Free Webinar:
Discover The Course
Builder's Blueprint!

If you would like to learn more then click here

Blog Marketing Success: Behind the Scenes of a Multiple-Six-Figure Blog or "How Mirasee Works!"

Note: Since this post was written, many of our training programs have run their course and have been superseded by some other really amazing training programs. Check out some of the products we’ve launched since then: the Audience Business Masterclass and Campaign Mastery! 🙂

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

Someone asks you a question that you should totally know the answer to, and be able to explain without batting an eye.

But when you start to answer, you stumble over your words. You explain things in the wrong order, give too much information, and still manage to leave out some really important stuff!

It’s awful to watch the person you’re talking to go all glassy-eyed with confusion, and try desperately to change the conversation back to something, anything that might make more sense.

Has that ever happened when you’re talking about your business?

Yeah. It’s not good, but it happens.

It happened to Danny and me just a few weeks ago…

This Really Shouldn’t Be So Hard to Explain…

I mean, come on, we work with this stuff every day. Not to mention that we’re in the business of explaining how business works!

Okay, let’s back up. Here’s what happened. You probably know that we’ve recently taken on some new staff at Mirasee. Onboarding is a process that can be challenging for any company, and one of the first things is an explanation of the “big picture” – why we do what we do, and how all the different pieces fit together.

Danny and I sat down with Robyn and Amanda, and he started explaining the different paths into and out of Mirasee; all of the free stuff, all of the paid offers, all of the past successes (and failures!), and the long term goals of where it’s all heading.

Robyn and Amanda are fantastic sports, but *I* was confused trying to help explain it, so I can only imagine how they must have felt.

The fact is that there is a LOT going on here, and I don’t think either Danny or I had actually sat down to flesh out the whole picture in quite a while.

So explaining it all was a little bit… messy.

But It Really Has Gotten Complicated…

Mirasee and all of the associated products and brands – like the Naked Marketing Manifesto, Write like Freddy and Engagement from Scratch! – grew out of each other and out of feedback from our community and customers. The whole process was very organic, and so, while everything really does fit together (we swear!), explaining how is on the complicated side.

We started fleshing it out, and after several iterations, arrived at a flow-chart that looked something like this:

This diagram illustrates the different ways in which a total stranger can get “in” to Mirasee, and how the relationship might progress (assuming they’re a good fit for us, and we’re a good fit for them).

There are a few steps in the process: discovery, involvement, engagement, and finally commitment:

  1. Discovery. The first thing that has to happen, of course, is that we have to get onto people’s radar. They might first stumble onto us through a random Google search, follow a link from a friend, another blogger, or from a guest post, or they may attend a webinar that we’ve put on for a partner.
  2. Involvement. That first contact will lead them to one of three places; the Mirasee blog itself, Engagement from Scratch!, or the Naked Marketing Manifesto (and in case you’re wondering, yes, even the webinars we do with partners don’t lead directly to a sale – we first invite registrants to download Engagement from Scratch!, so that we can begin a relationship with them).
  3. Engagement. If someone visits the blog and likes what they see, we hope they’ll sign up for some of our free resources. When folks download Engagement from Scratch!, or join the Naked Marketing Insider’s Club (after downloading the Manifesto), they get added to our list, so that we can start a conversation with them – share more about us, offer more advice and information, and deepen the connection.
  4. Commitment. If someone’s already engaged with us, the logical next step is to make a deeper commitment. We’re against the hard-sell here, and never push something on someone who isn’t interested or ready – and the beauty of this engagement model is that we really don’t have to, because people come to their own conclusions soon enough, and start buying the things that we have for sale; like Write Like Freddy, Marketing That Works, a consulting session with Danny, or one of the higher-end coaching or mentorship packages that we occasionally offer.

As you can see, there’s a logical progression here, and it doesn’t just disappear once we’ve made a sale. When someone becomes a student of ours – whether it’s through Write Like Freddy, Marketing That Works, or more direct work with Danny – we like for them to stick around on the blog, in our list and in our projects, our students are, across the board, really great people to know. They’re all going big places with their businesses, and as they grow in their learning, the opportunities for us to help them (and for them to help us!) keep on growing.

