The Truth About Abs: How To Make $1,000,000 Per Month with Digital Products (Plus: Noah Kagan results)

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.

Enjoy…

Enter Mike Geary

Can you describe your muse?

My “muse” (i.e. business) is composed of three main components:

  1. I sell a fitness information product called “The Truth about Six-Pack Abs,” which has sold more than 500,000 copies since 2005.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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!
  2. The ability to travel as much as I wanted, to anywhere in the world, with no financial or time constraints.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)?

GoDaddy.com

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:

  1. Run $5-10k test campaign (most times, initial test loses money). Smaller sites accept much lower test amounts.
  2. Optimize the ads that performed best and delete the ads that performed worst.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.

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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 over 400 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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449 Replies to “The Truth About Abs: How To Make $1,000,000 Per Month with Digital Products (Plus: Noah Kagan results)”

  1. Hi Tim, thank you for the valuable information in this interview, its so important to have real life case studies especially when you are at the beginning stages as Mike has described the first couple of years.

    I had seen ‘TheTruthAboutAbs’ ads all over the internet the past couple of years and its great to know the story behind this success.

    Keep the great info coming!

    Pavlina Papalouka

    New Lifestyle Movement Blog

  2. Hands down one of the best blog posts I have seen in a long, long time! Very inspiring to see him take one product and make it into one enormous empire. I will be sharing this with my email subscribers very soon. Great article! Thank you!

  3. I like how he mentioned that he stuck to something that he believed in and had a passion for.

    I think that’s what you got to do, is do what you feel inside. I wrote a book on how to make fitness effortless after struggling 7 years with determination and discipline.

    I heard if you practiced anything for 30 – 90 days, it will become a habit. But I followed a program to the letter for 270 days without failure and it never ‘clicked’.

    So I realized that it was totally in how you frame things in your mind. Think about it…some people can go out and run a hundred miles, but some struggle to lose five pounds. Does the person running a hundred miles have a hundred times more discipline than the other person. I know from experience that it’s not possible, it’s just they view things differently.

    1. You’re right, framing is VERY important, you can take the 30-90 days as a “rule” for non emotional skills, BUT if you’re very attached emotionally and your mindset is not in the right state you’ll be self-sabotaging yourself all the way.

      1. It’s been said that “perfect practice makes perfect”.

        You will habituate what you constantly do/think/etc.

        Will power might get you to an improved body but if your ingrained mind is against you the whole way, you’ll probably revert to your mental habits.

  4. Yet another great article Tim. All your articles displaying real life examples of successful muses have been my favorite. Extremely inspiring. They always give me a kick in the ass.

    Keep it up,

    Larry

  5. This interview really struck home for me. As I read through Mike’s story I felt as though he was describing my current situation. I have an excellent 9-5 job that pays all the bills, but hate waking up to the alarm. Like Mike, I have a passion for life and fitness. I also have a military background. I decided to put these two aspects of my life together and started building a workout routine. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read that you only got 5 hits in your first month. It’s unbelievable and inspiring to see how far you’ve come. I got a few more than 5 hits in my first month. I’ve had my site live for about 6 months and have zero sales… To be fair, I’m not selling anything.. yet! I’ve been putting out my knowledge out there to see if people are receptive and continue to visit my page. It’s been going well so far. With everything I just learned in this blog and your inspirational story. My goal is to earn myself 25k by April 2012. I have no idea how this will be accomplished, but I won’t give up and I appreciate you sharing your story. I’ll be taking notes and tracking your site. I may need to read your book soon to dissect your style and look for more secrets to your success.

    Cheers Mike, thank you.

    Tim, thanks for the great books!

    Manny

  6. Since I’ve read this article, I’ve been seeing ads for this thing everywhere. I decided to look into it a little more and I love his sales video. It hits so many great points!

    Thanks for this example!

    1. I have to wonder whether that’s your brain’s filtering/deleting mechanisms now letting TAA through to your consciousness or whether Google is working its ad focusing magic.

  7. Great interview. There is some valuable info in here that internet marketing courses charge hundreds of dollars for. As someone who is just starting to experiment with ad buys after being focused entirely on content marketing/seo, I will certainly take some pointers from this article.

    Thank you.

  8. Thanks for the extensive write up. I appreciated all the very specific questions and the thorough answers from Mike.

    That was also pretty inspiring, especially starting from nothing and no experience, to doing Ok, to quitting the job and then having his income multiplied by ten the next year, but only after a couple years of smart work.

    I like the combination of how Mike followed his passion, and then was very calculated with his testing of strategies.

    You really can’t go wrong with the intentions that are behind this product.

  9. Wow, Tim. This is an amazing article. Thank you for being so in-depth. I will be passing this along to classmates and colleagues. I think this is probably the best blog post I’ve ever seen. This is my first time visiting your site, and I’ve already subscribed on Google Reader. Thank you and congratulations on doing great work.

  10. Always great to hear of people that have escaped the 9-5 race. I just got out and working very hard to stay out :-). I need to implement some if not all of these ideas… Thanks Tim.

