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My Rollercoaster Ride to Financial Freedom

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by bladexvv, Jul 30, 2014.

  1. bladexvv

    bladexvv Newbie

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    This is my experience about my journey towards financial freedom. I hope others will find it useful and are able to take away any lessons that I share.

    When I first decided on selling my own non-fiction ebooks, I didn't know anything at all about setting up a landing page or even registering a domain name. Heck, I didn't even know what a domain was at that time. It was definitely a steep learning curve for me to tackle all those issues. But with numerous guides that you can find online, things were somewhat manageable.

    Finally, I registered my very first domain and got myself web hosting for my site. My ebook was already finished months before this stage. No, I'm not selling one of those money-making schemes. My ebook is in the niche that I was extremely well-versed in. In fact, it's directly related to my day job. For payment processing, I use Paypal. For ebook delivery, I use E-junkie. When all those things were set up, I started marketing my ebook.

    First, I started with the free way by simply letting everyone on my social networks (twitter and facebook) know about it. Since I've been keeping close contacts with people from as far back as high school, my network is quite sizeable and I anticipated that I would get at least a 500 sales after my first week of launch. Boy, was I wrong. I only got 66 sales during the first MONTH. Sure, I made quite a fair bit but it was really below my expectation. It was depressing to say the least. But I consoled myself by saying that if free advertising were effective, no one would be paying for advertising at all. My next plan was obvious: To start a paid marketing campaign.

    The natural choice was clearly Adwords due to its popularity. I chose the pre-pay method of payment and deposited $50 into my Adwords account. Then I ran my campaigns. I used up my $50 after 1 day. No sales at all. Ok, I thought, $50 is too low to draw any conclusion. So I deposited another $50 and ran my campaigns again after making some tweaks. Still no sales.

    Trying my best to stay calm, I took several days tweaking my ads so that my quality score, ad relevance and ad position were on point. I also changed my landing page a bit, even though it was already well-optimised. Then, I added another 50 and repeated my campaigns. No dice. $150 gone and still no sales.

    At this point, I started reading more tips on optimising your Adwords campaigns and applied them to my campaigns. Confident that I was on the right track, I deposited $150 into my account and ran my campaigns. Once my credits were used up,.................. Adwords you son of a bleeep!!:angryfire

    $300 spent and NOT... ONE... SALE. And 2 months have already went by. At this point, I resisted the urge to dump more money on Adwords and took a month off to analyse my situation and didn't run any marketing campaigns at all. I still paid my web hosting and e-junkie fees to keep my site operational. During this time-off, I kept getting emails from Adwords,telling me that my balance is low and I need to top up bla bla. I just ignored those emails.

    After that 1 mth, I came to 2 conclusions. Firstly, people who use Google search probably seem to be more interested in browsing the web for info rather than buying unless they're searching for physical goods. Secondly, Adwords' popularity meant that there's a huge number of advertisers bidding for keywords, which naturally results in the winning bids to be higher. I think this is true for all niches, not just those competitive ones. As a result, I was haemorrhaging my marketing budget without seeing any returns at all. Maybe in the past when Google was still new, advertisers could get away with cheap CPC but now, I don't think it's possible anymore. I believe it's too saturated now. Some of you might tell me to just put a cap on my max bid. Well, I've already tried that and my ads ended up not showing at all because it's just too low. And no, I'm not being egoistic and shifting the blame from my landing page. Not at all. Sure, maybe my landing page could use some work but looking at the situation with Adwords, it seems to suggest that competition for keywords is indeed higher now than before. I was burning through my pocket due to the high CPC. Adwords is just not cost-effective for my business where my marketing budget is somewhat limited. I would have given it another try if I had made at least one sale but that wasn't the case and I figured it was better to cut my losses. After all, I don't have billions to spend on marketing like the big companies.

    After that 1 mth break, I decided to use another advertising service: BuySellAds. This is not PPC. They charge per 1000 impressions. So, while there's the risk of not getting any clicks at all, there's also the chance that I would get much lower CPC than with Adwords if I get a decent number clicks. I paid $45 for 10,000 impressions in a spot on a relevant website with moderately good monthly impressions on the BSA network and ran an animated banner ad for 30 days.

    Continued..
     
  2. bladexvv

    bladexvv Newbie

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    Continuation.

    The result? 113 clicks AND..... 5 sales!!! XD That gives a 4.4% conversion rate! Given that the avg conversion rate for cold traffic is only 0.2%, I was certainly very happy with my results. In fact, when I found out that I've started making sales again after that dry spell, I was so relieved that I could just poop With my product being priced at $49.90, I easily made back the $45 advertising fee. Anyway, with this encouraging results, I made BSA a long-term marketing partner for my business and went for more impressions.

    At this point too, I started playing around with the idea of using discount codes for my ebook. Ejunkie allows me to create coupons for a specificed % or amount. I was initially thinking of just placing the discount codes on my social networks but then I learned about a marketing service called Vrilla that allows you to promote discount codes in a fun manner through games. The concept is simple. People play animated games and upon winning, your discount codes will be displayed to them but only after they share your reward challenge first on social media such as twitter, facebook or google plus. I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, people do like playing games for rewards. This is obviously a good way to capitalise on that trend.

