Over the last 4 years, I made more than 6 figures with my online business every single year through selling online courses and coaching services:
In this guide, I’ll show you exactly how I did it, step-by-step, and give you a system that you can use to start your own profitable online business and grow it to 6 figures and beyond.
This guide is split into three parts.
In Part 1, I’ll tell you my full story of how I went from earning $7/h as a programmer to making 6 figures online while traveling the world.
By telling you my story, I’ll show you exactly how I built a 6-figure online business over the past few years against all odds, and hopefully show you that if I can do it, you can do it too.
In Part 2, I’ll share my 6-step system for starting a profitable online business with you, that will help you go from making your first $1,000 or $10,000 online, to earning $30,000-$50,000/year.
In Part 3, we’ll cover 6 advanced strategies that will help you scale your online business from $30,000-$50,000/year to $100,000/year and beyond.
I used these exact systems with my private online business coaching clients to help them scale their online businesses to 6 figures and beyond – over and over again.
Let’s dive in!
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PART 1: How I went from earning $7/h as a programmer to making 6 figures online while traveling the world
A few years, nobody would guess I’d ever start a 6-figure online business.
Not even me.
I felt like all the odds were against me. I had no rich parents, formal education, business knowledge, investors, connections, or anything else that would help me build an online business.
Plus, I lived in Slovenia – where nobody knew online businesses even existed at the time!
I finished high-school with not-so-glaring grades (even though I was considered a “smart kid”). I did okay as a computer science student and passed most of my exams without too much effort, but wasn’t a great programmer by any means.
This was me – quite a few years ago, living a clueless, comfortable life
I got myself a summer job as a programmer where I earned $7/h, which I was more than happy with at a time. Since I still lived with my parents, earning $1,000/month of “spending money” was plenty for me.
I mostly enjoyed my work on a daily basis, though I couldn’t really say I was making any sort of a difference coding anti-virus programs in my cubicle for 10 hours a day.
Deep down, I knew I wanted something more. I just didn’t know what that was at a time.
Then, one day, I had a conversation with one of my co-workers that changed my life forever.
I was talking to a senior programmer at the company over lunch, and he told me about his story.
He joined the company 20 years ago when he was a young programmer, fresh out of university. He was one of the first Slovenians to create their own video game.
When he joined the company, he worked on exciting projects, was paid well, and really enjoyed working at the company.
But as the company grew from a handful to 500+ people, things changed. Slowly but surely, he was working on less and less exciting projects. He began to enjoy his work less and less, but because he had a wife, kids, and bills to pay, he was too afraid to change anything. He settled for what he had.
20 years later, he was working in the same room as I was. He was working on the same boring project.
And the worst part? He was earning less than I was, and I just joined the company a few month ago.
Hearing that made my heart drop, but also gave me a reality check.
At that point, I knew I didn’t want to work at a 9-5 until the end of my life. I wanted to something more.
I wanted to be in control of my life, my income, and how I spend my time.
And it was at that point that I decided I would start my own business.
I had no idea HOW I would do it, but I was determined to make it happen.
I became obsessed with starting my own business.
I started reading every book and blog I could find online on starting my own business.
I even spent $1,000 on an online course that taught me how to freelance (and was one of the best investments I’ve ever made).
For the first time ever, I found something so exciting that I could spend hours and hours immersed in it – even when I was tired after work and university classes.
I learned about how to find a profitable business idea, how to find your first clients, what to charge, how to stand out from your competition…
I left no stone unturned.
How I made $0 in my first 7 months of starting a business
As I started learning about starting my own business, I was eager to put what I learned into action.
I connected with other entrepreneurs in Slovenia and tried to get their support with starting my business, which wasn’t that useful as I didn’t know anyone that could teach me how to start my own freelancing business.
I eventually teamed up with 2 other students that wanted to start their own business to start our own website development company.
They would take care of coding, and I’d take care of the marketing side of the business.
We developed our master plans over long evening meetings for how we’d work with amazing clients and build websites for them.
We started reaching out to potential clients, had many meetings with them, but there was just one problem:
We never got any paying clients.
There are many reasons why our idea didn’t work out.
We didn’t work well together as a team. We didn’t have a clear gap in the market. We didn’t know how to build trust and credibility as university students. We didn’t even officially have our own company!
After 3-4 months of working on an idea that felt like an uphill battle, I had enough.
I was burned out from putting hours and hours into the business every day and receiving nothing back, and I was bored of endless meetings that didn’t really change much.
I decided to leave the team and take a break from starting my own business.
If at first you don’t succeed…
In the meanwhile, I became obsessed with the topic of productivity.
Because I had to juggle working in a 9-5 job, attending university AND starting my own business, I had to learn how to become more productive.
I devoured all the productivity books I could find, and applied them to my own life. I was excited to discover a whole new world of self-development books that was hidden to me as a college student who only knew textbooks and fiction books.
Eventually, I got the idea to become a productivity coach for a video game company in Slovenia that I really liked. My idea was to help their employees become more productive, so they can meet deadlines more easily.
I did my research, visited the company, met the CEO, negotiated for weeks, and was set to start working with the company within two weeks…
…until they lost funding they were supposed to receive, and couldn’t hire me.
I called them a few more times over the next few weeks, but when I saw that things weren’t going to change, I decided to move on.
Third time is the charm: How I made my first $50 online
One spring morning at 6am, I woke up in my room in my parents’ apartment. It was still dark outside.
I had a crazy idea on my mind – I could teach online poker players how to become more productive, so they could make more money.
