Welcome, fellow online entrepreneurs! This is the fourth annual training and Productivity Challenge to help you get started with a lucrative business on the Internet. This is where I share my experience and knowledge with you on how to build a profitable online business from your home computer, or from wherever in the world you happen to be. Over the next thirty days we will explore the steps to online success and the actions that will get you there.
Productivity Challenge 2014
Day 1 – Google yourself and see what you find. For example, when I Google “connie ragen green” using the Firefox browser I see there are about two hundred thousand results. I then scroll through the first three pages and see what is considered by Google to be the most relevant search results when someone is looking for more information about me.
Do this for your own name and share your results with us here.
Day 2 – Now that you know where you stand with the search engine results, let’s discuss how you will build your online marketing platform. First, decide which business model(s) will best suit your needs. These are some of the most lucrative ones:
- Information products
- Authorship (Kindle and paperback)
- Affiliate marketing
- Physical products (Amazon)
- Local business marketing
- Niche sites/Membership sites
- Providing your services to others
Since coming online in 2006 I have earned income with each of these models, but I currently focus on mentoring, physical products, affiliate marketing, and authorship/speaking as my primary focus in my business. Over time you can pick and choose in this way, but for now choose only two or three to get your online business off the ground.
Leave a comment to share what you are doing and to ask any questions you may have at this time in the Productivity Challenge.
Day 3 – Your hosted WordPress blog is your ‘Home on the Internet’ and is crucial to your success as you continue your journey as an online entrepreneur. I highly recommend posting twice a week, every week for at least the first year, and then once a week thereafter. I have two main sites, this one and Huge Profits Tiny List. They have served me well as my business grows.
Please share your site with us and we will come take a look and leave a comment. This will give you a powerful backlink and connect you with many other like-minded individuals you will be able to build relationships with over these next thirty days and longer. If you do not have your site set up properly right now, I’ll be sharing more about how I am willing to do it for you.
This all begins with purchasing a domain name (preferably a dot com) and hosting (I recommend a Storm VPS account) that can be used for all of your sites. This is an important part of your business, so don’t cut corners here.
You’ll also need to get started with an autoresponder service, if you don’t have one already. I recommend using Aweber, and you can get started for only one dollar for the first month by going here. They have excellent tutorials and customer service to make it as simple as possible to get started with building your list.
Day 4 – Let’s discuss how you can go about creating your free giveaway to ask people to opt in to your list. There are three ways to go about this and I’ll go into more detail about each one.
- Creating your own short report, audio, or video – I tend to do this for my own free giveaways because I love to create original content that shares the essence of what I am teaching online.
- Using PLR (private label rights) – this technique is faster, and I will recommend this site because their content is well written and complete.
- Using other people’s content on your topic – this method involves searching for content on the article directories and putting it together into a short report. Make sure to leave the resource box intact so that the original author receives full credit.
When you leave a comment here, let us know your favorite way of creating free giveaways for your blog ad opt in pages. If you are using audio or video, tell us more about that as well.
Day 5 – Allowing your prospects and customers to hear your voice is the next best thing to meeting them face to face. That’s why I recommend that you get started hosting your own teleseminars right away and then turn them into a podcast.
I began hosting weekly calls back in 2007, and no one attended live for the first couple of months. I refused to be disappointed by this, and instead continued to speak about the various aspects of my topic at the same time and place each week. Over time I had created quite a bit of content and I then repurposed it into blog posts, articles, short reports, online courses, and more.
Finally word got out that I had something to share that was valuable for people wanting to get started with an online business. I was thrilled to have so many people on my calls and my income increased steadily over time.
Almost three years ago I started repurposing these calls into a podcast over at iTunes. This is fairly simple to do using a free plugin called PodPress. I encourage you to subscribe to my podcast series here. Thousands of people from around the world download and listen to these calls, building my list when they come over to my site and opt in and increasing my income when they make a purchase.
Start with a 21 day trial of the teleseminar service for only one dollar. Record your first call as soon as possible. Leave a comment here and include a link to where we can hear your call. You may want to do something like I do with my Ask Connie Anything calls. If you have questions, ask them in your comment and I will answer every one.
