We all are looking for ways to make money online, but with all the competition and options available it can be difficult to capitalize on opportunities. I turned to Internet marketing expert, Samantha Milner to give some insight into her decade long experiences with all aspects of Internet marketing. Samantha has created a countless supply of successful products to cater to a wide variety of niches. If you want to learn how to make money online, this interview is the place to start. Thanks Samantha!
Please tell us about your background and why you got started in Internet marketing?
My name is Samantha Milner and along with my husband Dominic we own DSM Publishing limited which is a family owned Internet marketing company. We live in southern Portugal in The Algarve with our eight year old son, Kyle.
Like many other people we ventured into starting our own business as we realised that the rat race was simply not for us. Even though we didn’t have high debts it always felt like the little money that we made from our employers wasn’t going very far after paying the endless bills that we had to cover first.
We spent a year doing Kleeneze (door to door catalogues) and at this point realised how much we wanted our very own business. We grabbed a copy of a business opportunities magazine and decided to see what we could achieve.
You made £30,000 from your first Internet marketing product, back in 2000, please tell us about that.
We had put together a simple course on how to start your own business on eBay and at the time it was much appreciated as all that was on offer at the time was envelope stuffing or Kleeneze. Now it has been done right to the death but nine years ago it was this amazing special thing and there was absolutely no competition.
We placed advertisements in a range of offline publications. Compared with today’s standards the advert was very ugly and small but still did the trick! From memory, the costs for the adverts were around £3,000 plus for our additions in The Sun and News Of The World we had to stump up a deposit just in case we were fraudsters.
We also needed to create a website as the advert was so small there was a need to re-direct the customers in order for us to pitch our offer to them. The website looked pretty bad, actually it looked plain awful. It featured about 15 different font sizes, 10 different font colours and awful bleary clipart images. We should have got sued all the way to the bank as I bet we didn’t have permission to use the images in the first place. But this really didn’t matter as at the time they all looked like this so it was no surprise really. The venture brought us in around £30,000 after costs which was wonderful.
However our wide smiles from all the sales soon dried up when it dawned on us that we had nowhere near enough products to fulfill our orders. Even though we expected to make a really good profit we never expected it to be this high. All we had was an old PC, an even older printer, the spiral binder for creating the booklets, plus an even higher amount of printer paper. Then using a vast amount of speed we managed, god knows how, to package up ten orders an hour and it took us a good fifty hours to sort out.
After a day we had really worked our socks off, through the night, the next day and beyond. To top it all, at the time I was working as a waitress at the time in a hotel and split shifts was a tiring combination even for a fit 18 year old. As you can imagine I soon handed in my notice and became part of the full time direct mail marketing breed.
Previous to this we had tried a lot of different methods via direct mail but none where we had used our own website. It had always involved sending out letters with information about a product with the specifications and then an address to send a cheque to. Plus as there was no website, the letter sending was often a mounting outlay so our postage costs were pretty high.
This is one of the reasons why so many failed in direct mail because they couldn’t cover the initial outlays that were involved. They may have created a bad advert but would still have to some how cover those advertisement costs. Plus very few would send stamped addressed envelopes in those days and those first class stamps soon added up.
We carried on with this method for a good two years until we had totally saturated the market with our information. Our product even went further than the UK and the world had now been hit with our amazing offer. In the end though others had copied our ideas and of course the sales had dried up just like it does anytime that you no longer have the biggest chunk of a niche.
The biggest mistake we made was that we should have paid for a decent website and created an affiliate program, but by the time we realised it the opportunity had passed by us.
That’s exactly what you have to learn about this business, if your sales drop do something about it or move onto something new. So at this point we started doing the same product but as an instant download. There was hardly anyone doing this at the time so people loved us for it and once this dried up we looked for our next opportunity.
How closely related is direct mail to online marketing?
I find that direct mail and online marketing are very close in many ways. Direct mail is a lot harder to get into at first and make a profit from due to the high outgoings.
For example to start a campaign with a brand new product will cost us a minimum of £1,000 through direct mail and you are not guaranteed success in any shape or form. You have this highly competitive marketplace available to you and finding a niche in it that you will make money from straight away is tough. Many people when they first start a business will quit if they don’t make a profit instantly and through direct mail this can mean that your venture will leave you in debt.
If you can break into the direct mail niche and sell yourself or your product you will be armed with amazing qualities that you can take into online marketing and people will respect you more for having a harder start than others.
Another great example is the sales copy – this is one talent that any online marketer dreams of possessing over anything else. If you can write good sales copy you can sell whatever you want. With direct mail you have to learn how to write very short adverts to get those customers through the door.
Take the Exchange And Mart as an example of this – your advert will be on a page with 100 other small sized adverts and you need to get the readers to visit your web page or send a request for information to you.
By going down the direct mail route you will then be ready to make money online. If I hadn’t done direct mail I doubt I would have been successful as quickly online.
Please tell us how you make money?
I make money online by having multiple streams of income that each contribute to my wage. They are small, medium and large with my main website, DSM-Publishing being one of my larger income streams. I never have a problem with really small ones either as when you add them all up they contribute to become a major part of my online salary.
