Hey guys, today on 5 Minute Marketing I am sharing the story of how I made my first sale. I’m taking it all the way back to the beginning- when I was a broke college graduate/newlywed living in the basement apartment of a house I could only dream of ever owning.
Now, fast forward, I recorded this podcast standing on the porch of the dream house I never thought I would be able to afford. And I want to share with you all how I got from then to now.
Years ago I stumbled across a YouTube video on how to make money selling products online. It explained that there are a lot of ways to sell products- but only one way that is fast, efficient, and comes with huge profits. That way is selling information online. So, I started out by teaching people how to play baseball. It was familiar to me, I knew what I was talking about, and I knew there were lots of parents out there who had kids who wanted to learn.
It was successful, but I didn’t really start seeing success until I figured out the process for selling online. See, selling products doesn’t have to be a guessing game. There is a tried and true process to selling, you just have to learn that process and apply it to your own business. Once you get that down, you will start seeing a dramatic increase in your own sales.
Now, years later, after mastering that process and becoming a teacher of it, I have helped SamCart customers sell over $700 million of their own products.
Listen to this podcast, guys. My story will probably sound very familiar to you. And my hope is that by sharing my mistakes and my lessons, you can get ahead of the game and start seeing success right away.
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I had a page that just had a bunch of useless information about my product that was not written persuasively and he was absolutely destroying me sales wise because of that one rule.
Hey, what’s going on everybody? It is Tuesday afternoon, it’s a gorgeous day. I finally can hang out outside in the DC area. It’s been raining all spring. Hopefully you guys have had better weather than us. I’ve been talking with so many SamCart customers, a lot of our 1-Page Funnel students the last couple of months, just refining our process for teaching these folks how to … A lot of them are are coming in, haven’t made a single sale yet, and helping them get from essentially zero to their first sales is so much fun to see, just the pure joy that is on people’s faces when they make that first sale and has made me think a lot about the my first sale when I got started back in 2009.
For those of you that don’t know the story I’ll give you the quick version of the story. Most of you probably have heard me tell it a couple times, but every time it’s just a fun story to tell, and if you haven’t made your first sale, when you do, you’ll experience all of this and be able to tell this story to your friends and family and coworkers and whoever else. It’s just a fun story to relive. For those of you that have made your first sale and hopefully made a ton of sales after that, you know that, number one, making your first sale is the hardest thing to do. Hands down the hardest thing.
I tell this story all the time, it took me 18 months to make my first sale online. You’re trying to figure out everything, not just how to sell, but what kind of product should I make? Should I make a product? Should I refer people to an affiliate product? How do I get traffic? How do I actually get a website up? How do I get a social media account up? What should I post? What should I talk about? There are hundreds of questions that feel paralyzing when you’re going through it, then once you make that first sale, you realize, man, 90% of the stuff that I was spending my time on, none of that was required to make my first sale. I got this person from a simple Facebook ad and they just went to this one page that I finally figured out how to convey the value behind my product and why it’s going to help the person and why they should buy it. And that’s really all I needed. And in the end it’s so simple, but getting to that point is so tough. It took me 18 months.
I’m standing on my front porch right now in a house I never in a million years would have thought I would be in, especially by the time I was 30. And back when I first got started, there’s a neighborhood next to mine with huge houses in it. And when my wife and I got married … So I guess rewind back to 2008. I graduated college, was working part-time doing hourly work at a paper shredding factory a couple miles away from where I’m at now. A guy that goes to our church ran this company, it was a document destruction company. We would destroy all the top secret information that the government has, because I’m near the DC area, so there’s tons of government work around here. So we worked in this factory where we just had trucks come in and dump tons and tons of paper and plastic and all kinds of stuff that needed to be shredded. We put them through these crazy machines. The place was covered in dust. I’d come home every day smelling like dust and shredded paper and garbage. And it was pretty gross.
And at the time I was living in my parents’ basement because I just proposed to Amy, my wife. She was off, she was actually dancing for Royal Caribbean back then. So she was off in the Caribbean doing like an eight month tour down on their boats as a performer on the boat. And I was at home trying to figure out, look, I’ve got to save some freaking money. I’m about to get married in less than a year. I need a place to stay. This area is super expensive, so I’ve got to make decent money to even have a crappy apartment. Luckily, I found this part-time job connected with this guy at church, and gave me a job. I think I was making like 15 bucks an hour, 12 bucks an hour. For me back then that was a ton. For any college grad, for a lot of people, that’s a ton. And Luckily I was able to save up enough to get an engagement ring and then start putting some money away since I was living at home on a mattress on the floor in my parents’ basement.