Day 6 – It’s all about serving, and we must remember this if we are to build prosperous online businesses. In fact, any business you can think of only exists to serve others. I find that I serve people in my niche most effectively when I speak, share, and teach my topic in person. This is also the most rewarding for me on a daily basis.
My challenge to you today is to find a venue where you can speak about your topic. Some ideas for this where I have presented my topics include the Chamber of Commerce, service organizations such as Rotary or Kiwanis, churches, groups based on a specific topic such as real estate, private social clubs, and corporations that are training their employees and need outside teachers.
This must be related to your primary business, and not to a hobby that makes you little or no income. I have worked with several people over the years who have insisted on doing this, and the result is a drop in income that can seldom be recovered. Keep this strictly business and find other outlets for your creative and fun side.
Instead, think of this as a way to further position yourself as an expert and an authority in your field, leading to increased income over time. You never know who will be in the audience, and much of my corporate work came about from speaking to these groups locally.
Please share with us where you will be speaking, the topic you’ll be teaching on, and how you will follow up with the people who are there for your presentation. Your goal is to do this by the end of this 30 Day Productivity Challenge, if you aren’t doing it already.
Day 7 – Building a successful online business requires focus, dedication, and diligence with everything you do. One important aspect of this is visibility, and an excellent way to let the world know who you are and what you are doing is my writing articles that can be published on the article directories. I got started with the free ones and now use a paid distribution service called Submit More Articles. I recommend starting with a free account and then moving up to the Silver level as soon as possible. This is how I began to build my list with people who were interested in what I had to say about the topic of online marketing.
Once you have written and submitted some articles, put them together into short reports to give away and/or sell as information products. Be persistent with this method and your knowledge about your topic will grow exponentially. Let us know where we can find some of your articles or reports.
My articles published online are here and some of my reports are available to you at no cost on the main page of this site under the ‘Short Reports’ and ‘More Short Reports’ tabs on the menu bar.
Day 8 – When I started blogging back in 2006 I was truly writing to no one. It was months before anyone found my sites and even then they rarely left a comment. Now we know that commenting on other people’s blogs is an excellent way to connect with people, to market our own site, and to increase our own search engine ranking. Even if the blogs you comment on are using a ‘no-follow’ structure, each comment you make is still indexed on Google. That’s why I always sign my comments with my full name.
My challenge to you today is to leave a comment on a recent post from two other people actively participating in the Productivity Challenge. This is the beginning of your relationship with someone who could end up becoming a friend, an affiliate, or even a JV (joint venture) partner in the future. Let us know whose sites you visited and what the experience was like for you.
Day 9 – Today let’s talk about how you are gaining visibility on the channels that receive the most responsive traffic on the Internet – iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube. I discovered years ago that I would be able to reach the most people and have the greatest credibility as well if I began leveraging the power of books, recordings, and videos. My challenge to you today is to check out each of my channels and see how they can work for you as well. Also, if you are already on any of these, let us know about that as well.
iTunes – I have two podcasts available on iTunes. One is my Connie Ragen Green Online Business Success interview series and the other is my Online Marketing Tips trainings. Subscribe to both of these if you aren’t already, and leave me a review over at iTunes. These are simple to schedule and record and I have listeners around the world.
Amazon – Since 2010 I’ve been a bestselling author, and I currently have nine books (seven of my own and two co-written with a friend), several books I have compiled, and more than twenty books that I have contributed to. Take a look at my Author Page and see how I have done this to create a residual income stream as well as readers from countries all over the planet.
YouTube – We must be ready for our closeup! My YouTube channel is the place where I can show people my lifestyle and connect in a very different way than through my writing and audio recordings. Please subscribe to my channel to see what I’m doing there.
What about you? Can we find you as a published author, a podcaster, and a video trainer? What do you need from me in order to move forward with this?
Be sure to sign up for the Book Marketing Challenge as my guest. This will help you to become a bestselling author in record time.
Day 10 – Let’s get social! When I started online in 2006 social media was not yet a part of our lives. Facebook was still just for college students, LinkedIn was geared towards the corporate world, and Twitter was not even a gleam in anyone’s eye! Today that has all drastically changed, and you may find yourself caught up in the social media frenzy that sucks your time, distracts your focus, and sends you down rabbit holes when you read something of interest.
