5 Steps Towards Passive income Online – Step 1

As of Saturday morning (March 17 2012) we were graced with a beautiful baby boy and nothing reminds you about the benefits of creating passive income than the thought of having to leave them for 80 percent of the time in no longer than a week. I have always been open about my postion in the internet marketing/online business world and I am looking to build as much of a lifestyle for me and my family even 2 years down th line. It seems a long time, but I finally believe that I am making good headway on fulfilling my dream of a passive income stream alongside my other offline endeavours.

I love just about everything about garden design. I enjoy meeting people face to face, the physical aspects and most of all that I can create something from nothing and produce a well sculpted, self sufficient landscape, albeit with a clients input of course.:)

The very same principles often apply to creating businesses online. You create your website, you build your content and you attract readers, customers or whatever it may be. If you build it right and set up the right systems to your advantage, you then have the ability to reap the rewards of a self sufficent landscape, in this case the technological landscape! To leave you as self sufficient as possible you can automate just about anything, and if you can’t automate, you can outsource it at very low cost.

I had no idea how people were making a living offline, how search engines worked or even whether it could be done. Don’t take it from me because I really am at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to a leader in this field, I do know that i’m as well read (or listened) as most on the subject so I believe I have a fair bit to offer for anyone looking to grow an exisitng business online or are looking to start something that will hopefully change their life and give them more location and financial freedom in the long run.

It’s no easy fix but it will be faster than you think if you focus on the project in hand and only that! I have been obsessed with finding interesting ways fo exploring my passions and my focus is something I have to keep an eye on everyday. My ideas come everyday but unless you are taking action and following through, believe me when i say, you will be spinning plates while watching them drop one by one into the webstie graveyard.

I’m almost ashamed to admit that at one point I had 12 websites on the go while I was learning and i’m only left with a few that showed potential. Someone once said that if you’re not making money on a venture, it’s not a business, it’s a hobby, and boy have I had a few hobbies!

I want to give you the first things to consider as a complete beginner to blogging, creating websites or even running a business online.

Create Your Website

Learn how to set up or outsource a wordpress website.

Self publishing platforms are without a doubt our present and our future. Why pay thousands to a designer when you can set one up for free at Worpress.org if you have a hosting account set up and then use the money to tweak the design should you not want to use the free templates. Check out 99 designs for logos and to find someone who can make your site your own if it seems too daunting but your hosting company could very well have a 1 click install that will get you up and running in minutes. Again, you can get your designer/developer to do this for you if you’re not ready. A good friend of mine designed my logo and webiste on wordpress and it has scored a huuuge 82% on the technology side of things! He’s over at http://www.Matt-andrews.com and i’ve always worked with him when the visuals need that special touch.

Of course WordPress isn’t the only publising platform, there are other website builders that will give you the ability to build it yourself with hosting incorporated in the price. There will also be a free version so you can even try others and see what works for you. I have always used wordpress (or at least since early 2009) and I will swear by its ease and efficiency.

For hosting I have an account with Bluehost who offer the one click install options that I spoke about earlier but also give you unlimited domains on the same account, especially good for those of us with a penchant for multiple projects!

Feel free to get in touch and remember, the only way to learn is to do, and you have nothing to lose but time.

Until next time, good luck!

Passive Income financial freedom<

Pull Don’t Push – The Difference of Organic Ranking Vs Paid Advertising for Local Trades and Businesses

When i started my Garden design business i knew that it was going to be me all the way, at least until I had taken on enough clients to allow the maintenance staff to take over completely and I knew until i found my feet it was going to have to be paid advertising. Fortunately i’m now able to concentrate less on the physical and more on the virtual through writing and social networks to increase local awareness, search engine rankings and most of all build relationships.

Since then, the offline work has increased exponentially and just writing about our projects on our blog has enabled me to reach a lot more people locally without having to pay and test out marketing strategies, and the best thing about this is that often they feel like they know what we’re all about before we even meet them. This makes the introduction a lot easier and can sometimes give us something to relate to.

This is the same for any industry or trade, offline or online. If you don’t show what you and your business are all about then why would anyone waste the time choosing you over someone who is spending thousands on advertising to be right in the cliensts’ vision when they really need it?

