Sherlock Holmes on How to Overcome Internet Business Failure

Sherlock Holmes.

We’ve all heard the name before.  A legendary character from dozens of books, Holmes could untangle any mystery and discover the truth.   From the Hound of the Baskervilles to his battle of wits with Professor Moriarty, Sherlock was always one step ahead.

Sherlock Holmes Internet MarketerRecently I wondered what Sherlock would do if he were alive in 2011.  Seeing that C.S.I. dominates the “detective” market, he might need a job.  I’d like to imagine that he’d be a fairly good business consultant because he’s great at overcoming complex challenges.

With that in mind, here’s how Sherlock Holmes would solve the many “failures” Internet business owners experience on a regular basis.  To make things interesting, he’s going to answer questions in the Dear Abby style.

The game is afoot…

“I’m NOT Making Money with Blogging!”

Dear Sherlock,

I really need to make money with my blog.  I’ve tried doing a bunch of things: Affiliate marketing, Google Adsense, Amazon links and even consulting.  Nothing seems to sell.  People read my stuff, but they’re not buying anything!

How do I turn casual readers into paying customers?

–          Penniless in Seaside Heights, NJ

It’s Elementary, My Dear Penniless

It isn’t easy to make money with blogging.  There are too many “bright & shiny” objects on the Internet so it’s difficult to grab a reader’s attention and convince them to buy a product.

I imagine your content is good enough.  Otherwise you wouldn’t have that many readers.  The trick is to tailor the recommended products around your articles.  Here are a few ways to do this:

==> Align the Product with the Market: It’s hard to make money when you offer the wrong product.  You can easily increase earnings by finding out what problems readers experience and offer a solution…that generates an income for you.

Get started by polling your readers and asking a simple question.  You could ask something like, “Which of the following is the biggest problem you face on a daily basis?”

Then give three choices.  Odds are, the most popular response will make a great product to promote on your blog.

I recommend the WP Polls Plugin because it’s an easy tool for polling your readers.  Include it in your sidebar or dedicate a blog post to this question.  You’d surprised at how much you can learn by talking to your audience.

==> Offer your Own Product: The main reason people read a blog is because they like YOU and your content.  Prove your authority in a market and people will want to buy anything you create.

You can easily increase blog earnings by offering a low cost report. Or even a high-ticket course.

It’s really not that hard to create a product.  Just follow a simple “how-to” format and reveal every trick you’ve learned.  Then you can sell this product through a site like Clickbank and eJunkie.

==> Create a MWR Page: It’s hard to make money with affiliate marketing on a blog when there are too many “escape routes.”  Most affiliate recommendation pages have links and images that distract the reader.  You lose sales because you’re giving people too many choices.


A quality affiliate recommendation page has two options:  They click the link or they don’t.

My advice is to create what’s known as a Most Wanted Response (MWR) page.  This is a static HTML page that has a similar design to your blog – Without all the distractions.  A MWR page is specifically designed to presell an affiliate product and to visit the site with a buying mindset.

“My Email Subscription Rates are Low!”

Dear Sherlock,

I get a lot of traffic to my website.  People love my content and always comment on my posts.  But, my subscriber numbers are horrible.  Nobody wants to subscribe to my email newsletter.

I’ve heard that the money is in the list.  How can I make money if I can’t get any subscribers?

Help me Sherlock, you’re my only hope!

–          Ignored in Adelaide, Australia

It’s Elementary, My Dear Ignored

Email marketing is a fickle beast.   People no longer get excited about subscribing to an email list because they don’t want yet another marketing offer.  You have to make them overcome their natural distrust and get them to love reading your content.

Here’s a simple three-step process for doing this:

1)      Offer a Top-Notch Free eBook:  Without a doubt, the best way to build a list is to offer a free report.  This should laser-target your core audience and be an ultra-specific solution.  Do your best to make it stand out in your market…something that people would normally pay money to download.

2)      Direct All Traffic to the Lead Magnet: The cornerstone of your “brand” should be this free report.  Make this report part of your message as you communicate with people.  Talk about their problems and offer your freebie as a solution.

A lead magnet is especially important when you’re on a site that’s not your blog.  Rather than direct people to your content site, send them over to a Squeeze Page where they can download your report.

3) Test and Track Conversion Rates: The key to email marketing is a high converting squeeze page.  Usually you won’t get it right in the first version.  The trick is to keep testing and tweaking till you have a high opt-in rate.  Use a free tool like Google Optimizer to split test this page to perfection!

Follow these three steps and you’ll dramatically increase your subscriber numbers.  Just remember to set aside a little time each week to work on this aspect of your Internet business.