Instead, think of social media as a venue for marketing yourself and your business. Post something to one of your social media profiles that positions you as an expert in your field. Leave a comment here to let us know where we can have a look at what you have shared.
Day 11 – We’ve talked about content you create on your blog, comments you leave on other people’s blog, and now let’s discuss tracking back to someone’s blog within your own post. The way you do this is to write a blog post about the 30 Day Productivity Challenge and to link it back to the permalink (the permanent URL) for this post using the anchor text 30 day productivity challenge or connie ragen green productivity challenge. It is http://connieragengreen.com/productivity-challenge-2014/
Once you have done this I will receive notification and go over to comment on your blog post. When even small groups of people do this for each other the impact is huge, helping everyone who participates to expand their reach and increase their search engine ranking for prime keyword phrases. Please let me know if you are doing this type of tracking back already or of you need more help using this strategy to build your online business.
Day 12 – Now let’s take another look at your blog. Remember, this must be a hosted WordPress blog on your name domain or another domain that brands your business. You will see that I maintain two primary blogs; this one that bears my name and another one at Huge Profits Tiny List. I want to focus on your ‘About’ page today. Take a look at each of mine to get some ideas.
When people first visit your site they want to know more about the person behind the computer who is sharing information with them. Make sure your photograph is clearly visible (one that really looks like you!) and share something about yourself that will help the reader engage with you and resonate with your thoughts, tips, and ideas on your topic.
Give us the direct link to your ‘About’ page in the comments section of this post. For example, the direct link to my ‘About’ page on this site is http://connieragengreen.com/about/.
Day 13 – Today I’m going to ask the question that separates the entrepreneurs from those who are ‘trying’ to start a business online. The question is…’What’s for sale?‘
Several years ago I was helping a woman on my training webinar. She told our group that she just could not understand why she wasn’t earning any money online when she was working at least thirty hours each week on her business. I casually asked her what she was selling, and when she finally answered ‘Nothing, yet.’ it dawned on me that this was not an obvious question to new online entrepreneurs. You can’t earn money until someone makes a purchase, either directly of one of your products or services, or from someone else for whom you are an affiliate.
Many of the products you sell may belong to someone else and you are an affiliate. That’s the perfect place to begin. You may also be offering your services to others. Go back to Day 2 and review the different business models that are available to you.
Please share with us what you are selling online. Also, if you are an affiliate for me or someone else and you post the link on social media, this does not count as being in business. I’ll discuss more about this concept during the last few days of the Challenge.
Day 14 – Social media can be a huge boost to your business or a colossal waste of your time, depending upon your focus and goals. I chose to use the ‘Big Three’ sites – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – as a way to share my lifestyle, manage my reputation, and to attract the right people for me into my business inner circle. This has paid off handsomely over the past few years with an increase in business, connections with people I would have otherwise been unable to meet, and ideas for new products and courses based on my observations and discussions with other new online entrepreneurs.
LinkedIn has been the biggest boon to my business, and I recently expanded my network to include over sixteen million people! Twitter is an excellent place to stop by and share what you’re working on, and Facebook allows you to share your lifestyle with photos and videos right within your posts.
How are you using social media to grow your business? What are your biggest challenges? Note that I do all of this in fifteen minutes a day or less, and that much of it is automated so I don’t even have to show up most days.
Day 15 – Many of us doing business online today got our start by promoting other people’s products as an affiliate. I continue to recommend this as a way to ‘earn while you learn’ and recommend what you use and love. Are you an affiliate and earning money every month with this?
You can become an affiliate for me by signing up at my affiliate center here. I also recommend that you become an affiliate for the people whose products you have purchased and benefited from.
Now let’s talk a little more about how to promote other people’s products. What I see brand new people do is to post their affiliate link on Twitter and Facebook and expect to make sales. This is seldom a way online entrepreneurs choose to do business, except on that rare occasion where it makes sense.