The answer in my humble opinion is individuality. People like to be part of something different, so in order to be different you have to get your point across, come up with unique ideas and pretty much outsmart the competition. A videoblogger who i’ve learned a lot from Gary Vaynerchuck calls it sweat equity, and i think that explains it perfectly. This drive to keep moving forward isn’t in everybody which is why not many people see further than just taking a first page sponsored listing on Google, sitting back and waiting.

The problem is, when you stop paying, your ad stops showing and with organic traffic you have a dedicated following and unique content that will get you more links and authority overtime.

I believe the key is to write/video/record your working movements to allow people to see you for you and the business for what it is. I record practical videos, have started a radio show (which i have to admit has only got to it’s 3rd episode so far) and most of all write about what we do and where we’re doing it.

From the of hours of listening to books, podcasts and reading blogs I have no doubt in my mind that this is where it’s going. Youtube and Facebook are still so new and in the main scheme of things, the internet is only starting to get its feet. Getting in on this early will get you in front of the rest in your area and further and i’m confident to say that after seeing others succeed this is the only way i’m headed in 2012 for my offline business and Lifestyle Design Daddy.

Local Business Marketing

Leave me a comment or connect with me on Twitter!

The 5 Must Haves for any Online Business

Find a Partner/Mentor

We are always inclined to do it for ourselves and make things happen quietly so that you can appear from nowhere. Let me tell you that going it alone is a bad idea and i know from experience you can burn out pretty quick. I quickly realised that without someone who is like minded to bounce ideas off and gear you up for all of those late nights you will reach a point where you have nothing left. I luckily have a friend who helps me get through the more technical side of things and he has built and designed nearly every project i’ve ever brought to fruition. If you don’t have someone that you can brainstorm with or get help from all I can say is Outsource.

Outsourcing

Although I learnt by setting up my own sites and fumbling my way through some of the most ridiculously easy tasks it showed me more than anything how important it was to pay a specialist to get it done as efficiently as possible. I love to write because it is similar to an information dump from my overactive mind but i don’t kid myself i can do other things! Online there are some revolutionary opportunities and amazing companies that allow you to submit a project and have tens of responses from people who are qualified to carry out that task and all at very affordable rates. You can then interview the candidate of interest and hire them from their feedback, portfolio etc. It’s well worth testing out a small project to see how it all works and possibly meet someone you can work with longer term. Well worth a look if you’re looking to move things forward and you have some budget to put to it.

WordPress

This may be old hat to some people because it’s almost a standard these days but since learning about wordpress 2 years ago i haven’t looked back. This is a publishing platform that allows you to host your own domain. There is one version (wordpress.com) that has free hosting with it but I don’t know anyone that is looking to build a long term online business without their own self hosted website, and you can get that at WordPress.org! WordPress is so easy to update and control from the backend that my mum learnt in a few hours. I had built my first amateur site within minutes of of watching youtube tutorials.

For links go to my Resources page and click on ‘WordPress.’ If you’re looking for hosting, i’ve always gone with Bluehost and you’ll find these here too.

Social Networking

As i’m sure you’d understand, i was always so reluctant to join the hords that were signing up to facebook, Twitter and youtube amongst others, but in the past 6 months i’ve caved and more than the converted. After listening to books like Gary vaynerchucks ‘Crush it’ and ‘The Thank You Economy’ and following peoples journey using social networks it was quite evident that this was the only way it was going. With Google buying Youtube and facebook incorporating their own advertising it was clear to see that them and a handful of others have hijacked the online dynamics on a global scale!

The real proof came when i signed up and began building relationships with people i would never have been in direct contact with otherwise. It’s the quickest way to meet people who are inot the same things or who are looking for what you offer. Most of all it helps you to build your for free and as consistently as you choose. I was definiely converted and although i’m far from perfect i’ve found myself documenting my work in every form of media i can. In reality once that day has gone it is history, why not let others learn from it too and build friendships and online relationships along the way!

