Seeing The Matrix: Jobs Suck

Photo Credit: The Matrix (Warner Brothers)

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When I first watched the Matrix as a nerdy 10 year old it was one of my favorite movies because of the special effects.

Now a decade later I am finally beginning to realize just how accurate the Matrix metaphor is to the modern day world.

Much of what is considered “normal” by the average American is a web of lies and half-truths, some the result of malicious intent and some just the unfortunate result of ignorance, dogma, and tradition.

This post is a part of a series questioning the status quo and getting you closer to reality.

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Tynan’s post “Entrepreneurs Don’t Want Jobs” really resonated with me.

If you have a job, you might think that the grass is always greener. But you’re wrong. No one on this side of the fence thinks the other side is greener. With a quick Google search, I could find you tens of thousands of blogs where people talk about how much they hate their jobs and how much they’d love to start their own business. I dare you to find entrepreneurs, even poor ones, who wish they had their old jobs back.

Wow I could not agree more with that post. Through high school and college I worked several different fulltime jobs, mostly IT related, but the story was always the same. The work was tedious and rarely important. I got done with my work after an hour or two and just surfed the internet the rest of the day, counting down the minutes until I was allowed to leave. I was always late to work, mostly because I just didn’t give a shit. Oh and I got paid a max of $8.00 per hour which adds up to $56 per day for 7 hours of work.

To be fair some people do have really cool jobs that they love, but they are a tiny minority. If you are going to be spending 8 hours per day (1/3rd of your life) at your job, at least make it one you don’t hate.

After creating my own online business I now spend maybe an hour per day on it, which is now averaging $80 in daily income. I have the ultimate freedom to run the business however I want… if I fail or succeed I have no one to blame but myself. Oh and most of my 170+ customers tell me how awesome I am and how much time I saved them. Those fulltime jobs were a waste of my time and abilities. Even if you paid me ten times my current income I still wouldn’t go back to a regular job. The loss of freedom is just too great.

A recent Conference Board report found that:

“only 45% of Americans are satisfied with their employment situation, based on a survey of 5,000 households. Just 12% said they were “very satisfied.” That marks the lowest job-satisfaction rate since the organization first conducted the survey in 1987, “

There are lots of reasons why jobs are bad and getting worse: Increased competition from other countries (China), flat wages not keeping up with inflation, high cost of health insurance, and of course a terrible job market outlook.

Not to mention that most workplaces reward personal sacrifice instead of actual productivity. If you are productive enough to get all your work done in 2 hours instead of 8 hours you are still expected to stay in the office and look busy. Workers boast about their all-nighters of bullshit paper shuffling, and if you told them you got all that work done in a hour they look at you with disdain. Furthermore, innovation is usually looked down on in most companies as a challenge to established authority. You can’t rock the boat too much or else you risk ending up in the unemployment line.

When you work at a fulltime job the fruits of your labor are making someone else rich. Buh..buh..but if I work really extra hard then my boss will have to give me a 2% raise that doesn’t even keep up with inflation! Yeah sure they will – management probably won’t even notice the extra productivity. Or they do notice that you are very productive and as a reward for getting done early give you the ultimate insult of assigning you even more work to do with no extra compensation.

The main character of Office Space nailed it, the easiest way to get through the work day is to just look busy but barely get anything done.

Now I’m not saying that tomorrow you should go into your bosses office and take crap on his desk, but if you don’t like your job you owe it to yourself to at least try out some other alternatives on the side. Use your skills to generate some side income through either freelancing or an online “muse” type business.

Sure being an entrepreneur carries some risks – but that is why you can test out a business while still keeping your regular job. You just need to test the business inexpensively to limit potential losses. If you follow my muse testing outline and it doesn’t work, you are out maybe $200 and a couple hours of your time – you end up in the exact same position you are right now. If your business is a success you may very well be able to quit your job. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

A man chooses… a slave obeys
– Andrew Ryan

How To Test a 4HWW Muse for $16 Per Month

So you read the Four Hour Workweek and you want to know how to create and test your own online muse?

Although creating your own “muse” selling a product online can be very profitable, 8 out of 10 muse ideas fail. These failures can be helpful as long as they are inexpensive and you collect data that will help you on your next idea. This post shows you exactly how to test out your muse idea for $16 per month and collect important data from your test.

