The more things change in my online business as an author and entrepreneur, the more they stay the same. It was on a warm spring evening in 2010 that I began to write a new blog post about productivity. That post ten years ago turned into a 21 day challenge and the beginning of an annual challenge (the 2020 Productivity Challenge this year) where more than eight thousand people have now fully participated…
What’s new in the 2020 Productivity Challenge? Last year I turned the 2019 Productivity Challenge into a 30 Day Free Membership Site. You may still sign up and go through it because the content and training remains relevant, perhaps more now than it was a year ago. This year I am back to the original format, where I add something new each day. There is no need to opt in if you are on my list already. If you leave a comment I will know you were here and I’ll be able to answer your questions. Let’s get started with your 2020 Productivity Challenge!
Day 1 – Become an Expert on Something… Anything
Thinking back to my younger days I realized I was in the school library or public library more often than anyone I knew. I was interested in learning about everything I loved – animals, science, authors, and more. As an adult coming online in 2006 I became interested in SEO (search engine optimization), eBooks, mindset, productivity, time management, and membership sites, just to name a few topics. Soon these became topics I had some expert status around and that I could write and speak about, create information products on, and teach in my ongoing courses and Mentor Program.
I want you to do the same so you may benefit in a similar way. And I’ll remind you I said to become an expert, not the expert.
~ Choose Your Topic of Expertise for the 2020 Productivity Challenge ~
What topic will it be? Choose a general topic and the get more specific. For example, when I helped people to write, publish, and market an eBook during my first two years online, several other people were already doing something similar. That’s how I knew there was room for someone new. Competition online becomes “coopetition,” where many people cooperatively compete with the goal of opening up the topic to more people around the world and making more ideas, opinions, and teaching styles available. This also tends to increase sales for everyone in the process.
I brought my own ideas and experiences to the table in my new online business. And the eBooks my students and clients wrote were non-fiction, and typically written with the intent of positioning themselves as an expert and/or promoting their business, online or offline. This brought great joy to me as my students became more experienced and their businesses took off. We learned from each other and the ideas flowed.
Once you’ve chosen some area you would like to become an expert in, do what other experts do; write about it, talk about it, share your thoughts and ideas on social media, create a simple product about how others can know more about it, and come up with your unique approach and perspective on this topic. Shout it from the rooftops, whisper it into the wind, and soon people will think of you when they are reminded from any source about the topic you have claimed as your own.
Day 2 – Utilize the Content You Already Have
If you tell me you do not have lots of content, specifically private label rights (PLR) content, I won’t believe you. We all have content we haven’t used and that we may never use unless and until someone like me challenges you to do so. I even have a resource page filled with links to free PLR from people I know and trust here.
I challenge you to sort through what you have and come up with something you can put together quickly to give away as a bonus for an affiliate product you will recommend to others who would benefit. Right now I’m creating a new information product and I am using PLR on the topic (SEO – search engine optimization) as one of the bonuses.
Please let me know what you come up with and on Day 3 we’ll talk about how to promote the affiliate product and your bonus using social media.
Day 3 – Promoting an Affiliate Product with a Bonus on Social Media
The first step is to choose an affiliate product to promote. For this example I will use Sharyn Sheldon’s current PLR package. Sharyn’s private label rights courses are second to none and I make lots of income by setting them up as my own. I need to log in to her affiliate center to retrieve my link, and then I will shorten it using Pretty Link.
Now it’s time for me to share my link and the details of the product for sale on my social media profiles. I use the sales copy from Sharyn’s page, as well as her images. This is perfectly acceptable when you are an affiliate and sharing the exact product the sales copy and the images were originally created to promote the product.
Now you want to decide what to offer as a bonus for those who purchase through your affiliate link. This could be a 30 minute “laser focused” call with you, or one of your products or courses, or something else that would be perceived as being relevant and valuable.
I want you to try this for yourself. You may recommend one of my products or one from another product creator. My affiliate platform is Nanacast and my affiliate site is at Affiliate Links and Tools. I also have several lower priced products on Warrior Plus and I am CRGreen there.
Take a look at what I’m doing just on Twitter to get a better idea of how you can get started right away.
On Day 4 we’ll get into the steps you can take to create your own simple product.
Day 4 – Why You Must Create Your Own Product
I began my online journey as an affiliate marketer. I was also blogging on a dozen different blogs (it was my belief that I was a woman of diverse interests and didn’t think I had to choose a single niche) and selling some affiliate products through my posts on various topics.
It turned out a dozen blogs was at least ten too many and not choosing a niche gave me no place to start a following of interested prospects and customers. By the end of that first year I was down to three blogs, had chosen (or settled) for the niche of eBooks, and knew that having my own product was the only way to increase my income.
It was a struggle for me to decide what to create. Finally I decided that I could show others how I was writing blog posts and repurposing them into articles to submit to the directories. I could also share how I was finding the products to recommend within my posts that were continuing to earn me more and more income each month.
The live course I created was a three session teleseminar training with a downloadable Study Guide. Individuals were not hosting webinars back in 2006 because this technology was initially intended for the corporate world, Facebook Lives were not possible because Facebook was still limited to those connected to a college or university who had the appropriate email address, and Zoom was not even a gleam in the eyes of the creators of this popular platform. Free teleseminar lines were available and that’s what most of us used until Instant Teleseminar was created in 2007 by three people (Alex Mandossian, Armand Morin, and Rick Raddatz) I knew through my new Mastermind group.
Think about your ideas for a product you can create. It must be simple, relevant to your target audience, and on a topic that allows you to share your knowledge and experience. My first product met all three of the criteria I just mentioned and everyone who purchased the course when I first taught it live, or later when I packaged it to sell as home study was thrilled to have the information I was sharing.
Please do not overthink this process. Ask people who know you well to tell you what they think of when they think of you. In my case, people close to me reminded me of how I had helped them with various types of writing over the years, when they struggled to find just the right words or to convey a certain message to one or many people. Then I thought about my twenty years as a classroom teacher and all of the children from Kindergarten through high school, most of whom did not speak English as a first language I helped with their writing every day. So choosing the niche of helping others to write, publish, and market an eBook to sell on their own website (this was years before Amazon or Kindle or self-publishing) made sense on several different levels.
