Are You Failing at Internet Marketing? Use This Checklist to Diagnose What Ails Your Online Business


Image by IntelliSparx

Did you know that Clickbank signs up 3,000 new affiliate marketers EVERY SINGLE DAY?

I was stunned to read that figure (which was sent to me by one of Clickbank’s advertising reps last week).

Three thousand per day means that nearly 1.1 million would-be affiliate marketers join Clickbank every year.

And while those people might have a range of different reasons for chasing the affiliate dream (quit their day job; get a bit more income every month; meet Alex Whalley), they share one thing in common:

The vast majority of them are never going to make good money from their online business.

(According to a survey run by James Schramko, half of affiliate marketers make less than $10k per year from their business. And that’s just the results of his survey. I’ll bet the vast majority of affiliate marketers make no money at all).

But who can blame the struggling IMer, when making money online is so hard?

Why Making Money Online is like Being a Rocket Scientist

One of the things I used to find intimidating about Internet marketing is the sheer number of things that have to go right for a marketer to make money.

Here are just a few of the “moving parts” that you have to nail if you want to make money online. You need to have:

– An offer that people want

– A price that people are willing to pay

– A way to get your offer in front of your target audience

– The right message to capture your audience’s attention

– A website that has all the right conversion elements

And that’s just the broad categories of things that have to go right. We all know that there are a million things on a website that can turn off a potential buyer.

The very first Clickbank product I launched was profitable from the get-go. I chalk a lot of that success up to the fact that I did my market research (“frigging market research”, as Glenn Livingston calls it), but it wasn’t profitable for long. Soon after launching that product, I decided to ditch my amateurish sales page for a more “professional-looking” one.

The result? Sales nosedived. Then I put my crappy landing page back up and sales took off again.

That got me thinking: what would have happened if I had STARTED OFF with that slick-looking sales page – and had no sales? Would I have given up on this whole make-money-online thing?

I think a lot of people fall into that trap. They try a bunch of different tactics to make money online, but things just don’t “click” for them. In other words, all the moving parts of IM simply don’t fire at the same time.

Struggling to Make Money Online? Take an “Outside and Slightly Elevated” View

I’ve done enough telephone coaching to know that many IMers – whether they’ve been trying to make money online for four months or four years – just need to step back and take an “outside and slightly elevated” view of their online business.

What does that mean exactly? Well, as Sam Carpenter describes in his excellent book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, by periodically removing ourselves from the minutiae of our businesses and looking at them as “systems”, we can more easily diagnose what’s going wrong, and what needs to be fixed. In the case of newbie IMers, I’ve found that it’s usually just two or three things that are preventing them from getting out of their rut and moving to the next level.

That’s why I decided to put together a simple checklist that struggling IMers can use to diagnose what ails their online business. Think of it as a check-up for your websites – much like you’d get a check-up at the doctor’s or the mechanic’s.

Here’s how to use the checklist: simply read through each item on the list, and check off if you’ve covered it in your business. Then get to work fixing the things that didn’t get a checkmark!

Note: I’ve purposely kept the checklist brief, so you don’t get overwhelmed. While internet marketing has a lot of moving parts, if you get the BIG parts right most other things will fall into place.

Another note: I’ve put the checklist in a handy PDF document. You can download it at the end of this post.

The Ultimate Internet Business Checklist

My Business Goals:

– I’ve taken the time to clearly articulate what I want my online business to do for my life.

(Examples: I want my online business to provide me with more opportunities to travel; to spend more time with my family; to work for myself; to provide a base income so I can do the work I love without worrying about money; etc.)

My Target Audience:

– I’ve selected a target audience (or target niche) that my online business will serve for years to come

– I’ve done my market research to understand the wants, needs, challenges, desires, aspirations, and pain points of my target audience

– BONUS point: I know the language that my target audience uses (words, terms, product names, etc.) when describing their problems.

My Offers:

– My products (or the affiliate products I promote) reflect the market intelligence I’ve gathered from my target audience. In other words: I only promote products that I KNOW meet the needs of my target audience.

– I’ve created at least one freebie that I can give to my visitors when they visit my site, in exchange for their email address

My Traffic:

– I understand the basics of search engine optimization. (Good resource: SEOMoz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO)

– I do one thing (small or large) each day to get more free traffic to my site(s).

My Website:

– I use WordPress to build my sites on, and have looked into WordPress themes like Socrates and Thesis to build my site(s)

– I have read The Ultimate Heatmap to learn which spots on my website are most likely to get the highest clickthrough rate

– I have an email opt-in box on my website. In that box I offer a free gift (report, e-course, etc.) in exchange for a visitor’s email address

My Relationship Building Strategy:

– I’ve created at least one freebie that I can give to my visitors when they visit my site, in exchange for their email address. (Yes, this item is also under “My Offers”. It’s so important that it needs to be mentioned twice!)

– I’ve created an autoresponder series of at least 20 messages. That series includes a mix of helpful, useful content, and respectful pitches to buy my products or the affiliate products that I sincerely believe will help my target audience. (I don’t have to create all 20 messages at once, but will strive to write all 20 – or outsource the writing – within one month of putting an email opt-in box on my site.)

My Daily Productivity:

– I make a short list first thing in the morning of the tasks I want to accomplish during the day (1-3 tasks). Each of those tasks will contribute to the ultimate goal of my online business.

Click here to download the PDF of this checklist (in a much prettier format).

Wrapping Up

An online business has a lot of moving parts, but if you get a handful of those parts to fire at the same time, your business will take off.  In a lot of cases, struggling internet marketers only need to remove themselves from the thick of their businesses to diagnose which parts of their business need repair. You can use my checklist to help in that diagnosis.

Your thoughts? Is anything missing from the checklist? Leave a comment below if you think so, and I’ll add it in!

Need help taking your online business to the next level? Then consider joining my Niche Sherpa Video Coaching Course, or take a look at my One-On-One Coaching Program!

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  1. says

    Great post (as always) Moe.
    I came over from the email because I only JUST got my own checklist sorted (I probably still dont but I’ll tell myself otherwise) and I wanted to compare 😉

    I think you did this really well, because one of the biggest hurdles comes as a result of the sheer influx of information that we recieve when we ‘register with clickbank’ or what have you – so by laying out the structure of what makes a successful online business you have removed that element completely.

    It really does come down to the simple maths of making sure you have an offer that converts at a higher rate than that of the cost of getting the traffic there in the first place.

    There are a million variables on that, but in a nutshell that is what it comes down to. Of course you said it much better than me.

    Oh and thanks for the link love man! It was nice to meet me :)

  2. Atif says

    Superb timing of the post, I am well into Niche Sherpa course.

    I have implemented 75% of the checklist in my mind, the rest I need to do .

    But I did I not write or plan all this out, thanks so much for putting me at ease and making it so simple.

    With the Google Panda change, I would recommend setting up Google Reeder so you get all the latest information in your niche in one place for content ideas for your audience and strive to be the market leader in your niche, just like you Moe!

    Thanks again.

  3. says

    Hi Moe, great post. Couple of months ago I ‘found you’ as I was working on figuring out exactly how to find a good niche to go into as I didn’t want to waste any time. I liked your finding a niche doesn’t have to be a bitch ebook, so thanks for that. Really liked your checklist too, it’s a reminder to keep things simple because at times the journey to IM success can become overwhelming.

    • Moe says

      Thanks for taking the time to comment, Eden. I took a quick look at your blog – love the cartoon of you in the header! Keep up your posts and you’ll soon have a solid online brand.


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