Okay, in case this sounds just a tad bit complex (it does to me!), here are a couple of examples…

Two Examples (Out of Thousands)

To make this all a little easier to grasp, we’ve made up two fictional (but representative) examples – Gary, and Isobel. Let’s start with Gary:

Gary is a regular reader of Copyblogger, who notices a guest post by Danny. He clicks through to the Naked Marketing Manifesto page, and decides it’s worth a shot, so he downloads it, and joins the Insider Club for good measure. After reading it, Gary thinks “Okay, this is good stuff, I want to learn a little more.” So when he gets an email from Danny a few days later, he opens it, clicks through to the blog, and leaves a comment asking a question that’s been on his mind. He gets a personal answer to his question, which makes him feel good, finds that the other commenters are interesting and insightful.

A little while later, Gary gets an email about a free live training event that we’re putting on – maybe it’s our Fast, Effective Writing webinar – so he registers, and decides to attend. Gary really likes what he sees, and decides to join us in the Write Like Freddy program.

Gary works hard on the content in the course, and expands the reach of his own blog in the process. He decides to try his luck, and pitch us on the idea of a guest post. Write Like Freddy students produce some of the best writing in the blogosphere, so we accept the post, and it goes live on the site – now it’s Gary who’s responding to comments and sharing his knowledge!

Now let’s turn our attention to Isobel, and how she discovers and connects with us:

Isobel first hears about Mirasee because she’s subscribed to the mailing list of one of our affiliates. She gets an email advertising our Fast, Effective Writing webinar, and decides to attend. She enjoys the content, but decides that the Write like Freddy program isn’t right for her at the moment. She is impressed enough, though, to give some extra attention to the emails that Danny sends her in the days ahead.

She reads articles as they are published out on the blog, and once in a while, participates in the comments. At the same time, Isobel is hard at work on her own business, but she has a few issues that she keeps getting stuck on, and so finally decides to reach out to Danny with a question. Danny solves her problem, and she is able to get some good traction, so when a more complicated issue comes up, she doesn’t hesitate long before booking a consultation.

A little further down the line, when the opportunity presents itself and her business is ready, she decides to sign up with one of our high-end group coaching programs, so she can have access to Danny’s expertise whenever she needs it. As part of the group coaching, she meets several other entrepreneurs in complimentary industries, and expands her professional network. The next time she’s speaking to someone who needs help with their small business, she doesn’t hesitate to recommend Mirasee.

Now, of course, these are examples of good fit – not everyone advances all the way from hearing about us to buying lots of our stuff… and that’s totally fine, because Mirasee (like any business) isn’t for everyone, it’s just for the people who are right for us, and who can benefit from what we have to offer.

So… How Do We Make Money?

Danny gets asked pretty frequently how Mirasee is “monetized”, and with good reason – it’s not a lot of two year old blogs that generate multiple-six-figures in revenues!

So without further ado, here’s a rough breakdown of the different channels through which the money comes in:

This isn’t a super exhaustive or precise representation, but it gives a good idea of, overall, of where the money actually comes from:

  • Products represent about 30% of our income. This is stuff like Write Like Freddy, and Marketing That Works.
  • Services represent about 60% of our income. This is the biggest chunk by far, and it consists mostly of high-end coaching and consulting services that Danny offers.
  • Affiliate sales represent the last 10% of our income. This is usually training programs that we recommend, like Corbett Barr’s Start a Blog That Matters, but also includes services that we use and recommend, like AWeber or Visual Website Optimizer.

So that’s how it all works, leaving just one last question…

This is a FANTASTIC Problem to Have… Do You Want It? 😉

So this, in a nutshell, is how Mirasee works as a business.

It’s a constantly changing process, with new products, and services, free offerings and projects popping up all the time.

Now, I have to be honest – writing this post wasn’t anywhere near the easiest thing that I did this month! 😉

I’m not complaining, though, because as complicated as it was, it means we’ve got a great business here – one that is growing, changing and making a difference in the lives of our customers.

