Real Fast Results for Marketing, Business and Entrepreneurs

The Real Fast Results is a business podcast for people who want to see real results in their business fast. The show provides actionable, implementable steps in each episode. The focus is definitely on marketing strategies and list building with an emphasis on little-known but effective tactics. We also will cover passive and recurring income opportunities as well as productivity and time efficiency strategies for the busy and often distracted entrepreneur or content creator. Any time you invest listening to the Real Fast Results podcast will be both enjoyable and practical. If you're an online business person or entrepreneur who realizes that it's about working smart then you're going to LOVE this show!
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Aug 30, 2016
Sell Your Story - PinterestWelcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results podcast!  Today's special guest is Dr. Ken Atchity, who is a very well-known Hollywood producer.  As a matter of fact, he is a producer and author who has also worked as a literary manager, speaker, writer, editor, and professor of comparative literature, among other things.  During this exclusive interview, Ken shares insight on what it takes to sell your story to Hollywood.  Without further ado, please welcome Ken to the show...

What's Your Promise Today?

I think what we're trying to get across today is giving our audience insight into how a story gets sold into Hollywood and whether they should have any hope of selling their story into Hollywood.  That's my goal.

What Are the Benefits of Selling My Story?

Every book writer and storyteller would like to see their story in front of a maximum audience.  That's what I have dedicated my last 30 years to, is helping storytellers find their maximum audience, and I long ago realized, of course, that the maximum audience is the screen.  We used to call it the "big screen" and the "little screen" before the advent of the flat screen in homes.  Sometimes that screen can be as big as the one at the movie theater.  But, in any case, television and film take stories around the world.  There isn't a country, with the possible exception of Saudi Arabia, that doesn't love movies. When you get a story told to the movies, the world gets to see your story.  You know, it can be dubbed in 182 languages, etc.  If the story came from a book that you wrote, then guess what?  The book will sell many, many more copies than it ever sold before.  We've had several examples of that in the last couple of years.  The Lost Valentine with Betty White ended up selling a whole bunch of copies of the book, which was republished for the purpose. Meg is about...after years and years of preproduction, Meg is going into production this summer in New Zealand, and we've already geared up the books to be sold again, even though they've been selling for 15 years now.  They'll really sell now because the movie becomes a commercial for your story, for your book.  So, it will sell more books.  You're getting your story out to everyone, the people who read and the people who watch.  That's the exciting part about making a Hollywood deal.

Can You Run Me Through the Steps of How My Story Might Get Told?

I think the first and most important element your story needs to have is to be universal.  It needs to be the kind of story that everyone wants to hear about.  There aren't that many stories in human experience, but we want to hear over and over again because every time we hear them anew, we actually hear things we haven't heard before, and we think of that story in ways that we hadn't thought before.  Therefore, it applies to our life and gives us a better inkling of how to deal with this crazy hodgepodge of stimulation that we call life.  Stories are...When we stop, and pause, and ask the question, "What's it all about," and "What would happen if a person like me got stuck into a situation like that,"...That's kind of the ancient formula of storytelling. So, its first quality is it has got to be something we care about universally.  You can start with the Seven Deadly Sins, or the Seven Virtues, and it isn't hard to figure out what people care about.  Love, and hate, and fear, and loss, etcetera, these are all big human subjects for stories, and therefore universally applicable.  That's the #1 quality that you need to have.  The second quality that a story for Hollywood needs to have is a hero.  I use the word loosely because I know better, as a former professor of classics and Greek drama.  I know that the real word is protagonist.  The Greeks invented that. The very first plays that were staged in Athens only had one actor.  He was the protagonist.  He was not only the protagonist, he was the only actor, and he basically came out on stage and acted out a story.  Later on, some genius added the second actor, who was known as the antagonist, the one who tries to stop the protagonist because he has opposite goals.  You know, we were off and running with drama when we had those two actors.  We still need that first actor, the one whose story it is and who has to do things in order to make his story turn out either happily or tragically.  So, that's what the protagonist is all about, but he's the first...He's the actor, the one who causes action to happen, and he is the primary reason that we're watching.  That means the protagonist, the hero, has to be sympathetic. Sympathetic is another ancient Greek concept.  It doesn't mean that we have sympathy because he lost his mother or he lost his daughter.  It means that we are able to suffer along with him.  That he's got such charisma as a character that we instantly get his suffering and can experience, through him and with him.  That's what "sympathetic" means.  So, we need a sympathetic hero.  If someone's completely unlikable, we lose interest within the first few minutes, but this hero doesn't necessarily have to be a good guy. My favorite example is Shakespeare's Richard III, where this ugly, kind of crippled, stupid guy comes out onto the stage in a black costume and proceeds to tell us how unhappy he is with life because he's constantly getting the short end of everything and that he's finally decided to do something about it.  He's going to go out and kill his brother's family and take the throne, after committing the 10 crimes that he predicts that he will commit.  Within a few lines of this amazing opening, everybody is totally rooting for him, not because he's a good guy, but because we are fascinated, mesmerized, horrified, by his candor.  You know, his outspoken willingness to tell us how bad he is and that he's going to do something about it, and we watch in horror for the rest of the play, until he finally brings himself down in ruins along with the whole kingdom. There's an example of a sympathetic hero.  Or, the beginning of Lethal Weapon, the first movie, when Mel Gibson wakes up in his really sleazy-looking trailer and reaches for a beer can that's open.  He takes a slug of beer, stands up and takes a walk into his bathroom and pisses.  Then, sits down again, pulls out his gun, and starts Russian roulette with the barrel of the gun in his mouth, and then we learn that he's a homicide detective.  Within the first few minutes of this, we can't stop watching.  Here's a story in which the hero is a suicidal homicide detective, and of course, he's matched with a partner who has only got a couple of weeks to retire after a long and happy career.  So, this is called creating sympathy for the characters, and these are some of the qualities of a great story. Those are three big things that you need to have to get your story sold to Hollywood.  There are others.  There has to be a very three act structure.  What are the three acts?  The beginning, the middle, and the end, not necessarily in that order, as a famous Italian director once said, but you have to have them.  The ending has to be conclusive and satisfying.  It can't just be intellectual, and thoughtful, and [open ended]...Movies that have those types of endings are not huge blockbuster successes.  People pay for stories, and stories as far as ordinary people are concerned, the audience, is "I want something that instantly drags me into the story, that keeps my attention the whole time, and then that punches me at the end with a conclusion so satisfying that I feel like I really got my money's worth for my ticket.  And, if I'm watching on television, that doesn't cause me to push the remote at any time during the story, other than maybe to turn the volume up. That's what it's all about, and that's what we are all looking for in Hollywood.  The good news about Hollywood is that it has become a lot more complicated than it used to be.  It's much more voracious for stories than it used to be because we have so many channels, and so many outlets, and so many ways of distribution.  All of them have to be fed, like a dragon that's eating rabbits.  It needs rabbits every day.  If it sees a rabbit it likes, then it will make a deal. It chases rabbits, and you know, one of the things that struck me when I entered this profession, from the academic world years ago, is that there are people called "trackers" who spend their whole days tracking down the rights to stories, and calling people like me and saying, "Do you control the rights to XYZ story?"  All they want to hear is "yes," or "No, but I'll tell you who does control them."  Then, they report back to their bosses, who pay them monthly just to track stories.  I thought, "Wow, this is really the world of storytelling if people are tracking them, not to mention paying lots of money for them, and investing millions and millions into making movies out of them."

What Can I Do to Punch Up the Ending to My Story?

Be creative.  That's where the creativity comes in.  You want to have an ending that leaves people bowled over and thoughtful, and sitting there in the theater thinking about it because they're so impressed by it.  If it's an action movie, it's going to be a big, climatic action scene with explosions, and guns, and all of that kind of stuff.  If it's a romance, you want a very satisfying conclusion.  It doesn't always have to be a happy ending, although in today's world that's what mostly succeeds.  I always use the example of the ending of Witness, where Harrison Ford's character is leaving Kelly McGillis' character, who lives on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.  He is a tough Philadelphia detective, and as they kiss for the last time and he gets in his car, the audience is heartbroken.  They are thinking, "This is the most beautiful romance we've ever seen, and now he's leaving?" The director, Adrian Lyne, shows a very large place, a ranch or a farm, with a very long driveway.  That was probably the most important thing, when they were location scouting, was to choose it for the length of the driveway because his last shot is of Harrison Ford's car driving down that driveway.  As it's driving down, we see that it's slow, it's hesitating, and we're rooting for him to make a u-turn and go back into her arms because she's standing there in tears, watching her leave.  Then, as it keeps going, and he doesn't turn around, we start thinking, "Wait a minute, would I believe that?  A Philadelphia detective decides to live on a farm with Amish people, or would I believe it if she jumped in his car and went to Philadelphia with him?  Can I see a future in that?"  And, you realize, you get resigned to the fact that that's not the way this story can end. Finally, he reaches the end of the driveway and disappears from view as he turns, and you feel stunned by the beauty of the story and by the realization that some romance doesn't have to end in wedding bells and have happy endings.  It doesn't make it less beautiful; it just makes it more real.  So, there's an example of enhancing an ending so that the story leaves you satisfied. And, notice that the director is  filled with dramatic insight because he knows that it will take that long for the audience to be rooting for the ending he has chosen for this story.  You know, if you did it too suddenly, you'd feel weird and dissatisfied.  So, suspense and drama are what movies are all about, and if what you started with isn't dramatic or suspenseful enough, you write a treatment to fit your story, and in that treatment, you make sure the ending is more dramatic than what your source material was.

What is a Treatment?  What Else Will I Need?

I wrote a book about treatments years ago because I kept hearing the word, and I realized no one had a common definition of it.  My partner and I, Chi-Li Wong and I, did a survey of 200 execs in television and film, and writers and directors, and got back responses.  We used those responses to explain what a treatment is and to define what a treatment is.  Basically, it's a tool that has two functions.  It's a tool for focusing your story, like a diagnostic tool, and it is a tool for selling your story, a marketing tool.  So, diagnostics and marketing. I always urge the writers that we work with to write a treatment before they even start writing a script or anything else.  The treatment is the perfect way to do it because you're not invested emotionally in the pages you've created.  Since they're simply a tool, they're not the final result, and you don't have to moan and groan if we decide to change the sex of a character, or if we decide there are too many characters, you can just cut out the character and put him in the back of your head for another story sometime. So, a treatment is very useful because it allows people to read a quick overview of your story, you know?  It can be five to, say, ten pages long.  There are no rules about that.  We say a treatment is a relatively brief narrative, a loosely-written narrative.  I always say the best way to think of it is like a passionate letter to your best friend, explaining the night that you walked out on your wife.  You would not be using expository prose from sixth grade lessons; you would just be explosively describing, "I came home, and I found her naked in the middle of the living room, dancing with my neighbor who I thought was my best friend."  And, "blah blah blah..."  You just instantly blurt it all out.  That's what a treatment is, and it makes someone immediately want to make this movie, basically. That's what a treatment is, and it's one of several things you need to market your story.  Another thing that you need is a pitch, which is a one-line pitch of your story that will be unforgettable, describing the situation in a way that makes the listener want to know how it comes out.  As I said, the skeletal, generic pitch is, "What would happen if a gal like this found herself in the middle of a situation like that?"  That's what your pitch needs to be.  Once you have that pitch, it's called a logline, you can then email it to people in the industry who might be interested in looking at your story.  They'll then ask you, "I'm interested in the idea you have.  Do you have the treatment, or what do you have?"  And then, you send them the treatment to further hook them. At the end of the day, if you started with a script or if you started with a book, they'll ask to see that too, but it's a sales scenario in which these are the tools that you use to make the sale.  A one-page synopsis is part of it too.  Like, you'll have a pitch, a one-paragraph or one-page outline of the story.  Well, not an outline; you shouldn't use that word because that's one of those sixth grade word that, synopsis/outline, nothing to do with drama, nothing to do with Hollywood.  We want something that punches us in the face and makes us decide, you know, "you've got to see it".  That's the biggest, probably...Most used sales pitch of friends to friends on the phone, or email, or text is, "You've got to see it." Then, they might say, "Well, what's it about?"  And you say, "It's about a dog that waited for its master for 25 years, until he came home."  You know, that's the pitch.  "Okay, I'll see it."  You know, "Who is in it?"  "Richard Gere. "  "Okay, I definitely want to see that."  You know, it's that simple.  It's not complicated psychologically; it's just human.

So, If My Story Doesn't Have All the Elements That it Needs, I Can Just Repair It in the Treatment?

Exactly.  The treatment, what the beauty of it is...Let's say your story is based on a book that you wrote, if your book doesn't have a conclusive ending, now you give it one.  If your book doesn't have a well-defined "Act II", with a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns, you make sure the treatment does.  You might have to invent some of that stuff, but that's okay.  You're the creator.  You invented the story in the first place.  Now you try to make the story a movie, and movies are governed by action.  I always say there's two kinds of action.  One is, "He opened the front door and she shot him."  You know, "She was standing there with the shotgun and blasted at him."  That's action. But, dialog is also action in a movie.  It's not action in a restaurant where you overhear someone at the next table because mostly people are saying kind of inane things like, "How are you feeling today...Oh, I'm feeling okay.  How about you?"  This kind of dialog is not dramatic dialogue.  Dialog is...You know, there's a famous scene from China Town, Robert Towne's script, in which the detective, Gittes, is with the leading lady, and he says, "I want the truth,' and she says, "My sister...She's my sister."  And, he slaps her and he goes, "The truth, god damn it, I need to hear the truth," and she goes, "My mother," and he goes, "I just want the truth," and he slaps her again.  "My sister, my mother, my sister, my mother..."  Then finally, "She's my sister and my mother."  This dialogue suddenly reveals why this woman is so tortured and why, you know, the things that have happened in the story have happened. It's extremely dramatic, with very few words.  There's a great line in a Hemingway short story that I also love, in which these two people are sitting and waiting for a train in Spain and he is jabbering away, talking about like, "It's fine, you'll just go there and let a little air in, and then everything will be fine, and we'll be just the way we were before, and there's really no big deal to it."  The girl is not saying anything, and he keeps talking.  "I'll go with you if you want me to.  I mean, I'm willing to do it, but you can do it by yourself," and so on.  And, she says, "Would you do me a favor?"  "I'll do anything for you.  I told you, I'll do anything for you."  Well, she says, "Will you please, please, please, please, please stop talking." The next line is...The man did not say anything for a moment, and then he said, "Would you like a beer?" You realize, at that moment, that there is no future for this couple, that he is not on her wavelength, and that they are headed in a different direction.  That's all done with dialogue.  There's hardly any action in the story.  You know, there's hardly any physical action.  It's done with only dramatic dialogue, which is action.  And so, novels have much non-dramatic dialogue in them, connectives that get you from one place to the other, but when you actually want to turn it into a film, you need to get rid of all of that and replace it only with the dialogue that moves things and makes things happen.

