason 1% of the world population owns everything), welcome to the winner’s circle.
This list was developed based on what I personally use on a daily basis. Will this be the same for you? If you’re just starting out, yes. In fact, if you are fresh on the scene, some of these will be unnecessary. However, as you grow and continue to work on yourself and your skill set, you will almost undoubtedly use these often.
Internet Marketing Course: Skills You NEED To Know
- Pick an original photo
- Add layers of additional photos, text, and filters
- Compress and save for better web utilization
While this isn’t complicated, as you can see, it does take a lot of practice. Like anything, you’re going to be terrible at first. This is the initial period that kills most people. Push through it and cry about it later.
As you spend more and more time in the editor, you will be able to apply changes faster and faster. On-site optimization will play a huge role here. If you are constantly doing split tests (I’ll talk about this in a bit), you need to be able to deal with photos quickly and effectively.
You should be able to find a free version of Photoshop online (no, it’s not a torrent; you can find CS2 for free). Additionally, I use Pixlr.com’s web editor for quick and easy adjustments or edits.
Video and Film Editing
The content you develop will make or break your project or business idea. If you give your audience worthless fluff, they aren’t going to engage with it and you are essentially wasting your time. Part of handling this is making sure to keep the content types varied.
People love videos. Once you get the baseline content necessary to fill out your site (20 or so articles), you need to start adding in new stuff. Keep your readership interested.
Editing videos obviously has an additional layer of complexity when compared to dealing with photos. It’s really no different though. You have your raw footage (ex: original pic) that needs to be cut up (cropped). You also need to apply text overlays and filters just like you would for any photo.
Video and photo editing is intuitive. If you can grasp one of them, you will easily be able transfer those skills to the other. It’s worth repeating because of how much it would have helped me when I first jumped in to learn editing: all you’re doing is adding layers on top of an original source. Got it? Awesome, let’s move on.
If you can’t write, you’re screwed. Okay, not really (but yeah, really). Words will always form the basis of any good content strategy. People love to browse videos and pictures, but a page with no words isn’t going to gain any traction either (for what we’re doing)
How do you write better? Practice. On top of that, make sure you are reading every day. I will caution you, however. There is a certain camp of people that like to preach “knowledge” and reading as the crux of success. If you’ve been around the “self-help” space, you know who I am talking about.
Don’t fall into this. Read for 30 minutes at night to expand possible neural connections. Beyond that, taking action will be much more rewarding.
Another thing: absorb the mindset of your audience and consumer. Know what’s going on inside their brain. While humans are all extremely alike with the same primal drives, different audiences will engage with different pieces of content. Until you see this first hand you won’t full understand what I mean.
To build up this “industry knowledge” I suggest you hang around the places that your audience goes. Don’t spam them with garbage though. Watch them silently for weeks. See what they like. See what they dislike. Get involved with the discussions. Only then should you attempt to promote your own content to them. Trust me, if you do it this way, you will avoid getting blocked, spammed, and hated on. People don’t want to be taken advantage of, so don’t do it. Be a part of their group, and they will love you for it.
Online Employee Management
At some point, if you’re serious you are going to need to start thinking about building up a team of employees. This sounds pretty straight forward. While I wish it was, it just isn’t. I plan on doing an entirely separate article on how to hire better virtual employees and build your empire, but these are the “bottom line” things you need to be aware of:
- Screen hard. Don’t take anyone that applies for your position. You don’t want them. Most people suck. It’s just the reality. While you don’t want to scare away good candidates, don’t give your job openings away either. Personally, I tell my employees to get back to me with something (it depends on what their role will be—writer, editor, virtual assistant, customer support, etc.) as fast as they can, along with some other directions to get me their contact info for online messaging.
- Set strong standards. The military is big on this. While such bureaucracies may have issues of their own, they are good at this one. Make sure your employees know what’s up from day one. Don’t take their nonsense either. Give them one warning; after that, any mistake and they’re gone (see the correlation between Trump and business success? “You’re Fired.”). As time goes on, your good employees will stand out. Reward them by loosening up when you can.
- Maintain responsiveness. We hear it all the time, “Communication is the key to success.” It’s cliché, but it’s true. One of the main things I look for in my workers is timely responsiveness. If it takes them all day to email me back during the interview process, chances are they aren’t getting the job (they don’t deserve it). There’s no such thing as an employment issue. If you can’t get a job, look at your approach; something is off and you need to fix it as soon as possible.
Building and Designing Work Flow Systems
This goes along strongly with managing employees. You’re in luck because there’s a huge insight I want to share with you (I’m going to do an entire article on this in the future; it’s so, so, so important).
When you are just starting out with managing your first employees and virtual assistants, you will be absolutely clueless. How will they submit their work? How will they update you on their work? How will they get and maintain access to the correct accounts so that they can meet content deadlines?
It’s not easy. However, you learn as you go. I can’t stress this enough. If you take just one thing away from this, dive in today. Your initial work flow systems will suck. They will be complete garbage. Your employees will be lost and it will be clear that you’ve never done it before.
