By Alan Cutler –

This is the story of a novice internet marketer who has spent a
miserable, frustrating and expensive twelve months learning the
lessons of selling on the internet – the hard way! However, he
believes that he has turned the corner and is now looking
forward to, at least modest, future profits. That person is me,
and I would like to share my experiences with you in the hope
that your journey will be less painful than mine. I am certainly
not suggesting that the lessons I learnt are definitive, nor
will they apply to every one else who embarks on a campaign of
internet marketing. I am merely recounting what happened to me
and the problems I encountered.

My journey started in November 2004 when I attended a conference
with a speaker who was, by his own admission, an internet
millionaire. He, like me, was a professional speaker but he had
diversified into selling his products and services to this
world-wide market. Like many of my colleagues, I had previously
heard bits and pieces about internet marketing and I was hungry
to learn more. It is true to say that I was captivated by his
story and, especially, by the rich pickings that he said were
out there on the net, for relatively little time and expense.
‘Make money in your sleep’ was a phrase he used. I was inspired
– well, who wouldn’t be by the prospect of working at home for a
few hours a day whilst watching the money flow in 24/7! I bought
his pack of tutorials, ebooks, CDs etc for $500 – my first
investment in this Brave New World.

Interestingly, I write this article the day after attending
another meeting that had a speaker again telling us how easy it
is to make serious money on the internet. Whilst I do not doubt
that such people indeed do make a very good living for
relatively little effort, believe me, it is not easy! Making
money selling products or information on the net is not a quick
fix! Like any new business (for that is what it is), it takes
time and effort to learn all its intricacies. Unless you have a
product that people want to buy; a web site that sells it
effectively; and a means of driving lots of people to it, you
will end up throwing good money after bad. Hence my first lesson

Lesson No 1. Do not believe all you hear from internet experts
who tell you how easy it is to make your fortune. It isn’t!

Let me continue my story. So, off I went on my new venture. I
eagerly read the information that I had just bought, along with
lots of other advice and guidance from internet marketers. Many
recommended additional software that would make selling on the
web more effective. I took their advice and bought some of the
products they championed, for example a programme for making
attractive website banners, and another that promised to produce
amazingly effective sales pages for the website that I was to
produce. However, the banners I made were far from attractive
and when I sought advice from the company I bought the software
from, they failed to reply. As for the sales page generator, it
did teach me some good lessons but was far too inflexible and
restrictive so I soon reverted to writing my own copy.

What I did not realise at the time was that the internet
marketers who were recommending these products were affiliates:
they received a commission from every sale resulting from their
recommendation. I now know that affiliate marketing is big
business and can produce significant income flows. In fact, let
me put my cards on the table: I am going to recommend two
products to you later in this article and I will gain a
commission if you take my advice. However, these are products
that I truly believe in and have been extremely helpful to me. I
believe that they are worth every cent to someone serious about
making money. You can, of course, take my word for that, or not.
At least I have been up-front about it!

Lesson No 2. Beware of advice from ‘experts’ who may be more
interested in making money as an affiliate than in helping you.

Of course, to make money in any business you have to have a
product that people want to buy. What was I going to sell? Well,
I have always been fascinated by quotes – words of wisdom from
those who can add so much meaning in so few words. Indeed, my
first book is entitled ‘Leadership Quote Unquote’ and contains a
host of quotes from, as my publisher added to the book cover,
‘world figures – the famous, the infamous and the downright

Imagine my excitement when I researched how many people were
looking for quotes on the internet. Google estimated that over
5,000 people every day searched for an appropriate quote. I
estimated that if I sold my book for $25 and one in a hundred
people who clicked on my website bought my book, I would make
$369,014 profit a year. Wow! Even if only a modest one in three
hundred bought it I would still make $61,684. Wouldn’t you be
excited by that income earning potential?

To cut a long story short, whilst lots of people do regularly
seek out appropriate quotes, I now know that very few are
prepared to pay for them! Why should they, when they can get
them for free on other websites? I am now just about breaking
even with this particular campaign – a situation I am prepared
to accept for the time being as the website does provide me with
other spin-off benefits. However, I have subsequently
diversified and am now selling a number of other information
products, using a different website for each – some more
successful than others. Inevitably, not all sales campaigns will
be initially successful, hence you have to continually fine-tune
several aspects of the marketing process to gradually improve
their effectiveness.

Lesson No 3. It might sound obvious – but make sure that you
sell something that people want to buy.

Note: The purpose of this article is for me to share my
experiences with you. It is not designed to be an internet
marketing tutorial. I am not, therefore, going to go into detail
about technicalities such as website design, Google AdWords,
Google AdSense, market testing, copy writing etc. That said if I
have whetted your appetite and you do want to learn more, email
me at and I will send you a free ebook
all about creating successful sales websites, entitled ‘The
Three Page Site Builders Manual’ ( I make no money by doing
so!). Also, if you are really serious about creating a
profitable internet marketing campaign consider checking out the
specialist guidance of Perry Marshal, especially his ebook
entitled ‘The Definitive Guide to Google Adwords’. This is one
of the two products that I really believe in and that I
mentioned previously. A link for you to learn more about him is
provided at the end of this article.