Any More Words of Wisdom for People Who Really Want to Do This?

It's difficult.  That's my first word of wisdom.  It's not easy.  Think about it.  Everyone in the world would like to have their stories told by Hollywood, but the great part about it is the difficult part.  The fact is, when you succeed you will have done what everyone in the world wants to do.  So, you need to be your own decider here and not listen to the advice of anyone.  Just go for it, and never stop going for it.  Just learn as much as you can about the business (It's called "show business" for a reason), and about how it works.  That is our #1 to help you to understand the business procedures by which it works so that you have a chance there, and never forget that they are looking for you as much as you're looking for them. I always say, "People think of it as a dark, slow-moving river that you can never get across.  In the middle is an island with beautiful trees, and flowers, and beautiful people."  Once you get on that island, even though it was difficult to get on it, guess what?  It's going to be even more difficult to get off of it.  That's because once you're in there, they want you to [stay], and they become loyal to you because they're proud of the fact that you crossed that island.  They recognize you for that.  So, it's a great goal, and it's a goal that never gets old because no matter how old you are, you can still sell stories and Hollywood is still listening to them.  You know, people say, "How many chances do you get at Hollywood?"  Well, you get as many chances as you are willing to take.  That's how many you get.

Where Can I Go to Learn More?

If you're interested in selling your story to Hollywood, you can definitely head on over to .  There, you'll find an on-demand webinar that I helped to produce.  It will take you much more in-depth into how to go about selling your story, you novel, your short story, your story idea to Hollywood.  It's completely free to check this out. The aim of the webinar is to help you to take that next step in your education, or at least dip a toe and find out whether or not you want to take the journey.  You may not. The fact of the matter is that it is difficult, but for a lot of people it's well worth it.  That's up to you to decide.  The webinar that's being offered for free is an on-demand webinar.  You can go, and register for it, and basically start listening to it within 10 minutes from right now.  Again, you can check out much more thorough training on this topic at IMPORTANT:  If you listen to the on-demand webinar and wish to continue your education I have a special coupon code which will save you $300 instantly - please you the coupon code PODCAST when you check out.

Real Fast Results Community

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Aug 26, 2016
John Lee Dumas
We're going to deliver, today, how you can build a meaningful audience for yourself. If you're looking to become a self-sustaining entrepreneur, who has a viable business and multiple streams of revenue, you need that.

Building the Right Audience for You

We, in this day and age, have a great opportunity.  We can produce content, and we can produce content in many forms.  Of course, we have video, audio, written content, and great social media channels, like SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, you name it...Fill in the blanks.  There are all these different content-producing platforms. So, if you want to build, not just any audience but the right audience for you, you've got to come upbuilding audience with a content marketing plan.  Like, how are you going to deliver free, valuable, and consistent content to an audience? That's then going to become your audience because they are going to know and trust you for providing that free, valuable, and consistent content. Once you have started to build that audience, and have gotten that consistent momentum, it's all about, "Hey, how can I communicate with this audience?  How can I actually reach out and say, 'Daniel, can you jump on a quick Skype call, or a quick 10-minute Google Hangout, so that I can just ask you  little more about yourself?'"  Where are you coming from, why are listening to my content, why are you reading my content, what are you struggling with right now?  That way, Daniel can tell you all of their pain points, his challenges, and his struggles. Then I, the person Daniel likes and trusts, because of that content I've been producing and they have been consuming, can create a solution for them in the form of a product, a service, a community, and/or all three.  That's the beauty of creating that marketing content and that, again, free, valuable, and consistent manner.  And, if you build that audience, that audience will sustain you for years to come.

content marketing planComing Up with a Content Marketing Plan

If you want to come up with a content marketing plan, you're going to say, "What's the medium that I resonate with?"  Back in 2012, I was like, "I don't like to write.  I'm not a good writer."  I personally don't think talking head video is very valuable for anybody because, why am I going to stare at a screen where there's just two faces talking?  That was my mentality, so I said, "Why not just go for the audio content?  That resonates with me; I get it."  I like to consume content that makes sense for me, when I'm going on runs, when I'm driving my car, I can consume that type of content, and then I can build an audience around that as well.  So, I decided to go forward with the audio-only podcasting content. Frankly, it was a rough start because I wasn't good.  I didn't know what I was doing.  I had no interview skills.  I had no podcasting, broadcasting, entrepreneurial skills, whatsoever.  But, I was putting myself in the right position every single day, to do that thing, to get a little bit better. I can even say a couple of years ago I made that same commitment to writing.  I was never a good writer.  That's why back four years ago I didn't start with a blog.  I started with a podcast.  But, once I nailed the systems down for that medium of podcasting, I started moving to writing next. Now I write an email every single day.  Some of the emails are long, and some of them are short, but a lot of people come back and say, "Wow John!  Who is your content guy?  Who writes these emails?"  And, I'm just like, "Wow!  Nobody has ever thought that I was a good writer before, and now a lot of people do, but it's only after writing 1,000 emails that I've gotten to this point." I wrote a lot of crappy ones and a lot of "okay" ones.  Then I wrote a lot of pretty good ones, until every now and then, I do come across an idea where I am able to write a great email.  But, it always comes down to doing that thing, and that's been really important. Once you've found the content your resonate with, start working on the other area you're not as good at.  If that's what it takes to build the business you want.  I mean, maybe you get to that point where you've mastered that one medium, and then you look around and you say, "Wow, I have a great business!  I get great revenue.  I want to continue to focus, and double-down, and dominate this medium in my industry, in my niche." Then you can just stay there.  You just stay in that zone with what you're in right there.  You don't have to bolt on this or that because a lot of times people do, and then they look back a year or two years later and say, "I just created exactly what I did not want.  This business that now consumes me, instead of me controlling the business." You know, I would be very intentional about bolting different things on.  For me, I made a very intentional decision, two years ago, to add writing as something that I wanted to improve upon.  I wanted to make that part of my business.  But, that was after a lot of thought, and we were already growing  a large audience in the podcasting area.

Tips on Choosing the Right Content Platformcontent platform

You have to know who you are.  Again, I knew I wasn't a good writer.  So I said, "I'm not a good writer.  I don't like to write."  I'm not necessarily a good interviewer, but I do have a much easier time talking, and having conversations, and asking questions in a conversation-type an audible type of format."  So I said, "Let's try podcasting." The funny thing is that if podcasting hadn't worked after a couple of months, I might have shifted and tried something different.  But, that was just the initial knowledge of the strengths that I had, even though, again, I wasn't strong as an interviewer or as a podcaster at the beginning, but I was stronger than as a writer, or a social media guru, or whatever else there might have been.  I just looked at something that I enjoyed and was stronger at than other areas, and I went forward with that.  I think that's a good place for people to start. Some people may ask, "Does it come down to persistence?" Persistence, actually, is a word that I would use with caution.  You can get into a position where you are digging in a whole.  Yeah, if you're persistently digging in that whole, you might strike gold in the end.  But, at the same time, you might just be digging a deeper hole, and there might be no gold underneath that.  So, you should be persistent to a level, to a degree, but you should always be evaluating every shovel of dirt that you are taking and asking, "Is this still the direction that I want to be digging?  Is this still the area that I want to be living in?"  If it's not, then step out of that whole, and shift, and go another direction. It's consistency that's key.  What are you consistently doing to produce content, to produce free, valuable and consistent content to an audience that you're growing?  And, that's in any form, in any medium.  Again, for a long time, I was being very consistent with Instagram and with Facebook, but I didn't get any of the traction that I got in those that I got immediately when Snapchat came to light, with their stories.  I immediately shifted from Facebook and Instagram, which was my main focus, to Snapchat.  And, that's where I've grown a really cool, awesome, large audience that watches my stories, and my rants, and my quotes on a day-to-day basis. Then, a couple of weeks ago, Instagram launched Instagram StorySo, now I'm leveraging my knowledge of how to tell stories on Snapchat back into Instagram. Which before, to me, was not really a great platform because it just didn't allow me to communicate the way that I wanted to, which are in short 10-second bursts of content, ranting, and stuff like that.  To me, anybody can post a photo of a quote and get a bunch of likes, but that doesn't distinguish.  My distinguishing factor is my personality, my take, my thoughts, my rants, which  a lot of people love and agree with, and a lot of people hate and disagree with.  But, you know, it's that differentiator, and I'm able to be consistent with the producing of that content.

audience buildingEvaluate as You Go

You always want to keep your finger on the pulse. And, "the finger on the pulse" in these scenarios that we're talking about is your audience.  It's the people that are consuming your content.  So, you need to be looking and interacting with the comments you're getting on Snapchat, with the social media mentions you're getting on your podcast, with the emails that you're receiving. You have to really have your finger on that pulse. A lot of people are scared to because, "I don't want to set the precedence that I'm going to be responding to individual comments, or emails, or this, or that, because that's not scalable, that's not leverage-able."  Well, that's not, but the information, and the knowledge, and the value that you get from those interactions is scalable.  It's what is going to allow you to create a product, a service, a community, that you can then do 5, 6, 7-figure launches with, like Podcasters' Paradise came to be.  It was because people were asking me so consistently about how they could create and monetize their own podcasts. I never would have thought to launch a podcast and community if I hadn't had my finger on that pulse, but I did, and that was 3 years ago.  Now we have over 3,000 members and over $4 million in revenue, and that was because I did the un-scalable, unleverage-able thing about having those conversations, about listening, about really caring about what my audience was saying.  So, that is always going to have to be part of the equation if you are looking to build a business in this content marketing arena.

Next Step in Audience Buildingpodcasting

Now that you've created free, valuable, and consistent content, now that you've kept your finger on the pulse and heard what your audience is actually saying, you'll want to go ahead and say, "I've had the content produced for you.  You've listened to the content, you've engaged with the content, you've given me your pain points, your obstacles, your challenges, your struggles, and now it's me, as the person you know, like, and trust, to create the solution, to create the products, the services, or the communities that are going to solve these issues that you're telling me that you're having." Then you actually go ahead, and hopefully with the help of your audience, build out a product, a service, a community that's going to be of value to them.  That's how Podcasters' Paradise came to be, Webinar on Fire, The Freedom Journal.  That's how all of these products and services came to be.  It's because I listened to that audience who was telling me their pain points, their challenges, and their obstacles, and I just handed them the solution in the form of whatever I thought would be the best form to provide that solution.  And if it wasn't right for them at first iteration, I'd just pivot, adjust, and make that move until it was. Let's say you already have a platform built up, but you really want a massive audience. The step is...You already have that current audience, so you're not talking to them enough, because if you were talking to them enough, if you were doing things that didn't scale and didn't leverage, like scheduling 10 back-to-back 10-minute Skype calls with your audience on Skype, and asking them the real questions, then you would know how to build your audience more. You would know about where that audience heard about you, so you could amplify those areas to make sure they're working.  You would hear what they don't like about your show on a consistent basis, or you could, maybe, pivot or adjust that.  Then, you would have that idea of what you could create for them that could grow your product suite in the right direction. Then you produce the product, service, or the community, and you offer it to them for monetary retribution.  You say, "Hey guys, I created content for you.  You loved it, and you listened to it.  I asked you what you were struggling with, and you told me.  I came up with a solution for you, and now, here it is on a silver platter."  "You said you wanted it, and now here it is." Have them start engaging with that paid product, which is something that they have now actually financially invested in.  Now you're really going to be just working with the cream of the crop.  That real audience.  That 5 percentile of people who are your core audience, and that really do want to take things to the next level and get more access to you, or to your ideas, or to your courses, or to the communities that you're creating.  Then, you're going to be looking at them and saying, "Okay, how can I add to this?  How can I find more of these 5-percenters? People that actually bought?  How can I add more people to this buyer's pool while not focusing on the 95% of people that are just consuming the free stuff, but never upping into that next level?"

Connecting with the 5%

All we have is time as entrepreneurs.  So, we need to get to the point.  When we've done all of the steps that we've talked about thus far, then we're now identifying where our time is best spent.  Then, we allocate the vast majority of our time in those directions and taking that time, that we used to spend in other areas, that aren't the best use of it.  So, it comes down to an evaluating principle, and it's always tweaking, and adjusting, and pivoting, and trying new things, but learning every step of the way in order to get more efficient, more productive, and more focused on what works for you in your business.

Connecting with John

All the magic for us happens at  We have great free podcasting courses at  We have free webinar courses.  We just have a lot of great free resources for entrepreneurs at, and the biggest success that I've seen entrepreneurs have are when they know how to set and accomplish goals.  So, my passion project, that's now live and available, is a physical, stunning, hardcover journal called The Freedom Journal:  Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days.  It became the 6th most-funded publishing campaign of all time at Kickstarter ( at $453K in just 33 days, and it continues to sell in massive amounts every single month.  You can check out more about how you can accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days at


John Lee Dumas - The Freedom Journal:  Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days John's Podcasting Community - Podcasters' Paradise Snapchat Instagram Story

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 24, 2016
Luanna RodhamWelcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results!  The special guest today is Luanna Rodham.  She is going to share her secrets for how you can earn more and get more done, plus have more free time, by hiring a virtual assistant.  Let's see what Luanna has to say...

Today's Promise

By the end of this episode, today, you will know whether you are ready to hire a virtual assistant, if you can afford a virtual assistant, how having a virtual assistant can help you to make more money in your business, and where to find  a good one.  

Commonly Asked Questions About Hiring a Virtual Assistant

I'm going to do my steps as questions because I get a lot of questions about VAs.  So these are the questions that we will answer.  There are four of them:
  1. What is a virtual assistant (VA)?
  2. Do I have enough money to hire a VA? Can a virtual assistant actually help me make more money?
  3. What can I actually outsource?
  4. How do I go about finding a good, reliable VA?

Question 1: What is a Virtual Assistant (VA)?virtual assistant

A virtual assistant is obviously someone who works virtually.  You don't have to live in the same place as they do, and they come with all of their own equipment.  They have their own businesses.  They have their own computers, their own microphones, their own printers, their own software, etc.  They are not your employee.  You're not paying them employee taxes or anything like that.  I think that's very important to know.  As a virtual assistant, it is their own business.  Their business is helping you succeed in your business. There are different types of Virtual Assistants.  You have VAs that might do just transcribing, or editing, or data entry.  You have VAs that just help with social media.  You have administrative virtual assistants to help you make plane reservations, making phone calls, making hotel reservations, etc.  There are so many different types of virtual assistants.  A lot of VAs have varying backgrounds.  Mine is in education.  I was a special education teacher, so I do very well helping organize people.  They'll say, "I want to do this, and this, and this," and then I can break it down in steps and say, "Well, the first thing you have to do is you have to open a Pinterest account, and you have to start making pins, and open boards..."  So,I really help with organizing and social media. You have VAs that  have tech backgrounds.  You have VAs that were in the corporate world. There are all different kinds virtual assistants to help with your specific needs in your business.  Essentially, these are indpendent contractors that you are bringing in to do defined tasks, based on what experience they have.

make more moneyQuestion 2: Do I Have Enough Money to Hire a Virtual Assistant?

