In Episode 8 of the Online Business FM podcast I talk about how to create and make money online selling information products and how to go about building online businesses around those kinds of products.
It does seem hard and somehow daunting (especially to someone with little to no experience) to transition from doing affiliate marketing, being monetized via Google AdSense or getting sponsored into this huge step where you’re actually building out and marketing your own products.
Nevertheless, as you’ll listen in this episode, everything can be much less overwhelming than you think.
Plus, there are tons of opportunities out there that may very well be in your ballpark and these types business models might open the doors to your desired financial freedom.
I’ll be addressing the specific types of products and the passive-income online business models that you can build around your own information products that you’ll be creating and selling online.
What You’ll Learn
- eBooks: What to write about and how to publish & sell your own eBooks.
- Online Courses: Which tools/platforms to use & how create, improve, promote & sell.
- Recurring Revenue: How to generate recurring revenue.
- Membership Websites: Things to bear in mind, tools/platforms, building & running a community.
- Software: How to create a software product & types of software businesses.
- Productized Services: How to turn your freelancing gig into a productized service gaining you freedom and flexibility.
Download the MP3 File
If you prefer, you can download this episode’s MP3 file to your device for later listening. Just use the link below and follow the instructions to do so.
Links and Resources Mentioned
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the following links below may be affiliate ones, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing anything after clicking through those links.
- Episode 4
- Episode 7
- KISS Principle
- WP Curve
- Long Tail Pro [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link]
- Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link]
- Wealthy Affiliate [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link]
Hey, my people! What’s going on?
Thank you a lot for joining me in this episode of the Online Business FM podcast.
I appreciate you taking a little bit of your time and spending it with me.
Today we’re going to be talking about How to Create and Sell Information Products & Make Money Online from building online businesses around those kinds of products.
Now, I know it’s hard for all of us bloggers, affiliate marketers, podcasters and youtubers — let alone anyone just starting out — to transition from displaying ads, selling advertising space, being sponsored or promoting someone else’s products into that stage where you actually create and sell your own products.
It’s hard and it can also be somehow daunting in a sense.
However, as you’ll find out during this episode, it doesn’t have to be.
There are ways to make it easier for you and there are also lots and lots of opportunities that may be just the right fit for you.
Business models that you can take advantage of to take things easy, at your own pace, in your own comfort zone so that you’ll be more suited to reach your desired outcome.
I’m going to be talking about that specific type of products and the models of passive-income businesses that you can launch around those info products that you’ll be building, distributing and selling online.
I’ll specifically discuss the best information products to sell online.
The best information products to sell on the Internet, to me, at least:
eBooks, online courses, membership websites, software, plugins, add-ons, mobile apps and productized services.
I’m going to explain you how you can:
- Set up those types of businesses, how they work.
- What’s in them for you, what’s in them for your audience.
- How to create information products.
- How to sell information products online.
- How to make money online selling those products…
… and reach real success earning you enough to gain the flexibility and freedom you’re looking for in your life.
I won’t forget to mention what’s considered to be the ultimate dream of every online business owner or internet marketer: recurring revenue.
Who Should Listen to This Episode
Just so we’re clear…
Creating and selling information products is more geared toward those who already have a good amount of experience online, preferentially have established websites too, as opposed to someone just starting out with little to no experience.
The content I’m about to present here is more targeted to those people, although anyone else can listen in and still learn a bunch of things or, at least, understand what will be available for them later down the road.
Having this kind of perspective is always great.
Previously on Online Business FM…
Today’s session is Side B of our two episodes on the Create and Sell Your Own Information Products topic; with the previous one — Episode 7 — having been totally dedicated to some of the best tips to succeed at it.
And the present session is, as well, the concluding episode of our series of episodes on the top passive income online business models and how they work that started back in Episode 4.
We’ve discussed a lot of what there is to know about this subject: the different approaches to starting a passive income business from scratch (with or without a platform of your own), generating money from displaying ads, selling advertising space, getting sponsored and affiliate marketing.
Fulfilling Your Dreams & Gaining Freedom
We’ll finish up this series on a high note by addressing the stuff that may set you apart from the rest…
The stuff that might really push you forward and get you closer to actually fulfilling your dreams and achieving stability, flexibility, freedom and control in your life.
That being said, let’s get going!
What Are Info Products?
Hey… before we start, just a quick reminder concerning an important definition I gave in the last episode:
What are info products?
Info products are any of sort of knowledge content that is saved digitally and can be sold online like the products we’ll be referring to in today’s session of the OBFM show.
So, without further ado, how do you create and sell information products, what are the best information products to sell and how do you make money online selling those products?
Let’s answer all of these questions and much more in 3, 2, 1… GO!
The first kind of product that I would like to discuss here are eBooks, which are probably the easiest type of information product there is to create and sell.
I mean… it will be, at the bare minimum, easier to write one if you already have a blog, but having a blog certainly isn’t a mandatory requirement.
