How to make a million on twitter while you sleep. Seriously. Step by step.

We are living in an unprecedented era.

We live in a time where the opportunity to contact, to influence, to change lives (our own included) has never been so easy.

This morning when you woke up, what device was involved? Was it your phone, by chance?  

In most cases, it usually is a smartphone that springs us to life in the morning. This ritual is quickly followed by the inevitable check of emails, social networks and news to find out which celebrity croaked it during the night!

It’s always great to be the first to know!

We then proceed to bring our phone with us into the smallest room in the house where no one else has the privilege to join you. A chance for peace and quiet and a quick check of your Facebook news feed to catch up on friends, family and global trends. It doesn’t end there either; we bring it with us in our pockets or in our handbags, within arms reach all day ready to react to any type of buzz, vibrate or beep in an instant as if it were a shootout in the O.K.Corral and your life depended on it.

In fact, there are now diagnosed disorders where people have separation anxiety if separated from their phone for too long. Let’s face it, most people would rather lose their wallet or purse than their phone.

Best of all is our night time ritual, the final check that we do instinctively last thing at night to ensure that our phone is plugged in, fully charged and ready to go first thing in the morning. If only we were as worried about how charged up our partners would be first thing in the morning as we grab the duvet over to our side of the bed ;)

Unwittingly to most of us, a huge war is going on behind the scenes. Big business and brands fight it out 24/7 for the most important currency of all, the currency of “attention” …. your attention!

The more of your attention they win, the wealthier they become.

What about you? Which side of the phone are you on? Are you the messenger or the recipient? Your bank balance may well give you the clue to the answer!

The most important currency of all, the currency of 'attention'

Take a moment and consider if you are the target rather than the person or business doing the targeting. Never has there been such possibility and ease of reach to people with the introduction of wifi, social networks and smartphones. So how do you take advantage of such a gold rush and catapult yourself into the digital and economic stratospheres coming from a standing start?

A key component of this is to gain credibility in front of your ideal audience so that your message will be taken seriously. Once your message is taken seriously, a new improved personal or business/financial situation could be close behind.

Fortunately, as I have found out personally, we live in an age where it has never been easier to gain credibility through the clever use of social networks - even potentially without truly deserving it, initially at least. In today's environment, credibility is too often measured in numbers of likes and followers rather than the level of expertise- which I'm the first to acknowledge. I'm not saying this should be the case but it certainly is. The marketing idea of 'perception of value' rather than the actual value itself comes to mind.

Rather than engaging in the rights and wrongs of this as an individual or a business, my advice is to make the most of this while you can.

Gaining expertise in a topic can take years of education followed by disciplined application of knowledge. Gaining the appearance of "credibility" however can take merely a few weeks through clever leverage of the times we live in and the tools that are freely available to use for those in the know.

In April 2009, I was working in a full-time corporate engineering role in medical devices, without a Twitter account to my name. I was an intermittent user of Facebook to keep in contact with friends. After attending a motivational conference with the larger than life Tony Robbins and some online marketing workshops, within 6 months, I was out of a job and branded, somewhat annoyingly at first, as "The Twitter King" - which became easier to digest as I started earning a minimum of $10,000 per month from Twitter soon after. Within 18 months the business had in"credibly" brought in its first $1million in sales without any investment and no experience to begin with.

So how did the journey from ‘not credible’ to ‘credible’ and then to ‘incredible’ profits take place?

In mid March 2009 I received an email about a lady who ended up becoming my business partner. She was "The Twitter Queen". She earned $4,000 per month from Twitter while maintaining her full-time job. On the receipt of that email my life changed and my pursuit of generating income from a free website that I knew nothing about began. My first step was to open an account and get some followers.

How? Through trial and error! I opened an account and followed as many people as I could in a day which at the time was limited to 300 people. I called it @fashionguru222 and used a profile picture of my sister's dog Mary. Instantly I started to have complete strangers follow me back. To overcome the limitations of following 300 per day, I opened 6 more accounts and repeated the process. I followed 14000 people in that week and one week later I had 7,000 followers.

And this was when the realisation of the credibility paradox began for me.

I attended a conference where The Twitter Queen was speaking and it turned out I had more followers than the resident Twitter expert - not only that, I had done it in one week!

I was invited to share my knowledge with the audience who were amused at the thoughts of me clicking ‘follow’ 14,000 times in a week without having no idea what I was doing. The event organiser suggested to me that I should tweet out to my followers about a product they may be interested in, a product owned by another business but who were willing to pay me a commission if I sold any products of theirs. The concept was known as affiliate products, the idea of which was completely foreign to me. Add to this that I was not willing to sell any product that I personally could not vouch for. The organiser did notice a goal setting software that I had on my laptop and recommended I promote this to my followers. I looked at him like he had ten heads, that would mean I would have to tweet though right? The problem was, this ‘Twitter followers guru’ from Ireland had never sent a tweet and didn't know how! Two minutes after being shown how my first few tweets were sent out.