I get this question all the time, and this is what I recommend when I get asked that.  How frazzled are you in your business?  Are you spending all of your time checking emails, trying to do social media, trying to make sure the websites working right, trying to find people's login information for your membership site, and so on?  If you're spending all of your time doing that, and you are not able to create, or coach, or whatever it is that you truly got into business for, then yeah, you probably can afford a VA.  You can afford a VA, and you need a VA. I recommend that you sit down and you look at what is making you so frazzled.  And, what would it be worth if you had a $200 marketing budget?  And, you could just take $200 a month and put that towards giving some of these tasks to someone else so that you could actually create. just say $200.  If you're at that point where you can spend $200 and consider it a business expense, or a marketing budget, you will be amazed by how putting forth that $200 will help you have enough time to create and make products. 

Can a Virtual Assistant Help Me Make More Money?

If you're not spending all of your time attending to those menial tasks, that have to be done in order to run a business, then you have more time to build product funnels, make membership sites, create new products, and coach clients.  And so, yes, definitely, having a VA will help make you more money.  I do recommend that you not start out putting tons of money into it in the beginning, unless you absolutely know what the tasks are that you want completed. This all comes down to defining for yourself what are the highest and best uses of your time, your energy, your mental bandwidth.  In other words, look at those things that truly make you money in your business and focus on those things, and essentially, try to give as much of those "other" tasks to a virtual assistant.  Even if you are really good at those sorts of things, there's going to come a point where you are out of gas.  You don't have any more to give emotionally, physically, or you're just out of time.  That is one of the biggest benefits to bringing on a VA. You need to be looking at outsourcing as much of those things that are not the highest and best use of your time.  The more you do that, the more money you could potentially make, in most instances.  This frees you up to direct your attention and energy into those things that you know that you're talented at.  You can, essentially, pass off those things that need to be done, where you're not as gifted, to the VA or VAs that you have.  In this way, you will likely be able to see more time for yourself and your family, and more money because you're really practicing your gifts, whatever those gifts happen to be.  The key is to find someone who has their own set of gifts that are complimentary to your business and your business goals.

Question 3: What Can I Actually Outsource?outsourcing

One of the things that I find people get the most overwhelmed with is their email or their support desk.  When you have to switch from a task, like, let's say that you are creating a product or writing your book; and, you have to switch to go check on the customer support desk, where people aren't happy or they're upset that something isn't working, it takes about 20 minutes to get back on task after you have done that.  If you're not having to mess with the menial day to day tasks, outsourcing is going to really help you stay on task and create. There are many things that you can outsource to a VA.  Daniel Hall and I have a course about this, and in that course, we list a bunch of things that you can outsource.  What I recommend you do is sit down and make a list of what is stressing you out the most.  What is causing you to become frazzled the most?  Or, make a list of what's keeping you from creating. For example:
  • Your email
  • Posting on social media every day
  • Making pins for Pinterest
  • Uploading your books to different sites
  • Editing/Proofing
  • Finding pictures
Whatever it might be, make a list of things that you're spending your time on that's making you nervous and stressing you out.  After you do that, look at that and say, "Okay, my email is really making me stressed.  Do I really want somebody in my email, or can I set up a customer support desk and have somebody do that?  And, can this VA set up a support desk?"  He or she probably can. Make this list and just start looking at it. "Is that something that I really have to do?  Do I have to post to Pinterest every day?"  Well, you want to do that for your business, but do you personally have to do that? No, you don't. Do you personally have to go in and load up your Hootsuite, or whatever you're doing?  Do you personally have to find all of the tweets, and post to your blogs, and find all of the keywords for your blogs, and all of those kinds of things?  No, you don't.  You don't personally need to do that.  Yes, you want to write the content, but you can have somebody else re purpose it and put it on the Internet for you.  So, that's what I recommend, is..."What can I outsource to a VA?"  Just write down things that you are frustrated with.  If you have a shopping cart system, loading products in the shopping cart, loading the auto-responders, and the follow-up sequence, and all of those types of things are something that you can give to a VA to do.

Question 4: How Do I Go About Finding a Good, Reliable Virtual Assistant?hiring a virtual assistant

There are three ways that I recommend finding a VA.  And it may sound silly because I know that you think of a virtual assistant as, you know, virtual... maybe somebody that you don't meet.  However, I think that the best way to find a virtual assistant is to meet them face-to-face. I like meeting people face-to-face because then you know if your personality is going to gel or not, and that is very, very important when working with a VA.  You may find one that you work with, and your personalities just don't work alike.  And, that's okay, but if you meet them face-to-face, you have more of a chance of finding out if you're going to be able to work with that person.
  1. A great way to meet a virtual assistant is face-to-face at networking events.  And, when I say that, I mean meet-ups or anything like that you may have in your area.  The thing about networking events is there are virtual assistants there.  People think that there's not, but there are.  Everywhere you go in the online/small business world, you're going to find VAs.  You just need to talk to people and find out who they are.  So first, you know, "How do I find a virtual assistant?"  The first way, if you can do it, is by going and meeting them at a live networking event.
  2. The second way is word of mouth.  I think this is a really important one.  You may say, "Daniel, who's your virtual assistant?  Do you know a virtual assistant?"  Talk to people that you know, that you really trust and you respect.  If you like how their business is running, more than likely, they have a virtual assistant.  Find out if their virtual assistant has openings, or if their virtual assistant knows someone.  Word of mouth is a great way.  That's how I meet my clients.  It's been at networking events or word of mouth.  I've never really had one pop up from my website, and I kind of like that because I want to meet them face to  face to see if we can gel. When you are thinking of people that you can ask, check out your Facebook groups.  Ask them too, "Who is a virtual assistant that you use," or, "Is there a company that you recommend?"  You can ask anyone that you feel like you know pretty well.  That's a good way to go.
  3. The third way is, there are sites that you can go on to look for virtual assistants.  There's  There's  I know a lady who owns a VA company called  Some of you know Nichole Dean and her business partner Melissa Ingold. They have a site called CoachGlue. Well, Melissa has her own Contractors List. I would definitely recommend checking out that list.  So, those are people that you can go online, and kind of meet them online, and tell them what your project is.

How Long Do I Want to Work with A Virtual Assistant?

Now, one thing that I want to bring up is that you need to be thinking, "Do I want a VA for just a short-term project, or am I going to want one that I have a long-term relationship with?"  If you want just a short-term project, a good place to go is  They do a lot of short-term stuff, or any of these,,, etc.  Those will do for one-time projects.  If you need a logo, if you need something with your website, if you need something edited, or whatever, these sites work pretty well for finding someone.  But if  you want a virtual assistant that you work long-term with, I would really recommend the first two things: live networking events and asking around.

VA show - tipsVirtual Assistant Tips from Daniel

If it's a short-term, large job, like having an index made for your book or some special research project, one thing that you can do is put a local ad on Craigslist, explaining what the project is all about.  You can find some pretty good folks this way, and if you do it in your local area, you can meet them at the library, or Denny's, or whatever, so that you can get face-to-face, and you can figure out if they are someone you want to work with, or not.  I mean, you can kind of interview them. When you find someone you think you could work with, you will want to send them some sort of small project before you hire him/her.  It should be something that takes some thought on their part because one thing that's really crucial is that you've got to have an assistant that will follow your directions.  Ultimately, you want someone that can handle you asking, "Hey, can you do this," and they are able to figure out the rest.  Now, when you are first starting out, this approach doesn't work, most of the time.  You will have to be very specific about what you want and tell them exactly how to go about doing it.  At the same time, a big part of this is finding someone that can follow your directions well. If you start communicating with someone and they don't follow your directions well from the very start, you really shouldn't bother hiring them.  You can check this out beforehand by giving them something to do during the hiring process.  You might set up a WordPress site and have them make one post to that site.  In any case, you'll want to give them a task and see if they do it according to your directions.  If they don't, you really shouldn't bother hiring them.  Otherwise, it's just going to be a big waste of time for you and the other person.

Hiring a Virtual Assistant

It's also a good idea to have a trial period.  If you talk to your potential assistant on the phone, and you think they sound great, offer to give them work for a month or two.  That way, either one of you has time to back out of the arrangement, if need be, without there being any hurt feelings.  Virtual assistants, that's what we do.  We help you in your business, and we should be able to follow directions, and whatever else that you need. Make sure that you are clear, that you're doing this for a trial period.  That way, you can see if the person can follow through with everything they are asked to do, and if they can keep up with what you ask of them.  It's good for the VA too, because they may get into a situation where they think, "I don't have enough time.  This is more than I thought it was going to be," or, "We just don't work well together..." The last thing that I wanted to bring up was, in our course, I specifically talk about the qualities that you want to look for in a virtual assistant.  You know, are you a micro manager? Do you want someone that you tell every detail to?  Or, do you eventually want to be able to just tell them, "Go set this up," and they do it.  Some people can follow instructions well, but aren't necessarily good at figuring things out on their own, and others would rather be given a task and left to their own devices.  Of course, you want to pick a personality that works well with your personality, and vice versa.

Daniel and Luanna's VA Course

It is on It's called: Easy Steps: How To Hire A Virtual Assistant (VA). And if you act now, you can get it for half price by visiting  If you're interested in it, it's very well-reviewed by the other students in it.  And, if you're thinking about hiring a virtual assistant, it's definitely a good idea to go check this course out.


Easy Steps: How To Hire A Virtual Assistant (VA) Melissa Ingold's Contractors List CoachGlue

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 20, 2016
D'vorah Lansky Welcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results!  The special guest today is D'vorah Lansky, M.Ed.  She has been mentoring authors for about 10 years, and a lot of what she teaches has to do with setting goals, having the right mindset, and being really clear about your focus. So, without any further ado...

Today's Promise

What we're going to be focusing on today is how those micro-habits, that we have the option of creating, when applied, can bring us macro success.      

D'vorah's Excellent Book For Author Productivity

[caption id="attachment_2636" align="aligncenter" width="357"]Click Here Click Here - The Busy Author's Productivity Journal by D'vorah Lansky Ed.D.[/caption]  

Forming Micro-Habitsroad map

On any journey, you need a road-map.  Otherwise, you might get somewhere, but not necessarily where you want to be.  By creating habits that allow you to reach your goals, you're going to be creating the road-map to your dreams.  Without a road-map, we often find ourselves being really busy, and doing all of this busy work, thinking that we're accomplishing all of these things, but we're not really accomplishing much. It's like being on a hamster wheel, and that's exhausting and overwhelming, so we don't want that.  I'm hoping the tips that I am sharing today will help people with that.  Then, by having an action plan, you'll actually accomplish a lot more, rather than winging it and hoping you'll accomplish things. The benefit of doing this gets larger and larger as time goes by.  You get used to the habits, and of course, success attracts success.  It also allows you to focus on, "Where do I want to be spending my time," or "Is this a good use of my time?"  You also have to factor in time for relaxation and time for family.  I'm not talking about working 24/7.  I'm just saying, focusing with intention.

Overview of the Three Micro-Habits

I'm going to be going in depth in a few moments, but the three micro-habits that would really help to turbo-charge a person's career would be:
  1. Get really clear on your goals and develop an action plan.
  2. Schedule and prioritize your time.
  3. Become a master of your to-do list.

Step 1 - Get Really Clear on Your Goals

Step 1 is to get really clear on your goals.  One of my favorite sayings is, "A goal is a dream with a deadline."  So, we're not just having it out there in the ether; we're actually putting a plan for it.  As you get clearer on your goals and your action plan, one of the things that I recommend you do is get a blank piece of paper and create a master list of all the projects you're working on or want to develop.

time managementStep 2 - Schedule and Prioritize Your Time

Gather up all of those sticky notes that are all over the place, that may be in binders, on walls, or on your computer, wherever they might be, put them on your desk and transfer them onto a master project list.  You may want to divide your page into six boxes and put things by topic. Once you have that master project list, that is going to be, if we're using the analogy of a road-map and taking a journey, so that's the gasoline in your engine.  And then, what you want to do, is you want to look at all of those ideas, and that might be a highlighter or a couple of different colored highlighters, and somehow narrow things down so you can identify the #1 thing that you want to accomplish over the next 30-90 days.  While you may have 50 or 100 things on that list, I would imagine that the bulk of them would go under 4 or 5 headings. So, which of those 4 or 5 headings do you want, if you had to pick one, do you want to work on over the next 30-90 days?  This is going to allow you to get a laser focus, and it's going to allow you to get a lot done.  It's also going to allow you to take a lot off of your plate so you can reduce that feeling of overwhelm.  When you can create that laser focus, and put everything else on the back-burner, what I find is that I actually have more time to do the fun things.

Step 3 - Become a Master of Your To-Do List

To be able to go and do those enjoyable activities, take the dog for a walk, travel with your family, you need to be able to get things off your plate.  One of the tips that I recommend is that, once you've created this master list, and you take that one project that you want to focus on, put that on a fresh piece of paper and then break out all of the pieces of the puzzle that go with that project. Anything on that master list that does not fit with what you're focusing on currently, or in the near future, cross it off your list.  Move it to a "someday, maybe" page, and put it on the back page of your master clipboard.  That's going to get it off your mind.  You won't lose it, but I find that this activity is so freeing.  It's just like you've finished 25 projects.  But, you don't have to lose them; they just don't have to clutter up your current mind space.