If you do have a blog, one that’s been getting a considerable amount of traffic, you may consider the possibility of rearranging, reorganizing and / or rewriting your blog’s content and turning it into an eBook.
You’ll be basically just taking content that you’ve already put out publicly online for free and organizing it in a succinct, actionable and easy-to-understand fashion in the form of a PDF or similar type of file that eBook readers support.
If you’re wondering:
“Why would anyone buy an eBook with content that’s freely accessible on my blog?”
… the answer is simple… people pay for convenience.
If you create or repurpose content in a more convenient and easy-to-digest form like an eBook, people will pay for that.
Think about it for a second:
Time is money, right?
And people simply don’t have the time or the patience to be wasting while looking around picking up pieces of information here and there and then sorting everything out in a logical order that makes sense.
Whereas if they are offered an easier and faster way to get better results in their pursuit of learning about a specific topic, they’ll take it.
Many times writing an eBook may be comparable to coming up with a new tactic or technique or even a new automation tool in that it can really help your audience achieve their goals.
What to Write About in Your eBooks?
Let’s suppose you’re convinced and really want to go the eBook publishing and selling route: what would you write about?
To reach that conclusion, to understand what it is that would make sense to write an eBook about, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
You’ll have to find out:
- What is the particular topic your audience wants or needs to learn about?
- What is it that best resonates with your readers, followers, viewers or listeners?
- What are their wants, needs, desires, problems, questions and struggles?
- Why are you writing your eBook? What’s its purpose, after all? I don’t mean for you, but for your audience. What’s in your eBook for your audience? Why would they buy it?
Think About the Transformation You Want to Create
Think about the transformation you want your audience to experience if they end up buying and reading your eBook. Before they read your eBook or consumed your content, they were like so and after reading it they became like that.
They’ve changed, there was a change in their thinking, in their mindset that motivated them or enabled them to start moving, to start taking action and doing things in order to push on and reach their objectives and goals, whatever they may be.
What kind of transformation are you looking to create here?
Include Personal Stories
To help with that, don’t forget to include personal stories that people can relate to, other people’s or your own experiences and success stories, case studies and data that proves your points like charts and stats and that sort of statistical stuff.
Run a Survey
A good way to get all of these answers is by running a survey using a tool like Survey Monkey, for example, (which you can sign up for free) and directly ask people what their biggest struggles are concerning topic ABC or niche XYZ.
To get more people to answer, you may consider offering an incentive like an Amazon gift card or a month’s fee of a popular tool in your niche.
Additionally, you may want to bet on paid ads, like FaceBook Ads, to drive traffic to your survey page and get even more people to answer it.
And, while you’re at it, take the opportunity to add your survey takers to your email list. You’ll need their email addresses to be able to send them their prizes if they win, after all.
Go to Where Your Audience Hangs Out
Another way to find answers to the questions you need to ask yourself that I mentioned earlier and understand what the topic of your eBook will be is to go to where your audience usually hangs out and search for what they are saying and asking there.
Look for them in popular public industry forums, FaceBook groups, LinkedIn groups, Reddit, Q&A sites like Quora, etc.
See What Your Competitors Are Doing
You can also take a peek at what your competitors are doing and check out what they are selling.
Use all of these tactics and strategies to discover your audience’s most common questions, their problems and needs, what they are saying about product A or book Y.
Note everything down, understand potentially profitable or interesting trends and write an eBook that comes in to fill those gaps and present those answers.
How to Write An eBook?
Brainstorming & Brain Dumping
All right… now that you’ve figured out what to write about, it’s time to take the hundreds of ideas you have out of your mind and put them on physical or digital paper.
Keeping the millions of ideas our minds produce every day stored in our heads is counterproductive. We need to make some extra headspace by writing them down.
In fact, it was Mike Vardy from Productivityist.com that said:
«Your mind is meant to be a factory, not a warehouse.»
I think his words perfectly describe what I mean here.
That being said, either grab a bunch of post-its or make use of some mind mapping software and start pouring those ideas on to that and out of your mind.
Don’t worry about anything else besides dumping your ideas on to paper or on to your mind mapping software — no idea is too dumb, nothing needs to be thought over.
Just write down everything that’s in your head immediately without giving it a second thought.
This exercise is brainstorming and brain dumping done at the same time.
Organizing Your Thoughts
When you’re done, you just need to organize your brain dump and come up with a plan of how your eBook will look like.
Start putting those individual post-its or mind map bubbles into groups of closely related ideas. Those groups will then become your book’s outline.
If you need to understand how to sort everything out in chapters or understand whether you’re missing something, a smart technique is to visit the Amazon website and search for the bestseller book in your niche or market.
Click on the book’s cover image to “Look Inside” and check the “Table of Contents” of that book to get a sense of how to best organize your eBook’s content.
