The Ultimate Guide To Digital Marketing

By reading this Ultimate Guide you’re already taking the first steps on your journey to a Rich Life. This is only an introduction to the ideas and material you’ll find inside IWT.

I started this site in 2004 while I was studying technology and psychology at Stanford. I’ve spent the time since testing and honing my Rich Life systems on thousands of successful students.

At IWT you’ll learn – 

Buy all the lattes you want. A $5 coffee is not going to change your financial life. But learning how to automatically invest, how to select the right asset allocation, and how to negotiate a $15,000 raise will. I believe in asking $30,000 questions, not $3 questions.

Your Rich Life is yours. A Rich Life can be picking up your kids every day from school. Or buying a $1,000 cashmere sweater. It can be buying a round of drinks for your friends, or traveling for 8 weeks per year. You decide. Your Rich Life is yours. (Here are some of my Money Rules.)

There’s a limit to how much you can cut, but no limit to how much you can earn. I have readers who earn $50,000/year and ones who earn $750,000/year. We’ve helped tens of thousands of people earn more money by negotiating their salaries, investing, and starting businesses.

Spend extravagantly on the things you love, as long as you cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. I don’t believe in cutting back on lattes. In fact, I want you to spend more on the things you love. What if you could double your spending on travel, or eating out, convenience, or charity? I call those Money Dials and I’ll show you how.

The 85% Solution: Getting started is more important than becoming an expert. You don’t need to be perfect to take control of your money. It’s OK to make mistakes. Get 85% of the way there and move on with your life.

Investing should be very boring—and very profitable—over the long term. I get more excited eating tacos than checking my investment returns. You’re in control. This isn’t a Disney movie and nobody’s coming to rescue you. Fortunately, you can take control of your finances and build your Rich Life.

Money is political. You can simultaneously acknowledge personal responsibility and real systemic problems. This is a core part of the I Will Teach You To Be Rich philosophy. Housing is political. Healthcare is political. Voting rights are political. If you’re looking for bland tips on cutting coupons, this site is not for you. I consider it a tragedy to live a smaller life than you have to. So many of us have been raised to believe that money is something to be scared of. We use phrases like “I’m not good with money” or “Money changes people.” Yes, money does change people.

Money allowed me to dream bigger, to be more generous, and to be more adventurous. It can do the same for you. A Rich Life is lived outside the spreadsheet. What’s the point of all this saving and investing if you’re simply going to wait until you’re 80 to live? No thanks. I believe that once you’ve set up your finances, you’ll see that the most important part of a Rich Life is outside the spreadsheet—it involves relationships, new experiences, and giving back. You earned it. Welcome to your Rich Life journey, I’m excited to see what you do next.

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How Do You Find Paying Customers for Your Business?

Growth doesn’t just happen. Most of us will never luck our way into creating a viral post that brings in 100,000 new subscribers. And a $100,000 marketing budget won’t do you any good if you waste it trying 1,000 different “tactics” that don’t work.


Growth comes from deliberately creating a consistent flow of traffic to your website. After all:

  • More traffic creates more readers

  • More readers mean more subscribers

  • More subscribers are the key to more sales

More sales open up all kinds of doors in your business. You can hire a team to free up your time. You can develop new products and services. You can invest in better software or technology

And of course, on a personal level, more sales mean more money for your family. It means more freedom for traveling. It might even mean being able to try new things like hiring a personal trainer or chef. (Those last two have been life-changing for me.)

All of this is possible using free or low-cost digital marketing strategies.


What is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is anything you do online to:

  • Grab attention

  • Drive people to your website

  • Convince those people to join your email list, buy your product, or download your app

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing is measurable. Which means you can identify what’s working, do more of it, and stop wasting time on failed campaigns.

In boardrooms across the country, executives still look at their marketing budgets and ask:

  • How many people actually watched our TV commercial?

  • Did anyone buy because of the billboard?

  • Did we really build “brand capital” that year we sponsored the baseball team?

  • How’s the response to the headline on our newspaper ad?

But more than that, it’s insanely expensive. A single billboard in Atlanta, Georgia, costs $3,000 a month. (Actually it costs $30,000 a month because you can’t just get a single billboard. The broker requires you to sign up for at least 10.) And once you buy, you can’t make any changes to your ads without overhauling the entire campaign.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is measurable, inexpensive, and easy to test and pivot.


Common Mistakes People Make with Digital Marketing

Digital marketing begins with traffic. And when it comes to driving traffic to our websites, there are two common mistakes:

  1. We don’t try any traffic strategies: We think our material should “sell itself.” It’s great, so people will just naturally find it…right? We write posts that should go viral, that should inspire people to share, that should lead to people flooding our site and paying for our services. But the truth is, it just doesn’t work like that. We need to be active about promoting our material by getting it in front of our ideal audience. I’ll show you how in this guide.

  2. We try every traffic strategy: It’s easy to get sucked into the digital marketing vortex — SEO, PPC, Twitter, Snapchat, affiliates — you name it, there’s some “guru” out there telling you it’s the ONLY way to make money. “Get on board or you’ll be left behind!” The result is that we spend our time (and sometimes our money) haphazardly chasing the “next big thing” in digital marketing. This guide is designed to help you avoid what I call “Marketing Tactical Hell.”

Neither plan ever works. But focusing on a few key strategies can take a small blog that nobody reads and turn it into a multimillion-dollar business. I know because that’s what I did, and that’s why I created this guide.

In this guide, I’ll show you how to be strategic about digital marketing. You’ll discover how to start with the fundamentals and scale up as you grow.

