Get your first customer (an incredibly stupid exercise that generated over $1,000,000)

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - February 6th, 2015

It’s Friday morning and time for the mailbag.

But a little news from the Harris household before we get started…

1. We just found out that my wife is pregnant. (Boom!)

2. The poor kid probably won’t have a name until we are forced at gunpoint by the doctor to name it.

So, if you have any good kid names, feel free to drop them into the comment section below.

Also, I’ll go on record saying that Instagram and Twitter will most likely be filled with adorable little baby pictures in T minus 6 months.

So if you’re not into that type of thing…you’ve been warned. 🙂


Question #1


“I wrote an epic blog post but barely anyone read it. How do I get people to read it?”

-Billy B.

There is this misconception that all you have to do to get massive amounts of traffic is to write amazing content.

It’s not true.

I recently heard an analogy from Jon Morrow that illustrated this perfectly.

Think of the blogosphere as a city.

In 1995, it was a small country town of 500 people. Everyone knew each other and was intimately familiar what was going on in each other’s lives.

If you opened a new coffee shop in town, everyone instantly knew about it and stopped by to visit.

But now the blogosphere is more like a massive metropolitan city.

Open a new coffee shop in New York City and no one will pay attention.

Simply writing stellar blog posts isn’t enough anymore.

You need something more.

Here is a simple 2-part system…

Part #1: Hardcore manual outreach

Step 1: Do BuzzSumo and Google searches for the most popular articles written on the topic that your article covers.

Step 2: Write them all down in a spreadsheet.

Step 3:  Use to make a list of every site that has backlinked to those articles.

Step 4: Use to make a list of every influencer who tweeted the articles you found in step 1.

Step 5: Email all of the people you found in steps 3 and 4 and tell them about your article.

Results: I recently did this exact process for LeadPages University and it resulted in 2,534 new visitors, 350 new email signups and 23 backlinks.

Part #2: Take your epic post on a content tour.

Step 1: When writing your epic post, be sure to use content upgrades.

Step 2: Tag each individual who subscribes to your email list from your epic post.

Step 3: 14 days later, send an email to everyone from step 2 and ask them for success stories.

Step 4: Use the success stories collected as guest posts on other sites. (Be sure to follow the EGP formula.)

Step 5: Use the same content upgrade from your epic post in the guest posts.

Every time you write an epic post, follow this exact formula and you will get traffic.


Question #2


“What should I do when someone ignores or turns down my Santa Claus pitch?” 

-Richard H.

The fastest way I know of to generate money is to sell a very specific high-end service.

I’ve talked about this over and over and over again.

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to get customers for your service is to make an incredibly detailed and customized proposal.

The problem is that it takes 10 to 20 hours to do this. And there is a good chance that the first person you pitch will not hire you.

So, what do you do then?

What happens when you spend 20 hours on a proposal and you get rejected?



Any ideas?

Answer = get rejected more.

The first sales manager I ever had forced me make a spreadsheet that contained 100 rows.

Rows 1 through 99 contained the word “No” and row 100 had “Yes!”

He told me my job was not to focus on getting a yes from the prospects I was calling but to work the system and get 99 nos.

This turned out to be one the smartest things I’ve ever been taught.

Rejection is HARD.

But if you’re prepared for it, you are able to overcome it.

If you go into sales expecting a “yes” from your first prospect, you will not survive.

The only way to get to “YES” is to get through all of the “NOs”!

So if you’ve been rejected, here is what you need to do…

Step 1: Download this spreadsheet, and every time you get a “No,” put a check mark in the box.

Step 2: Don’t stop creating proposals. Pitch once a week until you get a “Yes.”

Step 3: Create a follow-up system to ping your past proposals at regular intervals.

Note: I suggest a 7-day, 21-day, 60-day, 90-day, and 120-day follow-up loop.


Question #3


“I CANNOT for the life of me figure out what area/topic to pursue.

I am passionate about helping small businesses (brick and mortars and online) maximize profits by increasing price, increasing user base, etc.

I read up on growth hacking quite a bit. I have a lot of head knowledge but have yet to implement any of it.

I’m thinking I should go in that direction.”

-Isimemen Q.



I’m not a prophet or a mind reader.

