Q. Stone, to start with would you mind giving our readers some background on what your sites are all about (i.e. What kind of value, opportunities, etc… do you offer your visitors)?
A. I have 2 main websites that fuel my online living:
1) The Plug-In Profit Site at: https://www.PlugInProfitSite.biz The purpose of this website is to help people who would like to start making money online with affiliate programs. I provide a turn-key solution that gives someone their own website setup on their own domain that promotes products from 5 of the Internet’s top affiliate programs. As part of my service, I also setup a complete 400 day email marketing campaign for everyone who signs up for the Plug-In Profit Site. As you know, there is big money in having an email list and following up with that list of opt-in subscribers. This is why the Plug-In Profit Site service also includes a pre-written autoresponder campaign as one of the primary tools that are setup for our members. Of course, it doesn’t stop there… Once someone is a member of the Plug-In Profit Site, they receive my 30 Days to Success step-by-step marketing guide that walks them through the process of promoting their website to achieve maximum profits. This is accomplished through co-registration list building, forum signature file promotion, ezine solo ads, offline advertising, article distribution, publishing a blog, viral ebook branding and much more…
2) Dotcomology – The Science of Making Money Online at: https://www.Dotcomology.com This is the massive 325 page ebook I wrote and give away free to everyone who wants to learn how to make money online. Inside the book, I also provide access to over 30 tools and software programs that automate a lot of the difficult tasks involved with building an Internet business. In addition to the Dotcomology ebook, I also provide ongoing insight into the world of making money online via my Dotcomology Blog at: https://www.dotcomology.com/blog
Q. Can you tell us about how you first got started on the Internet? What was your first web site, and how did you grow/expand from there?
I got started in much the same way that I help other people get started with today. I signed up for a “Plug-In Profit Site” type service and paid someone $75 to build my first template website that sold ClickBank affiliate products. I bought an autoresponder, ordered leads, sent offers to those leads and eventually started making some sales. I learned how to make changes to my website and started experimenting with different affiliate programs and business opportunities until I found out which ones worked best for me. After a while, I was able to cut my losers and keep my winners and eventually develop a full-time income working from home on the Internet. Over the years, I’ve been able to refine my marketing strategies and teach others how to duplicate my success through my own Plug-In Profit Site service and 30 Days to Success marketing guide.
Q. Do you own any other web sites? (Richard, if you own others sites, please feel free to list them here with a brief description of each – more publicity for you!)
I do own other websites. This is primarily directory website that points to my favorite home business opportunities.
Q. Can you give us some background on yourself? Where did you come from? What was your experience before you first got started online?
I’ve mowed lawns, washed dogs, delivered pizza and a whole bunch of other stuff that pays very little and isn’t much fun… When I left college, I went to a work for a company called “The Mental Fitness Company”. It was a resource center for human potential. I loved it. I learned from people like Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, John Gray and so many other incredible teachers. I also learned NLP, handwriting analysis and a lot of other really cool stuff that has helped me better understand myself and the world around me.
The Mental Fitness Company was run by some really passionate entrepreneurs. Their zest for business rubbed off on me and shortly thereafter I found myself as the owner of a thriving health and vegetarian food restaurant in my home town of Dallas, Texas. During my time as owner of the restaurant, I was always trying different methods of growing my business. I would send out press releases and get local newspapers and television stations to do stories about me. That was a lot of fun. I also got the idea to start my own magazine so I created a full-glossy magazine called Veggie World and distributed it for free in grocery stores and other retail establishments around the city. At it’s peak, I was printing about 20,000 magazines per issue. The magazine was great because I earned some extra revenue from selling advertising and it brought more customers into my restaurant. Again, it was a lot of fun but it was burning me out.
Restaurant life is pretty rough: long hours, hard work and modest pay… But I wasn’t getting anywhere… Year after year I maintained the same mediocre financial status. Then one day I picked up a book called “Multiple Streams of Income” by Robert Allen and that book really turned some lights on in my brain. Robert talked about the necessity to create multiple streams of income with an emphasis on creating residual income. He outlined ways to do this including the stock market, real estate and marketing on the Internet.
Marketing on the Internet is what really resonated with me so I got to work on it right away. I would still work long hours in the restaurant… But then I’d come home and brew myself a big pot of coffee and often work until 3:00-4:00 am every night for months until I started figuring things out and making any real money. But the truth is, it wasn’t until I was put in a “sink or swim” situation that my Internet business really took off.
After the 8th year of doing business in the space my restaurant occupied, the landlord of the building decided not to give me an option to renew my lease. Their goal was to give my space to a nationally branded franchise because having big name corporations in their building was apparently much better for them than a small “Mom & Pop” shop…
So I had to make a decision… Move my restaurant or jump into this Internet thing full time. Well, I jumped in full force and haven’t looked back since. It’s funny… In that first month of being home full-time my Internet income exploded 1000% and it’s been growing steadily ever since. That just illustrates the power of what happens when you fully commit yourself to success.
