Now you can be successful doing either method. Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income has documented on his site how he built a niche site in the Security Guard market over the last 12 months, and how it now earns around $1500 a month in Adsense revenue.
And my buddy Steve Scott is a big proponent of affiliate marketing – and wrote a detailed eCourse on it called ‘Affiliate Marketing Without The B.S.’
But neither of those methods appeals to me – if you go the Adsense route then you’re at the mercy of Google. And if you go the Affiliate Marketing route then the generating revenue part of your business model is also largely at the mercies of others. Now I repeat again, both of these models work.
But neither of them appeals to me. I’d rather create my own products and services. In the long term I think this is a more sustainable business model. What’s important for me is that it puts the control in my hands.
Product Creation is a topic that’s not talked about on the Blogosphere at the same length and detail as other topics – and it’s one of the most important IMO. So I’m going to create a series of articles on product creation to help people – if you have any questions please email me, or leave them in the Comments below.
Intro To Part 1
This article was inspired by an email conversation I had with Cheryl Pickett. I think I first connected with Cheryl via The Sales Lion.
To cut a long story short Cheryl emailed me because she saw that on my how to play bass website I used to teach the bass guitar online. And her husband Dave is a marching band instructor – and she wondered if I had created a course teaching music instructors how to use the Internet to teach.
And then suggested that if I hadn’t that it would make a good course. What I want to teach you in the rest of the article is how you can use a ‘Target Profile’ like Cheryl and Dave to help you create a product.
The Importance Of The Target Profile
If you’re not familiar with the concept of The Target Profile then go check out the guest post that Marina wrote last week:
A ‘Target Profile’ should tick the following boxes:
- Be a real person (not a persona)
- Be someone who has a specific problem (that you can solve)
- Be than ideal client – the kind of client who you would want dozens of. Or hundreds of. Or thousands of.
Cheryl and Dave tick those boxes in this way:
- Dave is obviously a real person!
- They have a specific problem that needs solving – how to use the Internet to teach
- They are actively looking to implement a solution – and prepared to pay for the right solution. There are dozens of different instruments that have thousands upon thousands of teachers scattered worldwide – if I were actually going to create this product there is a big potential client base
How The Target Profile Helps You Overcome The Curse Of Knowledge
All instructors suffer from the curse of knowledge. This is the gap between what they think potential students should know, and what potential students actually know.
And most people creating a product decide on a topic and then deliver that topic in their chosen form (eBook, eCourse etc) and then hope that people are actually going to buy their course.
The way to avoid this is to actually find out both what the Target Profile knows – and what they actually want to learn. The curse of knowledge can create blind spots that lead to the creation of information products that are too advanced for the ideal target market.
So to avoid the curse of knowledge I emailed Cheryl and asked her to list all the questions that she needed answers to.
Here’s what Cheryl emailed back:
I remember reading a little about how you actually conduct the lessons/critiques when it was on your website. Those details are definitely what he needs. For example:
a. Where do you watch the student’s videos? Is it a private area/password protected?
b. How do the students access it to upload?
c. How do you know the student has uploaded something, is each scheduled?
d. If scheduled, what happens if they don’t upload something on time?
e. How long do they wait for you to respond?
f. How much detail do you put into the response for each critique? What format?
g. Do you allow back & forth email questions? How much/how long after a lesson?
h. Do you communicate live, via Skype/phone at all?
i. Do you follow a lesson plan of any sort/know what they are going to submit ahead
of time, or is it whatever they feel like submitting? How does the experience
change as a student progresses/lessons continue?
j. Do you recommend books/music as is typically done for in person lessons?
It would be useful to know how you package the lessons for sale.
a. Do they buy 5 at a time for example, or pay for x for the month of November?
b. What is your preferred method for taking payment? Paypal or something else?
c. What if they pay and then don’t follow through/don’t upload a video? What is your
3. Getting Students/Marketing
Dave has quite a few contacts due to his judging around the US, other connections, so he’d be able to start there as far as generating business. He also has a website, we’ve both got sales backgrounds and I’m fairly familiar with at least some aspects of Internet marketing. However, I’m sure many, if not most, others who would purchase this would need to have a basic idea of how to get students beyond those that are local. It might be useful to include:
a. Basic overview of what someone would want to include in their starter website
b. Basics of generating traffic/interest online
c. Your marketing best practices/tips. It’s always interesting to hear what has worked for others, to hear some new creative ideas.
The Target Profile Has Outlined The Course!
What Cheryl has provided in her list of questions is a great skeleton to build a product upon.
She sent me a list of questions that provides a good framework for the actual content creation – and the way she has ordered her questions has even laid out the different topic areas to concentrate on:
- Part 1 – The Online Teaching Process
- Part 2 – The Lesson Creation/Packaging/Selling Process
- Part 3 – The Marketing Of The Course
Fleshing Out The Course
I can’t overstate the importance of the Target Profile’s input. If you pick your target profile correctly, then answering their questions will also answer the questions of all the other people out there on the old Interwebz who are just like the Target Profile.