Throughout my high-school and university years, I played some online poker to make a side-income, and I knew that the more focused you stayed for the longer period of time, the more you would make.
Since I’ve now spent 6+ months immersed in the world of productivity, I felt like I definitely knew more than an average joe about productivity – and I knew I could help other people become more productive.
In my head, this seemed like a perfect idea.
Now I needed to find out if other people felt the same way too.
I turned on my computer and visited an online community I used to be active in, and started writing “The Ultimate Guide to Skyrocketing Your Poker Productivity”:
My idea was to simply start sharing some of my knowledge online and see if people liked it.
Still early in the morning, I cranked out a few chapters of the guide where I talked about basic self-development concepts like writing your vision statement and setting measurable goals:
Happy with what I’ve written, I went back to sleep and wake up a few hours later, at 11am. I was eager and anxious to check if anyone liked what I wrote.
I was surprised to see a flood of positive comments and feedback on what I wrote:
Which gave me the momentum to keep writing more and more. I wrote about everything that came to my mind, from exercising to nutrition to taking breaks, and added new chapters to the guide every 1-3 days:
And in the meanwhile, I listened to the feedback from my readers and wrote chapters that answered their specific questions:
I kept writing the guide, and more and more people kept reading it and sharing it with their friends.
Eventually, over 223,000 people read the guide:
And the readers liked the guide so much that they translated it to 7 other languages to share in other communities (like the German community of the same website):
I started writing this guide just to share my knowledge online – little did I know it would become an overnight sensation in the world of online poker.
Within a few weeks of publishing the first few chapters of my guide, something surprising happened:
Poker players that read the guide started reaching out to me, asking me to coach them 1on1.
They read the guide and liked it, and wondered if I could help them answer their questions about productivity and answer their specific questions.
Naturally, I said yes, and picked a starting hourly rate of 50eur/hour, which seemed high enough to be exciting to me, but was still at the bottom range of what online poker players typically paid for poker coaches.
Soon, I got my first paying client:
How I went from my first $50 to $38,000 in a year
Seeing the response on my guide and the demand for productivity coaching, I decided to write to the administrators of the website where I published the guide and offered to find ways to work together.
Since they had a poker school on their website where they published educational videos, I suggested that I create a few videos and live classes and see how their readers would like them.
I ended up recording over 40 videos on various topics which received tens of thousands of views:
And I also delivered some live classes where I coached poker players on how to become more productive live.
I was paid around $50/hour for coaching and $200 for each video I created, which helped me consistently earn $500-$1,000/month:
On top of the videos I recorded for the poker school, I took on up to 13 private coaching clients at a time, and gradually increased my 1on1 coaching rates from $50/h to $100/h, $200/h and even $400/h.
Eventually, I turned $50 coaching contracts into $5,000 contracts:
Which is how I was able to earn more than $38,000 within the very first year of starting my online business.
Then, I did something radical.
Why I moved on from poker productivity into a completely different niche
As a poker productivity coach, I was consistently earning $2,000-$3,000/month (sometimes more), which was 2-3x more than what I was making as a programmer before.
I had more free time than before, worked on my own schedule, and did things I loved doing.
I could do anything I wanted to, from traveling, to eating out at fancy restaurants, to eventually moving into my own apartment with a friend of mine.
Still, deep down, I didn’t feel as happy and fulfilled as I wanted to.
Yes, the money was good. Yes, I had the freedom to do what I wanted to.
But I didn’t really feel like I was making a difference in the world.
Every time someone asked me what I did for a living, I was ashamed to talk about what I did.
They would instantly say I’m a “gambler”, and I also knew that I wasn’t really changing the world in any way – I was just helping good poker players take more money from gamblers.
As I learned more about growing my business and started attending business events and conferences all over the United States, I was introduced to a whole new world of entrepreneurship:
I went on a VIP tour of the Metropolitan Museum when I visited my first conference in NYC
I met entrepreneurs that I felt were actually making a difference and helped thousands of people live better lives.
I wanted that too.
I wanted to build a business I would be proud and happy to talk about with anyone I met.
I wanted to build a business where I could help millions of people all over the world.
I wanted to build a business where I could speak at conferences in front of hundreds of people and write a book about in the future.
The poker industry just wasn’t going to cut it, and I wanted to start something else.
I stopped focusing on growing my poker business and taking on new clients, and decided to start a brand new business.
$500, 6 months, and hundreds of hours went down the drain
Starting a brand new online business wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.
With my poker productivity business, I was able to tap into an existing community of hundreds of thousands of poker players, attracted by the poker school.
This meant that I didn’t have to do much to promote my content or my coaching services – I simply wrote guides about productivity, motivation, nutrition, and other topics, the readers in the forums liked them, and many of them reached out to work with me.
When I first started playing with the idea to create a new online business about productivity for “everyone” (I didn’t have a clear audience in mind), I wanted to set up my own website that I would be in control of.
I had no clue how to go about setting up a website at that time, so I spent $500 on a custom website design:
And since I had no idea how to run an online business on my own, I just started writing short blog posts about things I thought were interesting:
Now while this approach MIGHT have worked well in the poker industry where nobody was writing about topics like getting out of your comfort zone, it didn’t work on my own blog.
I spent over 6 months writing articles, endlessly tweaking my website, and sharing my posts on social media, but nothing really happened.
Over the course of 6 months, I got barely any website traffic, about 46 e-mail subscribers, and earned less than $3 through affiliate sales of books I reviewed.
Even though my first online business was a wild success, things just weren’t working out with this new online business model. I just couldn’t crack the code to make it work.