“I’m Not Getting Enough Web Traffic!”

Dear Sherlock,

I have lots to say, but no one cares!  I’ve written dozens of articles, recorded a bunch of videos, and commented on a bunch of blog posts.  But I can’t seem to attract anyone’s interest in my website.

The only readers I have are my mom, boyfriend, and therapist.  How can I improve my traffic numbers?

–          Unknown in Galway, Ireland

It’s Elementary, My Dear Unknown

Sherlock Holmes Guide to Internet Business SuccessGenerating web traffic can be really frustrating!  Sometimes it seems like nothing works.

The good news is there is a way to simplify the process of getting web traffic.  I recommend following this three-step action plan:

1)      Master One Traffic Source: The Internet has an abundance of traffic opportunities.  And that’s why many people fail when it comes to generating traffic.  It’s way too easy to get overwhelmed.


The solution? Pick one traffic source and master it.  Yes, diversification is important.  However this should be done when you’ve had success with one technique.  So become an expert in one method, and then go after the next.

2)      Implement a Content-Creation Plan: Think of web traffic like a car.  It needs fuel to bring people to your site.  That fuel is the content you create on other websites.

Make people interested in your “brand” by regularly posting quality information on other websites.  This is what makes you stand out from the crowd.  That’s why you need a content-creation plan.  This is a schedule where you consistently publish articles/videos on your chosen traffic source.


The key here is commitment and consistency.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The same goes for your Internet business.

3) Leverage your Web Content: Once you’ve mastered one traffic technique, leverage the content you’ve created and go after a different website.


The possibilities are endless.  You can take your articles and turn them into audio.  Or add slides to an audio and make a video.  Or turn a series of articles into a free special report that drives traffic from a document sharing site.

Once again, the key is to master one traffic technique.  Then build upon your success and go after the next.  Rinse and repeat till you’ve completely dominated an entire market.

“I Can’t Find the Right Niche!”

Dear Sherlock,

Oh my God!  I’m completely freaking out here!  I want to build a successful Internet business, but I don’t know where to start.

Should I research keywords?  Do I focus on a passion?  Perhaps I want to go after a “proven” market?

The possibilities are endless but I can’t find a topic that really stands out.

Tell me what to do!!!

–          Nicheless in Charleston, South Carolina

It’s Elementary, My Dear Nicheless

Niche research doesn’t have be difficult or cost money.  To start, I’d read this post: How to Research a Niche: THE Ultimate Blueprint.  Here you’ll find a 4-part process for locating that perfect market:

1)      Find a topic of personal interest or passion

2)      Research this market to see if there is a demand for information

3)      Find problems/topics in this market and create content around it

4)      Promote affiliate offers or products you’ve created

For some reason, people really freak out when it comes to researching a niche.  The truth is any niche can be successful if you’re dedicated and willing to work hard.

“I am Feeling Overwhelmed”

Dear Sherlock,

Help. Help! HELP!!!!

This whole Internet marketing thing is SO stressful.  I try to keep up with everything.  But every day another “guru” comes along and says I need to do something new.

How do I succeed when there’s so much do?

–          Overwhelmed in Manchester, U.K.

It’s Elementary, My Dear Overwhelmed

Repeat after me: “Screw the Gurus!”

Rhymes, doesn’t it?

An Internet marketing guru doesn’t pay your bills.  In fact, most work really hard to make you spend money.

The truth is you don’t need most of what people promote.  In truth, you probably already know what needs to be done with your Internet business.

On the other hand, I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  That’s why I suggest this implementing this simple strategy:

1)      Minimize your Email Intake:  Become friends with the unsubscribe button.  You really don’t need dozens of email newsletters in your inbox.  Truthfully, most are thinly disguised sales pitches.  Stick with your favorites and eliminate the rest.

2)      Focus on Specific Learning: Only read articles/products that directly relate to the next skill/tactic you’re implementing.  Ignore the rest.  If you feel like you’re “missing out,” then put everything else into a Tickler File for future reference.  But only read this information when you’re ready to take action.

3)      Keep the Nose to the Grindstone: It’s easy feel overwhelmed when you lack focus.  Odds are, you’re on the right path to success.  The key is to laser-target the activities that make you money.  And to be honest, that hot-new product Joe Guru is promoting does NOT help you earn income.  You get results by taking massive action!

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  But you can simplify things and focus on your Internet business.  Follow these three steps and you’ll eliminate the *noise* which is hindering your success.

“Nobody Reads my Content”

Dear Sherlock,

I’m at my wits end!  I spend a lot of time creating great content.  I write in-depth blog posts, tweet lots of thoughtful information, submit dozens of articles, and create lots of email messages.

