Starting on internet these days can be tough. I mean, it was tough 15 years ago, but now, when everyone is online, it is even crazier for a humanoid to start online career.
Reading all the blogs and following influencers via social media you must be asking yourself- how can you become one of them (Not that you need this in your life).
One of my favorite ways is good old fake-it-till-you-make-it. Why? Lets just look at Reddit’s beginning. Did you know that, now one of the biggest sites in the world, Reddit started as a ghost town, so founders decided to spend days filling up the site with quality content, via fake profiles. Thousands and thousands of fake posts, from non-existing users.
This way they wanted to show that the site is legit and regular posts signaled activity. In the eyes of the visitors this meant that Reddit is worth visiting.
How they did this?
They created a profile generator in their back-end, so every time they are about to post a link or a comment, they also had an option to fill in a user name (feature that was not visible to other users). And they made sure that content posted was a quality content, something users wanna see. Simulating activity they gained traction and real people started posting content. Few months later they noticed that there is no need for their content anymore. They made it.
Anyways, lets start, shall we?
I will split this guide into 7 different stages/shortcuts/tool sets. These are the shortcuts to your online success. But never forget, you need to work hard if you want to make it. Procrastination wont take you far. Minimize distractions, maximize focus.
1. Forget about old life
In this stage you need to commit. I am not going to say that you need a clear strategy, but you need to make a choice.
And this means, do not take phone/tablet in your hands unless someone is calling, or unless you need to take some work online. Forget about Facebook, Instagram, Tinder and Badoo.
Now, you do not need any tools for this stage, you just need to gather enough inner strength. Do not be a pussy.
2. If your goal is to make a living earning online…find clients.
Buying a domain is a start. Prices start at around $10. If youdon’t have $10 you can always open up account on Upwork and start working without a domain. Working on Upwork beats creating “free” website on Weebly or similar platforms. No one will trust you if you come with a free website. Besides this there are thousands of clients on Upwork searching for a good freelancer, which means you already solved the problem of finding the clients.
You don’t have any knowledge? You think you don’t have anything to offer to clients on Upwork?
You are wrong.
If you are reading this, it means that you have access to internet and you know English language. Thats enough to become successful online. How I know? Well, thats all I knew when I started, and my English is still not perfect, 10 years later.
Half of the world’s population still does not have access to internet. And only 1.5 billion people speak English, out of the world’s approximately 7.5-8 billion inhabitants. This means that at least 6 billion people are behind you. Now that you left those 6 billion people behind you lets see how to gather clients on Upwork.
When I started on Upwork I was clueless (by the way, it was called Elance back then). I didn’t know what to do there. I had no skills. My English was not great and only thing I had to offer was ENG to FR translation, and that wasn’t done by me, my wife was doing it.
Oh, and I had the will to succeed.
I knew that I needed 5 star ratings and positive feedback. We did a couple of crappy jobs and earned first dollars and a first 5 star ratings. But in order to get some really good jobs that pay more than $0.00000007 per word I knew we needed to scale the process. So, here is what I did. I created another Upwork account, and posted a job searching for freelancers (in our niche, writing, at that time).
This is what I gained with this move:
– I got many proposals from top US freelancers, and mimicked their lines in our future proposals. This way US and UK clients started giving me some really good paying jobs. So, no more “Dear Sir, I will suck your d*** for $5” proposals, I moved to “Hi there, this sounds like a perfect fit for me”.
– The other thing I did with that 2nd account was to award me a job. Yes, I gave myself a job and of course a stellar feedback once the job was “finished”. Not just a 5 star rating, but a big block of accolades about my writing skills.
Oh boy, this helped a lot.
But how to continue from there? How to deliver the type of work your clients expect?
Easy, find someone who will do it for you. Where? On Upwork. My 4th job (first we had 2 small jobs, then 3rd was a fake job) was $1500 job, where I needed to write some 30-ish reports about classical music in a week. I posted the job on Upwork and hired 3-4 girls from USA to do this for me. They delivered great work, I spent around $700 and the rest was profit.
So, instead of having a set of skills, you only need one skill.
To find a job and delegate the work to good freelancers. Freelancers that are ready to work for less than you are paid for.
How to find great freelancers for pennies? Always say how this is a great opportunity for people that want to start on Upwork. You will get plenty of proposals from true professionals (and some shitty ones as well)that need their first good ratings.I hired some great writers, designers and coders this way. Yes, I had clients in different niches, even though I knew nothing about programming or essay writing.
