The “Set It and Forget It” Business

Jason Holland here, Managing Editor of Carefree Entrepreneur.

Consider me your guide to a new life as an online entrepreneur. Even if you’ve never considered going into business for yourself, the strategies I share are easy to digest and implement. I’m going to make becoming an entrepreneur really easy for you because – as you’ll find out today, thanks to the online tools available, it is! And I want you to start right away.

My friend John discovered the helpful tools I’m referring to a few years back …

These days, I never know when or from where I’m going to hear from him.

Last year, he was backpacking in Europe for the summer. And then he rented an apartment in Buenos Aires for a month.

Earlier this year, he was doing volunteer work in Africa. And then he moved to San Francisco for the rest of the year to soak in the counterculture and Silicon Valley buzz.

Why am I telling you about John?

Well, he’s the first person that came to mind when we started up Carefree Entrepreneur.

John is the Carefree Entrepreneur that we want all our readers to become.

I’m talking about an army of small business owners – you among them – who:

  • Have given up the tyranny of the 9 to 5
  • Started businesses from their homes (or wherever their travels may take them) with very low start-up costs (a couple of hundred bucks)
  • Have no staff (maybe some freelancers) or overhead
  • Don’t have to worry about storing inventory
  • Are making a great living on their own terms
  • Work on their venture only an hour – or less – a day
  • Make their own schedule and dress how they want to dress (no dress shoes and tie ever again!)

My friend John is not a trust fund kid. He doesn’t work all year then quit to travel. He’s working on his Carefree Business while he travels.

He’s never discussed with me how much money he makes in detail. He’s very low-key (I didn’t know he had a Mercedes convertible until he pulled up outside my house for a visit). But based on figures he showed me from last year representing just a month of sales, he’s pushing $150,000 per year.

He told me about one campaign that made him a quick $2,000 – and all he had to do was write a short email to his customers. It took 10 minutes.

So John is not “rich.” But he’s making just as much as most doctors, lawyers, or senior corporate managers … while working 1/8 of the time. Plus, he’s traveling most of the year doing what he wants to do. When we were in college together, he told me his dream was to see the world. And he’s set up his business and life to be able to do that. He’s totally free.

Wherever he is, whatever he is doing, money is coming in virtually automatically. It’s thanks to the online businesses he’s set up. To manage them, he mostly checks emails. He also spot-checks his websites to make sure the “order now” buttons are working. It’s not unusual for him to go weeks without ever checking in on his businesses.

And that’s the type of life we want for you as a Carefree Entrepreneur. Of course, you don’t have to travel the world. You could spend your free time with your family … working on a neglected hobby … working in the community … really whatever you are passionate about.

How You Can Do What John Does

What’s John’s secret?

He’s used readily available tools to make running his businesses almost automatic. And you can do the same with your own Carefree Business.

One thing I must emphasize is that though John is very successful today … he didn’t start out as some Web wizard and/or marketing genius. He just knew the lifestyle he wanted. And he had heard about one of the best ways to get it – create an online business.

He didn’t accept the conventional wisdom that building a website and Internet venture is some crazy complicated thing best left to the Amazons and eBays of the world. And he didn’t listen to those Web designers (selling their expensive services) that building a website is best left to experts.

When John created his first site, he did it in a day. Seriously. (When I was just a lowly writer just learning about this industry – I did the same thing. It wasn’t pretty. But that came later.)

He’d never sent an email to anybody but friends. Within a few months, he was sending emails to a couple of thousand subscribers. And these prospects were starting to buy products he promoted.

That shut up the naysayers in his life and quieted any self-doubt he had.

John sells products as an affiliate. Basically, he markets other businesses’ products (everything from weight loss ebooks to investing education courses, but mostly nutritional supplements) and takes a commission (20 to 80 percent depending on the company) on any sales.

When a customer orders, say, a bottle of a natural arthritis pain cure, he clicks on the order link on John’s site. He’s taken to the shopping cart of the business that created the product to enter credit card info and such. Special codes in the order link keep track of any orders from John’s site. Every month, the commissions are put together and John is sent a check. But he can also track how things are going throughout the month.

As an affiliate, he doesn’t have to fulfill orders. He doesn’t have to deal with returns or other customer service issues. It’s not his product. He just markets it and gets a check.