    1. Hi Griselda!

      It’s always great to come across people who have made it to get out of the 9-5 rat race, even more after having been inspired by Tim’s 4HWW. If you’d like to, please check out my 4HWW Success Stories site where I have interviews with people who have either made it all the way to a 4HWW or who are on a very good way and have therefore great info to share with the 4HWW community. You’ll find more info about it on http://www.4hwwsuccess.com

      Best regards from Greece,

      David

  11. Great article, Thanks Mike and Tim.

    I was actually running some PPC campaigns for TAA for a while to a page I had on one of my sites talking about the product until Adsense suspended my account for it being a bridge page. The campaigns were working quite nicely though. Although bing/yahoo will still take my ad dollars. Just seems a little stressful though, spend $300 to make $350. I stopped doing that for now as I feel my time is better spent creating content for my own sites.

    The time freedom really is the driver for me. Although I really like my day job in SEO, I would love to be able to travel more (my wife and I hit the Caribbean a few times a year for diving). Especially I dream of being more of service as far as travel and volunteering. To get involved with local cultures when traveling and volunteering time to local organizations. To be free to travel and spend 2-3 months at a time somewhere.

    I think one reason Mike is so successful is (from his response):

    “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”

    It seems that through all the talk, the main purpose behind Mike’s message is helping people. I’d bet that’s why he’s successful + a lot of hard work and patience.

    “The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning—to create a product or service that makes the world a better place. So your first task is to decide how you can make meaning.” – Guy Kawasaki (The Art of the Start)

    Thanks again for the great in-depth article.

  12. Thanx a ton for taking the time Mike and great interview Tim.

    I have read alot about affiliate marketing and have wanted to start for years but was never really sure where to start.

    For a guy starting up with this business, where had you started if you was gonna start right from the beginning like in my shoes.

    What products would you bought to educate yourself on how to proceed with this business etc? need some help and would mean the world to me 🙂

    Thanx

  13. I think this was the first time I ever read the whole interview. Great stuff and i’m sure you have inspired many people from this one post. Thank you both for your time and effort. I hope to capture an audience a fraction of this magnitude and someday

  14. I have a question for all of you like minded people,

    So I made a site about a year ago, http://www.bonsaiboss.com, and I am getting lots of traffic but almost NO conversions…… Yes, I sell bonsai trees, kinda weird right? For example, last month, my checkout page was viewed FOUR HUNDRED times which is awesome, but only 15of those people actually went through and bought a bonsai… is there something glaringly wrong with my site that is causing people not to convert? Any input or adivce would help. I already put up a double your money back garuantee, which helped, but not a lot obviously. Let me know what you guys think if you have time

    -Tim

    1. Your conversion rate seems pretty high to me! 400 page views is not a lot, actually, this is nothing and you managed to convert above 3%. And 400 page views doesn’t even mean 400 UNIQUE VIEWS. Still, the “real” average conversion rate for most sites is between 0.5 and 2%, you’re converting at more than 3% and you’re wondering what’s wrong? Maybe you should focus on getting more traffic, your site itself doesn’t seem to be the problem.

      1. Marie,

        Sorry I feel like I did not expalin this thoroughly enough. My site, on average gets about 1500-2000 visits per month. Of those visitors, 400 of them click through to the checkout page- but from there, only about 15 will actually buy a bonsai. So my conversion rate is more or less 1%. It just seems odd to me that I get so many views on the checkout page, but that so few people go through with it…. which brings me back to my original question of how can I optimize my checkout page to convince more of those people to buy? It is no problem getting them to the checkout page, but they are stopping there…. thoughts?

        Thanks!

        -Tim

  15. This was a fascinating read thanks. I would love to hear more from Mike, especially on Media Buying, I’m a full time internet marketer, but I think of all forms of traffic, Media Buying is the one that is so misunderstood, and aside from advertising on the main ppc networks, it is the one we struggle with most. I would love some more advise direct from the horses mouth on media buying, testing, scaling, expectation when starting out.. Anyway, thanks for the post, very inspirational and shows there really is no limit if you take a professional approach, monitor the stats, and of course plan for scale and setup systems so you aren’t tied to your desk 🙂

  16. Mike, this is a great interview. I have a question about site conversion rates. However you get your traffic, once they land on your site is when the real sales start. What kind of conversion does your site receive on average and what is your seasonal lows and highs? What factor contributed to your largest spikes in conversion? The videos? Testimonials? Email signups?

    Thanks and I wish you continued success!!!

    1. Chris, you ask a great question about conversion rates. Unfortunately most internet marketers have ZERO clue how conversion rates work in a niche like fitness, and on “cold” traffic from advertising vs “warm” traffic from an email recommendation.

      Generally, cold traffic conversions from a banner ad, ppc ad, etc usually range from 0.3% to 1%. The avg is probably in the middle there somewhere. This is a standard “cold traffic” conversion rate for all of the top selling info products. Nobody, and I mean nobody converts at these mythical 2-3% conversion rates on a mass appeal product like fitness/diet that you hear all of these marketers spouting off.

      However, conversion rates for “warm” traffic when somebody mails their list usually ranges from 2% to 10%, depending on the relationship with that list, and how they position the link in their email recommendation. Warm traffic conversions can range VERY highly based on list quality and and the pre-selling in the email itself.

      1. Chris, the other thing about conversion rates is the quality of the traffic source that the ad is located on. Think of these 2 scenerios:

        Scenerio 1.

        Your ad is positioned on a teenage gaming website. You get thousands of clicks from these teenage dudes (because they ALL want six pack abs), but you get ZERO sales, because teenagers don’t have credit cards.