Your goal is to test muse ideas in such a way that quickly eliminates unprofitable ideas and limits potential downside.

You need to pick a niche target market FIRST and then decide what product to create and sell to them. You are going to test the market demand for your product BEFORE you actually spend all the time and money to create the full product. You can’t know for sure what the market wants until you actually test the demand, and only then can you focus on creating and scaling the profitable ideas.

In general, digital products (ebooks, videos, etc) are preferrable since they are more profitable, easier to scale, and you won’t have to deal with the hassle of finding a reliable manufacturer like you would with a physical product.

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Step 1: Choose a Webhost

There are tons of potential webhosts to choose from, but I have had a great experience with BlueHost so far. A big perk with a BlueHost account is that you get a free $75 credit towards Google Adwords and a $25 credit towards Bing AdCenter, which you will use in later steps to drive traffic to your site.

Host Unlimited Domains on 1 Account

Update – For a limited time you get a free domain registration when signing up for BlueHost.

Cost: $7 per month ($84 total)

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Step 2: Install WordPress and Plugins

WordPress is the easiest and most powerful platform to build your site on since it doesn’t require any advanced html or web programming knowledge. WordPress has tons of helpful plugins and can be easily customized to fit your needs. It used to be difficult and time consuming to install WordPress on a server, but that isn’t the case anymore. BlueHost offers an automated one-click install of WordPress to your domain.

Install these plugins that you will use later: (you can search for them inside the WordPress plugin section)

  • WP Policies – Google may penalize the search rankings of sites without a privacy policy
  • Google XML Sitemaps – Helps improve Google search ranking
  • All in One SEO Pack – Optimize your site’s appearance on a Google Search page (link text and description)
  • Fast Secure Contact Form – Used on the checkout page to register a “sale”
  • Google Analytics for WordPress – Track where visitors go on your site
  • Google Website Optimizer for WordPress (optional) – Easily integrate “split-testing” into your site

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Step 3: Design the look of the landing/sales page

Option 1 – Hire a designer.

You could try eLance or asking one of your graphic designer friends. A lot of times they don’t design the page for sales conversions – they just make it look artsy. But if you can find a great WordPress designer then by all means go for it.

Cost: $400 – ???

Option 2 – Get the easy-to-use FlexSqueeze WordPress theme

Having an attractive looking sales page is very important because if your sales page looks like crap potential customers are not going to take you seriously. Usually creating a quality sales page would take hours agonizing over html and creating your own sales page graphics from scratch. There are some free sales page WordPress themes available, but for the most part they look terrible and are hard to use.

However, the premium FlexSqueeze theme allows you to easily create a professional looking sales page in just a few minutes. FlexSqueeze has many high-quality landing and squeeze page themes and includes over 250 built-in sales images like buy now buttons, testimonial boxes, guarantees, and formatted lists.

Within two days of my first muse going live the FlexSqueeze theme had paid for itself. FlexSqueeze has an unlimited license so it is a one time expense – you can use the theme as many times as you want when testing all your other muse ideas (you have more than one muse idea right?).

Cost: $10 per month ($127 total)

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Step 4: Write the sales page

Writing great sales copy is critical to the success of your muse. You need to think about your sales page from your potential customer’s point of view.

Focus on benefits and not features. Don’t make a laundry list of technical features – customers don’t care. Purchasing is a highly emotional decision so you need to show the customer why they should care about your product and how it benefits them. How does your product solve a customer’s problem?

Example: Apple iPod when it was introduced. If Apple started the conversation with potential customers by talking about how files are encoded on the hard drive the customers would just walk away…why should they care? But if Apple tells them it holds 1000 songs so they can carry all their music in their pocket! Now they are interested. Then Apple shows them that having one makes you cool. Now customers are standing in line for hours waiting to get one.

Write a compelling story. Humans are hard-wired to respond to good stories, they draw us in and grab hold of our attention. You need to create a compelling narrative to hook your visitors. What is the story behind your product? Were you desperately looking for solutions to a problem but couldn’t find any – so you came up with your own? Turnaround stories (rags to riches type) are particularly effective and worked very well for my muse site.