I was on the verge of giving up on my new idea and focusing on my poker productivity until…
I learned how to start an online business the RIGHT way, and my new business took off
One of my mentors that taught me how to build a freelance business invited me to join a secret BETA online program to help me develop my online business, because I expressed my interest for doing that at a conference he hosted.
Over the course of 8 weeks, I learned the ins and outs of building an online business, and was determined to make it work this time around.
I gave myself a month to build a website and get some initial traction with my new website that would focus on teaching entrepreneurs and executives how to become more productive.
This time, I set up a simple website over just a few days:
I started writing blog posts that my audience would enjoy reading:
As well as Ultimate Guides which worked really well in my previous online business:
And I created a free e-book (lead magnet) that would help me build my e-mail list and later sell online courses and coaching services:
This is when things started to work.
Largely through the help of my Ultimate Guides and lead magnets, I was able to build an e-mail list of 500 e-mail subscribers within the first month of starting my website, and had days when I got tens of new e-mail subscribers in a single day:
And my e-mail list continued to grow through the remarkable content I developed to over 2,200 e-mail subscribers within the first year of starting my online business.
As my e-mail list grew, I learned how to create and sell online courses that would become my new method for growing my online business.
I started out by creating a short course about productivity, Success Systems, that I sold for $49 to my e-mail list of 500 e-mail subscribers:
7 of my readers bought my course, which would help me earn my first $350 with my new online business idea:
It wasn’t much compared to what I was earning with my poker productivity coaching business, but it was enough to see that this business could take off.
After my first launch, I created a second tier of the product. I added a few master classes with my entrepreneurial friends and charged $99 for the premium tier. I also focused on growing my email list so I could launch to a bigger audience.
A few months later, I launched my updated product again to a list of 1200 subscribers. This time I earned $1600.
I later increased the price of my product from $49/$99 to $99/$199 for different tiers. I launched the product again to a list of 1700 subscribers and earned $4000.
To celebrate the exponential growth of my online business, I decided to travel around Thailand for a month, where I recorded a new online course:
This course (I called it Limitless Life) was about overcoming mental barriers in your life, and it generated a few thousand dollars.
Over the next few months, I focused on selling these two courses, and my business slowly but steadily grew. This was the time when I decided to completely let go of my poker productivity coaching business and focus on my new business full time.
Next year, my business grew on a whole new level.
I developed my first semi-premium online program, Skyrocket Your Side Business, and sold it to an e-mail list of 3,500 e-mail subscribers at $497.
This program generated over $20,000 in sales, making it my first 5-figure launch, and a 5x bigger launch than any of my previous launches:
I couldn’t believe it – and saw endless possibilities to continue to grow my online business.
Then, I did something radical (and crazy) once again.
I put my business on hold, just as it was about to grow to a whole new level.
Why I put my business on hold and worked with Ramit Sethi for 2 years
To fully understand what happened next, I’d like to introduce you to my first online business mentor, Ramit Sethi.
I first learned about Ramit when I dove into the world of personal development and started learning about how to manage my money better.
I was blown away by his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich which opened my eyes about how saving, investing and handling money in general.
I liked his “no-bs” approach to life and that he said things as they were, and resonated with his philosophy that “there’s a limited amount of money you can save, but an unlimited amount of money you can earn”.
I joined a few of Ramit’s online courses and used them to learn about freelancing and creating online courses, which helped me successfully start my own online businesses and earn thousands of dollars every month.
I soaked in all the knowledge I could from Ramit, and flew to the United States multiple times to different conferences he hosted just so I could learn as much from him as possible.
Then, one day, I got an unexpected opportunity to work together with Ramit – IF I put the growth of my online business on hold.
To help more of his students succeed in building an online business, Ramit decided to start an online coaching program called “Accelerator”, and was looking for a coach to run the program.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that, as I knew that it was a full-time position that would require me to put the growth of my rapidly-growing online business on hold.
On the other hand, I saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work together with someone who successfully built a 7-figure online business, which could be priceless in the long run.
Since I didn’t want to miss out on this opportunity, I took a leap of faith and said yes.
How I turned Accelerator into a 7-figure online program
As I came on-board of Accelerator, my role was to:
- Coach hundreds of online entrepreneurs on how to start and grow their online businesses as an online business coach
- Continue to grow and scale the program to increase the monthly and yearly revenues as the product manager
To do that, I had countless resources at my disposal.
I could learn directly from Ramit about how he ran his company throughout the team calls, I attended annual in-person strategy retreats with his company, and got his personal support with growing the program.
I tackled the opportunity head-on and spent 2 years developing and improving the program, from changing how the program works, to writing new sales pages for the program, running webinars to sell it, and tweaking pricing and sales strategy.
I later brought on a copywriting coach and a community manager to the team, and we soon scaled the program to well beyond 7 figures in revenue.
This was a priceless experience as I:
- Learned the “behind the scenes” of how Ramit ran his 7-figure online business with a team of 30+ employees
- Learned how to run a 7-figure online program (and manage my own team) myself
- Worked with 1,000+ online entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their online businesses
While I worked on Accelerator, I gained a deep understanding about how to run and grow my online business, and I was ready to take what I learned and put it into action in my own business.
After 2 years and one week, my Accelerator adventure came to an end. I felt like I gave the program everything I could, saw the program rapidly grow to 7 figures and beyond, and soaked all the knowledge I could out of my work with Ramit.
But deep down, I knew I wanted to go back to running my own online business, and after handing off the program to my previous team-mates, I did just that.
How I finally hit the $100,000/year mark with my own online business
Even before I went back to running my own business full time, I technically had a 6-figure online business (I made more than 6 figures a year through my contract and the online courses I sold through my own website).