        In this case, your conversion rate would be zero.

        Scenerio 2.

        Your ad is positioned on a website that has users with an older demographic that is more affluent…let’s say golfers for example. In this case, you might convert off the charts for a product like mine, as middle aged men are our best converting demographic.

        See how your conversion rates will be drastically different based on the source of the traffic and the demographics of that traffic… in these 2 scenerios, teenage guys vs middle aged affluent golfers.

        BIG difference in conversion rates even if you used the same banner ad for both sites!

        You can see how complicated this can get if you’re advertising on networks that compile thousands of different sites. That’s why I usually focus on individual sites to advertise on.

        Great question!

  17. Mike, great post. I think reading your comments was as, if not more, educational than the post itself… so thanks for that.

    Anyway, one quick note I had after reading some of the comments regarding your product.

    I can only speak for myself, but I thought TAA was worth the $ (I bought my copy over 2 years ago, so not sure how much it changed or difference in pricing now.) For me, the best part was the focus on nutrition. Been trying to adhere to that as much as I can, although I’m still not sure what sprouted grain bread is 😉

    Anyway, thanks again and congrats on your numbers – amazing (and truly inspiring) stuff!

    Cheers,

  18. I love this case study with a passion Tim. Really inspiring. I know this is a sucky question, but how does old Uncle Sam get his piece of Mike’s pie? if at all? Also is there any ‘shelters’ to use in a scenario such as this?

    1. This was an extremely insightful post.

      But, don’t do what I did after reading this post. I signed up for Clickbank and then promoted Mike’s product using ads on PlentyofFish. I sent 1,404 people to Mike’s site, 51 of them visited his checkout page, and only 6 of them bought one of his products. I was paying $0.15 to $0.25 per click which is reasonable in the US market, but the product would only be profitable if I could get clicks for $0.05 which is almost impossible to find in the US.

      Based on these results, I can’t recommend running any type of US-based PPC campaign for Truth About Abs. It could be a viable affiliate deal if you have a large email list though.

      1. Ryan, actually your numbers aren’t that bad and it appears like you could have made a profit. 6 sales out of 1400 cold traffic clicks is actually a pretty good conversion rate in the fitness/diet field. Test any top selling offer and you’ll see what I mean. I’ve run paid traffic for every top offer so I know the numbers like the back of my hand.

        Let’s look closely at the numbers. As an affiliate, you make an avg of $40/sale (that’s the avg payout per customer, you can see this listed on clickbank). That means you should have made about $240 on those 1400 clicks. Essentially this means you earned about 17 cents/click. So all you have to do is test ads that get a high enough CTR to pay lower than 17 cents/click. Certainly possible if you test enough ad variations. Now you can see how the game works. This is what I do… make ad numbers work by testing lots of variations!

      2. Mike,

        When you say that you tests lots of variations, do you have a methodology or strategy when doing so? Any tips or a good book you recommend for trying different ad variations? I’m sure it can get pretty complicated like you eluded to in previous posts. I’m new to this and really appreciate you sharing all of this great info!

  19. What I learned from this interview, and the bunch of other stuff it inspired me to read about web marketing, is the importance of market research. I was amazed that with all the trainers out there looking to offer the same basic product as this, Mike was able to find a way to differentiate himself from all the rest. In my opinion it is due to his great understanding of the web marketing system, though I have no doubt he is offering a solid product. Thanks Tim, incredibly motivational.

  20. Great article! I am interested in learning more about affiliate marketing. Clickbank seems to be only for digital products – can anyone recommend some well respected affiliate program administrators but for physical products?

  21. Great article.

    I may have missed this in the comments, but why is Mike’s ski website contain nothing about skiing?

    Does anyone else find this a little peculiar…? Was one of the purposes of this article to market an info product to loyal readers/entrepreneurs of 4HWW?

    Just curious.

    Thanks.

    1. Jason, sorry for the confusion. The ski site has always been about skiing fitness… however, last weekend (apparently when you looked at the site), for about 24-36 hours, my assitant had screwed up the nameservers when he was transferring my domain to our new hosting, and for that reason, it showed a business site instead of a skiing site for that time.

      nothing else going on there except a stupid error on my assitant’s part. Sorry if that seemed a little peculiar or confusing.

      The ski site only gets about 500-800 visitors/day so it wasn’t a major error. My main TruthAboutAbs site gets more like 100,000 visitors/day, so if an error like that happened even for 10 minutes, it would have been a big deal.

  22. I’m an affiliate, and I can honestly say that I learned some great info in this article. I didn’t know half of what I just learned, and I’ve been doing research on this stuff for a while. Look forward to making some money with Mike.

    Thanks!

    Aleks

  23. this post was really inspiring. the longer I am in the Internet Marketing game, the more I realise that the simpler your strategy the better your chances of success. the reasons he outlines for getting into this: 1)more time 2)more travel and 3)increased financial stability and independence are the three things I am aiming at as well. will bookmark this!

  24. Fantastic Post.

    Its great to see how much success can be generated from one information product, when the right things are done properly. Making your product known to affiliates seems to be the big challenge, and more of a priority than getting the word out to potential buyers.

    Really inspiring!!

    Ian

  25. Nice! The fitness industry is stuffed. Just repeating the words like fitness, health and diet makes me cringe. But there’s a handful of people doing great things.