The right product or course or membership site is out there for you. On Day 5 we will explore different niches and you will begin your outline upon which your first product and your future as an online entrepreneur will be launched.
Even though I considered myself to be a good student, outlining was not a favorite activity of mine during my school career. If I was asked to turn in an outline along with a completed paper, many times that outline was created after the paper was done. I’m not proud of this and now see the great value in outlining everything I intend to create before actually putting together the product, course, presentation, short report, sales letter, or full length book. Here is what I suggest for your simple information product to get you started on the path…
- Give your product a “working” title. Filmmakers and other creatives tend to do this and it gives you a concept idea right away. This can and probably will be changed as you continue to create your product.
- Write down what your product is about. Describe it in as much detail as possible.
- Who will be served with this product? All businesses, online and brick and mortar are in business for the sole purpose of serving a specific group of people who want, need, and will benefit from what will be offered.
- Write a headline that would get the attention of your target audience. Write another headline. And another. Getting used to the idea that your salesletter will help you to create an excellent product is one of the best kept secrets in the industry.
- Make a list of the features of the product you are creating. Now make a second list that lists the benefits of each feature. People buy benefits, not features.
Spend as much time as possible with the five points I have shared here. Leave a comment if you have questions or would like some feedback on what you are hoping to create as your simple information product.
Day 6 – Setting Up Your First, or Next Simple Product
Now that you have an idea of the product you wish to create, it’s time to get the technical side of everything set up. I still hold my breath when encountering technology, but over time it becomes much easier. This part of my online business will never be intuitive and I have enlisted the help of people who thrive with technology to assist me on a regular basis. This is what you need to get started:
- Hosting account – this is where your domain will reside on the internet. I use and recommend A2 Hosting. You’ll want to choose “Shared Hosting” and then the “Swift” plan. The cost of this is well under a hundred dollars for a year and you may install up to a hundred separate sites through this plan. If you obtain your hosting through me at this link I am happy to install and set up your first site.
- Domain name – this step would actually be first, but I’ve discovered over the years that people will purchase a domain from a registrar and then sign up for hosting with them. This will never be a good idea, for more reasons than I can explain here. Instead, sign up for hosting and when they ask for your domain, go to GoDaddy or another registrar of your choice and buy the one you need.
Once you have chosen the name of your product, purchased the domain, acquired hosting, and set up (or have me or someone else set it up for you) then you are on your way to creating an online business that will serve you for years to come.
Editor’s Note: I just launched my Really Simple SEO Tips training and the sales on coming in. As I scrolled through the emails with the names of those who purchased I realized that this product will average a hundred dollars a day for me. You can easily do the same thing when you create a simple product like this one. If only I had learned how to do this years earlier, when I was working as a teacher and in real estate just to make ends meet.
Day 7 – Building Relationships with Prospects, Affiliates, Thought Leaders, and More
I’m an introvert. Most of the time I can muster the courage to talk to strangers and interact appropriately, while at other times I just can’t get myself to open up to people I do not know, or don’t know well. Because I was determined to be successful and profitable with my online business I trained myself to be disciplined to the point that I reach out to one new person every single day, usually online but sometimes by phone or in person.
The results from this simple action habit are too numerous to share here. I will tell you that it would have been next to impossible for me to build a seven figure business without doing this, and my personal life continues to be enhanced as well by the people I can now call friends and colleagues. There is much more that connects and unites us with other humans than anything that may divide us.
Today as part of your 2020 productivity challenge I want you to begin a list of the people you are meeting through your business, in person and online. Name them each individually. When you get to twenty names or so, begin reaching out to one person each day to connect. Ask them how their day is going, tell them what you loved about their product or course, find out when their next promotion is scheduled so you may become an affiliate.
When you have done this seven days in a row, begin adding more names to your list. You won’t be doing this forever; only until you die. That’s my attempt at humor, so I hope you are smiling. I will be honest when I say that each day there is a moment when I dread reaching out to someone for the first time. But I do it anyway and I am always glad I did. Recently I reached out to Charlie Page, someone I heard about when I first came online in 2006. I had no idea he knew my name, but when I reached out to him he wrote back to say he had been following me for several years and had meant to reach out to me. That made my day, and I hope I made his by what I wrote to him about being an early influence in my business. Please try this – you may love connecting with others in this way.
On Day 8 we’ll discuss why your blog is your home on the internet and how to maximize your profits by posting regularly.
I love blogging. Blogging helped me to change my life. Blogging gets a bad rap much of the time, but I believe it’s for the wrong reasons. Without my sad little blog posts beginning in 2005, I would never have grown as an author and an entrepreneur.
When I resigned from teaching and gave away my best real estate clients, I simultaneously moved to a new city thirty miles away. This was at the very beginning of what would become known as the Great Recession, but none of us knew that back then. Instead, the United States and much of the world was enjoying a prosperous economy and loans were easy to get. The saying was, “If you can fog a mirror they’ll give you a loan.” They were the lenders and being able to fog a mirror was a reference to being alive.
With only a ten percent down payment, no job or business, and a single income I was able to build a beautiful home in the Santa Clarita Valley area north of Los Angeles. When I went in to the builder’s office a few days before the closing they presented me with a one page document and asked me to read it. It was a printout of page one of Google and they had searched for Connie Ragen Green. I had been “Googled” for the first time, at least to my knowledge.
At that time there were only three SERPs (search engine return pages) for my name. The first was a testimonial I had given to a friend in real estate, after I had attended his seminar on reverse mortgages. The second was a quote I had given to a reporter for Today magazine, when asked about an issue with the public schools in Los Angeles. I was careful with what I said and when it was published in the Los Angeles Times the following week I was proud of my comments. The third result made me smile. It was my blog, a simple site published on the Typepad platform that allowed me to find my voice and express my thoughts privately, or at least that was my belief at that time. I did not know that the second my finger pressed the “publish” button my words were out in cyberspace for everyone to see.
This entire experience was enlightening and eye-opening. My blog gave me an identity. It was available all over the world, to anyone with an internet connection. I had told the builder that I was a soon to be former teacher and real estate broker/residential appraiser, and that I was starting a business on the internet. Google verified this information and I was granted a home loan for almost a million dollars. The day I closed escrow on my new home I got serious about my blog; it was my home on the internet and I intended to make it welcoming to visitors from around the planet.