    I started with their free account which has a limit of 25 game credits per month. 1 game credit gives 1 game attempt. After creating my reward challenge on Vrilla and setting the campaign to expire after 48 hrs, I shared the URL for my reward challenge on my twitter and facebook profile. I have a gmail account but I don't use googleplus. Maybe in the future. Then, I just read some msgs on facebook to kill some time before going to this birthday party of my friend's older sister. Well, I don't really like going to birthday parties but his sister's hot. I just had to go to give her a nice birthday hug :) and maybe take some mental images for my spankbank collection :p I'm a single guy. Don't judge me :D

    Anyways, about 15 minutes later, I got an email from Paypal, as shown from my desktop notification by Gmail. I have Gmail set-up to give notifications on my computer whenever I get a new msg. Turns out, I actually just made a sale! When I looked at the amount, it wasn't the usual price of my ebook but actually less. Yes, I've taken the Paypal fee into account. That meant the purchase was made with the 20% coupon code. Realise that I only advertised my coupon code through Vrilla. At this point, while I'm still feeling somewhat dazed that I just made money without spending a dime, another email came. From Paypal lol Yup, another saaaale. I was just thinking, Damn, I'm starting to like this Vrilla :)

    From this point onwards, I was practically refreshing my gmail inbox even though instant notifications were already on lol I was too eager. So I kept on refreshing, as if I was on an online dating site, desperate to know whether that hot girl would reply to my msg lmao Then an email came. But this time from Vrilla. They said that my campaign was running well but the bad news is that I'm also using up a lot of credits and only had 10 left. Obviously, they urged me to top up soon to avoid service interruption but I figured it's better to wait till I've used up all my free credits for the month.

    Anyway, for the next few minutes, I kept on refeshing my inbox like before. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Hello Paypal XDD 3 sales and counting. For those who have made multiple sales before, I'm sure you know exactly how I felt. It was even sweeter because I didn't have to pay for anything lol

    So I kept on refreshing and about 15 minutes later, I got an email. Nope, not from Paypal unfortunately but Vrilla. I've hit the 25 credit limit and I would need to wait till next month before any of my campaigns can run again. Shucks.

    Nevertheless, with 3 sales from using 25 game credits, it's obvious that I was definitely gonna buy some credits. But since I was already going out, I decided to do it later and proceeded to log out from my gmail and then facebook. However, just as I was about to log out from my facebook, I saw that I had 1 unread msg and I clicked to read it. It was from one of my contacts and he was saying that he clicked on my reward challenge but the page only displayed a msg that said the content creator had run out of credits. He asked whether there was an error or smthg. Obviously, if someone is asking about my reward challenge, it's obvious that the person wants to use the discount code and buy my ebook. That was all the nudge that I needed to top up my Vrilla account. I also figured that I would be losing sales if I don't top up now since my campaign is set to expire 48 hrs after creation.

    I logged into my Vrilla account and bought 10,000 credits for $47. This translates to $0.0047 per credit. That's less than 1 cent! :D It's dirt cheap. I sure hope they don't increase it.

    Results: At the end of my 2-day campaign, I used up 7,384 game credits and got 3,921 social shares. I actually expected this discrepancy. I figured most people would lose the game on purpose the first time round just to see how the animations change. So I'm not too bothered by it. As long as I get about half of the sharing, I'm ok with it.
    Now, for the interesting part. I got 127 sales which translates to 3.2% conversion rate which is very respectable for a cold traffic. (conversion rate is calculated as a % of the social shares since only those who win the reward challenge can see the discount code.) Actually, even though I'm going through social networks, I regard this as cold-warm hybrid traffic lol simply because it employs multi-tier cross linking ie. the people buying from me can be in my direct network (warm traffic) or those in the network of my followers, followers' followers and so on (cold traffic). If you remember, Vrilla works on the sharing of the reward challenges.

    I would like to add that I was actually a little disappointed with these sales. No, I'm not being greedy or ungrateful. I guess, it's just some wishful thnking of mine to actually make 1000 sales from my 2-day campaign lol Kinda like when you wish you're holding the winning ticket everytime you buy those lottery tickets :) Wouldn't it be nice though to make 1000 sales? :D

    My plan for now is to use Vrilla to promote affiliate discount code for services that are relevant to my niche. I think it's better to alternate between promoting discount codes for my products and those for other services/products. I mean, you can't possibly keep on promoting the same discount constantly. It should be spaced out.

    Continued..
     
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  3. bladexvv

    bladexvv Newbie

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    Continuation.

    I also intend to start using a mailing list. I know, I should have started earlier. But to be fair, Adwords was keeping me well busy :angryfire I wanna start a blog as well to supplement my landing page.

    I'll keep you guys posted on my journey. By the way, while I sincerely hope that you guys can emulate my success, I don't guarantee that you'll achieve the same level of success as mine just because you did everything that I did. Maybe Adwords will work for you instead of BSA. Maybe even Vrilla won't work for you. Maybe some other advertising network is the one that'll suit your business. In any case, adopt a rational approach and be sensible. Set a marketing budget beforehand and stick to it. Don't be tempted to keep on dumping money into something that has yet to give you any returns.