That’s okay though. As time goes on you will learn what is needed and what’s not. You will make adjustments. Maybe you want your writers to submit their work over Google Drive. Maybe you want them posting to Word Press. Maybe you don’t want them to have social media access. It’s ultimately your call, but just know that this will change over time.
This one concept is powerful enough to bleed into every area of your life and completely revolutionize your human experience. However, I will leave it at this for now and hope the smart readers understand how important this is.
Become Your Own Front-End Web Development Agency
We are dealing with websites here. You need to know the fundamentals. If you can’t go into your front end and change your header or add an analytics tracking code, you’re limited with what you can build as far as your site is concerned.
Learning code is daunting. I get it. But, just like with every other skill in this guide, it’s tough at first but gets easier as you spend more time. At first you won’t even know what Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is. This is the foundation for your website. Think of it as the framing of a house (your website).
Next you will get a handle on how to edit the cascading style sheet (CSS) for your site. You will be able to jump in at any time and adjust colors, fonts, placements, sizes, alignments, and more. This is the level you want to get to as fast as possible. It really doesn’t take long to get here. Be glad we have Stack Exchange and other code repositories. Looking up your exact issue on Google will probably show you what you need to do to implement something.
Learning code is a long-term thing. Just know that any time spent here is well worth it. The internet isn’t going anywhere and it looks like computers are here to stay.
Server and Database Administration: Monitoring Your Website
This ties in heavily with front-end web development like I described above. If you aren’t able to go into your website back-end and change dns settings or file permissions, you will be limited in what you can do.
I recommend you grab FileZilla (free download) and learn how to use it. In layman’s terms here’s what’s happening with:
- FileZilla grabs the files for your website from your server/database
- You make adjustments to the code on your computer with a text editor
- You upload the changes and make them permanent
Before doing any of this, you would deploy a “test” site on a sub-domain. If this stuff sounds scary, I get it. I was there with you and I’m even a “computer guy.” Again, start today and a few months from now you will be proficient enough to do anything you need.
Online Advertising Platforms and Building Solid Campaigns
This is the good stuff. The beaty of why the internet is such a great place to build a business deals with scalability. If you open up a shop on a corner somewhere, you are instantly capped by your local market. It doesn’t matter if you spend millions on marketing outreach; you’re just not going to reach a larger audience than you already have (unless you build other stores obviously).
The internet isn’t like that though. Like any advertisement platform, you pay for people’s time. Think about that and really let it set in. If you “get it” your wheels should be spinning like crazy now.
Let’s take a look at a great example: the Super Bowl. It’s a huge event that commands millions of television watchers. Why do advertisements during this event cost more than another time? More people! If you buy ad space during the Super Bowl you know that you are doing to reach an insane amount of people.
With ad networks on the internet, the more you spend, the more people you reach. Now, obviously you can’t just spend money and drive traffic without optimizing (more on that in a second). However, if you find an angle and ad campaign that works for you, you can “blow it up” and pump lots of cash into it. If the return on investment (ROI; ex: If you spend $1 on ads and make $2 then you have 100% ROI) is positive, burn that sucker to the ground.
At first you won’t be doing too much with this. First, you need to create your content and get your site looking decent. However, after that you will build campaigns with as many ad platforms as you can to build followings. As you continue to grow you will leverage these followings to market to your audience and cure their pain points.
Familiarity with Common Applications: Web Development Tools
If you are “lost in the sauce” when it comes to general web applications, you aren’t going to be able to do jack squat. A lot of people don’t realize how truly massive the internet is and how many businesses opportunities have been created for those that make entrepreneurs’ lives easier. Here’s what I use daily and recommend you get a strong grasp on:
- Google Documents (Google Drive). Even if you’ve never used them, you have probably heard the term “Google docs.” Basically, Google provides spreadsheets and “word” documents that can be accessed and edited by multiple people.
- Dropbox. This is similar to Google docs, but I typically use Dropbox for things that won’t be constantly edited, such as a writing log. Photos and documents have a good home here. If you plan on using this for developing work flow systems, you’ll have to upgrade to a premium account. I haven’t found the need yet, but maybe you will.
- Aweber. This is probably the most well-known email product there is. Basically, this tool will allow you to send email campaigns to your subscribers. They have a nice graphic user interface (GUI) that makes it easy at the start. However, as your list grows I suggest you move your email operations to a private server. It will save you on costs as you scale.
- Push Notifications. This is such a powerful tool that I’m surprised not every site is taking advantage of. Push notifications allow you to reach your audience with the push of a button, literally. Check out Push Crew for more info; the setup is quick and easy. All that’s needed is a quick addition to your header.php file.
- Mail Chimp. This is another email option, but without the same rigorous GUI built. I tend to use Mail Chimp for longer email campaigns and Aweber for general broadcasts. Think of it like this: email marking course versus singular event such as an awesome tool or opportunity.
- Slack. You gotta communicate. Slack will help you do this. Setting up your company slack takes literally 60 seconds. I use it for managing different teams.