We’ll talk about 5 strategies that work:

  • Email Marketing, the Lifeblood of Your Business (Part 3)

  • Harness the Traffic-Building Power of Remarkable Content Marketing (Part 4)

  • Social Media That Sells (Part 5)

  • Build a Customer Machine With Pay-Per-Click Advertising (Part 6)

  • Creating & Leveraging Relationships That Boost Your Traffic Quickly (Part 7)

But first, we’ll create a plan to get you started — whether your business is currently making $0/year or $1mm/year.

In this no-nonsense guide, you’ll discover:

  • Who – The digital marketing experts I’ve studied (and you should, too)

  • What – The exact digital marketing strategies I’ve used to grow my blog to a million readers per month

  • Why – You can’t ignore these tools — even if you write amazing material, if nobody knows about it, it’s worthless (I know because for years, nobody read my material)

  • When – To use each of these digital marketing strategies (Hint: Some of them may not be for you right now, and that’s good!)

  • How – To start using them today for free or with minimal investment

This stuff works — and I’m living proof.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve used digital marketing to grow my first company (I Will Teach You To Be Rich) to over 1 million readers per month.

But in the beginning, I had no clue what I was doing.

A few years ago, I Will Teach You To Be Rich was just a tiny blog nobody read. Want proof? Just dig into some of my earliest posts. I went months and months without a single comment. But through the years, I kept writing.

I kept improving my craft. And, most importantly, I figured out what people actually wanted to read. Over time, I got more eyes on the page, more comments, and more shares.

Today, millions of people visit my blog every month. Yep, that dinky little blog — that nobody read — turned into a site with more than 1,000,000 readers every 30 days.


How I Started with Digital Marketing

I started out by using the strategies of email and content marketing (Parts 3 and 4 of this guide) and as I grew, I hired a team to teach me the more advanced digital marketing strategies you’ll learn later in this guide.

When I started, I had no idea what I was doing — and nobody read what I wrote. But as I grew, amazing opportunities opened up. Things like speaking in front of thousands of people and being on national TV.


Being in business for over a decade (and growing year after year after year) has also led to some awesome media opportunities and publicity, including a 6-page spread in Fortune magazine and being featured across from Warren Buffett in Forbes’ “Top 20 Wealth Wizards.”

I’m not telling you this to brag. But there’s a lot of horrible information out there about digital marketing.

Some of it is even dangerous. The unproven, short-term trends touted by some “marketing ninjas” not only damage your business now (think of all the lost time and money), but can do irreparable damage to your brand in the long term.

If you want to avoid jumping from one “shiny object” to the next, you need to be able to trust the person giving you advice.


In this guide, you’ll discover what it took to grow from nothing to an 8-figure business with only digital marketing, and how you can apply those principles to do the same thing for your company. What you won’t find is any super-secret push-button “magic bullets.”

Instead, I’ll show you real strategies that work. You’ll see what you should be doing right now (no matter where you are in your business) and what can wait until you grow (for example, I didn’t start experimenting with paid advertising until I’d had a business for many years).

As an added bonus, I also brought in a few of my expert friends, bloggers, and other writers. They’re revealing their secrets for creating huge audiences and mobs of passionate fans.

Now, will you get a million readers overnight?

Let’s be realistic: No. But can you get hundreds or even thousands of readers and build from there? Absolutely!

But first, a word of warning:

A lot of people will tell you, “You need to get affiliates. You need to do PPC. You need to get on social media.” You need to do all this stuff.

Jumping from one technique to the next puts you in what I call “Marketing Tactical Hell.” That’s when you waste your time on pointless tactical maneuvers that never move the needle in your business.

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It’s important to remember that there are different stages in your business. In each one of those stages, you can focus on different strategies and tactics.

But you don’t need to overcomplicate things in the beginning.

I mean, let’s say you want to start going to the gym. On your first day in the gym, you’re going to stretch, walk on the treadmill, and get an idea of the gym’s layout.

You’re not going to go over to the bench press and lift 225lbs. That wouldn’t be a great way to start working out. Even if you could lift the bar, you’d burn yourself out, get frustrated, or just kill yourself because you don’t know how to hold the bar and you’d drop it on your throat.

Whereas, if you’d been training for a while — let’s say you were an Olympic athlete — you already know how to stretch, and you know the layout of the gym.

Your workout is going to look very different than someone who is just beginning.

Growing your business works the same way.

You’ll try different things at different stages of your business, moving from beginner to more advanced later on. But you can’t do it all up front.

This guide is your first step. We’ll walk you through the digital marketing strategies you need to focus on up front (making a plan, email marketing, and remarkable content). Master these and you’ll already be ahead of 92% of your competition.

Then, for more advanced readers, we’ll cover next-level strategies like social media, payper-click advertising, and affiliate marketing.

Here’s what we’re covering in this free guide:


Your 5-Step Digital Marketing Plan

I’ve seen thousands of sites randomly “try out” digital marketing strategies one after another, hoping for the magic traffic and sales secret to riches. In Part 2, I’ll show you why this is the WORST thing you can do. What step do 99% of bloggers skip? Creating a plan. But this is the ONLY way to skip the trial and error and do what works from day one — I’ll show you which specific digital marketing tactics to focus on first and what to ignore for lasting growth.


Email Marketing, the Lifeblood of Your Business

Maybe you’ve heard this before: “The money is in the list.” Your most valuable asset in business is a crowd of people who like you and have given you permission to email them about your product.