There is lots to cover on marketing and copywriting so I will write a more detailed post about it in the future. In the meantime here are some resources that really helped me improve my marketing skills and write a great sales page:

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Step 5: Create the checkout page and other pages

On the checkout page you will list a short description and price for your product(s). Use the contact form plugin to create a form to get the customer’s first and last name and email address. Underneath the form submit button have text that says something like “Continue on to Payment Method Selection”. When a customer puts in their information and hits submit with the intention to pay on the next step then we count that as a “sale”.

Once the submit button is pressed you want the form to redirect the customer to the Product Unavailable Page. This page just has the text “Sorry the item is (out of stock / being updated) at the moment, we will contact you as soon as it is available. Thanks for your interest” Also create a contact page and put a contact form on that too.

So you should have 5 pages total for your muse test:

  1. Landing/Sales Page
  2. Checkout Page
  3. Product Unavailable Page
  4. Contact Page
  5. Privacy Policy

Important Notes: Make sure to update Google XML Sitemap when you are finished creating these pages. Link to the Privacy Policy in the footer of all your pages. If you aren’t receiving emails from the Fast Secure Contact Form try changing the setting “Send Email Function:” to geekmail or php.

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Step 6: Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a powerful free tool which allows you to track where visitors come from and how they move around your site. You will be using the goals feature to track the conversion rate of visitors, aka how many visitors attempted to buy your product vs. how many didn’t. If you had 100 visitors to your sales page and only 1 of them “bought” your product then your conversion rate is 1%.

See below how I set up a goal funnel using “regex” (it allows for more specific addresses of the goal pages). Click to Enlarge.

By setting up a goal funnel you can see a visual representation of where customers leave your site. If they leave on the landing page, then maybe your sales copy needs to be re-written. If they leave on the checkout page, then maybe the price is too high.

In general your conversion rate needs to be over 1% for your business to be viable. If you can get a conversion rate above 3% then you have a really great muse.

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Step 7: Drive Traffic

Free (slow) option: Blogging / SEO

Pat of SmartPassiveIncome wrote a fantastic article about raising your site’s Google rank. This strategy is really impressive when executed well and can get you onto the front page of Google’s search for less competitive keywords. The downside is that this process is time consuming and it may take a long time to generate enough traffic to effectively test out your muse idea. Furthermore, recent Google Search Engine updates have severely decreased the effectiveness of this strategy.

Paid (fast) option: Google Ads / Bing Ads

If you have the BlueHost account from above then you have a free $75 Adwords credit and $25 Bing credit which will give you a big head start. You should have a decent idea by the end of the free credit if your idea is profitable. If you are making more “sales” revenue than you pay for Google Ads then you have a profitable business.

If your muse idea appears to be solidly profitable you can start full implementation. If the idea is not quite profitable then you should do some more testing and experimenting to improve the system. If no one attempted to buy your product at all you may have to drop the project and try out the next idea.

Google Ads are an in-depth topic so I am working on another post about using Google Ads effectively. If you want someone to manage your Adwords for maximum revenue you can hire me.

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Step 8: Test and Optimize

The process of testing and optimizing your muse system is never really over. Months after I created my muse I was still testing out different product offers and sales page elements to improve my income stream.

Look to Amazon to see the power of constant experimentation – it is why they are so incredibly successful. Amazon optimizes everything on their website from free saver shipping to get you to order more than one book to a one click ordering system that makes it easier for you to make impulse purchases. Even 15 years after Amazon started, they are still testing and optimizing their system every day.

For your muse site you can test out different wording on sales page elements, maybe try out new graphics, or try a limited time offer to get customers to act quickly. The key is don’t assume anything until testing it in the real world, sometimes you will be surprised to find that your initial estimates were way off.

You can also “split-test” different versions of your page in order to see which one converts more visitors into paying customers. Google Website Optimizer will take all of your incoming traffic and split the visitors – half of them see one version, and half see another version. I will write more in depth on split testing in a later post.

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This post assumes you already know what your muse idea is and what niche market you are targetting. If not, check out Find Your Niche Market Part 1 and Part 2.

That should be enough info to get you a good start on testing your muse, let me know what you think in the comments.

Key Points:

  • Test muse ideas in such a way that quickly eliminates unprofitable ideas and limits potential downside.
  • Test the market demand for your product BEFORE you spend all the time and money creating the full product.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail – it is a necessary stepping stone to a succssful online business. Fail early, fail often.
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