Day 9 – Start a Movement, Take a Stand, Make a Difference
For most of my life I stayed in the shadows, afraid to stand up for myself and speak my mind. When I became a classroom teacher at age 30 I finally found my voice when it came to standing up for my students when they were treated unfairly. But it would be two decades before I would be able to start a movement, take a stand, and make a difference in my own life and in the lives of others.
As an author and entrepreneur my life changed completely. Suddenly I was the boss of me, something I never experienced as an employee of the school district or in the real estate world. Spreading my wings felt so good and I was hungry for more.
Joining Rotary, an international service organization put me elbow to elbow with professionals, business owners, politicians, and thought leaders from my community. They were very different from me in that they exuded confidence and said what they thought, even if it was in complete disagreement with someone sitting next to them. Then they took a stand and explained why they felt and believed the way they did. I was in awe. Right then and there I committed to improving myself every day. At a small group event during the summer of 2006 I learned from Brian Tracy that if I set a goal of increasing my efforts 1% a day my life would lead me down the path of my choice. I still use the “1% a day” model for whatever I am working towards, personally or professionally.
Yesterday I started a #hashtag to share some of my ideas with others. It’s #FinishONEThingEachDay and my goal is to inspire and motivate you to celebrate one thing each day that you bring to completion. What have you finished today and how does it relate to you starting a movement, taking a stand, and making a difference in the world?
Day 10 – Daydream Your Future Into Your Reality
As a classroom teacher for twenty years in the inner city of Los Angeles, I’m proud to say that I never discouraged a child from daydreaming. In contrast, I witnessed many teachers and administrators snapping at youngsters as young as five for looking dreamily out the window or sitting quietly at their with their hands folded on top of a textbook, smiling at nothing in particular.
One teacher, who had recently been promoted to the position of Reading Specialist even snapped her fingers just an inch from the face of a girl in my third grade class. She screamed, “It will never be okay for you to be doing nothing!”
As soon as she left the room I apologized to my students for that teacher’s behavior. We had a nice discussion about how to deal with people who have different values than we have.
You are an entrepreneur and small business owner. You call the shots and make choices in your life. I hope you choose wisely and reflect on your choices regularly. I recommend regular daydreaming time every day. I like to do this as early as possible in the morning.
While it is still dark and quiet and still I dream of the life I have and the lifestyle changes I want to make. Great ideas come to me and as soon as my session is over (I don’t set a timer and let it go for as long as it’s an enjoyable exercise) I dash over to my journal and make some notes. If you remember the “Calgon, take me away” commercials, it feels like that in a way.
In my mind I create the world I wish to live in, and then I make it come true with my actions and expectations. My daydreaming has manifested better relationships, material possessions, health improvement, and business success, just to name a few benefits. I would love to hear about your daydreams and how they are making you more productive in your life and business.
You may have read that people who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them. It’s true. I used to think that if I set a goal and filed it in the back of my mind it had the possibility of becoming my reality. It was only during my senior year at UCLA that I changed my thinking on this.
My first three years of college had been relatively easy. I completed the assigned work, took advantage of extracurricular activities and extra credit assignments, and even played on the tennis team. But by the summer before my final year everything had changed. I needed an additional course to graduate that I hadn’t taken earlier, and it was only offered at my local community college. I also wanted to take an elective to increase my chances of being accepted into graduate school. The courses I registered for were more difficult and complex than I had imagined and by October I was exhausted and not sure my grades were holding up as my midterms exams arrived.
At UCLA we were assigned to small groups that met each month, led by a staff member. The leader of my group was none other than John Wooden, the acclaimed basketball coach. He explained to our group one day about the concept of writing down our goals, revisiting them at least weekly, and taking action every day to move closer to them. That was the beginning of my journaling about life and goals and how I ended up sailing through my senior year and graduating with honors. Please write down your goals and share any with me that you would like for me to look at and to comment on for you.
The first time I was asked to list my assets was long ago, way back in the last millennium when I purchased my first piece of real estate. The lender asked for this and I wrote down that I did not own a home or any other real estate. I was surprised at that time when they informed me that I owned many assets, including but not limited to furniture, money in checking or savings accounts, coin and/or stamp collections, furniture, cars and other vehicles, art work, and so much more. Even at my young age my list was so long I had to attach an additional page.
Now I want you to list your business assets, including domain names, websites, content (include original as well as private label (PLR) rights content), products, courses, and anything you have that is of value. Making this list will have one of two outcomes for you; you will either be excited at the prospect of using what you already have or disappointed that you do not have more. No matter, continue to add to your list as you think of things, and do not forget to include relationships you have nurtured and affiliate links that are still active.
On Day 12 we will put your assets to work so you may begin accomplishing more of your goals. I hope you are enjoying the 2020 Productivity Challenge. You’re more than one third of the way through!
Day 12 – Taking a Fresh Look at Your Affiliate Marketing Promotions
Whether you’ve been in affiliate marketing for a few weeks or a few years, the exciting fact about this business is that you can always make improvements. You can always improve your processes at any point because new technology is developed, new research highlights different ideas, and that’s honestly what a real business does.
Successful business owners are always trying to find ways to run leaner and meaner while also providing more value to their prospects, customers, and clients. You don’t need to make up everything from scratch; you can do what successful business owners do and become more successful with your affiliate program by taking a fresh look at your affiliate promotions.
By analyzing your current promotions and identifying ways to improve, you’ll be able to:
- Improve Processes
- Make More Money
- Provide More Value
Let’s look more closely for a moment at how you can improve your business by taking a fresh look at your affiliate promotions and how you do everything in your business.
Improve Your Internal Processes – The software you use, the processes you set up, and the ways in which you run your affiliate marketing business are very important. It will inform how long it takes you to do things such as create content, find new products and solutions, and how often you can recommend something new.
Achieve a Higher Return on Investment – When you invest in the right things at the right time, you can exponentially increase the good that the money you spend does. For example, if you want to place Facebook, Instagram, or other Ads, you’ll want to use the knowledge you have about your audience when you create and run the ad, and you can’t do that without the technology of analytics.
