Six-pack abs sell. (Photo: San Diego Shooter)
Once or twice in the past, I have referred to “someone” who has earned $5,000,000-$10,000,000 per year with e-books and cross promotion.
For that, I should apologize, as it’s not accurate: his numbers are now closer to $1,000,000 per month, and “e-book” doesn’t begin to explain what he does. That someone is named Mike Geary. He prefers to keep a low profile, skiing powder and refining his “muse,” or automated business, to a precise science. From strategic customer service in Germany, to testing for trending, it’s all piece of a well-planned puzzle and well-oiled machine.
For the first time, this post will explain how he built his business, some of the key lessons learned, and common mistakes with digital products.
As you read, keep in mind two things:
– He is, without a doubt, considered one of the smartest online marketers and traffic buyers (a key differentiator) in the world.
– He started off knowing nothing and got there through intelligent testing.
As Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM, is famous for saying: “Nothing happens until someone sells something.” Planning is valuable, but–long-term–it’s your ability to improvise and adjust that makes the difference.
Enter Mike Geary
Can you describe your muse?
My “muse” (i.e. business) is composed of three main components:
- I sell a fitness information product called “The Truth about Six-Pack Abs,” which has sold more than 500,000 copies since 2005.
- I publish a fitness and health newsletter to about 680,000 subscribers (with subscribers in almost every country), and have built a large content based website that goes along with this fitness newsletter.
- I act as a media buyer, purchasing large amounts of traffic (mostly in the fitness/nutrition niche) that I funnel to a few select partners. This allows me to become integrated into several other large fitness and nutrition businesses (they promote my product extensively on their backend) since I act as a very large source of their overall traffic.
What is the website for your muse?
My main website, which has the sales process for my “Truth About Six Pack Abs” product, is: www.TruthAboutAbs.com
[Click here to see an affiliate landing page, click here to see the standard non-affiliate/PPC landing page]
How much revenue is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?
The business as a whole (all three components listed above) generates just shy of $1 million in revenue per month. Total revenue for last year was approximately $11 million.
While the financial freedom that this business has created has been amazing, it’s also been very rewarding to receive thousands of emails in our support center from customers who have literally changed their lives with the help of my fitness advice. I still get chills when I read a glowing email from a customer that has lost 100 lbs with my program, totally changed their confidence and energy, and just overall changed their life! So cool.
To get to this monthly revenue number, how long did it take after the idea struck?
To be honest, I was a little slow in learning marketing and building the business, so it took me about five years to get to those numbers. About two years into this venture, I was finally making about $50,000 per year with the online business. As I explained above, growth exploded once I quit my corporate job, and my earnings increased about 10x the following year. Growth in following years went to $3.6 million, then $6 million, and finally $11 million in annual revenue.
How did you decide on “Truth About Abs”?
It was simple really… A mentor told me to follow what I’m most passionate about, and that passion was fitness and nutrition. I can talk all day long about fitness and nutrition, so why not do what I love?
I initially bought an information product that was about $300 (a big investment for me at the time) from a marketer named Ryan Lee. The product was all about teaching fitness professionals how to build a more successful business, particularly online. To this day, I still give Ryan credit for being the guy that got me into this career and changed my life. Thanks, Ryan! [Ed: The product Mike is referring to is no longer available. For those interested, this course covers similar content.]
As I studied Ryan’s course, I thought about my ideas for a potential information product. Working as a personal trainer, I knew that about 90% of the questions I got from clients were always about “six pack abs” or getting a flatter stomach. I also knew that there was a load of crap out there on the internet and on TV infomercials for all sorts of garbage like ab machines, belts, and worthless pills. Finally, I’d seen a ton of bad exercise advice floating around online. That was where my initial idea for “The Truth about Six-Pack Abs” came from. Little did I know that the idea would eventually become such a phenomenal success!
What ideas did you consider but reject, and why?
As crazy as it sounds, “The Truth about Six Pack Abs” was my very first idea, and it’s been the product I’ve continued to focus on throughout the years. I haven’t strayed into other businesses or distracted myself from the product that I knew would be a best-seller. I wanted to keep my focus on one main product. With that said, I do have a couple other products that sell okay, such as my skiing fitness product (AvalancheSkiTraining.com), which I produced solely because it was a labor of love. But to this day, the “Truth about Abs” product remains my bread and butter.
How did you get started? What ultimately lead you to your current lifestyle?
I started my internet business in 2004 because I had become fed up with the time and freedom constraints that came with my old 9-5 corporate lifestyle. My main goals in designing my “new life” were:
- To build more time freedom into my life. I desperately wanted to design my new life with much more free time to enjoy my hobbies, friends, and family. This “time freedom” was actually a higher priority for me than the financial rewards of starting a web-based business. And this may sound funny, but I also had a goal to eventually NEVER have to wake up to an alarm again (aside from traveling). I despise waking up to an alarm!
- The ability to travel as much as I wanted, to anywhere in the world, with no financial or time constraints.
- More financial security for myself and my family.
When I set these goals back in 2004, I was basically working three jobs. I worked an engineering consulting job from 9-5 at an office. I also worked 15-20 extra hours per week as a personal trainer at a local gym, and I was attempting to build my online fitness business.
From 2004 to 2006, I made consistent but SLOW progress on my internet business. By the end of 2006, the internet business was making just as much money as my corporate job. I quit my corporate job in January 2007, and never looked back. Quitting my job at that critical point in time was the best decision I could have made as that freed up the time I needed to dedicate solely to my internet business, which started to boom in the months that followed.
Within another year, my internet business grew into a 7-figure annual business and, eventually, an 8-figure annual business in revenue.
It may have taken a few years to achieve, but I eventually successfully reached all three of those goals… time freedom, ability to travel anywhere/anytime, and financial freedom. Oh, and — except for when making flights — I haven’t had to wake up to an alarm clock in over four years now!
What does your daily/weekly routine look like? Where do you live and what does your lifestyle look like?
It has really been a dream come true. After I quit my corporate job in 2007, I moved to the mountains of Colorado and skied almost every day that next winter. I don’t ski every day anymore in the winter (I’m more picky about the ski conditions now), but I never ever miss a powder day. For those who aren’t hard core skiers: a powder day is like the holy grail of skiing. If you love skiing, you never want to miss a powder day!
In the summer, I do a lot of hiking, mountain biking, and other outdoor fun. And because of my time freedom, friends and family can come out to visit me anytime in Colorado, so I love to host friends and act as a tour guide.
As for traveling, my girlfriend and I now travel at least 10-15 days every month. We’ve traveled to dozens of countries and done all sorts of fun stuff, like heli-skiing in Chile, ATVing and ziplining in Costa Rica, dry suit scuba diving in the Silfra Ravine in Iceland, and tropical scuba diving throughout the Carribean. We’ve also traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America, South America, and lots of islands! We plan to do more traveling through Europe and Asia soon.
When I travel, I still work on my business about 1-2 hours per day. That’s what I’ve decided personally is a good schedule to allow me to enjoy traveling and still keep up with my business. When I’m not traveling, I basically allow myself complete freedom of schedule. Some days I’ll feel like I’m “in the zone” and just work all day long, maybe 10-12 hours or more. Other days, I might only work two hours and enjoy the rest of the time doing fun outdoorsy stuff, going to a nice dinner, or golfing with friends.
What were some of the main tipping points or”A-ha!” moments? How did they come about?
In the very beginning, I had this foolish idea in my head that this flood of people would automatically rush to my website, buy my product, and I’d be a millionaire within months. Reality struck when I had a whopping 5 visitors to my site in the first month. At the time, I didn’t understand that you actually have to DRIVE traffic to your site, as people won’t just magically find you.
After about six weeks of having my site “live” and still having yet to make a single sale, I started to get discouraged and thought that this whole internet marketing thing just didn’t work. Then I had a tipping point: I got my first sale! But when I looked at the details of the sale, I noticed that the buyer was one of my mom’s good friends. I had to laugh, but at the same time, it gave me the motivation to push forward, as I saw that the website could make sales if I just produced traffic.
The next tipping point came about 18 months later when I started playing with Google Adwords, and learning how to purposely drive traffic instead of just hoping people would find the site. I’m very technically minded, and Adwords is a numbers game, so that fascinated me. Within a couple months, I started learning how to split test ads, find what converted best for my site, and get massive amounts of traffic for reasonable prices (at least reasonable enough to break even, or make a small profit on the front end). Running a massive amount of traffic on Adwords and doing lots of testing taught me how to buy traffic in other places too, beyond Google’s network.