    1. Hey Jonathan, honestly it’s been a long time since we’ve kept exact track. A couple years ago, we were approaching 500,000 copies sold. Nowadays, it’s easier to just say “with more than 500,000 copies sold” since I haven’t kept a running tally for a couple years.

      What’s most accurate is monthly volume… we typically do 10,000 copies on a slow month, and as much as 22,000 copies on a high volume month (like January). Also, clickbank gravity doesn’t lie… and TAA has been one of the highest gravity products on CB since 2007, always at or near the top.

  26. Wow. After reading this post, I really need to get my product into gear. I have no plans to play in Gary’s leagues but if i could get a tiny slice of the cake…

    Also, I will look into a way to include Gary’s product on my site.

    Thank you Tim and Gary.

    I especially enjoyed Gary’s comments and responses.

  27. Hi, Tim.

    I started a group of people to loose weight with the 4HB. and come questions poped up

    can we eat corn tortillas, cous cous, and weat germ.

    can we drink cocnut milk.

    im really bussy and doint have time to read blogs . Can you please send me your answer by email.

    thanks.

  28. Love the post and thanks for the fantastic information Tim. I am currently writing my first e-book and will use this post as a resource when I begin selling.

  29. Hi Russell,

    Congratulations on such great results. Any chance we can bounce a few ideas back and forth so I can learn a some new techniques?

    Regards

    Richard

  30. Hey there!

    I am a recently graduated division I athlete. I played lacrosse which required An exercise program that was extremely vigorous and I was overtraining. I am having trouble transitioning from being part of a team to coaching a team which I know many other athletes in my position have. I hope to record my transition from division I athlete to regular person physically and psychologically in hopes to help other athletes in my position.

    I just graduated from bucknell university with a degree in biology. I am currently the graduate assistant lacrosse coach at long island university in Brooklyn studying exercise physiology. Being the scientist that I am, I am skeptical of “the Four Hour Body”. On Monday, I will start the slow carb diet, takIng personal measurements of body fat and weight. I do have access to a bod pod which I will use but I will also be using skin fold calipers and a scale to take consistent measurements.

    I will be starting an online diary of how I progress and I hope to do my own little research project on myself to see how the slow carb diet works. I’m going to try it on a college kid budget as well as travelling a lot. I would love feedback! Thanks!

    Julia Braun

  31. Hiya love the book Four-Hour Body! The part I was most interested to read about was the Ultra-marathon training, but it appears it was never followed through by you Tim, as a conclusion to the story is not on the book or the website. What happened?! Even a story about what went wrong would be interesting to learn from as an aspriing long-distance runner. Thanks! H

    1. I totally second Hazam’s comment.

      @Tim: An update would be really nice,… well, actually even necessary. It can’t be that this section stays empty with a “Coming soon…” since one year. Injury? Decided not to do it? Ok, but let us know! I ordered the book mainly because of the ultra running section and because I wanted to see how you, who hates running, will fare. Without update it seems like this will simply never happen,…which would be somewhat unexpected from someone who’s a recognized master of hacking different aspects of life. Even if running isn’t your forte, Tim, you committed to it and an update now after one year would really make sense. But that’s up to you, of course 😉

      Regards from Greece,

      David

      1. Hi David,

        No worries, man. I’ve posted this update elsewhere, but here it is: I ended up getting plantar fasciitis in my right foot after a trip to Turkey and wearing Vibrams, etc. on cobblestones and so on for 3-4 weeks. My right foot has been an issue ever since and it flares up whenever I run, despite decent technique (no heel striking).

        I might get back into it, but it’s been moved down my priority list a bit. That said, MANY readers have put the 4HB program for running into practice and run their first marathons and ultras. Their comments and tracking on Twitter and elsewhere can attest to this.

        Hope that helps!

        Tim

      2. Thanks for the swift update, Tim. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be telling you what to do, but wouldn’t it make sense to update the (ultra) runners in your community with exactly that info on the page fourhourbody.com/blog/ultra ? I think this is where most people go after reading the book… and find it empty. Just a thought.

      3. Oh, BTW: I have no doubt that many 4HB readers are a good testimonial and I myself am one, I’d say (3:31h full street marathon, although I didn’t start from 0 and I didn’t complete the whole 12 week program). I actually care about Tim Ferriss doing an ultra run. I am one myself and since you have mentioned in the past that you HATE running, I simply can’t sit still knowing that you’re able to hack it and not do it – because I know that in the end you’ll love it and maybe even get ‘hooked’ to it. But since you have this plantar fasciitis, that’s a different story 🙂

      4. Hi David,

        I haven’t thrown in the towel completely. Just working on a bunch of new skills under the new book deadline. I promise you’ll like them 🙂 Then… back to running, which I’ll actually start drilling a bit next week.

        Thank you for the comments!

        Tim

      5. Wow david! 3:31 marathon using the 4HB running plan! That is smoking fast, I’ll have to give it a try now. I used to be a fast distance runner but don’t do it because of time constraints.

  32. Mike,

    In all seriousness why don’t you do more interviews like this?

    I mean the majority of internet marketing products are written by scammers who make money online selling products about you know — making money online.

    It’s very rare that someone who is actually successful at building a legitimate business gives us a peak into how it’s done.

