Photo by Pete Wright on Unsplash

The other day I received a call from a friend asking if I wanted to have lunch sometime that week, and I guess I can’t say this was a “strange” event…

But let’s just say, he was definitely the type who’d usually call to have drinks over lunch…

So I knew something was up, but I agreed anyway and met him for lunch the following day.

We started off with the typical small talk, debating about how badly the Chiefs were going to ruin the Raiders this upcoming season…

Then after going through all that, he finally jumped into the question he’d been wanting to ask:

“How do I start an online business?”

Now this did make me laugh at first, as it came out of left field and I never thought he’d be the type to look into online business…

But apparently he was having troubles with work, so he started searching around for other ways of making money…

Then after seeing how others were able to make a living online, he asked if I could give him an idea where he should start….

And that honestly gave me flashbacks to my early stages of digital entrepreneurship.

I remember asking myself the exact same question a few years ago, but since I didn’t have anybody close to me who understood this industry…

I decided to venture out, do some research…

And holy hell, lack of ideas was not a problem.

It seemed like everywhere I looked had the next best idea, with one guy telling me how I needed to start in affiliate marketing, then the next guy telling me that’s a bad idea — as I needed to sell an ebook…

So after going through this dilemma for awhile, I decided to just get started and try them all.

Did a lot of these simultaneously, which is a terrible idea in itself…

But in a somewhat organized matter, my failed business attempts went something like this:

  • Online bookkeeping firm
  • Make money with blogs — via Adsense
  • Affiliate marketing
  • E-commerce
  • Selling an ebook
  • Freelance bookkeeper on Upwork…

And finally, after going through the ringer and getting sick of chasing down different ideas…

I decided I was going to find one game plan and stick with it.

At the time I was starting to go broke, as I’d spent A LOT of money chasing down different ideas…

So after a few days of thought, I finally committed to becoming a freelance copywriter — then growing from there.

Spent the next couple days searching around for the best copywriting course I could find, then finally enrolled in one after that…

And even though I didn’t understand exactly what I was signing up for, once I finished this course…

I realized that I’d learned this interesting topic known as “sales funnels”.

Now I’ll explain more on those in a second, but after realizing what I’d just learned…

I really became interested in what I could do with these funnels, then like a true mind reader…

I received an email from the instructor, which included a video that described the best businesses to start.

Now remember, at the time I was just starting out as a freelance copywriter, as I wanted to make money right away…

But I still really wanted to start my own online business after that, so I excitedly watched this video in hopes of finding my next business idea.

Deep down, I really wanted to go back to affiliate marketing, as I loved how easy it looked…

But then after watching this guy’s video, I learned that’s the worst thing you can do.

As he explained, the two “guidelines” you really want to follow when creating an online business are:

  1. What requires the least amount of time from you once it’s established…and
  2. What’s the most profitable

In other words, what will help you escape a different form of rat race…

And after that, he showed a graph that placed different business ideas at the intersection of these two, and that graph went something along the lines of:

  • Requires a lot of time, small pay — Google Adsense
  • Requires less time, small pay — Affiliate marketing
  • Requires a lot of time, good pay — Coaching/freelancing
  • Requires less time, good pay — digital products

Then after seeing this diagram, it all started to make sense to me.

This guy didn’t teach me how to become a freelance copywriter, he taught me how to build sales funnels…

Because he knew that was the most valuable asset any digital entrepreneur can have, as it allows you to leverage this information and create any business you want.

Needless to say, I carried on with my freelance copywriting aspirations after that, mainly so I could make money right away…

But after I got my bank account to a comfortable spot, I decided to cut back on my freelance ideas and start pursuing business ventures of my own.

I’m not saying it was easy, and I’m not saying it didn’t take a little bit of work…

But after going through the ringer and trying multiple business ideas, I can assure you — digital products are hands down the best business idea…

And here’s a quick primer on how you can create your own:

Step #1 — Write down different things you can teach others

There’s really not a lot of requirements when it comes to creating your own course…

BUT, there is one rule you must follow…

And that’s to only teach something you’ve done.

The obvious reason for this is because it’s unethical if you try to teach something you have no experience in, because let’s face it — theorists (i.e. people who read about something, but never do it) are the worst teachers…

But it’s also important from a sales standpoint, because you’ll have to show results that you’ve actually gotten with this knowledge…

Or else nobody will buy from you because of a psychological concept known as “authority”, where we only listen to people who have the credentials and/or experience to back it up.

With that said, everybody has something they can teach others…

So don’t overthink it right now, as we’re just trying to get a list of possible ideas in place…

Then once you have a list (of at least 10 things) down, move onto:

Step #2 — Find something that fits into one of three categories

Now in all honesty, with the right positioning and target market in place…

You can really sell any course, but most people only buy for one of three reasons, and those are:

  1. Health — Fitness courses, weight loss, diet, etc.
  2. Wealth — Make more money, investing, etc.
  3. Relationships — How to find a partner, marriage counseling, etc…

So ideally, you want to find an idea that fits into one of those 3 categories.