Your Success Is Hidden in Your Daily Activitiesdaily activities

One of my favorite things, along this line, is "Your success is hidden in your daily activities."  You can see how serious you are about your success. Just takes a pad of paper and carry it around with you for two days, and make a list of everything that you do and how long you're spending. It will be eye-opening.  It's kind of like, have you ever done a diet journal, where they have you write down everything you eat?  It's very eye-opening.  So, do that with your time. Then, what you want to do is actually schedule time in your calendar, because we think we're working a lot, but it could be, if the phone rings, Facebook pings, if someone comes over, if we have a whim, our work may take a backseat.  It's not only important to know what you'll be focusing on, but when you'll be focusing on it.  What I recommend is, open up your calendar, and don't schedule times that you think you should, schedule times that you think will really work.  Obviously, you don't want to schedule when you have to drive the kids to soccer, or when you have noise in the background, or whatever's going on in your life.  Schedule times that are realistic. Maybe there's a time when your family is all out doing something, or you have a downstairs room where you have privacy and you can have a sign up that lets people know that you're at work.  Involve your family and let them know when those hours are, and schedule those as recurring appointments in your calendar.  Not only that, but don't put those in your calendar, and then when anything comes up, just ignore it.  Prioritize those times as if they were your best paying client. Try this for 30 days.  It will blow your mind, and it will increase your income.  You also want to minimize distractions during those work times.  So turn off your cell phone.  If you need it on, put it on vibrate, and disable Facebook pings or close Facebook altogether.  This one, you can take to the bank. When you're scheduling, there's a couple of things that you can do.  One thing is to batch projects, and so, if a headline has to do with a project, then that goes into that specific focus for that project.  I recommend having specific days or specific weeks that you focus on specific aspects, specific jigsaw puzzle pieces of your master project.  Imagine a piece of paper divided into nine boxes, where each box is a different component of the project.  Well, in my schedule, my calendar, Friday is "blow with the wind time".  I don't schedule... on a rare occasion I will, but for the most part, I don't schedule any work appointments.  I go out, I'll do errands, I'll go to the bookstore. On occasion, I may even go to the movies, but I also have "blow with the wind time" in my business, and it's usually not at "peak brain power time".  It's usually like when I'm watching the ballgame, in the evening, or on a weekend.  That's when I have that master list of "Ooh, got to make a headline," or "Ooh, got to write that person."  It goes onto a piece of paper, and I have it actually scheduled as a block of time on my calendar, to do all of those administrative pieces of the puzzle.  It's actually really fun because you get to check off so many things since those are pretty quick projects.

roadmap - tipsA Few More Tips

I used to have 20 or 30 things on my to-do list, and I always felt like such a failure because I only finished 15 of them.  Then, I discovered something called "The 6 Most Important List".  This is actually one of the tips that I wanted to share today.  You want to streamline your to do list.  So, you have this big, long to-do list.  You might have 100 items on it; you may have taken and created a master project, and in that master project, maybe you have 20 or 30 items.  You can't do them all in one day. Well, I heard this story.  Just to be brief, the point is, in the early 1900's a productivity expert went to a major corporation and helped them improve their bottom line by meeting with each of their executives and telling them each night before they left work, they were to create a list of the six, not the 25, but the six most important things on their to-do list so that they knew what they were going to be focusing on the next day.  He told them to do this without fail, and not to do anything else until they finished those six things.  So, that's become a daily habit for me and something that I teach the authors that I work with. It's that sense of satisfaction of shedding things off.  When you work from a master list, you may not feel like you're making progress because it seems like an unending list, but when you prioritize your to-do list, and you pick the six most important things, you're going to accomplish a great deal.  Even if you work three days a week, three times six, that can add up.  In 10 weeks, that's 180 things that you just finished, versus spinning your wheels. What I used to do, I used to feel like I was spinning in circles.   I would feel like, "Oh, I've got to answer this email," or "Oh, I've got to work on this headline," and then I had all of these partially-created projects, like all of these baking projects in the kitchen, and none of them were getting into the oven. By deciding you're the boss of your business, you decide, "What are the six most important things?"  And, I really encourage you to focus on this.  The bonus tip is to set your "6 most important things" to-do list before you wrap up your business day so that when you arrive to work, whether you're working from home, or working from the road, or working from an office in town, you'll know what you're going to be focusing on when you get to work that day.  That's going to allow you to hit the ground running, and you won't have to think about what you'll be working on. If a person doesn't have a list, they don't have a plan, they don't have that road-map for the day in place, what can easily happen is "Oh, I've got to email this person.  Well, let me just go ahead and email that person."  Then you end up checking email, and then you're like, "Oh, I've got to go over to Facebook," and two hours go by and you haven't even written your list yet.  This way, you get to work, and boom, you have your blueprint for the day.

3 Action Stepsaction steps

What I've done is I prepared three action steps to support the three tips that we shared.  It might have sounded like there were a lot more than three tips, but I'm going to recap it right here so that you can have a takeaway.
  1. The first one is to create a master project list and break it down.  Identify your main project, identify future projects, so you can create a separate page where you can have future projects, and then everything else, that's not an urgent, present-tense, something that needs to get done in the foreseeable future, put it on a blank piece of paper, add it to a "someday, maybe" page, and put it on your clipboard as the back page.  Every time you think of a project, moving forward, decide which of these pages it should go on.  Again, that's your main project page, your future project page, or your "someday, maybe" page.
  2. The second one is to open up your calendar and schedule recurring appointments when you'll focus on your business.  I would recommend that you do that for 90 days.  You may want to try it for 30 days to see how it works.  Well, you know what?  Schedule it for 90 days.  You can always change your mind, but there you have it blocked out.  I believe that after 30 days, you're going to see such momentum, that this could be a long-term business strategy for you.
  3. Thirdly, for the next 21 days, start your day with the "six most important things" to-do list that you composed the previous night.  
That's the recap of what we spoke about.

Connecting With D'vorah

The best way would be to come to my website at

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 16, 2016
Tom Corson-KnowlesWelcome to the Real Fast Results podcast!  Today we have a very special treat.  Tom Corson-Knowles is an absolute expert in Amazon publishing, and he does very well when it comes to sending the books that he publishes to the top of the list on Amazon.  Welcome to the show Tom...

Today's Promise

I'm going to show you the five-step system to get any book to become a #1 bestseller on Amazon.  Whether it's a print book or an eBook, this will work for you.

Benefits of Gaining a Bestseller Status

There's a lot of benefits of gaining a bestseller status. Here are a few that come to mind:
  • Obviously, if your book is #1 on Amazon, you'll be able to say that you're a #1 Amazon bestselling author.  So, you can add that to your bio.
  • It can help you get more speaking gigs, if you're a speaker.
  • It can help you to get booked for more podcast gigs like this, and on radio and TV.
  • It can enhance your bio and the credibility you have in your field.
  • There are many other benefits as well...
Actually, just being a #1 Amazon bestseller can give you a little badge next to your book in search.  So, if someone searches for your book, or keywords related to your book, and sees your book in the Amazon search, it will actually have an Amazon bestseller tag which will say "Amazon Bestseller".  That can really, dramatically increase your conversions, and you can actually end up getting more sales just by virtue of having a book that's at #1 on Amazon. That designation only sticks while the book is #1 in any category, at least one category on Amazon.

5-Step system to Achieve an Amazon BestsellerAmazon Bestseller

The 5-Step system is really simple.  Number 1 is you want to find a relevant bestseller category on Amazon.  There are over 27,000 bestseller categories just in the US on any day.  That's between books and eBooks.  So, there is a ton.  There are many, many to choose from, and some of them aren't very competitive at all.  So, really what you want to do first is just find as many relevant ones as you can, to see what your options are for later. Obviously, if  you're writing a children's book or a romance novel, it's only going to fit into those categories.  You're not going to put your romance novel into a business and marketing category.  That just wouldn't make sense.  So, you're going to want to find the relevant bestseller categories first, and that just takes a bit of research. Number 2 is you have to analyze the competition.  So, once you've found the relevant categories, you just want to find out who the competition is, what they are like, and see what you can learn to make your book better, to make your cover better, and to make your book more marketable. Number 3, you'll need to calculate how many sales you need to make in order to hit #1 in each of the categories that you've researched.  That way, you're going to know, "Okay, in this category I need 100 sales in a day, and in this category I need five sales in a day."  Then you can know, based on your campaign, on your budget, and on your promotional abilities, how many copies you can sell and which categories you can reasonably expect to be #1 in.  The rest may be a little too competitive for you at this time. Then, number 4, you're going to choose two target categories because Amazon will actually allow you to choose two bestseller categories for your book. So, you're going to choose the right two categories for your book, based on that research that you've done. Number 5 is really easy.  Just get Amazon to put you into those categories.  That sounds super-easy, but it can actually be kind of difficult when all you're doing is publishing your book in your Kindle Direct Publishing account, or in CreateSpace, they don't actually give you the 27,000 categories to select from.  It's because Amazon's internal database doesn't sync with the external data that's actually used to list their books.

amazon categoriesStep 1 - Find a Relevant Bestseller Category

The quickest and easiest way, for most people, is just to go to, and type in, or search for, some books that are bestsellers.  Actually, I'll have a link in the show notes that will take you directly to a page on Amazon that lists all of the categories of Kindle bestsellers and print book bestsellers.  If you don't have that, basically, you just need to find a book that's a bestseller on Amazon.  Then, you need to scroll down to "Product Details" on that book's page and click one of those bestseller rankings, and that will take you to that page as well. That's the first move; just finding those bestseller categories. Then you're going to browse through those lists and find the ones that are relevant to you.  If you have a business book, you're going to look into "Business & Investing" as a parent category.  Under that, there's going to be hundreds of child categories, or smaller categories that are nested underneath that one. You're going to browse through all of those different categories and see which ones are relevant for you, and just kind of write those down to keep track of them.  So, that's Step #1.  It's just researching all of the relevant bestseller categories. You can actually be listed in 20 or more categories on Amazon, but you can only select two.  The way that works is you try to select the two child categories, like the smallest, most niche categories, and them those can be listed in more parent categories.  For example, there's a "Direct Marketing" category, which is under the "Marketing" category, which is under the "Business & Investing" category.  So, that's just three categories right there, just from that one category that you've selected. Some people might be thinking, "Do you start by putting in a keyword related to your book?" No, so you actually have to go and find the either the direct category page on Amazon, which we'll share in the show notes, or find a book that's a bestseller already and then scroll down to "Product Details" and click the hyperlinks in those product details to those categories, and that will also take you to those categories.  When you just type in a keyword, those books may not be bestsellers and it might not take you to the direct list.  Just to be clear, you can use keywords, but what you're looking for are books on a bestseller list specifically related to your subject matter, and essentially, working backwards from there.

Step 2 - Analyze the Competitionbestseller - competition

Step #2 is to analyze the competition, and this is a step that I think a lot of authors just completely miss out on, and you can learn so much at this stage.  Really, I think this is something you should be doing constantly.  This is not just a one-time thing.  You should always be checking out the competition.  Primarily, what you want to do is, once you've found those relevant bestseller categories for your book, you want to browse those bestsellers on Amazon.  Look at the top 20 books in each of those categories. Really dive in deep.  What are their book titles?  What are their subtitles like?  What are their book covers like?  What are their book descriptions like?  What are their reviews like?  Read the positive reviews and the negative reviews, and see what customers like about those books, love about those books, and what they don't like about those books.  Just by doing this basic research... I mean, you can spend hours and hours on this and learn so much information that can help you not only to market your book better, but actually to create a better book. So, if you're researching a market on Amazon, and you see that all of the top books in this market. People really liked certain things about them, but there is one, or two, or three things that people really hate about these books. And they are leaving negative reviews about them, that really lets you know. If you really want to write a book in that market, and really want to stand out from the crowd, you'll obviously want to incorporate those things that the other books left out.  The readers or reviewers on Amazon will tell you all of that information.  It's all there and available.  The thing is that no one does this. Very few authors actually read the negative reviews of their competitor's to find out how they could actually be improved. It's sad because it leaves a ton of opportunity on the table for anyone who is willing to do that extra grunt work. It's the same thing... It's not just non-fiction.  This works incredibly well for fiction as well.  I know that some of my fiction students have used the same strategy and have just blown it out of the park with their books because they incorporated scenes or themes that the reviewers of their competitors have told them were really important to them.

Amazon bestseller rankingsStep 3  - Calculate Exactly How Many Sales You Need to Hit #1

Step #3 is you need to calculate exactly how many sales you need to hit #1 in each of your categories.  The reason you want to do this is just to be very clear and have reasonable expectations.  It's unlikely that you are going to be #1 in all of the Kindle Store, right?  Because, in order to do that, you'll need tens of thousands of sales in a very short period of time. You can easily hit #1 in many different categories, but you need to know how many sales you actually need.  So, the way Amazon does this is there's actually something called the Amazon bestseller rankings, which we've talked about a little bit.  Basically, Amazon ranks every book in order of how competitive.  The #1 book is the most competitive, has the most sales, #2 the next, and so on and so forth. When you look at some of these books... Let's say the #1 book in "Direct Marketing" on Amazon, and you scroll down to the product details, you'll see the Amazon bestseller ranking in the Kindle store, or the print store for print books.  Let's say the book's ranking is 10,000, so you would need to beat that 10,000 bestseller ranking.  The problem is that you can't tell by looking at the number how many sales you need. So, what I've done with the help of this brilliant data guy is we've created this super-advanced calculator that tells you exactly how many sales you need in either a 24-hour period or over the duration of a month in order to hit any sales rank on Amazon. Check out the relevant bestseller categories in Step #1, find the bestseller ranking within the "Product Details" section of their books, and then just copy and paste those numbers into the sales calculator.  And, it's totally free, by the way, and the link will be in the show notes.  But, you can just type it into the sales calculator, and it will tell you exactly how many sales you need in one day, or in one month, to hit that bestseller ranking. The main ranking is the Amazon Bestseller Rank, and there's one for the Kindle Store, and there's one for books.  That's just the overall rank.  So, it goes from #1 to about 4.5 million because there are about 4.5 million eBooks signed up on Amazon right now.  That's the overall Amazon bestseller rank, and then there's your ranking inside of a certain category.  So, your overall rank is going to be based on the competition with every other book on Amazon, but inside of your category, you'll only be competing with the books that are listed in that category.  That's why you don't have to be #1 on Kindle; you can be #1 in some of the other 27,000 bestseller lists.

Which of the Two Numbers Do I Need to Plug into the Calculator?

Any of the generic, overall Amazon bestseller rankings.  It's going to be between one and 4.5 million.  You just copy and paste in that number, which is listed on the page of every single book listed on Amazon that has sold at least one copy.  Copy that number into the calculator, and it will tell you how many sales you need to hit in order to hit that ranking.

Step 4 - Choose Two Target Categories

Step #4 is you're going to choose two target categories.  So, you're going to actually select your categories on Amazon.  Like I said before, when you publish your book on Kindle through KDP, or a print book through CreateSpace, or any other Print-on-demand (POD) publisher, or Amazon merchant account, you're not going to be able to select all of the bestseller lists that are available for your book.  Essentially, the reason is that Amazon uses an internal database, and that's where it shows up on KDP when you publish your eBook on Amazon. But, when you actually look at the bestseller rankings on the website, the ones that your customers are finding on their computers, on their iPhone, on their iPads and their Kindle devices, those are all BISAC categories, which are essentially industry-standard categories.  This essentially gives you all of the databases for like libraries and all the various book industries use the BISAC category.  So, that's why Amazon has two different databases, and they just don't link up perfectly.  So, the simple solution is just every category you see on Amazon's website is the BISAC category; it is the correct category. Since you're doing your research on the website anyway, all you really have to do is just copy and paste those categories and just send Amazon a support email in your KDP account or your CreateSpace account saying, "Hey, can you please change my book to these categories?"  Then, you can just copy and paste them directly from the Amazon website, and they'll make that switch for you.  So, it's super-easy.  That's Step #4 and Step #5.  In Step #4, you're choosing your two target categories from Amazon's website.

Step # 5  - Send an Email to Amazon

Step #5 is sending an email into Amazon in order to get them to put you into those categories.

