I have said it before, I will say it again: most of what is written about making money online is total BS!
It is actually a big problem for people who want to learn online marketing from scratch. I mean, you can’t just go to the university to study it, because it’s so new and it changes so quickly.
In fact, forget university, you can’t even go to a book store and get a decent book on the topic.
Well, how to learn it, then? You have to go online and find everything you need on the Internet. But how do you actually find legit information in a niche that is full of scams and trash?
I made a list of websites that will help you with that . On these websites, you will find a lot of high quality free material and you will also get a reality check, because people who run these sites are honest and tell you what it actually takes to succeed online.
I read these websites almost every single day and recommend you to do the same if you’re serious about learning online marketing.
UPDATE: You may also be interested in these two articles, which are very relevant:
1. Smart Passive Income
Smart Passive Income is a blog focused on building streams of passive income online.
It might sound suspicious, especially when so many shady marketers try to rip people off manipulating their dreams of passive income, but Pat Flynn is a good guy who knows what he’s doing, therefore it’s a legit site for someone who wants to learn more about online marketing.
What I like is that Pat is really open about his own learning curve. Many bloggers share only their successes trying to strengthen their authority this way. Not Pat. He openly shares not only his successes, but also his mistakes as well. Pat also shares his income reports, and has been doing so since 2008.
The person behind the website: Pat Flynn.
Pat Flynn is an online entrepreneur who had tremendous success with his online marketing blog, Smart Passive Income.
Pat’s story is interesting, since he wasn’t an experienced entrepreneur when he got into internet marketing. He was working in an architecture firm. He loved the work he did and didn’t have any intention of leaving, but unfortunately (well, fortunately), he was laid off when the economy went down. He still had to finish some project for the firm, though, so he wasn’t laid off immediately. Pat used that time to learn about online business. Using that new found knowledge, he created an e-book that sold well, and eventually started Smart Passive Income to teach other how they can make money online. Pat says that being laid off was the best thing that ever happened to him.
What I like the most about Smart Passive Income: Podcasts.
There are a lot of really good podcasts that I suggest you to listen if you are serious about learning online marketing.
- 21 Small Things You Can Do for Your Audience That Can Lead to BIG TIME Results – Valuable tips on how to make small tweaks that bring big results.
- Pat’s Top 30 Tips for Successful Affiliate Marketing - Pat makes a LOT of money via affiliate marketing (promoting and selling products made by other people) and in this podcast, he shares the strategies that work best.
- Changing Lives And Getting Paid With Niched iPhone Apps - This is an interview with Mike Doonan from Speech With Milo, who has built a very successful iPhone application and who is making a very good living from his apps business (we’re talking 5 figures a month here, people!).
2. Think Traffic
Think Traffic is all about generating and converting traffic, or, in their own words, “building a thriving and profitable audience for your site.”
Guys at Think Traffic are really honest. They don’t tell you that building a successful and profitable blog is all unicorns and rainbows. Corbett and Caleb don’t try to sugarcoat the fact that it takes a lot of hard work and often a lot of time to earn money online, but if you’re comitted to it, they are willing to show you how to do it right. I think this honesty is one of the reasons why Think Traffic is so successful.
People behind the website: Corbett Barr and Caleb Wojcik.
Corbett Barr is the founder of Think Traffic. He helps online entrepreneurs to build websites that matter, so they they could have the business and life they want.
Corbett is an experienced entrepreneur himself. Prior to Think Traffic, he has founded and ran a venture-backed startup in Sillicon Valley, as well as worked as a consultant for Fortune 500. His first blog, www.corbettbarr.com, attracted over 500,000 visitors in it’s first year. Now, Corbett runs a small publishing company caleed Insanely Useful Media, which is the business behind Think Traffic, Expert Enough, Traffic School and How To Start A Blog That Matters. He also advises high profile bloggers, including Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Adam Baker of Man Vs. Debt.
You can read an interview with Corbett here.
Caleb Wojcik is the assitant editor of Think Traffic, co-creator of Expert Enough and founder of Pocket Changed.He is a personal finance expert, professional development coach and an online entrepreneur. Caleb clearly knows a thing or two about successful blogging, because he left his corporate job six months after he started Pocket Changed. He hasn’t looked back ever since.
What I like the most about Think Traffic: Videos.
From time to time, Corbett does video interviews with interesting people. I definitely recommend watching those because you can learn so much (especially because video format allows people to go more in depth about their topic).
- This is how Derek Halpern grew a 17 000 subscriber blog in 11 months – This is an interview with Derek Halpern from Social Triggers, where he explains some of his strategies. People, I’m telling you, this interview is a gold mine for those who want to learn online marketing!