But NOBODY seems to care.

Every time I write something the only response I get is the sound of crickets chirping.

How can I get people to read my stuff???

–          Unloved in Biloxi, Mississippi

It’s Elementary, My Dear Unloved

Sherlock Holmes - Internet Advice ColumnistGetting people to consume your content isn’t that hard.  Actually all you need to do is focus on one skill – Copywriting.

People are busy.  They don’t have time to read every single article.  But you can get people interested in your content by having a solid headline.  One that immediately grab’s their attention.  A good headline forces people to stop what they’re doing and read your article.

It really doesn’t matter what type of content you’re creating.  The same principles apply to articles, blog posts, Tweets, and emails.  All need a headline that gets a lot of attention.

I recommend a simple solution: Create an online copywriting swipe file. This folder will contain a collection of titles/headlines that work in your market.

Get started by including samples of writing from popular figures in your niche.  Simply open up a separate email account and join the email lists of people who are great copywriters.  Then include the stuff you like in the copywriting swipe file.

Furthermore there are a lot of great headlines on these three sites:

My advice is to include the best headlines in your copywriting swipe file.

Finally you should track each title.  For blogging, take a look at the posts that get the most views and comments.   With email marketing, analyze your open rates and click-thrus.  The same goes for article marketing.

Overall there are a lot of tools that can help you with headlines.  The trick is to constantly analyze your content and replicate what works.  So keep testing and tweaking!

Channeling YOUR Inner Sherlock Holmes

Okay, as you know Sherlock Holmes doesn’t exist.  And if he did, I doubt he’d have an advice column for Internet marketers.  So it’s up to YOU to figure things out whenever you experience failure.

The truth is we all have those moments where nothing seems to work.  It’s a necessary part of doing business online.

Just remember that every “failure” leaves a clue about how to succeed.   Don’t get frustrated.  Instead, think like ole’ Sherlock.  Look for clues that might not be apparent at first.  Probably you’ll discover your failure can be fixed with a simple solution.

Remember: When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Take Action. Get Results.

44 thoughts on “Sherlock Holmes on How to Overcome Internet Business Failure”

  1. Steve,

    Seems like I am going to be the first one to leave a comment on your post today. Probably everyone is taking a break because you said you wouldn’t be posting everyday 🙂

    Great advice there from Sherlock Holmes. But seriously, all those cases would have been a piece of cake for him. Maybe he wouldn’t even bother taking up those cases and would have preferred to leave them to Mr. Watson 🙂

    Btw, Dear Mr. Sherlock Holmes, Rome was NOT built in a day. You should have known better. LOL!


  2. Hi Steve:

    Wonderful post. Loved the writing style and expression. Wrapping up with a new style makes it so fun to read. Keep up the good work. Actually when you have a look at life , life and things are just the same from the formation of the world to now. It is the human imagination that works wonders, starts new businesses, new products, and new rich people come along to take the new world to another revolution with more values and more personal development.

    See you again, when you have another post ready to read.

    Fran a

  3. Mark,

    This is Sherlock here, actually the conjunction is the most common usage of the phrase. I chose to go with most common colloquialism to get across the point. Point of fact is that both wasn’t and was not are bot technically correct and utterly imprecise. What I should have said is : “Roma die uno non aedificata est”

    Steve back now… Yes the questions were a bit simple for the great Sherlock Holmes, but he has been mixing some funny weeds into his pipe and I do not think he is as sharp as he once was.

    As for Watson, he doesn’t work with Homes now, he is making a fortune working for an insurance company investigating medical malpractice. With his background in investigation and his medical degree he is in heavy demand.

  4. This was original, fun and shed a new light on things that need to be addressed (in my blog : ) I love the Sherlock theme, I think it’s brilliant and maybe you should continue this, pursue it as an addition to your blog, it’s really creative! Plus, you have addressed real issues and solved the mystery for me!

    • Jasmine,

      Glad you liked it. Hopefully I/Sherlock really do touch on some good issues actually taught some the besides being just a fun way of packaging the information. Thanks to your comment

      Have a wonderful day

    • Robert,

      Sherlock Has from time to time received e-mails that ask similar questions, so he had something to go off of, but mostly it was just having a very fine tuned, “crystal ball”.

      Of course he also has an intuitive nature so he’s able to guess type of things that people want to ask. 😉

  5. Steve,

    If this is what you meant when you said you’re going to have a better content by not blogging everyday (“quit blogging”), I can get used to it!

    I can identify with most of these Sherlock’s detective blogging stories. But the fact is, these stories are realities. As bloggers, we are always struggling, or have struggled at one point, with these issues.