After 12 years of running an online business and generating millions in sales, I can tell you this is 100% true. I’ll show you how to build your list and what to send your subscribers so they look forward to hearing from you (and ultimately become buyers).


Harness the Traffic - Building Power of Remarkable Content Marketing

How do people like Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Brian Clark, or other bigname bloggers regularly produce high-caliber material readers can’t get enough of? Their amazing content turned them into respected experts, helped them build loyal fan bases, and opened up huge opportunities in their business and personal lives. The real question is: Can you do the same? Yes, you can. I’ll show you how.


Social Media That Sells

Too much social media advice (even from the so-called “experts”) consists of vague and useless soundbites like “Join the conversation!” and “Engage!” In this advanced section of the guide, I’ll show you how to get real results from social.

Real results, aka profits — not just likes, retweets, and followers. Because last time I checked, you can’t pay your bills with Facebook likes.


Build a Customer Machine with Pay-Per-Click Advertising

PPC, or “pay-per-click,” means paid advertising. You’ve seen these types of ads on Google, Facebook, and Twitter. PPC is great for more advanced businesses because when you get it working, it’s very scalable and provides a predictable ROI. It is a powerful tool for growing your business. But the downside is that you need to know your numbers — or risk running ads that cost more than they’re worth (bye bye, money and time). I’ll show you how to get started without using your money to guess what works.


Creating & Leveraging Relationships That Boost Your Traffic Quickly

One of the quickest ways to build authority is by getting other people to share your material. You can use other people’s lists to gain credibility, build your email list, and get more sales. But spamming topname bloggers with your affiliate marketing proposal is the wrong way to do it. In Part 7, I’ll show you how to build relationships with journalists, bloggers, and podcasters. Those connections will grow your fan base, build your reputation, and position you as an authority faster than you would have ever thought possible.


Part 2: Your 5-Step Digital Marketing Plan

Most people don’t plan at all. They just come up with a marketing idea, pursue it blindly, and hope for the best. What happens is they inevitably run into roadblocks, and when they do, they’ve already spent so much time and money that they’re hesitant to change anything — and that’s where they get into big trouble.

Before moving forward with any of the strategies in this guide, decide WHY you’re marketing and WHO you’re marketing to.

WARNING: DO NOT skip these first two steps. I call this “The Shrug Effect.” When you say “know your market,” everyone nods and shrugs — “Yeah yeah, Ramit, I got it” — but nobody actually does it.

We’ll talk about:

  • How to find a market that will beg for your product or service (and why your market can’t be “everyone”)
  • The 3-step validation method you can use today to see if anyone cares about your idea — and what to do if they don’t
  • How to get OTHER people excited about what you have to offer. I’m talking about people like customers, bloggers, and market influencers — people who will help you SELL your idea.

Step 1: Know Who Your Customer Is

A huge mistake is “trying out” digital marketing (running “just a few” Facebook ads, writing blog posts, or creating social media profiles) without first being crystal clear on WHO you’re trying to reach. In my flagship course on starting an online business, Zero to Launch, I talked about the Immersion Strategy, which is a way to understand your customer better than they know themselves through deep research.

It’s easier to set up a bunch of websites and landing pages and Google Analytics than to actually understand people. But when you do the work upfront, everything becomes easier:

You know exactly what to publish on your blog every time you sit down to write.

You instinctively understand the perfect audience of buyers for your ads.

You naturally start to form relationships with bigger businesses, creating profitable partnerships almost effortlessly.


Immersion Strategy 101: Knowing Your Customers Better Than They Know Themselves

  1. Be playful and approach research with “a child’s mind.” What I mean by that is: Be open to whatever you may find — gather notes on things like interesting phrases you find or surprising admissions from your market.
  2. Use a variety of sources when researching your market — Google searches, articles, Amazon reviews, Q&A sites like Quora and Reddit, and 1-on-1 conversations with people.
  3. Keep a running list of every time someone in your market mentions something about the following: A pain point, a fear, a hope, a dream, an obstacle. These are the deep emotional words and phrases that give you a clear picture of your market.

Step 2: Know Where Your Customers Are & What They REALLY Want

When I was an undergrad at Stanford, I decided to teach my friends about personal finance.

I printed up all these agendas (double-sided, to save money), reserved spots, even got a bunch of my friends to say they would come.

Nobody came.

It took me years to figure out why. Do you know?

First, I talked about financial literacy. Big mistake. People want more money, freedom, options. Nobody wants to be “financially literate.” It’s naggy!

Second, I focused on a group of people (college kids) who NOTORIOUSLY hate being nagged about money. It’s irrelevant since they’re not earning it yet!

But like a delusional entrepreneur, I told myself that people “should” listen. Once you use the word “should,” you’ve already lost.

It didn’t matter how technically accurate my talk was. It didn’t matter what my friends logically stood to gain. I chose the wrong audience, and that was it.

It’s like you telling your friend she “should” break up with her horrible, no-job-having boyfriend. Yeah, she should…but she’s not going to. Not until she’s ready.

Same thing with digital marketing. You’ll see a bunch of people giving you tactical tips like “14 Ways to Make Money with PPC,” but one of the most important lessons you can actually learn is…




There are tons of looky-loos, especially online — which means it’s easy to waste your time and resources marketing to people that will never buy.

If you take away one thing about running a profitable online business from this guide, make it this: You have to find people who will pay.

This is not random. A huge part of your success in starting an online business comes from consciously choosing who you’re attracting and who you’re repelling.

