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.
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.
Update – For a limited time you get a free domain registration when signing up for BlueHost.
Cost: $7 per month ($84 total)
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)
- 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
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 – ???
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)
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:
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:
- Landing/Sales Page
- Checkout Page
- Product Unavailable Page
- Contact Page
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.