And I’m guessing that if you’ve read this far into the post, then creating this sort of thriving, profitable business is probably something you spend a lot of time thinking about too.

Isn’t it? 😉

When was the last time you mapped out your business process? Care to share how your business works? I’d love to hear about it, so tell your story in the comments!

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at PayingforLife.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

27 comments

  1. Gosh! This was just the article i needed to start my week of on the right foot, thank you for sharing the incredible post.

    Creating products that people want is a difficult task and one our startup is still working on. I am amazed as well as excited at the same time that you guys did all of this work with only 4 team members! It really makes other business dreamers feel good knowing that they dont need tons of people to make their idea come to life – just some focus.

    Adding to the conversation of active vs passive work, i believe there is no shortcut to greatness, so if your hopes are to make your business passive you have to put in those active hours first.

    Fantastic post you guys!

  2. Although it was probably pretty difficult to get all of this information straightened out inside your head, it was probably a really good learning experience. This had to be done at some point, so it’s good that it’s now done and out of the way. As you learn about new avenues people take to find Firepole Marketing you can add them to your flow chart.

    Altogether a very interesting and informative post. I just hope that someday I’ll be successful enough to actually have to sit down and do something similar to this!

  3. I am in this situation every day lately – trying to train a new employee. I’m working hard to clarify the business structure and “how it works” so my staff can do an even better job! It’s a challenge when it’s all in your head.

    1. Nothing like training to make you pick up your pace. I was really struck when we were working on it what a difference having a clear “big picture” view can make to someone who is new to the project.

  4. Thanks for the insight.

    All good food for thought, but what really hit home for me was the example of how the readers/audience/visitors glean value from other community members who leave comments and participate.

    I’ve always thought this way about graduate school, where I was attracted by a core curricula and some great teachers, but much of the value came from the interaction with other students. It’s now been over a decade since I finished grad school, but the same is true in much of business. You can be inspired by a single leader or hire a company because of a program lead, but a significant part of value comes from the collective of people indirectly involved in a project, and the ability to attract the right kind of indirect and direct participants is key.

    1. Fantastic analogy Andres – and I think you’re absolutely right – at the end of the day, people like doing business (and everything else!) with other people.

      A lot of what people remember about their school years (or even their work years!) are the people they got to know and learn from.

  5. What an awesome way to get going with this inspiring post! As I was reading, I was wondering if you would suggest entrepreneurs to do that upfront as a strategic marketing tool, let’s say to put in your business plan. We know things always evolve but having an plan on how to attract customers and keep them around seems right. I am at completing the framework for my first web site/blog and can’t wait to use this idea in my own business.I’ll share more when I’ll get there!

    1. I think creating a diagram like this is incredibly useful for any business owner. I internalized a lot more of how the business I work in actually works doing this than I had previously.

      Adding it to your business plan could be a great way to quickly show people what you mean and why it will work.

      I can’t wait to hear more about your blog! Please do share when the time is ripe!

  6. This is a great read. Thank you! I’m curious to know a bit about the timeline. What came first, the business or the blog? From reading some of your earlier materials my impression is that the business existed offline first, perhaps with some of the products that you still continue to offer, but your income did not compare at all with what you are achieving now. Do you credit your business success primarily to your blog? If so, why? Does it boil down to driving traffic back to your original products and service offerings, or is it something more than that?

    1. Hi Pam,

      Good questions!

      I think I can answer, because I came to the team just a few months before the blog launched. When I first started working with Danny and Peter, they were building the Marketing That Works Training Program and populating the blog with Content. The actual launch was in august, and the training program was set to go at about the same time.

      Both Peter and Danny had had plenty of business experience in other industries and in marketing before getting going.

      The blog has really been where everything happened, because as the community grew, it became evident what they needed and wanted and would pay for, so decisions about what to offer and when were based on them. If you’d like to find out more about the nuts and bolts of how Danny built this business, you should come to the training vent this coming Tuesday.