Q. What compelled you to take the plunge and start your own Internet business?
It was a combination of inspiration and desperation. See my response to the question above for more details.
Q. Can you give us a feel for the size of your site – in terms of the number of employees, the number of offices, the annual revenues, and profits?
I do outsource a lot of work. Considering the fact that my main website is always within the top 5000 most visited website online, there is a lot that needs to be handled these days. See my traffic stats provided by Alexa, an independent traffic ranking service.
But outsourcing is different than hiring employees. I pay people for their performance, not on the amount of hours they work for me. I like it that way and so do the people who work for me.
My site is also driven almost entirely by affiliates. Because my service is valuable and provides a great compensation structure for our affiliates, people really go all out to refer business back to my Plug-In Profit Site.
Q. How long did it take for your sites to start making a profit?
25 years. I bet you hadn’t heard that one before. 😉 I consider my online success to be the cumulative effect of my entire life. It took a lot of reading and real world experience to prepare me for succeeding in an Internet business.
That being said, I’ve put a lot of effort into making the learning curve as short and sweet as possible for new members who sign up for my Plug-In Profit Site service. In fact, many new members report that they have made money with their Plug-In Profit Site within 24 hours of signing up. That’s a bit unusual but most people who use my system and follow my guidance faithfully do eventually succeed.
Q. ) How much time and money did it take for you to initially get the site up and running?
Well, I racked up over $10,000 in credit card debt before I was able to figure things out and actually make my first few sales… But that’s because I was buying into every guru recommended ebook, marketing course, membership site and business opportunity that found it’s way into my email inbox. Back then, if I could have signed up for something like what the Plug-In Profit Site is today, I could have easily been in profit with less than $500 invested. Like I said, I’ve put a lot of effort into building a system that makes it much easier for new people to start making money online..
Q. Did you design the site yourself, or did you hire a web designer to do it for you? Can you tell us a bit about this experience?
I hired someone. Actually, I paid $75 for a template website that was setup for me to promote ClickBank products. From there, I just started fiddling with the code until I eventually learned how to make changes to my site and build sites from scratch. Trial and error is what got me where I’m at today. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that difficult for new people just getting started. There are many service, including the Plug-In Profit Site service, that can help people get started fast. I am a big fan of hiring other people to do things for me.
Q. Who is your target market? Where can your visitors be found online?
My target market is people who want to make money online. They can be found through search engines, in web forums, in other people’s newsletter lists, offline, etc. In fact, prospects can be found just about anywhere… The fact is most people these days are looking for a way to earn some extra money and the Internet is one of the easiest, least disruptive ways to get started. And the Internet home business market is simply getting bigger by the day as more people begin to trust and understand what is happening.
Q. How much traffic are you seeing to your site (unique visitors vs. repeat visitors)? And where is your traffic predominantly coming from?
A lot. Again, if you want to examine my traffic just visit Alexa and you’ll see that we’re swamped with visitors every day of the week… For my site, it’s a balanced mix of repeat visitors, existing members and new prospects who are visiting my site every day.
Q. What are you doing to collect the opt-in e-mail addresses of potential customers?
I just use a short description along with a sign up form on my website. I do my best to practice the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) principle in everything I do.
Q. How often do you make a point of following up with your leads and previous customers? What sorts of offers do you typically follow-up with?
For customers, I mostly contact them whenever I have news or an improvement to the system to report. My goal is helping my customers make money and most of the things they need to do that are free. It’s very rare that I’m so inspired by a new product that I get motivated to sell it to my list. See, my customers already have everything they need to make money online with the Plug-In Profit Site system – it’s just a matter of educating and motivating them to use what they have been given.
That being said, I am very active with my blog these days.
Q. In order of importance, could you please tell us about the top 5 marketing strategies that you use on a regular basis. What percentage of time does each take? And what kind of return does each produce?
1: Affiliates send traffic to my site. I spend a lot of time creating training materials for my affiliates and providing personal support via email and through my member’s support forum. Affiliates are the heart of my business. I love my affiliates! J
2: Article distribution. I have a team of people and services that help me create and syndicate content all over the net. Therefore, I spend a lot of time creating content, but I also outsource a lot of the work involved in getting my content published. It take energy to make energy. Money is energy. I find that whatever energy I put out, I get at least 10X back in return. Syndicating web content is a powerful traffic and sales generator.