Another big tipping point came in early 2007, when I finally put my product on the affiliate network, Clickbank. The biggest thing that I did was set my affiliate program apart from the crowd. Here’s how…
At the time, I noticed that most vendors on the Clickbank marketplace were only paying affiliates 35-50% commissions. Even the highest paying vendors were paying 55% to 60% commissions max. To some, that might seem very generous. But at the same time, we’re selling digital products, so we don’t have as many overhead costs as with a physical product and can be more generous.
I decided to be OVERLY generous with affiliates and truly set myself apart from the crowd. Instead of the normal 35-60% commissions, I set my commissions at 75% (which is the maximum percentage you can pay to affiliates in Clickbank). Immediately, this made my product more lucrative for most affiliates than other products that were paying lower commissions. I had hundreds of affiliates shift their traffic to my site instead of some of my competitors. Within a couple months, I jumped up to one of the best selling products on the entire Clickbank marketplace, out of more than 10,000 products.
[Tim postscript: As Mike mentions in the comments, this means:
“For a clarification on revenue, the way that Clickbank works is to take the processing fee and the affiliate fee out before the revenue ever flows into my account, so that $11MM ‘per year’ actually did not include gross sales numbers. With gross sales, it would be more around $20MM-$25MM per year, I’m guessing.”]
Within 6-12 months, most other top selling Clickbank vendors followed suit and switched to 75% payouts. Currently, as a vendor (product creator), if you pay affiliates any less than 75% (as that’s now the standard), it’s very hard to be competitive, because most affiliates will only promote products that pay 75% commissions.
Some vendors still have the wrong mindset and can’t stand the idea of the affiliate making more per sale than they make as the creator of their own product. That’s foolish, however, because the math is simple: would you rather get 10 sales and make $30 per sale ($300), or get 1,000 sales at $10 per sale ($10,000)? Better yet, how about 500,000 sales at only $2 per sale in profit ($1,000,000)? The answer should be obvious. The more generous you can be with affiliates and other business partners, the more sales VOLUME they can send you, especially if they’re buying traffic and incurring that cost. Plus, there’s more backend revenue potential with a higher volume of customers.
The above was a huge takeaway for me, and it led to the development of two priorities that are still at the heart of my business today:
- Treat my customers like gold. Without happy customers, any business will eventually die. I wanted people to get RESULTS! I don’t just want to sell them some fad or gimmick that doesn’t work.
- Treat my affiliates (and other business partners) like gold. Going above and beyond while being overly generous with business partners and affiliates effectively jumpstarted my business success. In fact, in additon to being one of the first vendors to pay affiliates 75% commissions, I was also one of the first vendors on the Clickbank marketplace that started to reward affiliates that sent over a certain number of sales each month with bonuses up to 85% or even 90% commissions. The additional percentage points had to be paid manually at the end of the month as a bonus.
What resources or tools did you find most helpful when you were getting started?
I remember buying lots of low priced marketing e-books about search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC marketing). Those e-books that I bought 5-6 years ago are mostly outdated now, given the techniques change so rapidly. Regardless, the benefit was that I learned how to use both SEO and PPC and stumbled onto new discoveries as I worked with both.
What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?
A couple that I can think of right off the top of my head…
I got approached once to buy an “email drop” in a list that supposedly had 5 million names. The list was apparently built through credit card surveys or something like that. I think it only cost $600 to run an ad to this list, so I thought it HAD to be a winner, and I tested it. I ended up getting 1 sale ($40) from that $600 test. Even with a list of 5 million names, that list was basically worthless since there was no relationship, and it had been built solely from credit card surveys. Compare that to a JV (joint venture) partner who has a great relationship with their list. We’ve had some affiliates get hundreds of sales from relatively small lists of maybe 10,000 emails.
I know that buying “email drops” can sometimes work (and I’ve made other successful ad buys in newsletters), but you have to know exactly how the list was built, if it’s maintained regularly, and if it has a loyal following. Otherwise, it could be a garbage list.
Another failed test was a direct mail postcard we tested. The whole campaign cost me about $30,000 to implement (postage costs, postcard creation costs, copywriting, list rental, etc). It seemed like a viable test as I had friends that had moderate success with direct mail pieces before. The postcard tried to get the user to go to a website from the postcard and purchase our fitness product. It backfired big time, as we only made back about $3,000 out of the $30,000 investment in the test. A 90% loss to the tune of $27k… No fun.
Now, I’m not saying that a postcard-to-website sales process can’t work. However, in our example, we obviously had a big missing link to the puzzle and it just didn’t produce sales. I think it’s a trickier process than someone who’s coming to your site after clicking on a PPC ad or banner ad.
What have been your key marketing and/or manufacturing lessons learned?
I haven’t manufactured any products, so I can’t comment on that. As for marketing, my biggest lessons (as mentioned above) were being overly generous with affiliates and paying them every possible penny that I could. This is the only way to be competitive with affiliates: to be the business with the biggest payout to them. Even if you have to pay affiliates 100% of your front end revenue, at least you know that you obtained those customers without incurring a loss (which doesn’t happen with every type of advertising), and now you have the opportunity to build a long term relationship with those customers and sell them your other products in the future.
Another key marketing lesson I learned is that when buying traffic, be prepared to not make any profit on the front end. Sometimes, in order to compete with other advertisers, you need to be willing to take a small loss on your advertising spend in order to bring in lots of customers. You just need to be careful to know your backend numbers (average future revenue amount per customer) well enough to ensure that your front-end losses aren’t so steep that you can’t make back the advertising loss after a certain period of time.
Any key PR wins? Media, well-known users, or company partnerships, etc.? How did they happen?
I’ve had various radio interviews, and had content picked up by popular websites, blogs, etc. However, some of my best relationships have been companies that I’ve partnered with on media buying (think AOL, MSN, etc.) Spending a boatload of money with certain big companies, and building a long term relationship with them by advertising for years has resulted in special deals for cheaper traffic. If you think about it from the publisher’s perspective, it helps to save them administrative costs by dealing with fewer advertisers, so sometimes I’ve been able to get better deals by agreeing to large contracts upfront. Another advertiser might only buy 1-2 ads, instead of the 50 ad placements that I would buy.
Where did you register your domain (URL)?
Where did you decide to host your domain?
I host with a company called Rackco. It was just a referral from a friend at the time, but I’ve stuck with them for years.
If you used a web designer, where did you find them?
The only thing I had “designed” was my cartoon based header graphics. Again, this was simply a referral from a friend, and the guy I used was a talented cartoon designer named Vince Palko. I’ve also heard that 99designs is a great place to get designs.
Do you have any employees?
I have customer service representatives in a few different countries and major markets. Specifically, I have one person in France, one Swiss for German translation help, an English-language affiliate support rep in Trinidad (he also handles Spanish translation), and one German-based woman who handles German affiliates. Finally, I have a webmaster who helps with site maintenance.
If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I’ve learned so much, even from my mistakes, and everything has happened for a reason.
What are some common mistakes when buying media/traffic?
The most common mistake is not letting enough traffic flow to see true trends. Some people shut down their campaigns after only a couple hundred clicks thinking that it won’t be profitable, but they haven’t let it run long enough to see for sure. For example, a newbie might shut down their campaign after only 500 clicks and 1 sale. But what if they would have made 3 sales in the next 500 clicks, for a total of 4 sales in 1,000 clicks? Data can be pretty variable when you’re still under 1,000 clicks. I generally test an ad for at least a couple thousand clicks. However, keep in mind that I deal mostly with the fitness and nutrition niches and they require high volumes of clicks to see true data.
Another big mistake is not split testing enough variations of ads. Many advertisers give up on losing campaigns after testing only a couple ad creatives. However, I’ve found that simple modifications — such as a one word variation in a headline or a slightly different image or background color — can be the difference between a losing campaign and a profitable campaign. In some instances, I’ve used the exact same ad text combined with slightly different pictures and seen DOUBLE the click-through rate (CTR).
The last mistake is also very common: most advertisers aren’t willing to lose money to find what works. I EXPECT to lose money the first time I test a campaign. Then I tweak the ad copy, offer, etc. based on our testing results, and we see if we can restart the campaign a second time and make it profitable based on what we learned [i.e. what lost the least money, etc.] For example, if I do a $10,000 traffic buy test on a new website that we haven’t worked with before, we’ll usually only make back maybe $6,000 to $7,000 for a net loss of about $3,000. But we also usually learn that one of our ad variations performed MUCH better than the others, and we can work with that specific ad from that point forward and possibly negotiate lower rates. Sometimes we find that the numbers are too far off to work in the future, so we just decide to cut all ties with that particular website and not buy traffic from them again if they can’t offer lower rates.
Any tips for Facebook media buying? Common wastes of money or newbie screwups?
