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Online business: From my first sale to a $12,000 product

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In this post, you’ll learn how I went from a $4.95 ebook to launching a $12,000 flagship course.

This isn’t the same sort of tactical minutiae you’ll find on other “online business” sites. I don’t tell you that you NEED to get on Pinterest, or Twitter, or FB, or else you’ll DIE!!!!

Instead, I methodically show you some critical, strategic decisions I made that let me go from charging less than $5 to successfully selling a $12,000 course.

Notice how at the highest levels of success, you don’t have to make outlandish claims. You can simply show people — deliberately and methodically — why you made the decisions you made, and the right people will get it. As someone once said, “You hear screaming used-car salesmen…but you never hear anyone screaming in a Mercedes commercial.”

Question for you: If you wanted to learn how to create an online business, would you learn it from someone who’s sold 1 or 2 products, then just kept milking that cow for years…or would you want to learn from someone who’s sold over 15 different products ranging from $4.95 to $12,000?

In my upcoming course, Zero to Launch, I’ll to show you the insights I learned at every price point — including how to choose an idea that pays, how much to charge, and how to package a $50 product vs. a $5,000 one.

For now, check this picture out. This is the first sale I ever made from an online product.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 6.27.21 AM

My first sale! I should print this out and hang it up on the wall.
If only that wouldn’t ruin my NYC bachelor-pad decor.


By the way, it’s not about the amount of money. The coolest part is that somebody who I didn’t know thought my knowledge was valuable enough to PAY for!

Can you imagine that feeling? The feeling of taking something you know and love — maybe it’s how to lose weight, or how to get to inbox zero, or even how to train your dog not to bark! — packaging it up, and seeing someone actually pay to learn what you know?

It didn’t matter that it was only $4.95. I knew that if someone would pay 5 bucks, I could figure out how to create even more valuable material and make more.

Do you know when I realized this could be BIG?

It was later that weekend, when I was out with friends. I kept seeing sales come in, even while I was away from the computer.

The numbers were still small — a few sales here and there — but I suddenly realized what people meant by “recurring revenue” and “multiple streams of income.”

Wait a second, mister. I can be out with friends…or eating dinner…or even traveling…and this little online business will continue generating revenue for me?


Now let’s fast forward. Take a look at the number of successful payments I had for just one of my products last month:

Recent online business transactions - Zero to Launch

What do you notice?

Revenue continues to roll in for this product, day after day after day. (Notice how revenue keeps rolling in even on the weekends…when I’m not working at all.)

My business generates money while I’m doing all of these things:

Teaching a friend how to use Tinder, hanging with Elmo/Abby Cadabby, and eating 3 meals at 10:30am.
Oh, you thought I’d put a picture of me in front of a private jet?

This is pretty cool.

But in today’s video, I’ll also tell you what most other people won’t:

  • YES — there are very specific reasons you choose certain prices. (In the full course, I’ll tell you exactly how much to charge, based on testing)
  • NO — you cannot jump to launching a $2,000 course your first time, no matter what some scammy internet marketer tells you. You might sell 1 or 2 units, but I’ll show you a much more effective way. It takes a little longer, but you’ll actually help more people and end up making more than 10x the profits
  • YES — you can “shortcut” your way to a successful online business using the testing/insights I learned along the way

Check it out:

Here’s what to do next.

Join the Zero to Launch private list, so you can review my favorite case studies and other course material. You’ll also get priority access to Zero To Launch when I unlock the course again. Nothing to sell here — I just want you to know more than anyone else about starting an online business. Click here to join the Zero to Launch private list.

* * * * *

P.S. Hey, let’s also do a fun little thing. I know it’s a little early to know what your online business idea is — and we’ll cover that next week, and in exhaustive detail in the course — but for now, post your 3 craziest, most fun ideas.

If you could teach ANYTHING through an online business, what would it be? Don’t worry about costs or competition or the profit side yet. Just leave a comment with the 1-3 ideas that make you sit up straight and say, “YES! I WOULD LOVE TO DO THAT!!”

UPDATE — New Zero to Launch course reviews!

Check this out, several Zero to Launch beta students have posted detailed reviews of the Zero to Launch course on their own blogs. You can hear all about their experiences — including pros and cons, and who the course is right for — in their own words. I’ll keep updating this list as more reviews come out:

I’ve collected more Zero to Launch reviews, direct from students here. Check them out.

Want to learn more about Zero to Launch and get instant access to more case studies? Just join the Zero to Launch waitlist (takes 20 seconds).

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  1. How to care for your rescue puppy
    Everything chocolate – recipes
    How to create your own artwork

    • I like the idea of creating your own artwork.

    • I just re-read your post…. I originally saw ‘creating chocolate-art’-as in, how to make art out of chocolate– and i was like, hell yeah! i’d totally buy that! … then I re-read it and realized you were talking about 2 different things. …lol. food for thought? 😉

    • How to potty train a boy so he never misses the toilet again.

      How to massage your loved ones like a pro.