But there’s more information to be gleaned from the Target Profile.
The next stage would be to contact the Target Profile via Skype or the telephone – and make sure this is being recorded! – and go through all these questions with them. Answering these questions will lead to more questions.
Each of those new questions is fresh content for the outline of the product you intend to create. Not only does it simplify the job of what to put into the course – but you’ll also understand your target market much better.
And you’ll be able to actually ‘talk’ to your potential target audience in their own language. You’ll have a much more realistic view of their pain points and problems than if you use a ‘persona’ or an ‘avatar.’
Quid Pro Quo – Or Getting A Target Profile To Do The Heavy Lifting For You
When you go through this process with a target profile they are essentially giving you all the information you need to outline a potentially successful product. Their questions are doing the heavy lifting for you.
I’m a great believer in quid pro quo. They’ve done something incredibly valuable for you – you should do the same for them. You can combine this quid pro quo with the previous step, fleshing out the product.
The product Cheryl has outlined – let’s call it How Music Teachers Can Teach Online – would be viable. However I won’t be in a position to create it until next year sometime.
So as a return for Cheryl’s outline we’re going to connect on Skype and I’m going to go through all those questions above – and any more that turn up – in detail so that she and Dave can get to work and start implementing.
Now if you’ve seen the Services page you’ll know that I charge $250 per hour for my Skype consults. So Cheryl will get in the region of 2 to 3 hours of consult completely free – and get all her questions answered so that she start creating an Internet Teaching business with her husband Dave.
In addition to that initial outline, I’ll also have a recording of that call with all the extra questions so that when I come to create this product I should have a cohesive outline that is based upon what the Target Profile needs to know – not what I think they need to know.
That’s a win for Cheryl and Dave – and a win for me too. Everyone goes home happy. (Plus by the time I come to create this product if Cheryl and Dave have been successful then there are ways to leverage that success as part of the launch/selling process – either a detail testimonial or an interview).
How To Find A Target Profile
Creating a product in this manner is absolutely reliant upon you finding a good Target Profile. If you are just starting out, or don’t have a list of buyers, then finding the right Target Profile is the crucial first step.
Depending on your field of expertise, here are some ways of finding that elusive Target Profile:
- 1. Find someone in your market area who does have a list of buyers. And hit them up with an email, or on Twitter, or on Skype, and ask them if they want to run a competition – and the winner of the competition gets a free ‘consult’ with you. You must stipulate that the competition is only open to buyers though – and a side benefit is that you might create a relationship with some bloggers so that when your product is finished they may well present it to their lists in return for an appropriate affiliate commission.
- 2. Go to Amazon – find a book in your field with lots of reviews upon it. Leave comments for people whose reviews tell you they need to know more (you can comment on Amazon reviews!) and offer a free consult – leave your email address in your comment field. (People who have commented have usually purchased the book or product they are commenting on – there’s a good chance they are a buyer).
- 3. If you have a topic area in mind for a product – but no buyers – create a quick PDF on one aspect of that topic area (maybe a 10 to 20 page PDF report) and sell it for a few dollars on your website. Or a couple of dollars on Kindle DP. Or both. Each time you get a buyer you should hit them with an email thanking them for the purchase – and telling them you’re planning a more comprehensive product and asking for any questions they might have. And tell them that the best set of questions wins a free consult – and put a $ value on that consult. Your time is valuable, and you need to ‘sell’ that value to potential target profiles to get them to participate. (A one hour chat about a topic is not a big draw – but a free 90 minute consult value $300 is a much bigger incentive).
Remember the criteria for a Target Profile:
- Be a real person (not a persona)
- Be someone who has a specific problem (that you can solve)
- Be an ideal client – the kind of client who you would want dozens of. Or hundreds of. Or thousands of.
The last criterion is the important one – you want dozens of clients. Or hundreds of them. Or thousands of them. That’s why you need to choose from a pool of buyers – or people you know will buy.
In the first part of this Product Creation series we’ve looked at how you can create a detailed outline with the assistance of a Target Profile.
Using the Target Profile in this one avoids you falling victim to the curse of knowledge. (The curse of knowledge usually manifests itself in a knowledge gap between what your target audience and potential clients actually know – and what you think they know!)
It’s crucial to remember that a Target Profile should already be a buyer – or you are certain they will be a buyer. The Target Profile should be the kind of client that you want to fill your ‘buyer list’ with.
A big shout out and thanks to Cheryl Pickett. I’m really looking forward to chatting with her and Dave later this week on Skype and going through her list of questions.
If you’ve got any questions on this article in particular, or product creation in general, please leave them in the comments section below. (And take note of the use of other people’s questions to determine future content – it works for posts and articles as much as it works for products!)