3: Autoresponder follow-up. I have a 400 day pre-written email marketing campaign that works for me around the clock on auto-pilot to pull in sales for my favorite affiliate products. This is actually the exact same campaign I setup for my Plug-In Profit Site
4: Interviews. Once you become successful, success gets a lot easier. It’s like the snowball effect. For example, I’m always given the latest products to review for free and I’m always being asked for an interview. Interviews usually work as a three-fold benefit. The person conducting the interview wins by providing valuable information to their readers and subscribers. The readers win because they receive access to valuable information that they would otherwise not be able to obtain. I win because I get to expose my products and service to a market of potential customers that I didn’t have access to prior to the interview.
5: Testimonials. Whenever I buy a product or service and I like it, I always write up a short testimonial and send it back to the product creator or service provider. Most of the time, they include my testimonial on their website with a link back to my website referencing who I am. Marketing on the Internet is all about the links… The more links you get pointing back to your website, the more traffic and sales you’ll get. Writing sincere testimonials is an easy win-win whereby you help the product owner establish more “social proof” that they have a quality product. And they help you get more exposure too by listing your link on their website. Again, this gets easier when you become successful. At that point, everyone wants to send you their product for review.
6: A lot of my sales also come through ezine advertising, pay-per-click advertising and offline advertising.
Q. How much emphasis do you place on search engine placement & optimization?
It’s very important, but not critical. Of course, that really depends on your business model. In my experience, the important thing to focus on when building a site is to make it serve your market. The search engine is NOT your market. Build a site that serves the people visiting the site and let the search engine positioning happen naturally. Don’t play games with the search engines. Build a useful site, add relevant content your site on a regular basis and make your site worthy of other people linking to because of it’s inherent value. Do this you’ll have all the free search engine listings you can handle.
Q. Have you ever bought online advertising (i.e. banner ads, e-zine ads, pay-per-click search engine campaigns, etc…)? If so, what kind and were the results successful?
All advertising I buy these days is successful. I think that’s more about who I’ve become than the advertising itself. When I first got started, I made some poor ad buys. But once I transformed my inner-world to a state of total wealth consciousness, money started flowing to me like a magnet. Like I said before, any money I invest comes back to me AT LEAST 10X. The more money I spend, the more money I make. This is actually how money is supposed to work. If you’re not having that experience with money yourself, I encourage you to read, digest and apply the wisdom in T. Harv Eker’s amazing book, The Millionaire Mind.
Q. Do you promote your site offline as well?
Yes. I promote my site everywhere. There is goldmine to be mined in offline classified advertising directing people to online direct sales websites… an absolute goldmine!
Q. What have you done to automate your site?
My site runs with tons of automated scripting. Frankly, I don’t understand most of it. I just told programmers what I needed and they took care of it for me. It’s like the light in your house… You don’t have to know how it works. You just need to be able to flip the switch.
Q. Could you please tell us about four online tools or web sites that you’ve found to be powerful resources for marketing your business or locating e-business strategies and information? What are they and how have they benefited you?
1) Warrior Forum. This is the site I spend the most time at. The private Warrior Forum is where all the top Internet marketers hang out, share ideas, make deals, joint venture and help each other build their business. If you really want to succeed online you’ll find no better support group than the Warriors. In fact, I personally believe that the best first step in starting an online business is to join the Warriors. Doing this and hanging out in the Warrior Forum before you launch your first website will save you from making tons of costly mistakes. And if you already have a website the Warrior Forum will help you take your web business to the next level.
2) GetResponse Autoresponder. This is the automated email follow-up tool I use to sell affiliate products like crazy. I’ve made millions of dollars with it. It’s also the same tool I setup and load for my members with a 400 day pre-written email marketing campaign.
3) Amazon Web is where I host all my websites. There are two remarkable features. First, they have the absolute best customer support team in the business – period – bar none. Other hosts will leave you high and dry but with them, you’ve got a team of professionals who are as committed to your success as you are. In my opinion, it would be a huge mistake to host your website anywhere else.
4) Power Linking: The secret to making money online is very simple: Links. The person who gets the most relevant links pointing back to their website also gets the most traffic and the most sales.
Q. How many hours per week do you spending running your business versus growing it?
There was period of over a year where I was only spending about 15 hours per week “running” my business. I was not in growth mode. I had made all the money I needed at the time and was focusing on building my dream home and other family pursuits… I’m back in growth mode now and spend about 40 hours per week growing my business and 15 hours per week running it.
I’ve focused primarily on building a residual income. Most of the affiliate products I promote are monthly service type products. I make the sale one time and get paid for the life of the account. And once you sell an account subscription for a particular service like website hosting, the customer tends to stick around for a while. It’s like phone service. Once you sign up, you rarely switch over to another service. I urge everyone who is building an Internet business to focus at least 50% of your energy on residual income generating programs like those included with my system.