After outlining your chapters, you just need to start writing your eBook.
Or, you can hire someone else, like a freelance writer, to do it for you.
Your choice here will come down to the amount of time you have available, how good or bad your writing skills are, how much you know about the topic or your level of expertise on the subject.
You then only have to set up a structure for you or your writer to follow in order to know what to write about and how to do it.
Like, for example:
“In chapter 4, you need to answer this list of questions” — you got from your target-audience when you ran your survey.
Having a structure in place, knowing how and what to do beforehand and keeping things organized helps with productivity, time management and coming up with quality stuff.
Publishing, Promoting and Selling Your eBook
As far as promoting and selling your eBook is concerned, let’s go back to the “take a peek at your industry’s bestseller book” tactic.
Visit that book’s sales page on its official website and study what they are doing and how they are promoting it.
Notice what kind of things, like visuals, videos, images, words and layout attract your eyes and which seem to be more enticing to click and potentially make the purchase.
Regarding publishing your eBook, you have two main options:
a) Publishing it on Amazon and b) Publishing it directly on your website.
Each option comes with its pros and cons, naturally.
Publishing Your eBook on Amazon
If you decide to publish your eBook on Amazon, you need to be aware that you’ll have to pay a considerable amount in fees and they’ll force you to sell your product at their price ranges which means you’ll end up giving up a lot of control over what you can and cannot do.
Those are the cons of selling your eBook through Amazon.
The good thing about it is that you’ll also gain a huge amount of exposure due to the way Amazon makes people stay on their platform and keep buying more stuff.
Over the years, they’ve perfected their marketing strategies and developed really impressive algorithms that greatly help achieve those objectives of theirs.
(Oh, by the way, an algorithm is for a computer something like reasoning is for a person, a set of steps you follow to calculate something or solve a problem.)
Those algorithms are features like “People who bought this also bought” and those related product recommendations emails you get after purchasing something on their website or simply just looking around and not actually buying anything.
This exposure will help you make more sales but, like I said before, you also lose a ton of control.
To compensate for that, you need to find ways in your book to bring people back to your website and to subscribe to your email list.
Publishing Your eBook on Your Website
If you decide to publish your eBook on your website, you’ll obviously won’t get as much exposure as you would on Amazon, but you’ll have full control of the entire process here.
You’ll be able to decide on a number of things:
Think of user experience, sales funnels, getting people to subscribe to your email list when they purchase your book which you can later use to send them automated email sequences that may lead them to purchase other products from you.
Without having to pay for Amazon’s fees and being forced to their price points, your profit margins may also be much higher.
All right, let’s move on and talk about online courses now.
And… what exactly are online courses?
What Is an Online Course?
Online courses are stand-alone courses about specific topics that you take online on your own demand, at your own pace, as you go along the course lessons.
After you take these online classes, you’ll be enabled to achieve a particular outcome or end result.
Unlike membership websites (which we’ll discuss in a few moments), online courses’ content is more static in nature.
They have a set, a fixed number of lessons from start to finish which makes this kind of information product and business easier to manage as it is more passive than running a membership website.
Since online courses are perceived as more valuable, you’ll be able to charge more for them than you would charge for a book or an eBook.
Your Online Course’s Primary Goal
Just like I mentioned when we were talking about eBooks (and this will apply to any kind of info product you come up with), your online course’s main objective, its primary goal, is to transform, to change your course-takers in some way.
You’ll want your students to experience a transformation.
You’ll want them to change their way of thinking, their mindsets.
You’ll want them to develop new skills that will enable them to pursue and fulfill their goals allowing them to achieve whatever their desired outcome or results are.
What Kind of Course Content Will Your Online Course Feature?
Your course content will have, like I said, a finite amount of lessons.
Those classes will be composed of not live but static albeit interactive content.
The kind of media, assets and learning tools you can use on your online course includes video, audio, images, pdfs, written text and instructions, docs, spreadsheets and worksheets, lesson tasks, activities and quizzes, live Q&A sessions with the course instructors, etc.
Through comments, private messages and forums, your students will have access to fellow course-takers and to the instructors themselves which is great for several reasons: to have their questions and doubts answered and for accountability purposes.
Thanks to this enormous quantity of options, it will be much easier to teach and learn whatever your course is about because you’ll be able to explain it better and your students will get to see you do it, as well.
Best Online Courses Tools & Platforms
All of your course content will be stored on a protected area of a website (yours or on some other company’s platform) only accessible to those who have a username and a password to log into it.
As far as third-party platforms where you can host your online course are concerned, you also have several options.
Teachable, Skillshare, Thinkific are freemium services; meaning they are provided free of charge but for more advanced features they’ll require a paid subscription.
Podia is a paid platform.
And Udemy is free but they take a percentage of the enrollment fee, if you get a new student through their marketing efforts. Whereas, if you bring one in yourself, you’ll only be charged a fee for the course enrollment transaction.