How Does This Help Me to Become a Bestseller?#1 Amazon Bestseller

Essentially, how this works is Amazon only lists the top 100 books in each category on their website, and on their list, when customers browse.  So, if customers are browsing the bestseller list to buy books, which they very often do, they are only going to see your book if your book is ranking in the top 100 of your given categories.  If your book is ranked #200 or even #101, it's not going to show up in those searches and you're not going to get exposure from it. Simply by changing your bestseller categories to categories that you can rank in the top 100 for, you're going to get more exposure, and you're going to get more traffic to your book, which obviously means more sales over time.  That's one of the huge benefits, but there's really a lot more.  You know, the thing with the publishing business is that it's very incremental.  Every little bit helps.  If an author is only selling 100 copies a year, it seems like it would be such a huge stretch to get to 1,000 copies a year, but really, it could be as simple as just changing the categories, or changing the book cover, or changing the subtitle, or changing a line in the book description. A simple change can make a huge difference over time, and this is one of those changes that we've noticed can make a huge difference.  We've had some of our clients' books sell hundreds and hundreds of books.  A lot of the time, we'll have clients that come from competitors, other self-publishers or publishing services, where they were self-published and they just wanted us to take it over and do their marketing, and simply by changing things like their categories, we've seen increases in sales as much as 173%.  It sounds like such a small thing like "Why do they do that?  Who really cares," but those small changes can make a huge difference over time. It's a long-term business. I think a lot of people have gotten into the Kindle publishing craze and are looking at it as a short-term opportunity to make a lot of money. But, it's the publishers that really look at the long-term that have been the most successful, by far.  We've been able to do things now, like doing book deals in different languages, and distributing books in Anacosto, and physical CD audio books, and all kinds of deals. If we had only focused on, "How can I make so much money this month," or focused on just short-term stuff, we wouldn't have been able to stick around to see these huge opportunities come around.  I think whenever you can focus on the long-term, and on quality, and on adding value to customers, that's where you're really going to get the biggest return over time. That's why I think categories are such a big deal.  It is about providing a better experience for your customers.  If you select the wrong categories, or just choose two random categories on Amazon, you might not be in the right place. You might not be where your customers are really looking for books like yours.  Since most authors haven't done this research, simply by doing it, you can always set yourself apart.

Connecting with Tom

You can check out my blog at  There's tons of great information and articles there.  That's where my book calculator is as well.  I do have a free training course for those who want to find out how to format your eBook for Kindle, how to get it published on Kindle, and how to do book launches and promotions.  It's all free at  I also have a podcast called the Publishing Profits Podcast.  Every week we interview bestselling authors, publishing attorneys, accountants, lawyers, and agents.  Really, anyone in the industry that's doing awesome stuff and knows what's working right now for authors.  That's


Amazon Book Sales Calculator

List of the Top 100 Most Competitive Amazon Kindle Bestseller Categories

List of the Top 100 Least Competitive Amazon Kindle Bestseller Lists and Categories

Kindle Direct Publishing


How to Effectively Use a POD (Print On Demand) Publisher With Robin Cutler

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 12, 2016

Jason ChicolaWelcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results podcast!  Joining us today is the CEO of, Jason Chicola.  This is a service that is highly recommended by many successful business professionals.  Many of the people who follow Real Fast Results are content creators of one form or another, and it's a good practice to use transcribed content in your business, in general.  That's because these help people to leverage their time effectively.  In this interview, Jason brings forth insights on how to use transcription services in your business.  Jason, welcome to the show... Our promise is really simple.  We transcribe audio for $1 per minute, we return it within 24 hours, and the accuracy is 99% or higher.  That's it.  It's that simple.  I can give you more detail on all of that, but we want transcription to be really simple. If you go out and look into the market, you'll find people that make it complicated.  They will charge you based on how many speakers you have.  They'll charge you extra if you want it in less than 24 hours.  They will give you all kinds of up-charges if you want to have different formats.  We do none of that.  We have a flat price of $1 per minute, no if, ands, or buts, and I think we are the only place that you'll get that.

How To Use Transcriptions in Your BusinessTranscription

There are probably a dozen different reasons, that are common, of why people would want a transcript.  Media is a big industry that is producing writing.  So, whether you are a writer, a podcaster, a consultant, or a coach, if you are regularly trying to take conversations or discussions and turn them into either insights or deliverables, you need a transcription.  You're probably taking notes and writing things down on your own.  All of those people need it, and other industries need it too (market research, legal, etc.) but the value is really in the time savings. If you're currently taking notes and writing things out, ask yourself how long it takes.  An untrained person would probably take 10 minutes to type out one minute of audio.  So ask yourself, "What is my time worth?"  That's the calculation you have to do.  Our transcripts are $1 a minute, so a 30-minute file, we'll transcribe for $30.  It may take you 300 minutes.  If your time is valuable, you're probably better off just going with us. We have customers that use transcription for all kinds of reasons.  Many of them are in the media, which means that they are producing deliverables (i.e. Books that they've sold, eBooks, blog posts, etc.)  We have a number of clients that have a small stable of writers that they use for the second step of taking a transcription and editing it so that it's more readable.  It all depends on what you're trying to create.  I could think of one company, that's a large customer of ours, that produces books for people.  If you want to write a book, they will help, kind of, ghost write it for you. They get audio from their clients, they turn it into a transcript, and somebody else turns it into a book. To be specific about this, if you are regularly producing content like this, you may want to go to a place like Upwork to find a writer who fits your style.  The reason I think it's hard to give a general purpose answer is that everyone has a different definition of what good looks like, or what the writer looks like, and so you have to find the style, the writer that works for you.

Innovative Uses of Transcription

transcription - videoI'll give you a couple of examples.  We see an enormous amount of use around video.  Think about how much video is being captured, created, and shared around the world today.  One of our customers, called Heavybit, produces video and they use our transcripts for a couple of things.  If you go to their website and you watch one of their videos, it will be captioned.  So, you can see their words on the screen in real time.  There will be an article next to the video.  So, if you don't feel like watching a 20-minute video, you can scan the article and decide if it's your cup of tea. Another thing you can do, if you're reading an article and you're in the 20th paragraph, and you see a sentence that really intrigues you, and they seem to be talking about something that's in the video, you can click the text of the article and the video will jump to the right position.  Basically, we call that "interactive transcript".  We've actually built some software to let anyone with a video make their transcript interactive.  That means, the video links to the text and the text links back to the video; it's a two-way street.  It's not publicly released, but it will be out there, and we'll make that free to all of our customers. Think back to when you were in college.  Wouldn't it have been cool if you had transcripts of all your lectures?  Now, the risk is you might not have gone to class.  Okay?  But, if you were cramming for a test, and you had to think back, "What did the professor talk about, mitosis or meiosis?"  If you managed to have a search box to find it, the text and the video would be together. So, I think everything with video, there's a lot going there. I mentioned earlier, a different trend is the example of people using the transcriptions to produce books.  That's a big deal.  We've had some famous authors that probably don't want us to announce what they are doing, but famous authors using us. Typically, it's their production company that's using us, and this is typically more in the world of non-fiction.  I think that's a big trend. There's another big trend that we're seeing around a new category of market research, which is called "usability research". There are many companies out there building the apps that are on your phone. What they do is they get random people on the Internet to use these apps, and as people use them, they have them talk about their experience. "Why did you click that button?  What do you think will happen if you click this button?"  They'll have people, in some cases, not very successful, and in some cases getting confused, but they will record the reactions of "normal people", and then the people that build the app listen to the videos. And, this is being done on a large scale, and a bunch of those videos are running through us. There are a lot of companies using video/audio recording transcripts to do their focus groups.  Think of the focus groups back in the 50's, where they put them behind the dual-pane glass.  Well, the focus groups are moving to the Internet, and it's moving to video and transcripts that are linked together. I have to remark, is one of our favorite customers.  They use us to caption all of their content.  I think that it's probably worth noting at this juncture that we offer two related services: transcription for people who have more dialog and captions for people who have videos where they want their words displayed on the screen.  It's another matter of the details, but if you put it on a video, you want captions. There are probably four or five different reasons why someone making an educational course or video would want captions.  The most obvious one is that you might have a listener that's hard of hearing, but there are many others.  It helps the recall, and it helps their education to be able to see the words from the screen.  Most businesses have some customers who speak English as a second language.  Many people, who are parents with young children, will find that they can turn the video down when their kid goes to sleep and just read the captions.  Most people in America use captions now and then, and only a very small percentage is hard of hearing. In education, having a text is transformative. We transcribe.  We don't produce the recordings; we receive them.  My point was that there are many companies that are getting regular people to use their products.  They are recording audio or video and sending it to us.  So, we don't provide the audience; we just provide the transcription, but it's a whole burgeoning new industry.  I know of 10 companies that are doing it at some level, and two or three are doing it to scale.

A Key Tip For Using a Transcription Service Like Rev

Clear audio.  I can't tell you how many times we get a recording that was done at a Starbucks with banging stuff in audio transcriptionthe background, and then they wonder why there are mistakes.  "Garbage in, garbage out," but if you record good audio, you'll get a great result.  I would predict that within a decade, you're going to see speech recognition playing a major role in this kind of work, and for speech recognition to be effective, what you would want is individual tracks.  That's going to help. Right now, I think the current state of the art of recording is pretty poor because most people are focused on mobility and convenience.  That is, "do it with my phone," as opposed to quality.  I think it's going to be a while before quality methods are used regularly.

Connecting with Jason

If you go to our homepage,, you'll see three offerings: Transcription, Captions, and Translation.  We offer them all today. Our Twitter handle is @Rev.  We have an iPhone and Android app called the Rev Voice Recorder.  Go to your app store and look up Rev.  The app lets you record and transcribe.  It's very convenient.

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 9, 2016
Robert Plank
Welcome to the Real Fast Results podcast!  Thanks for being here.  The special guest this episode is Robert Plank.  Let's jump right into the show today and see what Robert has to share with us... I am going to share how to go from having an idea for something, to solve some kind of problem, into having a money-making membership site ready to go.  This will be where someone goes to a webpage, sees a bunch of cool stuff, clicks a button, clicks to buy, they pay the money, and they get what they paid for.

Membership Sites Bring in Passive Income

It's the passive income.  It's great to not have to start at the beginning of every month, or every day, at zero.  It's great to be able to do whatever you want and have a bunch of money that came in automatically.  Then, if you want to do some more of that, if you want to do whatever it takes to grow your business, that is all extra! I honestly believe that whatever everyone listening does, even if it's like a service; for example, maybe you set up websites for local businesses, you should still have a membership site for a couple of reasons.  One is that you could get a lot of extra money for something that you're already doing anyway.  I found that when I sell any kind of information products, and stuff like that, I'll get extra business just from people buying the membership site or buying the product. I used to do a lot of nerdy PHP programming, setting up websites.  Well, it was tough to get new business. However, as soon as I made a couple of courses, just sort of showing what I did, I would get a lot of people who I would go through the funnel. They would buy this course, trying to see how I was going to do it, or maybe they were going to hire someone else to do it, and they would end up hiring me to do it. It's really cool making this thing called a membership site because you're doing it anyway, and you might as well get paid a second time for it.  Also, there may be someone that couldn't afford to hire you for $2,000.  You might have lost that person for $0 otherwise, but this way, you may be able to get $200 off of them instead and everybody wins.

How to Set Up Membership Sites - An Overviewmembership sites

The first step would be to set up WordPress.  It's free, and it's what most of us marketers use to just be able to click a button and make some content.  So, we set up this thing called WordPress, and we put it on a domain, like a .com domain such as  Once WordPress is set up, the two pieces are the front-end piece and the back-end piece. For the front-end, we have a thing called a landing page or a sales letter.  We use a plug in for that called PaperTemplate.  For the back-end we have the member's area, where someone can log in.  We use WishList Member for that.  The pre-step would be to get a website, get a domain name, and get a host account. Then the real stuff is to set up WordPress, set up your sales letter or landing page as your front-end. Then set up the actual login area, called the back-end.

Step 1 - Set Up WordPress

The first step is to set up WordPress.  The only way this would be awkward or difficult is if you've never done it before.  If you've done this once or twice, then the process of setting up your membership site will be super-easy.  Even if you're not technical at all, there are all kinds of videos out there on how to do this.  Some people use Fantastico, QuickInstall, or SimpleScripts to help set up their WordPress site. The point is that you have this website, and people listening may be used to like uploading files into a folder or something like that, but you click a special button and you install WordPress. Right out of the box, you'll have this place where you can go and post, basically, online journal entries.  Even that, technically, would kind of get you done.  Technically, we're talking about membership sites, and a membership site, all it has to be is a protected download area.  It doesn't have to be something where someone pays you month after month.  It can literally just be  a little protected area that has a bunch of posts, has your videos, other content, or whatever. From there, you go to C-Panel, and within there, it's either called Fantastico, QuickInstall, or SimpleScripts. From there you simply say, "I want to install a WordPress blog at the top level of my site.  It's"  Then, it asks you stuff like, "What's the name of your blog?" and "What do you want your password to be?"  You click it, it's done, and that's how you can start adding content to the website.

membership siteStep 2 - Set Up the Front-end

Next, you make what's called the front-end.  You don't need a plug-in for this, and you don't need a theme for this, but it's better if you do.  Basically, you just need one big, long webpage, and even if you have a page with nothing else but a button to click and buy, that would be better than nothing.  Even if you had no time for anything else, but you said, "Hey, I'm Daniel Hall and I have a great membership site on publishing comic books to Kindle." You could still tell someone, "Go to this webpage, and there's just a button there," but at least they would know to go there and click the button. If you had an extra three minutes, then you could put above the button what the title of the course is.  That would be another step in the right direction. If you had another couple of minutes, you could list, maybe 10 good reasons to buy, or 10 things that people would get out of that course.  Then, if you had another three minutes, you could change the headline to something interesting like, "Who Else Wants to Publish Their Comic Book on Kindle Today and Do It In 3 Clicks".  Now it's kind of coming together where they go to this webpage. What we like to do is have it at the very front door of your site. If your site was, they would go there and all there would be on that page to do is see what you have to offer and then either close the browser tab or click and buy.  That would be Step #2, getting that front-end set up.  One thing that I've had a lot of success with is writing the sales letter first, even if it's just a couple of quick bullet points.  I've seen a lot of people get tired of doing things in the wrong order, and that's why I tell people to just have a buy button, because that's Step #1.  Anything else that comes after that is extra. When I see a lot of people who fail, what they mess up on is that they go in and make a lot of content first.  They go in, and they make their logo, and they create their business card, and then they go, "I just spent a month working my tail off, and now I have to write something called a sales letter."  When I like to do is, while I'm still in a fresh state of mind...I'm still excited and stuff, and not tired out yet...Make the sales letter, even if it's just some quick thing.  Then, when it comes time to make the course, it kind of has to live up to the hype of the sales letter.