Provide More Value to Your Audience & Customers – The great thing about doing all these analytics is that ultimately, even though you end up making more money, you’re going to be providing much more value to your audience and your customers. The reason is that the data you learn will inform your decisions going forward.
Learning everything you can about what you’re doing and how it affects your audience’s choices is the main thing that you need to do as an affiliate marketer promoting other people’s products. If you also have your own affiliate program (and I want that to be your ultimate goal) that is a whole separate thing but it’s also similar, but aside from pleasing your customers, you’ll also need to help your affiliates.
Day 13 – Taking Inventory of Your Affiliate Promotions
Let’s begin with something very basic. Let’s do inventory. Yes, even if you are an affiliate marketer, you should take the time to look through the products you are actively promoting (and earning from) in order to begin getting organized.
Once you get organized, identify goals, and get the technology in order, you will be able to finally start figuring out what is working and what is not working. Then you’ll be able to tweak everything to improve it. When you start improving what you’re doing and throwing out what isn’t working, you’ll see a huge return on investment that will make it all worth it.
Set Up a Spreadsheet
The first thing you want to do is set up a spreadsheet so that you can organize your current inventory of products that you’re promoting. First, just make a simple list of the products. Next grab your main affiliate links for the products, list your average net earnings for the product per promotion, and total earnings year to date. Let’s look at how this might look.
- Name of the Product – This label is obviously for the name of the product, but you may also want to include the name of the creator, especially if you promote many products from them to remind yourself whose product it is.
- Affiliate Link – Include the affiliate link to the product just so that you can use this spreadsheet for other things such as posting the link as part of the answer to a question when that product is the solution for the question. Don’t forget to include the redirect link info. I’ve used Pretty Links for years with excellent results.
- Segment – This is also a good thing to include from the beginning because it will help you know who this should be marketing to and who you are marketing it to during your campaigns.
- Problem Solved – Another helpful label to help yourself remember – and it could actually be part of the segment label if you want it to – but being able to print out a list of products to solve a particular product is also a good way to differentiate this spreadsheet.
- Expenses – How much are you spending on promoting that product? If you don’t know, it will be hard to know whether your work was productive or not. You don’t have to include anything that isn’t solely related to that one product, but you can also divide general expenses, like software, among the products too if you want to be even more accurate.
- Earnings – Include how much you’ve brought indirectly for each of the links to each of the affiliate products. So, if you have links to the same product but they are on different platforms, you may also want to separate that to drill down even more.
- Net Earnings – From the information above, you can extrapolate the net earnings you’ve made from each individual product and link that you promote.
- Lifetime Earnings – You can also add up the net earnings from each product to find out how much you have earned over the lifetime of promoting the product.
This spreadsheet can help you keep the products you’re promoting organized. Plus, it can help you see clearly whether some of the products don’t need to be promoted anymore due to low or no earnings. When you just lump all your inventory and income together, it’s hard to know what is producing it. Additionally, this can help you identify additional products you need by finding solutions to other problems your ideal customer has.
On Day 14 we’ll discuss the connection and strategy between your own and affiliate products.
Day 14 – Why Having Your Own Product Will Help You to Earn More as an Affiliate Marketer
It took me a full year to create my own product. I just couldn’t figure out what to create and because I was doing so well as an affiliate for other people’s products I didn’t see the harm in not creating one of my own right away. Then I began working with a mentor who explained that I needed to make a name for myself as an entrepreneur if I wanted to be taken seriously and to increase my income exponentially over time. Once I understood the strategy I was excited to begin creating information products and courses.
On Days 4 and 5 I went into greater detail about creating your own info product. Scroll up to read through those again. But now I’m going to share a concept with you that is sure to rock your world. A blog post can be a product as well. Yes, it’s true.
Right now you are going through this 2020 Productivity Challenge at your own pace. Even though it’s available to you at no cost or obligation I know you are taking it seriously and see the great value in what I’m sharing with you here. This Challenge is a product! And even though it’s at zero cost I do have many links to my own products, as well as to those of my affiliate partners. You may wish to do something similar.
Here is another example of a blog post that’s a product. It’s called Blueprint for Entrepreneurship – Is There a Blueprint After All? Read through that post (I update it once a month or so) and then I’ll meet you back here for Day 15 of your 2020 Productivity Challenge. Mind boggling at how simple it is to put things together and share them with others, isn’t it?
Day 15 – Revisiting Your Why
Do you often why of the “Why?” for your business? Do you even remember why you wanted to become an entrepreneur and/or an author and live life on your terms? The pandemic has shifted some of our goals recently and left us with a lack of focus. Our goals from the beginning of 2020 seem so far away and irrelevant at times. It simply hasn’t been possible to pursue some of them and others may now seem obsolete.
While goals may change, your vision for your life doesn’t have to.
Review each of your goals but rather than asking, “Can I still achieve this?” reconnect to your why. Review your top three reasons for selecting that goal and ask yourself, “What am I really trying to accomplish here? What’s my motivation at this point in time?”
Some of our goals may not survive, and that’s a fact we must accept. But your vision for your overall life will. Get back in touch with your why, and then you’ll see new ways to achieve your vision.
You are half Way Through with Your 2020 Productivity Challenge – Congratulations!
Day 16 – Get Into the Habit of Syndicating Your Content Regularly
Syndication is the process of sharing your content on sites that you do not own or control, for the purpose of enjoying wider exposure and greater reach. This can be as simple as sharing one of your blog posts on Twitter, something I do at least once a day, or repurposing your short report into a slide show to share on SlideShare.
A site I have been syndicating to for years is Medium. In the last few years Medium has enjoyed widespread popularity and thousands of publications from within Medium are now available in every niche you can imagine. I will encourage you to first publish your content on a site or sites you own and control, and then within a day or two later share it on Medium.
I teach the intricacies of Medium in my ongoing training course, Syndication Optimization. Syndication everything you write, say, and record is the fastest way to share your message on a global level.
Day 17 – Who Are You Spending Your Time With Regularly?