How Do Online Course Platforms Work
These platforms all work more or less the same.
On Udemy, for example, you just need to upload your course material and focus on driving traffic to your course’s sales page on their platform.
They have their own marketing algorithms such as “Top Courses”, “Frequently Bought Together”, “Because you viewed Course ABC or XYZ” which will be beneficial for you in order to get more people to buy your course.
Teachable.com is a bit different in that you can connect your Teachable course to your website which gives you greater control and flexibility on what you can do.
Online Course Plugins
And, if you’re using WordPress (a free blogging software you can install on your website to run a blog), there are also lots of LMS (Learning Management System) plugins to enable you to host your online course on your own website like…
… for example.
(I’ll provide links to all of these tools in this episode’s show notes page at onlinebusiness.fm/8.)
How to Create Your Online Course
When it comes to course creation, you should follow the same strategies we talked about concerning what to write about in your eBook.
Bearing in mind the transformation (this is so important) you want your audience to experience while taking your online course, you need to brainstorm and brain dump specific topics, subjects and ideas you’d like to create an online course about.
Then, divide your course content into different chapters, stages or modules each one composed of various lessons.
Each lesson could or should have an audio version of its record video, the video’s transcription, a worksheet, pdfs, tasks and activities the students need to complete in order to advance to the next lesson.
Each module could contain a welcome video to introduce what that module will be about and also a concluding video to finish off that module before moving on to the next one.
On that concluding video or step, congratulate your students for reaching that milestone and ask them to celebrate that important achievement. (It’s always very important to take some time to celebrate, even our smallest wins).
There you could also include a quiz to test your students’ new knowledge and skills.
For time management and efficiency sake, it’s recommended that you batch process the creation of your course content like recording videos and audio, writing the lesson instructions, coming up with quizzes and that sort of things.
Even if you’re busy with other projects or your day job, try and block out a day of the week in your calendar to focus on creating your course content in batches.
It’ll be faster to do so this way than to do it bit by bit because you’ll gain momentum and you won’t waste precious time trying to figure out where you left off the day before.
Similar to when you’re recording audio for your course (or podcast), if you make mistakes while shooting your videos, don’t stop. Repeat those bits and keep on going because you can always edit those parts out in the post-production phase.
The same thing is true concerning scripting out what you are going to say in your audio files and on your videos: you could do it, naturally, but keep in mind that how we write is different from how we speak.
There are pauses — breathing room that allows your listeners to process the information they’ve just heard — that you need to add to your speech; there’s intonation, there are certain words or phrases you need to emphasize to mark their importance.
How to Improve Your Online Course
Independently of being a more passive business model than other information-product online businesses and regardless of being composed mainly of static content, you still have some ongoing work you need to attend to.
Like regularly updating and improving your online course.
To accomplish that, you should ask for and keeping getting regular feedback from your customers, your course-takers, your students.
Take that information along with other stats, like video retention analytics that informs you where people generally stop watching, to go back and improve your course overall, a particular lesson or a specific video that’s preventing your students from moving forward.
A video software like Wistia, for example, gives you actionable data on how your videos are watched like how much of each video they’ve watched, where they usually stop and that sort of things.
How to Sell Your Online Course
Concerning promoting and selling your online course, there’s an important thing you need to be aware of:
People don’t get attracted into buying an online course because of their million and one incredible features. What convinces them to finally hit the “Buy Now” button is the end result that can potentially come from them taking that course.
Taking that into consideration, what you need to focus — primarily — is on the desired outcome, the end results that people are looking for and that taking your course may enable them to achieve.
So, instead of saying something like: “My Affiliate Marketing course has 12 Modules with 6 2-hour video lessons each about generating affiliate commissions from your website”…
… you could say something like: “You’ll be earning money from your affiliate marketing efforts consistently, non-stop, from your website by the end of this course”.
Build Trust & Show Proof
Also remember that building trust with your audience is incredibly important for you to successfully be able to sell your online course.
Trust is either build over time by continually publishing quality content and doing smart content marketing — and this is generally the best option since it brings you the best and longer-term results — or more quickly by hosting events or webinars (that can be promoted via paid advertising like FaceBook Ads) where you teach people something valuable thus showing your skills and knowledge about a specific topic.
Alongside trust, another crucial element of a successful promotion and sale is proof.
You need to prove that your online course is the real deal, that it really works and lives up to their expectations.
You can do that by sharing testimonials and success stories from people who have already taken your course before (or from your beta-testers, if this is the first public iteration of your course).
Why do People Spend Money on Online Courses
As it happens in relation to selling an eBook, the content you have on your course can be found for free on the Internet.
If people take the time to go to Google, or check YouTube videos or listen to podcasts they will find more or less the same kind of information.
What they are buying when they decide to purchase your course is, again, conveniency.
