5 Years ago I made my first ever online sale. It sounds cliche but I really couldn’t believe it when it happened. It was a Saturday morning and I received a Paypal notification on my phone and here’s what went through my head:
“WTF! Someone, from somewhere in the world just found me online and decided to send me their hard-earned money to buy an ebook I had created from nothing on my computer. And I was able to deliver that product, without having to ship any physical goods earning almost pure profit.”
No joke, I literally ran and told my wife Hayley what had just happened.
Today, 5 years on, I want to share this story and a message to anyone who’s thinking about starting or who has just started their online business.
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Rewind to 2012, this is when I first read The 4-Hour Workweek (here’s my book summary). The first time I read the book, one of the biggest takeaways was in the power of selling digital products. Rather than selling a physical product and having to manage manufacturing, inventory, shipping and returns. Selling information and expertise in the form of digital products likes ebooks and courses immediately appealed to me.
This lead me into the world of online entrepreneurs who were making a living selling their expertise online. I remember that Pat Flynn and Natalie Sisson were the first few people I followed and was amazed at how they’d built these great lifestyle businesses that allowed them to work on their terms and earn a good living for themselves and their families without having to sacrifice lifestyle.
It was a few years later, after starting my blog and creating an email list that I started creating digital products. One of the things that amazed me about my first online sale was that it was for an ebook of a free email course that I’d created. At the time, you could sign up to my email course, the 7-Day Productivity Plan. The ebook was really just the same course in an ebook format that subscribers could purchase after completing the email series. This really taught me a lot about ‘perceived value’ and that you don’t always have to create something new. Sometimes, simply repackaging something into a more convenient format is all you need to do to deliver value. The ebook, which was actually just a simple PDF, sold for $9.99 in case you’re interested, here’s the Paypal receipt for the sale:
Fast forward to today and I’m amazed at how fast the time has flown by. Things have changed a lot since that first online sale. The products and services I sell now have evolved a lot. But it all started with that first sale that gave me the confidence and reassurance to keep going and try new things. And I couldn’t be more thankful for all my amazing subscribers and customers who have followed and supported me over the years.
If you’re thinking about starting or have just started an online business and want to make money from product sales, here’s my message to you:
Keep going! It’s not easy to put yourself out there and try and make something for yourself. Especially in the online world where it’s easy for naysayers to sit behind their keyboards and criticise your work or put you down (fortunately this doesn't happen a lot, but it is impossible to avoid). It will take time and patience to get to where you want to be. You will fail along the way and that’s okay because you’ll learn how to come back better and stronger next time. So please don't give up because if you work hard for long enough, you will reach and exceed your goals. Sometimes I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing. It’s just normal for me now, but this time 5 years ago, all I wanted was to work for myself and be able to support my family. And when I’m having a hard day or feeling the stress, I try to remind myself of this fact.
Recently, Shaquil, one of the members of my VIP group landed his first consulting client. When I met Shaquil, he’d just purchased my How to become a “virtual consultant” program and didn’t even know which idea to focus on. But he stuck at it, he tried a few things and it didn’t even take Shaquil that long (just a few months) before he had his first client.
So, I want you to be like Shaquil. Work hard and be persistent. You’ll make it, I’m sure!