Don’t Ignore these 5 Insights from 5 Big Online Entrepreneurs

I’ve been lucky enough to have in-depth interviews with 20 of the world’s top online entrepreneurs.

Today, I’m sharing five really important and totally exclusive insights from five of these big online entrepreneurs.

What You’ll Learn:

  • The most important web design trend right now
  • How Matt Wolfe makes $20,000 per month
  • How much it costs to outsource a full-time virtual assistant
  • Why social media is like a party
  • The one thing that will never change about online business

The Five Insights

#1 Responsive Web Design is the Future

When we asked Jacob Cass about the ‘future of web design’ he said, “responsive design would be at the top of my list.”

What is Responsive Design

A website is ‘responsive’ when its design adapts automatically depending on what device the site is being viewed on. “For example, a website will change its look when you’re viewing it on a mobile device, versus a large screen,” Cass explained.

Why Responsive Design is so Important

The Internet used to be just on computer monitors. Today, it’s being viewed more than ever on phones and tablets. A May 2012 study from comScore predicts that smart phone owners will become “the new mobile majority in the US” by the end of the year (see chart).

More and more people around the world are browsing the web on small, mobile screens and if your website doesn’t look good on an iPhone or iPad then you’re losing ground with this rising wave of users.

The Insight:

If you’re a web developer, it’s time to learn how to create responsive websites.

If you’re a website owner, make sure your next redesign includes responsive design.

If you want more insight from Jacob Cass, you can check out his blog or get Income Diary’s book of interviews. Cass also identified “HTML 5, CSS 3, web fonts and parallax scrolling” as hot web design trends on the rise.


#2 Membership Sites may be the Best Way to Make Money Online Today

Broadly, a membership site is a website that restricts access to most of its content to members only. Many membership sites are free to join, but others cost anywhere from $1 to $100 per month.

Why Membership Sites are so Profitable

Matt Wolfe made $1,615.63 in January 2012 from selling 12 different affiliate products. He made a little over $62 with Adsense. Between his two membership sites (The WordPress Classroom and The Marketer’s Classroom), Wolfe raked in about $20,000 in just one month:

The best thing about this type of revenue is that it tends to be recurring. As Ryan Lee explained to us, “instead of always having to get new customers, your job becomes taking care of the customers that you already have.”

The Challenge of Creating a Membership Site

The biggest obstacle to success with a membership site is making your exclusive content incredibly valuable. As Wolfe explained to us, “There’s a lot of information out there for free, so you’ve got to figure out what makes your information different.”

Once you’ve convinced people to pay monthly for access, then the challenge becomes continuing to provide value to your community of members so that they’re getting their money’s worth. That could be a full-time job – but if you’re making $20,000 per month from subscriptions like Wolfe does, then you can justify the hard work.

The Insight:

While selling ad space and products are still perfectly viable ways of earning a passive income online, creating a members-only community is more lucrative right now. If you’re willing and able to provide massive, exclusive value to your members, your reward will be a fat, reliable monthly paycheck.

#3 Low Barriers to International Business mean Huge Opportunity

A couple decades ago, the idea of hiring a personal assistant who lived in another country was ridiculous. Today, the Internet has made it possible for a team of people to work on a project simultaneously from their computers while living anywhere.

In 2005, Tyrone Shum started a business selling Dragonboat paddles online. Business was almost too good and Shum was working 60 hours a week. After reading Timothy Ferriss, Shum started outsourcing and brought down his workload to just ten hours per week.

Shum has since sold his Dragonboat business and now spends his time teaching people how to outsource work effectively.

Why Outsourcing Works

Every business owner could use a bigger staff. But if you live in The United States (like me) or in The UK (like Michael), then a skilled full-time employee will no doubt cost over $10,000 per year.

Outsourcing works because it allows a business owner to hire a staff in a country where the cost of living is much lower.

How Much Does Outsourcing Cost?

“I think you’d be reasonably paying about $450 a month for a full-time virtual assistant working 40 hours a week. For part time, you’d be looking at $250-$300 a month. For contracts, I would probably say at least a minimum of $5 an hour nowadays”

Tyrone Shum, from Web Domination 20

Where to Hire

“Personally, I use people from the Philippines. For one, they’re English-speaking. Two, they’re honest and very high integrity. And three, they’ve got most of the technology that most of us use in the Western countries, so it wouldn’t be a problem to work with them.”

