Getting Started

How I built a 6-figure online business in 12 months

Have you ever been told “patience is a virtue”?

That’s total BS. No matter who you are, you’ve got a limited amount of time to get stuff done.

Should you really spend it waiting for good stuff to happen to you?

No way. That’s pure insanity. You want big results, and you want them as fast as possible.

In fact, impatience is a big part of my online business strategy. Rather than grinding out tiny gains day by day, I look for ways to get from Point A to Point B — at break-neck speed.

As a result of this strategy, I’ve managed to bring in more than $100,000 of revenue less than a year after releasing my first online course — including more than $30,000 in October alone.

Screw tired cliches like “Good things come to those who wait.” Here are 3 key tactics you can use to build an online business at break-neck speed.

1. Shun passive income (at first)

Yes, I realize how crazy this sounds. We all want passive income. In fact, it’s probably one of the main reasons to start an online business.

But when you’re building a business from the ground up, sometimes it’s faster to get “active” income first — by personally asking people to buy your product.

What do I mean?

Rather than thinking of your online business like passively fishing — where you set your bait (create a product), cast your line (write an email campaign and some blog posts), and wait for people to buy — go on the prowl.

Remember, I hate waiting. I’d rather do something — anything — to make a sale now than wait for serendipity to take hold.

That’s exactly what I did when I first started offering my online course.

When sales weren’t coming in every day, or even every week, I decided to roll up my sleeves and TALK to people about joining my course.

Whenever a reader emailed me with a question or comment, I’d ask them why they hadn’t signed up for my course yet.

Some of them weren’t interested, and that was okay. But many of them just needed a little nudge.

Take a look at this email exchange between me and a reader, who almost immediately signed up for the course.

The day after this brief exchange, I woke up to this lovely sight:

As you can see, conversations like this give you a chance to systematically remove objections in real time. Plus, you’re able to give thoughtful, personalized responses to people. That’s 10x more persuasive than having them read a sales page.

Look at it like this: If someone signs up for your email list, they must have an interest in what you offer. And since you know your product can help them, it’s your obligation to challenge them to purchase it.

By the way, this approach takes just 30 minutes a day, and I’ve found it to be totally worth the effort. More happy customers equal more fans spreading the word about your product — leading to the passive income you wanted in the first place.

Bottom line: To earn a lot of money passively, you’ve got to put in the work and hustle to get active income first.

2. Blog outside the box

Conventional wisdom says you need to write tons of blog posts to grow your business.

That wasn’t going to work for me.

As I solopreneur and family man, I didn’t want to spend my time writing articles all day long.

My answer to this problem is simple: “Compound Content.”

Compound Content works like compound workouts — you get twice the results in half the time.

What makes Compound Content so powerful is you kill two birds with one stone: You educate your readers (which is what they come to your blog for) and you also make them want to buy your product.

Best of all, Compound Content does this without ever making your readers feel like they’re being sold to.

Here’s an example from my site: My course teaches people how to make money on the freelancing site Upwork. So I wrote a blog post that teaches people how I became a freelance copywriter in 2 days without any previous experience.

By getting people excited about how quickly they could start their career in copywriting, the post created a reason for them to join my course and start making money.

It’s similar to how bars give you free salted peanuts, which taste great, and also happen to make you thirsty. So you buy a drink. Boom. That’s Compound Content in the real world.

Check out some of the responses I got from that one blog post:

These customers were practically clamoring at the gates to get into my course.

What’s even more amazing is that the post didn’t even mention my course! Yet it’s brought in tens of thousands of dollars in sales. That’s the power of Compound Content.

Bottom line: Why work your ass off writing a zillion blog posts, when you can create a smaller amount of Compound Content that works for you instead?

3. Streamline PR

Most people think that getting a story about you (or your business) published on a major news site is:

  • Something that only happens to big-name bloggers
  • All about who you know
  • A long, complicated process

None of this is true. Getting massive media exposure isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think.