Instead, do the thinks I have already outlined in the first half of this 30 Day Productivity Challenge. Start a hosted WordPress blog on your topic and post at least twice a week. Start building your list with an opt in box, free giveaway, and an autoresponder sequence. Host teleseminars, write short reports, and attend live events. Give presentations on your topic, both online with webinars and offline for local groups. Build meaningful relationships with people in person and using social media. All of these activities give you the opportunity to share your best resources through affiliate links.
What questions do you have for me around the topic of ‘recommending what you love’ with affiliate marketing?
Day 16 – Let’s talk about mentors in your life. Who is mentoring you in your business and/or in other areas of your life? I had my first mentor in 2005, when I was making the transition from employee/small business owner to full time entrepreneur. I can’t imagine trying to do what I’ve done without the help and support of those much wiser than myself. I continue to be mentored in several aspects of my life and credit much of my success to this factor.
Share your thoughts and feelings on this topic, and let me know how I can be of help to you as you build your online business.
Day 17 – Your autoresponder sequence and broadcast emails are a crucial part of your online business. In the beginning I found this to be terribly confusing, so I would often subscribe to someone’s lists and then print out the messages I received over the next few weeks. This helped me to see the pattern that could be used when connecting with a prospect for my business.
I recommend Aweber’s service for your business, no matter how long you’ve been online.
I’ve created an Autoresponder E-Course that explains this in great detail so you can get your messages written and begin building relationships from those who want to know more about you and what you are doing. I’ve been using that format for several years now and it continues to work well for online entrepreneurs.
How often are you emailing your list, no matter what size it is currently? Are you always including a link for readers to click on, even if there is nothing for sale? Are you encouraging readers to reply to your emails with their questions? Are you offering them a way to further engage you?
Day 18 – You – a published author. How does that sound and feel? It’s said that about eighty percent of the adult population in the United States would like to write a book and feel they have information and a story to share, yet only about five to ten percent of them ever write a book. That was my story until 2009, when I finally decided to choose a topic (making money with a small list), create an outline, and spend about an hour each day for three months writing the book. I actually blogged it and then used those posts to write my book. The result was my first paperback book entitled Huge Profits with a Tiny List: 50 Ways to use Relationship Marketing to Increase Your Bottom Line. I’m currently writing my tenth book, so you know that this experience has been a worthwhile one.
Becoming a published author changed so much for me. I was asked to speak more frequently, clients began coming to me for my mentoring, and my income increased exponentially as others saw that I was indeed an expert and an authority on my topics.
What about you – have you authored a book on your own, co-authored one, contributed to a book, or are you now in the process of writing a book on your topic? Share the details with us here so that we may celebrate with you and encourage you to move forward with authorship as a part of your online business model.
Editor’s Note: My most recent bestseller is one I contributed to called The Little Book of Big Marketing Ideas: Get More Customers, Increase Sales, and Make More Money. My friend and colleague Donna Gunter put this together and my chapter is about affiliate marketing. We went to number one on Amazon in four different categories and were at #300 in overall paid books for Kindle. My next book will be a compilation I’m putting together on Positioning Yourself As An Expert, with more than a dozen experts sharing their knowledge on this topic.
Day 19 – When is your Prime Time? By this I mean when are your best hours each day to be productive in your life and business? You must figure this out and then do whatever you possibly can to guard and protect those precious hours. My own Prime Time is from about six thirty to ten or eleven each morning, and four or five days a week I am writing and creating products during those hours. In fact, I am so productive during this time that it does not matter if I do anything else for the remainder of the day in regards to my business.
What are your thoughts on maximizing your productivity during your Prime Time?
Day 20 – Have you emailed your list this week? See Day 17 above for more details and information on doing this effectively. The people who join your list want to hear from you, so do not disappoint them. Always include a clickable link within your messages, even if it goes to a free resource or other information. Keep your emails relevant to the topic they signed up for originally, and encourage readers to connect with you in a variety of ways, such as on your blog, through social media, and by replying back to you directly from the email message itself. Your list is gold, but only if you continue to follow up and follow through with them on a regular basis.
Day 21 – Let’s discuss online content creation today. Years ago I came up with my 5 Pronged Approach™ and soon people were asking me to go into more detail on what I meant by this for new online entrepreneurs. I began speaking at live events on this topic and my students began to move ahead quickly when they applied each of these to their online businesses. At the beginning of 2014 I came out with my 2014 version, and you can read that post here on the 5 Pronged Approach to Building a Profitable Online Business.