The next step on my journey, having deciding that selling quotes
was to provide the basis of my pension fund (!), was to design a
website to sell my ebook. The most well-known website design
software, and the one that was recommended to me, was Microsoft
FrontPage so that is what I bought. Unfortunately, I found it to
be extremely confusing, frustrating – not at all user-friendly.
I did make a website but it was far from professional. In fact,
a friend of mine who is a successful internet marketer politely
commented that he would certainly not buy anything from a site
like mine!

He went on to tell me that he had recently discovered a new
website design programme called XSitePro that is two thirds the
price of Front Page and infinitely easier to use. In fact, he
was in the process of redesigning all his many sites using it.
Having faith in his advice, I shelled out $197, bought the
software and was absolutely blown away by it! XsitePro is
designed specifically for people who sell on the internet. It is
so easy to use that I am now churning out professional-looking
websites in less than half a day – and they work. In fact,
having not sold one of my ebooks for weeks beforehand on my
FrontPage site, I launched my new site, using XSitePro, and sold
one within half an hour. I could hardly believe it!

Hence, my fourth piece of advice. I make no apologies for being
so direct – if you want to produce easy websites that sell,
click on the link at the end of this article and check out
XSitePro. The link takes you to a web site that I have made to
tell the world about, what I believe to be, the best web site
design software available today.

Lesson No 4. Don’t waste you time with other website design
software, buy XSitePro.

So, once you have designed your website, you will need to
ensure that your potential customers can find it. Essentially,
you have two choices: work hard at driving it up the search
engine rankings or pay for the privilege by using Google
Adwords. Perry Marshall’s ebook ‘The Definitive Guide to Google
Adwords’ goes into great depth about making the most of Adwords
but, essentially, you bid to have an advert promoting your
website featured on the right-hand side of a Google search page
as a ‘sponsored link’. However, you only pay when people click
on your ad.

Most experts will argue that using Pay Per Click (Google
Adwords) is the best way to promote websites of limited size
like the ones internet marketers use to promote their products.
And that is what I did.

Unfortunately, though, I did not pay sufficient attention to
setting up my sites. I accepted Google’s recommended daily
budget; set my pay-per-click rates too high; advertised in too
many countries and advertised in its content network as well as
its search network. Perry Marshall’s ebook explains all these
settings in fine detail. I only wish I had bought it in the
early stages because I ended paying much more than I needed to.

So, I had set up my Google AdWords campaign and was up and
running – but was not selling any products. I was, however,
getting hundreds of clicks a day, so was ever hopeful. My wife
and I then went away on holiday and I put my internet marketing
campaign out of my mind, in the confident knowledge that when I
returned my In Box would be full of orders.

Imagine my horror when I returned to find no product orders but
a $700 Google AdWords bill. It doesn’t take much time to
accumulate those costs when you are getting hundreds of clicks a
day; you are selling no products; and your daily Google budget
is set at $50!

The lesson here is crucial. In the early stages at least, you
MUST keep a close, daily eye on your Google Adwords account. As
time goes on and you have fine-tuned your account you can leave
it for a day, or two, but initially you must not let it get out
of control.

Lesson No 5. Keep very close control of your Google AdWords
account in its early stages

I mentioned previously that you must fine-tune your ad campaign
if you want to maximise its sales potential. The critical factor
here is the Click Through Rate (CTR) – how often people click on
your ad when it is displayed on a page of Google search results.
If your ad features 100 times when people enter, for example,
‘inspirational quote’ as a Google search term and two of them
actually click on your ad the CTR would be 2%. Improving the CTR
is important to maximising your sales potential.

This is a very detailed process where specific changes, for
example trying out different ad formats or even using capital
letters in certain areas of your ad, can make a real difference
to your CTR. Perry Marshall is an accomplished expert on using
Google Adwords and I have, personally, learnt a great deal from
his ebook.

Lesson No 6. Work hard at fine-tuning your Google Adwords
campaigns to maximise their CTR and, if your website and your
product are attractive, your revenue will gradually increase

And so to the last lesson that I have learnt. Going back to
where I started, I have realised that making money on the
internet is not, as I told my wife, ‘the pot of gold at the end
of the rainbow’. However, I do believe that there is serious
money to be made by people like me who are prepared to work hard
at ensuring the three essential elements are in place, namely:

* A product that people are looking for and are prepared to buy
* A website that is effective in selling that product * A sales
campaign that directs people towards your website

Personally, over the last twelve months, I have struggled on all
three counts, and have thus paid the price. However, I have
learnt my lessons and am confident that I will now begin to reap
at least some of the riches that definitely are out there on the
World Wide Web.

I have been told that my experiences are not unusual. Surprise,
surprise: contrary to what some internet experts tell us, very
few people strike gold immediately. It takes time and a lot of
hard work and determination. It does not surprise me, therefore,
that many people who embark on the journey as I did, fell at the
early hurdles. My final lesson, and piece of advice, is
therefore to ensure that your internet strategy is sound and
then work hard at making it successful.

Lesson No 8. Don’t give up – make it work.

Here are the links for the two products that I am happy to
recommend. To see the website I made to promote XSitePro, please
go to To check out what Perry
Marshall can teach you, please see .

Being a professional speaker, should you wish me to deliver a
presentation developing the content of this article to your
colleagues or company, please contact me on

Copyright Alan Cutler 2005

This article is written by Alan Cutler. Permission is granted to
copy and use it for any purpose as long as it is not amended in
any way.

Alan Cutler

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