Motivational author and speaker Jim Rohn taught us that “we are the average of the five people we spend time with” and those who believed him benefited from that precept. The fact is that there is quite of bit of research that corroborates this and I’d like for you to at least give it some thought.
During my younger years I did not choose wisely when it came to friends. I’m an introvert by nature and waited for people to approach me. The result was that I was often hurt or upset at something that occurred and felt lonely more often than not.
This continued throughout my teaching career and in real estate. I longed for the kind of deep friendships that I observed from time to time, but had no idea how to cultivate them.
When I left that world behind in 2006 I began to participate in activities where I was volunteering in the community, attending meetings and events for non-profits and service organizations, and getting to know the other people who had already been a part of this world, many times for decades. I joined Rotary, an international service organization and soon I was having lunch once a week with people who were very different than the ones I had known previously in my life.
The people I had taught with and done real estate with soon drifted away from my life. It happened slowly and there were never any hurt feelings; we just didn’t have much in common any longer. My new inner circle of friends I was spending time with included people who were anxious to see me succeed with my new business and excited about helping me in any way they possibly could.
Take a look at your own inner circle of five friends to see if your people are a benefit to you and you to them. This will lead to people connecting with you because they want you to be in their inner circle!
Day 18 – Start a Podcast
My first podcast debuted in 2011. It was clumsy and awkward and imperfect…and helped me to make a name for myself all over the world. Yes, talking about your topic for twenty minutes or so on a regular basis is powerful. I followed that with an interview style podcast in 2013 and that one went for five years before I decided to take a break.
In January of 2018 I debuted my newest podcast series. It’s called Praestabilis: Excellence in Marketing. The word praestabilis is Latin and loosely translates to “outstanding, excellent, extraordinary.” It’s the right description for what I wish to achieve. I do two podcasts each month and they average around fifteen minutes each. My process is a simple one; I think of something I’d like to talk about, make a few bullet points, and start talking. It truly is this easy to become a podcaster and share your message with the world.
There are many complicated ways to set up and create your podcast. I keep everything simple, so I recommend the simplest way there is to achieve this goal. My long time friend and colleague Mike Stewart has the training I recommend, and he even offers a service where he will do it for you.
I began my online business in 2006 by teaching people how to write, publish, and market their eBooks. This was before Amazon set up and created their self-publishing platform and way before Kindle. This niche fit nicely with my background as a classroom teacher, where I spent twenty years teaching people from age five through high school to write in a way that would prepare them for higher education and a career. Most of my students spoke Spanish or Tagalog as their native tongue, so writing in English was truly a challenge.
It made sense for me to transfer my skills to helping others write eBooks. The next step was to find a training from someone who had already been writing, publishing, and marketing eBooks and selling them online for many years. That person is Jim Edwards and these days I am proud to call him a friend and colleague. His eBook training is the most thorough and complete, and it’s also the least expensive. He updates it regularly so you never miss a change or shift in the marketplace.
Choose your topic. Take a look to see what other eBooks and books on Kindle are being sold that are similar to what you will be writing. Then get started so you can create your first, or next eBook. I’m going to recommend that you sell it on a website first, before submitting it to Kindle. There are many reasons for this, including the fact that you can earn much more by selling on your own platform.
Do you have questions about eBooks?
I hope you are benefiting from the 2020 Productivity Challenge!
Day 20 – Using Private Label Rights (PLR) Content to Grow Your Business Quickly
I’m a writer. Writers write every day. Even though I’ve written more words since coming online in 2006 than I wrote during my previous half century on earth, there is no possible way I could ever live long enough to write as much content as I need for my business.
When I first purchased PLR I was nervous about posting it on my blogs. I told myself a story that my readers would think less of me for not writing my own blog posts. Then one did I shared an article on listing building and that post was more popular than anything I had posted that year in terms of social media shares, comments, and purchases of the product I was recommending. It didn’t take long for me to figure out the reason why this was the case; the writing was superior to anything I could write and my readers found greater value with the content. I felt bad for a nanosecond and then got over it. PLR writers are typically highly educated writers who have been working as “writers for hire” for many years.
Give PLR a try and use it for all of your content needs, including but not limited to:
- Blog Posts
- Short Reports
- White Papers
- Information products
- Cheat Sheets
- Content to fill a membership site
- Autoresponder email sequences
As you can see, private label rights content can help you to build a profitable business quickly. Yes, I have a list of my favorite PLR providers and most of what I’m sharing on this page is completely free!
You are two thirds of the way through the 2020 Productivity Challenge – Congratulations!
Day 21 – Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet
Now I know what you’re thinking. Why would eating sugar make a difference for me as an author and/or an entrepreneur? The truth is that it makes a significant difference because sugar can impact cognitive function and memory, as well as the health issues that may arise that include diabetes, weight gain, and cardiovascular disease. And the brain fog that comes with including even small amounts of sugar in your diet is unacceptable for you when you’re writing, creating, and doing other types of “brain work.” And if all of this doesn’t make you stop and think about taking better care of your body, know that sugar accelerates the aging process.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Eating Sugar:
“Sugar is addictive and activates a dopamine response in the reward center of the brain, like a drug,” says author David Wolfe. Depending on the amount of sugar you consume daily, you might experience varying drops in blood sugar levels, sweating, shaking, irritable moodiness, hunger, and sadness.
The days just after you’ve stopped consuming sugar are perhaps the hardest. “You may have withdrawal-like symptoms including headaches and a drop in energy levels,” says Dr. Sara Gottfried. You’ll probably have some strong cravings for something sweet, too. But already, your body is beginning to heal itself.
After a week of not consuming any sugar is when the magic happens. Your body will quickly start to repair itself once sugar is out of the way, starting with improvements in insulin levels and inflammatory responses. According to Gottfreid, in just 72 hours, as your insulin levels begin to stabilize, other hormones (like those involved in fat storage) will also return to normal levels. Another noticeable difference? Skin clarity and less puffiness in the face.
Please think about what I’m sharing here and consider making this change in your life. I want you to get the most out of this 2020 Productivity Challenge and this can give you an unfair advantage over others who continue to eat poorly overall. Exercise and moving your body throughout each day to keep the blood flowing to your brain is also crucial to your overall health. The world needs writers and entrepreneurs who are clear minded, full of energy and ideas, and ready to meet the challenges of life and business with focus and solutions.