For example, I wrote an article for Business Insider about how I became a freelance copywriter and started making $100,000 a year.

When you think about it, there’s nothing really remarkable about this. Millions of Americans have six-figure incomes, and millions of people freelance.

And yet you can turn this mundane story into something that’s very “newsworthy” — if you do your homework and present the material in the right way.

Take Jennifer Bertrand’s Huffington Post article about *not* finishing a marathon as another example. What could be more ordinary than NOT completing a race? But Jennifer found a way to make it interesting enough to publish on HuffPo.

To do this, you don’t need to mess around with press releases, social campaigns, or other PR wizardry. Here’s the simple process I used to turn my ordinary story into something extraordinary and get my article published:

Step 1: Scour major news sites for subjects related to your business. In my case, I looked for stories about:

Step 2: Make a list of all the articles you find. Then create a shortlist of the ones that have the most views and comments.

Step 3: Come up with an idea for an article that is RELATED to, but different from, any of the articles on your shortlist. (Remember that something as plain as competing in a marathon can be enough, provided you tell the story in an interesting and relatable way.)

Step 4: Email the person who wrote the article and pitch them your story idea in three sentences or less. Alternatively, you can write your story and submit it directly to the site if they accept guest post submissions. (For example, check out this Business Insider page that tells you how to become a contributor.)

Again, this doesn’t have to be anywhere near as complicated as most people think. It took me just 2 weeks to get my first major article published this way. Big news sites run on content, and they love to hear good ideas from people just like you.

How patient are YOU?

Have you ever felt pressured to be patient, when you really didn’t want to be?

You don’t have to wait it out. You can go after what you want, as fast as possible. Use these tips to accelerate your online business’ growth.

I’m curious: Have you found ways to rapidly grow your business where most people get stuck waiting?

Share your best tip for fast growth in the comments below.

There Are 42 Comments

Join The Conversation

I like how your write about it is ok to not be patient. Totally checking out your site Danny!

I really agree with the point about big gains in PR. Spending time to add value for (and build a relationship with) an influencer who might share your content can pay such big dividends. I can see how applying that to article writing does the same thing. Thanks Danny!

Danny: great (real life true) story.
I have been hatching my niche for over a month.
Suddenly it opened for me. Now the whole world is turning into an opportunity.

The reason I am writing is to point out that by interacting with your “likely suspects” you are surveying them to find out what the objections are and getting paid for it. Gather a few objections, stick them in an email and you will have less people to call.

Next time you could try emailing your suspects and asking them for their objections, That would be a low pressure sales technique.

BTW when I get a little more ready with my project I will be in touch!

I dont have website yet.
Working on my internet “product” niche for about 6 weeks now. Finally it hatched. now the whole world looks like an opportunity, which is why I am writing to you.
By calling your prospects and asking them to enroll with you, you are in effect surveying them and getting rewarded in the process. When you get a few objections you can send them to the remaining prospects with comments or solutions and ask them to get back to you with their own personal objection(s). Snowball. Soon you will have more objections and members than you will know what to do with.
I will be back in touch with you later (soon) to let you know about my snowball.
It is all about how you look at things.

Oleg Starko

> you’re making money selling how you became rich by writing about how you became rich…

Danny became rich waaay before he created his freelancing course.

He quit his job, started freelancing full-time, brought in 50+ grand in the 1st year, and 100+ grand in his 2nd year. Then he just documented his process and packaged it as a product.

Nothin’ circular about it.

Oleg Starko

Shit, even though I’ve followed what you did since, like, January 2015, and even as I was reading this post, it still seems absolutely bananas. You’ve accomplished more in a year than 99% of wantrepreneurs do in a hundred, Danny. Great job. :)

P.S. What’s the deal with 15 repeat customers? To my knowledge, you only have one course at one price… Did 15 people buy it for their friends? :)

Step 4 in your PR section can’t be understated: making an email SHORT and to the point can be the difference between having your email read and having it be discarded.