I have several income streams that provide me with just $50 a month and this is fine with me. They are mainly from products that I set up a long time ago and are marketed just from articles. They have been left alone and haven’t had any attention for some time but because they are still ranked on Google through ezinearticles.com they are still paying their way.
My smaller income streams also concentrate on the affiliate marketing sector which should never be ignored. I have a range of tutorials that I have created over the past year or so. They cover everything from WordPress through to Aweber (an autoresponder program). I provide them free of charge with personal rights or for a small fee with master resale rights ($9-$19). But it’s the download page that provides me with the income as they are reminded when they download the free copy of WordPress Expert, that they need hosting for their WordPress Blog and this is when the Hostgator sales come through to me. Because this is not a new product I don’t get that many sales but will get at least 10 Hostgator commissions a month.
I also have other large income streams in all kinds of niches and often have business partners with these. Some websites require a lot of maintenance so I will make sure that there are three of us involved and then I won’t feel like I am suffering from work overload.
I am in the dieting niche for example and even though I organised it from the start I only have a 45% share. Someone else that co-owns the business with me will have another 45% share and the final 10% will go to a web designer. Instead of paying a web designer in advance he will get a share of the profits and will look after any technical issues or design issues for the lifetime of the business.
This suits me down to the ground as it means I always have someone to turn to whenever something goes wrong and there are no long term costs with the business venture.
These ventures are great as we all have something to offer – I sort out all the marketing and make sure that the product sells, someone else will provide the idea and have extensive knowledge in the niche in question.
I have many of these partnerships and they all come about when someone contacts me with their business idea and no knowledge of Internet marketing. I can train them through my methods so that they can be the best online. Each one of them that I have trained up has got into other niches because they have used me for the experience they desperately craved.
If I was to start out again tomorrow i.e. if someone stole my whole business I would simply build income streams again starting with the small ones. It is always better to have a certain amount of smaller ones as if you lose one it won’t matter. However if you just had two large ones and one went wrong that would be half your income gone. In other words we could all cope if we lost $50 off our monthly income but if we lost $5,000 would we still feel the same?
From your newsletter, it sounds like you are constantly trying out new business ideas, is that correct?
Yes that is correct – I am always adding new products whether it is something new to build up my mailing list or a paid product to add to my make money online range. It completely differs from time to time but on average it is 1-3 products a month. I don’t bring out new products during July – August as I have these months off.
The amount of work involved can vary with the potential size of the opportunity. When, I added Hostgator to my download pages it took just five minutes and some income streams can take me much longer.
I am currently involved in the health and beauty niche and started this business venture in September. However due to the size of the project this will not be live until the beginning of December.
In general though for a small project I can have it all done in under a week and a large project will take up 3-4 months of my time. But my time is often taken up with lots of different ventures at once so if I was starting out and dedicating my time to just one large venture I could have it completed in 60 days.
If I was creating a new make money online ebook. I could do one every weekend but if I went down this road I would burn out very quickly.
Many of your eBooks come with master resale rights, can you please explain what that means and why you do it?
Master resale rights means that the person that purchases it has the right to sell it on to others or give it away for free.
This is part of what I talk about in The Viral Profit Plan. Basically by getting others to distribute your products either by selling them or giving them away you are creating a trail. Inside your product you will have lots of links back to you and the more people that see this the more traffic that will come back to you.
There is no need to over sell yourself, some simple information on the homepage of a product will have the desired effect. Many people go down this road as a way of advertising their products and getting them out there.
For example – If you were creating a product about how to blog, a free ebook called “The 5 Steps To Successful Blogging” would be the perfect viral product with master resale rights. At the bottom of the product you would have something like this:
Thanks for reading “The 5 Steps To Successful Blogging” this is our beginners guide if you are ready to take the next step in your Blogging career you will love the following: http://www.bloggingwithpride.com
These little links that you have add up and as soon as you have just a couple of e-books that go viral you will have a huge stream of traffic waiting for you to make money from.
What has been your most successful product so far?
It is hard to pin point it to one product. What I will say is that I have had six products in the last 18 months that have each earned me a six figure sum. These have all been products that I have written myself and have marketed them for free, through my varied online marketing methods.
Out of these products though my favourite has been The Successful Marketers Bible as this shows newbies entering Internet marketing how to make money online by following a set of principles that are the blueprint of our own successful online business.
We have basically put together all the good bits of our business while leaving out all our mistakes so that you can have the fast track solution. It is then there for you to refer back to at any time in the future.
Success can also be measured on what you are most well known for which in my case this must be 24 Hour Twitter Expert. I never set out to go into the Twitter niche and write a Twitter e-book but after everyone saw my success on Twitter, gaining lots of followers in a short time and making money from it, they wanted to know more.
That is what you have to do with Internet marketing – when something presents itself you have to act on it straight away otherwise someone else will and you will miss out on the opportunity.
How do you choose a new product or niche to enter?
