How To Create An Online Business That Can Survive A Pandemic

Tom Kuegler COVID-19

7 mins read 2 comments

“John just purchased your course for $197”

“Tommy just purchased your course for $197”

I woke up to two emails like that today, and it felt great. Right now, these emails mean I get to continue eating and paying my bills. 

They’re essentially saying, “Hey, you just got a deposit of $197 in your bank account.” Like all those typical online gurus, I sometimes make money while I sleep. 

I’m humbled people would spend their money on my course in a time like this. Because of them, I haven’t felt the financial effects of this pandemic. I’m earning double what my expenses are, even now, with enough money to save and invest.

I’m not here to gloat about that, though. I’m here to show you how to do it yourself so you can build a shield around your bank account for times like these. 

Forget about a pandemic for a second – what about a recession? What about creating a thriving online business for any sort of economic downturn?

This is how to create one that can survive hard economic times.

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1. Create a Steady Stream Of Organic Leads Via WordPress, Medium, Or Social Media

2,000 views. A few months ago, one blog post on Medium won me 2,000 views in a day. It also made $31 and helped me capture 50 email subscribers in 24 hours.

Here’s the proof.

In total, that blog post earned $500+ in October, and helped me sign on a couple hundred new email subscribers in 15 days. 

I was ecstatic sitting there at my computer watching everything happen. 

Of course this didn’t happen overnight. 

This happened after three years of posting on Medium.com, a site that gets tens of millions of visits per month. Think of Medium like Instagram for bloggers, except it’s less pretentious. Instead of posting images, you post articles. You can follow your favorite writers. I’ve been lucky enough to surpass 40,000 followers myself.

Medium can act as a lead generator for your business. When used correctly, you can get about 1-2 new email subscribers per 100 views. 

How? A call to action at the bottom of your blog post. It typically says, “Hey, sign up for my newsletter to get X and Y.” Then there’s a link to a sign-up form.

I’ve found them very effective, and it’s the real first step towards a thriving online business.

Let me put it to you this way: one email subscriber represents one dollar. For every email subscriber you have, you should make $1 per month in revenue. So if you have 1,000 email subscribers, for instance, you should have the capacity to make $1,000 per month. 

An email subscriber is a lead you own. You know how to reach them again –  you got their email for gosh sake. Earlier 16,000 people read my blog post, but I don’t know where 99% of them are now and I have no way to contact them.

Why? I don’t have their email address. Darn it, right?

But at least I got a few hundred. Medium is a great place to mine for organic leads. There’s two other very good places to mine leads: WordPress and social media platforms like LinkedIn.

WordPress is basically just your own website.

WordPress is different from Medium. Think of Medium like a shopping mall with all types of different stores inside. Now think of WordPress like a McDonald’s on the side of the road. 

There’s already lots of traffic flowing in and out of Medium every day, but with a WordPress site, you have to create your own traffic. You can do this with Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. 

I can’t host a masterclass on SEO right now, but a half hour on Google should help you understand the basic gist of it.

My tip? Use Google Chrome Extensions like KeyWords Everywhere to find low-volume keywords. Target them, because you can bet other folks aren’t. They’re much easier to rank for, and will start to give you a tiny trickle of traffic every month. 

Lastly, let’s talk social media sites. I use LinkedIn to build my email list, too. It’s actually quite easy, LinkedIn is sort of like Facebook for professionals. Unlike Medium, where you can only post articles, you can choose to post videos, pictures, and status updates on LinkedIn. 

These posts get a lot of views  – especially if you include multimedia like videos or pictures. Even if you want to record a “selfie” video with your cell phone, you can still rack up thousands of views pretty easily.

One selfie video I recorded at the Singapore airport in 5 minutes got 250,000 views.

I use LinkedIn as another lead generator for my business. 

What I do is I make a piece of content, tell people there’s a link in the comments to sign up for my webinar, and then throw that link in the comments. I put the link in the comments and not the description because LinkedIn hates posts with links to other social media sites.

I can probably get an extra 100-200 email subscribers per month from LinkedIn that way, which amounts to about $1,000 - $2,000 for me.

But how do I actually make money? Let’s get to it.

2. Create a Revenue Stream

Here’s what the funnel for my first revenue stream looks like.

  1. Blog Post → 2. Email Sign Up → 3. Free 5-Day Email Course → 4. Webinar → 5. Online Course Sale 

That’s my funnel in a nutshell. 

People read my article, sign up for my free email course, attend a webinar, and then get pitched an online course during the webinar itself. 

What product will you make?

I highly recommend you create an online course. There are a few ways to monetize on the internet, such as paid communities, ebooks, digital workshops, and even in-person workshops. 