Two years later I got the award from Elance (delivered to my doors) as one of the top freelancers in my country.
Before I continue I would like to share this thing I learned about structuring your fees as a freelancer, and Bob Bly explained it very well in several lines:
My feeling is that, whether you get a royalty or not, hourly is not really a good model for freelance copywriters for several reasons.
First of all, it indicates that clients are paying for labor like bricklaying rather than results.
Secondly, if you’re hourly rate is low to make you affordable, then the client says, “Hey, this guy isn’t making a lot of money, how good can he be?”
This means that your goal shouldn’t be to offer the cheapest service, but the best one.
Once you master Upwork or Guru you can move to some niche marketplaces, such as:
Toptal – Exclusive network of the top freelance
Creative Circle – Connecting the best advertising, marketing, creative, and digital professionals with companies seeking talent.
Krop – Creative industry job board and portfolio hosting website
Folyo – A Community for Remote Designers
Angel – Tech & Startup Jobs
Tweet Jobs – Search Engine on the top of twitter, find remote jobs.
We Work Remotely – Remote work community
But it is not an easy job being a freelancer, because after some time you will realize that you are underpaid and overwhelmed.
3. Get a domain and a hosting package (almost free of charge)
So, if you think Upwork and freelancing is not the thing for you, you should go for a website. You want to be your own boss, you need to create a name for yourself in the industry? OK, no problem. I guess you bought a domain already? No? Good. Here is how you can buy a domain for $0.99 (or 0.99 EUR if you are in Europe) from GoDaddy (if you never had account with them).
Type “godaddy domains” in Google search box. First results are Ads, you will see GoDaddy promo ad, so click on it.
Choose your name wisely.
It is not an easy job to find a free .COM domain that is both catchy and short. So, you might want to look at the aftermarket for these. Especially if you wanna have some sort of tech/startup/SEO kind of business. If you dont have the need for a short and catchy domain skip the next 3 paragraphs.
No, you dont need to spend a couple of thousands on a catchy name at Brandpa or Brandbucket . You can get these for under $10. This is what you will do. Go to ExpiredDomains.net and click on GD Closeouts. These are domains selling for $5-$50 (+ 1 year of registration). Sort the domains by the number of characters (from shortest to longest).
To prove my point, I bought ZEYMO for $5-ish and than submitted it to BrandPa and they approved the domain for sale at $2,695. So, what costs almost $3K at other marketplaces, at GoDaddy Closeouts you can get for $5. Oh yes, I sold ZEYMO later on for around $1,700-ish (after BrandPa fees).
Now that you have a domain, you will need a hosting. What is hosting ? I do not have the time to explain that, so go here if you need explanation.
The cheapest hosting I know of comes from a company called EAC Directory. Never heard of them? Well, that’s because you have been reading too many guru blogs that always promote the same companies.
They say how BlueHost is the best and how your site will rank higher if you use them?
I know, I know, dont trust these morons.(they are earning affiliate commission every time their lead converts into buyer)
So, EAC directory is a Kenyan company that have some really cheap packages (compared to GoDaddy). The prices are in Kenyan Shillings, but do not worry they will send you invoice in USD and you can pa via PayPal. If something is not clear you can always contact their support, they even answer mails during weekends.
They offer free hosting for a single site (50mb space) if you buy a domain with them. Yes, this really works, hosting is free of charge.
But their EAC Premium 1 hosting package is a perfect fit for people that are starting out. And guess what. It costs $6.74 for entire year (700 Kenyan shillings). Lets compare prices with competitors you probably heard about.
These are cheapest packages (also,have in mind that GoDaddy, BlueHost, Hostgator and other big companies renewal prices are much higher):
Bluehost: $35 for a first year
GoDaddy: $72 for a first year
Hostgator: $33 for a first year
EAC Directory: $6.74 each year, price will stay the same when you renew. And if you start getting more visitors you can always upgrade your package but that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Now that you know how to get cheap domains and cheap hosting package I am moving to our next step
4. Creating a stunning site for free. (bootstrapping)
For free because you are just starting, so why spend your miserable funds on something expensive when you can get the same for free.
In this part I will show you how to get:
Free team (kinda)
Free and modern graphics
Free premium templates for WordPress
This will all be legit, we wont use black-hat tactics.
