How I Built a 5 Figure Online Business in College
Have you ever doubted yourself about your ability to earn a living from a blog or online business?
I’ll raise my hand too.
When I got started building online income streams my freshman year of college, I didn’t envision myself leaving 3.5 years later with an online business producing thousands of dollars per year.
To introduce myself, I’m Nick Foy, founder of AskNickFoy.com and I teach bloggers and online entrepreneurs how to monetize a passion of theirs and grow it into a profitable online business.
You’ll find all kinds of information on my blog about how to start a blog, how to start an email list, and how to grow an audience using internet marketing strategies like social media, Facebook ads, and networking with other top influencers. I’ve successfully built multiple blogs using the tips and strategies I share on my blog including the main success story I’m sharing with you today.
Before I started sharing my knowledge of online business with others, I first had to learn it. I spent hours every day my freshman year of college surfing the internet reading other blogs and learning as much as I could.
I got started by publishing a simple golf eBook on Amazon that has earned me thousands of dollars to this day. Golf was a passion of mine and something I was good at so I figured I could share tips with others and help them out. The best part about creating my eBook is that I spent a few days creating it and now I’ve been earning an income from it for multiple years and likely for many years to come still.
The fall of my sophomore year, I got my first check from Amazon for several hundred dollars, which reminded me that I had published this eBook as I had forgotten about it. (Oops)
This proved to me that earning an income online was possible and I began to take it seriously. I decided to set up a website for my golf brand so that I could sell my own digital products on it and keep a higher profit than what Amazon was paying. With Amazon, they take a 30% cut and leave you 70% which sucks but is worth it considering they bring you customers by using their platform to sell your eBook.
With a website, you have to generate your own traffic by writing blog posts that rank in the Google search results or through referral traffic that comes from your social media accounts.
To set up my website, I bought a 2 year hosting plan from Bluehost for a cheap price of $4.95/month and selected the domain name GolfPracticeGuides.com. Then installed WordPress and had to self-learn how to use WordPress by watching different tutorials on YouTube. You can see my WordPress tutorials I’ve created for beginners by stopping by and subscribing to my channel here.
Over time, I redesigned my website several times as I learned more and saw cool examples of features I wanted that other websites were using. But when I first set up GolfPracticeGuides.com, I came across an awesome online mentor named Pat Flynn.
Pat runs SmartPassiveIncome.com and he publishes monthly income reports that share how he’s building his online business openly. They are also really inspiring! I remember reading his reports in 2014 for the first time and he was earning on average of $40,000 to $50,000 per month from affiliate marketing and niche sites. Today he makes over 6 figures…per month! Woah.
Pats podcast was the big game changer for me. I consumed lots of audio episodes while walking to classes and learned a lot about online business that helped me grow Golf Practice Guides.
So if you’re ready, I’m about to dive into several key tips that helped me succeed and that I believe will help your business as well!
How I Grew My 5 Figure Golf Education Brand While in College
Success Tip #1: Start a Website or Blog
If you want to run a successful online business, it’s recommended you have your own website! This is your house you own and control. With social media, you may lose access to your account and thus lose your followers and audience. A website provides you a platform to share your knowledge, products, services, and build relationships with the readers who stop by.
To set up your website check out my ultimate tutorial: How to Start a WordPress Website
Once you have a website, the key is getting traffic to it! If you have no readers, then how do you expect to make any money?
Success Tip #2: Build Organic Traffic
To get traffic to your website you need to start writing helpful blog posts related to your business, product, service, etc. Organic traffic is simply traffic from Google or other search engines like Bing. I also love Pinterest, which is basically a search engine. Download my Pinterest traffic growth checklist.
How to Build Google Traffic
Think of a list of 10 questions someone would type into Google related to your topic your blog focuses on. Determine the 10 keywords you want to target ranking your blog for in the Google search results.
Write 10 articles, one for each keyword and question you want to rank for that will get searched for many times per month.
Use the Google Keyword Tool to research your keyword list and see how many searches each term gets per month.
