How to Generate $10,000 a Month from a Brand New Blog The 10% of Neil Patel's Challenge

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Neil Patel is an SEO expert, an entrepreneur and a blogger extraordinaire.

I have learnt a lot about blogging and search engine marketing from his blog over the years.

And he recently announced a “challenge” to earn $100,000 per month from a new blog that he will launch.

Yeah you read that right, 100,000 US dollars per month.

He announced the challenge on his blog, and I quote:

A week ago, I wrote a blog post stating that anyone can generate $100,000 a month in income. To prove it, I told you that I’m going to create a new company and grow it from scratch without leveraging my connections.

In the majority of your comments, you told me you wanted me to create a new company in a space that I had no ties to. So I’m now starting a nutrition blog.

The official start date will be April 1, 2015. And within 12 months, I have to get the blog to generate $100,000 in monthly revenue.

I have, in my naivety and foolish bravado I’m sure, decided to join him in this challenge.

I still rue the day when I “thought” about joining Pat in his Niche Site Duel so many years ago. I never did it, only “thought” about it! Not this time around!

10 percent of Neil Patel's Challenge :) And he's already laughing!!!
10 percent of Neil Patel’s Challenge :) And he’s already laughing!!!

I will launch a blog in Pakistan, related to the fitness and nutrition domain, and within the next 12 months, take it to $10,000 per month. God willing.

Neil has set up his rules so that he won’t be leveraging his connections. I don’t know how that’d work. For example, the fact that he would book his domain name through his existing domain name provider, that would mean that he just leveraged his network. And that’s OK. But I am a bit confused when will Neil stop “leveraging” his network and what constitutes an “OK” as per his own rules (Neil, would you comment on this please?).

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The Rules of the Challenge

So here is the set up to the challenge. Every challenge must have rules, right? So here are mine with respect to Neil Patel’s rules:

The niche is nutrition for Neil. It is “health and fitness” for me. That’s a very, very good niche I think. Of course it is crowded like hell (which is a sign that there is potential in the market). In fact, it is part of the “big three” markets where a lot of people are willing to spend money on your product (Those three big markets are health, relationships and money).

Neil, as far as I know, is targeting a general purpose blog where he generates revenue through online traffic. His audience, essentially, will be the whole widey world. I am basing my blog/business specifically for the Pakistani market, and will be catering to the local market.

I feel clever drilling down on my niche, but given Neil knows tons more of this stuff than I ever could, I wonder why he hasn’t drilled down the niche — I still think a nutrition blog is a very general descriptor. The descriptor for my new blog would be something like “health and fitness blog for the Pakistani” or something like that.

Neil is targeting 100,000 US dollars per month revenue. He is known to spend a lot of money to promote his blog (which is well worth the spend of course — if you still haven’t checked out his blog, you must go and subscribe to make your learning curve hit your nose!!). Point is: Getting a 100,000 revenue per month with a 95,000 dollar spend would qualify as “mission accomplished” for Neil. My target is 10,000 dollars per month revenue — and if I end up spending 9,000 dollars to reach that, it would be mission accomplished for me as well. This is not as exciting I confess. Perhaps if I lock in the Cost to 30% of revenue (given the business will center around the blog, a 30% COGS is actually a high figure still).

Also note, Neil’s target for 100,000 dollars per month is to be reached in one year. On month twelve, Neil’s nutrition blog would generate that much revenue (and mine would generate 10,000). 12 months is a realistic target, although it can take longer. But most importantly, this is a realistic target in terms of what we often hear: I want to earn my first 1000 dollars yesterday and want to earn my first million tomorrow evening before tea. Or something.

Pat Flynn has a 50 post test. The test is that can I see my self writing 50 posts on the topic at hand and still not get tired. I can imagine that in the health and nutrition field, yes. So the blog topic also gets validated from Pat as well.

The challenge starts on the 1st of April 2015.

Content Strategy and Domain name

I already have a “brandable” domain name that I plan to use on this (more on that later inshAllah). It is a .pk domain.