And so I’m putting some money away and then we got married and I lined up a … found it on Craigslist, this little basement apartment in the basement of this massive house. It was like 7,000 square feet, pretty new. A super nice Indian family lived upstairs, so it was cool to live with them. We got to have some fun dinners and stuff with them. But they had this huge apartment in the basement that was basically a basement with full bath, bedroom, kitchen, and I think rent was like 1,200 bucks a month, which was a ton for me, but we needed to stay in the area. It was close to my job, it was close to family. And so we’re in this basement apartment in this house that I thought, man, if I could just live in a house like this someday, I will have made it. But one step at a time, let’s figure out how to actually go get a job that’s not in a paper shredding factor the rest of my life.
So I started job hunting and sending resumes out all over the place. I graduated with a degree in marketing. And if any of you hear that, let me just reassure you that the fact that had a degree in marketing does not make me a good marketer at all. I appreciate my education, but a lot of what I learned then does not apply to what I do today. Here, hold on a second, everybody, I’m getting food delivered to my house. Let me pick this up real quick.
There’s your drink.
Awesome. Thank you, sir.
No problem. They got pretty good food there? I’ve never eaten there before.
Oh, it’s awesome food.
I’m going to have to go there then.
It is awesome.
Because I live pretty close.
Yeah, you should try it out.
There you go, sir.
Awesome, thanks a lot.
You have a good day, okay?
Thanks. Sorry for the interruption. It’s a crazy world we live in that I can sit at home and on my phone request food from a restaurant to be brought to my front doorstep. It’s kind of nuts. So anyway, I’m living in this basement apartment, throwing out job applications all over the place. I’ve got to find a real job. I need health care. I need to make more than $15 an hour if I ever want to get out of this basement. And finally landed, to me at the time, was a dream job for a big company that’s basically nationwide, probably worldwide at this point. 25,000 employees. I got a desk, salary, benefits. It was awesome. I was making, I don’t know, 50, 60k a year. And for a lot of people, again, that’s a lot of money. And for me at the time, I was on cloud nine. I could actually start saving, we could go out to dinner, had some extra spending money.
And so anyway, I’m at this job and three, four months and I hit the wall that probably most of you have either hit in the past or you’re hitting right now, where you realize, look, your job is great, money is great, healthcare is great, but in the end I need more than this. This is not what I was meant to do. I was doing work that I didn’t care about, doing work that it didn’t feel like anyone else cared about. It didn’t feel like I was making an impact. I was making great money, but I obviously wanted to make more, like we all do. And so I’m sitting there just miserable. And not only that, my wife got done touring in the Caribbean. She got home, we got married, got this job, so she was still dancing. She does ballet, tap, jazz, all the different dancing styles out there.
So she was dancing and teaching at a local studio, which for any of you who are familiar with that, that’s an evening thing. They’re teaching girls between two years old all the way up to 18. Those girls are in school, so when they go to dance they’re going after school. So my wife’s now working from 5:00 to 8:00, 5:00 to 9:00, and I’m working … Basically 7:00 AM I’m gone, sometimes 6:00 AM. I’m not getting home till 4:00 or 5:00. And so we’re like not seeing each other all. We’re a brand newlywed couple. When you’re supposed to be actually figuring out how to live with each other, how to build a relationship, how to start your marriage off right, and we’re spending like an hour a day together and that hour is basically passing by. By the time she gets home, I’m basically in bed getting ready to get up at 6:00 AM again the next morning. And I’m going into work every day and I’m looking at guys that are three times my age that have been sitting at that same desk for decades.
And it’s starting to plague me. And I’m thinking, look, this is not the life that I want to look back and think that I just settled and did something I wasn’t passionate about for my entire life. And not only that, a job that I didn’t have any freedom, any flexibility to live where I want, do what I want, make what I want. And that was the beginning of the journey for me. That pain drove me to … I remember one day sitting in that basement Googling, “How do I make money on the Internet? Can I start an online business doing something?” I know there’s people out there that are doing this. How do they do it? What are they selling? How are they selling it? And so the search started, and that was the beginning of the 18 month clock that it took me to make my first sale. I figured out how to put a WordPress blog together, dabbled in selling services. I was building websites for people once I got familiar with that. It was a crazy journey for 18 months, trying to figure out what on earth that I wanted to do.