You will see that what I’m sharing here in the 30 Day Productivity Challenge coincides with what I teach in my 5 Pronged Approach, which simply means that the more things change the more they stay the same. Which of the 5 Prongs are you implementing regularly, and which do you need more help with during and after this Challenge?
Day 22 – Let’s discuss the fifth prong of my 5 Pronged Approach – affiliate marketing. Are you actively sharing the products, services, courses, books, and other resources you are benefiting from with others through your affiliate link? In the beginning most of us share the names of the people we are learning from and the books and products we enjoy freely, but soon you will wish that you had used your affiliate link instead.
I teach an entire course on this topic, and have also written a book on affiliate marketing, but for the purposes of this Productivity Challenge I just want you to become aware of how much income you can earn when you do this regularly.
The biggest question people have is ‘Where do I find the products to promote?’ and my answer is always to only recommend what you have purchased yourself, benefited from, and truly love. They will typically be on your hard drive, so simply go through what you have purchased over the past year and see what would be a good fit for your market. I find that technical products, courses, and plugins do well for anyone who has a business, whereas products for authors or niche marketers needs to be more specific. Sometimes I recommend something in the personal development space, but my audience is not usually interested in that kind of information from me. You’ll have to experiment to learn what people want to learn more about from you.
What are your specific questions about affiliate marketing?
Day 23 – Last night I spoke at a local event on the topic of making money with your email list. It’s an area that takes many people out of their comfort zone. While I was speaking I shared that public speaking was something that used to take me out of my comfort zone, especially when I was just starting my online business.
By taking myself out of my comfort zone with public speaking, emailing my list, and becoming an author I’ve been able to change my life dramatically. What are you doing each day that takes you out of your comfort zone in a big way?
I think Eleanor Roosevelt said it best:
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
When I look back over my life I see that I did what I thought was easy most of the time. I resisted change. I ignored opportunities. I never did the thing I thought I could not do, and my life reflected this inaction.
What are your thoughts on this, and how have you changed your life by doing things you previously thought you could not do?
Day 24 – I’ve done this Productivity Challenge every year for the past four years, and each year there are fewer people that follow through with it to the end. I’m used to this now and know that there is very little I can do about it, as adults have to take responsibility for their own success. It’s also the reason there is almost no competition when it comes to building a successful and profitable online business these days.
I have to admit that when I was a classroom teacher and also working in real estate as a broker and residential appraiser I seldom followed through with things unless I was forced to by my employer or a governmental regulatory agency. This meant that opportunities passed me by, the years passed me by, and many times I felt like I was unlucky. The truth was that I was not making the effort necessary to be successful in most areas of my life. I spent twenty years in mediocrity, and then expected different results than I was getting. This is not possible.
Many people feel that becoming an online entrepreneur will change all of that for them. It will, but only if you change your attitude, your work ethic, and what you do each and every day. Most new entrepreneurs succeed only in creating a new job for themselves, and I know this to be true because I did it my first year working online.
The information I am including in this 2014 Productivity Challenge is a game changer for you, but only if you take full advantage of it. During May and June of this year I am looking for people who will follow through with opportunities they are offered, and it begins with this one. Let me know that you are on board, and you just might find yourself being offered a huge opportunity from me during the summer. Are you up to this type of challenge?
Day 25 – Today let’s get back to the basics again by going back to your ‘Home on the Internet’, your blog. I teach something called flagship posts, where you write a more lengthy post – about five hundred to seven hundred fifty words – on an aspect of your main topic. You then link out from this post to another one of your posts, creating a link the search engines will love and your readers will appreciate because the content is relevant to each other. You will see that I did that here on Day 21 with my reference to my 5 Pronged Approach.
The idea here is to link back and forth between your posts, and to create one of these flagship posts at least every three months for best results. You will see that it moves you up nicely in the search engines fairly rapidly, and your readers will suddenly become aware of the vast knowledge you have on your topic. Instead of having to search your site for additional information, you will have provided it to them within your post for easy reference.