What if you could find the people who already “get it?” People who are all-in, paying attention, and dying for you to share your special something?


Step 3: Set One Goal

When it comes to digital marketing, people tend to jump from one shiny object to the next — Twitter! Facebook ads! Blogging daily! All of these can make money, but only when done with intention. Most people never focus on a strategy long enough to see any results. In fact, they often don’t even know the result they are looking for! (For example, “Twitter followers” is not a result unless you’ve found a landlord that takes that as payment.)

The way to grow is to focus on the ONE result you want from your marketing plan. Do you want to:

  • Grow your email list?
  • Make more sales?
  • Snag a high-profile speaking gig?
  • Get featured in the New York Times?

Once you laser in on ONE goal, what you need to do to get there becomes much easier to figure out. Then, when you reach one goal, you can apply what you learned (planning, timing, and focus) to checking off the next from your list.

Now, I want to challenge you to pick the biggest goal that you want to accomplish with your digital marketing. Maybe it’s to get 10,000 people on your list, make $25,000 in revenue, or get featured in a major publication like Forbes or the New York Times.

Whatever that goal is for you, declare it. And then mark your calendar for one year from today.

I work with a lot of people who want to start an online business. It’s a very exciting time for them — but it’s also challenging to know what to focus on, who to listen to, and what bright and shiny objects are worth their time.

So I ask them, “What’s your number one goal?” If they say, “I want to get 5,000 people on my list in one year,” then we have something very concrete to work with.

When they come to the group and say, “I was doing such and such on Twitter the other day,” the group will immediately call them out and say, “Is Twitter going to help you get to 5,000 people on your email list?”

In 95% of the cases, the answer is no. Twitter might be more fun than doing what it takes to get 5,000 email subscribers, but it’s not going to be a real win for the business.

Having that kind of focus is what has enabled me to grow my business from nothing 12 years ago to now being a million-dollar business with 30,000 students all over the world.

Limiting your options may seem scary, but if you do it, your chances of accomplishing your goal increase exponentially.


Step 4: Where You are Comes Before Where You Want to Be

When you open the Maps app on your phone, what’s the first thing that happens? Before the route is laid out, before you even plug in your destination, the app pinpoints your current location. It’s impossible to map out your path before you know where you’re starting.

At IWT, we approach online business as a SYSTEM.

That’s why we’re not digging right into marketing tactics and instead looking at high-level strategy. We figure out where we are. Map out the route. And then execute.

To start, I highly recommend you focus on email marketing (Part 3) and content marketing (Part 4). Then, once you are more advanced, move on to the other parts of this guide.

Every day, people come to me frantic and frazzled by all the details of their businesses. No wonder they’re overwhelmed!

Throughout this guide, I will be mainly sharing free ways to market your site. However, some of the more advanced strategies, like pay-per-click advertising, cost money. It’s important when deciding which strategies to focus on to understand how (or if) you’ll make that money back.

That’s why I encourage you to focus on the fundamentals first

Get a good idea of your market, your audience, and your numbers. Then, as you grow, you can invest back into your business.


Step 5: Work Backwards

Once you know your market, know your goal, and know what to focus on, it’s just a matter of simple math to create your plan.

Let’s say the following two facts are true:

  1. Your goal is 1,000 new email subscribers in one year. Currently you are getting an average of 10 new subscribers per week.
  2. At the current rate, you’ll get 520 subscribers if you continue doing what you’re doing now. (10 subscribers/week x 52 weeks per year.)

So to reach your goal, you need to essentially double your current subscriber rate.

To do that, you have 2 options:

  1. Double your conversions (meaning twice as many of the people that visit your site opt in to your list)
  2. Double your traffic (meaning more total people land on your site each week)

Do you see how now you have a solid start to work from?

If you look at your numbers and decide that you want to double your conversion, you can ignore all the other shiny tactics and just work on getting more opt-ins.

If you decide to focus on traffic, you can use the digital marketing strategies that I detail in the rest of this guide.

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Part 3: Email Marketing, the Lifeblood of Your Business

My friend John Lee Dumas runs the top-ranked business podcast, Entrepreneurs on Fire. He asks this famous question to all his guests:

“Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still have all the experience and knowledge you currently have. Your food and shelter are taken care of, but all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days?”

To me, the answer couldn’t be any clearer.

“Start building an email list.”

Maybe you’ve heard this before: “The money is in the list.”

After years of running an online business and generating millions in sales, I can tell you this is 100% true.

Here are 3 reasons why all your digital marketing efforts (at least at first) should be focused on building an email list:


Email Should Always be a Benefit to Your Reader, Not Just to You

Too many marketers preach how to suck every penny out of your email list. Upsells, downsells, cross sells, “trip-wires” … the list goes on and on. Here at IWT, we have a different approach.

We want our subscribers to be excited to open our emails. Every single email we send out has to be valuable — whether the reader is ready to buy or not.

I have students that were on my email list for 5 YEARS before they bought anything. And we were here when they were ready.

How do we do it? How do we keep someone engaged for half a decade?

I’ve made a commitment to give away 98% of my material for free…and to make that free material better than anyone else’s paid stuff.

My good friend David Kadavy at Design for Hackers grows his list dramatically each summer with his mini-course, Summer of Design. For 40 days, he teaches the theories behind design, so you can understand how design works.

When people are excited to open and read your emails, they’ll be more excited to buy from you later.

Anybody can buy a domain name, publish a few blog posts, and post on Twitter or Facebook. But if you want to build a real online business, with real revenue — one that pays you to share your passions with the world — you have to know how to build an audience. Not just passive social followers who “liked” you when they were bored one day, but engaged email subscribers who can’t wait to hear from you.