    We can see that for a struggling bloggers content should always be on top of their priorities.

    FACT IS: “The main reason people read a blog is because they like YOU and your content. ”

    Spot on!

    • Marlon,

      thanks for very nice comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the Sherlock Holmes review. I was hoping to get some pretty good information in there so hopefully it did come through that way not just an “interesting” concept.

      Have a great week!

  6. Hey Steve,

    Thanks for this Master post! It brought a thing or two to my attention that I actually had no idea I was not doing. I might be sitting with a big Dunce Cap on my head but I never thought of honing in on one traffic source and mastering that first. Where traffic is concerend, I’ve been feeling like I’m standing in the Copper Canyons calling out and hearing only faint echos in the distance.

    Whatever Holmes might be puffing or not what he said makes total sense!

    But what I’m thinking is that you’re actually the one with the crystal ball; knowing exactly what to give us when we need it.

    Thanks Dude, you Rock!

    • Gabi!

      Putting a little bit of effort into multiple traffic sources is fine. But the thing is if you traffic is up to, “snuff”. You really might be doing too much in too many. that is the time to really buckle down and master one. It’s that whole “Jack of all trades” thing.

      sometimes seems like traffic has its watershed moments. You make a serious all incremental gains and then some sudden jumps. As long as your traffic is going the general upward direction you should be good just try to become the master about one system. Soon enough you’ll be a master of them all

  7. Steve:

    you never cease to amaze me with your style and flair! (I think that’s how The Nanny got started!) But I digress…

    You ARE the Sherlock Holmes of the Internet. The difference I see with you is that you actually implement and back up what you teach. Key to maintaining readers and trust. I applaud you! 🙂 *clap* *clap* Do you hear it?!


  8. This was a great idea for a post Steve, I love the question and answer format.

    I publish a small newsletter/magazine with a circulation of 50. The most popular pages are the letters pages. Usually they are a jokey complaint followed by a funny reply. You can have great fun with this format, especially as most of the letters are written by the editor.

    Leamington Spa, England

    • John,

      your absolutly, right it does seem to be a Style a lot of people like. I have done a few question answered type post before and they always seem fairly popular

  9. Put simply, people can’t implement for shit. Great way of showing the different types of questions and how they can be fixed, but the biggest thing i got out of it, is that nearly everyone knows this stuff in the back of their heads (they’ve been reading a few topics for months); they are just too damn lazy to get to work and do it.

    • Peter,

      I agree. I do believe the majority people who read this stuff already have the knowledge. I know from personal experience sometimes reading things, even if I know them, does give a little bit of impetus to go out and get it done. Sometimes I feel like I’m a broken record on certain topics like “list building” but you never know when some comment could be the tipping point and actually spur somebody to do something very positive

      • You’re right on with your response Steve. Sure most people know all of this in the back of their head already, but re-reading it can give that extra boost of motivation to follow through with it. In fact it’s always good to re-read solid advice even if you are in the process of implementing already.

        But Peter does have a point. Most people that will read will never implement.

        • Thanks Gene,

          Yes. Most people don’t. People play around. Think “that is interesting” at most and move one. It is what it is. ALl you can really do is hope that at least some people pay attention and take it to heart.

  10. Wow Steve. You really outdid yourself with this post. Incredibly useful content & entertaining too!

    Perhaps it is just because I loved Sherlock books when I was a kid.

    I really like your point of view on limiting what you do until you master it. I find that imposing limitations on the things that I do actually allow me more freedom and to get things done more easily. The more choices you have, the more time it takes to get through all of them to what you are going to do.

    Pick something and go with it.

    Have a great day!

    • Mark,

      Sherlock Holmes is the man!

      imposing limits certainly does help even a lot further than I mentioned. When I write on topics I set strict time guidelines. Often I even set an egg timer. When I’m out of time, I stop. This forces me to work a lot faster and really focus. Particularly comes to “time”. If you give yourself a lot of extra time each simply find a way to fill it.

  11. Hi Steve

    I know you won’t mind if I defer to Sherlock for just a moment…..

    Dear Sherlock

    You are meant to be a character in a book, a well-written book in fact but here you are showing another talent long before MVPs were even thought of!

    Watson would like to know how you do it but I know your reply already: “elementary dear Watson” so I will now get some answers hopefully from Steve 😉

    Brilliant post with so much information will have to print out and as cheeky young Perthite Peter J succinctly puts it, most people are too lazy to do it!

    So I will not disappoint and will get on and do it! When I figure what I am meant to be doing that is! I really got heaps from this post Steve. Thanks

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Glad you are going to get out there and “do it” Patricia.