    I’m not asking you to make a MMO product – but by simply giving out these kinds of interviews more readily you’ll also be able to attract some more high quality affiliates.

    It’s a win-win.

  33. Thanks Mike and Tim,

    Is it possible to do this without buying traffic ?

    Do you have any advice for those of us who rely on ppc income (like adsense) for 4hww.

    Because buying traffic is not an option 🙁 with adsense

    so

    It takes a long time to test anything, because we have to wait for the organic seo improvements to kick in.

    mike, do you ever rely on or test organic traffic ?

  34. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for doing this interview. It is very helpful and inspiring to read an account like this. I hope I can burden you with a couple of questions:

    1. How did you learn the proper way to create an ebook? The formatting and etc.

    2. How do you handle piracy?

    Thanks in advance.

  35. Hi Brandon

    I wouldn’t give credit exclusively to 4HB. I followed a plan for 3:30h finishing time for about 4-5 weeks and then changed to the 4HB plan, but only for 3 weeks because then marathon day was already there. And: it wasn’t my first marathon so I had a certain fitness level. Nevertheless, i have no doubt that also 4HB, although only about 3 weeks, did some ‘magic’ 😉 I am planning to train a la 4HB for a 67k alpine ultra-marathon here in Greece which will take place in May because I believe that 4HB can make a difference here. And I am curious to see the results and maybe help reproduce them here in Greece. We’ll see 😉

    Regards,

    David

    1. Hi David,

      That is super interesting, how different was the first 3 weeks from the last 3 weeks? I’d love to see how your ultra marathon comes out! I would be really interested to see a 4hb training plan used for a full ironman as well, i think it would be super interesting.

      Brandon

      1. Hi Brandon

        The difference was as you would expect, I guess:

        – first three weeks time intensive but ‘relaxed’ and rather many km per week

        – second 3 weeks: get ready to puke… really. It takes you to your edges, probably mostly because we’re not really used to all that sprinting. That’s why I am dreading the 4HB training a bit for my next planned ultra, but on the other side my interest in finding out how much it’ll help me makes it interesting again. Here in Northern Greece we have great weather now, i.e. no rain or snow, but cold (around freezing temperature) and sprinting in those temperatures which makes you feel as if your lungs get pinched is even less appealing…

        But I guess I’ll go for it. Should I document it, you think? 🙂

        David

  36. Hi Mike,

    First of all ,thanks for this insightful post and kudos creativity and commitment you exhibited.I’d like you to clarify the difference between traffic buying and media buying-I think many get confused.Do you get traffic by buying ad spaces only or buy from lead generation sources(buy traffic?)

    I really liked your site and the simplicity exhibited which some described as spammy.SIMPLICITY always pays.I guess you know Miyamato Musashi??Tim would know about him I’m sure.Right Tim?He’s an epitome of the strategy of simplicity.

    On your site you mentioned the product to ALL countries but when I Checked,many countries were omitted like ones not on clickbank.Maybe all countries are listed,certainly not ALL…I think you should include 2checkout so that anyone that wants the product can get it especially when you mentioned on the site it’s shipped to (ALL?)

    Finally I’d like to get some hints on partnership like you did even though you mentioned one should get creative to get partners for win-win campaigns- a little hint will help us all.

    And to Tim,great work.We’ll like to see you in killer $100,000 suits like the one Ellsberg talked about,shades and business shoes in upcoming posts for a change.Or what do you think,people??Need we vote??

    Goodluck to all while hoping a lot,not a fraction will implement the strategies outlined.Cheers

  37. So, why didn’t Tim Ferriss use these techniques to sell his own book(s)? What makes Mike Geary’s product better suited to online direct-response marketing than to traditional book publishing?

    Abs is not exactly a niche — everyone wants abs.

    Tim’s books are not niche products either. Anyone can benefit from them.

    Tim, can you give us some insight into why you chose to sell your books the traditional way, while recommending that the rest of us sell information products online?

    Thanks

    Joe

  38. Great education.

    I sincerely hope that people realize that success is an ‘over-time’ and not an ‘over night’ job.

    More importantly it’s about implementation. Implementation is what’s made a difference here.

    BAYO

  39. Mike is a great example of what you get when you combine passion with hard work. This interview and the follow up Q and A session speaks volumes about his character as well.

  40. Thanks for writing such Inspiring articles.

    After I read 4 hr ww my life changed.

    Instead of selling my Erp software product to customers, i started finding people who can sell for me and give me small royalty in return.

    I expanded my businees from India to UK Africa Middle East Malaysia and even in India on same model.

    Once I have enough royalty payers. I will have to stop selling my product myself totally.

    My idea is simple. Pay me USD 1000 per month as royalty and you can sell my ERP Product at your own prices. It works.

  41. Having found your blog (on my iPhone) and from The Warrior Forum, I am truly inspired by the ‘muses’ that I have read.

    Truly brilliant.

    Also, the way your blog is set out, the gravity of the information, and the possibilities therein are an eye opener.

    Id love to get my ‘muse’ dissected here, so I’d better get my pedal to the metal…

    Thanks for a fantastic read and, well, just thankyou.

    Regards

    James

  42. Tim,

    I so much love this interview and it lifted my spirit.

    My take is on the advert medium. I prefer facebook ads is better compared to google adwords.