That means keeping those subscribers engaged, and converting them into paying customers.

This is by far the most challenging part of starting an online business.


Part 4 : Harness the Traffic Building Power of Remarkable Content Marketing

You know it when you see it.

From the opening words to the very last sentence, you can’t stop reading it. It effortlessly pulls you down the page. It intrigues you. It tells a great story. It makes you feel good.

When you’ve devoured the final word, you bookmark it and share it with your friends. Turns out, you’re not the only one who loved it either. At the bottom of the post, you see hundreds of comments. Thousands of social shares.

All from people praising the writer. All from readers begging for more.

Welcome to the world of remarkable content.

You’ve seen awesome writing like this, right? Work that creates reputations and builds businesses.

Maybe you read people like Tim Ferriss, Neil Patel, Brian Clark, or one of the other big-name bloggers who regularly produce high-caliber material you can’t get enough of.

Their amazing content turned them into respected experts, helped them build a loyal fan base, and opened up huge opportunities in their business and personal lives. And it all started with great content.


Neil Patel - Remarkable Content Master

In 2015, my friend Neil Patel published a comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide to Search Engine Optimization. It has video lessons, definitions, infographics, easy get-started tactics, advanced strategies, and more. Most $500+ SEO courses don’t share this much. The result? It’s been shared on social over 2,000 times and has over 200 comments that continue to add up almost a year later. This is the power of remarkable content.

At IWT, remarkable content has been the cornerstone of our success.

Before email. Before social. And long before I spent a single penny on ads, I produced great content.

To this day, content is what keeps my readers coming back and new readers coming in. Content like my Ultimate Guides. I give more away in my Ultimate Guides than most bloggers offer in their paid courses.

Publishing remarkable content isn’t some weird strategy that only worked for big bloggers like Neil Patel and me. Thousands of my students have grown their traffic with content marketing.


Joyce Akiko - Success Story

The self-taught coder who got over 25,000 views on Lifehacker

Joyce spent years learning how to be a freelance programmer. One day, she decided to share what she’d learned along the way in a single, detailed blog post. Because she spent time —upfront — making the content truly remarkable, her post resonated with tens of thousands of people. In fact, it was so good, one of the writers at Lifehacker decided to feature her work. That one feature alone got more than 25,000 views and brought hundreds of new subscribers to her list.


Selena Soo - Success Story

The publicity coach who made $30,000 from one guest post

Another one of my graduates, Selena, created one viral guest post. Because of how personal and detailed the post was, it received 250 comments, over 1000 shares, and she attracted over 2000 new subscribers to her mailing list.

The end result: She earned more than $30,000 from that ONE guest post.

So how do you do this in your business?

Every piece of remarkable content mentioned above has the same 7 critical features.


So How Do You Know If the Content is Remarkable?

Readers are excited to interact with content that they love. They comment on, reply to, and share your content.


Part 5: Social Media That Sells

Years ago, I actually hired a firm to help with social media.

They posted those stupid inspirational quote board pictures, saying things like, “If you dream it, you can do it.”

When I logged on and saw that picture, I almost threw my laptop out of my window. Can you imagine me ever saying anything like that? After I explained that I would rather tie my own neck to an elephant’s tail and let myself get dragged for miles along a rocky desert, they continued posting sayings more appropriate for a life coach convention. I fired them.

That’s the problem with most social media “experts” out there today. They give vague and useless soundbites like “Join the conversation!” and “Engage!”

But social media marketing is like any digital marketing strategy — you need to have return on investment. And trust me, there’s no ROI on generic, off-brand, inspirational phrases.

Marketers expect social media to be a “magic bullet” that will drive thousands of visitors overnight. There’s a reason that social media marketing is behind strategy, email, and content in this guide — social media should not be the first strategy you focus on.

There’s a few reasons for this:

  1. You don’t own your social media followers. If Twitter goes out of business or Facebook changes its policies (which it has, several times, to the detriment of many businesses), you’re in trouble.
  2. Think of how you use social – you are looking for “quick hits.” You scroll quickly, click quickly, and leave quickly. It’s difficult to make lasting or long-term impressions.
  3. Social can get out of hand quickly…Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest…the list is continually growing and there’s always someone out there trying to convince you that you “must” be on the newest platform.

In fact, for years, I didn’t do any social media marketing at all. But, as I learned from my friend, Laura Roeder, once you have the foundation, social can be a powerful force multiplier in your business.


Laura Roeder - A Different Approach to Social

After the life-coachy social “expert” from above, I was ready to abandon social altogether. Then Laura Roeder showed me a new way to look at social media marketing. Social is simply another way to “go where the fish are.” You are bringing your message to where your customers are already spending time — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. So I started using my already-written content and the strategies below. Now IWT consistently gets new leads from multiple social media channels.


Content Marketing + Social Media Marketing = Unstoppable Traffic Machine

Strategy #1: Put your best content on autopilot

You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) spend hours posting on social media. You can take the remarkable content you created in Part 4 and schedule it to automatically post on multiple channels. Many tools out there will do this for you. The two that we use at IWT are Buffer and Edgar.

Free Option: Buffer

Buffer shares your content at the best possible times throughout the day on multiple social media channels.


  • Buffer is free to start and easy to set up
  • You simply link your social media channels, add a post, and it’s done.
  • You can also add a Chrome extension to quickly share and schedule interesting articles you find.