      I never had any doubts you would. I certainly don’t think of you as being lazy or slothful with all the commenting I see you doing. Your most people who understand the only way to success is to a fair amount of hard work (and of course a little luck)

  12. Hi Steve,

    I love the Sherlock Holmes theme. Who better to analyze our failures and problems to find the clues to our success than him? This is a fantastic way to teach some vital information in a fun and lighthearted way.

    I learned a lot amongst the smiles and laughter and I hope you do more ‘Sherlock’ posts. 🙂

    • Thanks Jazz,

      I appreciate your kind words and sentiments. I may very well go back to Sherlock sometime. hmmmm maybe even a series of runoff questions with his evil “blackhat” Internet marketer competitor Prof. Moriarty

  13. Loved the post, Steve. I especially liked the first section about making money blogging.

    I’m intrigued by your MWR page. I think I’ve heard you talk about it before, but I haven’t really given it much thought in the context of blogging. I can imagine a blogger sending out a link to a MWR page in a newsletter email and that makes sense, I guess (though I’d be interested in hearing your take on the pros and cons of doing that vs. just sending them directly to the product’s sales pages), but is it ever linked to directly from the blog itself?

    Cheers, man.

    • Tristan,

      You are correct. Sometimes it is better to simply redirect. But I can think of two specific reasons why it may be better on a case by case basis to use a MWR.

      1. The ultimate sales page is a little weak and/or you have a strong testimonial to add to it that is a worthy presell.

      2. You want the extra “links” to help rank the MWR page itself. Most MWR pages will be in a separate domain so the extra link juice will of course help for ranking them.

      Not sure if that answers your question or not….

  14. Sherlock Holmes, thank you for the imagery. I liked the fact that you were able to create this post from a creative point. Nice.

    Writing an eBook is a good way to grow subscribers list. I think it goes to say that nothing is free even in the blogosphere. People want to have something in exchange for your right to breach their emails with your contents. So it makes sense to give them what they want to get what you want.

    However, as you mentioned, sending out sales messages can cripple the essence of having subscribers list. I just unsubscribed from Two right as i was reading this message. Hardly will they not send me an email every day. I don’t think it’s reasonable pitching me with sales everyday.

    • Thanks Tito, glad you liked the post.

      It is certainly important to give a lot of good information with the sales. Personally I view it as 80-90% purely good information mixed in with 10% sales. Of course you want to sell…that is the point, but JUST selling makes no one pay attention after the first few messages.

  15. This a really awesome long article! I’m sure if Holmes was still alive he would probably be kicking Google’s butt.

    I like all the tips you’ve mentioned, especially polling your audience. People go into making a product and don’t even know if people are gonna like it. Polling is key because you’ll know exactly what your readers want.

    Again great article, thanks Steve!

  16. Darn, that Sherlock, everything is elementary to him :(, where can I go to hire him to do some consulting for me or even draw me the perfect business plan :).

    Fine writing, Steve, I liked the way you picked everybody`s name. This are indeed one of the most common problems anyone faces when it comes to earning money from blogging.

    Me suggest, although I do think is not the best one, is to look at some people who really do sales and determine what they are doing and you are not. Except that fact that they might have more traffic, a bigger audience, and more influence. What are they doing with their products, how are they making you buy stuff, then reverse engineer that then apply it to your website.

    My first sales was made by following someone else`s idea. I am a picky buyer and you have to do lots of things to convince me to buy stuff and someone managed to do it. I don’t want to say that I too was surprised, so I followed all the steps he took in order to convince me that I need his product (because that was my last impression, that I need to buy his product in order do learn more and be more successful – sneaky bastard ).

    After backtracking my steps I added a bit of my own flavor and after some weeks I landed my first sales. So, don’t despair, think more, experiment more and if you follow the right advices you will eventually learn how this whole internet marketing works and do it be yourself.

  17. This was a hoot to read, Steve!
    You showed a lot of creativity in this nice post, plus, it all makes perfectly good sense. Great way to change things up yet still get some valuable information out there.

    Holmes would be proud. After all, “It’s elementary”. LOL

  18. Dear Sherlock,

    You make it sound so simple. I’m glad Sherlock writes online too. I wish that Sherlock could always be by my side telling me what to do. Oh well, I’m glad Mr Sherlock aka Steve has a fantastic diary here so that we normal people could learn how to be great internet detectives! 😀

  19. Dude!

    I got nothing but righteous praise for you and this post mate.

    Honestly – you could have provided it as a free or even paid report, its that good.

    LOL – Thanks for the entertaining and enlightening post Steve Sherlock Scott-Holmes

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