The content strategy is to:

  • produce pillar content (thank you Yaro!),
  • free giveaways and
  • educate the readers on health and fitness.

I do not plan to monetize the blog using contextual ads like Google Adsense (Neil plans to monetize the blog with ads it seems, but that can change).

Traffic Targets

Also, my traffic target is 10,000 uniques per month. 10% conversion means 1000 people sign up for the list. If I sell a product of $100 to 10% of the community, that’s $10,000 per month.

If you know what I just did up there, you’d probably shake your head at the sheer simplicity of it all. But here’s the cracker: I came up with these “traffic targets” out of thin air (well, almost).

I will be drilling down on them in the coming weeks, to refine them. But as a benchmark, it is always better to start with what your gut tells you (and then be ready to change as per your research of course!).

Overall Mission

I have enough on my plate. But this fits right in between my goals of:

  • training (under the ProHobbyist and Momekh&Co banner) and
  • providing online infrastructure  & support for independent publishers, creatives and entrepreneurs (Blogstarta).

Having said that, this “add-venture” gives me the opportunity:

  • to see what’s possible. Having an extra few thousand dollars, especially here in Pakistan, would be nice, yes!? :)
  • To share with you and show you what’s possible (and what’s not!). I am gearing up to do some serious work on this, knowing fully well that this won’t be easy, especially for a King Lazy like me.
  • To help people differentiate their blogging, to help people understand blogging as the medium that it is (and not as some magic bullet that just seems to work for some and not for others).
  • To APPLY what I’ve learnt with a fresh perspective.

I invite you to join me in my mission, by spreading the word (click sharing buttons below to share this on your FB wall) and starting your own blog with your own missions and financial targets. I wish you the best.

P.S. I am excited on a lot of fronts for this challenge. The most exciting for me? I will be applying the mix of strategies that I’ve learnt over the years from Pat Flynn, Yaro Starak, Chris Guillebeau, Michael Hyatt and Neil Patel. If you are interested in finding out how the challenge pans out…you can subscribe to the Challenge updates here (current subscribers of the LifeETC/JustAddVenture blog will get the updates once a month at least roundabout).

Here’s How the Good Guys Can Stop Finishing Last

There is a scene in the Avengers movie, where Bruce Banner – the guy who turns into the Hulk – is asked, “how did you finally control your anger and can now turn into the Hulk on cue?”

Now all through the movie, he is asked this question, and just before he could answer it, something happens and the audience is left in the dark.

Till later in the movie, he says, “you asked me how I controlled my anger? You know the secret? The secret is that I’m always angry”. And then BAM he turns into the Hulk… and then of course continues to break everything. It’s a good, fun scene. And it reminds me of selling…

Continue reading Here’s How the Good Guys Can Stop Finishing Last

Disruptive Wonder What Kelli Anderson is About

kell-anderson-tedx-talkKelli Anderson is an artist. She gave this TEDx talk and right at the beginning, she tells the audience what is the purpose of her work:

People arrive at experiences with expectations. And when we make things we are actively choosing what to do with those expectations. In my work I want to create disruptive wonder, I want to confound these expectations. Because I think that everyday fundamental things and experiences frame reality in ways we often take for granted.

That is a very personal purpose. This is a far cry from “I want my work to help others”. It is true that for many of us, when asked, “what is the purpose of your work?”, we are either dumbfounded or we give incorrect answers such as “we do it for the money” or “we do it for the passion”.

Profit and passion are results, not reasons.

The first step is to find one’s purpose for work. Why do you work? The way Ms Anderson has gone about describing her “why” is a great example of how this can be done.  It reeks of personal thought, highly unique, deeply possessive even.

The words “disruptive wonder” may make sense to some, but it only rings true for someone who latches onto it.

When someone hears that you are into “disruptive wonder to help people frame reality in ways that they didn’t expect”, will that someone pay attention to what you have to say?

Most of them will not. But then, some will. It is those “some” that are part of the tribe, people who share a part of your purpose.

Our voice is best understood by these people. And we need to deliberately find these people.