  • You still have to schedule posts one at a time.
  • While it saves time over adding each link in to each social media account, it still is a time-consuming task.
  • When we were using Buffer exclusively, it took hours every week to load the posts for the week.
  • You’ll have to watch to make sure the time you spend is giving you positive ROI.

Paid Option: Edgar

Edgar draws from a library of posts you create, then schedules them at times you choose or times that your audience is engaged. You may have months or years of great content that your new followers would normally never see — now your followers always get great content, and you don’t have to constantly come up with original posts.


  • Edgar is a huge time saver.
  • You only have to load each post once and then it’s saved forever.
  • You can also create “types” of content like blog posts, outside links, or funny jokes that will rotate on a schedule.


  • At $49 per month for the starter package, you’ll have to evaluate if you’ll be able to get ROI on the tool.
  • We’ve found the time saved alone was worth the investment for our team.

Strategy #2: Turn your “Thank You” page into a viral loop machine

Have you ever signed up for an email list through a website, hit the opt-in button, and been redirected to another page? We call those “thank you” pages.

Most people overlook this critical piece and leave a generic confirmation message on there. But you can turn your page into an engine that drives your viral loop across the web.

First, let me explain how we did it with a free 5-day course.

As usual, we sent everyone to a “thank you” page after they entered their email and signed up.

On the page, we embedded a tweet and Facebook post. And we asked readers to share or retweet.

So on your “thank you” page, embed the tweet (and screenshot the FB post) and write a line or two asking them to share it.

The copy doesn’t need to be fancy. You can follow our example above and write, “Retweet on Twitter… Hit the retweet button, or click here to retweet.”

Or, “Share on Facebook…Click the share button above, or click here to share.”


Strategy #3: Get your biggest fans to spread the word

You’ve got the foundation down. Next, you want to get your fans to help you out. Send your email list a message announcing your sticky idea. 

Of course, your email list will be the #1 source of sign-ups.

But when you mention the free course, since it’s a sticky idea, something else happens. Your readers will want to spread the word to people who are interested in the same thing.

When they see the social sharing buttons on the thank you page, they’ll think, “I don’t want my friends to miss this!”

And with the option to share right there, they’re more likely to take action.

The friends of your biggest fans who see these retweets and shares will go directly to your landing page for the webinar or mini-course. And a good number of them will sign up, which means fresh names for your email list.

At IWT, we set benchmarks for campaigns like this. On two recent ones, as I mentioned, we crushed our opt-in goals by 49% and 57%, just by using those exact steps.

You can do the same to boost your opt-ins.


How Do You Decide Which Content to Promote on Social Media?

No two pieces of remarkable content are the same. But there are a few key components that every extremely successful piece must have.

I show you exactly how to create content ideas for social or evaluate the content you already have in a free resource, The 3 parts to a remarkable blog post.


Part 6: Build a Customer Machine With Pay-Per-Click Advertising

You wouldn’t believe how many people I know who run companies doing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in revenue with pay-per-click advertising.

And they brag about getting customers at $0.25 a click. They say to me, “It’s so good, Ramit. I have a scalable engine.”

What they’re talking about is going to Facebook or Google, spending $1, and making $2. That’s the dream. That’s when paid advertising really works.

“Pay-per-click advertising” is also called paid acquisition, PPC, or pay-per-click. It all means the same thing — the ads you see people running on Facebook and Google. There are other channels for pay-per-click, but the big ones are Facebook Ads and Google AdWords.


Timing is Everything

Paid acquisition strategies (like PPC) can work. But the key for you as a business owner is knowing which of these strategies to apply, and when.

For example, if you start off from day one spending $5,000 a month on PPC, you’re dead. You don’t know your numbers yet. You’re just throwing away money and burning it.

We spent years and years doing guest posts before we even thought about PPC. Follow our lead and remember: Timing is everything. Don’t be in a rush.

Now, some businesses have cracked the code and done it beautifully.

But it’s difficult. It takes a lot of sophistication to know if it’s actually working.

I have friends who spend $5,000 to $25,000 a month on paid ads. And many of them don’t even know if they are making a profit.

How’s that possible? Because they spend $25,000 and then they make $40,000 — but they’re not sure if it’s from people who came through paid ads or from something else. They don’t have the tracking in place.

For successful pay-per-click advertising, you need to know your numbers. It comes down to one key number: Your CPA.


Let’s break down how we figure out our CPA and use that information to find out if we’re getting a return on investment for a sample Facebook ad.


Start with Simple Facebook Ads (NOT Google Ads). Here’s Why:

Facebook allows you to advertise to a very specific type of person — the kind most likely to buy from you. You can filter who sees your ad by criteria like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests (what pages they like or follow)
  • Education level (including fields of study, schools they’ve attended, or graduation year)
  • Behaviors like recent websites they’ve visited or if they use mobile
  • And connections like “friends of people who follow me”

When you’re ready to advertise on Facebook, you can use the information you gathered in the Immersion Phase (find the Immersion Strategy in Part 2) to get very specific about who you target.

If you wanted, you could target females in your town under 35 who follow Ramit Sethi’s IWT to build an email list of potential brides.

The point is, when you get super-specific with who you reach, you avoid spending money showing your ad to people that will never buy from you.

(See how doing the work to understand your customer makes advanced marketing strategies — like paid media — easier to execute and more profitable for your business? That’s why we encourage taking the steps in order.)


Derek Halpern - Doing PPC Right

My friend Derek Halpern uses Facebook ads to promote his remarkable content. In this ad, he collects email addresses in return for a free mini-series on how to build profitable online courses. People that want a free mini-series on this topic are the perfect market of potential buyers for his premium material.