Mariah Coz sells in-person workshops for close to $10,000 a pop. She also has a slew of online courses she sells. 

For me, one online course can make me anywhere from $3,500 - $6,000 per month. The best part? To get more sales in my funnel, you just need to fill it with more leads.

While ebooks can sell for $10 per copy if you’re lucky, online courses can sell for $99-$499. (I’ve even seen some courses sell for $2,000, but that’s not common.)

What I’m saying is, you get more money for online courses. You have to create a lot of content for it, which could take you a few months, but once finished, 90 percent of your work is done.

Let’s talk about another important aspect of this: Webinars.

Webinars are 30-60 minute live shows where something is generally taught for 30 minutes, and a product is pitched for 10-15 minutes. Then there’s a Q/A at the end.

Webinars typically convert at a rate of 10-20%, meaning on a good day, one-fifth of the people that join the live stream will buy your product. 

If you have 50 people in your live stream and are selling a course for $199, then you’ll get approximately 10 sales and make about $2,000.

Webinars, to me, are the best way to sell products online and should be heavily considered for your own funnel in the future.

Once you’ve created an email signup, a profitable webinar, and a course that’s up to snuff, it’s time to automate it.

3. Automate That Revenue Stream

I remember the first time I watched a webinar from author Jeff Goins. I reached the sign up page and luckily a class was about to start in 10 minutes.

“Awesome!” I thought. 

I signed up, got into the webinar room, and saw Jeff. There he was, live, speaking to me! Comments flooded the chat bar and I said “Hey Jeff! I’m Tom from Baltimore!” 

He read off comments one by one and failed to see mine. No problem. 

I remember getting bored during his live stream, though. I felt the information wasn’t coming quick enough, and since I didn’t want to waste an hour of my time, I searched for a past version of his webinar on YouTube to skip ahead.

I found it immediately, and upon clicking in I realized something sinister.

The webinar I was watching right now was the same webinar I was viewing on Youtube. Then it hit me.

This webinar was automated. That’s why there was a class within 10 minutes of me hitting the sign up page. I felt equal parts bamboozled and fascinated. It was brilliant on Jeff’s part to do that. Of course he doesn’t want to put on webinars all day long  –  he has a life. I can understand that, and as long as I got the information on Youtube, I didn’t care.

I felt like I found the secrets to the online business world that day.

That’s how folks can make money while they sleep. Blog post, email course, automated webinar, automated sales.

Brilliant.

My friends, this is exactly how I do it, too. I have an automated webinar that runs for me three times per week. 

The whole thing works without me.

The only time I need to get involved is when people have already signed up for my course, or when I want to write another blog post to fill my funnel.

I do the same for my YouTube videos. I record the videos, send them to an editor, and they take care of editing and posting on YouTube and Facebook. 

Unfortunately I can’t automate myself sitting in front of a camera to record a video, but I can hire out the editing for it.

Some revenue streams are easier to automate than others, but make no mistake that with help, you can outsource a lot of the burden that a certain revenue stream will bring, and then you can move on to the next part.

4. Create 2-3 Other Revenue Streams

One thing we haven’t talked about so far is the “Creating a business that can survive a pandemic” part of all this. 

How can a business survive a pandemic?

Well, like investing, the way to survive is to diversify. My online course averages about $4,000 per month. Ads on my YouTube videos and Facebook videos make me an extra $1,000-$2,000 monthly.

Then I make money via the Medium Partner Program directly. Why diversify?

Well, what if Medium went bankrupt?

All my leads would be gone. My product would be worthless. I’d be left with nothing.

This scared the heck out of me, so I decided to try vlogging as a way to bring in extra revenue. After a year of doing that, I monetized, automated it, and am now on to my next venture. 

Automating revenue streams gives you the time to create more. It’s freedom. It allows you to work on what you want while building financial resilience for times like a pandemic or recession. 

And you better get going on creating something else, because everything could very well crumble beneath you just as you start to smell the roses.

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Conclusion

In summary, here’s what it takes to build an online business that can survive an economic downturn.

  1. Create a steady stream of organic leads into your business from Medium, WordPress, or other social media sites.
  2. Create a revenue stream such as an online course, paid community, or coaching program for those leads.
  3. Automate that revenue stream by using evergreen webinars or hiring virtual assistants.
  4. Branch out and create a few other money-making ventures online following steps 1-3. 

This is the process that has helped my business thrive during this uncertain time. I hope it can help you, too. 

Tom Kuegler
Tom Kuegler
Tom Kuegler is a blogger, online entrepreneur, and founder of The Post-Graduation Survival Guide. You can find more from Tom on Medium, YouTube, Huffington Post, and elsewhere.