But once I switched back to running my own online business in 2017, I finally made more than $100,000 in a year by selling my own online courses and coaching services – and finally felt like a 6-figure entrepreneur.
As I came back to running my own online business, I felt completely different than 2 years ago.
First, I no longer had the desire to talk about productivity. That was a topic that I had been talking about for years now, and I had no desire to continue talking about it.
Instead, I decided to test out a completely different idea – helping online entrepreneurs write Ultimate Guides.
I came up with that idea because I noticed that even while I wasn’t focusing on growing my online business, my e-mail list continued to grow by thousands of e-mail subscribers every year:
When I looked through my numbers to find out why that happened, I’ve found a simple common denominator – my Ultimate Guides.
By writing Ultimate Guides like this one, I attracted thousands of visitors to my website every month, and converted them into e-mail subscribers and raving fans.
I noticed that other established entrepreneurs were using Ultimate Guides to grow their online businesses as well (my mentor Ramit Sethi used them, SEO expert Neil Patel used them, companies like Leadpages used them…), so I knew they didn’t just work for me.
And since a lot of my readers have told me that they loved reading my Ultimate Guides, and writing them came easy to me, I decided to see if I could teach other entrepreneurs how to grow their online businesses through Ultimate Guides as well.
I talked to hundreds of entrepreneurs about writing Ultimate Guides, got a few 1on1 coaching clients for creating them, and wrote an in-depth e-book about how to write them to raise awareness around this method of growing an online business.
This put me in a perfect position to develop an online program about creating Ultimate Guides.
The second thing that was different than 2 years ago was that I was no longer interested in creating $47 or $197 online courses.
Doing that didn’t feel like a challenge any more, and I didn’t feel like recorded online courses were the best way to help people (as the follow-through rate of recorded online courses was only a few %).
I decided it was time to develop my very first “flagship program” – a premium online program for creating Ultimate Guides that I would price at $997.
I created the program as a “live” program where I coached my students how to write their Ultimate Guides over the course of 14 weeks, and the program was a huge success.
The vast majority of the students that joined the program successfully finished it, and got hundreds (if not thousands) of new e-mail subscribers through the Ultimate Guides they wrote.
Many of them got new coaching clients or freelance clients through their guides as well, even far before they were finished. One specific client managed to get over $100,000 worth of consulting work within less than a year of writing and publishing his guide.
On the other side of the business, Ultimate Guide System was a huge hit as well – it generated $111,170 in a single year through 3 big product launches ranging between $30,000 and $42,000, making it my first “true” 6-figure year in my online business.
How I continued to earn 6 figures with my online business every year
Over the next few years, I continued to test and create new online programs, and evolved my online business in a direction that helped me help more and more people with the things I did best.
I developed a 12-week online program called Write More Every Day which helps online entrepreneurs consistently create remarkable content every week.
I created a 6-month premium online coaching program called 6-Figure Accelerator (previously called The Top Performer Club) where I work with 5-6 figure entrepreneurs to help them scale their online businesses to 6 figures and beyond through weekly live coaching calls.
I evolved Ultimate Guide System into List-Building Accelerator, a hands-on coaching program where I help online entrepreneurs rapidly grow their e-mail lists over the course of 8 weeks.
This, combined with my Ultimate Guides (that help me attract new visitors to my website month after month), has helped me run a 6-figure online business every year for the past few years.
And that’s where my story ends (at least for now).
Now you know how I built my own 6-figure online business, and in the second part of this guide, I’m excited to show you how you can do the same.
PART 2: How to start a profitable online business, and make your first $10k, $30k or $50k online
In the first part of this guide, I shared how I started my own online business over the past few years.
However, I realize that just knowing how I did it won’t help you do the same – as you can’t just copy all the steps I took to get there.
Your journey to building a 6-figure online business will be different than mine, and you’ll need a different set of steps to get there.
Luckily, throughout the past few years, I “cracked the code” to starting a 6-figure online business FOR you, and I’m excited to share the complete system for starting a 6-figure online business with you in this guide.
To write this guide, I gathered data from:
- My personal experiences of building a 6-figure online business, and major tipping points I experienced along the way
- Coaching 1,000+ entrepreneurs on how to start an online business through Accelerator, and seeing exactly what separated entrepreneurs that succeeded from ones that didn’t
- Helping multiple entrepreneurs scale their online businesses from $20,000-$30,000/year to $100,000-$300,000+/year through Top Performer Club, my intimate coaching program
I condensed all of the insights and methods that I’ve seen work over and over again into a simple, bulletproof system that you can follow step-by-step to start and grow your online business to 6 figures and beyond.
You can use this system if you’re just starting out from scratch, or if you’re already making $30,000 (or even $100,000) a year to scale your online business to the next level.
The basic system for starting a profitable online business includes the following elements
- Your Gap in The Market is the foundation of your online business, as it makes people care about what you do.
- Your High-Converting Website allows you to capture website visitors and turn them into paying customers.
- Your Remarkable Content helps you attract more visitors to your website.
- Your E-mail List helps you sell your paid products and services.
- Your Paid Products and Services help you monetize your online business and make a living with it.
In this guide, we’ll work our way through these elements to build an online business layer by layer.
We’ll build a strong foundation first, then add additional layers to develop your own bulletproof system for earning money with your online business.
Step #1: Find Your Gap in The Market
If there’s one thing that can “seal your fate” and make or break your business idea, it’s finding a Gap in The Market.
If you haven’t found a Gap in The Market, working on your business will feel like an uphill battle.