Once you install WP (WordPress) on your hosting you can start working on your site. If you dont know how to install WordPress you can always find great resources at https://www.wpbeginner.com/ or just ask support at your registrar.
Once you decide what you want to do you can install a free theme. Now, in my opinion, the best free themes come from Anders Noren , but you can also get a premium theme for free. You would need account at Themeforest , one of the biggest markets for themes and templates. But how do you get that premium theme free of charge? Easy, every month they offer free products (themes, codes, images, plugins, audio files…).
Now that you got yourself good looking template you will need to fill in the missing images, graphics,team etc. And this needs to be premium as well.
Because you need to look professional. Potential clients need to feel like they are hiring experienced team.
And now you need to wow the visitors with the looks. This is usually the hardest part for many people . Visual hierarchy, the 80 / 20 Rule, The Rule of Thirds, Mental Model law, Hick’s Law and Fitts’ Law are all great design laws, but you dont have the time for that. So, lets just keep it simple.
When I create a site, I usually throw in some bold statements, use the right amount of white space and try to direct people to contact/order page.
Sorry, fancy images, you need those too.
To get some clean, good looking graphics (free of course) head over to Undraw. You basically have all the niches covered there, choose a couple and edit them according to your logo.
Oh yes, logos, you can get those free of charge clicking following URLs:
Hatchful: Simple logo maker
freelogodesign.org : Free logo design
Hipster logo generator : As the name say, this is a service that provides you with a free hipster looking logos.
Logaster: Free logos and branding
Namecheap: Free Logo maker by Namecheap
So far we got a theme, graphics, logo. What else do we need? We need to put this all together and optimize the page(s). That is called on-page SEO.
5. On-page SEO
There are many good explanations on what on-page SEO is and how to do it properly, but I am afraid to link you to those guides as it may look overwhelming to a beginner. I know it was all confusing to me when I started working online.
In one sentence:
On-page SEO is a process of optimizing both code and content of your web site in order to rank higher in search engine results. (read- Google).
How to do it?
Actually this is kinda easy. What I always wanna do is put the keyword I am trying to rank in the title and the description of the page.
From there I just try to write the best possible article on that topic, without optimizing it. In my eyes, Google loves an honest article. Also, try to cover as many points as possible surrounding the main topic.
So, if you are writing about on-page SEO and you are not sure how to expand the article, just type it in Google and they will let you know what related topics are of interest for other people.
On the other side, if you are not sure what you are doing you can always give your cash to SEO monkey and they will do this for you. But, please, try to do it yourself.
One thing though, on-page SEO is really important, no off-page SEO will help you if you didn’t do the basic on-page optimization properly.
6. Converting visitors into buyers
Once visitors hit your site they need to convert into buyers. This is the only goal you gotta have. You need to show them you are serious.
You need a great copy .
The most important thing for any site is content. If you know how to write About and Contact pages, and throw a couple of articles that is great.
You probably didnt know that Humans can be convinced by synthetic text.
That was for startups that need a free text and cannot afford any type of paid work.
If you have some dollars to spend you can get a great copy at Upwork. In my eyes, great copy needs to be straight to the point and it does not have to be long. Yes, sometimes long copy helps, but this is not always the case.
Here are two completely different samples, one long and one short homepage. Not the spammy ones you are used to, I am talking about the real companies. We are not selling Get Rich Quick Book (or are you?).
Why I like it?
Title (Digital Marketing That Drives Results) offers a solution that will make your business thrive.
Copy separated into chunks make for an easily digestible page.
Badges showcase awards and partnerships earned by the company.
Logos of big-name clients boost authority.
Bite-size sections of copy quickly describes why are they the best(91% client retention rate) and how they built websites across all niches.
The Video serves as a visual representation of the offer, showing visitors what they’ll get (organic traffic +270%).
The CTA “HEAR FROM AN EXPERT” is much better than “CONTACT US”.
Niche: Landing Page Builder
Site: Unicorn Platform
Why I like it?
The headline tells it all, the headline sells this product
No credit card required gives you opportunity to try the product free of hassle.
All our new users come from recommendations is here to convince prospects to convert.
Simple footer tells you one more time what is the product all about, how it is free and how simple it is to use.
So, as you can see, you can use both, long and short pages to convert your visitors into clients/buyers. It really depends on your niche and your imagination. Besides this I always try to use humor, because…why be boring?
