I’ve interviewed six-figure eBook tycoon and NorthxEast contributor Alexis Dawes on earning an income online and working anywhere.
Don’t miss the tips on successful remote work and her #1 piece of advice on successful eBook development!
How did you earn your first online dollar?
I started out creating and selling turnkey websites on eBay. It was something I discovered completely by accident – I had no idea such an industry even existed.
Back then even the cheesiest of ‘hits for sale’ websites could generate a $3K-$10K sale on eBay. Pay per click traffic was really gaining a lot of momentum back then. So turnkey pay per click search engines were also hot sellers.
The idea wheel in my head immediately began spinning and I started making my own turnkey websites.
My first site sold for $770. The second one went for $5K.
I was hooked.
At what moment did you realize that you could earn a living through the web? Was it a planned move or an accidental discovery?
After my first turnkey website sale on eBay I realized that I could work online all the time.
I mean I had been investigating the possibility of starting an online venture prior to that. But once I got over the initial hump of creating the site and selling it, I knew that I’d found my future in the online world.
What drew you to information products?
After almost a year of doing turnkey websites I’d amassed a good collection of links and resources that I was using on a regular basis. Stuff that newbie turnkey site developers probably didn’t know about.
I was an eBook buyer and I thought my information would make a good eBook. I especially liked the idea of creating something once and being paid for it over and over.
Plus I’d just given birth, and I just didn’t have the energy to create sites like I had in the past.
So I fleshed out the list of resources I’d accumulated, PDF’d it, and put a $39.95 price tag on it.
I didn’t have a website to sell the eBook at the time, but I figured I’d be able to do well just selling it on eBay.
A few days before I ran the first Dutch auction someone else came out with an eBook on creating turnkey websites. And it was cheap! Like under $10.
Needless to say, I was crushed. I debated on whether I should try to sell my eBook, and finally decided to do it. It was the best things I could’ve done. My first 5 Dutch auctions – with 10 eBooks in each one – all sold out.
Once again I was hooked.
You love traveling. Do work and travel mix well for you? If so, what are your top tips for working while you travel?
The world inspires me. Meeting new people and exploring new places keeps me creatively fresh. So I would definitely say that work and travel mix well for me.
But there were a few lessons I had to learn the hard way-
1) Investigate all wireless options ahead of time.
Once I was stuck in Paris for a month with no wireless access because the apartment I’d sublet didn’t have it.
So imagine trying to answer customer e-mails… with a 2-year in tow… at an Internet cafe… using a European keyboard – which has slightly different letter placement than an American keyboard. It was a mess.
Most hotels provide wireless to their customers. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes it’s not. But if you’re going to rent an apartment during your travels, make sure that wireless is included.
2) Bring a backup writing device.
After a year of being in Montreal I arrived in New York to look for a new residence. I was staying at a hotel for a week.
This time the hotel had wireless. But as soon as I plugged in my computer and turned it on, the screen went dark. The computer was still booting, and I could see the extremely faint images. However there was no way I could work on my laptop. The backlight in the monitor was dead.
Fortunately my Palm Pilot TX saved the day. Yes, it’s a small screen. But with a foldable keyboard, you can type Word or text documents, access the Internet, and much more.
Plus the Palm Pilot is light enough to be carried with you, even when you don’t want to bring a laptop.
3) Have at least two payment processors set-up in advance.
One of my readers told me that he had a problem with his PayPal account while visiting Thailand. In order to access his account he needed to send some documentation to PayPal – and he didn’t have the necessary documents with him.
Needless to say, not being able to access his PayPal account or accept orders caused hardship.
Right now I sell some of my eBooks with PayPal and others with Google Checkout. It gives me peace of mind knowing that my money isn’t funneling through a single payment processor.
I’m sure a lot of people are wondering how much money information products have earned for you. Is that something you’re willing to talk about?
I earn anywhere from $200-$5K+ a day, depending on what’s being actively promoted at the time. My yearly income exceeds 6-figures.
I’ve been in this income range for a couple of years now. And I estimate I’ll hit the million dollar mark in two years or less.
What’s your #1 tip for anyone thinking about selling an information product?
Choose your topic carefully. Choose your topic carefully. Choose your topic C-A-R-E-F-U-L-L-Y.
You can have an awesomely designed website, a sales letter written by a conversion master, and a steal-of-a-deal for a price. But if your topic isn’t well thought out, none of that matters. The eBook won’t sell.
Whenever I write an eBook, I always look for ‘desperate’ topics. I want customers who are at the end of their rope. They need a solution to their problem, and they need it now.
I don’t even care if it’s a small niche. The only thing that matters to me is that my customers are desperate for a solution. That’s how you assure long-term sales.
How many hours a week do you work?
I’m a single mother, so it really depends on what’s happening with my daughter that week. If all else fails, I always get in some work time between 8pm-1am.
However just to keep it in perspective, many of my eBooks are on autopilot. Even if I do no promotion, I continue to make sales because of my actions early on.
Once again, it goes back to choosing your topic carefully.
Have you ever experimented with outsourcing or automating some aspects of what you do?
I’ve had eBooks written for me. I’ve had sections of eBooks written for me.
But I only work with people who have a specific expertise in the topic I need written about, or have close contact with someone within the field/niche. I don’t want someone who’s only going to research a topic. I prefer insider knowledge.
What’s next for you?
I’m always putting out short reports. I’m always looking for ways to shorten the amount of time it takes to go from an eBook idea to a website with that eBook for sale.
Those are the things that are moving me to a million dollar a year income, and that’s what I’ll continue doing.