EP03 – How to Make a Sale

How to Make a SaleMaking the Sale

Making your first dollar online is usually quite a milestone for entrepreneurs.  It’s the moment that they realize that it’s actually possible to make money from the interwebs.

For myself (Trevor) I already believed in the possibility of making an income online, so I wasn’t overly excited about my first dollar online… in fact I’m not exactly sure I remember where it came from, but I believe it was from putting Google ads on my blog.

As an aside, I do not recommend using ads to make income… your website needs to see millions of visitors every month before monetizing with ads will make any sense.  I believe I was making around $10/month in ad revenue when I was receiving 10,000 page views per month… certainly nothing overly exciting.

Success Story Selling an eBook

We’ve talked about Pat Flynn on the show before and he has quite the amazing success story behind him and his business.  He launched an eBook in a very niche market (a study guide for LEED architects) and ended up making hundreds of dollars the first day it was live.

Now this is certainly not typical and when you look into the stats behind the story, it does add up.  You see, Pat had created a blog that focused on helping architects study for their LEED exam.  The LEED exam is a special kind of exam that give an architect the certification to design eco-friendly buildings.

Pat’s original plan was to just create the blog to help HIMSELF out, but what he didn’t realize is that he had thousands of people coming to his site every month and following along with his posts.  Pat never plugged Google Analytics into his website, so he had no clue that his traffic numbers were quite good.

That is until one day when he finally did plug in Google Analytics and BOOM, he realized he was sitting on a gold mine.

So he published his blog notes into an eBook and sold it on his website.

To date, I believe he’s made several hundred thousand dollars from eBook sales… unreal!

Tactics for Making Money Selling eBooks

If the creation of an eBook sounds like a path you’d like to follow then I’ve got some tips for you.  The first tip is that you can totally use your blog’s content inside of your eBook.  In fact the last eBook I published that went on to become and Amazon best seller was mostly just a copy/paste from my blog’s content.

I would publish multiple in-depth blog posts on the subject that pertains to the eBook I want to create.  This allows me to get fresh content on my blog for my audience to consume and enjoy.  This also allows me to gain some rankings in Google and receive some organic visits.

I then do this over and over again until I’ve more or less covered the topic completely.  I then copy/paste the content from every blog post into Microsoft Word and just do some basic formatting to make sure it’ll look good within the final eBook version.

I also make sure to add some unique content so that the eBook isn’t just 100% re-used content.  You do want to make sure around 10-20% of the book is unique content.

Then all you do is hire someone to create a nice cover for your book via fiverr.com and hire a second person to format your book for use on Amazon via elance.com.

I’ve paid as little as $22 for someone on elance.com to convert my MS Word document into a fully functional amazon eBook format (.mobi/.epub file).  I’ve also paid $5 for someone to design my latest eBook’s cover, which I believe looks amazing.

The trick to finding a great worker, is to make sure they have a bunch of great ratings and reviews and also to look at their previous work to see if it looks agreeable to you.  If someone has a poor rating, or no previous work to show you, but they’re offering to complete the work for a minimal amount of money, there might be a reason for it.  You get what you pay for!

I’ve got an idea for a product, but what if it sucks?

We’ve all been there.  Self-doubt and second guessing.

This is a tough hurdle to overcome, so the trick is to start small.  Try giving your initial work away for free to “test the waters”, ask for feedback from your audience.  If every single person gives you negative feedback, see if there’s any connection between all the feedback.  If there is a connection, then you know exactly what you need to work on!

But chances are, if you’re on the path to be an entrepreneur, the likelihood is that you have it in you to create great stuff.

Just remember that nobody is perfect.  Every successful entrepreneur has had MANY customers tell them that their product sucks.  You will never please everyone, it’s absolutely impossible.

So don’t get stuck and give in to fear.  Just start creating and see where it takes you.

Alright, so let’s assume you’ve decided to create a product…

Where do you find customers?

So if you’re just starting out and you’re wanting to sell something, one of the first questions you’ll have is “Where can I find people to buy my stuff?”

Honestly, the first place I usually look is within my own network.  Family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.  Don’t be afraid to reach out and test the waters.  See if anyone is interested, or better yet, see if anyone actually bites!

A great tactic to use is to focus on pre-selling your product.  It may seem scary to sell something that hasn’t yet been created, but I assure you that this is done all the time by the big boys.

One lesson I had to learn the hard way was that I spent over 5 years building and selling a product that nobody wanted.


Don’t be like the old me, learn from his mistakes.

Talk to people about the product you want to create, and if they like it, ask them for the pre-sale.  A good win-win situation is to offer them a discounted price off the product in exchange for the pre-order.  Let them know that once the product is launched, nobody will EVER get a better deal on the product than they are getting right now.   And if you hit a point where not enough people have pre-ordered, let them know that you’ll refund them every penny of their money.

And remember another key lesson I learned the hard way… just because someone says “Oh man that sounds great!” or “For SURE I’m interested in that product!” does NOT mean they will actually buy the product.  Only when the money is in your bank account should you assume that person is truly interested.

