Some businesses just look easy. They get an early break, such as a video going viral and everything goes their way. The founder gains instant recognition as a celebrity and everyone wants to interview them. Customers flock to their door.

How do they do this? Why do some online businesses flourish while others struggle?

The answer may surprise you. Online success happens for only one reason: the business owner understands that an online business must be worked at just like an offline business. You cannot simply put up a website and expect that Google, your web designer, or the digital marketing firm that you hired is going to make you a success. It simply doesn’t work that way.

The truth is that you must work an online business just as you would work an offline business. In fact, because people cannot touch your products or shake your hand, it might be much harder for them to get to know, like, and trust you. You may have to work at your online business harder than you do your offline business.

Once you understand that concept and you realize what is really involved to make your website be successful, then we can discuss what it really takes to grow your online sales. And despite popular belief, it is NOT getting on page one of Google. Google only reports it’s findings of who it believes is the most popular websites for a certain search term. In other words, you get to be listed on page one of Google because you are already popular, not because you did something so that Google will make you popular. You need to be popular in the first place to show up on page one of Google.

So what is the trick? Assuming you are willing to put in the work to make your website popular, how to you accomplish this? Is there a way to make your content go viral?

Actually, there is. Russell Brunson calls this the Dream 100. The idea is that you must find out where your target audience is hanging out online. Then, you determine who already has access to that audience, and you  do whatever it takes to become friends with those people. Those people are the key influencers who you must court. Let’s say for example that you want to reach your target audience of 55 plus seniors. so, first you identify who has already congregated an audience of 55+ seniors. AARP might be one such group. 55places.com might be another. Make a list of the top 100 people who have already built the audience you want.

Now, spend some time making those 100 influencers be not just your colleagues, but your best friends. Buy their programs. Participate in their events. Contribute to their blogs. Make it so that you are “one of them.” This can take some time, so don’t rush it, just keep working at it. After they have come to consider you one of the gang, now you can approach them with a business proposition. Typically, this takes the form of a Joint Venture arrangement, where they agree to email their list on your behalf in exchange for a commission on whatever it is you are selling.

The building of your list is what is important, not the sale itself. Grow your list on the shoulders of the giants in your field. This means that you must be willing to share the profits with your joint venture partners on at least an equal basis (I’ve heard some people actually give 100% of their profits to their JV partners, because they are trying to grow their list or social media following).

So, that’s the genius trick to online marketing – building your list on the shoulders of others. It’s not an overnight solution and it will take as much or more work than your offline business does. But it is also the most proven way to a successful online business.