And luckily, beyond lucky, one of those things that looking back was probably meant to be, I stumbled across someone who, I think it was a YouTube video, that showed me, look, if you’re trying to do your own thing online, you want to make a living online, there’s a hundred ways to do it, but there’s one that is easier, more streamlined and way more profitable than any other technique out there, any business model. And it was the idea of selling information products. So eBooks, newsletters, online courses, stuff like that. And look, if you have a computer and a smartphone and maybe a little microphone, you can record an audio lesson. You can write an eBook. You can basically put together a Google Doc and export it to a PDF. You can pull out your phone and record a video lesson or screen record your computer. And all you need is something to share with the world, something that you know well. You don’t have to be an expert. Something you know well that you can help somebody else with.
It could be anything, as long as there’s someone out there that’s searching for that on Google or on YouTube or people you can reach on social media or target with Facebook ads or however. There’s a thousand ways to get traffic. Like this podcast. If you have something that you can share with the world, people will pay you for it. People pay for information every single day. And so that’s when I got the idea to start my first site, which was trainbaseball.com. I played baseball my whole life. Played in college, never got the chance to play pro or after college, so I went through that months and months of doubt thinking, “I can’t teach people how to be a better baseball player. I wasn’t even a professional.” Luckily, I had a mentor who said, “Screw it. Remember, just the fact that you played in college, or in high school, let alone college or beyond, there are millions of people out there who were worse off than you who are struggling to make their high school team, their JV team, their varsity team, who are struggling to get into college.”
There’s parents of five, six, seven, eight and nine year olds who their kid isn’t there yet, but they want to make sure they do play high school or they play in college. And one of the rules I remember that my mentor at the time told me was basically … It was called the “One Step Ahead Rule.” That as long as you are one step ahead of someone else out there, you’re one pound lighter than them, you’re 1% body fat more in shape than them, you’re one step faster than them, you can jump one inch higher than them, whatever the topic is, as long as you’re one step ahead, somebody will pay you to help them get to where you are.
And that’s when I decided, even though I was insanely nervous and doubting my ability to sell something, that I just decided, look, I’m going to write a little book. It was called The 10 Steps to Power Hitting and I still have a copy of it today. It’s hilarious to look back at it. It’s such a terribly produced product, the fonts were terrible, the design was terrible, but the content was good. The content was good because I was passionate about what I was teaching. I had something to offer and I might not have been a pro, might not have even been one of the best college players, but there were millions of people out there who they would take the advice of a JV high school kid because they didn’t make their JV team. All I had to be was one step ahead of these folks.
So anyway, that was it. That was probably eight months into this journey that I finally decided what my product was going to be. I decided to do a digital product because I could make it anytime I want. I was in full control. All I needed was my laptop that I already had and Microsoft Word that I already had, Internet connection that I already had. I didn’t have to spend any money creating a product, shipping a product, fulfilling a product. I got to keep all the money because I wasn’t referring affiliate products. I wasn’t dropshipping and having to deal with things coming over from China or dealing with taxes and all that crazy stuff. Not to poo-poo any of those other business models. I know a lot of people that make a lot of money doing services or dropshipping or physical products. There’s a thousand business models out there.
But I truly believe with everything I have, for a beginner, the digital product world is hands down the best place to cut your teeth in this world. And you can build a massive business that is insanely easy to run that just needs you, that just needs an Internet connection, that you keep all the profit. It’s just super easy. So then the journey started. I created that blog, created my product. All I had on my site was a blog and a little PayPal button to go buy my product, a little description of the product. And for months and months and months I didn’t make a single sale. And not only did I not make a sale, I was getting traffic. My blog was probably getting a hundred visitors a day. I was blogging and posting to Facebook, trying to get free traffic any way I could. I was playing with Facebook ads a little bit. And what I didn’t realize was I was sending people to a website that was not set up to sell. It was just a bunch of useless information that was never going to convince anyone to buy what I was selling.
And I had no idea even what a sales page was. I had no idea what a sales process was or that you needed to follow certain steps, that you needed to overcome certain things for someone who’s thinking about paying you for something, in order to get them to buy. And so I was ticking a couple of boxes. I had the price, I had the name of the product, I had a little description. But I was not good at writing, or writing for sales, writing in a way that convinces people to buy, which is what we call copywriting. And I didn’t know those things existed, and it wasn’t until I figured out what those things were and figured out a simple process for checking all the boxes that need to be checked when somebody’s actually thinking about buying your product. That was when I made that first sale.