- How to Get Your Site Featured on the Biggest Blogs on the Web (83 Times in One Year - This is an interview with Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing. Danny is known as “The Freddy Krueger Of Blogging”. He got that name when he went crazy with guest posting and put up 83 guest posts in one year on top blogs. In this interview, Danny shares his approach to guest blogging, and this is a must-see for everyone who wants to learn how to promote their websites via guest blogging.
- Behind the New Think Traffic Design (Results + How We Did It) with Chase Reeves - Think Traffic recently went through a complete redesign of the website, which increased their e-mail subscription rates dramatically. In this interview, Corbett chats with the designer who helped them with that, Chase Reeves, who shares how he developed the new design for Think Traffic.
3. Firepole Marketing
Firepole Marketing is a blog that focuses on marketing for small business owners (small business meaning 1-10 people).
I really like that Danny has set the bar high for the content quality. On Firepole Marketing, you won’t find fluff that the internet is full of: instead, there’s a constant flow of well written articles with practical ideas that you can apply to your business. Also, there are a lot of guest posts on Firepole Marketing, which provide many different perspectives and fresh ideas.
The person behind the website: Danny Iny.
Danny Iny quit school when he was fifteen to start his first business and has been running businesses ever since, which means that he is an entrepreneur for more than his entire adult life. That’s pretty damn impressive.
He has also worked with many businesses of all sizes, from giants like Google and Nokia to small companies and entrepreneurs who are just getting started.
Now, he runs Firepole Marketing, a blog which quickly became well known in the online marketing space (which is not that surprising, considering the earlier mentioned “83 guest posts in a year” craze that got him the nickname “The Freddy Krueger Of Blogging”).
Danny also happens to be a very friendly guy who tries to answer all e-mail that are sent to him within 24 hours (I have no idea how he pulls that one off, but he does).
You can read an interview with Danny Iny here.
What I like the most about Firepole Marketing: Webinars.
Okay, obviously, this is not something that I can link you to, but Danny runs great webinars. You know those webinars that are basically just very long sales pitches and nothing more? Well, that’s not the case with Danny, because in his webinars he shares very useful insights on online marketing. I really try not to miss those. You have to be subscribed to Danny’s e-mail list to know when something is coming up, though.
Other than that, here are some great posts from Firepole Marketing:
- Productivity Interview: Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing – Danny is a really productive guy and in this interview he shares how does he manage to get so much done.
- How I became the Freddy Krueger of Blogging - Yes, it’s THAT story.
- Why guru strategies for blog growth don’t work..And what does! - A great article on building a successful blog that shows how popular advice fails and what to do instead.
4. Social Triggers
Social Triggers is a website about online marketing and psychology. What psychology has to do with business, you might wonder. Well, to make the long story short, everything.
Smart entrepreneurs who want to use the web to increase their conversion rates must master the fields of human behavior and psychology.
And despite what the “experts” say on other bogus “social media marketing blogs,” when it comes to using the web to generate leads and sales for your business, the tools you use have nothing to do with it.
Because, as time progresses, the tools will always change. The people you’re talking to, on the other hand, will remain people. And people are people are people!
- Derek Halpern, Social Triggers
This is an excellent point that so many people miss. Internet changes extremely fast. Today’s news are tomorrow’s history. People, on the other hand, remain people, therefore if you understand how their minds work, you will be able to get ahead no matter what.
The person behind the website: Derek Halpern.
Derek Halpern is an experienced marketer and enterpreneur who is very respected in an online marketing space.
He has had great success with online businesses in other niches (entertainment, fashion, etc.). In fact, one of his websites got more than 1,000,000 pageviews in a single day, which is no small thing.
However, he decided to refocus on what he loves the most (which is building and marketing businesses) and started Social Triggers, which is now one of the top online marketing blogs on the internet. The interesting thing is that Derek managed to get to the top of his niche and make a name for himself in a very short period of time. This guy clearly knows something that most people don’t.
What I like most about Social Triggers: Psychology.
Derek puts an insane amount of work into his articles, therefore when he comes up with something, it’s a very hard-hitting and practical content that will help you improve your business.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Why We Buy What We Can Get For Free - Many people feel uncomfortable selling something online because of the nonsensical “I can find it anywhere on the internet, why would I buy it from you?” argument. In this post, Derek explains why it’s okay to sell stuff on your blog, what to do with people who complain about it and interviews Dan Ariely, who is a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke, as well as NYT best-selling author of “Predictably Irrational”.
- The 7 High-Converting Places to Add Email Sign-Up Forms to Build Your List – This article will help you to optimize your website so you would get more subscribers.