    Just use your common sense. There's no blueprint to financial success. You'll have to create your own. And most importantly: DON'T quit your job until you're making serious profits COMFORTABLY on a CONSISTENT basis. You know, I still work at my day job and only plan to quit if I can reach $50,000 per month and can do it over at least 2 yrs running. I set the threshold rather high because things can still go horribly wrong even if you're already making profits. I just want to be sure and so should you.

    End :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014
  4. sashablack

    sashablack Elite Member

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    I have to give it up to you, GREAT SELF PROMOTION :)

    But your vrilla site looks like it was done by a TEN year old :)
     
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  5. Visit

    Visit Jr. VIP Jr. VIP Premium Member

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    CPC is tough, hmmm, gl.

    Unless you know what you are doing, I'd have a black up plan.
     
  6. Stoner

    Stoner Junior Member

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    Seems like a great journey.

    What are your ebooks based around? Are they moneymaking ebooks?

    Also, have you looked into selling ebooks on Sellfy? I use them and they're great.
     
  7. daserpent

    daserpent Power Member

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    LOL Vrilla...yea right! Dude if you wanna promote a new network that you have created.. just so say! Don't think we are fools!
     
  8. SeanAustin

    SeanAustin Power Member

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    A detailed and transparent case study on "vrilla" would have been much better way to promote it than an extremely questionable life tale.

    Just sayin
     
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  9. Yildiz

    Yildiz Regular Member

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    Look into wordpress themes in the future, you'll find that they look much more professional.
     
  10. deepblack

    deepblack Regular Member

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    so, vrilla is your site? hm, I didn't even find that site by googling it. maybe run some adwords for it :confused:
     
  11. bladexvv

    bladexvv Newbie

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    Nope, photoshop tutorials. E-junkie actually delivers my product as a zip file containing a pdf and video file. The video is a screen recording as I demonstrate the tutorial. I would advise you to stay away from money making schemes. Most of them are scams.

    Yeah, I've heard of Sellfy. I think they're good but they use a transaction-based pricing. At 5% per sale, it will quickly add up for large sale volumes. I prefer E-junkie 'cos they charge a flat fee. Right now, I'm only paying $5 per month.

    IMHO those who are just starting out and are hard-pressed for money should start with Sellfy 'cos there's no out-of-pocket fees. Later, once they get consistent sales, then it's better to switch to E-junkie so that you don't lose out too much in transaction fees.

    Good luck with your business :)

    To all others:
    So, getting 3.2% conversion rate is impossible? Oh, ok :rolleyes:

    And for those who somehow think that Vrilla is my site, you do realise that they offer a FREE account, right?! And you can easily get around the monthly limit of 25 credits by creating MULTIPLE FREE ACCOUNTS using different email addresses. So you don't have to pay anything. If you're going this route, I'd advise you to use different passwords for each free accounts just to be safe. Some services monitor the passwords and frown upon opening multiple free accounts.

    As for me, I don't use multiple free accounts 'cos I have a HUGE number of contacts in my social network. I would need to create tons of free accounts to run my reward challenges. Unlike most people here, I have a day job and as a graphic designer, I often have to bring work back home, especially when the clients want to see the mock-ups on a short notice. I don't have time to waste, really.

    As for the one who wrote that a "transparent" review is better than a "questionable" life story, it wasn't meant to be a REVIEW. I was simply chronicling MY EXPERIENCE. In any case, let me do a review right here of Vrilla.

    To be brutally honest, I think Vrilla will be effective on 2 conditions:

    1. You have a decent number of REAL followers or contacts in your social network. If you're one of those who buys fake followers or friends, then obviously it won't work. Bots can't pay.

    2. The people in your social networks are interested in whatever stuff that you're promoting.

    As for me, the people in my social networks are mostly MY FRIENDS. I know most of them in real life and some of them work as graphic designers too. As for the rest, they are people that I know from the design community like DeviantArt. I have a profile there where I upload my portfolio and members who admire my work add me as friends there and also on Facebook. We would keep regular contact through chatting and emails. Online or not, I still treat them as friends. I was doing this long before I started selling my photoshop tutorials. Since most of the people in my social network are interested in designing artworks like myself, it's not hard to understand why I was able to get 100+ sales from a 2-day campaign. In fact, it's actually VERY LOW compared to the total number of contacts that I have in my social networks (twitter and facebook. I don't use googleplus). Like I said, I was actually a little disappointed with the figure.

    There you go. That's my review. Happy now? lol

    Personally, I find it appalling that a post that's shared in the spirit of goodwill is met with cynicism and even insults. Done by a ten-yr-old? lol Are you confusing Vrilla with E-junkie? Nevermind, I don't need to know lol

    Don't worry, I won't be sharing anymore. Seriously, some people.... :banghead: lol

    To all those nice people: All the best and if you're at that initial stage where you're still struggling, hang in there. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just keep a close eye on your budget and don't quit your day job.

    Goodbye y'all :)
     
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