Nutritional supplements are just the tip of the iceberg. He has buddies (met at conferences or online forums) who, as affiliates, sell exercise programs, online dating services, baby products, even water sports equipment. All these folks are living the Carefree lifestyle.

John chose affiliate marketing because he didn’t want to create his own products. And he wanted to get started quickly. We recommend this for most first-timers too. Later, you can sell your own products if you’d like.

Since the beginning (or at least since he discovered them a few months in), John has used easy-to-use tools – software and some online services, much of it free – to run his business.

He can automatically:

  • Send out emails and autoresponders to his prospect list with relationship-building editorial content, as well as sales messages. This mix of free useful information and pitches is key. It’s a successful business model followed by the most successful solo Internet businesses, as well as large companies like Agora. He writes these messages once (or has a freelancer write them) and then can use them for years to come with tweaks here and there. He uses software like Infusionsoft and AWeber to set up and schedule these emails.
  • Broadcast online videos. John will record a presentation that contains useful content, usually in the form of a PowerPoint with voice-over narration. He then let’s his list know how to tune in. He often pitches a product at the end. These videos usually get very good response – up to 4x a regular online sales letter. Camtasia is a great resource.
  • Post essays and blurbs to his blogs. This is key to building a relationship with your prospect. They won’t buy from you if all you do is pitch them. Give them plenty of free useful advice and information they can’t get elsewhere. Regular updating of your website is also key to getting traffic from the search engines. Site management software like WordPress allows you to schedule future posts months in advance.
  • Process affiliate orders. Because he is an affiliate of several companies, he merely has to link to their shopping cart when he promotes or mentions one of their products. They handle the orders and shipping. He just gets a commission check. and are great places to find affiliate products to promote. (I recommend you start out here because the commissions are very high and you can always count on getting your check on time.)

All this automation allows you to run a business with no need for constant attention. And you don’t have to learn web design … programming … or anything. You’re able to focus on marketing – what drives the sales of your business.

That’s where John does most of his “work.”

You can’t just throw up a website promoting just any product and hope to be successful. John spends most of his work time looking for the hot trends.

He makes the majority of his money from nutritional supplements, like natural weight loss cures and natural pain relievers for conditions like arthritis. So he follows blogs and online forums in that niche. And he keeps in touch with fellow affiliate marketers. This research tells him what specific products are selling well right now. What price points and offers he should focus on. And what his advertising should look like. Plus, he gets a sense of what is “trending” – acai berry-based products were very hot last year, for example.

Products can be hot for several months. Then he moves on to the next thing, whatever the market wants. When he started a new weight loss supplement campaign earlier this year, for example, he just set up a new batch of sites, autoresponder series, and blog posts geared toward the new product.

During this flurry of activity, he might put in double or triple his usual hour-a-day workload. (He usually hires a few freelancers to do most of the heavy lifting.) Once he’s put everything in place, thanks to automation, he’s back to normal.

This “system” has allowed John to live essentially semi-retired by age 30. And it’s all thanks to readily available tools anybody can use – and easy-to-learn marketing strategies we’ll teach you here.

Becoming a Carefree Entrepreneur

We know from experience that what resonates with most readers is when experts give stripped-down, practical advice for starting a profitable at-home business. Potential Carefree Entrepreneurs want extremely low start-up costs and don’t want to worry about office space or hiring a bunch of employees – that’s too much like work.

And we know enough people who’ve made that dream a reality … that’s why we’re confident this newsletter can tell you how you can do it too … how you can follow their success with your own.

Carefree Entrepreneur is completely free because you’re an Early to Rise subscriber. And you’ll get it on Friday each week. But to make sure you don’t miss any issues, you should make sure you have an active subscription by providing your name and email address here if you haven’t already.

When you sign up, you’ll get a free report written by Michael Masterson with 12 of his top start-up tips, called Sell First … Ask Questions Later.

We’ve got a lot of great stuff planned for the coming months. And I hope you’ll be there with us. Just sign up to come on over.

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Published: July 22, 2011

2 Responses to “The “Set It and Forget It” Business”

  1. Writing is the raw material and book is a finished product.

    Guest (Yaqeen)

  2. that was great

    Guest (ruel)

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