I don’t go out there looking for products or niches anymore they just seem to come to me. I will be walking to school with my son and something will just hit me and I will think why don’t I try this out?
I have several ideas folders on my laptop and when I am researching a new niche I will add lots of information to the folder. Then if I don’t have the time to go into the niche straightaway I will have something to refer back to later.
Do you feel that online niches are becoming more saturated so that it is harder to make money?
I don’t believe any niche is over saturated at all – it just depends how good you are when you are competing with others and what type of advertising you are using.
For example the make money online niche has a lot of competition and you are going to pay a lot more money for the keywords. Go into the food niche and there is very little. However when you compare the two side by side, the make money online niche has a lot more customers to choose from.
There are always lots of new niches to choose from and current niches are always the best to get involved in. For example we are in a recession in many parts of the world right now and creating products showing people how to save money or reduce their debts is going to sell like crazy.
On the other hand lots of people are talking about social media so if you are in the make money online niche, showing people how to do social bookmarking will be just as popular.
Here are some great niches that are hot right now:
- Gamblers in debt
- People whose house is going to be repossessed
- People whose business is going bust
- Students who need money
- People who want to get rich quick
- Parents that need help with their children
- Students who have failed or are frightened they will fail their exams
- Women that can’t get pregnant
- Women scared of husbands
- Men that can’t get a woman
- Common illnesses including headaches, back pain, depression, stress etc.
- Extra marital affairs
- Job hunting/career changes
- Selling your home
- Renovating your home
- Stress management
- Online business people
- Dieting and obesity
- Men with breasts
- Top ten lists
- Pet related illnesses
- Ebooks in different languages
- Save your relationship
- A good nights sleep
- Self help ebooks
- Holiday help – slimming down etc
- Last minute gift ideas
- Creating gifts at home (great in the recession)
- How to guides
You have products for eBay, Twitter, email lists, Yahoo, blogging, etc. If someone could only choose one, which would you recommend?
I would recommend my Mini Launch Profits because it allows people to start their very own business from scratch with absolutely no experience whatsoever. It can even be done without it costing you a single penny and very little effort is required even if you were a single mum with six kids. An hour a day and you will have your own business.
When you start an Internet marketing business you want to start out slowly with something incredibly easy before going into harder tasks and this is why I love this product the most above all of my others.
Do you outsource a lot of your work?
I must admit I’m rather afraid of the outsourcing world as like many other people I too have had my fingers burnt. I have bought graphics for a minisite from a webdesigner and I found out later that they had re-used them from another order when I believed my work was unique.
There have been a few other occasions where I have outsourced work and had great success but I do whatever I can myself as I don’t like the idea of someone else doing it.
I now have a team of outsourcers that I will call when I need work done which is great as I have worked with them before and can trust them. These are mainly article writers and webdesigners. Everything else is done by me or my husband.
I am sure soon I will have outsourced much more but I will never outsource it all, I enjoy my work too much to pass it all on to others.
What advice can you offer for someone looking to make money online?
I would always say to others to have lots of little notebooks to jot down all your ideas. Don’t spend money until you have a way of making the money back – if you are paying for an email autoresponder have a great one time offer to fund it.
Best of all don’t listen to everything that you read especially on forums. For example, people will tell you not to get involved in niches as they will believe that you will steal their traffic not because they are thinking of you.
If making money online is so easy why isn’t everyone doing it?
People are either frightened of what they want to do online whilst the others worry way too much about the competition that they are facing. I have seen it many times and it is quite upsetting that with a little more effort they really could make an absolute killing on the internet.
I sell a lot of automated products on the Internet and to make sure that there is no one hacking into the download pages I will keep an eye on how many times my products have been downloaded over a set period of time.
What shocks me though is how many people buy my product and then don’t even bother downloading the item after their payment has gone through. I probably am slightly tighter than most but it horrifies me that others would waste their very own money so easily without a little caution.
Secondly I recall exchanging lots of emails with a lovely couple from Vermont in the United States. They had written an e-book about affiliate marketing and if I am honest it was just the same as every other one that was already available to download on the Internet for free and they wanted to charge a premium for it.
I explained to them about a niche in their local area that needed tapping into and showed them that there were only a couple of people to compete with rather than the several thousand that they had been used to.
Not to mention the fact that the set up costs were so incredibly low all they would have to cough up for would be the hosting and a couple of graphics. As this was a niche that they were experts in, the creation of the products really would be a piece of cake.
However they got back to me and told me that as there was competition it was too risky for them and returned to their day job.
I would never consider touching a niche without competition as it is healthy to have it around you plus if someone else is already doing the rounds you already know that there is profit to be made from it. All you have to do is to make sure your product is the best and that you are the one that stands out.
When I wrote Internet Marketing Trio people thought I was nuts because it included elements of Internet marketing that had been done a million times before but I did it with my usual passion and real life examples.
It then brought in a five figure sum for me just by doing it with my own slant. So next time you approach a popular niche think about how your product will be bigger and better than the guy selling it across the pond. If you put the effort in and make your product the best there is no reason at all why you should possibly fail.