- How to Manipulate People For Fun (and Profit) – Loads and loads of people online try to make their content go viral, but they fail. In this blog post, Derek explain what makes the content go viral, and shortly reviews the controversial book by Ryan Holiday, “Trust me, I’m lying”.
QuickSprout is an online marketing blog that focuses on the best strategies to attract people to your website and monetize that traffic.
I love Neil’s writing, because with all his experience in entrepreneurship, he’s able to create thought-provoking and practical posts that are a goldmine for other online entrepreneurs.
The person behind the website: Neil Patel.
Neil Patel is really kind of a big deal. At the age 21, he was not only named one of the top influencers on the web according to Wall Street Journal, but also one of the top entrepreneurs in the U.S. by Entrepreneur journal.
Neil is a the co-founder of two successful Internet companies, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.He also helps companies, including big names like Microsoft, Amazon and TechCrunch, increase their traffic and revenue. Neil runs QuickSprout on top of all that, which is really impressive.
Neil is also very interested in non-profit work and has received Congressional Recognition from the U.S. House of Representatives for his work in the nonprofit sector.
You can read an interview with Neil here.
What I like the most about QuickSprout: Blog posts are really practical.
Neil somehow manages to squeeze a lot of value into relatively short blog posts.
- 9 Hard – Hitting Content Strategies For Small Business Blogging – In this article, Neil shares nine strategies that will make small business blogging easier and more effective.
- 100 Ways To Become A Twitter Power User – A huge article on gaining more influence on Twitter.
- Stop creating explainer videos, you’re doing it wrong! - In this blogpost, Neil explains what explainer videos are, how much does it cost to get one done and how to make sure that it converts well.
6. A Smart Bear
A Smart Bear is a marketing blog targeted to startups.
Jason’s articles are very useful for aspiring entrepreneurs and he also publishes interesting posts from guest authors from time to time.
The person behind the website: Jason Cohen.
Jason Cohen is the founder of four companies, including Smart Bear (which he took from zero to multiple million dollars in profit and then sold for cash) and WP Engine. He is also the co-host of OnStartups Answers, as well as the author of the book ”Best Kept Secrets of The Peer Code Review”.
What I like the most about Smart Bear:
A realistic perspective on startups and what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur.
- Sacrifice Your Health For Your Startup -This is a rather controversial article that argues that in order to succeed you need to go to the extreme of putting your work before you family and even before your health. I don’t personally agree with this take, but it’s a good reality dose for aspiring entrepreneurs.
- How To Value Your Company For Sale Part 1 - This, combined with a part 2, is a great read on how to value your company when you want to sell. This is especially useful for people who want to build a company and sell it eventually.
- How To Hire Your First Employee – A great guide for entrepreneurs on hiring people. I will definitely re-read it once it’s time for me to hire my first employee ;)
Mixergy is a website that publishes interviews and courses with successful entrepreneurs. It’s an amazing resource for anyone who wants to learn more about business and entrepreneurship. Mixergy is the only paid membership website on this list: monthly membership costs 25$/month and it’s a steal considering the quality of information they provide. I’m NOT an affiliate of Mixergy, by the way.
The Person Behind The Website: Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner is an entrepreneur who is best known for building Mixergy. He did well in business way before Mixergy, though: when Andrew was in his early 20s, he and his brother started few businesses, the most successful being an online greeting cards company that reached the revenue of 1mil+/month. Later, they sold that company, and Andrew came up with an idea for business meetups, which he called Mixergy. That didn’t work out very well, but once he discovered interviewing, he was on the right path and Mixergy as we know it today was born.
What I like the most about Mixergy: Courses.
Mixergy has a lot of short courses that are taught by successful entrepreneurs and they’re all accessable for those $25/month.
I obviously can’t put links to a membership zone, but here are some examples:
- “How to interview customers (So you’ll know exactly what to build for them)” – taught by Jason Evanish of KISSMetrics.
- “How to turn your content into a product (So you can say goodbye to ads)” – taught by Susan Su of AppSumo.
- “Master Class: How to keep customers longer (Even if you have to turn a few away)” – taught by Marie Forleo MarieForleo.com
These are not some fluff, these are real advice from real entrepreneurs that you can apply to your business. These courses are so good that now I have to battle my desire to go and watch them all day in order to finish this article. I’m not joking.
Really, don’t waste your time reading random blogs and don’t waste your money buying worthless products. The best way to learn online marketing is to decide which people you trust and then read their websites, buy their products and follow their recommendations.
Don’t try to follow everyone, follow the right people and you will learn the right things.
At least that’s what I do. ;)