It’s easier, handier and a huge time-saver for them to get your course instead of looking around online trying to finding all the small bits and parts and then having to piece everything together in a logical manner.
And then there’s also the course structure that helps them realize what their next steps and actions should be.
It is these hand-holding and accountability factors, the opportunity to get answers to their questions from someone who has gone through what they are experiencing and made it to the other side successfully.
Finally, the act of spending money on something represents a huge psychological landmark in their heads, it’s like officially deciding to commit to take action, go through the course, get their money’s worth out of taking that course and investing that amount of money.
This is actually the point that kind of forces me more to really commit to go through every lesson and finish the courses I enroll in so that I can feel I paid a fair amount of money on a course that really helped me and was totally worth it.
As curiosity, in the last few months, I’ve enrolled in four online courses that cost me an average of $400+ each. I see courses not as spending money, but as good investments in my education and future.
And in case you’re wondering… yes, some of these courses are related to digital marketing and online business.
Nope, I don’t have everything figured out and no, I don’t know everything about these matters. But I do try to learn a bit more each day.
That was it about online courses, let’s discuss membership websites next.
And you might be asking what is a membership website?
What Is a Membership Website
A membership website is almost like an online course since it shares some of its characteristics but on an ongoing basis.
Instead of a finite amount of content, a membership website is constantly being updated with new information, new content, new videos, new interviews, new strategies, techniques, tactics, secrets, pdfs and other kind of course material and it generally comes with a forum or community with other like-minded people and live office hours taking place at set days of the week or month.
All of this makes members want to stay month after month after month.
People pay a recurring fee (monthly, quarterly or whatever frequency is available) to keep their subscription to that membership website which has restricted access to those with an active account.
This means two things:
A membership website is not that passive in nature because it requires you to keep constantly updating old content and adding new and exclusive content.
Although, as I said back in Episode 2, when we talked about Passive Income Myths and Truths, there is no such thing a 100% passive income business.
There is no business model where you just have to push a button to start making money and never need to do anything ever again.
A membership website is a business that generates recurring revenue, the ultimate dream of every online business person or internet marketer.
Generating Recurring Revenue
Generating recurring revenue signifies you’re getting a fixed amount of money per student or member every single month (or whatever your business’ payment frequency is).
The higher the number of members you can get, the higher your recurring revenue will be.
Imagine you’re charging like $10 a month per member and you have 200 members. That’s $2,000 every month. If you get 200 more members to join the following month, you’ll make $4,000 a month total.
If you get another 200 more the following month, you’ll be making $6,000 by the third month.
It keeps adding up and growing every month and that’s why recurring revenue is the like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that everyone dreams about.
Things to Keep in Mind Concerning Your Membership Website
It does seem like a dream but, naturally, things won’t always be as simple as just adding up. There is a list of things you need to bear in mind in order to maintain and grow your membership site business.
The most important thing of all and the one that, in a sense, emcompasses all of the others is convincing people to stay as paying members.
Understand that every time they receive a bill they’ll ask themselves if it’s worth it for them, what are the benefits, whether they are making the most of it or not and if they really need to stay and keep spending money on it.
So you ought to give them a good reason and keep people interested in coming back again and again, if you want them to stay or else… they’ll simply cancel their recurring payments, make like a tree and leave.
A good strategy is to look at your retention rate and churn. (Churn means how many people sign up and drop out; it’s the turnover or rotativity of your members.)
Study those stats to identify the exact point in their membership life when people usually cancel their accounts.
Come up with a special thing that really catches their attention and interest and is automatically sent to them immediately before they reach that stage to prevent them from leaving.
To keep people in you need to give them good reasons or special things to stay every month. A few of those reasons can be:
- New and updated coursework and content.
- Access to digital office hours, live Q&A sessions, regular coaching and group calls.
- Exclusive content (besides the normal content they already have access to) like interviews with other experts in your field that are not publicly available anywhere to anyone else except for your members.
- You can even send them special notes, cards, souvenirs or customized videos once in a while (check out Bonjoro.com for creating those kinds of videos).
- Doing that will undoubtedly make them feel very special. They’ll definitely appreciate you taking some time to think about them and making them feel happy for sticking around.
- You can also give them special access to stuff that no one else gets since it’s not publicly available.
- And you could have a community of like-minded people which is one of the best reasons to make people stay for a long time.
At the same time, you need to be aware of other things that might go wrong or need a constant eye on.
Credit card expiration dates are a good example of this. Use automated processes or software to notify people that their credit card expiration date is arriving soon and make it easy for them to update their payment information, even if they end up missing their payment due dates.
The easier it is for them to take care of that, the bigger the chances of keeping them around. And the contrary is also true.
Membership Websites Tools & Platforms
The first two are WordPress plugins that integrate nicely into your WordPress installation and let you restrict access of a section of your website that will be of exclusive access to paying members, create different membership levels or subscription models while giving the insight, stats and reports you need to understand how your business is doing.