The three mistakes that I listed in the previous question apply to buying Facebook traffic, as well. I’ve found that the most important aspect of Facebook ads is the image, so it’s necessary to test at least 6-10 variations of images for each ad. The image attracts the eyeballs first, then your headline needs to finish the job and get the person to click your ad. One thing I’ve found is that images that have done well for ads on other sites may not always be effective on Facebook. Each site is unique with its style, colors, and layout, and I’ve been surprised by some images that work well on Facebook and others that don’t.
One common mistake I’ve seen with people buying ads on Facebook is paying WAY too much per click. In my experience, you almost NEVER need to pay the recommended bid amount that Facebook displays when you set up your ad. For example, I’ve set up ads where the recommended bid amount was $1.12 per click. I’d bid $0.30 cents instead, and would still be able to get large amounts of traffic (assuming that I was able to get a high enough click through rate on the ad). In order to pay a lot less than the recommended bid price per click, you need to get an above average click through rate, so it takes good ad copy, good images, and the right targeting.
If you had $5K to start media buying, what would you do right now, assuming all sites/platforms (e.g. AdWords) were available to you?
The best quality and cheapest traffic is available on Google’s content network. That’s easier said than done, as Google is currently very picky about what offers they will allow to run. In certain industries, it’s not even worth trying anymore, because Google won’t allow some types of websites to advertise at all. But if you are advertising in an industry that Google still accepts, the content network is wide open, and it’s the cheapest source of quality traffic available in most cases. It’s also one of the highest volume traffic sources available (along with Facebook), but in some industries, the Google content network can be easier to advertise profitably compared to Facebook.
Sometimes you’ll hear marketing “gurus” say that the search network is better quality traffic than the content network. This is false, as it’s industry specific. In my case, I spent over $5 million advertising on Google over the years with fitness and nutrition products, and I can say without a doubt that content network traffic is MUCH cheaper than search traffic, and converts even higher than search traffic in many cases.
What would you do if you had $20K to start media buying?
At this spend level, you can do test campaigns on nearly any major website, as most major sites require test campaigns of around $5k to $10k minimum to get started. We’re talking about big news websites, politics sites, weather sites, and major sites like Yahoo, MSN, and AOL. From my experience with media buying, testing is all that matters as it’s hard to compare CPM rates from one site to another, since placement locations, sizes, etc. are all different. For instance, I’ve had CPM campaigns that were profitable on some sites at super high rates of $6.00 CPM or more, and on other sites, a price as low as $0.50 CPM resulted in a loss. You never know how an individual site will perform until you test.
The usual steps for a media buy on a large site are:
- Run $5-10k test campaign (most times, initial test loses money). Smaller sites accept much lower test amounts.
- Optimize the ads that performed best and delete the ads that performed worst.
- Negotiate a lower CPM rate if the publisher can go any lower (sometimes they can, and sometimes they can’t go lower — depends what other advertisers are paying on average and how much inventory they have available).
- Re-launch campaign when you’re confident that you will be able to profit.
What are your recommendations for developing information products?
Sell the customers what they want, but give them what they NEED. In my market, what people want are six-pack abs exercises. But that’s not what I give them, because that’s not what they need. They need the right nutrition, the right full body training program, and the right mindset to be dedicated to their goal. Basically, I sell six pack abs, but I teach them how to live healthier and adopt a fitness lifestyle in order to lower their body fat for life.
What have you learned about price points?
It’s been really interesting to see some of the testing for pricing. We’ve tested price points for various fitness info products at $29.95, $39.95, $47.00, $67.00, $77.00, $79.00, and $97.00. I’ve found a sweet spot in the $47.00 price point for most online fitness info products that seems to maximize front end revenue and the total number of customers. Lower price points can sometimes bring in more customers on the front end, but the backend marketing plan needs to be solid in order to make up for the lower price (especially if you’re buying traffic and need that front-end revenue to come close to break even on your ad buys).
How have you tried to minimize requests for refunds?
Truthfully, I’ve just focused on producing a great quality product, which goes a long way to reduce refunds. I know that some people are dishonest and will request refunds even though they liked the product. But I feel that, overall, most people are honest and won’t take advantage of someone on purpose.
A surprisingly common scenario for requesting a refund is when people don’t understand that the program is downloadable, even though it’s spelled out on the site. They think they’re getting something in the mail, then request a refund when they don’t. It’s best to be as clear as possible to make sure people understand that this is a downloadable program. This can prevent loads of customer service requests from confused customers. Of course, if you sell a physical product, this isn’t a problem, though shipping and delivery time may be more of an issue.
How do you test for your content pages?
At this point, it’s fairly easy to test the interest in content pages. I simply come up with an idea, prepare the article, and send it to my email list of about 680,000 readers. The open rates of the email give a good representation of how interesting that topic (email subject line) was to most people.
Also, on each content page, I have the social media sharing buttons (Facebook, Twitter, and Stumbleupon). I can guage how much people like a particular topic based on how much social media sharing occurs. I have some pages with over 40,000 Facebook likes and others with only a couple dozen likes.
Best and worst performers? Most unexpected winners or losers?
My best content pages are typically topics that surprise or shock people in some way, or clear up a confusing topic. Take note of the amount of Facebook likes, tweets, etc. on some of these pages below:
Successful example #1: “Are Whole Eggs or Egg Whites Better for You?”
In this article, I surprise people with my arguments as to why egg yolks are actually the healthiest part of the egg, and anybody eating only egg whites is making a foolish decision. This is a great example of the type of information that goes against the grain and shows how people have been misinformed by the media.
Successful example #2: “The Salad Dressing You Should NEVER Eat.”
This is another good example of a content page that shocks people. Before reading this article, a lot of people had no idea that most salad dressings at the grocery store are a health disaster, full of additives like corn syrup, unhealthy soybean and canola oils, etc. People want to share articles like this.
Successful example #3: “Does Canned Food and Bottled Water Increase Your Abdominal Fat Through Hidden Chemicals?”
This is another article that shocks most people, as it teaches them about a rather unknown chemical that they might be exposed to in canned foods and plastics. These types of surprising articles help people to want to share the article with their friends to help protect their health.
And now for an example of a content page that didn’t seem to work that well:
“The Nutrition Benefits of Kale.”
You can see this page got less than 100 Facebook likes, compared to the examples above that have thousands, or even tens of thousands of “likes.” What’s the difference? Well, I think the main difference is that kale is just not a “sexy” topic. People already know that kale is good for you, so there’s nothing shocking in this article. Compare that to the egg yolks article, where most people think egg yolks are horrible for you, and I give an argument to show why that’s wrong. It’s more shocking and therefore something people want to share with friends.
Most common mistakes and/or easy fixes for content pages?
Assuming the content is interesting and well-written, one mistake I see is that people don’t always make it easy for people to share things on their website. For example, they might just have a Facebook like button at the top of the page, but not the bottom. I like to have sharing buttons at the top and the bottom so that people see the buttons right as they finish the article. I think it’s important to have the social media buttons at the top of the page too so that people see that the page has social proof and is popular right at the beginning.
I also think some site owners can use too many sharing buttons, even more than a dozen total. I like to use the “Big 3” (Facebook, Twitter, and Stumbleupon) to keep things uncluttered.
What’s next for you?
Honestly, I just want to continue simplifying my business more and more as time goes on.
I have plans for a couple new small projects, one of which is an upcoming healthy fat-burning recipe book that I’m working on with a co-author. Other than that, one of my main goals is to maintain my current lifestyle without getting bogged down by too many business projects. I want to continue pumping out great fitness and nutrition content that helps my readers live healthier lives.
Related and Suggested Posts:
Engineering the “Muse”: Case Studies, Volume 1
Engineering the “Muse”: Case Studies, Volume 2
Engineering the “Muse”: Case Studies, Volume 3
Engineering the “Muse”: Case Studies, Volume 4
Odds and Ends: Noah Kagan competition results
Thank you so much to everyone who participated in Noah Kagan’s contest! For those who haven’t read his post, Noah made a simple offer: The reader who generated the most profit in two weeks with their new business or product would win $1,000 of AppSumo credit and RT airfare for a romantic candlelit taco dinner in Austin, Texas.
We had some truly amazing entries, and ended up having to split the prizes. Here were the results:
WINNER: Tom from RaceCrowds.com, who made $600 profit in 4 days. Tom ran a sale on his site over the weekend, using many of the tips Noah suggested in the post:
“I basically did a Motorsports version of AppSumo. I did a 50/50 split with my promotional partner and Chompon takes 10%.
Stats from Chompon.com
Total Views: 981
Total Shares: 23
Total Purchases: 6
Total Revenue: $1,350.00”
Runner-ups: Adam Nolan and Russell Ruffino from ultimatesalesfunnel.net. These two made $17,867.64 in profit… “WTF?!” Yes, they did. However, according to the rules in the post, each competing business/product had to be brand new. Their product, while new, was created four days before the contest was announced. Either way: BIG congrats, guys!