Also, when possible, you want to find something that’ll be a “new opportunity” for your target market…

And there’s a few different ways to explain this, but the one most people understand is weight loss.

In other words, I always laugh when I see entrepreneurs trying to sell an online course that teaches people how to lose weight by following “traditional guidelines”…

Because guess what?

Nobody’s going to buy that course, as they can easily go to nutrition.gov and get the exact information for free (plus, it’s probably failed them before – so they’re not going to try it again).

On the other hand, when you provide a new opportunity that’s not necessarily “mainstream” advice…

Then people are going to be interested in this idea.

Carrying on with our weight loss theme, a few different ways this could happen would be:

  • Ketogenic diet
  • Paleo diet
  • Vegan diet…

Etc, etc, etc…

The diet doesn’t matter, as long as it’s not mainstream and you have results to show for it.

Alright, so now that we have your course idea in place…

It’s time for:

Step #3 — Creating your course

And I’m not going to lie, from a “mental” standpoint…

This is where most entrepreneurs start to fail.

It seems like they get excited about creating a course, and love the thought of getting everything ready…

But then when the time comes to actually create the course, an overwhelming amount of self-doubt kicks in.

You’ll usually start to ask yourself “toxic” questions, like:

  • Who am I to create this course?
  • I’m nothing like that other guy, there’s no reason why people will buy from me
  • Are my an imposter?…

And a bunch of other things that can really kill your process, but here’s one easy “hack” to overcome all this…

Simply show somebody how to reach their goal for free.

This works well as it’s a win-win for both parties, because you have somebody who’s serving as a “beta member” for you…

And they usually don’t care if there’s any kinks that have to be worked out along the way, as they’re getting it for free…

Then once they do get the results, you’ll understand everything you need to do in order to teach others how to do the same…

Which is cool in itself, but the best part is that you’ll now have the confidence to move forward, and a testimonial to share with future students — which is a must for any type of online business.

As for how you can create the actual course…

So what I do first, is build an outline that’s designed to teach certain milestones.

In other words, people don’t like to learn everything at once, they love to learn enough to help them reach the next milestone…

So to give you one example of this, if you wanted to create a course that teaches people how to write a book…

The outline would look something like:

  • Module 1 — How to find your book idea
  • Module 2 — How to create your outline
  • Module 3 — Writing your first draft
  • Module 4 — Making the final edits
  • Module 5 — Adding the misc. items
  • Module 6 — Designing your book cover
  • Module 7 — Getting pre-launch sales
  • Module 8 — Publishing your book
  • Module 9 — Selling your book…

Then after you have that outline in place, you’d teach your beta member(s) how to accomplish the goal in this format, make any needed tweaks along the way…

Then start creating the actual course.

As for what format you should teach this in, the method doesn’t really matter — as long as you’re getting the right information across…

But from my experience, a “text-based” course with supporting images and videos tends to work best.

At the same time, this type of course also takes the longest to create…

Reason why most people do videos, but again, the format doesn’t matter…

As long as the information is good.

Then once you’ve finished creating your course, you can upload all the information to membership websites such as:

And after that, you’re ready for:

Step #4 — Creating your sales funnel

So remember in the last step when I said how creating the course is the biggest mental obstacle for entrepreneurs?

Yeah, that’s still true…

But if there’s one reason why entrepreneurs (who actually create a course) never succeed, it’s because they don’t understand how online sales actually work.

To give you an example of this, a couple months ago I had a guy reach out to me — asking if I could create a sales page for his course.

Now I usually don’t like doing “one component” of a funnel, as that means part of my work relies on the other guy…

So I asked if he could send me the funnel that leads up to this point, and his response blew my mind:

“We don’t have a funnel, we’re just going to do Facebook Ads to a Sales Page”…

And right when I heard that, I respectfully declined.

Not because I didn’t like his idea either, but because these types of projects are a surefire way to fail…

As nobody just buys something because they saw a sales page (well, unless they’re already familiar with you — and if you’re doing Facebook Ads, there’s a good chance they’re not).

Anyway, as for how you can actually create the funnel…

That’s a complex topic and I’ll explain more on that in a sec, but before we get there…

Here’s a quick graphic on how a typical digital product sales funnel looks:

Long story short…

From my experience, the “quick” ideas are usually the worst…

Because even though you’re able to get them up and running faster, they also pay a lot less…

Which puts you in this purgatory of “passive income”…

That requires more hours than a regular job.

This is the same reason why I think it’s important to put a little more time in upfront, create an asset you can sell forever…

Then if you can get a fully-functioning funnel in place after that, you officially have a profitable business that’s easily scalable.

P.S. And if you’re interested, I have an upcoming webinar that shows aspiring freelance copywriters how to create the exact funnels I’ve mentioned throughout this answer…

And even if you don’t want to become a freelance copywriter, the information will still help you with any type of business…

So if you’re interested, I’d love for you to join me by clicking here