I have no idea what your passions are or what exact idea is going to be “the one” for you.


There is a process that will help you identify that.

Jim Collins, in his book Great By Choice, calls this “fire bullets then cannon balls.”

Great companies do small tests to see what works before dumping all of their time, money and resources on any project.

Once they find an idea that works, they double down on it and focus on maximizing that opportunity.

You need to follow that exact same process.

Let me walk you through it.

Step 1: Make a list of your 3-5 broad areas of interest.

I was on a coaching call yesterday and we went through this exact process.

His areas of interest were mindset coaching, health/fitness and financial planning.

Step 2: Spend 4 days to come up with as many incredibly specific service offerings you could sell in each of your broad areas of interest.

For example…

If your broad area of interest was health and fitness, your service offering could be to pick people up at their house every day at 4 p.m., drive them to the gym, show them the workouts to do and drive them back home.

Make a list of at least 5 service ideas in each of your broad areas of interest.

Step 3: Pick one service offering in each of your areas of interest.

Go through each service idea you came up with and ask yourself these questions about that service:

  • Would I enjoy selling this service?
  • Would I enjoy fulfilling this service?
  • Would this service provide extreme value to my customer?
  • Would the right customer pay me at least $200 per month for this service?

Step 4: Spend the next 14 days trying to get 3 customers for each of your services.

Use a modified version of the Santa Claus formula to sell your new service offerings to people who you think would be interested.

Start with family and friends and work out from there.

After you’ve finished these four steps, analyze your results.

Which service was the easiest to sell?

Which one produced the most income?

Were your customers happy with your service?

Repeat this process until you are able to answer all three question with a resounding yes.

Note: I would highly suggest you buy Great by Choice, immediately flip to chapter 4 and read it.

Question #4


“How do you make these little boxes that you have in your blogs? I’m sure it’s just a simple code or something, but man, I’d like to do that in some of my material. Thanks. “

-Josh W. 

I use a shortcode plugin called Shortcodes Ultimate to create these call-out boxes.
There is a free version and premium version.
I currently use the free version.It’s super-simple to set up and use. I highly recommend it.
PS: Do you have any questions for the next mailbag? Leave them in the comment section below. 

    Question #2 — getting to NO is working for me. I have one pitch already (got denied) but sending at least one more out this weekend.

    Thanks again!!

  • Sue Anne Dunlevie

    Awww, I want to be an adopted Grandmom for little baby Harris! Will love every picture and will put them on my refrigerator!

    Thanks for the shortcode plugin info!
    Sue “Grandma” Anne

  • That’s how you create those box things! Cool plugin.

    How many plugins do you have installed on Videofruit?


    • Wayyyy too many 🙂

      Need to consolidate

      (don’t know the exact number)

  • As far as baby names I think you might consider, “Jason Bedunah Harris” – it has a regal sound to it.

  • Being comfortable w/ “no” is one of the hardest, but necessary things.

  • Congrats! “old man”! Lucy, Lily and Cedar are some of our favorite girl names. Not real passionate about any boy names, sorry.

  • Isi Ojeabulu

    Hey Bryan Congrats on the baby! Thanks for answering my question!

    I started offering 15 Minute Jam Sessions to entrepreneurs, small business owners, and creatives where we talk through their biggest pain point. They leave the the conversation with 2-3 actionable steps. The feedback from these sessions has been amazing- people are loving it . I’m gathering testimonials, what people need as far as services, email addresses and building my authority.

    Funny enough, I know much more than I think. I’ve let my limiting beliefs speak for me for way too long.

    “Once they find an idea that works, they double down on it and focus on maximizing that opportunity.”

    This is exactly what I plan to do when I start offering this group my services. I’m also gleaning a ton of information around what they need from the things they are saying and the things they are not saying. I told them that I would be keeping in touch with them and they were happy to have me do so. A couple have already asked for me for my package rates because they want to work with me. I’ll use the conversations and my interests to guide me when I’m crafting my specific service offerings. Pretty excited!

    Thanks again!

    • Hey Isi.

      It’s similar to what I’ve found – I started offering lots of free services ( and never mentioned money. People kept asking about paying me/donating to me.