All entrants: For everyone who made an attempt at starting up their million dollar business: Be sure to check your inbox for complimentary credit to AppSumo 🙂
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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451 Replies to “The Truth About Abs: How To Make $1,000,000 Per Month with Digital Products (Plus: Noah Kagan results)”
These guest posts/interviews with real life examples have been extremely useful and motivating. Thanks for continuing to push these.
Of course! My pleasure entirely. Thank you for reading 🙂
Yea thanks Tim! These are my favorite articles of all others on your site. They aren’t incredibly complicated or ‘hack-like’ but they provide insight that is both valuable and time saving! My muse is going to be launching just before thanksgiving so this gives me passion to be the next ‘muse example article’ you post about!
One again. Amazing post Tim. One of the only places know where you can go get down to earth information. Truly inspiring as well.
Agreed – great article Tim and thanks for putting all of this together! A big thanks also to Mike for being willing to share so much about his business model. Very interesting insight here 🙂
I’ve been reading all of the muse posts on your blog for a while now. Each one is truly inspiring and gives me motivation to keep coming up with the next best idea. Hopefully soon you’ll have my muse on here.
It would interesting to see “Six Pack Shortcuts” business’s model stood side by side with Truth About Abs. SPS seems to be very well promoted on youtube and google but they’re not highly ranked on clickbank and only offer 50% commission. (if I’m reading this right) Do you have any connections to its owner Mike Chang?
I wonder who came first? :}
Anyway, thanks for another open kimono! Keep them coming!
I know you do some angel investing. I hope you’ll check us out, we’re growing in a big growth area, we think there’s serious potential. We make skins for iphones/ipads/kindles/macs/androids and more.
Thanks Tim, feeling out of it today and reading this gave me some motivation!
Interesting how someone can make so much money selling information you can get for free from more knowledgeable people like Martin at leangains
Hi GR, it’s important to realize that ALL information is “out there” for free somewhere… when we sell information products, books, etc, we’re organizing it nicely for the customer. For example, all of the information from Tim’s book 4HB is “out there” on the net for free, but why would someone want to spend months or years researching it all when they can just pay a small fee to read his book and all of that great information is organized for the reader already.
That’s the whole point of any book. Organizing information that is already out there free somewhere.
The “I can get this for free” argument is a mindset issue. I wasted a ton of time chasing after free info in my internet marketing journey.
Profits and free time with my loved ones increased when i switched to the “find and expert that has done what I’m trying to do and hire them” model.
Mike Geary’s business is a shining example of what can be built online with hard work and perseverance.
As for the content, I have the book and it’s nice, neat and organized and work great for those that stick to it and follow it.
Leangains dude is making profit too…and good on him for it.
information you can get for free from more knowledgeable people like Martin at leangains
GR, Martin’s selling Clickbank ebooks off his homepage…not sure why you think Berkhan’s running a charity.
Its called marketing 😉
Thank you – great post, no internet guru/get rich quick hype, just facts honesty and data. I would be interested to find out if you used any other methods apart from click bank to recruit affiliates.
Thanks again for the info.
Wow, I knew TAA was doing well, didn’t know they were doing that well!
Damn …. never thought an informational product would bring such revenue ..
Very excellent interview. It’s amazing how a lot of these successful people have all gone through the same or very similar struggles including wanting to give up or thinking they’re not cut out for that sort of work. Very valuable interview, thanks!
$1,000,000 Per Month?
That buys some serious leisure time.
That’s $1.000.000 revenue where he pays almost 100% for media-buys and gets break even and pays at least 80-90% for his affiliates. That means, he can hardly cover his costs for server, video-hosting, support, webmaster, etc. with the front-end earnings. He will earn a lot of money for licensing (product translated into different countries) and promotion offers from his mega big email list, which is very good, because as he says, he is delivering good content!
Mike Geary once told me the Truth About Abs. However, it’s one of those “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you” things. So, as far as I know, I am on borrowed time.
That said, fantastic piece. Mike lays it out nicely.
That’s amazing. I definitely have seen Truth About Abs many times over the years. It always was a big seller on Clickbank. Now I see why! 1 million a month is mind boggling.
The interview was pure gold. Great info that even a beginner can apply.
My hand hurts from all the notes I wrote down from this post. Great content!
One thing I would love to see more in-depth is the backend marketing process. Mike talks about that magic price point ($47) and how the followup needs to be nailed down in order to justify the margins on the first product.
What are some of the better processes in the follow-up? How do you best test email autoresponders in the post-sale to generate leads and secondary sales?
I know that sometimes your best customers are the ones who have already purchased from you, so more detail there would be great.
Wait a second – according to the occupy wall street folks – this is not possible!
The corporations are preventing us from making a life of our own!
Don’t let the mainstream media find out about this post – it could ruin their whole news cycle for the week!
Great job Tim – WELL DONE to all the entrepeneurs out there!
It’s great that he found a way to make money with something that he’s passionate about.
Thanks for the interview, I’m definitely taking notes!
Leah, your website is beautiful. Thanks for such interesting profiles, and for turning me on to Brian Cox just now. I have a feeling I’ll be soaking up his shows/books in the next few weeks, as well as your ongoing RSS feed 🙂
Inspiring post… until you remember it takes a lot of years of effort to get to see some great results…
Anyway, even if your inspiration is gone, you must keep going forward because the end results can be rewarding like the ones in this post.
this is a very good article, I myself m in the process of selling en eBook and this gave me a lot of hopeto just keep on going and testing until sales is made!
Thanks Tim and Mike (I own a Book from you both)
Would like to see net income vs revenue, but a great post nonetheless.
“Would like to see net income vs revenue”
I would say it’s pretty decent.
Yes, on ebooks–especially ones sold on 75-90% aff commissions and A-list media CPM and FB/Google PPC. It’s not like he’s making money out of thin air just because no trees were cut down.
Thanks Tim, very inspiring.
I appreciate the in depth articles on the trials and tribulations of creating, testing, and building a muse. Extremely valuable and encouraging detail that helps us all refine our business.
Funny comment about the hand cramps from writing notes…I needed a second pen myself . Wow, really really loved this interview, Thanks Tim.
Somedays I’m sure we all get so info overloaded and feel that we just can’t fit another thing into the brainsoup and then along comes something this solid to fire up the neurons and motivate action , thanks again
You write: “growth exploded once I quit my corporate job, and my earnings increased about 10x the following year”. I ask: why? Because you suddenly had more time to work on it or is there something else we should know?? 🙂
Regards from Greece,
Wait – he earns $1M/month? Or, has $1M/month gross revenue? Two very different things. Doesn’t change the relevance and usefulness of the story, of course. 🙂
“I also had a goal to eventually NEVER have to wake up to an alarm again (aside from traveling). I despise waking up to an alarm!”
I hear you, man! Great to know that even this kind of unusual and rather simple dream can lead to a great result like yours!
Thank you Tim for this awesome post. I had read all the comments from your muse case study part 1 and part 4 (500+ comments) to study what your readers want and your readers (like me) want more case studies!
And this post nailed it again, just want to say thank you for your contributions.
Fascinating. Thanks for the motivation.
Mr. Tim this is the best interview I ever read, Even in 2004-2007 it took a long time to get any business going. What I learn is that it takes time and passion for any business to take off,
Awesome article. I am working on getting my product to the masses and this was a HUGE help! Keep up the great work, Tim. I am a HUGE fan of yours.
I give him credit for his great success but I have to wonder and no offense, why after all these years and the millions of dollars does the website look so hack and scroll on forever (besides SEO reasons). I see a site like that and move on in a heart beat. Low quality products are notorious for having similar looking forever scrolling sites that overdue it with testimonials to the point you figure they are trying to hard. Why no update and such a low level of aesthetic design.. it is your brand after all? It goes to show that smoke and mirrors glitz and glam sites don’t make you money the core product does…but still…it looks horrible.
his sites look that way because they earn 1 mil a year. That’s what works. Ugly beats pretty most of the time.
It’s counterintuitive, but decades of research in direct market has proven that long form sales letters with non-slick design convert much better than more succinct, prettier copy.
Marketing an information product necessarily takes more persuasion (hence length) than a physical product. When people saw a picture of the iPod for the first time with the blub, “1000 songs in your pocket”, they didn’t need persuading; the benefits and appeal were self-evident. When you try to sell yet another course on how to get six-pack abs, you have to overcome a lot of objections, explain why this course is different than competing courses, etc. The crudeness of the layout is designed to keep people’s attention by introducing variation (sections with pictures, bold headers, yellow backgrounds, Courier fonts, and so on). It’s been demonstrated over and over again that when you try to “improve” sales letters by making them more aesthetic, conversions go down.