Step 3 - Set Up the Back-endmemberhsip site - tools

The third step is this thing called the back-end. So, this is where all of the magic happens.  This is where you set up a plug-in called WishList Member.  What that basically does is protect your content.  I can't stress this enough, that a lot of people think in the wrong kind of terms.  They think that a membership site is a monthly thing, where every week you deliver an interview or an article.  I prefer to think of it as is a protected download area.  So, for example, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook would all be membership sites because someone can be a member of that site, right?  I mean, Facebook is free, but it's the same idea; either they can get in or they can't. Some people think that they are going to have a site for free, or even for $10.  What I like to do is create a cool course.  I like to have something that has some meat on it... $200, $300...And that way, there's a couple of pieces to it.  If you're getting $300 a pop, first of all, you can have a nice little affiliate program, you could pay out some nice commissions, then if you only made like $3K, you could still be like, "Okay, I just made $3,000, and I feel like my efforts paid off." I think a lot of people have low confidence.  They think that they have to give it away for free or give it away for $5.  Well, what are you going to teach about for $5?  It's going to be a piece of crap.  It's just going to be some PowerPoints, but if you make it $200 or $300, you're probably going to add is some software and some cool videos. As far as the back-end goes, there are two pieces:
  1. The tools that you use
  2. and content strategy. Like, how many videos am I going to make, what are they going to say etc.

Back-end Tools

As far as the tools, since WordPress is already set up, we use WishList Member to protect it.  So, what's cool about that is that if someone goes to that front page, they see what they like about Daniel Hall's course about Kindle comic books, they click the button, and they buy.  After they pay you money, say they pay you $200, they go to a registration form that says, "What's your first and last name?  What's your email address?  What username and password do you want?"  They create that account, and now they can go anytime they want.  If it's five years later, they can still come back to this Kindle comic book course. What's cool about this, from a management point of view, is that if someone comes back five years later and they have forgotten their password and click a link, they can get back in. If they pay you money and they refund, now they're locked out.  So, it's really cool from a management point of view, and then what we'll usually do is pile in some videos. Then, we'll use a cool tool called TablePress.  It is so cool.  Basically, you can make a table or a grid inside of your membership site. Usually, if I'm pressed for time, I'll just put some posts on a page.  It will look like any other blog, and they buy access to this blog. Maybe if we have an extra five or ten minutes, we can make a table or a grid. Say I want to have like three columns across, five rows, and add in some cool little icons.  It's one of those nice to have little goodies, where you can make the inside of your membership site look pretty slick.  Make a dashboard, and just make it point and click.  You can make it the way you want it instead of some videos just kind of tossed in a webpage. I would say that my top tools, as far as WordPress being set up are WishList Member and TablePress to structure the membership site with.  So, those are the tools.

memberhsip site - contentContent on Your Membership Site

When it comes to recording, it takes a little bit of a mindset shift. I think that a lot of people, when they are doing a course, they think, "Let me see what kind of trivia I could just give to you about Kindle comic books.  Let me show you some Kindle comic books.  Let me show you Photoshop, or you could use this other editor."  People just go off in all of these scattered directions. Usually, when I buy a course, I will look over this kind of stuff because I'm just there for the content.  Usually it starts off with a five-minute intro, and then they'll have like a 20-minute longer thing, and everything after that is about 5 minutes.  It's like they get tired or something, and then it ends up being like 20, 30, 40 videos, and you have to page through every little thing to get what you wanted. It's just this meandering thing taking me into all different directions.  What we like to do is think in copywriting and marketing terms.  We think, "They are going to buy this course on Kindle comic books, so what are they going to actually have built by the end?" It's not just what they have learned, but what actions have they actually taken.  This is how you separate yourself from the cheap Kindle and the cheap Udemy kind of courses.  Now you're actually a $300 course.  By the end, they should have, say one or two Kindle comic books up.  Maybe they have another one in progress, or whatever it is. However, by the end of your course, they should have something set up.  That way, they will buy your next course, they won't refund, and all of that good stuff we all like to have. We think of it in terms of, by the end of this course, they will have all of this stuff, and then I split it up into four milestones.  A milestone, we can call it a module, is like a video, that's usually a screen capture that's like 60 minutes long, maybe 90 minutes at the most.  This is how we avoid having to page through all of these little five minute videos. Then each of these four pieces actually counts for something, and is building on the next, and is in the right order.  Then, at the end of each of these modules, we'll have a little 10-minute assignment.  So, for example, in the Kindle Comic book course, at the end of the first module, maybe they will have their first comic book created but not published. Maybe the second module would be having them publish it.  That makes it really cool in a lot of ways.  A lot of people won't get past that first hour of video, and when you're making the sales letter, you're like, I've got all kinds of promises for you, because I can say, "Tonight you join this course and you'll have your first comic book created using the software," or something like that.  So, instead of making videos with no plan, the way I always do it is think in terms of four milestones, 60-90 minutes, and it's all in video form.  Put it on there, put it in that little TablePress grid, and it's a cool little package for anyone that's looking to get some results fast. Sometimes what I'll do is add in free bonuses for any kind of course that we have.  One piece of the bonus may be some kind of software.  Either built-in software on the membership site, buy rights, or have something made.  So, that's good.  If not, I'll tell them where to go and buy, say, some sort of point and click comic creator and then provide some kind of video training on how to use it.  Then, I'll throw in a checklist of sorts.  So I'll have a list of questions they ask like, what's your Kindle comic book going to be called, how many pages is it going to be, etc.  By just going through and answering those questions, they will have something at the end. A few weeks after the course is done, I'll go back and make what's called "quick-start" videos.  I'll make just a video that's just one hour or so. I'll split that up into five-minute chunks just so that if a person has a short attention span or no time, I'll give them just the bare nuts and bolts.  Sometimes I'll have just a quick little section, where it's like, "Just give me the bare essentials," basically.

Getting Traffic to Your Membership Sitegetting traffic

What you need is traffic.  You need to send some people to that site and get your first member going.  I think that at this point, there are two paths you can take.  One path is, you can keep on adding to the site and making it cool, and I think that's the natural path a lot of people want to go into.  That's because it means you don't have to go into any of the scary stuff.  You don't have to market your stuff or buy ads.  You don't have to send emails, do webinars, get affiliates, and stuff like that. I think that at this point, as soon as you have the minimum viable product, even if the sales page could be better, and even if you haven't quite figured out TablePress, what's important at this point is to get one single, paying member.  I think some people get kind of discouraged because they think, "Oh man, I see all of these people talking about having a $100,000 launch.  On the first day, I guess I'll be okay with like $50,000."  Then, they put out their site and they just get one sale.  I'm thinking that's great because before you had $0.  Yeah, you may have put in 10 or 20 hours, but don't cut it up and say that you only made $10 an hour.  You made your first member, and then the next thing you know, member #2, #3, #4 are going to come in with almost no work at all. Going down the line, I think that there are some cool things that anyone could add to a site.  For example, what we do a lot of times, is we have a plug-in called WP Notepad, and we have it to where, underneath every video, or every post, there's like a little note-taking area where any of your members can go in and type their own private notes that are stored on your server.  So, they don't have to save it anywhere.  You could add a checklist under each post so that they can check off if they've watched that video or gone to that webpage. We have a way where you can add a pop-up using a program called WP Kunaki, where it will confirm their physical shipping address.  So, you can send them a quick "Thank You" card or call them on the phone as soon as they join.  That way you can say, "Thanks for your purchase.  I just wanted to make sure that you made it to the download page."  You could also send them a DVD, or whatever.  Those are all nice things to have, and those are good to add maybe like in a week or two. The next one or two weeks should be dedicated to getting some dang members in there. You need traffic, and you need a compelling offer, but how do you do that?  One of the ways you could do so is essentially by making allies with someone that has a list and has a community that would benefit in some way from your membership site.  You could include that person in the resources section, or you could reach out to that person and maybe do an interview with them, or a bonus of some sort that you could include within your membership site.  You could even include a link back to their site to go download whatever the bonus is. This is a way that you could go about making an ally of a mover and shaker in your niche that has a vested interest in seeing you succeed because the more you succeed, the more eyeballs they could potentially have on their stuff since it's in the member's area.  This also gives you the opportunity to seed your members area with good content.  The content does have to be A+ for this to work well, but you can share the spotlight with other experts, essentially, who now have a vested interest in seeing you actually succeed and the site succeeds.  Again, the more you succeed, the more successful they will be, potentially, and they will see some benefit from that as well. We work with people who are outside of internet marketing.  They have a list, and usually it's like on YouTube or Facebook, but they don't even know what they have. Some of these guys are playing around on Facebook, and they'll post some like random link and get 100 likes.  We're just like, "Dude, you need to figure out what kind of problem people have, get an idea for a course, record some videos, and put it in a membership site.  Then, post it and start making some money."  Yeah, it's crazy how some of these people, especially outside of internet marketing, they have a list and don't even know what they have.  It's like, "If you spent a couple of days on this, you'd have tens of thousands of dollars without even trying."

Learn From Robert

The best way is to buy our membership course at MembershipCube.  If you're not quite ready for that, I have a blog at, where I talk about a lot of this stuff.  It doesn't have to be that complicated.  I know that it's really easy to let the inner voice of "low-confidence" kind of trick you into thinking you have to keep on building stuff  before it's ready to go.  You can have the best of both worlds.  You can make a really simple membership site, just come up with a really simple idea.  Then, you create your modules and create some little bonuses, put it out there, and get some more sales.  After that, you can go back and innovate again and again. Every batch of sales that you get, you can go back and say, "Now my reward, after doing the scary marketing stuff, is to make some of those five minute videos," or "My reward is now to reach out and get some guest interviews to create some membership site content."  I think that there's something to be said about just figuring out what problem you're solving.  That way, it's impossible to not create the content, and this way you're trying to cover every little nook and cranny. You're not trying to be the encyclopedia of Kindle comic books, for example.  You're just saying, "The goal is to have a dang Kindle comic book done, so anything else that I say that gets too off topic or too long-winded, that's a step in the wrong direction.  All that matters is, here's the software to make it, ignore most of this, click these buttons, and boom, you have a Kindle comic.  Now you have your results." If you want to add any extra bonus in, that's great, but I think a lot of people have it backwards when it comes to what to include as bonuses.  They think that someone's just going to buy a course where they offer to give some Kindle advice, like, "Ask me anything that you want to about Kindle."  Well, how the heck are you going to sell that.  People are going to think, "I don't know what to ask, why don't you just tell me about Kindle?" There's something to say about just keeping it simple, getting it in place, and then go back and inch up everything.  So, just get it set up. Use WordPress, PaperTemplate, WishList Member, TablePress, and get some videos made, and then call it a day and come back to it later.  Now, WishList Member does cost around $300, but we do provide this for free to our members at MembershipCube.  Daniel Hall also provides training for a free way to protect your site at Member is recommended, but it can be costly if you're just starting out.


Robert Plank's Membership Course: MembershipCube WordPress Tools: WordPress Fantastico QuickInstall SimpleScripts Membership Site Maker: WishList Member Front-end Tool: PaperTemplate Back-end Tools: TablePress WP Notepad

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Aug 5, 2016
Lisa Rothstein
Welcome to this edition of the Real Fast Results podcast!  Today, you are going to learn something that's vital to your business, and that is the ability to actually use words to persuade people to do what you want them to do.  That, in the business, is called sales copy.  A very special guest is joining us today, and she is actually going to share how to go about writing sales copy that sells.  The really cool thing from your standpoint is that this will be presented to you as though you were a complete newbie in order to make sure that each aspect of this is made clear.  Please welcome Lisa Rothstein to the show... Even if you think that you can't write anything, you're going to be able to learn how to write sales copy to sell your information products or courses.  You may have flunked high school English class, but you'll still find that you are able to do this.

Benefits of Writing Your Own Sales Copywriting sales copy

Here's a great question to start with: "What are the benefits of actually putting time/effort/energy into this?" A lot of people want to just outsource their copy to a copywriter like me.  I have written copy professionally for years and years, both in the advertising industry, business and in the digital marketing space.  There's a time for that, but if you don't know how to write your own copy, it sometimes means that you don't really even understand your own business. A lot of times people will come to me and ask me to write some sales copy or a sales page for them, and they won't have their target market figured out and a lot of other elements of their business figured out.  They just expect someone else to figure their business out for them.  It's kind of a diagnostic tool to see how well you're selling and why it's good and beneficial to people. I've also taught people to write their own sales copy to the point where they end up seeing the value of what they have to offer, way more than they did before.  That's because when they have to write out all those bullet points telling people why it's great, it makes them go, "Wow!  This is pretty awesome.  I'm going to double the price of the product."  If they hadn't of written it themselves, I don't think they would have had that experience. Obviously, the big benefit of knowing how to write better sales copy is that you will sell more of your stuff.  But, there's also a lot of other ancillary benefits.  For instance, the confidence you have in what you're offering is so exponential when you have crafted the message yourself.  When someone asks you about it, you'll be able to talk about it because you have a grounding in what you're selling.  That's why I'm so passionate about helping people learn how to do this themselves. I often tell people to write their sales pages before they even decide what to put into the product because as they're doing that they'll say, "Hey, you know what would be really cool?  I should put this bonus in here because it feels like it would fit right here..."  In other words, it gives them the idea to put it into the product.  So, it's a symbiotic relationship. It's not a separate process, and that's why, I think, some people delegate too early. The other big reason to write your own copy is that, even though a professional might have a little better way with words, but they could also just dial up a little of what you've done yourself.  So, you could give them a really good first draft of what you want to say in a clear way, they could do so much better of a job.  Plus, it's still your ideas and your work, whereas if you just hand it off you advocate.  I don't like that.  I don't think it's a good idea for people to do in business.  I thoroughly agree with that.

3 Reason Why People Feel Writing Sales Copy Is Hard

sales copyBefore I get to the five steps I'm going to tell you about for the actual page itself, I want to share three reasons why people think this is so hard.  A lot of people are probably thinking, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag. I can't do this.  I've sat down and tried, and I just can't."  There are three reasons why this is hard, okay?
  1. It's Difficult to be Objective About Yourself - The #1 reason why it's hard is because it's difficult to be objective about yourself.  I'm sure that many of the people out there could turn into their best friend or colleague and figure out ways to talk about that person's product, but when it comes to selling yourself, whether you are a coach, or a consultant, and so on, it's hard to see the forest through the trees.  Also, especially if you're a woman, you don't like to brag, so there can be some resistance going on.  That's one reason.  Being objective is tough.
  2. There Is No Sales Copy Secret- The second reason is that there are a lot of copyrighting gurus out there, and I really don't count myself as one of them, but they'll tell you that there are all these secrets. Maybe there's this secret handshake or this secret world that you have to know about in order to write great copy, or maybe that you have to be a really amazing writer and only certain people with the talent to do this can do it. That's absolutely not true.  We've already talked about that.  It's really not true. While there are some people that enjoy it and are skilled at it, there's a big difference between writing this kind of copy that we do in the digital marketing space and the kind of Madmen "creative" stuff that I used to do in the advertising business.  That's a whole different animal you don't need. You shouldn't be doing that kind of clever, slick stuff in our space anyway.  So, all the secret stuff, what I'm going to teach you today is really going to blast that out of the water.
  3. The Challenge of the Blank Page - The third thing is the challenge of the blank page, which is true for everyone, professional writers included.  That blank screen paralyses everyone.  You don't know where to start or how to start.  What I'm going to teach you now is going to help you with all of those things.  It's going to help you with your objectivity.  It's going to help you realize that there really are no secrets because if you do these five things that you're about to be taught, you're really 99% of the way there, to having really great sales copy.  This will also help you with the "blank page" phenomenon because it will give you five different ways to get started.  Starting is the hardest part.

