How To Start An Internet Business On A Shoestring Budget

Wednesday, 8:46 AM

Dear Friend,

I’ve never really had the luxury of having a lot of money to start most of my “kitchen table” businesses.

Even later in my career when I DID have a fair amount of capital to invest, I still did it on the cheap.

In fact, I started my very first direct response business (which is still going after 14 years) for only $200.

I’m the master of starting on a shoestring budget and “bootstrapping” your way to success.

One day, I’d LOVE to have a client say…

“I’ve got $1 million dollars to get this project going.”

It’s never happened before… but a girl can dream, can’t she? :)

Even if it never happens, that’s OK. I’ve got the shoestring budget thing down.

The other day I had a really good call with one of my Inner Circle members.

We were researching markets together and coming up with some really exciting project ideas. Markets where several other people are making over a million bucks a month in direct mail ONLY. And my client and I were excited about him doing as well or BETTER.

He only had one concern.

He read in a previous post I recommended a starting budget of $10,000. My client doesn’t want to risk that much money on his new “kitchen table” entrepreneurial venture. He was concerned that might hold him back.

I recommended a budget of $10k for that other project because I had already done most of the initial leg work, researched the market (DEEPLY), developed and sourced the product, completed initial testing, had a direct mail marketing plan and online rollout developed… it was pretty much ready to go.

The profit potential is HUGE… so I was looking for a PWM (Player With Money) who had the capital to get going right away and rollout quickly with a ready-to-go Doberman Dan Approved project.

BTW, a very smart entrepreneur jumped on that opportunity lickety-split. I think the sales letter for that product is in the top 5 best DD promotions ever. We’ll be doing a direct mail test soon and everybody thinks it’s going to be a grand slam home run.

Speaking of the top 5 best ever DD sales letters…

Did I ever tell you about the fund raising letter I wrote?

It originally started out as a joke.

One of my best friends in the world, Ben “Doc” Holaday, was complaining about all the letters he had been receiving from church friends asking for donations for their “mission trips”.

Ben said that all these people in Ohio were suddenly going on “mission trips” in the middle of the gray, cold and depressing Ohio winter. Interestingly enough, all the “mission trips” were in sunny and warm exotic locations.

How nice that these good Christian folks were willing to sacrifice a few weeks of their lives to leave the Ohio winter and travel to sunny exotic locations to spread the good news.

Never mind the fact that there are THOUSANDS of people in their own backyard they could spread the good news to.

Funny how they never lifted their fat American asses from in front of the Idiot Box, went NEXT DOOR and witnessed to their OWN NEIGHBORS.

But bless their little hearts, they’re willing to “make a sacrifice for God” and travel to an exciting and sunny exotic land to do their good works.

And it gets even better…

They’re such good stewards they’re not willing to spend their OWN money on their vacation… uh, excuse me… “mission trip”. Instead they just send out letters to their marks… oops, I mean church members, asking for donations.

And all these letters were pretty bad, from a copywriter’s viewpoint.

Hey, even when you’re just asking for donations and not technically selling a product, you STILL have to use some salesmanship in the letter.

“Please give me some money so I can escape the depressing Ohio winter for a few weeks and go to Costa Rica to spread the good news of the Gospel” simply ain’t gonna cut it.

I know the Christian market inside and out… the mindset, the lingo, all the silly little sayings that make no sense… everything.

And I’ve spent a fair amount of time in 3rd world countries… so I figured I could be the Gary Halbert of Christian charity copywriters.

(I just re-read that last sentence and laughed out loud. Can you imagine Halbert writing a sales letter for the Christian market? Now THAT would be an interesting letter!)

Anyhoo… after my friend told me about all those shysters… uh, I mean those good, selfless Christians… I plopped my cute little white toosh in front of the computer and wrote a fake fund raising letter for a Christian charity in Colombia I invented.

I’ve had plenty of flops in direct response to keep me pretty humble… so I don’t (usually) go around beating my chest proclaiming “I’m an excellent writer”… or bragging about parts of my anatomy and all that other stuff some copywriters do.

But dag-nabbit… I thought this sales letter was pretty darn good.

So I showed it to Halbert.

I printed it out and he sat down in my chair and read it, smiling several times while he read.

After he finished, he handed it back to me and said…

“I want you to burn this.

Those are devastating words to hear from your mentor. I assumed he thought my letter was supremely bad.

But the great “Prince of Print” continued…

“I want you to burn this because it’s probably the best fund raising letter I’ve ever read.

You completely NAILED the market, you speak their language fluently, you hit ALL their hot buttons…

…The poor souls who read this letter will be weeping with broken hearts as they RUN to get their checkbooks. They won’t be able to write the check fast enough…

…If you give the option of calling in the donation with a credit card, your call center will have to hire extra shifts.”

He explained the reason he wanted me to burn the letter was because he was worried one day I’d be seduced by “something, something, something dark side”.

(Did ya catch the Family Guy reference?) :)

Halbert was afraid I might be tempted to mail the letter… and there are tens of MILLIONS of names available to rent that would respond in DROVES.

I appreciate Halbert looking out for me… but the “dark side” of direct response has never been a temptation.

Nope, even though I could make MILLIONS, I’ve never had the desire to become a politician, tele-evangelist or Internet Marketing goo-roo.

Well dip me in horse manure and slap my grandma!

I did it AGAIN.

I went off on a tangent and still haven’t told you how to start an Internet business on a shoestring budget.

Well, since I fired off most of my ammo for the day telling you about Halbert and my fund raising letter, let me give you just one idea today that should help you…

Get a TON of sales with ZERO initial investment!

I’ve never seen this taught by any of the gaggle of goo-roos. Most of them aren’t capable of teaching it because they don’t know JACK SQUAT about the history of our business.

A few years ago, a young IM goo-roo was telling me about a “brand new cutting edge” online technique for getting thousands of sales without any initial outlay of cash.

It was called “CPA (Cost Per Action) advertising”.

This guy was all fired up about it, explaining it was a way to get opt-ins and sales online and only pay for them AFTER you got them.

Wow! Brand new, huh?

Any serious student of mail order and direct response would know this has been around for over 100 years. Back in the day it was called a “P.I.” (per inquiry) deal.

Here’s how it worked:

An advertiser would approach a magazine or newspaper and ask them to run an ad for no initial cost. In exchange, the advertiser agreed to pay the magazine a fixed dollar amount for each inquiry or sale.

In many cases, the inquiries or sales would come directly into the magazine so they could keep track of them and not have to just take the advertiser’s word.

It was a win/win deal for both parties. The advertiser didn’t have to put up any capital… and the magazine got another source of revenue, usually MORE than he would have gotten just by selling the space.

And if the ad didn’t do well, the advertiser wasn’t out any cash… and technically, the magazine wasn’t really out any cash either.

Sure the magazine lost revenue he would have gotten from selling the space… but in reality, most magazines always have unsold space every month. If they didn’t do the P.I. deal, that space probably would have been unsold and filled with some editorial content… which doesn’t make any money.

Right now, for a lot of reasons, many magazines and newspapers are hurting for advertising revenue. There’s a lot of remnant (unsold) space available on the cheap. They’ve never been more willing to make a deal.

So here’s what I propose:

Why not contact some magazines in your niche and propose a P.I. deal to them?

The timing couldn’t be better and you’ve got nothing to lose.

All the best,