Following up on your leads is also crucial advice – just because they didn’t respond to your first request doesn’t mean they’re not interested. It may have been that they weren’t in the mood to read it. So, I focus on following up at weekly then monthly increments to put the proposal in the top of their email inboxes is effective.

Thanks for this very motivating post.

Just asking, you made no mention of Ramit’s course. Did it play a big part in your own success?

Thanks for sharing this Danny. I especially like your ideas for getting featured with guest posts and taking your income into your own hands by direct interaction with potential customers. As I’m thinking about creating some courses as well, I’d love to hear about how you determined your pricing structure and what you’d provide for the price. I’d imagine that in some cases you might put together a course that’s so great you’re at risk of pricing yourself out of the target market, and at other times you might learn that there are better options that cost less and you aren’t competitive. It looks like you’ve overcome this obstacle quite successfully, and I’m sure many other people besides me would be thrilled to hear your strategy.

I wouldn’t worry too much about this when you’re just starting out. One thing I learned from Ramit is that you can always raise your price at any time if things go well, but you don’t want to lower it, so start out with some room to grow and you’ll be fine. That’s what I did and it’s working out great.

Very, very useful piece, Danny. I started a course called “Write A Blog People Will Read,” based on my 30+ years as a professional writer (the last eight of them as a full-time blogger for well-known personal finance sites).

Are sales what I wish they were? Nope. So I’m going to take a leaf from your book and write a letter to newsletter subscribers who haven’t bought the course to ask them why.

Thanks for the encouragement, and congratulations on your well-earned success.

Love this! Great insights from a guy who has made it happen. You’ve broken down details on various sticking points that you and others have had and given really clear, concise methods for getting through each. Bravo!

My biggest grow strategies involved personal optimization, followed by relentless outsourcing. I’ve learned in the past 3 months due to breaking my shoulder that I can’t and should not do everything myself. During that time, I struggled with what I could do myself and what I truly could not.

I learned to re-evaluate what was essential for my job and my businesses and then optimize my schedule – living by the calendar. Everything that I did not need to do or was better suited for someone else became an opportunity to outsource. I used sites like Fiverr and Freelancer to get things done without me having to do them myself and my life has never been the same.

Now I focus on planning and developing the strategies I need to have implemented. Then I pair up tasks with trusted freelancers to help me get jobs done.

Examples of work outsourced – researching bio of person I needed to reach out to, aggregate list of over 500 prospective clients with contact info ($50), post production video editing (40 min for $10), scheduling travel arrangements (agents do this for you for FREE, they get a commission on the sale of the trip), etc…

Exactly. Now he no longer has to freelance. Because he charges people $200 to take his course.
I’m all for people making money, but the internet is full of people creating get rich courses. Yawn.

So you’re saying that the more honorable thing for Danny to do would be to just continue freelancing forever, rather than package up his expertise… help hundreds of struggling freelancers in the process… and profit from it more than freelancing would ever allow him to?

I’m not sure his students and success stories would agree with that logic :)

Jan: I am one of the earliest students Danny has for his course. It is not a get rich course, it is a better way to present yourself. He also has a very active forum where the students share their success and how they followed the steps. Many do very well following the suggestions in his videos.

I was a freelance writer for a scuba diving niche before starting the course. The writing was to supplement my retirement a bit. I earn the same now as I did before the course, however, I only working 1/3 the number of hours. I seldom use Danny’s methods any more, because I seldom have to find new clients.

hey man, nice content and thanks for sharing. I run an awesome Fat Loss course, the problem is I SUCK at internet marketing. I’m too busy developing good content for my clients to work the SEO angle etc. Your content is useful so thanks again for posting it up. Corey Hinde – Online Fat Loss Coach

Does anyone know if the pay rate for an online magazine / news site factor in page views ? Is there potential for residual income ?
Thanks for the great post, Danny.

Yes.