Day 22 – Master a Skill That Will Set You Apart from 99% of Those Working Online
The skill I am recommending that you learn well, with the intention of getting to the mastery level is copywriting. This is an area that most of us dreaded when we got started an online entrepreneurs. Once we took a closer look at the parts and flow of sales letters we felt confident enough to tackle our own sales pages.
I was determined to learn to write sales copy for the products and courses I was creating and over time came up with an excellent style that served me well. But I was still at the amateur level until I went through the Copy eClass from master copywriter Jason Fladlien. I paid full price for this training when Jason first released it. Now he has completely updated it and you can come in to Copy eClass for only $1 right now while it is still available. Please let me know what you think about learning copywriting strategies as a part of the 2020 Productivity Challenge.
Day 23 – Find a Blueprint That Works for You…and Work It
I used to say there was no blueprint for entrepreneurship but I decided to rethink that when I observed my own students and mentees following along with a plan of action I worked with them to create, and then following that plan to fruition.
The blueprint you choose will guide you through the process of choosing a niche, creating a lead generator, adding an opt in box to your blog, website, or squeeze page, and creating an autoresponder sequence to nurture your new prospects. There is more to this, of course but if you accomplish just what I’m sharing here you will be far ahead of most of the people who dream of online entrepreneurship.
I created a simple and inexpensive training called 3 Day eBiz that goes into great detail with the beginning steps of an online business.
The next steps would include setting up your social media profiles and being active on the “Big Three” – Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, blogging, syndicating your content on Medium, and reaching out to the people you have been purchasing from, learning from, and becoming an affiliate for to build relationships from the very beginning. This is the step most people seem to neglect that costs them dearly down the road.
What else do you consider to be an important part of an entrepreneurial blueprint?
Day 24 – Create Multiple Opt In Pages
When I first learned and finally embraced this concept of creating separate squeeze pages to reach different segments of my target audience the bright light came on and my productivity soared. Previous to this time I had been relying on my blog to reach out to my prospects and allow them to join my list. This strategy works, but not very effectively. Allow me to explain more fully what I mean by this.
We tend to think of our ideal prospects as being much like us in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, education level, socioeconomic status, values, beliefs, religious and political views, goals for life and business, and more. In fact, people who are “just like you” comprise only a small percentage of the people who will be attracted to you and what you have to offer. Everyone else will be at least slightly different from you and this will be exactly why you will want to create multiple opt in (or squeeze) pages for people to sign up to your mailing list.
For example, my list is made up of both men and women from all over the world. They range in age from early thirties to early eighties. They vary in level of education completed, annual income, family status, and their goals for becoming an author and/or an entrepreneur. And, most of all they all learn from me and consider themselves to be a part of my online community. We have much more in common than anything that we differ on and I cannot imagine my life without these people in my world. It makes sense that each person would be attracted to a different type of opt in page and free giveaway and I do my best to serve them all as the unique individuals they are.
~Now It’s Time to Be Completely Objective (You Can Do This!)~
Pull up the site where you are currently a free giveaway (special report, audio recording, video series, eBook, eCourse, or something else) and make a sincere attempt to put yourself in the shoes of your visitor. Think of those who visit your site(s) as first being visitors and readers, and then prospects once they have opted in to your list.
What will your visitor find when they arrive?
- Is your site welcoming in terms of visual appeal, layout, and navigation?
- Is your name and a recent photo prominently displayed at or near the top of the page?
- Will they be able to opt in to your list easily? (Opt in yourself using your second email address and make sure what happens next is exactly what you had planned for them.
- Is it clear what your site and business is about?
- Have you created content recently that is relevant to the topic you are sharing?
- After opting in, will your prospect (your visitor is now a prospect!) begin to receive a series of automated email messages? This is your autoresponder sequence and this is the service I’ve been using and recommending for over a decade => Aweber.
- Will your autoresponder sequence (known as a “nurture” sequence) let your prospect know more about you? You’ll want to share some personal information (only as much as you are comfortable with, and without sharing sensitive information) in regards to what you were doing before you started your business, other websites or blogs, podcasts, video channels, books, products, and courses. I have found it best to let people know you’re in business from day one. Sell them something they will benefit from!
I’m going to stop here for now because this part of the productivity challenge can be at least slightly overwhelming. Please leave a comment or reach out to me if you have further questions about setting up additional opt in pages to reach people in the many demographics that make up your target audience.
Day 25 – How to Become a Productivity Power Machine!
This is the 2020 Productivity Challenge, yet I have so far only shared how to be productive as you build and grow your online business. Today I’m going to share how I became more productive than I ever thought possible in both my personal life and in business, and how you can emulate what I’ve done to do the same thing. In fact, you may surprise yourself (and those around you who know you well) by accomplishing tasks more quickly and easily than may be thought to be humanly possible.
Productivity begins with being able to execute whatever needs to be done. But becoming a “productivity power machine” is about knowing which tasks you will execute and which ones you will hand off to someone else. I will explain what I mean here.
I got started online in the early spring of 2006. After getting over the initial shock of what would be required of me as an online entrepreneur I got to work with choosing a niche (that first year I planned to help people to write, publish, and market an eBook to sell on their own site) and setting up PayPal and a merchant account to be able to receive payments.
Then the reality of the business hit me like a ton of bricks. I would need to write and to understand technology in order to succeed online back then. The only trouble with this realization was that as much as I had always wanted to write, I had not written. And even though I was considered to be the “computer person” at the schools where I had taught, my computer skills consisted of basic word processing with a program called Word Perfect and using an Apple IIc with a monochrome monitor with programs like PrintShop (I created awesome banners with my 9 pin printer) and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.
So there I was, sitting in front of my new Dell desktop computer (I’d made the switch to a PC by then) and trying to figure out what to do each day. I joked with friends and family that I was only working half days (12 hours) and that it was a little more difficult than I had thought it would be. By the end of the first month I was exhausted and had little to show for it.
Right around this time I downloaded an eBook on productivity written by a young man from Iowa. He wanted to make a name for himself and was sharing some of his productivity secrets in exchange for opting in to his list.