Believe and be Passionate

Although this may sound like a cliche, i am one of the biggest scatterbrains when it comes to knuckling down to one thing. I have a mind that will lead me in one direction and I will see another exciting project and dart back and forth while lkilling myself in the process. This unfortunately the way of my genetics but i have found one thing that with out a doubt keeps me in the moment and focused on one thing only and that is ENJOYING WHAT I’M DOING! I have embarked on so many projects and ideas in the past 4 to 5 years than most would do in a lifetime and i wouldn’t recommend this to anybody. Shamedly, this was a result of my fierce quest to become location indepent which would free up time and allow me to work on something even more exciting than the last! It’s a pretty unsustainable way of working and it would only end up me not finishing anything i started and burning out.

When I finally did get down to projects and subjects that interested me i quickly realised that i didn’t want to be somewhere else and with this comes truth and transparency. If you know what you love and you talk about there really is nothing to hide.

I know it sounds cheesy but this is the most important point to remember, you have only one life and eventually you’re always going to want to end doing what you want, so why not start now for very little cost.

Free Online marketing Tips – Reaching Out and Being Everywhere.

In an attempt to help a friend who was moving to another part of the UK and had no idea how to use free online marketing I wrote a quick crash course on how to build relationships, optimise his site and pretty much be everywhere! Rather than just leave it with that one person I just thought, why not include this in a post to help my readers too!! I hope this helps anyone to market themselves for free in a small or struggling business like it has been doing with my garden design business. Let me know if it helps you!

‘Hi Ben, Where are you working next week? Is business good?

We are looking to move west (probably to the Bath area) so I’m trying to get business out that way – Advertising is an expensive outgoing!’

My response – (without links in this one)

‘Hi Phil, In terms of advertising i’ve tried a few and there are all expensive! This is the reason i try and be as active as i can online to build my ranking organically but also to gain a bit of trust over others before we go in for consultations and quotes. I know you’re computer savvy so it will probably all be straight forward to you once you start going but all of these things are helping me to get more noticed.  

Blogging – I started blogging when i started this business about 10 months ago and it has really helped me to build relationships with fencing companies, paving companies and a partnership with Biffas ‘green waste members club’ so it really helps offline. The main reason i did it was to talk enough about garden design/garden maintenance so that these keywords show up over time and make my site more authoritative in googles’ eyes.

Social networks – For the last 5 or 6 months i’ve become alot more active on social network sites as these all provide good back links to your site and again more klout to your business. Video networks - I’m now doing videos to youtube, viddler and also posting them into blog posts. I’m now starting to record podcasts giving info on garden maintenance, design etc. 

Google loves a media rich website and only very recently updated its algorythm to be focused alot on the social networks and it’s very keen on ‘local’ so google places with details etc are very important. Some local directories like this one gives you more exposure, it’s free and gives a backlink to your site. Liphook Community site.

Paid advertising online If you’re looking to pay for a quick hit to get to the first page in hours, i would try using google adwords express.It was only released in the the Uk a few weeks ago, is all about local businesses and got my cousin up to page 1 overnight for her site in her local town and beyond. It’s called the curly farmer and you can see it here as a sponsored listing if you like CurlyFarmer.

Mate, hope that helps. I have been working like a beast for the last couple of years to get this SEO thing mastered and it’s definitely not an easy route but overtime it will keep you up there and hopefully stop you having to pay for it!   Saying that, these are the ones i pay for!  

Yell.com – big budget but has got me alot of work although might go with my own adwords next time.

Adwords Express – Have just started so will let you know. If i can help with anything let me know and best of luck with the move.’

When I first about the concept of affiliate marketing I was under the impression that it was only for people who had a background in sales and marketing and not for the average newbie like me but far from it. The truth if the matter is that any aspect of Internet business can be learnt through following a specific mentor or using good old YouTube for some video education. There’s never been a better time to learn these methods and you can start educating yourself immediately.

The basic premise behind affiliate marketing is, you find a product that you believe is in demand and has low competition, you set up a website around this product with the sole intention of generating leads to another site by promoting it, and if you can, get it to the first page of google as this is where 80% of the traffic resides!

The great thing about affiliate marketing is that there is no inventory to hold, no customers to deal with and no initial outlay other than a website and hosting. If you already have a website devoted to this particular or similar product then you’re half way there!