You’ll struggle with generating the initial traction, attracting traffic to your website, growing your e-mail list and getting clients for your online courses and coaching programs.
When you find a Gap in The Market, everything becomes 100x easier.
Your potential customers will instantly want to talk to you, read and share your content, recommend your website to their friends, and wait in line to work with you.
You could follow all the remaining steps in this guide step by step, but if you don’t have a clear Gap in The Market, they “won’t work”, and you won’t see the traction you’ll want to see with your online business.
So what is the “Gap in The Market”, and what are the signs that you’ve found one?
In it’s very basic form, the Gap in The Market is the gap between demand and what’s already out there:
In my very first business (productivity coaching for online poker players), the Gap in The Market was simple.
While there were already a lot of books and blog posts about productivity out there, there weren’t any specific resources (or coaches) that would be tailored to online poker players.
After testing my idea, I also noticed that the demand was there (since a lot of people loved my Ultimate Guide and wanted me to write more chapters of it).
Every 6-figure entrepreneur I ever talked to has a clear Gap in The Market.
It could be:
- Helping coders ace Google interviews
- Helping Etsy sellers grow their Etsy shops
- Helping Upwork freelancers get more clients
You can find 12 more examples of Gaps in The Market here.
Once you find your Gap in The Market, you can then continue to create both free content (blog posts, YouTube videos, guides,…) and paid content (online courses, coaching programs,…) to “fill the gap”.
To find your Gap in The Market, you can read my in-depth guides on finding and validating your online business idea…
…or watch my in-depth masterclasses on finding your profitable business idea:
and validating your business idea:
Then, once you’ve seen enough traction with your idea, you can move to the next step of this guide.
Step #2: Create a High-Converting Website
Once you’ve found your Gap in The Market and generated some initial traction, it’s time to set up your High-Converting Website.
Your website will become the physical foundation of your online business.
It’s where you’ll host your blog, create content to attract new readers, collect e-mail subscribers, and host and sell your online courses and coaching programs.
You’ll want to create a website that fills the gap in the market, is simple and easy to navigate, and helps you collect e-mail addresses of potential customers, so you can later sell to them.
By “high-converting”, I mean that your website should be optimized to help you build an e-mail list for your online business, which will become the key channel for selling your online courses and coaching program.
I made the mistake of not creating a high-converting website when I first started a productivity blog and got 46 e-mail subscribers over the course of 6 months (and $3 worth of affiliate revenue).
If you want to avoid that mistake and start earning hundreds or thousands of dollars with your online business within a few weeks or months, you’ll want to get your website right.
To help you create your own high-converting website, you can use the following step-by-step guides:
- How to choose the right e-mail provider and set up your e-mail list
- How to set up a high-converting website
As you set up your website, you’ll probably wonder “what should I put on it?”.
On your website, you’ll want to publish your Lead Magnet, set up opt-in forms, write opt-in copy and start creating remarkable content to begin attracting new visitors to your website.
Ideally, you’d have all of these (including at least one piece of remarkable content) set up before you share your website with the world.
Then, once you have all the pieces set up, you can focus on creating more remarkable content and growing your e-mail list to continue attracting new potential customers to your online business.
Here’s a simple checklist you can refer to to know exactly when you’ve finished creating your high-converting website:
Again, here are the resources that will help you work through all of the above steps:
- How to set up your domain, hosting and website platform
- How to set up your e-mail provider
- How to create a lead magnet
- How to write opt-in copy
- How to create opt-in forms
- How to create your homepage, blog page and about page
- How to create your first piece of remarkable content
Once you have all of the above elements in place, you should be ready to move on to the next layers of the pyramid – consistently creating remarkable content and growing your e-mail list.
Step #3: Consistently Create and Promote Remarkable Content
So you have a website… but how will your potential customers find it?
The answer is simple – through Remarkable Content.
The next layer of your website is your free content that helps you spread your ideas and build trust with your potential customers, typically in the form of blog posts or YouTube videos.
With your Remarkable Content, you’ll fill the Gap in The Market and give your potential customers what they want – solutions to their Problems Worth Solving.
With every piece of Remarkable Content you create, you’ll add an additional stream of visitors to your website that might become your customers down the line.
The more Remarkable Content you create, the more streams you’ll have, and the more potential customers you’ll have.
When it comes to creating Remarkable Convent, it’s important that you:
- Create content that is truly remarkable (to stand out from everyone else in your industry, create content that’s useful to your audience, and so your readers share it with others)
- Create Remarkable Content consistently (so you keep attracting new potential customers to your online business every week and keep your existing readers engaged)
- Promote your Remarkable Content (so you can spread the word about it and reach more readers with it)
- Create your Content Strategy (so you can attract more of the RIGHT customers to your business for years to come through different Content Seasons)
Content Creation is a key skill for consistently growing your online business, and you can use the resources linked above to master it.
Step #4: Build Your E-mail List
Your Remarkable Content will help you attract new visitors to your website every week.
Your High-Converting Website will help you “capture” those new readers and turn them into e-mail subscribers, so you can stay in touch with them, send them every new piece of content you create, and sell your future products and services to them.
Before you start thinking about selling your first product or service online, it’s wise to get at least 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers.
If you diligently followed the previous steps from this guide, the combination of a High-Converting Website and consistent creation of Remarkable Content will already help you gradually grow your e-mail list – woohoo!
But since growing your e-mail list is too complex of a topic to cover in this guide, I wrote a separate, 447-page (!) guide exclusively on building your e-mail list to (tens of) thousands of e-mail subscribers.