This works both ways, with you linking both from and to your flagship posts, and soon it will become second nature to you. For the purposes of this Challenge, choose one of the posts you have written within the past thirty days and link out to another one of your posts. Make sure the content is relevant. Leave us a comment here with the link to that one post.
Day 26 – This week I’m speaking at a live event and it became obvious that those experiencing the highest level of success were the ones who are outsourcing some of their work to others. Do you have help in your business?
Just as we don’t fill our own teeth, rebuild our own car transmissions, or build our own homes, we must find qualified people to do the things we either do not know how to do or that we just aren’t good at doing. For me it all started with needing help with technology when I was new online. Soon I realized that I also needed someone to create graphics for me, and later I needed help with more clerical duties, like submitting articles, going through my email, and creating PowerPoint template and presentations I could then complete on my own.
It can be scary to entrust even a small part of our business to someone else, so I recommend starting small to get a feel for what it’s like to outsource to others. Dennis Becker has a training on outsourcing you may find helpful.
In the very beginning I believed that my helpers would be people I already knew and who live in my same city. Later I realized that the nature of the business was that of working with people on a virtual basis. Now my best helpers are located all over North America, and I have two who are in Malaysia helping me from time to time.
Please share your thoughts and experiences with outsourcing with us here.
Day 27 – As we move closer to the end of this Productivity Challenge, I’d like for you to revisit your goals for building an online business. My original goal, when I started my business in 2006 was to replace the income I earned working full time as a classroom teacher and part-time in real estate. When I achieved that goal about eighteen months later I updated it to include having more time to do as I please, more donations to charities, travel with family and friends, and living in Santa Barbara part of the time.
I believe that it is crucial to your success to know exactly what you are working towards and how you want to spend your time each day as an entrepreneur. I value my time even more these days, seldom find myself sitting in traffic, and rarely do anything I really don’t enjoy doing. How about you? What are your goals, and are they in alignment with who you are and the life you want to live?
Day 28 – I’m calling this ‘Repurposing Day’. I’d like for you to choose one piece of content you have created on your topic and repurpose it into as many different formats as possible. An example would be to take your flagship post from Day 25 and turn that into two articles to submit to the article directories, an audio that could be posted to iTunes as a podcast, several short videos to add to your YouTube channel, and a series of autoresponder messages for the people subscribed to your list.
Be creative with this and know that people actually enjoy following the same information over a period of time in different formats. Just as young children will watch a favorite movie over and over again, so will an adult who is in search of just the right information to move them forward in their life and their business.
Share what you have created with us here.
Day 29 – We’re almost at the end of this year’s Productivity Challenge 2014, so we are going to take a look at our inventory to see what’s working and what isn’t in our business. I will tell you that if you don’t have at least one mess to clean up then you haven’t been working nearly hard enough to grow and prosper. I’ll break it down into the areas we will examine.
- Domain names – Go through your list of domains with a fine-toothed comb to see what you own, what you are not using, and what you plan to develop in the future. I think of this as my ‘virtual real estate’ and started buying up domains very quickly. I still own almost six hundred of them, and almost all of these are earning money for me. I say ‘almost’, which means that I, too have a mess to clean up from time to time. I recommend printing out this list every few months so that you can make notes and straighten them all out.
- Products, courses, and other things you have created, alone or with a partner. These are your business assets, and what will earn you the most money. Are you branding any of these. Are any of them only partially completed? This is an excellent place to begin.
- Affiliate marketing tools – I consider this to be a huge source of revenue, so I am recommending that you take a look at everything you are promoting or want to promote and make sure you know how to access the information you need quickly.
These three are just the beginning, but spending time on this part of your business today will help ensure your success in the future. What questions do you have for me on this?
Day 30 – This may be the end of this year’s Productivity Challenge, but think of it as the beginning of an opportunity for you to build a business that will enable you to have a major lifestyle change. Take some time today to think about this and to imagine what your life would be like if you did not have to worry about money or time.
It took me about eighteen months to replace the income I had earned as a classroom teacher and real estate broker/appraiser with the money I started earning online. I then decided to step up my game and see what that would look like. You can do the exact same thing, and I sincerely hope this challenge has got you moving in the right direction.
What is your plan for your future as an online entrepreneur? What can I do to help you with this transition?