    Sheyi

  43. Hey Tim! just wondering on your six-minute abs section of your book you don’t mention how many times a week or month you should be doing this workout anyone able to tell me ?? many thanks -Dan

  44. Wow, truly inspirational and highlights why most people fail at IM, they are looking for a quick fix solution. Sure there are some that have been succesful overnight but if Mike had quit after the first few weeks, as most others would have he would still be in the same crappy (you said it!) job now.

    Mike, if you still frequent the comments here, you should definitely (if you have not already) put together an ebook containing what you have learned about split testing, traffic leveraging and everything else that has helped TTAA to become such a success. It would save others years of wrong decisions and mistakes and I’m sure it would be another best seller and a huge eye opener for many people. I would be the first on to buy it!!

    That’s if you’re not too busy powder skiing!

  45. I found out through clickbank that there’s also a German version of The Truth about Abs. Nice! I was about to contact Mike to ask if I may take care of the German translation 😉

  46. That was a “money” article. Much appreciated. My favorite quote was “Sell what people want, and give them what they need.”

    I run a health care facility, and I employ several Colorado Springs chiropractors. I think that quote totally applies to the chiropractic industry (and likely any industry). We sell pain, but convert to what people need – which is to stop thinking of their health in terms of pain. After all, when to you feel a heart attack? I’ve never been able to simplify the concept like my fellow Coloradan, Mr. Geary.

    I also loved that it was realistic, and showed that success is not an overnight thing. You have to have a long-term vision, patience, and some tenacity. Congrats Mike on living the dream.

  47. Hi

    Just wanted to say how inspired I was by this article (along with many of the Tim Ferriss/4HWW ideas). I had already written a book about obsessive compulsive disorder that I was planning to publish on amazon. I’m still publishing on amazon but as a result of this article I’ve also set up a website and decided to publish on clickbank.

    I am also going to join the truth about abs affiliate program because I think it’s genuinly a great product.

    Thanks again

    Steve Chapman

  48. This was a fantastic interview Tim, thanks for getting Mike to answer such insightful questions.

    And Mike, thank you for sharing so much great, honest information with us. There was one thing in particular that struck me… How long it took for you to become really profitable and successful.

    Yours is not a sexy story (at least, not at the start) but your perseverance is hugely inspiring.

    Also, your comment above to ‘GR’ may be one of the most underrated and yet crucial tips in the whole article: ‘That’s the whole point of any book. Organizing information that is already out there free somewhere.’

    I’ve been pondering this for the last 5 minutes and it’s truly profound. Thank you for providing such massive inspiration.

  49. Very great points about Clickbank! Can you ask affiliates to communicate with you, to see what they are writing or what methods they are using, so you can protect the integrity of your product, or know your product is accurately being represented?

    *Looking for an Angel Investor for a technology focused product developed for filmmakers, by filmmakers*

  50. Hello, I too have learned so much from Ryan Lee! It is awesome to see you staying focused and committed to a single product for so long. In this industry is is so easy to move over to the next “fad” or “program” that comes out. Inspirational.

  51. Science has shown us that body weight is involuntarily regulated in both humans and animals by extremely complex neural circuitry. . Body weight is NOT under conscious control.

    Morbid obesity is as genetic and heritable as height, or just a smidgen under.

    The commercial weight loss industry is complete fraud. They are claiming to be able to do what genuine , reputable scientists cannot do ( e.g. cure morbid obesity).

    Real scientists studying the topic of morbid obesity include: Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, Dr. Rudolph Leibel, Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Dr. Douglas Coleman , Dr. Arya Sharma.

    Sincerely,

    Razwell

  52. About the truth about abs, The exciting part about this system is that Geary gets you thrilled about the idea that you have put in a little bit of attempt to get a smooth tummy. Mike demands you to give your very best. It’s truly a novel idea in present-day world!

  53. What a wealth of information! Mike is a great example of ” do what you love and find someone to pay you for it.”

    I’ve only made a few sales of TAA and have learned so much here about increasing them, especially content network. I’ve only done PPC and pleased to learn from Mike’s numbers that my conversion rate is good.

  54. This is an awsome article, trying to build an online business whilst working a 9-5 seems like a pipe dream sometimes, this sort of thing reminds me that it is possible as long as I stay focused and comitted. Good stuff !

  55. Excellent review, great insights Mike’s really something and contributes a lot in marketing industry. This man will be a great inspiration to those people aiming for success. thanks for sharing!!

  56. Mike:

    I’ve read this article before and for some reason wanted to reread it today. When Tim asks in the article, “What are some common mistakes when buying media/traffic?”……

    your reply was “we”. Who is this “we” ? Do you outsource media buying/traffic? I will quote what you said below within the article.

    “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.”

  57. What a great interview, I have known of Mike so some time now but have not seen any interviews with him. Good luck on your new ventures Mike.

    If you have tome you could always come and give me some 1 on 1 advice on my business model.

    Thanks again.

  58. Great article. Mike’s story is very inspirational and impressive. Not a lot of people can grow a business to that level. Thank you for posting this interview for all to read.

