There are lots of good things to say about having your own Internet business: You're your own boss. You set your own hours. You can pretty much run your business as you see fit.
But is it really possible to be an online seller, become a millionaire and work less than you are already? It's always seemed to us that e-merchants work harder than just about anybody else.
But we're always hopeful, so we spoke with Scott Fox, the author of several bestselling books about making money online, including his latest book, Click Millionaires: Work Less, Live More with an Internet Business You Love.
Easier and cheaper than acquiring new customers is to grow your sales by reselling and upselling your existing customers
Find your path to success
Schepp: There are many books about how to make money online. What's different about yours?
Fox: The subtitle of my latest book, Click Millionaires, sums it up nicely: "Work less, live more with an Internet lifestyle business you love." I've become a millionaire myself while working online, but my books are not just about making money. They are guides to using the Internet to build a new lifestyle for yourself.
The "click millionaire" lifestyle is one where you work on projects that you enjoy to make money on your own terms and hopefully help others, too. Click Millionaires is like The 4-Hour Work Week, but with a lot more examples and exercises to help you find your own path to success.
Plus, my readers get unprecedented follow-up support through free membership in my lifestyle business-coaching forum at ClickMillionaires.com. Top members in our forum are even rewarded through a revenue sharing program, and I donate my book profits to charity, too. I don't know of any other author who does all this to help his readers find success.
Schepp: What suggestions do you have for "growing" existing e-commerce businesses?
Fox: Better, more cost-effective marketing is always a good idea. My second book, e-Riches 2.0: Next Generation Online Marketing Strategies, is all about how to do that with modern social media marketing tools. But easier and cheaper than acquiring new customers is to grow your sales by reselling and upselling your existing customers.
Product extensions, upsells, and even cross-promotions or affiliate offers from other merchants can help any e-commerce business grow. Add the automated marketing of auto-responder follow-up emails and PPC advertising, and any e-commerce business can find more revenue.
For small, entrepreneurial businesses, I think it's important to pursue marketing strategies that you enjoy yourself. This is where my focus on lifestyle design comes in
Expand beyond physical products
Schepp: There are many ways to market your business online. What methods are most effective?
Fox: For small, entrepreneurial businesses, I think it's important to pursue marketing strategies that you enjoy yourself. This is where my focus on lifestyle design comes in.
For example, we have members in our forum who have success with Facebook ads but others prefer podcasting.
Both are relevant approaches today, but implementing either strategy well appeals to a different personality type. In every case, though, I still recommend using your marketing to attract email list signups.
Your email list is truly a long-term asset despite whatever fads in social media marketing or SEO may come and go.
Schepp: What suggestions do you have for e-merchants who want to broaden their businesses via other ways to make money online? Are there options that are especially complementary to selling products online?
Fox: Yes, I'd suggest expanding from selling physical products to selling information products. Info products like e-books, video courses, forum memberships or even paid email newsletters can be very profitable because of their low cost of production, carry, and shipping. (Software and apps can be similarly very profitable, but they usually require more of a tech background.)
Begin the 'click millionaire' lifestyle
Schepp: What traits/approaches do the click millionaires you've interviewed have in common?
Fox: First is a frustration with the status quo of traditional careers. Our members are willing to work hard, but they are tired of doing that to make someone else rich. Second is perseverance. Every one of the success stories in my books had that moment when they almost gave up and quit. But by sticking with it, they built their own niche businesses online.
Schepp: The subtitle of your book includes the phrase "work less, live more." What are some strategies e-merchants can use to work less and live more?
Picking a good niche is more important than ever. If you are just getting started, I definitely recommend identifying a narrow problem that you can help customers solve
Fox: In the Click Millionaires book I spell out seven lifestyle business "design principles." These were compiled from my own years of success online and research with hundreds of entrepreneurs and startup companies.
Some of the key principles include outsourcing, automating and scaling your business using software, audience product creation, recurring billing, and even plain old helping others.
Building a business around these guiding principles can help you work smarter instead of harder and transform an ordinary online business into a "click millionaire" lifestyle business.
Schepp: What other advice do you have for e-merchants that we haven't covered?
Fox: With all the competition online today, picking a good niche is more important than ever. If you are just getting started, I definitely recommend identifying a narrow problem that you can help customers solve as your starting point.
Instead of "going big" with a broad target market, make some small sales first from your chosen niche. That will prove your concept, prep you for expansion, and build a customer base and revenues that you can use to expand profitably.
Schepp: In addition to your books, you offer other resources for those with Internet businesses. Describe these.
Fox: Click Millionaires is not just a book, it's a lifestyle design movement. As such, we have a manifesto that explains our philosophy (posted for free on ClickMillionaires.com) and thousands of members pursuing success together in our free forum at ClickMillionaires.com.
There are also years of my YouTube videos, blog posts, podcasts and forum conversations online for anyone who is interested in upgrading their life through click millionaire style success online—all for free. I invite any of your readers to come visit what we like to call "the friendliest lifestyle business coaching forum on the Internet" to find their way forward to personal success, too.
Schepp: Thank, Scott!