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At the beginning, I said that Kelli Anderson is an artist. I think she is. I don’t know. What I do know that she is deep in her work. And that is rare. And inspiring. Hope this inspires you too.

Learn more about Kelli Anderson: her blog.

Learn more about finding your purpose: Simon Sinek’s talk.

7 Non-Sleazy Ways to Sell Your Product or Service

Some back story:

Selling to Friends

I just came back from yet another “cup of coffee” with a friend — which is what it sounds like but can also qualify as a sales call.

I am working on a new project: a product that helps people become independent publishers. The idea is to remove all “techy stuff” hassles and leave the people to create and share meaningful content, in a professional manner. It is still in the early stages and I am selling via word of mouth.

The product comes with mentoring and training. The price points are very attractive and so far, very promising Alhumdulillah.

I am following the basic startup methodologies (that I have also taught). The product I am selling right now has about 20 customers, and I plan to “open” it a bit once I reach about 40 customers. InshAllah. Right now, it is simply “word of mouth” and by God’s Grace, it is working out nicely.

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I admit; sales is difficult. It feels non-natural sometimes. The following advice can help you sell whatever you’re trying to sell, in a non-sleazy, friendly way God willing.

The Simplest Advice

The simplest advice is “be honest and ask for it”.

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How to be honest and ask for a sale in a non sleazy way?

But how do you be honest? And isn’t it uncomfortable “asking for a sale” from your friend?

It is.

It is difficult selling to friends. That is why it is my ultimate test. If I am comfortable selling to friends, then I am doing good.

With friends, you can not be sleazy. You are looking out for them, as good friends always do. The only difference here is that you are charging them money for it.

Money, I confess, is not an easy topic. It makes for a difficult conversation. Involving money in an honest, transparent way is tricky, but required. To be non-sleazy, you need to be honest, right? And honesty can be hard.

Here’s a good way to start practicing:

1. Start with Why

Why are you selling what you’re selling? Once you are clear on the “purpose” of your product, it becomes so much easier to “talk about it” in a non-sleazy way.

A good product helps others. It solves a problem that others face. Also, once you are clear on your “Why”, then it is ten times easier to sell.

“People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it” ~ Simon Sinek

Starting with Why usually means that you end up using “emotional” words. Phrases like, “I believe that this product can…” or “I feel that this will help you really achieve what you are trying to do…” etc. Basically, that’s how we tend to talk with our friends, right?

People respond to your involvement in your product. They respond to your authenticity.

To learn more about Simon Sinek’s work on Starting With Why, you can follow this link.

2. Be Focused on Helping, Rather than “Describing”

Do not try to describe your product or service.

Instead, talk how your friend can benefit from your offering. Keep the conversation about your friend; you are trying to help him/her after all, so it would make sense to talk about his problem and how the product/service can benefit him, instead of how good your product/service is.

This is the real-world application of “features versus benefits”. When selling, talk how the buyer will benefit from your offering, not what cool features the product has.

3. Be Involved

When you are involved, you are excited. You keep talking about it.

This may bore people who are not interested, and that’s OK; stop talking about it if it is boring them.

Will you talk about the latest football match if your friend really isn’t into football? No you won’t (I hope). But then again, you will bring it up once in a while. Not because you are trying to “trick” the conversation, but because you are “involved” and you are excited!

People can easily see the authenticity. If you are really involved, people will notice. So instead of learning “techniques”, internalize the purpose as to why you created the product/service.

I have lots of friends who love their work and it shows – the fact that it shows means that they are “promoting” their product right.

4. You Never Talk About Your Product, But You Must Offer It

As a rule, you never start with “I have this product”. First, there must be some invitation to talk. The best is when the conversation is about the problem that your product solves.

Talking about problems is actually very easy: think about it, that is what friends usually talk about. The problems we face, we ask around, we discuss, right?

Once you talk about the problem, you automatically will talk about your product/service! This is relatively easy. But what’s not easy is to actually offer to sell that product.

“Hey, I really need to reach more people with my business,” says a friend.

