Recently I was thinking back to my first year in business online.

It was 1996.  I was desperate, working a pizza delivery job for Little Caesars for $8 an hour.  It was actually minimum wage plus tips…or you received a guaranteed $8 an hour if you didn’t receive enough tips.  I ALWAYS got the $8 an hour.

My wife and I were over $50,000 in debt and I’d wasted thousands of dollars trying direct mail, several network marketing companies, and even door-to-door sales.

I was going door-to-door selling satellite dishes.  I’m officially the worst direct salesperson you could have met that year.  I sold a whopping grand total of 0 dishes.  Suffice it to say, they quickly told me I wasn’t cut out for the job.

I bought my first Pentium 75 PC using a Best Buy credit card, one of the few cards which wasn’t maxed out yet.    The Internet was still in its infancy and there were only a few rumors of success stories.

But even with all my past failures, there was this confidence that somehow, someway this could work for me.

I remember dedicating hours every day, up to 12 hours at times, those first few weeks just to get a basic handle on how to use a computer and the Internet.

Then several products came in to my life that changed everything for me.

The first few were from Bill Myers, Jay Abraham, and Gary Halbert.

They were about direct response marketing and direct mail.

Could they be applied to this new animal, the Internet?

Using whatever money I could scrape together I purchased rights to several direct response VHS videos.

It’s kind of funny when I think about it, because I regularly tell people not to go into debt for business investment.  Yet if I wouldn’t have put myself out there, I may never have dug myself out of that desperate situation.

Business is risky.  All business involves risk.  The Internet is no exception.  And there are no guarantees of success for anyone online.  Of course there are no guarantees of making it through the year alive either.

Life is too short to just live by the mundane routine everyone else follows.

My first websites were UGLY.  You probably don’t even understand how ugly we’re talking here. There were animated gifs all over the place, random designs, and mismatched colors.

The initial marketing was through discussion boards on sites such as Compuserve.  Or they were classified ads on free link pages.  Always add a quick free offer and a link back to my site.  When visitors came they were offered a freebie if they joined my list.

Content was sent out every week by email along with product offers in each issue.

There was so much joy when those first checks and money orders came in.

That’s right.  I couldn’t even take credit cards at first.  People had to send a check or money order through the mail.  We’re talking dinosaur age here.

I can’t describe how it felt when money came in…at last after everything I had done.  After all those failures I experienced, it was working.  Products were being sold.  Money was coming in.

It actually took me about six months to realize what was driving almost all the sales.  Visitors could of course purchase products when they visited my big ugly, confusing mess of a site.  But the majority didn’t.

Instead they would join my email list.  Each email sent out contained content and offers for products.

The more content and offers that went out by email, the more money came in.

There were two drivers of the income:

1.       Grow a targeted opt-in email list that was interested in what was being offered.

2.       Send more offers backed by relevant content and value.

Since then, almost everything has changed online.

The dotcoms went into full scale free fall.  New search engines rose from the ashes.  Advertising sources have come and gone.  Technology has advanced to where it’s simple to get a good looking website up quickly, manage almost unlimited content, take credit cards within days.  Social media makes thousands of connections easy.

Almost everything has changed, except those two basics that launched me to success early on.

Grow a targeted opt-in email list.

Send more email offers backed by relevant content and value.

Today it’s not a lack of information that holds you back.  It’s information overload.  There’s so much information just one mouse click away.  It’s impossible to process it all.

It’s EXCITING today.  There are dozens of methods to bring targeted buyers to your website such as social media, SEO, PPC, Facebook ads, email ads, PPV, discussion boards, guest posting, banners, blogging, video, etc.

There’s so much that you can never do it all.  And you don’t have to.

Don’t let all the fantastic technology today distract you from what brings in the income.

Grow a targeted opt-in email list.

Send more email offers backed by relevant content and value.

In my next blog post I’m going to share with you the FASTEST way for the average beginner to grow a targeted email list in their niche.  It’s possible to go from 0 to 1,000 subscribers in just a few days when done correctly.

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Terry Dean
Terry Dean

Terry Dean has been in full-time internet business since 1996 and has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get started online through his articles and products. He lives in Ocala, Florida with his wife and 2 dogs. Find out more about how his step-by-step courses can help you today.