Do You Need a Fancy Website Before You Drive Traffic to Your Site?

Absolutely not.

It’s a huge mistake to delay driving traffic to your website for reasons like design, colors, or font choices.

You can convert traffic to buyers with only the remarkable content you created in Part 4 and a simple website.


Digital marketing is anything you do online to:

  • Grab attention

  • Drive people to your website

  • Convince those people to join your email list, buy your product, or download your app

Unlike traditional marketing, digital marketing is measurable. Which means you can identify what’s working, do more of it, and stop wasting time on failed campaigns.

In boardrooms across the country, executives still look at their marketing budgets and ask:

  • How many people actually watched our TV commercial?

  • Did anyone buy because of the billboard?

  • Did we really build “brand capital” that year we sponsored the baseball team?

  • How’s the response to the headline on our newspaper ad?

But more than that, it’s insanely expensive. A single billboard in Atlanta, Georgia, costs $3,000 a month. (Actually it costs $30,000 a month because you can’t just get a single billboard. The broker requires you to sign up for at least 10.) And once you buy, you can’t make any changes to your ads without overhauling the entire campaign.

Digital marketing, on the other hand, is measurable, inexpensive, and easy to test and pivot.

nobody read — turned into a site with more than 1,000,000 readers every 30 days.

The world wants you to be vanilla...

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Part 7: Creating & Leveraging Relationships That Boost Your Traffic Quickly

What happens when the big boys play together? When you see a guest post on a major media site? When you see an article on Lifehacker? When you see the New York Times citing an author or even letting an author write his own post on their blog?

These things don’t happen the same way that ordinary guest posts happen. There’s one distinguishing factor, and that is relationships.

There are a ton of sites out there about “affiliate marketing.” And to be honest, a lot of them promote tactics that may work in the short term, but cannot create a sustainable marketing strategy.

In this guide, I’m not going to talk about ClickBank or where to find people who will pitch your products to your list without knowing you. Just like anything, there is no “magic push button” business strategy, despite what the rest of the internet will tell you.

The truth is, for the people that are doing affiliate marketing right, it’s all about relationships. You may not have those today, but I’ll show you how to have them tomorrow. This section is all about what happens at the highest levels — and it starts with content and building your email list (are you sensing a theme in this guide?). Personally when I started off, I would have killed to have known how it happens because it was all dark magic to me.


How Big Partnerships Happen Online

I want to take you behind the scenes and share what happens when big partnerships go down.


Tim Ferriss - Using the “Surround Sound Effect”

My good friend Tim Ferriss launched the wildly successful “Four Hour Work Week” with no money and no connections by creating what he calls the the surround sound effect. The more people hear about your product or site from different sources, the more they’ll start to take it seriously as something they need to check out. Incidentally, two of my most popular guest posts ever were on Tim’s site: The Psychology of Automation: Building a Bulletproof Personal-Finance System and more recently, Real-World Blueprint for a $5-Million Week. (Note how comprehensive these posts were. If I hadn’t focused on content first, these would not have brought the success they did.)

Next, I’ll show you how to start the process and meet people who you’d like to have partnerships with.


How to Use Email to Meet Powerful New Partners

This is trickier than you might think. We know people who’ve tried to schedule a call with a busy person, and after repeated back-and-forth scheduling emails, the busy person simply gave up and said, “Sorry, I just don’t have time.”

Your goal is to minimize the back and forth and make it easy for the busy person to find time to talk to you.

Here are five important things to keep in mind when you write the email:

    1. You (the lower-status person who wants to talk to the busy person) should initiate the call, but provide your phone number in case they want to speak to you right now

By the way, don’t get offended by my use of the phrase “lower-status.” Let’s be candid: If you want something from someone else, in this situation, you are lower-status.

Whether it’s less famous, less wealthy, less successful, less important, or less busy, that’s just the way it is. Remember, YOU want something from THEM. It’s important to recognize this and work around the busy person’s schedule. That means:

2. Don’t make them think

You can’t ask them to work around your schedule, but at the same time you want to make it easy for them to say “yes.” Don’t make them come up with a bunch of times that work. Instead, offer them a couple of different options for times that would work for the call. That respects their schedule, and leaves the final decision in their hands, but doesn’t require a lot of thought.

3. Send your email when they’re most likely to read it 

You wouldn’t believe how many people email complex questions to a busy person on a Friday afternoon.

Why? Why would you send something requiring lots of work to someone on their way out for a weekend?

The answer: “Oh…I didn’t think about that.”

If you don’t think about the busy person, you lose.

To maximize your chance of getting a response, email a busy person when they’re most likely to read and process it.

In other words:

Do NOT email a busy person on Monday morning.

Do NOT email a busy person on their birthday (unless it’s a simple happy birthday message).

Instead, think when they’re most receptive. Maybe at lunch? Maybe Sunday night when they’re prepping for their week?

4. Make it impossible to skip with great formatting 

Bad formatting can scuttle even the most helpful, interesting email.

Use paragraph breaks and bullet points liberally to make your email easy to read.

Also, send it in plain text rather than HTML so it can be easily read on a mobile device. For VIP emails, I like to send myself a test to make sure it’s readable and any URLs are clickable.

5. Use correct grammar and spelling

Lazy typos signal laziness. Use proper punctuation and capitalization.

Don’t use lower case “i”s or texting abbreviations. An email should be more polished than a text message.