You can read my Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List here (it’s free, just like this guide).
Reading the guide above will give you all the information you need to grow your e-mail list ro 1,000+ e-mail subscribers (and beyond).
Both Creating Remarkable Content and Growing Your E-mail List are key activities that will help you grow your e-mail list from 0-$10,000, but also to $50,000, $100,000 and beyond.
It’s important that you continue to focus on these 2 key growth strategies, even while you’re developing and selling your paid products or services.
Step #5: Create and launch your first online product (or service)
Once you build an e-mail list of 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers, you’ll have enough potential customers to successfully develop or launch your first online products or service and get your first 5-10 paying customers.
When you’re just starting out with your online business, I recommend you to start with a lower-priced offer.
If you want to go down the product route, you could develop an online course, a workshop or a live course and price it somewhere between $47 and $97.
If you want to go down the service route, you could sell 1on1 coaching for $50-$100/h.
I recommend starting low (and not diving right into $497 or $997 online courses or $3000-$5000 coaching packages) because:
- You want to get as many clients as possible in the beginning, to get raving testimonials and case studies that you can use later in your business
- You don’t want to spend hours and hours developing a product or service that gets 0 sales
- You have to learn the skill of selling or “launching” online – and that’s easier to do with lower price points
Increasing the price of your offerings is one of the easiest things you can do – while decreasing the price is a lot trickier.
I don’t recommend selling a product or service below $50 (like a $7 e-book) because you’ll likely attract lower quality customers, and the math just isn’t there to help you create a meaningful amount of revenue.
Once you successfully launch your first product or service, you can choose to:
- Improve your existing product or service and/or increase the price next time you launch it
- Create a new, more premium version of your product or service
Once you see that your business “works” and you’re getting your first few sales, you can gradually increase the prices of your paid offerings to scale up your revenue.
To develop your first online product or service, you can:
- Choose a major problem of your audience (ideally a problem nobody else is solving well)
- Think about how you can BEST solve that problem and get the best results for your clients
- Develop a curriculum for your online course or coaching program based on your ideas
You can then choose to either fully develop the program BEFORE you sell it (if you’ll feel more comfortable that way), or you can develop it AFTER you sell it “on the go”, and use the feedback from your customers to improve your program as you create it.
I know this is a lot – and I’ll write an in-depth guide to developing paid products and services in the near future.
In the meanwhile, you can read this article from Foundr to help you get started with creating your first online course!
Step #6: Launch your product or service to your e-mail subscribers
Once you’ve successfully developed your first online product and service, there’s just one final step between you and earning your first dollars with your online business – offering it to your e-mail subscribers.
You’ll typically do that through a so-called “sales sequence” or “sales funnel”.
There are multiple different ways to sell your products and services – from phone sales to webinar sales to e-mail funnels.
If you’d like to sell your products or services via phone, I can highly recommend the book Prosperous Coach from Rich Litvin, and if you’d like to sell via webinars, I can recommend The Ultimate Webinar Marketing Guide from Lewis Howes.
I’ve used both of these resources in the past, and they’ll give you a good foundational framework and exact steps to get started.
In this guide, I’ll instead focus on a basic 5-day sales funnel and a simple sales page that you can use to successfully sell your first product or service.
To create your sales page, you can read my in-depth article about creating a $111,170 sales page, where you’ll learn:
- The exact strategies I used to develop and sell a $1,997 online course from scratch
- A detailed walkthrough of how I wrote my $111,170 sales page in 8 simple steps
- How YOU can create a high-converting sales page for your e-book, online course or coaching program
Then, to create your the 5-day sales funnel, you can read this in-depth guide from Teachable.
Finally, if you’d like to see what it takes to make $36,381 with a single product launch, you can read my in-depth guest post on Growthlab to learn exactly how I did it.
With your first product launch, you’ll earn your first few hundred (or thousand) dollars online.
Then, it’s “rinse and repeat”:
- You’ll create and promote Remarkable Content to grow your e-mail list
- You’ll relaunch your existing product (or service) once every few months
Over time, you might start thinking about developing new online products or services, you might increase the price of your existing products (while making them more valuable), or you might learn how to sell your products better.
All of these will contribute to steady growth of your online business, and as long as you’re successfully attracting more e-mail subscribers every month, your online business will continue to grow.
But at a certain point, you’ll hit a plateau where growth of your online business will slow down – and you’ll want to go faster.
Maybe that will be at $10k/year, $30k/year, or $50k/year.
At that point, you’ll benefit from the final part of this Ultimate Guide.
PART 3: How to scale your online business to $100,000/year (and beyond)
What does it take to scale your online business from $30k/year or $50k/year to 6 figures and beyond?
- Is it just a matter of growing your audience or getting more clients?
- Should you focus on selling more of your existing products and services, or developing new ones?
- Do you need to hire a big team to get there?
Here’s the good news:
If you’re already making 20k, 30k or 50k a year with your online business, you’re already doing something very right.
You’ve found your profitable business idea.
You’ve built an audience around it. You’ve successfully sold one or more products or services. You have a growing base of customers, testimonials and success stories.
You’re making money, and know that you can take this business to 6 figures and beyond.
Here’s the not-so-good news:
Your business might be a mess.
You have cycles of “feast and famine” where you make $5,000 or $10,000 one month when you launch your product or land that big proposal and feel on top of the world… only to make $1,000 or $2,000 next month, which is barely enough to pay the bills. It’s a constant roller coaster.
You try a lot of different things and just work on whatever “feels good” in the moment but don’t have a clear strategy for the future. You feel scattered, unfocused, and even though you’re putting in the work, you’re not sure if what you’re working on is the BEST use of your time.