Q. What unique challenges exist for companies in your market?
The biggest challenge in my market is competition. Nearly everyone who wants to make money online gravitates toward the “make money online” market. I’ve become an expert in this market myself and I’ve helped thousands of others make money online in the same field. That being said, I’m beginning to diversify my own online business portfolio now by creating new websites in several very different markets altogether.
That being said, competition is everywhere and people who say you shouldn’t try to make money in the “make money online” market are foolish. It’s one of the biggest markets out there and one of the easiest to make money in as long as you come into it with the right attitude. And the attitude you must possess is the attitude of service. You must go into the market with an intention to create real solutions for people within the market itself. In other words, help other people. That’s how money is made. People give their money to other people who they believe can help them. Be someone who helps other people and you will never have problems making money in any market.
Q. What are some of the challenges you have personally experienced building and growing your site?
Email deliverability problems, server overload because of too much traffic, computer viruses causing inaccessibility or loss of information, loss of money invested from businesses that went bankrupt after taking my order, building a solid residual income in some companies and then the company goes out of business or changes their compensation plan… These are just a few of the very real challenges I’ve faced in my Internet business. Nevertheless, I’d be more than happy to do it all over again because the personal freedom I’ve gained from this business would not otherwise be possible.
Q. What would you consider to be your major achievements?
My biggest achievement is that I’ve actually helped thousands of people on their path to achieve their own goals and dreams.
Q. What do you think has helped to make your site so successful?
There is one critical distinction every website owner must make in order to become successful and I was fortunate enough to figure it out myself. Stop trying to make money and start trying to help people. As soon as your focus shifts to helping people, you’ve adopted the true spirit of the entrepreneur – provide a valuable service and charge for it.
Q. What is the biggest mistake you have made since you first launched your site?
My biggest mistake was not being willing to outsource more of my work in the beginning. I’m confident that I’ve lost millions of dollars in potential revenue by being unable to delegate more of the mundane tasks in my business early on. It was the perfectionist and control freak in me… I’m getting over that now and my business is skyrocketing.
Q. Could you tell us about a “light bulb” moment that you’ve had? A moment when you’ve thought to yourself, “If only I’d known that earlier…”
Emphasizing what I mentioned earlier, the instant I “got it” that my focus needed to be about serving people, not making money, my entire Internet business life and income was revolutionized forever. For the most part, I already knew this from my earlier entrepreneurial endeavors, but somehow when I got online and I saw everyone proclaiming: “Make Money Here!”, “Make Money There!”, “Make Money Money Money EVERYWHERE!”; my focus got off track and I started asking myself: “How can I make a lot of money on the Internet?” That’s the wrong question…
If you want to make money online, the real question you need to be asking yourself is: “How can I help other people AND make money doing it?”
This is the true secret to online success.
Q. What major mistakes do you see other Internet entrepreneurs making?
Again, the biggest mistake I see Internet entrepreneurs making is trying to make money without helping others. It’s just doesn’t work like that. Money is service. Money is value. You’re not going to attract any money if you’re not providing service and value.
Also, some people get way too proud when they do start making money online and that can be extremely destructive to one’s business.
Q. Where do you see your sites one year from now?
A year from now, I intend to be helping at least 10X the number of people I’m helping today to reach their own online income goals.
Q. What advice do you have for beginners who are interested in selling over the Web?
Find one plan that resonates with you and stick with it until you’ve done everything in your power to succeed with it. If you do this, you will succeed and you won’t have to move on to another plan. Or you can simply add another successful plan to your portfolio of successful online businesses.
Q. Finally, how has running your sites impacted your personal and professional life?
For me, it’s all about freedom.
Because of my Internet business, I can now go where I want and do what I want whenever I want. Last year I took my family to Maui for 3 weeks and stayed in the exquisite Kea Lani Hotel. It was an absolutely incredible vacation. I could have stayed there 6 months and not missed a beat in my business. A couple hours a day, I’d just sit down in my hotel room and plug into the high speed Internet connection and take care of my daily “work” to keep my business running smoothly. The rest of the time I was on the beach, drinking a Mai Tai, playing with my kids, watching a movie or going out to one of Maui’s amazing restaurants. We’re planning a 2 month vacation to France this summer. Freedom to do what you want when you want – that’s what an Internet business can give you.
If you still need more convincing that an Internet business is right for you, I encourage you to read all the articles at The Wealthness Blog
Whether you choose to follow the path I’ve created, someone else’s path or your own self-made path, I wish you unlimited success and happiness in your journey ahead!
Stone Evans, The Home Biz Guy
Thanks Stone – wise words and as you can can see there is a theme running through the secrets to the success of these people earning more than they ever could in their jobs.
Perseverance, plain and simple – You can learn most any of the marketing techniques, systems and methods over time but if you don’t put them into action and just keep going, you’d best find a good job or be a good criminal!