      When they see the value you provide, something goes off in their brain saying: This person has given me tremendous value for free. I should reciprocate somehow.
      Also, if you told them how to do something, it’s only normal you move them along, because they trust you know.
      Good luck!

      • Isi Ojeabulu

        Hey Sorin,

        Thanks for the reply! Yeah it’s incredible how thankful people are when we’re done. They tell me I’ve given them hope for their business, that they’ve never thought of the things I’ve mentioned, and that they’d like to move forward with me.

        When you genuinely value seeing someone and their company grow regardless of what’s in it for you, it can be felt and appreciated.

        Would love to connect and chat more. 🙂

  • Leslie Boerner Beccard

    Have to wish you CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! before I can even dig in to the article. So excited for the Harris Household!!!

  • 1Josh

    If i wanted to convert this service to a product, how would i do it? I have a lot of client for web design services. However i wanted to make it passive and convert it to product. I would really appreciate any suggestions from you harris. Thanks in advance.

  • Mridu

    Congratulations Bryan!

  • Congrats Bryan 🙂

  • Oleg Starko

    I have been pitching Santa Clause proposals for 1 month now, and usually when you get a “no”, there’s a good reason for that.

    It could be:

    1 – poor targeting (they don’t want what you’re selling bad enough). Fixed by doing better research and focusing on people whose businesses you know inside and out.

    2 – poor proposal (you don’t communicate the benefits clearly, or make them think too much about your offer, which a truly busy person can’t afford to do most of the time). Fixed by not just outlining problems, but describing intimately about how YOU will solve this for them in the easiest way possible, and including a simple CTA at the end.

    3 – they just don’t need it right now. Fixed by following up. That’s pretty much it.

    P.S. For a baby name, why not Roger (if it’s a boy)? ‘Cause, well, you said yourself you have big shoes to fill after your father-in-law passed away. Maybe you and your son can fill one each.

  • First Name: Crimson Middle Name: Tide.
    You’re welcome.

  • Sarah

    I have been using content upgrades with amazing success. I can’t believe I never thought to follow up and ask for success stories. This is brilliant!

  • Congrats Bryan!

    Viewing no’s as part of the process to get a yes instead of an end to itself is definitely a great perspective. It’s a very slight change in mind-set that can have big results.

    Love the idea behind LP University by they way… super smart!

  • Nicole Silliman

    First off congrats!!! Soon you and the wifey won’t get any sleep but feel a love you have never expected!!!!

    Boy: Parker, Quinn, Taylor

    Girl: Parker (unisex), Raelynn, Ella

    I don’t understand HTML or coding so is it hard to put those boxes in?

    Also your so right about the nos and I will count my nos to get my yes!

    And I am finally going to get out of my comfort zone and make a proposal and send it off by Sunday night! (2/8/15)

    Does it have to include a video?

    • No HTML needed. Plugin does it all.

      Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  • Can’t wait to try your 2 part system = Hardcore Manual Outreach + Content Tour. Thanks for the concise detail.

  • Congratulations Bryan

    Love the idea of using case studies to guest post. Also, can’t wait till list goal comes out 🙂

  • Wicked! Congrats Bryan.

    Here’s my question for the next mail bag:

    How do you select the keywords you should use for your site and how do you know they’re the right ones? I’m having difficulty determining what the main ones should be for my music company (

    • Good question. I’ll put it on the list. Thanks Brandon 🙂

  • Pete Bruce

    Congrats on little Saban Harris! 🙂

    Mailbag question:
    How do you handle collecting/invoicing/asking for all your different payments? I get paid cash, check, credit card and paypal invoice for various things and have trouble keeping track and organizing them. Thanks!

    • lolz.

      I used to use Gumroad for everything. Now I use Infusionsoft to process all of my payments.

  • Philip Quintas

    I am super-happy for you and your wife, everything I know about you indicates that you are going to be extraordinary parents.

    #3 is right on target for me, Bryan. This comment is a public
    declaration that I am committing to following through on it. Step 00 =
    copy and paste that section of your blog in to a Word document on my

  • Great post Brian! Thanks for creating this!