“You do? You know this product I have, this can help you build a community and give you access to the right kind of people.

I totally believe that you will be able to sell more honestly with this method. Do you want me to show you how the product works? If it makes sense to you, I will love it if you buy it from me?”

The above conversation is easy. What’s hard is the last line: the offer to buy from you. It is difficult and I don’t always get this right. I usually end up not saying it. But when I do say it, it flows so naturally. The other person doesn’t frown or raise an eyebrow. The other person can see that it is a product that he may find useful, and he (hopefully) sees the honesty.

5. Demonstrate as Much As You Can

Demonstrations work!

The car salesman knows this, that is why many dealerships allow you to take the car for a spin.

The software industry is also highly dependent on “Demos” to help them sell. Games that offer “free trials” or “lite versions” are another example of demonstrations in play.

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It is actually easier to demonstrate a product instead of “describing” how it works. The potential client will fill in the blanks himself, and will ask you any questions that may arise; demonstrations are a great way to sell without being pushy about it.

Demos for products is usually straight forward, but it is sometimes impossible to “demo” a service. When I used to design websites as a freelancer, I used to hate it when people asked for a “sample design”… that took a lot of time and there was no guarantee, and I eventually stopped doing “free samples”.

In our cakes business, we sometimes do samples for bigger orders, otherwise, the demonstrations are just too costly to carry out (the product gets consumed as a result of demonstration!).

But in many cases, you must look into ways of letting the potential client “use” your product or service.

6. Mention A Cheaper/Different Option, If Possible

A friend messaged me, asking me how to start a blog online. He is a journalist at a national TV channel here in Pakistan, and he wanted to start his blog to share his own thoughts. Perfect. During the conversation, I told him about the product I have that can help him become an independent publisher. He wanted to know more. I told him the details, including the price.

He told me it is too expensive for him right now. I told him what I will tell my brother or any other close friend; I told him that because you are just “testing” waters, go with the cheapest option. See how it works, see if this “independent publishing” is for you. Once you feel you are ready, I do believe that my product is the best in the market – but there are other options.

I told him the other options.

That was the ethical thing to do. That is what I would do for my closest family and friends.

This hopefully shows that I am not doing this to “just sell”, but I do want what’s best for him. And because I do sincerely believe that my product is the best in its category, I will want him to buy that.

Making sense?

7. Realize This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Can anyone ever “rush relationships”?

Silly question, right? Everyone understands that relationships – of each and every kind – takes time. Communicating and building trust takes time.

A lot of “sales people” want to rush this. That’s why you find “techniques” of “befriending the client” before making the sale. Why is it a “tactic”?

Why do you insist on keeping it fake? Can’t one simply really look out for each other? And still make a sale? It is my contention that you can. Rather, you must.

The thing to realize is that you are in it for the long run. This is not a 100 meter dash, this is a marathon. Slow, steady and you cross the finish line with arms raised and a big smile on your face.

Selling is “building relationships”. And that takes time.

And what’s the end result? People are helped because you sold them a product. People actually thank you for selling a product to them. How cool is that? This is the kind of approach to business and selling that is “serving-focused” rather than “using-focused”.

You serve the people you know, your audience. You do not “use” them to make money, but your “serve” them in their best interest.

That’s the kind of “selling” I believe we all can practice. It makes for a better world to live in. God willing.

Question: can you apply some of these tactics to your actual friend? Will it work? Let us discuss in the comments section.

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Hope you found this useful. If you did, do share it with your friends. Thank you and good luck!

How to Get Your Articles Published

This is a “how to” story. It’s a story because I will tell you how I got my first ever article published in a national print magazine!

I have been published in the largest circulating magazine (at the time) in Pakistan, and also in the largest blog/site (at the time) in whole wide universe. These two facts in themselves may not qualify me to give “advice” on how to get published as a writer.

How to get your article published

But my qualitative filter for giving advice is as follows: if I’ve done it myself, I can talk about it in a way that may help you. And one never gives advice; one can only take advice. Continue reading How to Get Your Articles Published