The third one, Teachable, I had mentioned it before for creating online courses, but you can still use it to create membership websites too. You simply need to change the settings a little bit to accomplish that.
How to Create and Run a Community
A very important part of your membership website or, even, your online course is a community of like-minded individuals. A community is basically a forum or closed FaceBook group where your students and members hang out with each other.
Having a community in place is important because it represents a good reason to keep people in and people will pay for those relationships because it offers them the opportunity:
- To connect, network and benefit from hanging out with other like-minded people like themselves.
- Get advice and feedback.
- Get their doubts and questions answered.
- Ask for help and motivation.
- Create mastermind and accountability groups to keep each other accountable for their progress and course completion.
- To share experiences, knowledge, insight and success stories.
Being a part of community can also lead up to event meetups, dinner parties or hangouts with the course instructors and other membership site members or course students.
All of this will help make people keep their subscriptions active for longer periods.
For instance (and, as you’ll realize this is not the best example, but even so)…
Wealthy Affiliate [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link], an affiliate marketing online course / membership website that I’m a student, member and an affiliate for, helds an event every year in Las Vegas where they invite their most successful affiliates in promoting their course to meet up, share their stories and experiences and also give their opinions and points of view on how to improve the membership website and its content.
The great thing about this event is that the owners, who are also at the event, pay for everything, so their top affiliates just need to book their flights and arrive in Las Vegas in time.
Things to Bear In Mind While Running a Community
As usual, there a few things to bear in mind when creating and running a forum/group/community, if you really want it to be a real community, that is; you certainly wouldn’t want it to be like a desert where nothing happens.
In fact, if there’s no action, no movement there, then no one will want to be part of that community and instead of helping you, it will work against you since it simply won’t look cool.
To avoid and fight that, create some activity by getting people to introduce themselves immediately after they enroll in your course or subscribe to your membership site.
Making sure they do that as one of their first lesson tasks, for example, will make them begin to get used to be in there and get to know other people.
Get people involved by prompting certain questions or creating new threads.
If you have the resources, have someone manage it or hire a community manager to keep your community active, alive and thriving making sure people’s questions are read and answered.
It’s crucial to keep people happy by answering their questions; if you miss that, they’ll might start to feel disappointed, left alone and bad and they probably won’t be around as paying members for much longer.
Within time, your more active members will start to help other members and create movement by their own.
Moving on here…
It’s time to talk about Software which, if done right, can be the perfect solution to help a specific niche, a particular audience that has a problem or a need that needs solving.
Like with the membership website type of online business, with a software business you also have the possibility of earning recurring revenue. In fact, it will be way easier to charge a recurring fee every month for the use of your software tool.
This kind of tools are mostly used on an ongoing basis — as opposed to a one-off kind of use — because people need them to achieve their objectives and goals permanently.
Take a keyword research tool as an example. If you’re a blogger or SEO, you’ll need to research for the best keywords people search for on Google so you can then target those keywords or search terms on your blog posts.
Keyword research is not only done once and that’s it, right? You need do you it regularly, like several times a month. (Some people even do it daily.)
Software as a Service
This is where SaaS comes in. SaaS stands for Software as a Service which basically means having access to a piece of software that lives in the Cloud. To use that service, you’re required to pay a recurring fee.
Two examples of cloud-based SaaS keyword research tools that I use and recommend are Long Tail Pro [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link] and Ahrefs.
Paying a recurring fee, instead of a one-time fee might not be the best thing from the customer’s point of view, but from the business owner’s perspective it represents a great opportunity to earn recurring revenue. And the more users you can get and keep, the higher the returns.
At the same time, charging a recurring fee is also a smart approach business-wise as it will give the funds needed to pay ongoing expenses (like hosting, marketing, staff, tech maintenance) and allow you to keep updating your software program and maintain customer service and support active, up-to-date and on top of what’s going on at all times which is very, very important.
Charging recurring fees also allows you to lower the entry price to gain access to your tool and recoup your customer acquisition costs since people will be paying you more than just once.
How to create a Software Product
To create a software product there a few things you need to look out for.
First of all, you’ll need to understand exactly what it is you want to create.
To do that you should use of the techniques I mentioned back in Episode 4 when I discussed how to build a passive-income online business without a platform of your own.
That technique is called Idea Extraction. And it consists on you calling small businesses and asking them directly what kind of solution would help them streamline their work or facilitate their routine tasks.
Of course you wouldn’t be posing that exact question to the letter; as it might not return the best results considering that people generally don’t have a very clear idea on what it is they are lacking.
Instead, you need to ask them something else and then study their answers to reach a conclusion.
- “What do you need to do regularly in your business that you wish you could simply avoid?”
- “What are some of your work-related tasks that you hate or dislike doing every day?”
- “If you could ask a genie for a wish, what would you change in your work?”