Many companies have affiliate programs you can sign up to and if they don’t and you think they fit perfectly for your site it’s always worth asking. Companies like Amazon have built in affiliate programs that will make it easier for you but they have a low referral rate.

It’s just a case of signing up with the program, receiving the code they I’ve you and copy passing into your website sidebar or text links.

I’ll talk more about affiliate marketing in the coming weeks as I am embarking on my first serious website using only this method as a monetization method. I’ll keep you updated as the site grows, but for now, I would check it out, there are thousands of people using affiliate marketing as their primary source of income and if you find the right market, so can you.

I’ve provided a link to The Smart Passive income interview with Chris Guthrie which should give you a good idea of it’s potential.

Too Afraid to Fail- Paralysis by Analysis

There is only so much credit that can be given to an idea. As entrepreneurs and creative thinkers most of us will have tens, sometimes hundreds of ideas a week. The fact of the matter is that without action that idea will only ever be that and it’s always better to take action no matter how bad the idea is. At least if you go for it and tes it out on others you’ll either fail or succeed and whether you fail or succeed, at least you’ll be able to make a decision and that can built on or discarded in the space of a month or so at most.

I’m a huge proponent of failing fast, and believe me I’ve done enough of it. However I’ve not always followed through on some good ideas of mine and I often wonder what would have happened if I had continued with a laser focus.

I despise the feeling of regret and as they say ‘you only regret the things you don’t do!’

I’ll talk more about how to focus and what tools you can use to do so, but for now, pick one project and follow tha through. Believe me, there is plenty of time to fulfill all of your life’s work but if you just skim over all of them, it will end up with you having less to show than the average Joe, and we all know that isn’t the case!

Midnight Marketing – Why I Work So Hard Now

I take a look around me and ask how most of the people my age still manage to go out on the town three, sometimes four times a week. Some seem to have alot more time and often energy and then i realise that this is probably all they want in life and they’re happy to work and live for the weekends. That’s fine and in a way commendable as they have a focus on one thing, and that’s something i’ve never been able to do. I will learn about as much as I can but will always want more, often skimming the surface on a subject I feel very interested in. The only way i can explore more of my passions and interests is to make passive income so that daylight hours can be spent doing the things that i, or we love to do.

The way my brain works is like this. I find a subject(pretty much once or twice a day) i find a problem or a gap in the market, and i come up with a solution or a USP that will make it my own. The problem is, by the time i’ve gone through the research and found a niche that i could work on i’m already being distracted by newer and more exciting things!

Don’t let that scare you away from this site with thoughts of ‘well if he can’t stick at it why should i invest time into him’ because i have finally found a medium to explore this type of mad professor approach to creating businesses and designing my life, and that medium is the internet.

My point is that any market you choose to go into can be tested with just a few online tools before you go into anything and throw a whole load of cash into it. In fact you can start a business for as little as £10 if you already have hosting. Hosting will cost around £60-70 a year but once you’ve got it(with Bluehost in my case)you can set up as many sites as you like with that one annual fee.

Anyone who feels my pain, do leave a comment or contact me if you have any specific questions!

Working Remotely and Taking Control

Ever since going to nursery, we’ve been taught how to play and through school, what to work towards. The only time in life when you actually have full control of your own thoughts is when you’re a baby, and often when you come out of education and start thinking for yourself again! 

There’s a huge gaggle of free minded individuals living their dream life and most of the world know nothing about how these young people are living how they want to, without having to answer to anybody but their overly driven, borderline obsessive mind!

These people are all putting the work in now so they can keep their passive income business going in a sustainable manner with a view to letting it run well on a few hours of maintenance a week.

We now have the ability to use auto responders and tools that carry out tasks automatically. The great part about it is, you’re not just making money doing the 9 gruelling hours you usually do beside an eyeballing boss. Set these systems up and you can be earning throughout the whole day and that is what the internet is all about. 

Being self employed is not for everyone and some just like to be lead and don’t want the hassle of having to run their own business, that’s ok , but YOU too can work from home!