  7. Terrific post, Megan! I can see why this took you some time to write, gracious! As we say here in the South. ; )

    I love how you break down the process of converting visitors to customers, and then work to keep them in the FPM family, and I especially appreciate the income breakdown! I gotta tell ya, it’s great to see a business doing so well that still focuses on service offerings, both on one-on-one and group. I am a service professional, and I’ve spent the last few days mapping out products I’ll create by the end of the year and going into first quarter of 2013, but I also know that I always want to have one-on-clients in my business too, because I love the live interaction and collaboration that only that kind of work can bring.

    I haven’t mapped out my business process since I took my freelance business online a few months ago, and it’s changed some since then, but after reading this blog post I can see how this would be a great thing for me to get going on. That said, I have been spending an hour every morning going through the excercises in Michael Port’s book, “Book Yourself Solid” (on how to get more clients) so I can get way clearer about what I have to offer and market myself as consistently and well as I do my own clients.

    Thanks for an awesome and instructive article. Oh, and I’m so glad I signed up a few days ago for the live training on building an audience-based business — it took reading this blog post though to remind me that I did sign up and to write it down in my calendar. : )

    1. I can’t wait to see you on the training, Kimberly – it’s going to be a lot of fun.

      I agree with you about service – the one-on-one aspect is really important to me as well – that’s one reason I like Firepole so much – anyone can shoot us an email and we get to reply.

      I’ll have to add “Book Yourself Solid” to my reading list – thanks for the tip!

      Megan

  8. Engaging post, Megan! Made me think about business mechanics, which is what I’m really working on right now. I’m a freelance writer and have been following “the rules” for freelance writing for awhile now. They’re not working for me. So now I’m beginning to break the rules, and hoping that will bring more success. So far, so good! Getting lots of good pointers that I do follow from Firepole Marketing’s webinars, as well. Thanks for some much needed inspiration!

  9. Thanks for the insight guys. Using the techniques of Firepole Marketing, Jon Morrow and Carol Tice I’ve been able to triple or at least double the number of readers that I get each month. Not bad since I didn’t know what a blog was in 2008.
    I’m constantly thinking about ways to monetize, so this article is both useful and timely. It gives some ideas on how to make money and the graph simplifies the process.

    All The Best.

  10. Very nice overview and thought the red part of the graph would be much smaller.

    Cassie comments from Womenswaytowealth on 60% active vs. passive are something I reflect on often as we initially went to build a passive income website that has turned into an active income. Its great now, but don’t know if I could ever turn it back.

    Thanks as always!

    1. Anytime!

      I think the whole “passive” income thing is, while true – less passive than is usually given out. Even an income that you don’t actually have to put time into on a day to day basis took a heck of a long time to set up.

  11. Hi, thanks Megan, Danny et al. The flow diagram of entries into the Firepole site, and the sales funnel process is really useful and a great way to summarise your front and back end (if you’ll excuse the terminology!).

    It’s interesting too that 60% of your income is active rather than passive. Meaning that if you want to retire to a Caribbean island any time soon you’ll need to clone Danny!

    Thanks (as always) for the great insights and inspiration. Going to take a helicopter view of my business using this method too as it’s a great planning tool. And worth reviewing annually.

    1. Hey Cassie, the whole idea of “passive” income is kind of a myth; the 40% that you describe as “passive” is hardly passive, either – we’re there to support our students, we have to promote the webinars that lead to affiliate sales – it all takes work. That’s just real life for a growing business – the people scheming after “passive income” while retiring to a beach on the Caribbean are kidding themselves. 🙂

  12. Very useful information, thanks! And yes I have been in that very scenario plenty of times. It’s like you know the answer to it so well and in so much detail it’s hard to come up with the 50-words-or-less version on the spot.. Mental blanks, argh! Thanks again!

  13. What a great inside look into the Firepole Marketing engine. I have always been curious what a successful online business looks like. By the way, those graphics are really helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

[name="cbl_weekly_webinar_date"]
[name="cbl_weekly_webinar_date"]
[gravityform id="84" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="80" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="82" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="81" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="78" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="24" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="72" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="71" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="66" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]
[gravityform id="64" title="false" description="false" ajax="true"]