Deep down, you know that what got you here won’t get you there.
Hustling every day and just putting in the work was enough to get to 5 figures, but you know that you’ll need to change something to get to 6 figures (and beyond).
The question is: What?
I feel you. I’ve seen it (and done it) all before. The feast and famine. The lack of clarity. The throwing spaghetti at a wall approach.
It’s fun when the money is coming in and things are working, and a lot less fun when they’re not.
But after successfully running my own 6-figure online business year after year, and helping many online entrepreneurs scale from $20k/year to $100,000/year (and even $300,000+/year), I cracked the code to what really matters, and what doesn’t.
In this final part of the guide, I’ll cover the 5 advanced strategies that you can use to scale your online business to 6 figures and beyond.
Strategy #1: Layers on new list-building strategies
Once you start seeing a plateau with your audience / e-mail list growth, you need to develop new “layers” of your list-building system.
For example, if you primarily used a YouTube channel to grow your e-mail list, you might want to add a new channel like Ultimate Guides, Pinterest, or partnerships.
You can master and layer on one strategy at a time, while systematizing and delegating parts of your existing list-building strategies to make time for these new layers.
Growing your audience exponentially is a great way to get closer and closer to the 6-figure mark, and a key element you’ll always want to focus on if you want your business to keep growing.
To learn how to create new layers of your e-mail list growth, you can read my in-depth guide on advanced list-building strategies.
Strategy #2: Create your premium, flagship program
A lot of people these days recommend creating “tripwire” products, “downsells” and other types of products that you can sell at a low price point to get more customers.
However, I believe that instead of creating low priced products that might bring in a few thousand dollars, a much better approach to building a 6-7 figure online business is to focus on developing premium, flagship programs and charging $500, $1,000 or $2,000 for them.
The reasons why I’m not a huge fan of creating cheap products are:
- They don’t add a whole lot to your bottom line
- They usually don’t create incredible success stories
- A lot of people buy them, but never use them
- They attract more of your WORST customers, rather than BEST customers
- Dealing with bad customers is a huge time suck
Instead, I recommend focusing on creating the absolute BEST online program in your industry around a certain topic (and then charging what the program is worth).
This won’t just help you add tens (or potentially hundreds) of dollars to your bottom line. It will allow you to give your full attention to your best customers, make a bigger difference in their lives, and a bigger impact in the world (that you just can’t make with a $17 e-book).
In my business, creating my first $1,000 online program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made (and helped me earn $111,170 in less than 10 months).
So if you’re running a 5-figure online business and aren’t thinking about creating a premium product (or a service) yet, I really encourage you to start thinking about it.
A great example of how powerful developing your flagship program comes from one of my private coaching clients.
When we started working together, they offered a combination of a $59 online course and 1on1 coaching to earn $26k over the course of 5 months with their online business. Not bad, but not quite 6 figures yet.
Later on, we developed a $997 flagship program together, and they launched it for more than $75,000 in a SINGLE launch. That’s 3x more than they earned in 5 months beforehand.
If you want to continue growing your online business, creating better, more premium products is a great way to do it.
Strategy #3: Expand Your Product Suite
Most online entrepreneurs that run 7-8 figure online businesses (with a handful of exceptions) don’t just sell one online product. They sell a product suite of different products on different topics, at different price points.
There are a few reasons why they do that:
- They can earn additional revenue with their business every month without selling the same online program over and over again
- They can attract new customers that they weren’t reaching with their old products
- They can add more value to their existing customers who are hungry to learn (any buy!) more from them
If you’re selling just one core product to your audience over and over again and have an email list of thousands of email subscribers, creating your own product suite will not just help you earn more every month.
It might even lead to your biggest launch to date since your existing happy clients can’t wait to continue working with you.
You can create your own product suite through the following 3 stages:
- Rapid Research Cycle: Find new product ideas worth pursuing
- BETA Testing Cycle: Test and validate your ideas with your audience
- Product Development Cycle: Iterate to create world-class products
The simplest way to find new product ideas is to talk to your existing customers and discover what challenges they’re having so you can create new products or services that solve those problems for them. I call this the Rapid Research Cycle.
For example, over the last two weeks, I spoke to 20 of my existing clients to see which challenges they’re facing that I can solve for them.
I suggest going through the research cycle rather than fast (I do this by batching the customer research into 1-2 weeks), so you can continue with testing your ideas (just as fast).
Once you know which new products you want to create, the next step is to rapidly test your ideas through a BETA Testing Cycle.
Instead of spending 6 months creating a new product before releasing it to the world, I’ve found that a much better approach is to test your ideas at a less refined stage through BETA tests.
By launching a BETA version of your program at a slightly lower price point, you can instantly test and validate your product idea to see whether there’s demand for it or not – and then develop a world class product.
The reason why BETA tests work so well is that instead of developing a program in a vacuum, you can get real feedback on it from actual customers – AND you can get testimonials and success stories through the program that help you launch it successfully at the full price.
Once you run your product through the BETA Testing Cycle, and you’re happy with the results of the program, you can transition into the Product Development Cycle.
In this last cycle, you can buckle down, work through the feedback from your BETA program, and design a truly world class program that becomes the best online program in the industry around a certain topic.
Once the program is designed, you can then launch it, and add it to your suite of online programs that you can continue offering to your audience for years to come.
With my private clients that already have e-mail lists of thousands of e-mail subscribers, expanding their product suite always results in more revenue and growth – it’s a strategy that can’t really fail.