There’s a huge shift in the way people are thinking ‘is corporate life for me’ and ‘should i try going it alone?’ The truth is, companies are already starting to reduce rental costs by giving more of the workforce permission to work from home and many (especially in the tech world) are completely remote with a huge team checking into virtual meeting rooms and task folders. If you’re looking for the most powerful business book of all time that will teach you everything you need to know about living a location independent lifestyle The Four Hour Work Week is all you’ll ever need.

Here is a link to an interesting infographic on one of my favourite websites for tech info!

Check out the facts on working remotely on Mashable and if you’re already doing it and looking to bring your staff together check out Go To Meeting.  

My 5 Most Influential Online Businesses

I have always been interested in creativity but I only started to really look at business as a creative process when i left art college in June of 2005. My radar came in and out of Internet business but I never delved in enough to believe that it was achievable or even legitimate.

It was really only in June of 2009 when I had just read Robert T Kiyosakis ‘Rich dad poor dad’ and brought our new born baby daughter home that I began to see that business was completely changing. It wasn’t all about keeping your head down at your desk and keeping yourself to yourself. It was about getting yourself known, creating networks and offering what you do best to whoever happens to drop by.

I began listening to more podcasts about passive income, online business, online marketing and many more niche subjects in the online world and became fascinated with the businesses and communities being built everyday.

The online world is still so new and there is opportunities out there for everyone wishing to put in the work to learn how to find the best fit for them.

Below I’ve listed 5 of the most trustworthy, accessible and reliable businesses run by people who have helped me both directly and indirectly.

1. The Smart Passive Income Blog – This takes first spot because this was the first Podcast I ever listened to regarding passive income and it totally changed my life. If I have had a question for Pat he would get back to me with a useful and concise answer.
I believe I downloaded Pats podcast two days after he launched it after searching for passive income podcasts and he has never ceased to amaze me with the no frills, actionable advice he gives away in every blog post, podcast and most of all, his income reports!

2. Internet Business Mastery – This business comes in a close second. This business whic consists of a whole academy, podcasts, lifestyle design modules and much more is run by Jay and Sterling. They are without doubt two of the most influential and straight forward talking individuals in the online marketing world and the have probably taught 60% of the successful online marketers out there, including Pat Flynn of the smart passive income. They teach ways to design our lifestyle to give you ‘freedom and fulfilment’ in your career online and with great success judging by their track record!

3. Rise to The Top – Although relatively new to podcasting, David Siteman Garland interviews all types of entrepreneurs, athletes and other inspirational characters. This really shows the mindsets of some of the worlds mist successful people and keeps you focused on why you keep working through the nights!!

There are literally 10 more at least that are credible resources, all with a unique take on online business but as we’re always told, follow one or two mentors and FOCUS (Follow One Course Until Succesful)

passive income

Lifestyle Design and the Need For More Time.

Although I still work full time as a Garden designer and landscaper i still feel that I haven’t reached my calling as all I’ve thought about since the day I found out about blogging and online business 2 years ago is online business and blogging!!

I trained day and night to become a garden designer and there’s nothing better than coordinating your design to come to fruition, but when it’s done you’re still working to find the next project, especially when you’re self employed!

I don’t just want to use those daylight hours to support my family, I want to use the whole 24 leveraging the tools on offer online and the advice given from others to help myself and others to build passive income and live a location independent lifestyle.

I’m no online millionaire…in fact far from it! I run my garden design and maintenance business because this is something I enjoy and know well, but after discovering the online potential for my business and other businesses I can do nothing but learn more and more about it, and I’ve done exactly that for the past year.

Ideas are great, but taking action is absolutely the thing that sets people apart so this blog is to show my journey and EVERYTHING I learn in stepping out of my comfort zone and getting something tangible achieved!

I’m more than happy with where I live and don’t want to be travelling the world and couch surfing with no purpose…maybe eight years ago! I’m a family man who is looking to spend as much time with his family, follow his dreams and hold himself accountable to all who follow his journey.

The goal is to match my offline salary online and begin feeling what it’s like to live that lifestyle that I’ve been obsessively focused on living for so long! I hope to show you how much you need to work to get there and to show you how to get there through my own mistakes and failing my way to success!