The next morning I woke up and logged into my Paypal account and saw positive figures for the first time! $44.20 to be exact, which I had made while I was asleep from two sales. My first thoughts were as follows: I have cracked this internet thing; I should sleep more as I am making more money asleep rather than awake; asking the organiser on returning to the conference on the second day after making my first sales, “If it is this easy, why isn't everyone else doing it” to which he answered “Wrong question Paul, what you need to ask yourself is if it is this easy, why aren’t YOU doing it?”

I was invited back to the stage once more as the latest resident ‘expert’ on Twitter who had now not only almost 8,000 followers but was making an income after just one day of trying! This made me unique - I could make money from social media which was not exactly common knowledge or practice.

Immediately the requests came in from the audience for “my unwritten book" that would explain exactly how I did this and the journey was underway. The incredible journey to becoming credible from being a nobody. Within a month I had 30,000 followers. How? Well, I had followed just as many people first! The simplest strategy in the world.

Gain credibility in front of your ideal audience so that your message will be taken seriously

When I say "I", that is not the entire picture as by this point, I had hired one staffer to assist in growing my accounts through manual following and, at times, leveraged some software that automatically did the same.

Roll on 6 months and over 500,000 followers across multiple accounts and the phone started to ring.  It was the Irish media in different forms. “Who are you?” “We are reviewing the top Irish Twitter accounts and absolutely nobody here in the office knows who you are!”

At this time I was teaching individuals and very well known organisations how to use Twitter to add thousands of dollars a month to their businesses and already speaking all over the world. I was very happy to remain anonymous in Ireland, as I do to this day. Being recognised on the streets of Sydney and Hong Kong while maintaining anonymity in Galway always was and still is the plan (until meeting @katsdalt in the maternity ward in Limerick after the Social Media Summit last year may I add ;) )

When the invite came in to write for the Sunday Independent, I decided that I would need to start following only influencers I was interested in as people would want to contact me via Twitter more regularly now. I also wanted to review my timeline which was impossible while following 80,000 accounts. In order to do this I needed to delete everyone I followed on my main account. With the biggest account that I had, which, incidentally, had an image of me as a twelve-year-old as the profile picture, I took the risk of unfollowing all of my following on one evening using a software. The risk paid off, my newly renamed account now only followed 200 people and had 80,000 followers, and I had arrived as a credible expert!

From here the following began to snowball for a number of reasons.

First, my credibility looked even more legitimate now as I was following almost no accounts.

Secondly, my thousands of social media students who were opening three Twitter accounts each were all following me, sharing my content and retweeting me which brings an influx of followers.

Thirdly, I was fortunate enough at this point to be speaking to up to 5,000 people at a time at venues as far away as Johannesburg, New Zealand and Fiji and could now gain thousands of followers in a day by offering my slides as a gift to all my new followers, but this took time and effort to build.

I was very open to sharing many strategies for growing an audience with anyone who listened and I suggested the same following strategy to many for whom it suited who had no audience to begin with just like me. At the time, Twitter did not have an ad platform open to the masses where they could pay for targeted followers so the options were limited for people to grow credibility starting from scratch and I knew exactly how that felt.

There was a black market to buy "fake" followers that existed in the absence of Twitter proving the service and many accounts jumped in and purchased. Being a teacher of Twitter, inevitably many students jumped into the shortcut and tested some of these providers with their accounts to test their viability as of course they were promised as "real" followers. Inevitably Twitter deleted all of these fake accounts and then progressed to sell access to real targeted followers themselves on the Twitter ad platform.

Build your credibility first

This I have tested but have struggled to get any kind of return on investment in purchasing followers through that ad type. Instead, I would recommend the "website clicks" advertisement after you have first manually inflated your followers and credibility through following other relevant accounts first.

Twitter, of course, had become a much more complex animal since 2009 and the tactics that worked back then have evolved greatly for the benefit of its users. While their numbers of users are stagnating, the advertising possibilities certainly are not. The Twitter ad platform is excellent and the ease with which you can pinpoint your audience based on anything from cat owners, number of credit cards owned, credit history, type of car you drive, educational level, age of your children, to affluent parents  are mind boggling. There are no excuses but to get involved and go digging the Twitter gold mine. At times I marvel at what Twitter has to offer to anyone who is brave enough to focus on it as a viable business network and to test it until you make it profitable.

My advice, however, is not to forget the fundamentals, build your credibility first. With your Twitter account, keep it simple and start to follow the followers of competitors or top experts in your field to create the "follow back" effect. Depending on your business field, and how professional your profile looks, you may have between a quarter and a half or more of all these people follow you back. Before you know it you will have thousands of targeted followers.

Let's be clear, this does not make you an expert, but relative to your peers on Twitter you will now have at least social credibility. It's the first step of many to come including a much more in-depth understanding of people first and digital marketing second.

Now add this in with the unprecedented access you have to your perfect audience via their smartphones and a multitude of other networks like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and you truly have life-changing momentum behind you.

Growing Twitter followers was enough of a start for me to go on a journey I could never have foreseen where a little blue bird took me under its wing and launched a complete unknown novice from Ireland to a global audience. With global exposure, you will have those that love and those that hate but what other people think of you is none of your business. Get focused on what you can control and build from the ground up like we all once did until you gain your ‘credibility’ and not even the sky will be your limit!

Paul O'Mahony

Speaker I Social Media Summit

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