  2. Completely disregarding the business side? I can think of a few:

    1) The Best Way to Find Out About Anything on the Web

    2) New Tie Tying for Fashionable Gentlemen

    3) Cast Iron Science: Cutting through the Myths

    4) Slow Carb Dieting for the Extremely Lazy

    • I would buy a product on tying ties (even though there are thousands of YouTube videos). Why would I pay for something I could find free? Hmm…

    • I would also pay to learn how to tie quality ties. The reason Ramit and I, and many others, would pay for this service is you would make it the BEST product on the market. I would ACTUALLY learn from your material and ACTUALLY see tangible results, unlike all the garbage YouTube videos out there that I have to spend way too much time sorting through.

      This is why I pay for Ramit’s amazing content, and why I would pay you to teach me to tie.

    • Good question Ramit – what’s the reason you would personally pay? Only reason I see is to save time searching and filtering through all the duplicates and rubbish, but I wouldn’t pay much when it’s to learn something so quick and simple…

    • I don’t see myself paying for a product on tying ties alone, BUT, I could see that being free content on a website about being a Fashionable Gentlemen. You can then sell courses on how to be a Fashionable Gentlemen, maybe even be a consult (via web cam?) for premium customers.

  3. 1) How To Find A Technical Co-Founder
    2) Stop Waiting for the Perfect Technical Co-Founder and Start Learning How to Code
    3) The Fat-Burning Programmer

  4. Killer apps to solve peoples problems would do it for me. They could be business or everyday problems. Just create something that would make a lot of peoples lives a little easier in some way.

    • Like an app that guides you through how to start an online business, monitors progress/results and compares them specifically with what steps you have taken and how they moved the needle?

    • For an app like that, I think the hard part will be learning what steps are necessary and how results should be measured, and making sure it works for most or all types of businesses (or customizing to business type somehow). You might even try it as a book or course first, and turn it into app form once you’ve seen a few customers go through it and learned how to improve it.

  5. 1. How to stop listening to that inner voice that tells you the couch is more comfortable than your running shoes
    2. How to build habits
    3. How to find / do out-of-the-beaten-track stuff when traveling

  6. Here are a couple I can think of:

    (1) Excel modelling mastery: How to build ridiculously easy-to-maintain Excel financial models that will make your boss thinks you’re a genius!

    (2) Mac productivity 101: How to become super fast and productive on your Mac – impress your boss, colleagues and clients with your super-human speed.

  7. You said crazy right?
    1. how to find the perfect office supplies for you (I love stationery) to make fun bracelets and other accessories
    3. how to finish and enjoy doing a phd

    • I like the office supplies idea. If it could assist in organization that would be tremendous.

  8. a beer-specific search engine
    how to dominate adventure racing online training
    how to build dog chariots

    • You! Get on that beer search engine-stat! You have no time to waste. 😉 Seriously though. It’s a brilliant idea.

    • Beer specific search engine! I hate skating up at bats and then they only have crappy beer!

    • *bars my autocottect had a mind of its own!

    • they have that already kind of-

    • Exactly, “kind of” has one. So improve it 😉

    • BEER APP. We own a microbrewery in El Salvador and there are def tons of beer tourists who need to know where they are going to get their next craft beer hit. DO IT!!!

    • Over and over you hear, drill it down to a very specific niche. I think you and Shannon need to go into biz together on this: Microbrew Beer specific guides. It can be aimed at regional or local brewers and even used a guide for traveling beer aficionados. “Next time you’re in El Salvador, be sure to visit Shannon’s Microbrewery.”

    • mmm…beer – but how are we going to make money out of this?? (read in Kevin O’Leary style)

  9. 1) Teaching Business/marketing and social skills (for finding and behaving in the right mastermind groups) to underprivileged children – for free
    2) snowkite – coaching – courses
    3) borrowing super-new cellphones to young kids for one month who in exchange send in their coolest videos

    • For #1 I have a similar goal – and this exercise has been great to help me actually articulate what it is, and put a (longer-term) plan in place to make it happen (THANK YOU Ramit!). You’ll see my comment earlier is similar, although I am not sure what you mean by “the right mastermind groups”. Do you know of anything already in this space? How would you scale it and make sure it reaches the right people? What existing skills or experience or networks do you have to make it happen? How will you make sure it actually results in behavioural change? (I would be keen to compare ideas, bearing in mind cultural contexts as I don’t live in the US but used to.)

    • I had idea #1, built a website with courses and a syllabus.
      talked with some guy for renting an office, ranking good in SEO, getting leads,
      calls but have no time to do the courses since i got too much work.
      I feel like i’m leaving money on the table and i know i am but i cannot leave everything i do right now.

  10. How to film fun short movies or promotional clips with only your cellphone and a few cheap accessories
    How to prevent your car from turning into a hellish furnace in the summer while parked outside
    A priority dating decision system for guys who are overwhelmed by all the options on dating sites

    • I really want to know about the car one!

    • I love the first one. Solves a problem that I think a lot of people have whether they realize it or not. Even just coming up with/shooting a 15-, 30-, or 60-second spot is a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start. If there were a great tutorial with tips on how to go about that with tools I already own (like my iPhone), I’d pay for that advice. Particularly if it saves me (1) time in the first place and (2) additional time because I got it done WELL the first time.

    • DEFINITELY the first one. I would buy it. Today.