Product Idea Validation
Following the idea extraction step and after determining what you could build as a solution to those people’s problems, you’ll need to validate your product idea.
And you do that by pre-selling it to potentially interested people before spending the time, the money and the resources to actually build out your solution. That’s the way you validate it and that’s how you prevent yourself from failing big time and losing boatloads of money.
I know that pre-selling something that’s not even built might sound unreasonable and wacky, but it does work.
If it wasn’t at all possible, there wouldn’t be crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo that help entrepreneurs get funds to start their businesses and, more importantly, the much-needed validation for their product ideas.
The thing is… merely asking someone if they would buy your product once it’s built simply isn’t enough. Many of those answers wouldn’t reflect the true reality of their intentions.
It’s only when they open their wallets and spend their money that they are really committing to buying your product. That’s when the real validation actually occurs.
Depending on your product and price point, you’ll need more than just one person to say “yes” with his/her dollar, euro or other currency bills.
To learn more about validating your business or product idea and have greater assurance that it has wings to fly I recommend reading Pat Flynn’s book Will It Fly?. It’s a really great book with lots of strategies and insight on this subject.
Go to onlinebusiness.fm/willitfly [Affiliate Disclaimer: This is an affiliate link, which means I earn a commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing this product through this link] to check it out on Amazon (this is an affiliate link and I earn a small commission — at no extra cost to you — if you end up purchasing through it).
Beta-Launch Your Software Product
Once it’s built, and since it is a piece of software, it might come out with some bugs and crash every so often.
So it’s a good idea to launch it at a special price for early adopters or beta-testers warning them about these eventualities and asking for their feedback in return for the lower price it cost them.
Get them involved and excited about your project and software product; this often works very well in terms of marketing and promotion.
General Software Business Tips
Generally speaking, here are a few tips you should have in mind, if you’re considering entering the software business.
Right at the top, you shouldn’t rush into starting a software business or building a software product. Before anything else, you need to understand if it’s something you really want to focus on for a considerable amount of time or even full-time and if there are people really interested in using your product.
Talk to other people about your software product idea (or any business idea, for that matter). As opposed to hiding your business ideas and keep them very secret, you should tell other people about it.
It will open the doors for great feedback and constructive criticism which will allow you to see eventual holes thus helping you refine your idea, take alternative approaches to best serve your audience or simply just ditch that idea. Either way, it will be a positive thing for you.
Also, don’t try to do everything at the same time.
A common mistake that people just starting out usually make is trying to handle too many things simultaneously. They end up spreading their attention too thin between the many different projects, when they should putting all of their focus on only one thing.
If you’re getting into any kind of business, be it a software business or other one, you need to do it for the right reasons. That means putting your audience’s needs and serving them at the top of your priorities instead of just doing it to make some cash.
You’ll also need to properly communicate and explain what you want to your developer or development team.
You can make use of the many different options in productivity, time management and workflow tools but, most importantly here, is making sure your message is shared and understood in the best and more effective way so you don’t have any bad surprises when the product is delivered to you.
To achieve that objective, you should create a wireframe.
A wireframe is simply a visual representation of what your software program will do, look like, feel and behave.
You can use any kind of image editing software like Canva or Photoshop or MS Paint to create a sketch of how you imagine your tool or simply just hand-draw it on a piece of paper.
Include stuff like how the backend settings, options and overall design will look and work so as to make sure your developer knows what he or she needs to do.
Creating a wireframe or a prototype is easier and simpler than you think. As I said, it’s just a visual or sometimes physical representation of your idea.
It is very important to have one so that both of you (yourself and your developer) better understand what you want based off on the feedback from your audience and beta-testers and conversations with other people about your idea and be able to see what’s missing, what’s need to be rethinked, what needs to be added or what’s just wrong and should be removed.
A physical prototype that people can hold and move around is even better.
You’ll be able to change or adjust it to your audience’s needs and keep getting feedback from them to make it the way they like and want it to be.
With that kind of information, you’ll be equipped with lots of insight of what needs to be made or altered by your developer in terms of functionalities, features and design.
Another tip that concerns to functionalities and features is the KISS Principle. Your software should be created as one specific solution to one particular problem. Wanting it to do everything and solve every problem will make it too complex to understand and cumbersome to use.
Finally, you should make sure your software is permanently up-to-date and compatible with the latest versions of any third-party software it connects to.
Still relative to software, there is the possibility of building and selling digital goods. Digital goods could be anything from plugins to add-ons to mobile apps.
For example, you could develop a plugin for WordPress. WordPress plugins work as extensions to its core functionalities allowing WordPress, a blogging software, to do more things more easily, faster and in a more practical way.
There are free and paid plugins and lots of developers or business owners that make a living out of building and selling their WordPress plugins.
You could also develop and sell add-ons for other software programs in a similar kind of business as selling WordPress plugins.
Or you could build a mobile app and make a profit out of selling it.