I’m not endorsing this style of marketing, just trying to point out that it’s extremely deliberate, however amateurish it looks to designers and non-marketers. For instance, you say that he overdoes it on the testimonials. Every A-list copywriter I’ve ever read who claims to have tested it (e.g. Dan Kennedy, Jay Abraham) insists that you can’t have too many testimonials. More testimonials result in higher conversion rates. Since Mike points out that he methodically split tests his campaigns, it’s safe to assume that the sales letter–which is the last thing the customer sees before buying–has been optimized.
Andre, very true points. I never understood the point of super long sales pages and ridiculous amounts of testimonials on these types of products until I learned a little direct-response marketing and how to create & use good copy.
I don’t want to be rude, and I know the post is old, but one thing I see he is making millions that has to prove something. He is were most of us want to be.
Holy Moly this is an awesome post! I love the very directed questions you asked Mike, thank you! I’m going through Google engage right now so that I can have a little bit of research done before I start testing my adwords campaigns for my muse as well. I love the examples in this article, stories like this get me fired up!
I’ve been working on getting my sites profitable for some time now since I started your book 4 hour work week. This really helps me understand the time frame and tools needed, like your other case studies.
Please keep posting em up!
Never thought about giving 75% commission, what an idea. I’ll run with that.
Thanks Tim for an excellent article. You really asked some incredible questions which lead to the really profound & helpful answers. It sounds like Mike is also a big believer in the power of Mindset — he alludes to it once or twice. I’d love to see a follow-up article on how he overcame the mindset of an employee to break free into his true freedom & passion.
Yo Tim, your the man!
I really loved this interview! Thank you for getting so in depth about your business.
OK, although I bought the product now, one thing I didn’t like: too much sales, after I had already purchased the product. You get to the download page and there’s a bunch of other “free” stuff. 1st of all: who has the time to read/watch all that? 2nd: we all know what “free” means when you have to have to enter your email address to get it.
Just my two cents. But I LOVED the cartoon sales video, great stuff man!
Regards from Greece,
Wow Tim, that was an amazing post! I’ve been affiliate marketing for years and just today I’m making the big step into being a merchant. That was the perfect insight and motivator – you ROCK !
Tim, You are awesome! Thank you so much for publishing this article! I am on a VERY similar path as Mr. Greary. I am so inspired and motivated, I almost want to cry. I have had a hard time with some things over the last 18 months and this proves to me that I am NOT crazy and that it CAN be done! One day when I meet you, I will give you a big hug (in a very masculine, platonic way of course) for your inspiration and letting the world know there is life to be lived!!! 🙂
Thanks for posting these Tim, very inspirational.
I’m the guy that scammed you a bit on that April Fools deal a few years back and shared sous vide with you and Mike Eades in SF a couple of years back.
As someone who has spent hundreds of thousands on Google PPC and what used to be Yahoo PPC (now MS runs it), I cannot emphasize enough the gold in this post concerning testing. It can kill you, or make you a lot of money. Luckily, I got some help quickly and ended up very well for it.
Anyway, the reson for my comment is that my wife and I created a “muse” that launched 1 July and so far, as of today, I have revenue just under 20k, so 4 months.
I’d be happy to share it with you and readers and would certainly be willing to email an abstract to see if you’re interested, if you have one of the assistants who write your blog posts contact me at the email provided. 🙂
Congratulations! I’d love to hear more. Here you go:
All the best,
I will get right on it, sir. Submission tomorrow. Thank you.
I would like to hear more about it too!
$1 million in revenue. After he has paid 75% in commissions and employees, hosting costs, traffic and then 20 – 30% in taxes….
Still not bad. My worst days are still better.
Real game’s starting at $1million NET profit per week.
Would love to hear more, Caro -> https://4hb.wufoo.com/forms/muse-submission-form/
Hey Caro, it depends on your goals whether big numbers are important or not. For myself personally, I don’t care to ever make $100MM in profit or anything along those lines. My biggest goals were more lifestyle oriented and having enough financial independence to travel/live/work anywhere in the world, take care of my family, and enjoy any experiences without financial limitations. I’ve basically done that. Experiences have always been more important to me than material things.
For a clarification on revenue, the way that clickbank works is to take the processing fee and the affiliate fee out before the revenue ever flows into my account, so that $11MM per year actually did not include gross sales numbers. With gross sales, it would be more around $20MM-$25MM per year I’m guessing.
Mike – your post here is amazing and I really appreciate the information. One further question I have is about how your product has evolved. Did your product start as something much smaller and more rudamentary, and it has evloved over time? Or did you start it as something that is very close to it’s current version with only minor adjustments/no adjustments?
Let’s get a ClickBank screenshot.
I never understand why these case studies are presented without a single shred of evidence.
You’d think as a marketer both Tim and Mike would know the power of adding validity to posts like these.
Well put mike, I can’t believe some people, they still try and put a negative spin on things,
Really inspiring mate, live it how it’s all about the lifestyle dude
Thanks for the clarification, Mike!
Mike, what did you use to build your website?
Excellent interview! Very inspiring.
Makes me want to know more about Mr. Mike Geary…
There is something that I might think is missing (deliberately?) from the description of the key marketing lessons learned.
A quick Google search reveals something very interesting. 4 of the top 10 results are sites with different variants on the topic “Mike Geary Scam Alert – Is he A Fraud and Liar?”. All of these sites are, of course, affiliates to Mike that all testify that his e-book is the best thing ever (ever, ever) written… and a link to purchase the book.
As Mike is OVERLY generous with affiliates and give the 75+%+ payouts it would be very interesting to know who his largest affiliates are and how much money they bring in!
How about that as a Muse – Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free (with those great abs)…!
Could you maybe ask Mike about this?
Hey Anthony, yes you’re right…there’s both good and bad that comes along with having a lot of affiliates. One of the problems is all of those affiliates that put those ads up saying “is Mike Geary a scammer” and then provide a glowing review. I don’t really like the negative associations with people seeing words like “scammer” in the same headline. I’m not sure it’s worth trying to shut them down as new ones just come up immediately.
However, those types of affiliates that do negative branding type stuff really only accounts for maybe 1-2% of sales. The best affiliates that drive big sales are the ones that are buying traffic. I’ve had some affiliates that easily made 6-figures per month, but I have no idea of their profits because I don’t know how much they’re spending on advertising.
Although affiliates account for about 50% of my total sales, I still produce about 50% of my sales myself through my own media buys.
I am interested in your content for TAA. How long did you take to compile your content? Also what format do you offer your content? videos, audio, or just a pdf file that the customer can download? I want to get a product up on click bank in the next month or so and was interested in how long it took you to get all the info together.
Thank you so much for the post. It is really nice to get information from inside so to speak.
Mike is not “OVERLY” generous. At least, not in the realm of internet marketing (currently).
In the online fitness world, 75% isn’t just the “standard” affiliate payout–it’s the ONLY option. That is, if you’re not offering 75%, no on will promote you.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that Mike himself set this standard by initially offering 75% (as he noted in the interview), but it’s not the only way to do business.
I can’t speak for his largest affiliates, but I know several fitness marketers who have made 20-30K by mailing ONE email that linked to Mike’s sales video.
Thanks TIm and Mike that was a really inspiring read. A question about ebook information products vs. hard copy though: Do you find you lose income from piracy with selling ebooks/things you can download? Or is it worth it because you save so much in overheads?
Yes! …. But. What’s his net? I’ve actually heard that this guy virtually prints his own money. 🙂 Big ups to him on creating the lifestyle.
I just have to say that the marketing looks a lot like the marketing for less legit products. So much internet marketing these days has that uniform “scammy” feel. The same big claims, the same highlighted and underlined phrases, the same enormous list of promises and “bonuses”. Am I too much of a skeptic? Are other people turned off by it too? I don’t know. It obviously works in this case. Perhaps the deciding factor is the quality of the product.
I agree, Joe, now whenever I see long-form sales-letter-style landing page, I close the tab faster than a heartbeat–doesn’t matter how many “glowing reviews” I’ve read on or offline. Got scammed a gazillion times by these internet marketers who scream “gold mine” while in reality they sell shit. People only need to get burnt once to grow skeptical of sales-letter-style marketing gimmicks for life.
Guys, listen to this article. I know that in 4HWW the emphasis kind of goes in the direction of creating a physical product, but digital info products are really way to go, in my opinion. There’s nothing to stock, ship, or manufacture, and you can create then out of thin air. It’s an incredible thing. The product that got us runner up status in Noah’s contest is an info product too! 🙂
Great interview, Tim! Mike G is a legend.