  59. I just want to ask, with which product Ryan Lee, helps you to succed, because there are so many his products on the market so I am a little confused 🙂

  60. So in your business of digital product development and sales how much do you actually keep after normal expenses and Taxes? With revenue of 11 million I’m guessing you don’t even get to keep half of that with how the U.S.’s tax code is (with payroll taxes and federal tax bracket you are in). I also notice that Tim doesn’t ever mention taxes in his book (which is a fantastic book btw) and his dreamline formulas don’t take into account taxes either. To make your hourly, weekly, monthly, and yearly dreamline income with the formulas Tim shows you; you will probably need to make about double what the calculations in the book show (because they don’t take into account your biggest expense – U.S. taxes).

    Unless there are any legal strategies to reduce this when selling ebooks on clickbank (intellectual property, etc). Any advise on this or comments would be interesting and appreciated. (also if anyone knows a good accountant in this field I would appreciate the contact). 🙂 Thanks!

  61. Wow. This was honestly one of the most inspiring, value-adding articles that I have ever read. I’m so glad I read this, and your story is simply amazing. Let’s go baby! Success!

  62. Hey Tim,

    In one of your comments you mention getting plantar fascitis…the comment was awhile ago and I couldn’t figure out how to reply directly to it (it’s up this list aways), but if you haven’t found a solution yet, you might try this information: http://www.runningwitheric.com/main/search/search?q=plantar+fascitis

    The blog isn’t mine and I’m in no way affiliated with it – I had plantar fascitis last year and in a mad search for a cure=) I came across Eric’s website and came to the conclusion that he’s pretty much a genius. I think you have to sign-up for the blog to get in, but his advice is quick, common-sense and simply worked for me, so I’ve passed it on to at least half my friends!

    Hope it works for you – good luck with the running!

    1. Ok so 11 million in sales.

      Why not ask what his actual profit it is?

      Meaning how much he puts in his pocket after ALL expenses and before taxes?

      My guess is less than 2 million but wonder why Tim didn’t ask the most important question.

      1. I’m not sure what the exact answer would be on NET profit, but in reading the comments…might get higher than 2M just with general backing in strategy…I think….:

        1) Mike said ~50% of his TAA sales are from affiliates = no exp to Mike, so making a big assumption that about 2/3 of his total income is TAA, then about $11M* 2/3 * 50% = $3.6 free income from affiliate selling. (since he said the $11M was after portion due to affiliate was taken out)

        2) Up in Mike’s comment on 11-23-11, he said he gets a ton of his revenue from his list when he promotes OTHER people’s products, so no expense there either if it’s just an e-mail to his list. Making another big assumption and assuming 50% of the non-TAA remainder is from list e-mails, would be $11M * 1/3 * 50% = another $1.8M.

        3) If that is reasonable at all…that would bring his net up to $3.6 + $1.8 = $5.4M…just from free list e-mails and free to him affiliate promoting

        4) $11M – $5.4 = $5.5 left to figure out net on. Assuming this is the portion he made from his media buys etc, I have no idea what his net would be on this piece but would have to assume since he doesn’t need the money, that he’s making money on it or wouldn’t be doing it. Even if he makes absolutely no money on the remaining $5.5 because his PPC and media buys = the $5.5, have to assume his web hosting, auto-responding software fees, etc don’t completely eat the $5.4M away

        5) And like Mike mentioned in one of his answers too, TAA has been at or close to the top of the gravity run on clickbank since 2007 so can prob assume that he’s not still losing money on an “initial” try at his product…with all the optimizing and testing that has been done over at this point, years.

        6) There’s a lot of big assumptions in those calculations and if they are off that would pretty much change the whole answer so on an actual #, who knows! Over all though, to run so high on the gravity bar and have so many affiliates sticking with it for so long, it would be hard to think it’s not doing pretty good compared to the competition.

      2. what? Why spend so much time assuming when a simple question from Tim would answer the question once and for all.

        To me the entire article is VERY close to useless as we do NOT know what the actual profit is. Me personally I would never risk 5 million to make 1 million.

        Note I said RISK>

  63. Glad to go through such stories as i am just a newbie to all this world of making money online. But its actually his sales that are close to 1 million per month/. How much is the profit after tax deduction, his investments and everything. Interview does not answer this.

  64. Wow, great helpful interview. i think we should focused us more on the 2 points:treat our customers like gold and our affiliates, if we have an affiliateprogram.

    thanks a lot!

  65. My head is swimming on hurdle one. I want to incorporate a landing page into my site (Adobe Muse) with a pay facility so I can sell pdf’s and/or ebook to subscribers. I also want to protect who can see pdf’s and limit views/downloads etc. so they can’t be passed on. I have looked at locklizard and Blaze Concepts. Also, http://www.ecwid.com but can’t see how to protect via their service. Could anyone help as the first two solutions are pricey and I wanted to keep costs as low as possible. Would it be better to publish via my muse site or build an add-on site via wordpress perhaps? This seems more for blogs than ecommerce though. Thanks for your help.

    1. I´ve stumbled upon Mikes product on clickbank, its really great but I didn’ t know thats its such a money machine! Thanks for that interesting interview!

    2. Rebecca, I had the same concerns when looking to put my content in PDF form as well. I love ecwid for they integrate very nicely into Facebook but the issue of protecting the content was still there.

      In my research, I learned about PDF stampers. They basically put the user information in the footer of each page, which discourages sharing. I googled “PDF Stamper” and found a solution for a wordpress based website, which works well. I ended up buying other components from this same company (ie, shopping cart and affiliate program) because they all spoke to each other.