Once you’ve tapped out your network, you can start reaching out to more people on forums that relate to your product idea.  Join social network groups and engage with people there.  Go to meetup.com and see if there are any meet up events happening in your area that will have your target market.

Get creative.

You could also pick up the phone and start calling people you don’t even know!  I know right?  Crazy!

But my idea is the next Facebook and I don’t want to tell ANYONE about it before it’s built!


Well, if you think you’ve got the idea that will be the next Facebook, then chances are that you’re brand new to entrepreneurship.

My honest advice is to ignore your fear that someone will steal your idea.  Because an idea isn’t what makes you rich, it’s the execution on that idea.

Remember that Facebook wasn’t first to market.  Neither was Google.  Sure, being first to market HELPS you, but in NO WAY does it guarantee you’ll be successful.

Asking people to sign NDAs and keeping your product idea a secret will only help to hold you back from seeing success.

Don’t believe me?

Keep your idea a secret and build it… then email me and let me know how it goes when you launch it.


This is quite the “heavy” topic in entrepreneurship.  Copywriting is the skill that’s used to put words on a website (or piece of paper) that sell your products/services.  This is the art of convincing someone that you have what they need.

There are probably hundreds of books on this topic and thousands of blog posts.  So I can’t provide any more value than any of the other people out there on the internet that talk about this subject.

Where I CAN help you out is to direct you to great resources to learn about copywriting!  Here are some of our favorites:

The main point that these guides will tell you is that people buy with emotion, not logic.  If you can connect with your audience emotionally, you’ll make more sales.  This equates into selling through storytelling.  Tell them a story that will paint a picture of how their life will be improved when they purchase / use your product.

An example of how I was selling incorrectly in my earlier days as an entrepreneur, I used to highlight the FACTS about my products to sell them.

“My course has 45 hours of video tutorials!”

Hint: Nobody cares!

What people care about is what they’ll get after they’ve gone through the course.  They want to know that when they’re done the course, they’ll be able to create the next Facebook app.

Now even that example is lacking, because I didn’t tell a story about the benefits of being able to create a web application.  What ARE the benefits of being able to create a web application anyway?

Well, maybe the benefit is that they’ll be able to upgrade their career from someone who can barely keep employment, to someone who now has the potential for a high paying and PERMANENT programming career.

I could tell a story about some of my students who made that exact journey, from unemployed to full-time programmer’s salary with benefits in a telecommunications company.

MUCH more powerful than, hey we have 45 hours of content!  Buy my stuff!

There’s a great book that talks about how to sell with stories called Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, I’d highly recommend picking it up.

Risk Reversal

Alright, so we’ve talked about where to go to find your initial customers.  We’ve talked about how to bring people on board before a product is even created.  We’ve talked about how to sell through the art of copywriting.  But what’s next?

Well it’s all about pushing people over the fence.  There will always be the indecisive people who are sitting on the fence thinking that they’d like your product, but “what if…”

These are sales that are just WAITING to happen, but you need to give them a bit of help to close the deal.

This is where risk reversal comes into play.  Risk reversal is all about telling people that they literally have nothing to lose by hitting the “buy now” button.  Risk reversal comes in many forms:

  • Money back guarantee
  • Pay only for shipping and we’ll bill you later
  • $1 trial for the first month

Be sure to offer some sort of risk reversal technique on your sales page, as you’ll see a bigger increase in sales versus the money you’ll lose from people who take advantage of what you’re offering.

I even offer a 110% guarantee on my Java training course.  If for any reason after 90 days they’re not satisfied, they will get 110% of their money back.  Imagine what that does for my conversion rate.

You may be thinking: “Hold on!  I don’t want to lose that kind of money!  That’s insane!”

Well, I can tell you that in over two years of selling, not ONE person has asked for 110% of their money back.  One person asked for a refund, but they said not to worry about the extra 10%.

So trust me, if you offer a good product, you’ll gain far more sales than you’ll lose from offering some form of risk reversal.

Split Testing

Once you’ve got your machine running and sales are coming through the door, you might think you’re done.

Far from it.

The big boys are always testing things out to see what works better.  Often times they’ll find that small changes that only take 5 minutes to do will lead to BIG increases in overall sales volumes.

This is the world of split testing.  Changing ONE thing on your page, and seeing if it does better or worse than your existing page.  If it does better, then that becomes the new norm, if it does worse, then throw it away.

There are some great tools to use for split testing out there, a couple that I’ve heard of and used are Optimizely and Unbounce.

Though they both have a recurring cost, if you’re always performing tests in your business, you will definitely make more than you lose by using their software.

To sum up

Sales is a huge part of your business, but thankfully there are plenty of things you can do to get the ball rolling.  You shouldn’t be scared to ask people for money, because you’re one of the few people who have decided to stand up and say “Hey!  I am a content creator and I want to share my knowledge and/or expertise to make your life better.”

Our planet needs entrepreneurs, so keep that in mind when you’re making the sale.

I’ll leave you with a great quote from Thomas J Watson:

Do you want a formula for success?  Double your rate of failure.