Have Something to Sell
(without losing your readers)

image of shopping bags

A lot of people have built amazing followings with social media.

And by “amazing,” I don’t necessarily mean huge numbers. I mean huge love. People who are interested in what you have to say, who make a point of tuning in to find out your particular take on your topic.

One of the things I get asked again and again is, “How do I translate that loyalty into a little bit of income? Maybe even a decent living?”

So today I’m going to share my best secret for that with you. Start doing this and you’ll be amazed at the results you get. (You’ll find a subtle clue to this skazillion-dollar secret in the headline of this post.)

That’s right, my secret underground mastermind money-getting platinum secret of the Internet ninja billionaires is:

Have something to sell.

Pretty earth-shattering, I know.

But the biggest monetizing problem people face if they have a great relationship with their readers is they don’t know how to sell them something without turning them off.

So that’s what I’ll talk about today.

Make ‘em an offer

If you’d like your audience to give you money, you’re going to want to make them an offer.

An offer is just a chance for you and your reader to exchange something of value.

You give them an ebook, they give you some money. You give them a cool tutorial video, they give you their email address and permission to talk with them from time to time.

We talked earlier about the easiest way to have something to sell, which is to recommend an affiliate product that you truly believe is terrific.

But you can also make your own stuff, which is our favorite model at Copyblogger. We spend a lot of time watching and listening to our community, then making software, education, or other resources that we think you’ll get a lot out of.

There’s a shift that happens when you make something for your audience. You start to look different in their eyes. Not just as someone who has interesting things to say. But as someone who actually comes up with solutions to the problems that are bugging them.

Someone who’s in the business of helping them out.

Start small

People get stuck with this one because it seems overwhelming. There are so many ebooks and online courses and membership sites. How can we possibly make something good enough to compete with all of that?

A small, starter product is not going to make you millions of dollars.

But it does something that might be even more valuable than that. It gets you started.

Because it’s a lot easier to move when you’re already
in motion.

Make a few small products, sell them, get experience. Watch what does well and what doesn’t. Listen for what your folks would like to see next. Tweak and test. Change the title of your product. Change the focus. Add an audio bonus.

Just play with it.

When you keep things small, you develop the right attitude, which is one of curiosity and flexibility. A small product that bombs isn’t a failure; it’s a market test.

Keep evolving

As you create some success with smaller products, some of your readers will emerge as those wonderful creatures, “your best customers.” They’ll want something more.

If you’d like some guidance on creating more valuable products, I really liked Dave Navarro and Naomi Dunford’s home study course on How to Launch the **** out of Your Ebook. (I think the missing word is “heck.”)

It’s not just about launches, it covers the whole deal — picking your topic, meeting the needs of your market, getting the danged thing written, building your list.

I wrote a review of it here.

No, it’s not a money-getting cash machine that stuffs dollar bills into your pockets as you sleep.

But since this is Internet Marketing for Smart People, you knew that already. :)

Solve a problem

People who claim that you can’t make money with a blog have usually omitted a key step in their business.

They don’t have a business.

Instead, they have entertainment with advertising.

It’s getting hard for the billion-dollar TV networks to make money with this model, and it’s really hard for you. It can work if you have tons of traffic, but you can usually do better (and faster) by going a little old-school and solving a market problem.

This post explains what I mean by that:

Why You Can’t Make Money Blogging

Create the right rhythm

Now we get to the part where you’re selling stuff but your readers don’t hate you.

Everything you’ve been doing to contribute value, to nurture your relationships with readers, to give them something worth reading (or hearing, or watching) in your content?

Keep doing that. Keep giving away excellent stuff for free. Keep surprising them with quality. Keep raising the bar on what you give away.

This sounds hard, but actually it becomes a habit. When you challenge yourself to create better and better content, you’ll find that your creativity rises to that challenge. And it’s just more fun than grinding out junk.

If great content isn’t your strong suit, look around for a partner. There are tons of talented people who love to write, but have no idea how to do the business side.

There’s always something amazing you can bring to the table.

All you need to do is find the partners who can complement you.

How are you using your ad space?

If you are running ads now, take a long look at that space.

Could it be better used with one compelling, nicely designed ad for your own product? Even if you’re selling a $17 ebook, that’s a lot more cash in your pocket than a few pennies here and there from more traditional advertising.

I’m not saying that ads are bad — some bloggers make very nice money with them.

But it’s a good idea to look closely at the ads you’re running and make sure they’re pulling their weight. When you run too many ads, the reader has a hard time knowing what to focus on. She should be focusing on your great content, and on a terrific product that’s bringing you revenue.

It’s never going to be perfect

Whatever it is you want to offer, trust me, it won’t be perfect. It might not even be pretty.

But it will be something, and you’ll learn from it.

So get out your calendar, give yourself a deadline (a real one, not something so aggressive that you know you’ll never make it), and offer something small to your audience. If you’ve got 10 readers today, that’s great, you’re creating a terrific foundation for when you have 100 readers. And 500. And 1000.

Start now, while you’re excited about it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. :)

Sonia Simone

P.S.

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