As a person who has read both of Tim’s books and watched countless hours of muse studies, I really liked this one. Great motivation for me to start like NOW instead of next year. Thanks for the information, the testing part makes my head spin, but that’s okay, I know where I need to start, I just need to do it!
“I have plans for a couple new small projects, one of which is an upcoming healthy fat-burning recipe book that I’m working on with a co-author.”
Perhaps this is a hint that Tim and Mike are collaborating on the Four Hour Chef? Haha, that’d be awesome.
Tim: since both your book (4HB) and Mike’s ebook (TAA) offer ways to get 6 pack abs, I’m left wondering how much overlap exists between your content and his content. Could you tell us, the folks who have read 4HB, some specific similarities and differences between 4HB and TAA? E.g. the exercise regimens are similar, one requires a more structured way of eating, etc…
Thanks! (and congrats to Tom from RaceCrowds!)
Hi Pramit. Currently, there’s no surprise collaborations planned between Tim and I on a project. Although we are planning to do some insane powder skiing this winter together!
As for 4HB and TAA differences… biggest thing overall is that his book covers such a broad range of topics as opposed to just fat loss and abs. For the training and nutrition portions specifically, Tim and I have a lot of similar beliefs for sure… in general, we both advocate a somewhat modified paleo style of nutrition with built in “cheat” days or meals. For training, I try to give my audience everything from beginner concepts like full body workouts, multi-joint exercises, all the way to more advanced styles of training with kettlebells, sprinting, etc. If I had to summarize my preferred training methods, it would be: sprinting, kettlebells, powerlifting, and athletic training sprinkled with a tiny bit of bodybuilding and lots of recreational stuff (mtn biking, skiing, hiking, etc).
Thanks for great feedback everyone on this post… I wish you the best of luck in both fitness and business!
I’ve read both. I actually got my start in internet marketing selling Mike’s TAA book as an affiliate (my site is still up and still gets sales, despite having completely ignored it for the past two years… enjoy your 25%, Mike :P).
The content is deep, with heavy focus on nutrition. As Mike said, he and Tim share a lot of similar view points, so don’t expect a lot of contradicting information. The main difference is that TAA is focused solely on fat loss and abs, where 4hb covers a lot more topics.
While I’d assume that most readers of this blog would already be familiar with a lot of the content in The Truth About Abs, I think it’s a great education for those who are new to nutrition and want to improve their lives.
I’m curious what you advocate for sprinting..
Ooh, I wanna go powder skiing with you two! I’m in ColoRADyo too, we should totally go, that is if you’d go with a Boarder.
Tim / Mike, freaking great article. So good and it deals with exactly what is missing from most unsuccessful businesses, “driving customers.” You can have the best product in the world, but if no-one knows about it, you’re not gonna sell anything or help anyone. Mike I also LOVED the fact that you’re so generous with your traffic buys and divert traffic to other companies. It fits so well with the notion that if you give freely you’ll get so much more in return. You really do seem like a very giving and great guy. I’d love the opportunity to buy you lunch sometime. Keep on killing it! Best of luck to you. (thanks again for great content Tim!)
Wow… great info! I’m finishing up a natural fertility system that is set to launch soon and the info in this post will be invaluable.
I’d love to hear about Richard’s experience too…
Another fantastic example to keep the ‘muse’ creative ideas flowing. I’ve been curious about who that was, ever since I read about this mystery man in the 4HWW. Great to see the insights.
How did it go in Melbourne? I live there, but was away at the time, such a shame I couldn’t be there. Any chance we’ll see the speech on the blog? 😉
Pura vida desde Melbourne,
Wow. I’m a college student in Gainesville, FL and I’ve created a startup group recently… We’re following all of your advice that I’ve gathered over the years (book+blog) to build a needed product based on data and testing. After we’ve made our millions, if you’re interested in using us as a case study, email me whenever you’re free.
-Great, in-depth post. I’m glad to see that you aren’t leaving your entrepreneurially minded readers behind. We appreciate it!
Have a great week
Amazing. I’ve actually checked the Truth About Six-Pack Abs, and it’s great! Doing something worth doing AND making excellent money, that’s rare nowadays. $1,000,000 a month would buy a lot of beer…and time. I want to get to there!
we are using this same approach in financial services industry. We have successfully turned a service type business into a decent muse, by using radio, and driving traffic to sites via search… not only selling financial products but also info about them… great article… I would challenge anyone who is in accounting, financial services, anything service based to think outside the box when applying this strategy… Tanks Timbo!
Being involved in marketing info products on the internet for over two years now I can tell you I’ve paid a lot of money and have received less real-world, result-based information than what Mike so candidly disclosed to us readers.
(Thank you Mike!)
He is truly one of the best marketers on ClickBank and this info is pure gold. If people developing their muse would go over this article several times to the point where the internalize it, then buy Mike’s TAA product and get on his newsletter they would get a very valuable education on how Mike does it so successfully.
Mike is one of the kings of the digital health info product industry – so you know you’re following someone who has results.
For those dreaming of a muse that will allow them to travel and have the time they want to have live the freedom lifestyle, digital info products can be a great way to go about it.
Thanks Tim for getting Mike on. Fantastic!
This was interesting, but after visiting the site I just felt dirty. It was pretty spammy. The pop-up with the double negative cancel button was the icing on the cake. He may be an ab genius but I would never hit “buy” on that website unless I was using someone else’s credit card. I mean this to be constructive criticism—wouldn’t this work better if the site looked professional and didn’t blast you with low quality pop ups?
Hey George, I certainly understand your constructive criticism and I can answer your question. First off though, you mention the word “spammy”… technically, “spam” is defined as unsolicited email, of which we have NEVER done, nor will ever. Next, you mention a “pop-up”… what you’re referring to is commonly called exitsplash in the direct marketing world and the ONLY reason we use it is to give users that don’t have time to watch the video an option to purchase since they obviously didn’t have time to watch. The important aspect to consider with an exitsplash offer is that by giving some people this option, it may be the impetus for them to take action and change their body and life. I consider that a good thing, and I’m sure they would too.
You mention making the site look “professional”… If you mean “professional” in terms of a corporate looking site, the main problem is that corporate looking sites don’t necessarily sell an information product well. And what good does that do anybody? A site that doesn’t sell simply means that both the owner and the reader lose… the owner makes no sales and the reader doesn’t get the fitness info that they were looking for.
I think the bottom line is that in the big picture, we’re helping a LOT of people take action on their fitness/health goals whether the site looks “corporate” or “professional” or simply does a good job of getting the message across.
Mike, first of all: great of you to answer comments directly like this – well done – it show you are genuine about helping people with their ftiness/health goals. In the end that is what counts and adds value to the world.
Would you mind comment on my comments from earlier today? Would be interesting to get your thoughts on your affiliate’s methods and contribution to your traffic and your sales.
Just want to say that I love the way you delivered your message in the videos. It is professional and most importantly, its unique and interesting. I kept wondering what the guy is going to draw next. And if I m not naturally skinny all my life I would’ve bought!
How did you find the artist?
And for people who are just starting off who don’t have 5-10k to test a market, what would you suggest them to do?
Thank you for sharing such insightful info man.
I would totally agree with “spammy” (even though that’s not technically correct). I just ordered the trial and that’s how I felt with all the “extra surprise bonus offers”, I really didn’t know what was an add-on and what was part of the program.
Just some feedback for you, I hope the program works for me. Congrats on your success.
You might not – but so what? Thousands of people are. Welcome to the world of marketing. Sometimes what works isn’t what’s going to please most people. There’s a reason this guy is being written about 🙂
Thats my feeling as well. No offence or anything, but why big companies spend millions on top class web design, why best user experience designers are needed, why Tim is being hired by startups to help conversions by changing the design, putting bigger button here, change this there. Im a designer myself and if this website is converting so much money then this internet is a strange place. Maybe the problem is that when you are a wantepreneur for so long, you saw so many good looking websites and you assume that your one has to be perfect to sell. Well apparently it doesn’t have to look good to sell millions 😉
Oh, there is pure gold in this post, for sure. Will be applying it in the morning
Fantastic this: “Sell the customers what they want, but give them what they NEED”..
That’s exactly what happened to me with his ads: captived by his ABS I discovered a great lifestyle newsletter. I never thought buy any of his products but he has all my trust as nutrition and fitness advisor.
I had no idea he was so successful!
