I remember when I first began reading about starting an online business.
I remember the big promises.
Write an ebook.
And retire to a pearly white beach in the Caribbean.
I even spent over $10,000 on an internet marketing coach. It didn’t quite work out the way I’d expected.
Granted, I wasn’t the smartest cookie around, but then again, neither was the coach.
I spent around three years trying to crack the code, looking for secrets and shortcuts, and buying every course under the sun.
Eventually, things began to click.
But what I discovered was not what I had expected.
In this article, I’ll share what I’ve found to work. But before we do that, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
What is an Information Product Business?
When I say information product business, I mean a business that sells information. This information can be in any format.
Here are a few examples of things you could sell:
- Audio programs
- Video courses
- Live workshops
- Speaking gigs
- Coaching packages
- Membership site(s)
The most important factor is that the information helps someone with something.
That’s the way I see it.
How to Build a Profitable Info-Business
Now, let’s have a look at what I discovered.
Below are the essential elements I’ve found to work for me, and my clients.
They aren’t shortcuts.
But if you put in the work, and you know what you’re doing, you can get a small income stream up and running within a few months.
Let’s start with número uno.
1. Attract a Following
The absolute first step is to build a following of people that want to hear from you.
It’s easy to get stuck here, because you think you need to come up with a perfect niche, or a perfect idea.
The truth is that you don’t need whatever you think you need in order to start. You need to start.
People will listen to you because of you. Because of your worldview, your story.
You don’t have to know what you’re doing when you start. All you have to do is start putting your work out there, and start telling people about it.
Scary? Of course. But so what?
When I started Wake Up Cloud, I didn’t know where I was going, or what I was doing. All I knew was that I wanted to share what I had learned in life and business.
As more readers danced to my virtual door, I began receiving feedback. I listened, and I increased the amount of value I provided.
2. Build Your List
Your #1 priority should be to build your email list.
Forget RSS subscribers, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and building a Google+ community.
All of those things are cool, but they are rarely the 20% that will provide 80% of your results. (I’m referring to the 80/20 principle).
I was lucky, because I realized from day one that I needed to build an email list. When I launched Wake Up Cloud, I had my newsletter ready.
I had a short bonus report people received when they signed up to my list. When I wrote guest posts, I linked to my newsletter landing page, which maximized the amount of people that signed up.
My email list is what has helped me launch books, courses, coaching, and a membership site.
When you have an email list, you can do whatever you want, as long as it helps the people on your list.
Building a list is simple, it goes something like this:
1. Sign up for an email marketing service (I like Aweber)
2. Create a sign up bribe (I have my report)
3. Ask people to join your list
4. Tell people about your website and list
5. Rinse and repeat forever
If you need help with setting up your email list, check out my step-by-step tutorial here.
If you need more information on what an email list is, and how to use it, check out my in-depth resource here.
3. Start Solving Problems
In the early stages, you don’t need a product.
Focus all of your time on building your list.
Once you have 500+ subscribers, you should have a good idea of what problems your readers run into.
If you don’t, you can conduct a survey, and ask what their biggest frustration is (regarding your topic).
Remember, you’re building a real business, and a real business solves problems. It helps your readers, customers, and clients.
I enjoy making money, but I prioritize you, the reader. Without you, I couldn’t do what I do.
I often make decisions that cost me money, because they make my customers and clients happy.
I have enough money, so I don’t have to compromise. Instead, I can make people happy, and that makes me happy.
4. Conduct Tiny Experiments
One of my clients is in the fitness space. He talks about building muscle and getting fit.
He recently did a handful of free coaching calls to see what people wanted. The result? They want six pack abs.
This is all the information he needs to take the next step.
He’s the expert. He knows how to help people get visible abdominal muscles.
The next step isn’t to create a 10-module super course. Instead, he should focus on something small, a minimum viable product to test the idea.
A few examples:
- A $7 report
- A 90-minute webinar or teleseminar
- A 60-minute audio course
- A coaching package
The goal isn’t to make a lot of money right away. The goal is to test the idea.
Is this truly what his audience wants?
If people buy, he knows he’s onto something.
Another way to test your audience is to recommend an affiliate product, but I prefer using my own products. The results are better.
5. Keep Listening
So let’s say he does one of the above, and he gets a few buyers. What then?
He stays in touch. He remains curious about how he can improve his product or service.
I would personally email customers and thank them for buying, letting them know that they can email me if they ever have any questions.
I would then follow-up a few weeks later and ask how they’re doing.
I might even offer a free coaching call to learn if they’re stuck somewhere, or if they want more information.
This ensures that I build the product based on REAL feedback.
I’d also send out a survey that customers can fill out (anonymously).
So let’s say my client sent out a survey, and 70% of the people said they don’t know what, or how, to eat.
In that case, my client could add a bonus to the product, such as a 30-minute video on how to eat properly.
Then he could raise the price to reflect the added value.
But he wouldn’t stop there. He’d keep listening, following up, and adding to what he does.
6. Don’t Be Afraid of Services
As your audience grows, you may not always be able to keep up with the problems people have.
You may not be able to crank out one product a month, or add more to an existing product.
The solution then is to offer 1-on-1 coaching packages.
Sticking with our fitness example. If people want a personal dieting plan, you could work 1-on-1 with them for a few hours and create something for them. You can charge a modest fee of $30 per hour, and sell the package for $100.
Again, this isn’t about making lots of money, but about learning more about your customers and clients, and how you can help.
The more you learn about the people you help, the more value you can provide. You’re investing in yourself and your business.
As you work with more and more people, you’ll begin to spot patterns. You’ll begin to notice the same questions come up over and over again.
You can then turn these questions into information products and courses.
7. Get Help
At this stage, you should be making at least a few hundred dollars per month, probably more.
What do you do with the money you make?
Invest it back into your business.
Buy a course from someone you respect. Join a community. Work with a mentor.
The more time and money you can invest, the quicker your progress will be.
Even joining a community like my Lifestyle Liberation Academy is helpful, because you can ask unlimited questions, and you get access to training that produces results.
But make sure you work with someone you resonate with, someone who is doing what you want to do.
And make sure that what you learn is helping you move toward your goal, which is often to help more people and to increase revenue.
Knowing what to focus on is what will help you build a lifestyle business.
If you’re just starting out, focus on building your email list.
Pick a topic you want to write about, start a blog, and start building your email list.
Forget about products for now.
Forget about everything else.
Get your site and newsletter up. Start sharing what you know. And start telling people about what you do.
Think tiny steps. Micro steps.
That’s what I did, and here I am.
When your mind gets distracted, gently bring it back to the present moment, and to what matters right here, right now.
The better your focus, the quicker your results.
P.S. I just finished recording a comprehensive video tour of the Lifestyle Liberation Academy, so if you want to discover how the Academy can help you build an online business around your passion, click here.
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