When I was trying to think of golf related articles to write, I considered what types of golf questions people would search google for. I came up with ideas like:
- How to stop 3 putting
- How to fix my slice
- Best practice drills
Then I used the Google Keyword Planner Tool and looked up the search volume for these 3 keyword phrases. Here’s the results.
As you can see, ranking for these terms would bring me a few hundred readers per month since there are a thousand people searching these terms per month.
Imagine if you rank for 10 different keyword phrases that each result in 50 new readers clicking on your article in the Google search results each month. Multiply the 50 people x 10 different articles and you’ve got a solid 500 new readers stopping by your website each month.
Continue pumping out quality content and ranking it in Google using SEO strategies and before long you’ll see your traffic climb to thousands of visitors per month.
Success Tip #3: Build Referral Traffic
Along with organic traffic from Google, you should be building referral traffic that comes from your social media accounts and other blogs/websites.
Set your business up on the various social media platforms:
- Facebook Page
Then choose one or two platforms to really focus your energy on building. Don’t spread yourself thin trying to grow accounts on all the different platforms. Just set up accounts so that they can grow naturally on their own as people search for you on each platform. In the mean time, focus on one or two platforms you actually put effort into growing.
With Golf Practice Guides, I used Instagram to boost my website’s traffic and sales while I was waiting for my blog articles to start ranking in Google which takes time.
I wrote this post 13 Ways to Grow Your Instagram Followers that you can read to learn how to ignite your Instagram follower growth.
I started my Instagram account in the Fall of 2014 and didn’t post that often. By spring 2015, I had maybe 1,000 followers so I decided to start posting golf practice tips instead of just golf photos. This lead to me gaining another 1,000 followers slowly.
Then in 2016, I started taking Instagram more serious and put all my effort into growing my account. I used hashtags and posted valuable content my audience would love and share. This helped explode my account from 2,000 followers to over 28,000 followers by the end of the year.
I’ve connected my Instagram account to my Facebook business page which allows me to see analytics for my Instagram account within the Instagram app. If you ever are on an account and see it has two buttons, one that says contact and one that says follow, then you know they’ve connected their account to a Facebook page to track their analytics.
Once connected, you can see how many impressions, page views, and website clicks you are getting each week.
I also monitored referral traffic from my Google Analytics account and saw that Instagram was sending hundreds and thousands of visitors to my landing pages each month. This is our next success tip!
Success Tip #4: Landing Pages & Email Opt-ins
Up to this point, you’ve set up your website for your business and you’ve started writing high quality content on your blog. You’ve also set up social media profiles to build an audience on those platforms that you can send to your website.
With all this traffic you’re generating for your website, it’s important to make sure you are capturing it and keeping people around long term! To do this, you’ll need to set up an opt-in form on your website that people can fill out, subscribing them to your email list.
You’ll want to start an email list as soon as possible! One mistake I made with my business was not starting my list right away and once I did start it, I didn’t take it serious for awhile.
It wasn’t until I started growing my email list that I saw my revenue taking off. This is a piece of advice you’ll see lots of other successful online biz owners share also. The money is in your email list.
By starting an email list, you get to stay in touch with your audience by sending them updates of your blog, products, or services.
How to Start Your Email List
Sign up with an email marketing service like ConvertKit.
I wrote a detailed tutorial you can read walking you through ConvertKit and how to get set up with them easily in a half hour or less.
Once signed up, you can create your opt-in form and then insert it onto your website so that people can subscribe to your email list. Once they subscribe, you’ll want them to be automatically enrolled to your autoresponder series which is a pre-written series of emails that get sent out over a period of several days or weeks depending on how long you want your series to be.
You could write 20 emails that get sent out one per week over 20 weeks. ConvertKit handles the sending for you so you don’t have to worry about signing in everyday and manually emailing everyone a different email.
Once in awhile when you have just published a new blog article or want to promote a product, you can send a one time email to your list which is called a Broadcast email. You’ll be able to monitor open rates and click rates to see how many people on your list are actually reading your emails and taking action.
Set Up a Landing Page
The best way to build your email list is to have opt-in forms in multiple places throughout your website. One of these places is a web page dedicated solely to convincing someone to opt-in to your email list. This page is known in the blogger world as a landing page.