Kudos this is like a movie which win Critics at Festivals and strike Box office
Great case study thanks
These are my favorite articles also. I’m sorry though, I feel extremely discouraged seeing things like 75% affiliate fee, because I know there is a +clickbank fee/credit card processing fee which has to be what? 5% at least total. So, thats $8.00 in gross profit and yes, at 10K or 100K in sales its 800-800,000 in sales/month. <— And this is the good part…
Then there is the talk about paying per click which is basically Adwords and talking about dropping a pretty serious amount of money to find out which ad is the lesser loser, losing money, then re running the campaign hoping the data stays the same and you make money. <—— pulling out hair at this point
And this is with a product with a cost of $0.00
OT, If you sell a physical item, what are the typical affiliate % for that? I can't imagine coming up with a product that sells for $100, cost is $10.00 and paying someone a 75% affiliate fee or spending 75.00 in advertising per item.
I feel like an alien from space.
I can appreciate that and felt the same way but he makes a strong point and his business is much more successful then mine because of it:
“Some vendors still have the wrong mindset and can’t stand the idea of the affiliate making more per sale than they make as the creator of their own product.
That’s foolish, however, because the math is simple: would you rather get 10 sales and make $30 per sale ($300), or get 1,000 sales at $10 per sale ($10,000)? Better yet, how about 500,000 sales at only $2 per sale in profit ($1,000,000)?
The answer should be obvious. The more generous you can be with affiliates and other business partners, the more sales VOLUME they can send you, especially if they’re buying traffic and incurring that cost.
Plus, there’s more backend revenue potential with a higher volume of customers.”
Hey Bill, to clarify on buying traffic… when we talked about needing to test $5k to $10k, that’s generally on bigger media buys with major sites (big news sites, etc). However, you can test really really small on something like adwords or facebook ppc. Or even msn/yahoo ppc too. A couple hundred bucks in spend and you can have a decent idea of how your product is working on there.
And for aff commissions, you’re right… with physical products, even the most generous affiliate commissions are usually 30-50%
Although Mike has made way more than me, I disagree with 1 little tidbit of his. To be honest,
“The Nutritional Benefits of Kale”
is just a sucky headline. There is definitely a way to sex that up a little bit. In my experience, certain headline formulas are just solid gold:
1) The yes/no question–“Are egg yolks the healthiest part of an egg?”
2) The list–7 Tips to help you keep the weight off this holiday season
3) The how to–How to fix your carburetor with a ziploc bag and an old hat
4) a MONEY figure–Why 18 year olds are clearing $70,000 a year.
5) Review (for videos)–Review of the Nike Shox 919 3rd Generation.
You can pretty much craft one of these heads for any article/blog post you write…
Big old copy and paste there for those great headline templates. Awesome. Thank you
I don’t know if this much value is healthy for us…
Soooo, have you changed your canned food eating habits after his article?
Wow..simply amazing. Thanks for sharing. I was just wondering if the same pointers would apply to those of us who sell B2B, for instance I’m skeptical of advertising on Google’s Content network which is great if you’re targeting end-users but not so much if you’re targeting resellers? Any tips or thoughts would be welcome to those of us who sell mostly to businesses as opposed to selling directly to consumers. Thanks a million.
This is a great great read. I think you are an inspiration as well Tim. You look at the world as everyone else looks at it and say “not me im going to do something different”. And you do every time. Im still struggling to come up with a muse so i can live my dreams, but I will never give up!
Thanks for the inspiration.
thanks mr ferriss and the 4hww community have just started my journey.
should it be 80% perspiration and 20%inspiration, or the other way around?
Great interview and though provoking questions. Too often articles I read online are centered around questions that nobody cares about almost like they are hiding the truth because they are worried about competition. Thanks again for the great posts!
Great post, I am currently in the process of creating a site and this has been very helpful.
Great stuff Tim! Case studies like these are real gems & highly inspirational. A huge thanks to Mike Geary for opening a little of his business success.
so… Mike Geary sells “information product”. Funny thing is that it’s impossible to find any unbiased information about Mike or his product. So he is a genius of internet marketing I guess – try searching in google, page after page of very positive “neutral” reviews. website after website created by affiliates(or his assistants in cheaper countries). some bother to post rather lame “before and after” pics.
but this is an inspiration. fitness&nutrition is a huge business and this example demonstrates that there is an unlimited queue of idiots ready to spend money on another “get slim” pill or information pack.
Just because the fitness industry is one where it’s possible to scam people doesn’t mean that everyone selling everything related to fitness is a scammer.
Your backhanded compliments are doing Mike a great discredit; his information, while not always groundbreaking, is literally changing lives by the thousands.
Glad to see this posted!
Mike Geary is one of the most standup and helpful guys I’ve ever personally met. You could be talking with him for hours and never suspect he was pulling down millions (unless of course you know who he is).
Success like this couldn’t have been achieved by a better person 🙂
(Notice I said “achieved” not “couldn’t have happened” — that’s because Mike has put in the blood, sweat and tears to get his success — success NEVER just “happens”)
Thanks for posting this Tim! You Rock!
P.S. If I’m correct though, I’d like to see an update to the original interview? From my knowledge, this info seems a little outdated (Mike already released the fat burning kitchen product a while ago — would love to see a followup!)
Tim, thank you to you for inviting Mike to share this information and Mike for sharing.
I have a couple of takeaways:
Stick to one particular product and make it specific and brilliant. Six pack abs rather than healthy eating
Stick to the project long term to get results. You need to sew before you reap. Mike did not make his money overnight.
Re invest in your business to keep it growing. As we can see from the numbers Mike pours a lot of his income back into product promotion.
Develop a product based on what you are passionate about not just what you know is hot.
I believe that Mike’s dedication and mindset is really important. Most people want to be happy, healthy and prosperous but they refuse to take the long term steps it takes. I have learned over the years long term dedication pays off in relationships and in business. This is what my life work is all about.
Thanks for the great info.
Congrats to Tom of racecrowds.com and Adam and Russell of ultimatesalesfunnel.net! I’m sure everyone here would love to know how you generated so much traffic in so little time.
Tim, perhaps they can be the next case studies.
Thanks Steve! Hit me up if you want to discuss – I’m always willing to share.
Hey Russell! I would love to hear what you have to say as well. Congratulations on the success so far
Tim, this statement is interesting:
“I act as a media buyer, purchasing large amounts of traffic (mostly in the fitness/nutrition niche) that I funnel to a few select partners. This allows me to become integrated into several other large fitness and nutrition businesses (they promote my product extensively on their backend) since I act as a very large source of their overall traffic.”
What is this model called, and where can I find out more about it? Thanks!
Hey Ben, you picked out a very important passage! This strategy has become a key part of my business. Basically, I leverage my skill in buying traffic and instead of sending it all to my own site, I send portions of it to strategic partners of mine with other fitness/nutrition businesses. Of course, I do this for an affiliate fee to cover the media buy costs, but also since I send so much traffic to these partners, they return the favor by helping to promote my content to their entire subscriber lists or customer lists. This is an added bonus for me as it gets me exposure to their lists on a regular basis, which helps grow my business even more.
Not many people would ever think to do this… most business owners only try to advertise for their own business, but by helping other large fitness/nutrition business owners get more traffic to their business, I essentially get extra exposure to all of their customers… it’s a win-win for all of us!
Although I specifically leverage my skill in traffic buying for this method, I’m sure many of you could leverage your unique individual skills to help other business owners in some form of partnership. Get creative!
So it’s a JV?
great point mike, love it
Great info! Could you share examples of the types of terms for an arrangement like this (i.e buying traffic and sending “some of it” to an affiliate?
How exactly do you calculate your ROI when buying traffic for your affiliates (i.e. is it the size of their list, previous conversion numbers, etc.)? How do you determine how much traffic you’ll send and how much you’re going to spend buying it for them?
In other words, what formula or method of testing do you use to calculate if it’s a win/win situation for everyone involved?
Thanks Tim. Great read! I really need to do something like this. It motivates me!
I received this article in the email and started reading it, then I visited the website of the abs person. And now, I am considering leaving the 4 Hour Work Week as well.
I am not interested in Tim hawking others people’s products. And I am also not interested in some x minute informercial about some dumb abs program where they tell you absolutely nothing other than “pay for our program”.
This website started out great, but to it seems it is becoming more of an informercial/mlm hawking site. And there’s too many of those already.
Wow…1 of the most valuable things I’ve ever read. Great follow up article to the Noah’s recent article.
Thank you Tim for doing this for all of us.
I can appreciate that and felt the same way but he makes a strong point and his business is much more successful then mine because of it:
“the math is simple: would you rather get 10 sales and make $30 per sale ($300), or get 1,000 sales at $10 per sale ($10,000)? Better yet, how about 500,000 sales at only $2 per sale in profit ($1,000,000)?”
The questions you had him answer are awesome. This is why I come back to your blog, because you don’t just tell a good story, you ask the right questions to get actionable information.
This is inspiring stuff! Although I don’t plan on creating my own ebook, it’s still great information on the importance of driving massive traffic to your site to analyze the trends and split test to see what’s working and what’s not for your individual site. Thanks!
