Success Stories – 12 Doers Share Their Secrets. Interview #10: Peter Twist
There are lots of ways to make the Internet work for you. Although selling a product online is the most obvious business model, it certainly isn’t the only way.
This interview, with British voice-over artist, Peter Twist, shows how he has harnessed the Internet’s potential. Not only is he selling products, but he is also selling himself, his services and those of his colleagues.
Truly a man who understands the power of multiple streams of income.
BizE-zine: Peter, who are you and what is your background?
PT: My name is Peter Twist, I’m 41 and I live partly in London UK and partly in Monaco.
My bread and butter is as a voice-over for TV and Radio in the UK and abroad. As I work for myself it has been easy to work this and the Internet alongside each other.
I am probably one of the best-known “unknown” voices: the guy who promotes Classic FM Magazine and sometimes tells you what’s on TV on Saturday night. I occasionally do work for clients in the US as well.
BizE-zine: When did you discover the power of the Internet?
PT: I first got involved about 8 years ago. I went online by joining CompuServe with a 2.5k modem! I initially set up a web site to promote my voice-over work. In this business you spend a lot of time giving prospective clients details about yourself and demo tapes. Being lazy I put it all on the web site with streaming audio files and told people to go there.
BizE-zine: Did it work?
PT: Putting my voice-over information on the Internet did work. It saved me having to send out CDs and tapes. It was also fairly easy to get a good search engine ranking for ‘voice-over’ or ‘voice talent’ so I did get a lot of referrals from the web.
If it was a choice between me and another voice who was sending stuff to prospective clients by snail mail, it gave me the edge.
At about the same time, 8 years ago, the voice-over world had a major upheaval. ISDN telephone lines came in. I went from driving around 60,000 miles a year to all the major radio stations in the UK, to building a studio at home and talking down an ISDN line.
So I was already beginning to experience the benefits of technology even before the Internet started to grow.
BizE-zine: What was your next Internet development as far as the voice-over work was concerned?
PT: Now that all the voices were at home waiting for work, the radio stations and production companies began asking for weekly faxes listing a voice-over’s availability. Fairly soon they were getting up to 200 faxes per week. Every time they needed a voice, they would have to trawl through these faxes to find out whether or not the voice was available, and of course that availability would change so the producer would have to telephone the voice artist too.
So where does the Internet come in? I thought to myself how much better it would be to go to a web site and see the list of voices and whether or not they were available on that day.
At the time, only the really big companies could afford their own programmers to write specialist software like this, so I began the idea using Microsoft Front Page. Each day around 50 voice artists would email me and I would update the site. Phew, hard work! Also, if I put ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’ for their availability I was in big trouble! A few voices did ask whether they could update their own pages, but it wasn’t possible unless I invested around $30,000 in software development.
Eventually, about 9 months ago, I finally managed to find and adapt some web-based software that allowed all the voice-overs to log in, and change their own details. There are currently around 35 voice-overs on the site and around 100-150 producers access it on a daily basis.
The key is not massive amounts of traffic; it’s finding and filling a niche. The site is paid for by the voices, it generates around $15,000 per year. That may not sound like much but consider that it’s renewable, regular income, and I don’t have any ongoing labor: the voices do all the work!
BizE-zine: You got started by selling yourself and your colleagues, but what happened next?
PT: Next I did what everyone seems to do – I tried to sell other people’s products.
I followed all the strategies for advertising and promotion but saw that there were many more people who were better at it than me and had more patience. So, after about three months, (I have no patience at all!), I decided to take the other route, produce my own product and let the good marketers sell it.
I just kept seeing the same products being sold over and over again, and it was always the marketers with the best mailing lists (their own opt-in lists) who sucked up all the sales because they had already established themselves. You really have to hand it to those marketers who push stuff day after day and never give up.
BizE-zine: Let’s get philosophical for a moment. You already had a successful offline business – what need did Internet marketing fulfill in your life?
PT: I was attracted to the Internet mainly because I could see the potential audience and the ability it gave you to work at your own pace, at times that suited you.
I had always envied writers (novel & song) who could live anywhere, and, if they were successful, live off royalties.
Yet, I could see that for every successful novel and songwriter there were thousands of others who weren’t. In large part s seemed to be because other people control their destiny. If your face doesn’t fit, you have no chance.
The Internet creates a level playing field; you get a chance to let the buying public decide whether or not they like you.
I love the “unknown territory” of the Internet, it’s relatively inexpensive to test and you get results, good or bad within hours.
BizE-zine: You are very much a ‘have a go’ person, Peter. What checks and balances do you apply to your ideas prior to jumping in?
PT: Whatever project I’ve thought up, I always like to look at the end result and then work out how to get there. If you analyzed any new venture and all the things that could go wrong, you would never begin anything!
BizE-zine: So how did your business develop?
PT: I thought this web-based stuff was really something so I looked for other niches that would benefit and I thought of auto dealers, real estate businesses and travel agents. I have started off with auto dealers and have begun selling sites like the one here: http://www.hendymotorsales.co.uk
All these guys need is a digital camera and a connection to the Internet and no specialized software.
Because I have my own servers I make money by setting up domains and renting web space to people.
BizE-zine: Then, as if you didn’t have enough going on, you created your own info products to sell. How did that come about?