- Skype. Sometimes you just need to hop on a web call. If you plan on doing any interviews, you are going to need it. Additionally, for whatever reason in this industry (online marketing and entrepreneurship) people like to congregate on Skype. There’s not much to learn for this one. Just be familiar with it.
Content Management Systems
This is where the magic happens. If you spend the time to write up an awesome article that’s going to help your audience out, you need to post it somewhere. Well, your content management system (CMS) is where you do that.
For most people (including me for the time being) that means Word Press. It’s super intuitive and easy to learn. By the time you need another CMS solution, this guide will no longer be relevant because you will be making millions in revenue a year. So yeah, Word Press is that good.
The other awesome thing about it? It’s open source. If you run into an issue on Word Press, it’s likely that 20 other people had the same issue. A simple Google search is often enough to find what you need. That’s a win in my book. Time saved is money made (I should coin this).
Lastly, if you hire people you can almost bet they’ve at least heard of Word Press. It just makes the entire process move smoother.
Note: make sure you download and install Word Press on your server. Don’t use their website builder or whatever garbage they have. You need to make it happen from your cPanel. Don’t worry, just Google this and you will be on your way.
Conversion Rate Optimization and Split Testing Landing Pages
This is probably the bread and butter of any marketing approach. It’s one of the reasons why I may never do business in the “real world.” It’s impossible to split test, or at the very difficult and unfeasible.
What is split testing? Good question! Split testing is when you want to compare two or more versions of the same site “element” to see which performs better. This goes for literally every single thing on your website.
Eventually you’ll split test too many things to count, but here’s a good starter list:
- Picture Styles
- Page Layouts
- Ad Placements
Simply put, you make a change and collect data. Then, once your test has run its course (you need to make sure your data is sufficient; more on this in a minute) you compare the results. It may be shocking to you, but changing something as small as the font color or text can dramatically increase conversion and click-through rates.
From Junior Copywriter To Beast
Always be closing. Sales is supreme. You thought you were going to dodge sales just because this is the internet? Yeah, nice try. An entire series of books could be written on sales, but the quick and dirty of the matter is this: the words you choose matter.
You probably are thinking, “Yeah, duh…” No, you don’t understand. A single word could mean the difference between an ad being profitable and you hemoraging money.
Copywriting is definitely one of the things on this list that will take a good amount of time and energy to get good at. That’s just how it goes. If everyone was good at writing sales copy and product descriptions, we’d all be rich.
The only thing I can tell you for developing your copywriting skills is situational awareness. I could say it 1,000 times without burning it out, but knowing your audience matters. Look around at what is working and try to think of why. At the base of any sales copy is the notion of primal emotion. If you can trigger someone’s deep-set, long-held beliefs and get them to engage in some way, you can command their attention. And, if you can command their attention, they view you as an authority and will take stock in your content. This is what you want. Make it happen.
This is last on the list because it is probably the most difficult thing to teach. Statistics are taught rigorously at the college level for a reason. They matter in day-to-day business dealings. They matter a lot.
Most people don’t know what a confidence interval is. Furthermore, they don’t know how that plays into gathering data. If you have no clue what your data says, or if it’s even valid and accurate, you won’t be able to optimize. And if you can’t optimize your content and site for your visitors, you won’t be able to make it happen.
Start out with confidence intervals. Once you understand orders of magnitude and standard deviations, you will be better equipped to make a judgment call on whether or not something is working or not.
For example, what if you run an ad, but only for a couple of days because it isn’t doing well. If you have zero knowledge of statistics and how large amounts of iterations are needed to develop a solid regression model, you will just think your ad sucks.
However, if you’re smart and put in your hours to learn, you will immediately realize that you need to run the campaign a bit longer to see which demographics are engaging and which aren’t. From there, if you are an internet boss you optimize and re-attack the hottest demographics. Your statistical knowledge just made you money.
There’s no tricks in this game. The beautiful thing about internet businesses and developing online revenue models is that all of the information you need is free. Yup, it’s totally free. Look around though. How many people do you see living an incredible lifestyle built on the freedom only the internet can provide? Exactly.
You have to go at it with the right mindset: “If someone else is doing it, that means it’s possible. On top of that, they aren’t as smart as me. Furthermore, they don’t work as hard as me. Therefore, I will reach their level and go on to surpass their successes.”
It’s ruthless out there right now. That’s great for men looking to take charge though. If you are a dude in his twenties or thirties, and you live in America, you have literally the best platform that has ever existed. No joke. Never before in history have people had such an easy outlet for building a small business and reaching millions of people with effectively infinite scalability (for the most part).
But, just like the Wild West and the gold rush, it can’t last forever. Only those who were brave enough to go for it will be rewarded. The rest will be left to work for those of us who have chosen more for our lives. Is this life difficult? Definitely. But what’s more difficult would be waking up every day and knowing you weren’t doing everything you could to make it to the top.
If you want more ideas for increasing your income and adding on streams of revenue, take a look at these residual income ideas.