That little report changed my life. During the next week I decided to go all in with writing and published my first two blog posts. I made the decision to have someone else do the technology for me and found a woman in Virginia with whom I made a barter agreement for her services. Then I made a schedule for myself so I knew what I would be doing each day, throughout the day.
The second week arrived and I was now working at my computer for no more than six hours each day. I challenged myself to write one hundred articles in one hundred days (I did achieve this goal, but it only took me 78 days). My new website and blog were set up for me and looked very professional with graphics and design. I began to build some relationships and became an affiliate for half a dozen people so I could recommend their products and services to others.
In short, I had become a productivity power machine.
And my income?
At the time I read Jason’s (he was the young man from Iowa) eBook I had earned $21.60 from the sale of an affiliate product on dog training (it was created by Frank Kern, using a nom de plume and this is a whole ‘nother story) I had found on Clickbank and had sold through one of my blog posts where I wrote about my little dogs. I was also spending about two hundred dollars each month for my expenses so my bottom line was in the red.
After I learned the secrets of productivity from Jason Fladlien everything turned around for me. I flew through my daily tasks and activities and every week I strived to do two things; to learn something new and to outsource something new.
My income steadily increased but something else occurred that was even more valuable to me at the time – I felt good about myself! I hope you can relate to that. As a classroom teacher for twenty years and working simultaneously in real estate for even longer I had forgotten what it felt like to accomplish something I set out to do. I was happier, more focused, and more fun to be around (according to those close to me) and I could taste the success that had previously eluded me and was now mine. I want this for you as well.
Please take a look at “Double Your Productivity” from the master of productivity, Jason Fladlien. I am able to offer it to you for only $9.95 for a limited time.
Day 26 – The Bigger Picture of Online Entrepreneurship and Authorship
Having the ability to earn money from a business I run almost exclusively on the internet, and from wherever in the world I may be at any given time is a gift from God, in my opinion. It is something I will never, ever take for granted and I know that my business only exists because of you. Thank you for being a part of my global community and please know that I will do anything within my power to help you succeed.
I started with the simple, fundamental pieces of building a business online. Even though I had been in business as a real estate broker and residential appraiser during the twenty years I simultaneously worked as a classroom teacher in the inner city of Los Angeles, I knew very little about business. I was used to “old school” marketing, where I made cold calls and sent postcards until I had a real live client to work with. I scoffed at the idea of marketing all the time, and it wasn’t until I came online when I realized how much business I had missed out on over the decades because of my naivete and lack of knowledge in this area.
Over the first few years of my entrepreneurial journey I slowly found my way and learned more skills. I was willing to stub my toe and skin my knees in the process of gaining knowledge that would ultimately improve my business and increase my bottom line. Yes, it was painful at times, but every step brought me closer to the moving target of success.
I celebrated milestones along the way – the first person to subscribe to my list, my first sale, my first product and more. These all helped to pave the way to my first live event, my first joint venture, my first speaking engagement, and my first book.
One day I looked up and discovered that I had morphed into a new person. I had succeeded at reinvention, a word I did not know existed when I first began. And as my income increased, so did my confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes I stared into the bathroom mirror and marveled at how I had changed. Not so much physically, but in subtle ways that others saw and pointed out. I couldn’t see it because I was too close to the changes, like when you’re around a baby or young child and can’t see them growing and changing and going through the process of becoming the person they will be.
So as you travel your entrepreneurial journey, be aware of the transformation you are making. You are just like that little boy or girl whose parents don’t see the changes so easily, but when grandma and grandpa come to visit they can’t believe how much you’ve grown and changed since they were last with you.
Go after your biggest and wildest dreams and goals. On Day 10 I encouraged you to “daydream your future into your reality” because it’s in your dreams that your reality is born. What do you want? Write it down, say it out loud, and take one step, no matter how small each day to get closer to where you want to be from where you are right now. You have entered a multiverse of sorts, where everything is interconnected and nothing is out of reach. There are parallel universes on the internet where you can step through a wall of cellophane and reach a new dimension.
Your online business is the vehicle in which you will travel to new heights and with new people and ideas and opportunities like you have never given yourself permission to entertained or perhaps have not yet imagined. Go with the flow and know that an eBook or an information product or a joint venture will unlock doors that will unleash a starburst of possibility.
Day 27 – The Power of Talking to Strangers
On a sticky summer’s day in 2014 I found myself standing in line at the post office. The line wound around the shipping counter and past the stamp machines and almost all of the way past the rental boxes at the very back of the building. To pass the time I did what I always do when my time is compromised – I checked my phone for new email messages, jotted down a note to myself, allowed my mind to wander, and talked to a stranger.
I’ve been talking to strangers since I was a little girl, and because my mother did as well I never thought it to be an odd or peculiar habit. It was only when I went to college that a friend commented on this behavior.
“You talk to people you don’t even know. Why do you do that?” she asked.
While I had no answer at that time, I did formulate one, at least in my mind a short time later. I talk to strangers (defined as people to whom I have yet to be introduced) because I am curious about who they are, what they do, and what they think and care about. Since becoming an entrepreneur I had made one addition to that list; I want to know what problems they need to solve that are keeping them up at night.
On the day in question I struck up a conversation with the lady in front of me in line. It happened naturally and within a couple of minutes anyone would have mistaken us for good friends. We laughed and talked and exchanged some thoughts and ideas. We spoke of things of great interest and little importance, as well as issues that could lead to or detract from world peace.
Then it was her turn to approach the counter and our fast friendship was over. Or was it? At these times I am always in the position of having to make the split second decision as to whether or not to continue the relationship past the initial conversation. This time it took only a nanosecond to decide – I wanted to know her more.
I took out my card – one created for me by my Rotary Club that showed my name and title as “Marketing and Publicity” and included my email address and phone number. I turned the card over and over in my hand while I waited for her to complete her transaction. Growing more impatient by the minute I toyed with the idea of going on my way. But the little voice in my head encouraged me to stay and I did.