And I tell this story all the time. I drove up to see my mentor, this guy Paul, up in New Jersey and figured out this guy was doing millions of dollars a year in my same niche, selling the same types of products to the same audience that I was selling to and the only difference was he was following the steps that you need to follow in order to convince somebody to buy. And I was just shotgunning it. I had a page that just had a bunch of useless information about my product that was not written persuasively and he was absolutely destroying me sales wise because of that one rule. It wasn’t because he had better content. It wasn’t because he had a better product. It wasn’t because he had better branding or better graphics or a better logo. It wasn’t because he had more experience. It wasn’t because he had been around longer than me or older than me or smarter than me. It had nothing to do with any of that.
So if that’s you, if you’re struggling and you think something else is holding you back, let me be, hopefully not the first, but maybe the first to tell you, none of that is holding you back. The only thing that’s holding you back is being able to persuade someone to buy what you are selling. And that is an art. Well, really kind of an art and a science. There is a step by step process that, once I figured out what that process was, and that’s what we now teach, I call it the 1-Page Protocol, that it doesn’t matter what other pages you have in your site, it doesn’t matter how long your marketing funnel is, that in the end your sales will be made or broken because you follow those steps. And I’ve outlined it to seven steps and I’ll go over it in another podcast.
Actually, we’re planning a pretty big live training next week where I’m going to cover all of them in detail. But it’s a simple process that takes a cold visitor, someone who doesn’t know who you are, who is skeptical beyond belief, who has no reason to trust you, like you, know you, or give you money, and turn them into someone who by the time they’re going through each one of these steps … And they all can happen on a single page, either via video or via text or whatever it is. It doesn’t matter how you deliver these steps, but if you go through the process in order, it will work. I remember as soon as I figured out what it was, the light bulb went off and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is it. If I just follow the same steps that my buddy Paul is following, someone might actually give me money for this eBook that I’ve been trying to sell for over a year.”
And I went home, studied his pages, studied this process, took all of my notes from my conversation with him and put together what was my first sales page at the time. And I didn’t even know what I was creating, but I knew I needed to follow these specific steps. And I remember as I was writing this page and creating it, and it was all text, it was a little simple WordPress page, that I started to believe in my own product better because I realized, man, there are so many reasons that people should buy my product that I didn’t even realize until I went through this exercise. It made me believe in my product more. It just made me more confident about everything, which in this world, confidence is everything. If you’re not confident, if you’re mentally defeated, it is game over. It’s over. Until you find someone, some external source to give you that injection of confidence, to remind you that this is doable, that this dream you’re chasing is attainable and that all you need to get there is just a little bit of wisdom from someone who’s been there before.
And anyway, long story short, I go back home, drive all the way from New Jersey, tell my wife, “Hey, I think I’ve figured this out and just trust me. Hopefully we’re going to be making some extra money on the side.” Put that page together, took me probably a week because it was the first time I ever done it. It was pretty difficult the first time, but I got it figured out. Let the page go live and then just sat back and waited. Went to work, I think it might’ve been like two days later, and was getting ready to go to lunch, it was like 11:30 in the afternoon. I was getting ready to go to lunch to grab, I think at the time it was like Subway, I would eat Subway every day there because it was cheap and gave you a lot of food. So somebody who was trying to save money it was the best option. But, check my email right before I go to lunch and I saw that infamous email from PayPal that said you’ve been paid or you’ve made an order.
And I thought it was a mistake or maybe my dad bought it or I placed a test order and the email didn’t fire out right away. And I log in there and this lady Deborah was my first customer of all time. Some day I’ll hunt her down, in a nice way, and thank her for being the first sale I ever made on the Internet. But I was ecstatic. She gave me 27 bucks for this simple little eBook and the rest is history. Little did I know that that day … I think it was 2010. April 23rd, I think, 2010. Little did I know that less than 10 years later, nine years later, that that simple process that I followed that day of learning how to persuade someone to buy a product, following this simple seven step process, that I’d be able to turn that into over $30 million in sales in my own products.