7. The Devil is in the details.
Once you got your copy we will use AI again.
Chatbot artificial intelligence software is quite popular these days. Having one installed on your site will make you look professional. If you are faking it, fake it to the max. One that I found and personally like (and it is also free) is Artbot. They have many niches covered.
If you prefer real time chat, instead of AI they also offer that via their sister site at Pure Chat.
According to Forrester, sites without Chatbot are missing the opportunity.
If you are selling lower ticket items, either on Shopify or your own site, you might look into Live Sales Popups. This way you will reduce purchase anxiety with your visitors and they might convert faster then usual. You probably seen these around.
Another thing you have probably seen, and this one is really great feature that you can add to your site, is a PUSH notification campaign. Trying to get subscribers is kinda of a hard job, you really need to persuade people to submit their Email. PUSH is something else.
Your small popup asks a visitor if he/she wants to get the notifications from your site. They get these notifications via Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers, and they do not have to give their Email address. They just click Allow or Decline, and that’s all. I really like (and it is free) SendPulse. This is a great little tool if you run a blog or any other site where you often post new articles.
Besides this you will need a local number. You know how all those Asian SEO companies have “offices” in USA. Well, you can have that too,same way they do. Get yourself a US phone number for as little as $4.99/month. Once you download the app you can choose the phone number by state, so if you have your “office” in Florida, choose a number from one of the Florida cities.
If you want to look even more professional you can use 1800 number (biz phone number) instead. One of the best known services for this type of service is Grasshopper ($26/month).
Now that you are looking like a real company you may want to get yourself a mailing location, but not a P.O. box address, you need the real deal, and you can get that at VPN. If you never get the address out on your site, you need to talk as if you are working from office, even though you are sitting in pajamas behind the desk in your moms basement.
If you want to go for the real US company/startup you can get that for $500 at Stripe Atlas.
When I started doing SEO I realized I need a proper rate card. Besides this, depending on your niche, you may need to fake some Reports, Case Studies or send some really nice Invoices. I will show you where you can bring your brand to life and impress your clients . It is a little place called Qwilr. These proposals are so out of this world, that it would be a complete nonsense to spend your time or money to create something else. They really nailed it.
Another service I used when I started doing SEO was a customer service app (in my case Zendesk). This is so cheap and it makes you look so professional that it would be stupid not to use the app. Besides this, it is really worth every penny.
When you write your About page or if you post something online about your company, always use “WE” instead of “I”, no matter if you run the company by yourself or with a huge team.
-We are working on your report.
-We pay postage and Handling!
-Stand out from the crowd with our hospitality software
– We offer free consultation.
Early access, alpha access, limited beta access are the words you need to use when you decide to unleash your next out-of-the-box, never-seen-before and exclusive product. And to create a demand, or a notion that a user is missing out if they dont sign-up for an early access, you need to limit the users or invites. LIMITED is the word of the day. Because only the cream of the crop can see your cloud-based software before it is released into the wild.
Here is an example.
I got an “exclusive” invitation to join exclusive pre-mining app for PI coin. PI network was created by 3 Stanford University graduates but from the get go everyone was talking how this project was backed by Stanford University (instant credibility) which is not exactly the truth.
To join the app you needed to use US phone number and since I have one I was able to join. I was reading the app reviews on Google Play store where people moaned how they got the (exclusive) invitation but they cannot join since they do not have US phone number. Those poor souls are missing out on this groundbreaking opportunity….or are they?
People behind PI coin are smart. They know how to fake it. It is hard to be different in the world of crypto since there are 1000s of coins in the market. So, they decide to give the opportunity to selected few to “mine” PI coin using nothing but application.
You are actually not mining the coin, you are getting a share of pre-mined coins(“The Pi server is operating as a faucet emulating the behavior of the decentralized system as it will function once its live”). This share depends on how many users you invited to this “exclusive” app. The more people you invite the more you earn. (yes, I know, it does sounds like a pyramid scheme)
So, they basically created something out of nothing. You get nothing (PI coins value is $0 at the moment of writing this article) and creators got your US phone number and other data about you.
The community is growing rapidly and now it is close to 26 million active users. Active user is a person that refresh the app, at least one time per day. If you dont refresh the app once a day, you are not earning the (non-existing) coin.
And all this started as a semi-secret project gaining 1,000,000 registered users 6 months later. Sweet.