When we were finally finished and walked outside we talked for another minute. It turned out she was also an author and entrepreneur and had been enjoying this lifestyle for longer than I knew was possible. This delightful woman was Barbara Winter, author of Making a Living Without a Job: Winning Ways for Creating Work That You Love. She is also a public speaker and hosts live events of her own throughout the United States and beyond. We promised to stay in touch and we have over these years. As I made my way to my car I felt gratitude for this chance meeting and hope for what was possible for each of us in the future because we had met on that day.
On Day 7 I discussed building relationships, but talking to strangers takes this to the next level. Give it a try and see if this strategy does for you what it continues to do for me – connect me with people I might otherwise not have met and broadened my horizons further and deeper. When you and I meet in person, please remind me to share the story of the lady I met while traveling alone on a tour bus to a beach city for a day excursion. It’s fascinating!
Day 28 – Be Aware of and Join Giveaways, Bundles, and Joint Ventures
I honestly do not remember when I first heard about giveaways and bundles. At some point someone sent me an email about one and I opted in to receive multiple products, either at no cost through a giveaway or at an extremely low cost if it was a bundle sale.
Joint ventures were on my radar from the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey and my first JV was with Dr. Jeanette Cates. This one was a great success on both a personal and professional level and we did a dozen more times over the next several years.
During the past 30 days I have been involved with two giveaways and a fire sale. The fire sale was to raise funds for someone with a rare form of cancer. One of the giveaways was for authors and the other for newer entrepreneurs. Another piece of this is that you will be given the opportunity to recommend the offer in return for an affiliate commission.
You want to be aware of who is hosting these bundles and giveaways and make sure you have some products you may include. Also, opt in to any of these offers you come across to make sure what the host(s) are doing is in alignment with your goals as a entrepreneur and business owner. Do your due diligence in finding out all of the details before you agree to include one of your products or to promote the offer to others.
Done strategically, including your products, courses, and services in bundles, giveaways, and for joint ventures will help you build relationships and increase your bottom line significantly.
Day 29 – Your Prime Time Hours Each Day
As a part of the 2020 Productivity Challenge I want to revisit a time management and productivity topic that I believe to be so important to our lives and businesses as entrepreneurs. Even though it took me a decade of working online as an author and entrepreneur before I considered myself to be a “morning person,” there has never been any doubt that I am most productive early in the morning. It’s quiet and peaceful, I work alone, and at least ninety percent of my writing and product creation is accomplished in these early morning hours, as I shared with you earlier.
This is how to figure out which hours of each day will be the most productive for you…
Find a time when you do not have a tight schedule that must be adhered to, perhaps a weekend or when you have time off from a job or other work you may be involved with. Go to bed when you are tired, not earlier or later. Awake when it is natural for you to do so, not when you typically have to get up to match someone else’s schedule. Sit down at your computer and begin writing. Is it flowing? If not, wait for two hours and try again. Do this throughout your day to see when you are the most alert and filled with creativity and enthusiasm. Those are your prime time hours.
I would love to hear from you on this important topic. Which hours did you find to be your most effective ones? Do you get a second wind at another time of day? What will you do to protect your prime time hours on a regular basis?
Day 30 – Let’s Review the Basics of Entrepreneurship and Productivity
As we wrap us the 2020 Productivity Challenge I’d like to review some of what I’ve shared with you. Even though I had a small real estate business for the twenty years leading up to when I came online as an entrepreneur, the truth was that I had no idea of what would be expected for me to succeed with a business run exclusively on the internet.
What I learned the first week of being at home, in front of my computer, and not being sure how to make the most of my time was that I had to be accountable to myself each and every day if I wanted to succeed. This meant creating a schedule for myself and taking action on everything I learned. Because I had spent the previous twenty years working for someone else (I was an employee of the school district while I was a classroom teacher) I was used to being told what to do and when to do it. I was also used to receiving a paycheck every fourth Friday, deposited directly into my checking account and waiting for me to write checks and withdraw cash from my neighborhood ATM machine. Those days were over and when the reality set in I decided to get to work in a way that I had never been willing to do before.
This entailed getting up in the morning at five thirty, which was actually one hour later than I had been getting up in order to get ready and to make the commute to my school. Instead of turning on the computer and staring at the screen to decide what to work on first, I consulted my “to-do” list that was written on a five by seven inch mini legal pad. Then I got to work with writing an article or a blog post, watching a training video, or reading something from one of the dozen people I was now following online.
Within a few short weeks I was in the habit of working for about ninety minutes, giving myself a fifteen minute break to take my dogs outside and prepare a snack, and then returning to my desk to work straight through until lunch at eleven.
The first month was uneventful in that I continued to do what I had on my schedule and filling my time with reading, writing, learning, and implementing. The only problem was that other than one commission from an affiliate product I had recommended in a blog post, I wasn’t earning any income. I knew I had to focus on this each day or the money I had cashed out from my teacher’s retirement account would dwindle down to nothing and I would be in financial trouble. This is what I did to turn it all around and start earning money from my online endeavors:
- I chose five people I had been learning from and purchasing products and courses from and became their affiliate.
- Then, I wrote blog posts about each of them where I shared what I had learned and why I was recommending them.
- Next, I posted those five articles on the article directories that were used back then. These days Medium has taken the place of the directories and has the potential to drive massive traffic to your blog and websites.
- Finally, I reached out personally to each of the five people. I told them what I had purchased and how I was using what I had learned. And I asked them if I could interview them about the product I had bought. They all said yes!
Now perhaps I am oversimplifying the strategies and steps I am sharing with you here, but the truth is that all of this was much more difficult than it might seem as you are reading it. You must follow these steps exactly as I am outlining them here. And don’t leave anything out or you’re back to square one and must begin again.
Yes, over time I learned more and created my own products, but laying this foundation gave me a blueprint of sorts to follow over and over again.
To end the 2020 Productivity Challenge I challenge you to go back through all thirty days of training and ideas I have included here, and to commit to taking massive action with what I am suggesting. And I would love to hear from you about any one of the products, courses, or trainings you have purchased from me so you and I could record a call you could share with your community. This is the “each one, teach one” philosophy that pulls everyone up to greater heights and accomplishments.
I have a wonderful surprise for you at the end of the 2020 Productivity Challenge!
I’m bestselling author, marketing strategist, productivity and time management expert, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability. I’m here to serve you!