      Hope that helps.

      1. Assuming it’s ok with the rules here (comment rules above don’t seem to prohibit this), who did you go with for your PDF stamper and other components? I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the referral!

        Googling for a fairly generic term by the ignorant (me) may not land me where you ended up.

      2. Hi Matthew, I purchased a wordpress plugin called “WP PDF Stamper” from a company called Tips and Tricks HQ.

        Also, if you plan to purchase more than one plugin, be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the order page. I almost missed this, but they have a bundle package option. As I said, I ended up buying a few of their plugins, so bundling saved me about $50.

  66. This was a great post!

    I’ve seen a lot of knock off websites to the Truthaboutabs site…including Truthaboutmanboobs! I wonder how much those sites eat into your revenues.

    1. Anton,

      I was surprised to see this comment given that I paid you to do some copywriting for me and I shared my site with you. If you buy the book, you’ll see it’s heavily referenced and also features Mike Geary’s The Truth About Abs. What’s the harm in modelling a highly successful product? It’s not knocking it off. It’s modelling. I even wrote to Mike Geary to ask if he’d be interested in some kind of partnership but I didn’t hear back. I suspect he gets a million and one similar requests. I wrote the book after suffering from the condition myself and after extensive research. I am proud of what I’ve achieved and I’ve had the content proofed by a nutritionist and fitness expert. Refund rate is extremely low too so I must be doing something right.

  67. I’ve been using Mike’s program since the beginning of the year with great success. I had no idea he was making $1,000,000 a month from it, that’s incredible! Nice work Mike!

  68. Heloo, very good article.

    The article gives me good information, befor I go on with my internetbusiness.

    Thank you for this good tipps

    Holger

  69. I have read this article many times in the past couple years. It continues to inspire. Mike Geary is a great example of an N.R. business model. Thanks, Tim

  70. Pretty awesome that you can pull in big names like Mike Geary for an interview like this. This type of interview/expose is what Google really means when they say they want QUALITY content!

    I would love to see more interviews from big internet marketing names.

  71. The perfect example of a N.R entrepreneur. You, Tim, along with Mike Geary, are among the top entrepreneurs that really inspire me to become who I want to become. Thanks a lot for the interview. I really wish you could make interviews more often!

  72. I’m wondering how do people who sell e-products protect them from being copying and torrented? This is a huge issue, and would stop me from developing any product until the solution had been found.

  73. Great info as always Tim. Love the site. There are certainly people out there making lots of money promoting ebooks (take a look at Frank Kern). The problem people tend to find when becoming an affiliate marketer is finding the right product to promote. I run several sites that sell products – but I only sell or promote products that I believe in or have personally tried and tested. One of the things that I just could not get my head around when I became interested in promoting products was how the top ‘gurus’ in the affiliate world rarely ever had an actual website. All they would do would involve setting up a simple squeeze page with a box to add your email. They would then send you an email – you would click on the email to verify that you had provided your email in the first place – and BINGO they had a ‘double opt-in’ subscriber already pre-sold. You would then get the first trickle of auto-responder emails – with the tag line being a soft sell. The ‘pros’ had tens of thousands of subscribers and were making thousands and thousands a month. Of course many also had an ‘Adwords’ account but Google slammed affiliate sites a long time ago on Adwords. This used to be a quick way to make a buck in the old days for the pros but you now need a degree in Rocket Science to understand how to use their quality score. Anyway, great article and it’s nice to know that some people are doing well with this great ebook i.e. The Truth about Abs.

  74. Such an amazing website! I originally found this blog through searching about book trailers. When much to my surprise I found that it was done by Tim Ferriss who’s 4HBody book is currently on the bookshelf next to me. Not only that but when I looked at this article I realized that I also own TheTruthAboutSixPackAbs and have recommended it to many others. So great to learn from both of these amazing authors whose stuff I love.

  75. Mike Geary’s story is so motivating to me. I have been stumbling around in IM, finally went with a true passion and am now seeing some results. I would love to achieve just a tenth the success Mike has.

  76. 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! it very good

  77. Mike,

    I don’t know if you still even follow this thread… but I met you several years ago, right after your $6 million year, at a copywriting retreat in the Blue Mountains.

    I was running for the AWAI crowd. I specifically remember your copy and how good it was. I think I said, “Honestly Mike, I don’t think I could improve on that… it’s great.” And this was before I knew how much success you were having.

    I’ve repeated your story since then, as an example of someone turning a passion into a great business. It was only today that someone directed me to the link for this piece. Great stuff, very inspiring. I hope your success has continued to grow in the time since.

    I just want to add… what particularly impresses me is the acquired knowledge of how to set up the business and get the traffic. I’ve been developing content, both editorial and advertising, for 20 years now and feel more than competent at it. But the technical aspects of the rest of it, I’ve yet to master. At least, not at your apparent level.

    This might change, as I’m looking to help some family members turn their same non-lucrative passions into lucrative ones. But I admit, much as I’ve been in this business myself for years, I find all that new info on traffic gathering, etc. a little daunting. But we’ll see. Your article here will provide a great start.

    Thanks and best of continued luck with your biz,

    John F.

    P.S. After I get those family info businesses launched, next up is to tackle the six-pack abs. Maybe I can squeeze in a little success on both fronts before I turn 50!