5 Steps to Writing Great Sales Copywriting copy

I actually learned four of these five steps on the first week on the job in the ad business.  I came out of college, and I didn't know what I was doing, and all of these old men, with their pipes and their bow ties, were there, and you know, I was totally intimidated.  But, my boss took me to the side and gave me this piece of advice, that I've been using ever since all these years.  He said, "Lisa, there's really only four steps to writing great copy."  Now, that was advertising, so I added a fifth step. You're not going to understand them right now, but you will when I go through them.  The five steps are:
  1. "Oh dear!"
  2. "Good News"
  3. "Here's Why"
  4. "That's Right"
  5. "But wait...There's More!"
I'm going to teach you this, but learning is remembering.  The fact of the matter is, you see this every single day.  It's just like any other kind of structure.  Like, if someone teaches you structure and then you go to the movies and you say, "Oh my gosh!  There's Act II...And there's the inciting incident."  You learn the structure and then you see it everywhere.  So, whenever you watch an infomercial, you'll see this.  Next time you're up at 3:00 in the morning, turn on the television, and you will see this in action.  You may not want to be as blatant as they are in your work, but it's what's underneath even the most elegant sales copy that you'll see.  It's in the framework.

Step 1 "Oh Dear!"

The first expletive, "Oh dear," is where you'll state the problem.  You've got a ring around the collar, and you have tried soaking and scrubbing.  This works for both Madison Avenue and digital marketing.  Basically, this is where you explore why the reader's life sucks right now without your solution.  One of the things that I like to do with my own clients that you can do too, which it helps to do it with a partner, is to actually pretend to be your ideal client and sit with someone else and pretend that person is your therapist. So, you're their client, and you come to them with a problem, and they're like, "Okay, what seems to be the problem?"  You might say something like, "Well, I'm 40 and I haven't had a date in years.  I'm afraid that I'm never going to meet anybody.  I'm afraid that I'm always going to be alone and my biological clock is ticking, so I'm not going to be able to have any kids.  And, every time I go on a cruise, I have to go as a single person, and every time I go visit my family for Christmas or Thanksgiving, everyone asks me, 'So, when are you going to settle down,' and it's just horrible and I hate it." The more you talk about the problem, the more you'll express all of that stuff, and the more that will feed your ideas.  When you go to write your copy, your ideas will flow more easily, and you'll end up saying something like, "Are you worried that you'll be single forever?  Do you hate going to family functions because people are always asking about when you're going to meet someone?  Do you feel like a third wheel with your friends, and when you go on vacation, do you have to be all alone?  Are you concerned that it's going to be this way forever and you're just going to die alone and never have any kids?" You can put the ideas you've had during your role playing right into your sales copy, and the readers of that copy are going to be like, "Oh my God!  How do they know I feel this way?"  So, really try to sit down and explore all the reasons why the person would need to use your product.  Think about every area of a person's life when you are thinking about how their problem affects them.  How does it affect their health?  How does it affect their career?  How does it affect their financial situation?  You know, all of these sorts of things.  Just brainstorm and download all of this misery, and then you pick and choose the juiciest ones to put into your sales copy. It's about illuminating, expanding upon, and explaining how that problem is affecting the life of your prospect, and in an emotional way.  Sometimes you have to be talking for a while before you actually hit the emotion.  Something that has happened to me and some of my clients is that they go through this practice and actually start crying.  They are so closely identifying with that person, and they're like, "Oh, it's so terrible that she's never going to meet anyone, and she'll never have kids, and she'll always wonder what life could have been like if she had been able to find a partner."  That's just one example, of course. The problem is that a lot of writers, and a lot of writing teachers, will tell you to say what keeps them (your prospect) up at night.  That has become so cliché and intellectually based in people's minds that people really can't reach any kind of depth that way anymore.  This process helps you to get into the emotional space a little bit better.  People justify with logic, but they buy on emotion.  So, if you can connect with them emotionally, and you can articulate to them even better than they could even explain it themselves, what the problem is, why it is a problem, and what it feels to have it, they are going to believe that you have the solution.  It's just a psychological reflex for people to subconsciously think, "I believe that you have the answer because you've been able to explain the problem so well, so clearly, and so emotionally." The most important thing to remember, when you're writing any kind of work, but especially sales copy, is that the creative process is to brainstorm everything.  Don't write; just get it all out there.  What options would you have.  It's like smearing the paint onto the pallet, if you were a painter, and then saying, "I'm going to take a little bit of the red that I squeezed out, and a little bit of blue that I squeezed out, and dab it onto the picture."  You're not going to use it all, but until it's all out there, you don't know what you have to work with.  Often, people go straight into the writing, and then they wonder why it's flat and paralyzed.  You aren't writing at first, you're just squeezing the paint onto the board.  That's it.

Step 2 "Good News"

Sales Copy - good newsNow you've gone wait deep into the problem, and why it sucks to be them, and all the effects it's going to have on their life.  "Well, guess what?  You've got this problem.  Well, good news!  There's a solution! Introducing my brand new, handy-dandy whatever it is...That is going to solve all those problems."  Now you might want to paint an opposite picture by imagining when you have this problem solved, imagining what it's going to be like when you bring the love of your life to Thanksgiving dinner and everyone loves him, and you plan your vacations together, and there are all of these memories that you get to share.  I'm just making stuff up, and you don't necessarily have to go into all of this detail. You've stirred the pot in your "Oh Dear" section to the point where people really want to believe that you have the solution that they need, so they are just waiting for you to prove to them that what you have to offer works.  They want to believe you.  This leads into Step #3, which is "Here's why".

Step 3 "Here's Why"

This is where a lot of people mistakenly start.  "Here's why it works.  Here's how it works.  Here's why I know what I'm talking about...Because I went through the same thing too, and here's my story.  Here's why you can believe me...Because it worked for all these other people who are going to give you their testimonials right here.  Here's another reason you can believe me...Because I'm going to give you a money-back guarantee.  Here's the process.  Here's all you're going to get." You might offer to give your prospects 8,000 hours of MP3s, and workbooks, and workshops, and live events, etc.  A lot of people start with that.  Nobody wants a workbook.  Nobody wants a DVD.  But, when you tell them, "You've got this horrible problem that I understand better than anyone, and I've got the solution to solve it," you'll have their attention.  Then, you simply go on to tell the reader why it's going to work.  You're going to have all of this proof that what you have worked for other people, and it's kind of like calling for witnesses at a trial if you're a lawyer.  I like to use analogies because I think that it helps a lot. So, you know, here's the character witness, and here's the glove that doesn't fit.  It's like the demonstrations, when you see the guy driving his truck over the flashlight and it doesn't break.  Before and after pictures are often used in this capacity if you're selling a weight loss product, or a fitness product, or something like that.  They'll show a before and after, and that's part of the proof.  You hear about social proof a lot, but there's all kinds of other proof.  "Here's why this is important, and here's why my process is kosher.  Just look at all the statistics out there that show that you're more likely to be shot by a terrorist than to find a mate after the age of 40."  You know, I didn't make that statistic up, but I call it in as part of the evidence that I am presenting in my case. You don't necessarily have to do all of these things in this exact order, but you could do worse than to do them in this order.  Watch an infomercial and you'll see that.  Even if you watch television commercials that are 30 seconds long.  When you're doing the brainstorming section of your sales page, and you realize that you don't have a whole lot in the section, that means you really need to go out and get some more facts and evidence to bolster my case.  Where can I go back to my clients to get testimonials?  Where can I call in a statistic?  Where can I strengthen my guarantee and show why my process works? Where can I pull in my own story to prove that I've been through this myself.  A lot of people will create products where they have solved a problem for themselves, and now they are bringing their system or intellectual property out to the world.  This is where you might start to talk about your story and how you were in the same place they were, and that's why you can talk about it now, saying something to the degree of, "I discover this process, and lo and behold, it worked.  Then, I tried it with my clients and it worked for them.  Now I'm bringing it to you."  That's part of the "here's why" section.  People are going to start to believe what you're saying because there is some credibility there.

Step 4 "That's Right"

You've told them that you understand the problem, and you may have made them feel a little horrible, but also hopeful because you may have the solution they're looking for.  At this point, you've proven to them that your solution is probably going to work.  So, you have now reached Step 4, which is kind of a recap.  You'll essentially say, "That's right.  You're going to solve this problem that's been bothering you forever, that you thought was insoluble, and you're going to have this amazing solution instead.  You're going to get all of this stuff, that I talked about in the previous section and all of these reasons why it's going to work." Now you're starting to talk a little about components and more about the actual physical stuff they are going to get and how they are going to be delivered.  The idea here is that your prospect will be thinking, "Well, how much is this going to cost me.  It sounds so great that I'm afraid it's going to be too expensive."  That's why you'll sometimes see the value of each individual item listed out for a total value of a bazillion dollars, but you only have to pay $197, or something like that.  I'm exaggerating to make a point, but you've seen this on infomercials 100 times over.  Usually, in regular advertising, that's where it starts. I wrote an ad a long, long time ago.  It was a TV commercial that did very, very well.  This was way back in the day, before there was liquid dishwashing detergent to put into your dishwasher; there was only powder.  So, one of my commercials launched the first liquid that went into dishwashers.  In this case, it was like, "Oh no!  Your dishwasher powder didn't dissolve and your dishes aren't clean.  Good news!  We have this great new Palmolive automatic dishwasher detergent that's going to solve that problem.  Here's why it works.  It's a liquid, so it dissolves and doesn't leave powder all over your dishes.  That's right.  You'll never have this problem again." I mean, that's pretty much how it went, but in the visual people are throwing out their dishes and throwing them against the wall because they were so mad that their dishes weren't clean.  It was the 80's, so it was a little bit cheesy, but the idea is that this is still the same structure.  At this point, in the traditional advertising world, you would stop.  If you're in the infomercial or digital marketing world, you're going to move on to Step 5, which is "But wait...There's More!"

Step 5 "But wait...There's More!"

This is where you would throw in all of the bonuses.  It's where the infomercial will say, "But wait!  We'll double your offer.  We'll give you two of the things you didn't even know you needed one of five minutes ago.  We're going to give you two of them, just pay more shipping and handling."  Obviously, we are in the digital space, so if you have an info product, you'll offer bonuses.  The best bonuses in this space are things that help people consume the product and/or that add value to the product.  It should be something relevant. A lot of times I will tell my clients that they have given way too much value in their products and that they should take something out of there and make it a bonus.  Put it on a little velvet pillow, and now it's like, "Oh, and now you'll get my amazing spreadsheet that's going to help you to keep track of your progress."  Anyway, the point is that you were including that before, but by offering it separately you can make your offer seem even more valuable and irresistible.  The best thing is that if it's a digital download, it doesn't cost anything to deliver, but it's super-valuable to your prospect.  So, there's this other extra thing, and sometimes people will buy it just for the bonus. When I take people who can't write sales copy through what we just did I ask, "How many people thing they can write their own sales page now?"  Pretty much, the whole room raises their hand, whereas in the beginning I'll ask, "How many people think it's impossible to write copy," and pretty much the same people raised their hand.  Once you get into the details, you may have to scratch your head a little to find the right words, but you probably don't have a problem with writing but a problem with clarity.  Now that you know what these five things are, as long as you just do:
  1. "Oh dear!"
  2. "Good News"
  3. "Here's Why"
  4. "That's Right"
  5. "But wait...There's More!"
Then, you just fill in all of the blanks.  You'd have the basis of a pretty good first draft after doing this.  In fact, it would be better than most people's and even better than some copywriters.  And, how much more will you feel connected to what you're selling once you have actually done this? The "Here's Why" section is probably where you would put your bullet points.  I haven't gone into all of the features, and benefits, and stuff like that.  I'm bringing out a course soon that talks about that.  There's lots of people who talk about features and benefits, but I mean, all of that stuff fits into this process.  It's going to make you feel much more confident about what you've got.  That's why so many of my clients raise the price of their products after they do this.  They may not have had that kind of confidence before, and they were just hoping that someone else would figure out why this thing was good and how to say it, you know?  It's better if you do it, at least in the first draft.


When you're actually creating your page, after you've basically collected all of this material, if you have enough testimonials a great thing that you can do is dot them around and use them to break up the page visually.  Also, you might put a testimonial right after a bullet point when you have a testimonial that illustrates that point.  For example, if you said something in a bullet point that let people know your product will increase their income, you can follow that with a testimonial where someone says that they had an increase in sales.  This essentially tells the reader, "I'm not just saying this, look what he has to say." It's a luxury to have testimonials that boaster your product's track record, but even if it doesn't have that kind or track record yet, there are still ways that you could go about borrowing credibility or get folks to say nice things that will allow your reader to connect the dots and figure out you're someone they should be listening to.  I work with people on that too, because some folks are just getting started, and they are like, "But, I don't have testimonials."  There are things that you can use instead.  They may not be as valuable, so you should always be collecting that kind of proof, anywhere you can find it. One thing that you can do is use beta testers to try out your products.  No one has to know if they paid for it or not.  They got results, and that's what matters.  As far as the reader is concerned, it's none of their business.  So, that's awesome.