I went to check out ultimatesalesfunnel.net. Two issues from the start. You can’t get info with leaving your email address. Feels already like those survey sites mentioned in the post. A site to grab email addresses. Sure.. one can enter a fake name and address. And then I see some offer expires today at 11:59PM. Really? Let me check the next day. If I see the same thing, I conclude the site is not trustworthy and it’s not genuine.
FYI, you don’t make $17k profit in just a few days without building an e-mail list – that’s what the site is for. And placing the date on there boosted conversions by over 22.3%. So while the site may not “seem” genuine to you, we were able to sell 1700+ copies of our product in just a few days for three reasons: people trust us, they love our work, and we know how to market. Oh, and our refund rate? Less than 3%. 🙂
…And boom goes the dynamite.
Russ, I bought your USF product like the second day (from WSO I believe). Randomly just kinda stumbled onto it, but I can say that I liked it, thanks!! Well priced too. Are you offering any affiliate marketing with it?
Marketing strategies may be sneaky, but you cannot judge the tursthworthiness of a site or company based on that alone. Exchange information for your email address? Absolutely necessary to survive online. The businesses that don’t collect their visitors email may not be able to survive for too long. Even the big merchants do that (Macy’s, Nordstroms, Wal-mart, etc.).
The time strategy (this offer only lasts until midnight) even though is sneaky, also has nothing to do with credibility, since people use what works, period. When I buy something online I check who is charging my credit card. If it’s a big merchant like Clickbank or PayPal I just go ahead and buy the product. If I don’t think it was worth it, if I feel scammed, all I have to do is ask for my money back, no questions are asked. I don’t know why people would hesitate and don’t “trust” this type of websites if refunds are so easy and trouble free…
Awesome post! I have been working on some digital products and this information will help a lot moving forward. Great job and thank you!
Great post Tim & Mike!!
Question for Mike. Are you selling a one-time purchase item or is there a recurring revenue stream you are generating? Reason I’m asking is that looking at Clickbank it talks about a rebill number and percentage, but I didn’t see mention of that on your landing pages.
Can you explain more about how that part of your business works? Generating incremental revenues from existing customers is VERY compelling!!
Thanks so much!
Great article Tim. I’m a Internet Marketer myself at the beginning/learning stages and this article really motivated me to keep pushing forward. Thanks a lot.
Ok, I have a really important question.
One can observe that everyone advices to “follow your passion”. But simultaneously – sell what people need…What if you cannot connect these two issues?
For example, I’m passionate about soccer, I could play and watch it all days. However, I don’t know how I could make good money with it? Especially if we talk about creating an automated business, at least somehow. I could sell some soccer equipment but that’s not the point.
I’d really appreciate your help and wise words.
Great…Great Article…! I’m actually at the point where I’m considering buying traffic for one or two new sites. The information given here was very helpful. I had a question as to what is the difference between front end marketing vs. back-end marketing ?
Such an awesome read, will be bookmarking and reeading again many times over.
I always wondered who the guy was behind all those weird unkown tip ads and it looks so much like a scam but it clearly works VERY WELL that is actually a decent product.
Great reminder on how to utilize Google adword campaigns.
Thanks for sharing this. Wow, I knew about Mike but the numbers are really eye-wateringly large!
Really enjoyed reading this 🙂
Tim, THANKS to you and Mike for this article! This is unbelievably kick-ass! I am in a weird market (foreclosure defense) and I’m not an attorney. I have essentially figured out where the weaknesses are in foreclosure lawsuits, but because I’m not an attorney and this market isn’t mature (a lot of people still think people who lose their homes are deadbeats and it’s much more complex) and I had to get creative because I was NOT going back to a law firm 9-5. I created some a website with digital products (some of which are at the same price points Mike tested, woot!) and I have a good blog that’s optimized, etc., but I want to reach more people. Right now, it’s generating between $200-$1000 a month with just linking my blog to the site, but Mike’s Clickbank info just drew me a road map to the next step.
Anyway, thanks again!
Great post. I’ve been selling/marketing Mike’s product for a year or so now and have probably raked in around $30,000 in sales from his product alone.
It definitely sells and I’m off to build my own “six pack abs product”.
Currently doing an experiment (much inspired by your 4HB book, gomad). Then cutting down the excess fat, which hasn’t been much….
Also did a 90 day transformation earlier this year where I lost 34 lbs in 90 days and got my abs visible from CKD, inspired from your book as well. The promise of much weight lost made me read like 30 more books and DO IT =)
This was a good time to read this article 🙂
Good luck with everything,
Hey Chris, Can you tell me how you got involved in selling Mikes Products? Are you in business with Mike? I would be interested in doing something similar.
Thanks in Advance
My wife was charged $160 every month for 4 months after buying this eBook. It may have been an affiliate that was skimming cards but it still has not been resolved. Perhaps Mike can comment on this.
Patrick, we don’t charge $160 for anything, nor do we have recurring billing for anything. This sounds like something totally unrelated. However, if you want help trying to figure out what company that $160 charge was for, simply email my help-desk and they’ll try to help you figure it out:
Big thanks to Tim and Mike! To Tim for asking such insightful questions, and to Mike for being so incredibly generous in answering the questions with real, tactical, meaningful information.
Hi Tim and Mike,
I always thought there might be a post about Mike here at some point! Really inspiring to hear your story Mike, and I’ll look forward to the day when I can buy you a beer!
Great interview Tim. It’s awesome to read about stories like this. There is still some hope for my online success as well.
Great info. Have you considered publishing through Amazon for eReaders? Any money in that model?
Tim & Mike
great article and congratulations on your success. This is such an inspiration that it doesn’t take forever or VC funding to create a great business. Didn’t realize that one of my web sites was an affiliate for this product.
I’ll bet you didn’t require a Harvard degree and $100k in debt to execute this brilliant business!
This article was jam packed with useful information. My head is spinning with ideas and relevant places to start getting down to business with the ideas I’ve been mulling over for some time now. Thanks for your insight. Your web log is inspirational.
Thanks for another great article. I agree that these types of posts are not only a great motivation, but also an exacting example of an idea turned into a profitable business through a bit of smart (not just hard) work.
Tim: Perhaps in future you could write about a muse based on something other than a service or product, ie: advertising. I’ve had massive success the last few months with one of my own muses, and I ended up quitting my job to pursue it full time. I think that there are probably many other people who have achieved the same sort of thing.
What I got out of this?
Let my tests run longer. I do expect to lose money on Adwords or wherever I’m testing an ad, but, I tend to micro-manage it and watch closely the first couple days – deducing trends far before I should. If I lose $100 I’m worried and start to see trends immediately! Forget the fact that I’m making $1,500 a month and could afford to spend half-a-thousand.
I’ve been having a tough time with Adwords, just not enough conversions, and running at about $8 spend per day. I’d love to have it at $50 per day and pulling in many more sales as a result.
I also ‘heard’ him say the content network is a goldmine for some products. I’ll revisit that.
Thanks for an amazing article Mike / Tim.
And here is an update for my most recent Muse. Pretty much built the site and the content in a few days.
The only thing that stinks about this is that it’s hard to make that much in every niche.
Life, Dreams (Money) and Problems are Always the best Paying Things.
I enjoyed how candid Mike was and appreciate the effort he put into actually teaching the reader something. Reading this I was of reminded of something Tim said in an interview… something along the lines of “even if you tell people exactly how to become successful, 90% of people won’t do it”.
Being a designer myself, I can relate to the comments about the site being “scammy” looking. The one thing that saved it for me was the hand drawn videos, which were very charming made me trust the whole thing a bit more.
I wonder who the average purchaser of this program is. I imagine a younger audience being highly skeptical of “Free bonuses valued at $$$” angle.
Mike’s comment about the selling point of information products being the organization of information was very interesting. Never really thought of it that way, although it’s really obvious now!
Good post, learned a lot.
Wow, to say I am inspired is really to say the least. Your success is amazing, and a great motivation to those of us who are struggling to make money online. Congrats on your great success, it is awesome!
I’m in the same niche but based in the UK. We’ve been doing OK with our weigtloss inofrmation product and your ideas about the media buying and sticking to it ave given me the kick in the pants that I need to move to the next level.
Thanks to Mike Geary for a killer interview. Stories like these always get me inspired to do more. I’ve had 7 figure success with information marketing and am striving for that great 8 figure income.
It’s Ryan Lee and I’m so honored to have played any part on Mike’s success.
Mike Geary is a guy who “gets it” and is laser-focused on building his business. And it’s a business built around his passion. A passion he lives and breathes every day.
Tim – I’m looking forward to our next conversation about “continuity income”
If you guys have any questions.. I’d be happy to answer them here.