I began working on a small project that I naively thought was going to make me a lot of money online.

Like a lot of other people, I heard the success stories of guru’s who wrote eBooks and became overnight success stories selling millions of copies overnight.

So, I set out to write my own eBook with the thought that even if my eBook is just 1/10th as good as theirs I should still be able to sell at least a thousand copies, right?

Even if I only sold 1,000 copies, at $29/copy that would be $29,000 in my pocket. And imagine if I was able to sell 10,000 copies!

Writing the eBook

When I began working on this eBook, this Blog was still under the domain and my main slogan / topic was “Make Money Doing What You Love”.

One of the very first trends I noticed while just starting out with that Blog was that quite a few of my readers ( like all 20 of them ), weren’t really sure what they wanted to do in life.

Meaning, I noticed that quite a few of my readers would say stuff like “I love your Blog, but I don’t even know what I love to do. What do you do if you don’t know what your passion is?“

That gave me an idea…

I decided to write an eBook on “How to Figure Out Your Passion in Life“.

I was all excited because I knew the topic was popular, as I know a lot of people have no clue what their passion in life is. So I started researching the topic like crazy.

I began reading all kinds of Blogs on the topic. I read several books. I experimented with a bunch of different exercises and ways of figuring out my own passion in life, and I found several really cool exercises which really worked.

After a lot of research, testing, experimenting, and writing, I had my first eBook written.

Selling the eBook

All excited at the prospect of making thousands, possibly tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars selling my eBook I put it up on Clickbank and waited for the money to start pouring in.

The first few sales trickled in within the first few days. Most of them came from the 20 or so Blog readers I had on my Blog at the time.

After about a week or so, there were no more sales. I tried reducing the price, but that didn’t seem to change anything.

I tried changing the sales page, and a whole bunch of other things. Nothing seemed to help.

My hopes were shattered. I felt like crying.

What happened to the thousands of dollars I thought I was going to make?

Was my eBook really that bad?

That didn’t make sense to me, as people would have to buy it first to not like it, and the few people that did buy it loved it!

Was it my marketing? My sales page wasn’t the best, but I thought it was much better than most of the other ones I saw on Clickbank.

Learning The Most Important Lesson

That is when I learned one of the most important lessons of online marketing.

It’s a lesson that I try to teach all of my mentoring students – although sadly most of them don’t listen.

Not that I blame them because until that moment in my life, I didn’t listen either.

The biggest lesson in online marketing success is to build your audience first.

The reason my eBook didn’t do very well is because I had no audience!

My Blog at the time had 20 subscribers, yet somehow I thought that I would sell thousands of copies of my book. It just doesn’t work that way.

There are a lot of guru’s even today selling people on this idea of “Just create a digital product, and you will sell lots of copies!”

What they mean is that if they create a product, they will sell a lot of copies, but that is because (a) they have built a brand around their name, and (b) they probably have a list of 350,000+ email subscribers, and (c) they have access to other email lists where they can get affiliates to promote the product to a few million people.

THAT is why their products sell. It’s not that their products are so much better than what you can create. It’s that they have push-button access to millions of people. Period.

Converting Epic Fail to Epic Success

Disappointed by my “Epic Fail” eBook, I wondered what I should do next.

My Blog wasn’t growing at nearly the speed I had hoped it would.

My eBook wasn’t making me any money.

How was I ever supposed to quit my job, when I couldn’t even sell ten copies of an eBook for $9?

That’s when I made a decision that changed everything.

I decided to give away my eBook for free, instead.

I setup an Aweber account and decided to send people a free copy of my eBook in exchange for becoming a subscriber to my Blog.

The result was amazing.

People started signing up for my email list and I started to get really good responses on the eBook.

Once people started signing up, I was able to start emailing them every time I wrote a new Blog post as well which meant I started getting more comments on my Blog.

By getting more comments, I got more inspired to write more posts, which led to more subscribers and in turn even more comments.

The success cycle began.

I launched my Blog I had 39 RSS subscribers and around the same amount on my email list.

Just six months later, by June 2008 I had over 1,000 subscribers on my Blog.

By that time I had actually written several eBooks which I gave away for free on my Blog.

Today, just over 3 years since starting this Blog I have almost 10,000 subscribers.

99.9% of my subscribers today originally subscribed to my Blog in exchange for something free.

The Power of the Ethical Bribe

Here are 3 rules of Making Money Online that I have come to learn from my “mistake” of trying to make bank with my eBook.

Rule #1 of Making Money Online …. People LOVE free stuff.

People LOVE free stuff. There is no better way to build rapport with people than to give them something valuable for free.

If you are willing to make something of value, and give it away for free, people will love you for it.

Basically you are creating an “Ethical Bribe”. You agree to give someone something valuable for free, in exchange for them signing up to your email list.

Once they are on your email list, you treat them with respect by not spamming them and they reciprocate by staying subscribed long term.

It is THE best way to build an online audience FAST – Period.

Rule #2 of Making Money Online …. Most people are afraid to give away free stuff.

Most people online are afraid to give away their “best” stuff for free. I see Bloggers slaving away for years trying to establish an audience and when I suggest to them that they write an eBook and give it away for free as a bribe, they say something along the lines of “No, I’m going to wait until I build an audience first, then I’m going to sell my eBook to it.”

Yeah, well good luck with that.

The other thing I hear people saying is “If I give away my content for free, then nobody will ever want to pay for my stuff in the future.”

That is a pile of crap. It is totally not true.

But, here is the good news. 99.999% of Internet Marketers out there will always think this way, so the great news is that there is very little competition for YOU!

Don’t be an idiot. If you don’t have an audience right now, start building it today by giving away something for free.

In the long run, it will make you a pile of money.

Rule #3 of Making Money Online …. Most free stuff on the net is crap.

This is an important one. Remember, when I originally wrote my eBook, I wrote it thinking that I was going to make thousands or tens of thousands of dollars selling it. So I treated it like a ten-thousand dollar project. I didn’t just slap it together in 15 minutes.

I put so much energy into the eBook that if somebody paid me $30 for it, I would still think they got a great deal out of it.

To me, that eBook was worth at least $30/copy. And then I gave that away for free.

The mistake a lot of people make when creating a “Free” eBook or report to give away on their Blog is that they treat it as a “Free” eBook.

Meaning, they slap it together thinking “Who cares, people aren’t paying for this so why should I bother making it good?“

This is the wrong mindset to have. You want to create your “Free” bribe/eBook as if you’re writing an eBook that people would gladly pay $30 for, and THEN give that away for Free.

That is what will impress people and get you a growing audience FAST.

Differentiate yourself from everyone else out there by creating something of value, that you would have zero hesitation charging for, and then give it away for free.

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