Despite the insane level competition in the mobile app business world, coming up with an app can still become a lucrative business. A great example is the Pokémon Go app which was able to have a higher number of active users than Twitter, at one point.
Be aware, though, that most apps aren’t used or opened more than twice. Grab your smartphone and check to see which apps you use more often and those that are just sitting there like forever so you get a feel of what I’m talking about.
To build and sell an app successfully, you need to come up with something simple yet useful, entertaining, engaging and addictive, at the same time.
It’s hard, but nothing is impossible.
To end this very long episode of our show, let’s discuss productized services.
Productized services are a form of turning a freelancer-to-client gig — where you, as the freelancer, charge a set amount for a specific job such as web development or web design (many times regardless of the time it will take you to conclude it and the amount of modifications your client might ask) — into a more packaged and fixed service where you’re selling a sort of service-item A, B, or C for X amount of cash.
If they’d like additional modifications they would need to buy a separate package containing Y amount of extra modifications.
A freelancer-to-client kind of service may, more often than not, become a growing pain and frustration for the freelancer because the client just keeps asking for new, unexpected and extremely time-consuming features and modifications.
I remember when I was working as a web developer in a website designing company. The clients would pay, let’s say $5,000, for a new website design.
Our designers would get the job done in time as per the customer’s desires and what had been agreed upon beforehand only to keep going back to Photoshop to change everything over and over again wasting their precious time, preventing them from working on other projects for other clients and killing the company’s profit on that job.
Turning your freelancing service into a productized service will allow you to gain back flexibility and freedom in your life in what relates to your schedule, time and income streams.
That’s the whole idea behind a passive-income kind of business, after all.
Instead of working directly for a client, you would be selling packages of very specific and predetermined services. For example, you could sell a “Logo Design” pack for $100 that would include the PNG and .JPEG versions of that logo and two modifications tops.
If your customer required the working file to be able to make modification on his/her end, you would offer that as an upsell for $15 more. If your customer requested any more modifications than just the two basic-pack ones, they would need to purchase another upsell for another $25.
Another great benefit you get from this business model is that you don’t actually have to do the work yourself, you’re free to hire someone else or a team of designers, for example, to take care of that or even handle a greater number of orders than what you could otherwise be able to handle by yourself.
There are a few examples of people who took this productized-service approach and built a thriving business out of it.
DesignPickle.com is a company that sells logo and infographic design productized services; WordAgents, on the other hand, does the same thing with content production; and WP Curve sells WordPress fixes as productized-service packages.
What Business Model Is Right for Me?
Awesome stuff to think about and consider!
In this episode we focused on how to create and sell information products and make money online selling those products, be them eBooks, online courses, membership websites, software solutions or productized services.
After everything that was reviewed today, you might be asking yourself:
“Okay, from all of these business models, which one is right for me?”
The best model for you is the one that you really want to focus and invest your time and energy on, the one you feel you really would like to do and still be doing one month, six months, one, three or five years from now.
The best model for you is the one that will genuinely serve your very specific audience, the one that will really help solve their problems, answer their questions and fulfill their needs.
What If I Don’t Have an Audience Yet?
If you don’t have an audience yet, brainstorm things you enjoy doing and talking about, things you struggle with or things you know a lot about.
Pick one of those niches and help them solve a particular thing by really understanding what that problem is and what that specific group of people is going through.
The better you’re at understanding that, the better your solutions will turn out to be and the more chances you’ll have to achieve success with your business.
We have finally come to the conclusion of our 5-part series of episodes that began in Episode 4 where we talked about starting a passive-income online business, which kind of options you have, what types of business models exist, how they work and what you can expect from them, what might work for you and what may not be the best thing for you and lots of great and valuable information besides that.
I’ll get into more detail about each specific type of online business and much more in the coming episodes, as well.
To get all the resources and links I mentioned in this episode, you can go to the show notes page for this episode at onlinebusiness.fm/8
Thanks for Listening
Before I go I would like to thank you for listening. If you’ve listened to more than just this episode, thank you a ton!
If this is your first time listening to the Online Business FM podcast, hi, welcome and thank you for giving it an opportunity. If you liked it, check out a few more episodes, there are a lot of great, super interesting and exciting things here to learn and have fun while you’re doing it.
I am going to keep producing quality content here to help you out and make sure you have the knowledge, tricks, tips and the right tools and resources to be able to start, grow, or scale your online business and achieve success in the online business world!
Again, thank you a lot for listening in, that’s really important and deeply appreciated by me. I hope you learned a lot from this episode and from this series of episodes.
What Do You Have to Say?
I would love to hear back from you, what you have to say about it or if you have any questions. Just check out the show notes page for this episode at onlinebusiness.fm/8, don’t be shy and leave a comment there.
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I would like to continue helping you out to reach success online in future sessions of this show. Thank you a million times and I’ll see you in the next episode!