And now we teach that system to other people through our courses and books and trainings and webinars, and we created a piece of software that you probably know about called SamCart that helps you actually create these pages that follow that process. And not only have I sold over $30 million in gross sales since that day in 2010, but now we have almost 10,000 people using a piece of software that we built to help them actually build these pages. And they’ve made, I think it’s over $700 million selling their own stuff. So the process works. And it doesn’t matter what niche you’re in, what type of product you sell, it works. Human psychology is persuasion. It’s salesmanship. It’s how you convince someone to buy what you’re selling. And the crazy thing is you can use this to sell crappy products. But I don’t endorse that at all. Every single one of us should live and breathe our product and our goal should be to have the best product in the marketplace.
But the truth is, even if your product is crap, if you know how to talk about it the right way, you can get people to buy it. Now, again, I don’t endorse that. It’s not sustainable because people are going to refund or charge back or bash you on social media. You can’t really hide with a crappy product these days. But that’s how well it works. That’s how much it does not matter what type of product or how good your product is for this to work. So anyway, that’s the story of my first sales. It was just cool. Been in the Facebook group, our SamCart Facebook group, which has exploded the last couple of months, I think from like 3 or 4,000 users to I think we’re almost at 13,000 today when I checked this morning. But you go in there and you type the word “first sale” in the search and see how many people in there have made their first sale because they discovered this simple process. There’s dozens of them, probably hundreds of them at this point.
And those are the coolest messages for me to get because I remember how tough it was to make that first sale and how much making that first sale set me on the journey that we’re on now and how much it’s done for those other people. The first sale is the hardest. Once you do that, getting your first 1,000, your 10,000, 100,000, first 1,000,000, that becomes easier. And it’s funny that it’s the same as me, so many of these folks that write in and it’s that they made their first sale, all of them say the reason why is because they figured out how to persuade. They figured out the seven step process that we taught them that helps them convince people to buy.
It wasn’t that they discovered some advanced marketing funnel technique, some advanced email followup technique, some advanced segmentation or tagging or survey or some Facebook ad technique, or some SEO or social media or traffic technique. It doesn’t matter how good your funnel is, how many steps, how smart it is, how advanced it is. It doesn’t matter how many followup emails you write. It doesn’t matter how much traffic you have or how many affiliates you have or how good your product is or how good your branding is. If you can’t persuade someone to buy your product when they reach that step of your marketing funnel or your campaign, nobody will ever buy. And maybe someone will eventually, but your conversion rate, whatever it is, if it takes you 100 visitors to make a sale, if you are bad at convincing people to buy, it’s going to take you 1,000 visitors to make a sale. That’s just not sustainable. But if you’re good at it, you can convert sales every 10, 20, 30 visitors.
Imagine that. If all you needed was 15, 30, 50 visitors to make a sale, then the world opens up to you. That’s how you build a million dollar business really, really quick. And it comes down to this one simple process. So anyway, that’s my rant for the day. That’s the story of the first sale. Hope it inspires you. If you’re still struggling to make that first sale, hopefully it gives you a little bit of a shortcut that you don’t have to worry about a lot of things that you might be worrying about right now. And even if you’re more advanced, again, we’re on the more advanced side, we do 10 million bucks almost in sales each year, and again, when I think about how to take my business to the next level, it’s going back to the basics. It’s getting better and better at convincing people to buy. Working on my sales page. Working on our pitch, wherever that may be.
Following these seven steps better, perfecting them, getting better at convincing people to be excited about the product and relieving all their risk behind buying and building up the value and showing case studies and proof. These are all parts of that seven step process that next Thursday, if you guys have never heard it, we’re doing a big live webinar. We’ll send you the details out over email. It’ll be over at 1pagefunnel.com. Starting on Sunday, I think you’ll be able to sign up for it, but we’ve revamped the whole thing, tweaked it. We used to teach this concept called The Core Four and we’ve refined it, made it even better, and now we have this seven step process that converts even higher. And so if that’s you, if you’re still looking to make that first sale, they’re going to get to the six figure, seven figure mark. It’s a must attend. It’s completely free and we’ll teach you how it all works so that we can hear your story next. So that’s all I got. I hope you guys have a great rest of the day and we’ll talk to you soon.
If you’re looking for an easy way to launch your business online and start making sales, or a simple way to get fast cash out of your already established business, then check out how I’m making $1,729 per day with a simple one page website. I break it all down over at 1pagefunnel.com. That’s the number 1, pagefunnel.com.