So many business gurus claim they are ‘self-made’.


Yes, of course.

Willing to take a bold risk to achieve a goal?

Yes, indeed.

But have they created their business out of absolutely nothing?

Nah, not really.

They’ve succeeded because of the millions of experts, labourers and investors who have developed technology… publishing platforms… delivery systems… factories…. software… everything that has come before in the whole of history has led to them being able to set up a business.

What’s more, they’ve usually taken their ideas.

Sorry, that’s a bit harsh.

They’ve been influenced or inspired by what has come before.

They’ve built on existing ideas, or added their own twists and improvements.

This chimes with our Digital Upstart philosophy…

When it comes to your online business, you should be as unique, individual and full of personality as possible so that you stand out. The competition cannot replicate YOU, no matter how much money, tech and creative writing power they have.

You are a unique selling point and it costs you nothing to be yourself.


When it comes to business models and marketing strategies you don’t have to constantly re-invent the wheel

Hundreds of thousands of businesses, marketers and copywriters have spent DECADES spending their time and money experimenting, testing and developing methods that work.

And all this experience and knowledge is yours for the taking!

You just have look…

Look at what successful businesses are doing online…

Find out what works… and what could fit into what you are trying to do.

Use the best bits and build on them as foundation for your business.

As long as you’re not plagiarising the copy and design, or pretending to be that business, you can ethically use other people’s strategies, layout and marketing processes.

Here’s a business which I think is doing all the right things…

It’s about a sugar-free diet but don’t worry if the subject matter is far cry from what you do.

I’ve picked it because their approach would work for:

A blog on any specialist subject or niche interest which you want to monetise.

An information publishing service (for instance, a course, educational programme, or business-to-business).

Any business that’s involved in food, health, fitness, self-help, finance and personal development.

A consultancy or ‘expert’ business where you charge for your knowledge or help.

What this sugar-hating site is doing right

Okay, so the website is called I Quit Sugar.

Let me run through some of the points…

First, up…

PURPOSE: When you get to the page it’s immediately clear what the subject is – getting healthy by quitting sugar. It’s a clear mission and purpose for the business that taps into deep emotional needs…

To be healthy

To avoid pain/illness

To lose weight

To feel happier

PERSONALITY: There’s a name – Sarah Wilson – that gives it a personal, guru-led feel. It feels like this is from a real human who is ‘like us’, not a marketing team or a faceless corporation.

STORYTELLING: Stories are the most powerful way of getting a message across, triggering emotions that make strangers feel warm towards you and ensuring your business sticks in their minds.

There’s a tab devoted to the amazing story of Sarah Wilson and how she quit sugar. It’s a big part of why the business exists and offers proof of its claims, so they really go for it.

People LOVE stories.

Make sure you share yours – it can be about you, your business… what has inspired your products.

Get them into your About Me page, your emails and your blog posts.

FREE ONLINE CONTENT: To attract people to the website – and build their trust – there is plenty of useful information for free. Visitors can access a range of recipes on the ‘recipes’ tab. Plus there’s a regularly updated blog with the latest dietary news, strong opinions and wise advice.

Just look how many Facebook shares this latest post about coconut oil has got – 763!

SOCIAL MEDIA: All the articles are shareable on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – these are the three networks that this business uses to seek out and connect with potential customers, driving traffic to the site. Pinterest is a particularly good choice for a lifestyle business with plenty of visual impact.

EMAIL MARKETING: The most successful businesses use email and this is no exception. In order to build a qualified database they offer a free ebook – ‘A Day In the Life of Quitting Sugar’ – and free email advice in return for submitting an email address.

ENTRY LEVEL PRODUCT: There is a lower-priced product, a 7-day Reboot for £29. This is a great way to entice customers on without them making a huge commitment.

HIGHER PRICED PRODUCT. For those who want to pay more there’s a higher-priced 8-week programme. The offer has three levels offering extra benefits and privileges, so people could be paying from £89 right up to £229.

Just think – £229 from a customer for what is, effectively, a two-month diet programme. That’s seriously profitable! Just think what you’d make from just 10 customers each month.

CREDIBILITY: The website shows that there are experts behind the products, to help reassure customers.


Which of these principles could you apply to your business?

This is an online business that has a personality, a strong purpose and clear benefits for the potential customer.

It uses storytelling, storing opinion and lots of enticing images to trigger the emotions of the visitors.

It makes sure there’s a free element (email) and a low-price product to entice the maximum amount of customers.

Finally, it offers multiple price points, with extra bonuses and privileges to get the most profit possible from the best customers.

Have a look around their site and take inspiration.

Which businesses or websites have you come across that have inspired you recently?