You’ll promote this page in most of your blog posts and on your social media profiles by linking to it. When people click the link, they’ll be taken to this landing page which will have some sort of incentive you are offering them in exchange for their email address.
For example, with my golf brand I created a list of 15 practice drills that help golfers improve their putting and chipping the most. I turned it into a downloadable PDF file and promoted it as a free resource my readers can download.
I drove traffic to my landing page and once they landed on my email opt-in page, the page shared all the benefits of this PDF file they would be receiving and how the drills would help them. Then I placed an email opt-in form on the page for them to fill out, unlocking access to my free list of drills.
In order to download it, they had to fill out the email form and then ConvertKit was set up to automatically send them the email with download link in it as well as redirect them to a download page on my website.
Success Tip #5: Sell Your Audience Something
Lastly, you have to sell your audience something! How else are you going to make any money?
I created eBooks, Practice Plans, and Training Courses that I sold on my website and they turned out to be a big hit as I saw my sales go from a few hundred dollars per month into the thousands.
You don’t have to create your own products necessarily. You can become an affiliate for someone else’s products and receive a percentage of each sale you bring to the person you are an affiliate for.
Most people think of selling ads on their website but this isn’t the best way to make money. Selling ads is a hard way to make a living as you’ll need tons of traffic coming by your website each month to make any real money. Like we are talking hundreds of thousands of page views per month.
Your time is better invested selling some sort of product or service that you offer or as an affiliate for someone else.
You can also sell sponsorships once your blog gets a high volume of traffic. Companies will pay you to be a sponsor of your blog posts so that you mention them in the post and write the post in a promotional way for gaining their company exposure to your audience.
With my golf brand, I’ve never done a sponsored blog post on my website but I have done sponsored posts on my Instagram page. Having 25,000+ followers gives me a huge reach and I’ve had several golf brands pay me $50 to post a photo to my Instagram account for them. In their eyes, $50 is a cheap way to get in front of thousands of people compared to the high costs of other advertising methods.
- 5 Platforms to Create Online Courses to Sell
- How to Create Your First Product: The Complete Guide
- How to Price Your Product the Smart Way So It Sells
Making Money Online Checklist
Wrapping up today’s article on how I built my golf education company to 5 figures before graduating from college, we discussed the following lessons:
- To make money online, you need to be reachable. Set up a website and social media profiles so people can find you.
- Once you have a website and social media accounts, you need to build your audience of fans. Write high quality articles to rank on Google and post quality content to your social media that gets people interested in following you and sticking with you to learn more
- Drive traffic to a landing page of some sort whether it’s an email opt-in page to join your list or a sales page to pitch them a product/service.
- Offer them something for sale. This can be your own product, someone else’s product, sponsors paying you to post about them, or ads people click on your website.
- Grow your traffic and you’ll increase your income.
Making money online comes down to how much traffic you have and how well it converts!
If 10 people buy your product out of every 1,000 people who see your product, then you have a 1% conversion rate. Once you know your conversion rate, you can scale your business projections based on how much traffic you are bringing to your website and product pages.
Grow your traffic to 10,000 people and you’ll have 100 of them buying from you. Grow your traffic to 50,000 people and you might have 500 people buying from you.
I was able to build my online business to 5 figures because I learned how to build traffic from Google and from Social Media and drive this traffic to my email opt-in page and my product sales page. Every month I monitored how much traffic I had, how many email subscribers I gained, and how many sales my online eCommerce store had.
These 3 metrics are a great starting point for your business!
- Website Traffic
- Email Subscribers
- Product Sales
Recommended Course to Join
If you want to learn how to build a successful online business you can find lots of free information surfing different blogs but the best way to fast track your learning is to spend money on an educational course.
I recommend 7 figure earner Melyssa Griffin who can teach you the steps she took to building a million dollar business online from her website. Check out her course here.
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I wish you the best of luck in your online business ventures and I hope to see you around my blog and social media!
Before ya go, make sure to sign up for my email list here to get helpful tips and lessons sent to your inbox each month as well as to stay up to date with my latest projects (:
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