After I finished writing my previous article that featured a very basic diagram of the three steps you go through to create an online conversion process (the Squeeze Page, Email Follow-up and the Sales Page), I was struggling with what to title the article. In the end I went with the decidedly simple, “How To Make Money Online“, and please read that article first if you have not already before finishing this article, otherwise this article won’t make sense to you.
If you’ve done keyword research in the Internet marketing niche then you will know that one of the most heavily searched for terms is “how to make money online”. That is the reason why so many bloggers use that phrase in their blog articles and blog title, if their topic is something to do with online business. The hope is to rank well for that term and get some search engine traffic as a result.
Personally I’ve never believed in going for the very top, most competitive terms. I consider blogs much better for a Long Tail search engine strategy, targeting secondary keyword phrases with each article and thus ranking well for lots of different terms. A blog can attract plenty of traffic from Google without ever ranking well for a very popular phrase, simply because it ranks well for hundreds of not quite as popular phrases. The traffic is much more targeted because of this, since secondary phrases are more specific in nature.
If you’re confused by this and have never heard of the Long Tail, please read my primer article here –
My choice to use the “How to make money online” title on the previous article (and this article too now) was made because I couldn’t think of anything else more applicable. Since that article covered the “macro” viewpoint of how to make money online, I felt it was the best title.
I stated in the previous article that my diagram was missing two key ingredients -
- Traffic – Which comes before the conversion process I outlined in the diagram
- Product – What you sell people at the end of the conversion process.
I covered the basics of traffic in the article, including Pay Per Click, organic traffic from content, and traffic from affiliates. This blog is full of many more articles on traffic generation strategies, so dig into my archives if you want help in that area.
The only piece of the puzzle missing is what product should you sell, so let’s take a look at that now.
What Product Should You Sell Online?
I’ve been in the Internet marketing game for a long time now. It’s ten years since I launched my very first website. During that time I’ve done business with all kinds of products and services, I’ve studied what other people sell and attended many events where people talk about what they sell and how they sell it.
The very first product I ever sold online was via eBay, auctioning old stuff like video games, and computer parts. Eventually I ran out of stuff to sell and since I wasn’t really into the whole idea of rummaging around garage sales and antique stores, and I didn’t have the experience or the cash at the time to buy product at wholesale, my eBay days were short lived.
Next up, thanks to my popular Magic: The Gathering website, I made money by selling Magic cards. Initially I traded online in my forum with other Aussie card collectors and players and then later started up an online store from the site. Thanks to my success at winning cards in tournaments and then selling them online, I was able to profit a few thousand dollars. I invested that money to buy new Magic product at wholesale rates and sold it from my store.
Unfortunately after some credit card fraud hit my online shop, I decided to close it down, so my first experience at online commerce ended within the year I started. Eventually, after selling my Magic site, I would exit the collectible card game market completely.
It was around this time that I began to blog and study Internet marketing seriously. One of the big lessons and draw-cards for me around this time was the idea of affiliate marketing information products. My blog, though a slow starter, eventually turned into a fantastic affiliate marketing tool. Today affiliate marketing is still one of my favorite ways to sell products online.
After affiliate marketing other people’s information products it was natural to create my own. Although tempted by the e-Book model, which I had learned about quite extensively thanks to Andrew and Daryl Grant, I stalled on my own e-book and eventually decided that a membership site was a better option. This led to what I sell today, Blog Mastermind and Become A Blogger Premium, two online courses based on the membership site model.
Where Should You Start?
I’ve just given you a break down of almost 7 years of my life selling something online. In a lot of ways I was an extremely slow learner, yet when it came time to release my own product I went with what I now believe wholeheartedly, is the best product model.
I’ll make this really easy for you. If you intend to sell a product online the BEST option by far is this -
- Some kind of information product
- Use the membership site model
Information products are the best because they don’t cost anything to replicate or deliver, just the cost of hosting your website. They can be created simply by writing, or recording audio or recording video or any combination of these mediums. Intellectual property has value that no one else can replicate because it’s unique to you, so anytime you create unique information you have a competitive advantage.
The membership site model trumps other models because it requires you sell something only once, but you get paid over and over again. The value of one customer is significant, thus you don’t have to focus so much on finding a constant stream of new buyers, like you do with an e-book, a script or other one time product sales.
Membership sites also have the added benefit of “community”, which means people experience a sense of belonging, a core human drive, as a result of participation with you. When membership site delivers a feeling of community, then you have emotion tied into your product, a very powerful marketing force.
If you’re new to the conversion process and you don’t have a market yet, then obviously the first steps are market research and then email list building (collecting leads). An e-book as your first product is a good place to start, but I suggest you ask yourself if that e-book wouldn’t function better as a membership site?
Often simply restructuring how you deliver your paid-for information and throwing in some community aspects like a forum, teleconferences and webinars, are all you need to create a membership site. Each chapter of an e-book can be a module of an online course, which you spread over several months and charge a monthly fee to access.
I’m a strong believer in Moving the Freeline, hence the few e-books I have published have been free, incentives to invite people onto my list and introductions to the world that my membership sites explore in more detail.
If you really want to excel long term online, you’re going to need to overdeliver at the Front End by giving away amazing content. If you give away some of your best work as an incentive and a lead-in to convince someone to buy something from you, shouldn’t that purchase be the best product you can sell – a membership site? I think so.
Bloggers – Why Not Sell A Product?
I’ve written before that most bloggers simply don’t get “Internet Marketing” and hence that’s why most never make any real money. The first big mistake bloggers make is not building an email list from your blog, but after that, the next big mistake is not selling a product from your blog.
These lessons took me a long time to learn myself and there was a period of “growing up” I had to go through as a blogger first, but that doesn’t mean your growth should be as slow as mine. I’m the example that you can use to fast-track your own success. You have the power of my hindsight to guide you.
To put this in direct words, if you’re a blogger, you should be selling a product and it should be a membership site.
You already deal in information every day when you publish content to your blog, so just find an angle, a specific focus, that you can target with an information based membership site.
Teaching is an obvious choice, so this applies especially well if you currently teach people with your blog. All you need to do is offer some kind of premium content and community behind your membership site and charge money to access it.
A blog is the best tool to establish the right conditions for the launch of a successful membership site. It’s an organic traffic source, it creates a perception of expertise and plugs straight into the three step conversion process I outlined in the previous article on how to make money online.
The Perfect Business Model
Not everyone will agree with me here, but based on my personalty and the lifestyle I seek (the work a few hours a day, choose only the projects that you love lifestyle), I believe a membership site is the best product you can sell online today.
Use the three step conversion process I’ve explained to you, plug a blog into it as the key traffic source and then sell a membership site as your main product.
It’s simple when I state it using simple words. Like anything there’s more to it when you actually begin the process of making the system reality in your life, but conceptually, this is not complicated. There’s a bit of work to do, but you can make it happen. I recommend you adopt this Internet business strategy, and if you want to follow in my footsteps, I’m here to offer my help.
Want More Help?
I’ve been putting the final touches on my next report, the Membership Site Masterplan.
The report is 72 pages of original content produced by me, where I take you through my formula for launching successful and very profitable membership sites.
The Masterplan is due in the second week of April 2009 if it all goes according to plan, so if you’re reading this after that date you can grab your copy right now by entering your name and email below.
If you enter your details before it’s released you will be added to the early notice list and receive a copy as soon as I publish it.
Shortly after I release the Masterplan report I’ll be inviting the first group of coaching clients into my six week membership site training course, the Membership Site Mastermind program. I’ll have more details about this program very soon.
Making Money Online