What you’re about to read is a double-purpose article. I have a friend and colleague who wanted it for his print newsletter, and I asked if I could also share it with you. It’s targeted at a total beginner, but maybe you’ll find it useful!
A few years back, before I had much marketing experience at all, I decided to start a little publishing project with my dad.
My dad had been selling a video on eBay, about how to cut foam wings for model airplanes.
He’d made a few bucks in his spare time, by helping others who shared his hobby.
But I was learning about how to do internet marketing. And how you could build a little all-digital publishing business, on the side, in your spare time.
The video sales on eBay had slowed, so I suggested to my dad that I could sell the video for him. I’d build a website, and offer the video for sale there.
Within a few weeks, I set up the website. And before long, the sales started rolling in!
Our unassuming little website selling a very specific training video to a tiny target market ended up making us thousands of dollars of spare time income, with very little ongoing work.
What follows is a basic overview of what you need to do if you want to set up this kind of spare time income stream.
Find a market you can serve…
Most people would start by trying to find out what to sell. But you’re better off finding out who you can sell to. What are your hobbies and interests? Are there magazines, books, or other publications that cater to that interest?
When there are products in a market, it tells you people are buying. This is a good sign that it’s a place where they’ll buy more.
Even better if you also know that there are websites, Facebook groups, and other places where this group congregates online. Since we’re talking about how to build an online income stream, this is helpful to know up front.
Give your market what they want…
Next, find out what your market wants. You can do this a couple ways.
First, you can ask. But don’t ask what they’ll buy. Instead ask what problem they want to have solved. If you can create a solution, they will want to buy it.
Second, you can follow the “instant expert” technique. Find all the books on your subject. Take an afternoon to speed read them. Take notes on the major topics discussed. Then, use your notes to outline your own book, report, video, or other publication on the topic.
Either way, you’ll need to package up your information into a product. It can be as simple as a downloadable report or ebook. Or, an instructional video. There are a lot of options.
Tell them the benefits of responding…
Now, you need to write a description of your offer. Don’t focus on what it is (an ebook, video, etc.). Focus instead on the value of the information contained.
What tips does it provide? How can it make the customer’s life easier? What problems does it solve? How can it reduce frustration?
At some point, you also need to say what they’re getting. But when it comes to information, people buy for the result, not for the stuff.
Guarantee your purchase…
The single-biggest challenge to making a sale of information online is getting believability. If you tell your story and promise good benefits, your potential customer will want to believe. But you have to get them over the hump of actually making a purchase.
For this, I recommend guaranteeing the customer’s satisfaction for at least 60 days. Let them try your product out. And if they’re not totally satisfied, give them their money back.
Not only is offering a guarantee the right thing to do, substantial testing has proven that if you feature it in your marketing, it increases sales.
Create a simple website…
Here’s where we get technical, and move beyond the scope of this article. But I can provide a couple suggestions.
First, you’ll need a domain name. That’s the address of your website.
Second, you’ll need hosting. You pay people to make your website available to the world, from their computers.
Third, you’ll need the software that makes the website. For this I recommend WordPress. It’s a free addition to most hosting services, and easy to use.
You can go to www.bluehost.com/wordpress and get it all for under $10 per month.
Set up a way to sell your digital product…
Once you have your website, you need a way to sell your downloadable product. The easiest way is to use a go-between service that handles payments and gives the customer access to the file, without you having to do anything. They usually charge a small fee per month and/or per transaction. And it’s worth it to not have to handle this part yourself!
Services like www.e-junkie.com and www.gumroad.com are generally considered the best for beginners in this area.
Make sure you offer email follow-up…
One of the best ways to make sales is to give a lot of information to customers, via email, over a long period of time. You do this with a tool called an email autoresponder.
You can set up a series of follow up emails using a service like www.aweber.com. Start with 10 emails. In each email, give a tip from your product, and point them to your website to buy the product.
Put an opt-in form on your website, so visitors can sign up for your free tips.
Find your buyers through paid advertising…
Finally, you need to send members of your target market to your website. This is best done through paid advertising. Buy the books by my friend and colleague, Perry Marshall, called The Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords and The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Advertising. They are available in bookstores, and will help you get your message in front of thousands or even millions of buyers.
This is obviously an overview, however if you go through step-by-step and follow these directions, you can easily set up a side income stream through online publishing.
What do you think? This probably isn’t going to make you rich, but it certainly is a proven way to make what my friend Lori Haller calls “manicure money.” Side income from your skills you can use to treat yourself here and there. And in some cases, it can turn into a whole lot more than that.
Also, if you’re a copywriter or marketing consultant, this is a PERFECT testing ground for your skills. I consider my project with my dad to be one of my best learning opportunities in my early years in marketing. Because I had total control to do it my way, succeed or fail, and learn as I went. That’s priceless.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,