Where To Place the GuaranteeSales Copy - guarantee

I like to put it near the order form, or near where you are going to be asking for the sale. Because, at this point they want to click "Add to Cart," but maybe they're scared.  People always ask, "What if someone asks for their money back, and they just want to take my product and use it."  You know what?  That's the cost of doing business, and the number of people who are going to be made to feel safe enough to do business with you without knowing you far outweighs the two or three bad apples who are going be thieves.  So, I always tell people not to worry about that. There is a way that you can go about taking a person off of your list if they refund too much.  For example, if a person refunds three times, you might take them off of the list and you send them an email that says something like, "We're obviously not the company for you, so we've taken you off of our list.  If you do buy something else from us, you will not ever be refunded again."  That's how you can handle that, but there's no reason to advertise this. You may have to deal with this once or twice a year, if that.  It's a really tiny percentage of people that you might have to do this with. I would put it in more than once.  I'd put it any place where I thought people would need to be reassured.  The guarantee is there to make people comfortable enough to press "Buy Now".  It's not there because you just really want to give people their money back.  Obviously, you will if they ask you to, but the idea is this as a risk reversal.  Also, you need to believe in your own stuff to say, "You know what?  If you buy this and you use it, you should be really happy, so why wouldn't I offer you a guarantee?" I know some people who never offer a guarantee, and that's their policy.  I think that since we are talking about writing sales copy that works, guarantees work.  That's why people put them there.  So, most people won't come back, and if they are legitimate "refunders" like, "I've tried it, and it's not for me," then I don't want their money.  Neither should you. Actually, I've had to refund a couple of things that really weren't what I thought they were, and the people were super-cool about refunding it.  I went on social media and said, "Oh my God!  These people were so awesome.  You know, I asked for a refund, and they said 'no problem'.  They just gave it to me."  They probably got more mileage out of me saying how great they were that it was worth way more than the sale would have been to them.

Connecting With Lisa

If you go to, I'm going to give you guys a downloadable cheat sheet that will help you fill in the blanks on these sorts of things.  This will make it even easier for you, and I use it with my own clients.  It's really fun and easy to fill in, and it's something that you can keep with you and use it as a place to kind of capture all of your ideas for your next sales page.  You can use it over and over again.  I really hope that you enjoy that.  You can find me on social media too.  I spend a lot of time on Facebook, and of course, my website is


Lisa's Free Sale's Copy Brainstorming Kit

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!
Aug 2, 2016
Mark Timberlake
Welcome to the Real Fast Results podcast!  Today, you’re going to have the chance to learn about digital assets and the advantages of producing them.  The information found herein was first presented by Mark Timberlake, who is an absolute expert when it comes to exploiting this type of aperture in the marketplace.  Mark, welcome to the show… Today we’re promising to help people understand how they can create digital assets that they can actually sell over and over.  So, by the end of this, they should have a clear concept of how online training can be packaged as a digital asset, and how a person could then put that outlet in some of the places where you can get some instant income coming in.

Benefits of Creating Digital Assests

In terms of lifestyle, it’s a residual-based income so it’s a dream; it’s living the dream.  Me and my wife, we live thisdigital assets dream.  We create digital products, and we sell them, and we live off the income.  It’s just freedom from employment and service-based work.  We escaped employment 15 years ago and started our own business, but we still had a lot of service-based work going on. We were still dealing with clients, but that’s one step away from working with an employer because you’re still being employed.  You’ve just changed your employer, and you can pick and choose your employer a little bit more, but you’re still being employed.  However, when you actually create digital content that you can sell, and it’s a digital asset, there is no employer.  That’s the real beauty, and it’s exponential in terms of how much that product can actually earn.  It’s limited by the amount of people you can get in front of, and it’s limited by the amount of times you can sell that product.  That is where it gets really exciting. A third-party platform is very good when you’re launching cold.  Now, if you’ve got a really strong, established audience, I wouldn’t recommend that you go on to these third-party platforms over that, to increase your audience.  But, if you’re brand new and you don’t have a list, you’re new to online marketing, you love to teach, and you’ve got a passion about something, these places can give you that really quick launch.  Particularly sites like Udemy, which have got really high-quality standards but help you through the process, they can really get you learning how to create courses quickly. I would recommend looking at third-party courses from instructors like myself. The reason why I say this is because we’re going to teach platform agnosticism, which is really important.  While we're talking about platforms, I just want to mention this principle.  We want to create courses that we can put on platforms, but we don't want to create Udemy courses, we don't want to create Skillshare courses, and that's some of the platforms we can put stuff on.  We want to create agnostic courses that are primarily our asset, that we can then put into them in an appropriate manner, which will allow us to tap into their marketplace without losing our identity as a business. Does that make sense?  It's like going into a supermarket.  You don't want to supply the branded product.  You don't want to supply, you know, the Walmart ketchup.  You want to supply the Heinz ketchup.  You want your brand to be consistent, and that's one of the key things you need to understand.  When you go to these places, the temptation might be to hand over your brand to these places, but what you really want to do is just use the supermarket and put your brand in there, and then people can come back to you. Udemy likes big mega-courses.  Now, Skillshare wants 20-30 minute courses.  Let's look at that practically for a moment.  For instance, I've just released my online Instructor Masterclass 2016, and there are 16 modules in that course.  This is a practical example.  On Skillshare, they want small courses, and they're going to pay me per enrollment.  So, I've got 16 modules, which are independent courses on Skillshare, and I've got one mega-course on Udemy.  On Skillshare, I get 16 enrollments for everyone that takes that course, and then on Udemy, I get one big enrollment. Then, when I put it on my website, which is another thing we're going to want to do. I encourage people to use a third-party website to start out like Teachable, or something like that, where they take in all of the back-end hosting, you put into your course, and then you can market them as well.  So, then I can now put the same course on my website, and then I can upsell.  I can have  a subscription on there. I can bundle a load of courses. I might have a monthly Hangout or webinar.  For instance, on Zenler, who I'm just switching over to from Teachable. Zenler has a built-in webinar functionality, so you can literally host the webinar inside your school.  You can host a free webinar, and literally on the page is the subscriber.  So, there is lots of really exciting stuff happening right now. The key is that you want to be able to create the content from the very beginning knowing that this is platform agnostic, this is your content.  You need to split it up in different ways  for different platforms, but you maintain control. It becomes really exciting when you start doing that because now you're developing all of these different income streams in different places.  If one falls over and collapses, you've got five or six others that are still running and you're minimizing your risk.  That's the key thing.  From the beginning, don't get tied into one platform.

Different Ways To Use Your Digital Content

digital contentThere's a couple of really exciting things potentially happening at the moment.  Just whispers and rumors right now, but there's a whisper that Amazon might get into the online teaching space, selling digital training courses.  They've already opened up Amazon Video.  Now, there's a whisper that they're talking about getting into the actual delivery of education.  So, in the way that they have embraced Kindle eBooks, they want to embrace training. LinkedIn also just purchased  This is the grandmother of online training courses.  They've been doing it the longest.  They are the ones that have mastered it, but the way they have always operated is you produce the course and they own the rights.  So, for me, they would have to pay me a lot of money to get the rights to my business because I know the exponential value of my product over time.  It's a case of the more eyeballs that go in front of it, the more money I'm going to earn.  That's just simple math with a good-quality online training course. There's a whisper that they ( will start opening up the platform so that third-party vendors can upload.  Now think about that.  That's Microsoft, essentially, and Amazon are starting to sniff around the online education sector.  So, when you create your courses--you've got these things, they are like bags of sweets, you can put one bag over here and just a couple of sweets over here, and you can put a big multi-pack of sweets over here.  The point is that as the market progresses and grows, you've created a digital asset that you can then just drop straight onto these platforms, and that's where it gets really exciting. Online education is absolutely massive.  It's one of the VCs.  The venture capitalists are all trying desperately to find somewhere they can get involved and spend money on because it's one of those areas that's really exploding fast.  If people are spending money, that means content creators have a massive opportunity to get into right now while we're still in the early part.  We aren't even in the boom part.  We are in the early part, and there's a massive opportunity to get in right now and create courses because this is going to boom.  It's a pebble on the beach at the moment.  It's going to be a whole beach soon, and now is the time to get involved.  Create high-quality courses that are agnostic, that can go anywhere, and that can earn you this residual income.

3 Steps To Making Digital Courses

I can give you a simple overview of the three things you're going to need to master.  I can give you some quick tips, but the process, in itself, is a learned skill.

Step # 1 Quality of Educational Content

So, #1) Quality of Educational content.  Now, where a lot of people fall down, they'll see an opportunity like this and they'll think, "Okay, I can just create a quick course, and I can make loads of money."  No.  If you want this to be a long-term asset, you've got to put the time into it.  You've got to be thinking, "This could potentially earn me $100,000 over its lifetime."  You've got to design from the beginning with that kind of potentiality in the back of your mind.  You might only make $100, but you've got to approach it like, "This is a significant asset I'm developing here." I've created courses where I said, "This one's going to absolutely go crazy," and it just falls flat.  I've created over 40 courses now, and there have been some that I didn't think would do that well, but all of the sudden, it really surprises me.  So, #1) Quality of Education.  You have to remember that, at the end of the day, that's what people are actually buying.

Step #2 Quality Production Values

#2) Quality Production Values.  That doesn't mean you have to have a professional studio.  You could literally use a slideshow and a mic.  You could literally combine a slide show and a good-quality podcast setup, and you can create courses.  So, you don't need lots of money. I've got a green screen studio where I do a lot of talking heads.  Whichever level you go to, you've got to keep pushing the quality.  So, the quality of production is really important.

Step #3 Marketing Excellenceonline marketing

And then there's #3) Marketing Excellence.  You have to learn the basics of online marketing. It's a skill set that's absolutely fundamentally required.  Although you're starting out by putting it onto platforms, you do need to understand some key things like SEO.  You do need to try and understand how to optimize some text.  That sounds really huge, but it isn't as big as you think.  You've just got to learn the trade.  That's the key thing.  You've really got to take time to learn the trade. Let's say that you've got a very popular podcast.  Well, you would have had to learn the trade of podcasting.  Yes, everyone can do it, but only the people who have mastered the process will do it well, will do it professionally, and will do it to a high standard.  That's what sets it apart.  So, that's what you've got to have--high quality teaching, very high-quality production values, and marketing excellence.  When you build an online course creation, digital asset business based on those principles, it's just a case then of finding the course, or set of courses that are going to start getting that response from the marketplace that you're looking for.

How to Find a Responsive Niche

The first thing to do, believe it or not, don't go to niche at the moment.  It's still very early in the marketplace, and the temptation is to do your "DIY Brain Surgery Course".  Bear with me.  There's not very many people in the world that want to practice DIY brain surgery.  On the other hand, there's how to do a Facebook ad.  You know, that is so broad.  Let me give you another example.  You can create a master course on online marketing, but you've got to be specific about who you're trying to reach.  What I'm trying to say is don't go too broad, but don't go too narrow either. One of the things to test what's working is to go on one of the sites and have a look at what's working.  Go on a platform like Udemy and Skillshare.  If you want to make big courses, Udemy is #1.  Some other places are starting to catch up quickly.  But, if you want to do business to consumer, like craft-based courses, hobby-based courses, and lifestyle courses, Skillshare is much better.  Once you understand that, and you've got the two main, sort of, protagonists in the marketplace, Udemy being business to business, and Skillshare being business to consumer, then have a look at your expertise.  Go in there and see what types of courses, in your expertise, are getting the students, they're trending, they seem to be doing well. Be honest with yourself.  If you look at a course and say, "I can do better than this," then make a better course.  That's the place to start, but one other thing is when you make your first course, your first course is disposable.  You're going to throw it away.  That's where you learn the art of making a course.  You'll continually learn, but that's where most of the big lessons are.  I've seen people do this.  Don't try to create an 18-hour talking-heads master-class because you're going to film it, you're going to look at it in six-months time, and you're going to be embarrassed of it. The thing to do is to create a small course, maybe with something like Skillshare, just to go through the process of learning.  Take some courses on how to plan and how to structure.  Just start with a small course.  Don't throw away your best course on your first course.  If you're a master at Facebook advertising, and you can show, "Here's what I've spent.  Here's my return on investment."  Start with how to set up a Facebook group.  Don't give up your best stuff at the beginning because that course won't be your best.  Go and have a look, see what's working, and don't fall into the trap of going to niche or too wide, but do a little research and see what's actually going.

Building Course Material

digital assets 2 - responsive nicheYou'll want to break up 2-10 minute segments.  You know, 2-5 for most subjects, and 10 if it's technical.  You have to learn how to translate Chinese.  This is one of the core educational issues that nuance online instructors may not have grasped yet.  It doesn't matter if you're a professor.  It doesn't matter where you come from.  When you start speaking to someone, every area of knowledge has its own language. So, if you sit down with someone and start talking to your granny about podcasting, and you start saying, "Yeah, I'm going to be doing this, and I'm going to be using my preamp," she's not going to understand what you're saying.  You're speaking Chinese. Every area we have expertise on has its own subset of language.  English isn't some sort of homogenous blob.  It's built upon all of these areas of expertise.  If you want to do quantum physics, you have to learn a whole new language before you can comprehend that.  That's the core thing to understand.  When you're teaching someone, you have to translate Chinese.  That's what the best instructors do.  They take a complex subject, which is complete Chinese to someone else, and they translate that into language so that the layman can understand. It's not about being the smartest or the most knowledgeable; it's being the best translator.  If you can explain a simple concept to them, that's simple to you, but complex to them, better than everybody else, people will pay you money to solve their problems.  Become the translator.  Become the one that's best at translating Chinese, and that's what's going to give you long-term value in your product.

Recap: Steps To Making Digital Courses

The "Golden Triangle" of course creation is high-quality educational content, #1.  You want to solve people's pain points and problems.  You want to be doing that better than anyone else.  You want to be translating that Chinese.  #2) You want high production values.  No matter what level you are, you want to take the time to do the editing and remove all the "ums and ahs" so that you have really good quality.  Invest in that process.  #3) Marketing excellence.  Learn how to market yourself, learn what's going to work, and learn how to place your product. And, just understand that these third-party platforms are going to do some marketing for you, and that's why we're using them at the beginning.  A beginning instructor, usually the worst skill they've got is marketing.  That's the thing they least understand, but that's where the leg up on these platforms are going to be.  You're going to have some stabilizers on your bike.  They are going to supply the stabilizers, and they are going to get you going, but you don't want to stay on stabilizers forever.  You want to be platform agnostic, and eventually, you want that audience that you're building on your website, on your property.  I think those are the core things to know.

Third-Party Platforms Suggestions

If you go to my website,, you'll find a platform guide.  It's a resource that we keep up to date, and it shows all of the latest places and some of the things that you need to be aware of.  On that, we've got Udemy, Skillshare, StackSkills... There's lots of information on there that is current and up to date.  It's a great resource for someone trying to figure out where to put their courses.  For instance, if you have courses on programming, you may not want to put them on Skillshare, necessarily, but there are other third-party sites that specialize in those types of things. There are also sites to avoid.  For example, there are some sites that won't pay you.  They've been identified too.  There are also some third-party hosting platforms.  These are places you can put your courses and  sell them.  Go to, and go to the "Platform Guide".  It's linked at the top, and you're going to see lots of different places where you can sell.  If you want to connect with me, you can find me on all of the social platforms from there.

Resources: Third Party Websites for Back-End Hosting Mark's Platform Guide Platform Guide

Real Fast Results Community

If you are diggin’ on this stuff and really love what we’re doing here at Real Fast Results, would you please do me a favor? Head on over to iTunes, and make sure that you subscribe to this show, download it, and rate & review it. That would be an awesome thing. Of course, we also want to know your results. Please share those results with us at As always, go make results happen!