How much traffic do you really need?

So let’s talk for a hot sec about business models and traffic, and do some math. Let’s say you want to make $20K:

If you’re running a 1:1 services-based business — we’ll use a photographer as an example — and your average package is $5K, then you need to sign 4 new clients. If you have a 60% close rate, then you need to get 7 leads to fill out your contact form. And if you have about 3% of the people on your site who fill out your form, then you need 230 people to see your website.

1:1 Services business
$5000 x 7 leads x 3% conversion = 230 visitors

If you’re running an e-commerce shop, and your average cart value is $200, then you need 100 sales. And then let’s say that your visitor-to-sale conversion rate is 1.5%. You’d need 60,000 people to visit your site to make your $20K.

Online product business
$200 x 100 sales x 1.5% conversion = 60,000 visitors

If you’re selling a $100 digital product and doing most of the sales via email marketing (which is the model that these gurus tell you is the most sustainable, scalable option), you can probably expect a 3% opt-in rate to your email list, then a 2% conversion rate from your email. (I’m just going with industry standards here.) So your site need to get 160,000 visitors.

Digital product with complex sales funnel
$100 x 200 sales x 3% opt-in x 2% conversion = 160,000 visitors

You need 700% more visitors to make that same $20K as the service-based business.
(And don’t even get me started with the expenses of all those fancy funnels and ad spend.)

Ask yourself: Who benefits from this narrative?

So if you’ve heard that the only way to have a long-term business is to have an online course … guess who is telling you that? A person selling a course about how you should build an online course. And that person is also an affiliate for a program that teaches you how to sell on Instagram or an affiliate for a software that requires you to build something at scale.

But your business can be successful even if you opt-out of the large-scale “get a million people on your list in 2 weeks and then sell them all your digital product” bandwagon.

But what if I already have a list?

Maybe you’re reading this and panicking. “OMG I’ve been wasting time on list building!”

Hold your horses — it’s not all bad. If, at some point in the future, you feel called to build a lower-tier offer that is affordable to people who don’t have the money to work with you? Then you should do some sort of data collection and/or community building.

And if you want to build a digital empire that can reach millions? Go for it. There’s no shame in that either. But just be aware of all the work that goes into it. It’s a hell of a lot more of a grind to reach those big milestones than just telling people that they can hire you.

But if you really, truly want a sustainable business? It’s not necessarily a business that’s built on sales funnels and Facebook ads and building an entire machine just to get hundreds of thousands of people to know who you are.

IMHO, the most sustainable business is based on reaching out to people you already know and *gasp* having a conversation where you ask for money, or for introductions to somebody who needs your services.

Because no matter how sophisticated your sales funnel is? At the end of the day, you’ll still need to make the case that you’re the best option to solve that customer’s problem. So maybe get out from behind the computer screen, get uncomfortable, and sell your services now instead of waiting until everything is digitally perfect.