PT: I really like to help other people and have always been a fan of Brian Tracy and Anthony Robbins who are great motivational speakers. I love listening again and again to their tapes and CDs. To me it is better than just reading a book – I find it much more enjoyable.
There are many ebooks available online, but all you can do is read them. So the first actual product I developed was “The 7 Secrets Of Success”. It’s an ebook in PDF form, but it has links so you can listen to me reading too. I had a great response to this, especially as people in the USA loved my UK accent.
BizE-zine: How did you go about promoting it?
PT: You can have the greatest product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, you won’t make any sales.
By chance I received a mail shot about these guys in the US who were really successful online, and had just presented a seminar in Las Vegas. I bit the bullet and spend around $500 on the videotapes of the seminar, all 30 of them!
That really turned my head around to see how these guys were finding the customers and leading them into their websites and products and making sale after sale. I put many of their strategies to use for the “7 Secrets” and they worked.
The best product I bought after seeing the tapes was Yanik Silver’s ’33 Days to Online Profits’. Rather than just present a pile of stuff in one go, it took you a day at a time through what you needed to do. He even chases you with reminder emails!
People then started to ask me for advice on how to get their Internet businesses going and so I figured I’d work smart and muster up all that experience from radio, TV and the Internet. I decided to interview 10 of the top online marketers.
Obviously I started with the guys I’d seen on the videos. First, Yanik Silver said ‘yes’. Then I contacted Jonathan Mizel and so on. I set up telephone interviews with them all, transcribed them (nearly 200 pages in the end) and converted them into streaming audio for Real Player and Windows Media Player. There were many frustrations and heartaches along the way, not to mention numerous technical failures, but because I had committed myself big time to all these gurus there was no way I could stop.
BizE-zine: How much of your income is now derived from the Internet?
PT: About 40% at the moment.
BizE-zine: Is that fairly stable, or have you experienced any slowdown online?
PT: There has been a bit of a reduction in my voice- over work recently because of the recession in advertising. But online, I haven’t found a problem.
BizE-zine: It is clear that you believe in investing in yourself, from all the tapes and books that you buy. What was it about these books that lit your fuse?
PT: What really lit my fuse about the books I read was that they were real people talking about the challenges they faced and setbacks they overcame. I always used to think that people were successful because of their education, amount of money or talent. None of it is true. Anyone can be successful; you just have to follow a certain set of rules just like an instruction booklet. Just follow other successful people and copy what they do.
BizE-zine: What is your favorite way of generating traffic?
PT: Just to connect with people. I spend lots of time sending personalized emails to other successful marketers. I participate in discussion forums and just offer help whenever I can.
BizE-zine: Do you worry about making mistakes?
PT: I have made thousands of mistakes over the years, but if you analyze them and don’t repeat them, they can help. I’ve learned to keep all those boring things like accounting up to date, to pay attention to details and double check when people say it’s no problem. You have to take total responsibility for yourself.
BizE-zine: What software do you use to help you run your business?
PT: Although I have swapped from one to another I would say that I couldn’t be without good autoresponder and mailing list software. I prefer web-based systems so they don’t tie up your own computer. Also you can access them from anywhere.
BizE-zine: What is next for Peter Twist online?
PT: The great thing about the Internet is that your business can expand whether you like it or not. By that I mean new people are always finding out about you and putting links into your site, so it grows on it’s own. I would like to develop a few more products and expand in that way.
I’d be daft to try to re-invent the wheel, so how about another book interviewing Internet experts? When are you free Martin?
A lot of books you read waffle on for page after page, I want to write one called “The Smallest Ebook in The World” It will be one page with a list of what you need to do to succeed online. Watch this space…
BizE-zine: I don’t know if you are joking or not! What advice would you give to someone who is just planning to start out?
PT: Read as much material as possible from people who are doing right now what you want to do. Then when things get tough, you can focus on them. Don’t be a perfectionist, just take action, but learn quickly from your mistakes. Write down in great detail exactly what you want – down to how much you’ll earn. Even more importantly, write down what you will do with the money. Look to earning a good monthly income rather than $1 million.
If anyone is thinking of writing a book now, you just have to get on and do it. Write it with something like Microsoft Word, which has a spell checker. Don’t get hung up about security and passwords, if people are going to copy and steal it that may be a good thing because it gets your name around! Try to get people to send you their email address, offer them a free gift, or updates to your book – that way you can build up you list and when your next book comes out they’ll buy that.
I have looked at all the formats and personally prefer books that can be read with Adobe Acrobat. Then, people with Apple Macs as well as PCs can read it and it looks professional. To collect the money, just use Clickbank. They process the credit card payments and pay you the money, and, others can sell your book through them too.
The most useful piece of advice that I have ever seen is to start building your own “opt-in” list. These are people who have seen information about you or your web site and have then given you their email address because they would like more information. It’s up to you to then develop a relationship with them so they begin to see that the information you are sharing is useful to them.
I would say to anyone starting out, just get your hands on as much material as you can and start learning. Choose a good mentor, someone who you can see is doing what they say, but also get online yourself and start making mistakes. It’s the only way to learn.
Peter Twist is the author of “The 7 Secrets Of Success” and “Success Internet Interviews, more info at http://www.internetsuccessinterviews.com
Martin Avis is the author of the best-selling ‘Unlock the Secrets of Private Label eBooks’ – a complete blueprint to private label rights success. Visit http://www.plrsecrets.com to see how you can tap into this goldmine for yourself.