There are lots of people who wait “for better times” or whatever. Maybe they assume that good things will happen if they just wait patiently…
Wht I think is: Most people try not to be responsible for themselves and their situation. Like Ramit wrote, it’s the government, the parents, the society, THE RIGHT TIME.
No. Get your ass moving. Nothing will happen if you don’t MAKE ist happen.
Thanks for your post.

Cheers,
Denis

Wow. It’s two weeks into the year and already the content on this site + Ramit’s blogposts are killin’ it. It’s going to be a great year – thanks so much for the granular levels of detail :)

Excellent article, Danny. I find myself having feelings similar to the individual who emailed you saying that they were afraid of finding success as a freelancer. My husband and I have been talking about launching a business for the last couple of months. He is a phenomenal guitar player, and I really enjoy burning my art on guitars (still working on a catchy pitch for this!). Your writing is another push for me, saying “now is the time! You have a list of actions that will get you started. So do them!”

Thank you for this.

What a timely post, I created my first product last year and launched it in November and made nearly $6,000 in my first week, going through the process has made me feel that there are no limits and I quickly want to start generating $10K a month as quickly as possible so thank you for the tips :)

Danny –

Congrats on your success! Looks like you’ve been both strategic and diligent so I’m not surprised. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned, this is great content. The proactive approach to enlisting customers (and finding out and addressing their objections) is spot on for the first few go arounds and a great reminder for me.

Taylor

Great writing, to the point, personal, motivating without the BS, providing lots of actionable ideas – you can really write dude – thanks, congratulations and have a great year.

Awesome Danny!
I started my email list more than two months ago and finally got my first organic subscriber today. I have a free offer on my site now and working on building my first product at the moment. I know the sooner I create a compelling offer, the sooner I will start generating revenue. It is just a matter of believing in yourself and being in action. It’s like Denis said, you got to get your ass moving. That is how I achieved all of my fitness goals and it is going to be the same for my online business goals.
Appreciate all of the details.

Plan your actions and make it happen! Less assumptions, more action. Then you will learn faster and won’t have to think: “What happens if I try this or that”. You will get the answer right away and you won’t have to think about it anymore.

Great post! Can’t wait to reach Danny’s current level myself :)

Thanks Danny and Ramit for sharing it! I really need it!

(sorry for my mistakes, Polish lad…)

Excellent post! Incredibly thorough and inspiring. It’s always nice to see real life, black and white examples of a success story.

Excellent insight, and undoubtedly true. Danny is the real deal. He is one of the most tenacious and intelligent people I know. But what makes him unique is his dedication to his students. This is an example of a genuine guy, who followed a process, and now teaches others how to find success. He isn’t full of empty promises. He isn’t full of “get rich quick” BS. He is full of presenting reality in a way that makes others believe. I can honestly state, without reservation, that Danny has changed my life. Give him the chance and he will change yours.

Danny thank you for sharing your knowledge with us! Can I use these same principles when seeking mentors, such as asking/approaching someone to mentor me? Do you have any advice?

Ramit has put out some great content about approaching successful people. Noah Kagan has some great advice there too. So if I were you I’d look that up–you’ll love it.

What a great and wonderful value-adding blog post article by Danny Margulies. I have been a reader of Ramit’s articles for a little over two years now and love the straight forward posts written. Timely and practical, this writing compels one to action rather than passively getting stuck in one’s head. I started a personal reflections blog — brendalineblogs.wordpress.com — a little over two years ago, and in time, envision incorporating a consultation or life/health coaching aspect to help my readers in their personal and professional lives, really connecting with them, listening and understanding their needs firsthand, while providing a personalized, one-on-one coaching session. I am currently an undergraduate student, but know that with time, the knowledge and skill I gain in the classroom, and in Ramit’s learning materials, and guest post like Danny’s makes all the difference. Confidence and adding value to others is the key to success that I continue to aspire toward. Thanks for sharing an amazing article! To your health and wellness in 2016, and beyond! :)

pamela noland

believe it’s time to challenge limitations conquer fear and doubt and go balls to the wall no such thing as can’t, I can, I believe all things are possible and there’s everything to explore,discover and gain.

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