Always proofread your email. Let the reader focus on your well- crafted message, not the fact that you still do not know the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

You wouldn’t think I’d need to say this, but I do.

If you keep those 5 things in mind, you’ve got a great shot at getting a positive response, but let me give you an example of these principles in action.


How to Use These Partnerships to Build Your List, Promote Your Events, or Sell Your Courses

There are advanced (and expensive) software platforms that you can use to track affiliates, but you don’t need these at first. These are 3 strategies you can use today.


Simple Strategy #1 - Guest Post to Build Your List

I love talking about guest posting because I’ve written guest posts on sites like Lifehacker, Four Hour Workweek, even The New York Times. All of them have been instrumental in helping me grow my business. So the strategy I’m sharing works and continues to work.

And I really want to share it with you because almost everybody does this the wrong way!


Simple Strategy #2 - “Dollar-per-Lead” Campaign

One way we entice affiliates to help us build our list is by offering a dollar for every confirmed lead they send us.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. At first, start off with just a few affiliates. You can do this using social (we used Instagram affiliates) or a more traditional email campaign.
  2. Based on your numbers (which we went over in Part 6), offer your partners and affiliates a bonus for each confirmed lead they refer. We offered a dollar per lead during this promotion.
  3. Set up a unique landing page for simple tracking — this way you can easily see where the leads came from.
  4. On the landing page, you’ll want to offer a lead magnet or “carrot” to entice the referrals to opt-in. (Here’s how to come up with a good carrot.)

Simple Strategy #3 - Coupon Code for Courses

An easy way to ask your friends and partners to promote a course is by offering them “swipe emails” to send to their list with a coupon code. You write an email selling your product, service, or event, and then they can edit for their own voice and list. It’s best when they add their own personality, because let’s face it, we’ve all received generic emails that we know the sender didn’t write himself. At the end of the email, offer a coupon code for a discount at checkout. That way, you can track where the buyer came from and you can offer an affiliate bonus without expensive software.


Case Study: Tripling Your Email List in Less Than a Year

One of my students, Felicia Spahr, tripled her list by focusing on guest posting. She wrote a 3-step guide for how to write a perfect guest post.


Step 1 - Write for Their audience, Not Yours

You know what your audience wants and loves to read. But the site where you’re guest posting has a different audience. Look at the site’s homepage, most popular posts, and read the comments to find out what that is.


Step 2 - Instantly Attract Readers to Your Website

To grab people’s attention, in your bio, you want to direct these readers to a special gift just for them. Everyone likes free things, so you’re giving them a compelling reason to click and visit your website.


Step 3 - Get Readers to Give You Their Email Addresses

You’ve given readers a link to a free gift. But where does that link go to? You want to create a dedicated landing page solely for that offer. This takes less than an hour (I recommend using a program like Leadpages), and the reward is huge.


Simple Landing Page Checklist

Write a headline that greets your readers, like, “Welcome IWT Readers!”

Describe in precise detail what your offer is: Is it a PDF? Video? Audio recording? eBook?

In about 3 bullets, tell the reader exactly how your offer is going to benefit them. What is it going to help them do? Make sure this is crystal clear so it’s a no-brainer for people to sign up.

Include an opt-in form, where people enter their names and emails.


Part 8: What’s Next in Digital Marketing?

Whether you’re just getting started, or you already have a successful online business, you’ve learned some of the key systems and strategies of digital marketing and driving traffic to your site.

And you’ve seen how to implement these in days or weeks, instead of the years and years it took me (I didn’t use a few of the strategies in this guide until I hired a team to show me how).

What we’ve covered:

  • Too much vs. too little: How to be strategic about digital marketing (Part 1)
  • How to deeply understand your market so you know more about their fears, hopes, and dreams than they do themselves (Part 2)
  • The counterintuitive way that mini-courses lead to sales of paid courses (Part 3)
  • 7 critical features that every piece of content should have if you want people to share it (Part 4)
  • How successful businesses really use content as a free promotional strategy (Part 4)
  • One key indicator of remarkable content and how to spot it (Part 4)
  • The reason I fired a social media agency on the spot (Part 5)
  • Free and paid options for saving time on social media marketing (Part 5)
  • How to create a “viral loop” that makes social sharing automatic and natural (Part 5)
  • Timing: The secret sauce of pay-per-click. Miss this and watch your money disappear (Part 6)
  • Why I recommend Facebook ads over Google AdWords (Part 6)
  • How big partnerships REALLY happen in affiliate marketing (Part 7)
  • A word-for-word email script for reaching out to potential partners (Part 7)

We also heard from experts in digital marketing:

  • Derek Halpern
  • Neil Patel
  • Tim Ferriss
  • Laura Roeder
  • David Kadavy

And we deciphered some common digital marketing acronyms. Here’s the ones you should know before you spend any money on marketing


What’s Next?

Now that you know the basics, I recommend joining my Earnable program to start and grow an online business.

Earnable is the ONLY online business program proven over 15 years, 50+ industries, and 42,000+ paying customers that covers the ENTIRE process of starting and growing your business. You get access to all the exact strategies, frameworks, hands-on tactics, real world examples, mindsets, done-for-you templates, word-for-word scripts, and hard-won breakthroughs you need to be successful. Join today and make your Rich Life a reality.


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Written by

Host of Netflix's "How to Get Rich", NYT Bestselling Author & host of the hit I Will Teach You To Be Rich Podcast. For over 20 years, Ramit has been sharing proven strategies to help people like you take control of their money and live a Rich Life.