Strategy #4: Monetize Every Month
The solution to the “feast and famine” cycle is incredibly simple and has worked wonders for my business.
In the past, I used to launch my programs only once every 3-4 months. This meant I would make $5k, $10k, or even $30k one month and then try to survive over the next few months as I burned through the money until I had to launch the program again.
This wasn’t fun at all. I spent a lot of time worrying what will happen if my next launch fails, and that extra stress didn’t exactly put me in the best mental space to run my online business.
Then I had this conversation with a mentor of mine and they gave me this profound insight:
“I think that if most online entrepreneurs just focused on monetizing their business every month, they’d never have money issues”.
I thought about it for a second and instantly realized how right they were.
The reality was that no matter how much I WANTED my business to grow if I only launched ONE program every 3-4 months and never gave my audience a chance to work with me in-between… They couldn’t work with me. And my business wouldn’t grow.
On the other hand, if I launched just one program every month, I’d be pretty much guaranteed to grow my business, even if not all of them are a huge success right off the bat. Plus, I’d all of a sudden have a much more stable online business as new revenue was coming in every month.
I felt a little bit stupid that I didn’t realize that myself (especially as most of the top online entrepreneurs monetize their business every month), and then focused on applying the lesson to my business.
One month, I launched an online course on creating Ultimate Guides. Another month, I launched a 1on1 coaching program. Another month, I launched a group coaching program.
All of a sudden, my business was growing faster than ever. I’ve made almost the same amount of revenue with my business over the course of 3 months than I did in the 9 months before that. It feels surreal how simple this was.
So if you want to grow your business from 5 to 6 figures, just giving your potential customers the opportunity to buy from you every month can make a HUGE difference in your business, diversify your income and help you escape the “feast and famine” cycle.
Just to be clear, monetizing every month doesn’t mean that you have to create a new online program every month – I wouldn’t recommend that.
Instead, you could:
- Launch a new online program, or relaunch an existing program
- Offer a 1on1 or group coaching program
- Create a mastermind, a retreat or a live workshop
The options are limitless here – the most important thing is that you’re creating new valuable ways to help your audience, which will result in more revenue, more success stories, and more happy clients.
Strategy #5: Hire a Team
As you can imagine, developing new list-building strategies, product and services, AND launching every month takes a lot of time and energy.
At a certain point when you’re earning $30-$50k/year with your online business, you’ll likely start feeling the pain, burnout and frustration.
There will be so much you’ll want to do, but way too little time and energy to make it all happen.
Not to mention all the admin work you’ll have to do in your business that takes time away from actually working on things that matter most, like developing or launching new programs:
- Scheduling and rescheduling coaching or customer research calls
- Answering customer support questions and e-mails
- Organizing research notes
- Formatting blog posts
- Uploading coaching call recordings to your membership area
- Designing powerpoint presentations for your online cousres
- Editing YouTube videos
When you begin to feel like you’re being pulled in 10 different directions and you spend way too much time on low-impact work that isn’t growing your online business or worth your time, you should start thinking about hiring a team.
Specifically, I recommend you to first hire a Virtual Assistant at $20-$25/h to help you with all the admin work in your business (from scheduling calls to handling your e-mail and uploading course materials for you).
To get started with hiring your Virtual Assistant, you can read this in-depth guide from Frank Magnotti.
Later on, you can start thinking about hiring a video editor, product developer or a copywriter, depending on how quickly and aggressively you want to free up your time and scale your online business – but that shouldn’t be necessary to reach 6 figures.
Strategy #6: Create a Lean Schedule
Finally, you’ll also want to reorganize your schedule to make sure you’re spending your time where it matters most in your online business.
To develop new programs, write sales copy or create new content, you’ll need big blocks of uninterrupted time, and you’ll need to remove yourself from the increasing amount of requests for your time from your clients, readers (and even team-members).
To help you get the most out of your time for your business, finish work early and enjoy guilt-free afternoons, I encourage you to create a Lean Schedule.
This way, your online business will grow faster, while you actually spend less work on it every day.
This is another strategy that I’ve used with my 6-figure clients that makes a night-and-day difference in how fast their business grows (and helps them regain control over their rapidly growing business).
In this guide, I:
- Told you my story of how I built my 6-figure online business from scratch
- Shared with you my step-by-step system for starting a profitable online business
- Gave you 6 advanced strategies for scaling your online business to $100,000+/year
And I also shared with you plenty of extra guides and resources that you can use to put the principles and strategies from this guide into action.
Now of course, building a 6-figure online business doesn’t happen overnight – and you’ll likely need a few years to go through this process.
Still, you now have a clear roadmap in front of you, so you know exactly which steps to take next, and you can revisit guide whenever you lose a sense of direction.
If you’re hungry for more strategies for scaling your online business to 6 figures and beyond, you should definitely read my blog post about 6 Critical Mistakes That Stop You From Starting a 6-Figure Online Business.
Quick Favor (Before You Go)
One last thing.
I’ve spent tens of hours writing this guide and years putting together the strategies that I shared with you (which I typically only share with my private coaching clients).
I decided to give this guide away for free because I really want to help more people turn their hobbies into full-time online businesses, and I did my best to make it the most detailed guide out there on starting a 6-figure online business.
If you enjoyed reading this guide, would you mind sharing it on your Facebook wall, e-mailing it to an entrepreneurial friend, or sharing it in a community of entrepreneurs who want to grow their online businesses?
It would mean the world to me if you helped me spread the word about this guide.
To share the guide, you can simply share this page with them.
Thank you so much, and I hope to hear about your successes soon!
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