Tyrone Shum, from Web Domination 20

Obstacles with Outsourcing

If you’ve ever had a staff, then you know managing a team is a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, if you don’t do it right, outsourcing a personal assistant or a team may be more trouble than it’s worth.

Shum recommends talking to a potential employee “face to face” via video call before hiring to get an idea of their character. Another important step in effective outsourcing is to develop efficient systems for managing and training your staff, which Shum details in his interview.

The Insight:

There’s nothing more valuable to a business than a dedicated employee. If your business could benefit from a staff (or a larger staff) but you don’t yet have the funds to pay someone locally, outsourcing offers an incredible opportunity.

#4 Social Media is a Party

We mostly talked with Pat Flynn about his hugely successful blog on earning passive income.

But Flynn is an expert on social media – as testified by his 58,000+ Twitter followers and 26,000+ fans on Facebook… and he told us that social media is like a party.

What to Do on Social Media

“You want to approach social media like you’re at a big party. What do you do at a party? You get to know people. You get to understand who they are.”

Pat Flynn, from Web Domination 20

According to Pat, your goal on social media should be to develop a trusting relationship with your audience.

What not to Do on Social Media

Many people make the mistake of trying to use their social media pages as a platform for selling. That’s a big mistake.

“Selling to people through social media is like going to a party, meeting somebody for the first time, and then saying, ‘Hey, do you want to buy this Tupperware?’”

Pat Flynn, from Web Domination 20

The Benefit of Seeing Social Media like a Party

Flynn says that “Facebook and Twitter have been amazingly successful at bringing in returning traffic to my site.” He also mentioned the increased brand awareness that comes with being on a site that people are on “all the time.”

But social media is even more valuable to Flynn as an ongoing social event, an interactive community: “It’s great because I can post questions on there and people answer. It really brings a community feel to the brand and that’s a good thing about social media. If people have questions, other people can answer for me before I even have to go there. So that really helps a lot.”

The Insight:

Even businesses should keep social media social.

#5 Business will always be about Solving People’s Problems

Derek Halpern is one of the world’s foremost experts on the psychology of blogging. We interviewed him to find out more about his popular blog Social Triggers and how to benefit from understanding what makes people “tick” online.

But one of my favorite parts of the interview came when Halpern wasn’t talking about psychology at all. He was discussing the way people often miss what really matters when it comes to running an online business.

The Shiny Object Problem

“Right now, we have an obsession with shiny objects. Everyone wants to talk about the latest tools, Pinterest, Facebook, and all this garbage. It always changes every six months. It drives me insane!”

Derek Halpern, from Web Domination 20

There’s always something new to talk about on the ever-changing web. New features, new software, new sources of traffic. All of these things matter, but by their very nature they tend to be short-lived.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to opportunities afforded by the latest trends, like how Josh Dunlop has capitalized on Pinterest’s popularity to grow his photography blog. But when keeping up with the latest trends becomes your priority, you’re foolishly ignoring what really matters.

The One Thing that Will Never Change about Online Business

“The only thing that doesn’t change is that you’re talking to people and that those people have problems that you need to solve.”

Derek Halpern, from Web Domination 20

Some people think that you can trick people into giving you money online. Others seem to think that money will just fall from the sky after they set up their website.

The truth is more difficult but also simpler and, I think, much better:  people will give you money online when you solve their problems.

The Insight:

If you’re not making money online, then you’re probably not doing much to solve peoples’ problems.

If you are making money online but you’d like to make more, then it’s time to start looking at how you can create systems and processes that solve those problems better and more efficiently.


One Last Insight

These five insights came from the first five interviews of Web Domination. There’s 20 interviews total, so we’re just scratching the surface here (this may become a series if well-received).

As I read through the book researching this post, I was again impressed by the advice these successful entrepreneurs were willing to share. They all seemed to share the attitude that they would be better off sharing their knowledge than keeping it all to themselves.

So that’s my last insight for today: when it comes to the secrets to your success, be an open book. There’s more to gain from helping others than from selfishly holding onto a strategy for yourself. If something in this article struck a nerve with you, please share it with your network and in the comments section below.

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