    Should I stop my pursuit of this side hustle?
    I have a website that makes $300-$500/month. It has potential to make $40,000/year after further developing my sales funnels and courses.
    My struggle is, I am wasting time on a project that won’t become something that can replace my income? Should I stop this and pick something that start a business that can push my income above my full time income?

    • Depends.

      What is your #1 goal?

      • Create minimum $70,000 per year from side hustles.

        I’ve thought multiple times, “create this site to it’s fullest”. once it generates $3,000 per month, begin dreaming on the next project.
        I fear if I move to another project I’ll screw my chances at my main site generating substantial income.
        This feels like The Resistance. And the Resistance says, “give up and focus on something else”
        Ack. I’ll keep hustling.

  • Congrats on the baby! I’ve always thought David is an awesome name, and it’s not nearly as common as it used to be.

  • Congratulations on becoming a Dad!

  • Congratulations! Your life will never be the same. (As soon as they can talk they ask questions…. Even more than us.)
    You guys will make a great parents.
    Name: I call my daughter Squeaky.

  • Hey Bryan,
    This is really useful info, thanks! My issue is that I don’t know what my audience is actually searching for and therefore am struggling to run searches based on those keywords. I am trying to reach dad’s around 35-45 who were either once fit and have let life get them fat or have never been fit and desperately want to be but don’t know how to go about it. Is there a tool that will help me find key searches for that demographic?

  • Congrats Bryan ! Having a little one is so exciting. Brace yourself for the best adventure you and your wife have ever had – granted, YOU WILL NOW BE TIRED ALL THE TIME – but it is rewarding.

    Always pumping out great content ! I love what you wrote about getting 99 “nos” before you get to that “yes”. Last week I was trying to get a few folks on an expert round-up I was doing. Some really big names replied and others did not respond.

    A long time ago, my feelings would be hurt and I would want to curl up in a ball in a corner. But not this time !

    I think sometimes when you hear the success stories from people like you and other big fish, it’s easy to feel that success came easy for you guys. But more and more, I am coming to the conclusion that there is just so much to the story and this indeed includes rejection in the beginning.

    Thanks so much for the post !

  • karthik3yan

    Hey Bryan, Congrats!

    I’ve been following your blog for the past 2 months… Super actionable stuff… Keep it up.

    P.S. Check out this app (to name your baby), you’ll love it….

  • Hassan Rashid

    Congratulations Bryan!!!! Feeling so happy for you 🙂

    Please keep writing – I LOVE reading your stuff. Write a book. WRITE. A. BOOK.

  • Kathy White

    Baby names: I think the baby actually tells you his or her name.. You just have to be listening. It appears around you – you hear a random mother in the park calling “Jason, some down from that tree” and inside the baby kicks ! You go to a family party and someone mentions long lost cousin Emily, and you suddenly LOVE that name… wait and watch, the name will pick you.

    My website Byran is I’m looking at all your strategies and everything for growing a business, but they all seem related to internet marketing businesses, I wonder if you can help? The Santa Claus approach seems very instrusive to give a parent a video about how to solve a parenting problem – Lack of Sleep for example. Or maybe I’ll try with you in a few months time 😉

  • Congrats on the baby Bryan! I am going to use your strategy mentioned in question #1 for my next post. Will let you know the results!

  • Hey Bryan! Awesome MailBag edition here! 🙂

    Regarding that question about “little boxes in your posts”. In case Josh is also interested in creating Content Upgrades, I would really appreciate if you could tell him about my plugin –

    It has a FREE version.. and a PREMIUM version AND YOUR FACE ON THE HOMEPAGE :))

    Hope you’re ok with that, since I’m not stating that you’re using my plugin. Just having great results with your content upgrades.

    I’ve already reached out to Brian Dean and he said he was totally ok with it 🙂

    and by the way.. I would love to send you the premium version if you’re willing to play with it 🙂

  • I got shortcodes ultimate but my boxes don’t look ANYWHERE near that cool. Are you sure that’s the right plugin?

  • Raymond Bowring

    Congrats brian, there’s nothing more enjoyable and painful at the same time than your own kids. If your wife wants tips on how to take too many photos of your new addition connect with my wife on Instagram @princessevajean sure she could help she has built up a following of 38000 followers and now does modelling for boutiques. Great article as well mate.