How To Make Money Online Part 2 – What Product Should You Sell?

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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 –

What Is The Long Tail?

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 -

  1. Traffic – Which comes before the conversion process I outlined in the diagram
  2. 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 -

  1. Some kind of information product
  2. 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?

Membership Site MasterplanI’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.

Yaro Starak
Making Money Online

About Yaro Starak

Yaro Starak is the author of the Blog Profits Blueprint, a report you can download instantly to learn how to make $10,000 a month, from only blogging 2 hours per day. You can find Yaro on Facebook, Twitter and .

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29 Comments

  • Thanks Yaro,

    Well explained and argued.

    It took me a long while to figure out that I would need to sell my own product. As I’m naturally an explainer a membership site and ebooks were the natural direction. I’m on the way to launching my first products in a month or so (probably). Still figuring out how to do all the affiliate stuff.

  • Thanks Yaro. Some great info. I look forward to receiving the Masterplan report when it’s launched.

  • This was a good read because I am in the process of building my first online store and it’s a pretty scary business. I also thought about the membership forum idea but struggled with finding a concept that people would be willing to pay for. I know that in order to get a membership forum up and running I would need a huge volume of traffic coming in. I rarely get tempted by things like this but your book is something I am definitely interested in getting hold of.

  • Tom

    Good post! You can make money online in so many ways, but when it comes to choosing a good product I would go with a “ever-green” product that is relevant for years to come, how to build traffic to a site, how to build a blog or something like that.

    Most people make the mistake of choosing to many products that they try to sell at once.

  • Hey Yaro

    Long time reader, first time commenter.

    I subscribe to your blog by RSS and out of the 60 or so sites that I subscribe to, your headlines always catch my attention even though I have been doing IM for a while now, you still manage to offer something valuable each time.

    I have products that I offer (as a part of a long term JV that I am in) that is in a unique niche (performance cars) but I am still trying to crack the affiliate marketing nut in a really profitable way, in addition to the product we offer – I make enough to keep me going but it is always reassuring to read quality posts like yours that are pointing people in the right direction.

    Keep up the great work.

    Cheers

    Brad

  • Great info yaro . Membership model is the most successful model in internet marketing these days

  • Hey Yaro:

    You continue to amaze me with the quality and depth of content you produce, and this post is no exception. It’s been inspiring to watch your growth over the last few years.

    Thanks so much.

    An old friend – Michael Pollock

  • I get really get uneasy with the fact so many people are searching for “how to make money online”. This means more competition. But out of 1000s of people searching for these terms, only a handful will ever come through to even making any money online.

    Anyway, back to the topic. One tip about building email list Yaro posted is so very true. As a blogger/marketer, you must build an email list. Your email list is your exclusive traffic source, a targeted traffic source. I do PPC marketing and I collect emails in my niche. I can make a few hundred dollars in a matter of hours by sending a simple broadcast to my list and this why you should build a list.

    -G

  • I just had a questions for you Yaro why do you personally think Membership models have been taking off lately? As for me personally I hate membership sites because most of the time they have advertisement in those sites as well, most of the time. Why should I pay to see an advertisement? It is weird I’m a marketer and I can’t stand commercials and advertisement, maybe because I try to understand what they are doing in the ad, target market and all that.

  • I never liked the membership model because it’s a turn off for me personally, but I can’t argue with results.

    • I also do not like the membership model and I don’t understand why it is so successful.

  • The explanation of the conversion process is very clear and simple. I really like it. In fact, the most important thing is how many traffic that we can bring to the squeeze page. And the most challenging part is how to produce a valuable product to the market.

    I do agree that membership site is the best product can be sell today and its very effective in a long term strategy but need to ensure that we will giving a consistent and the best services or content to all members.

    Thanks Yaro.

  • A fitting sequel to the first article. Thank you for clarifying some of the bugs that I had in my mind.

  • NIX

    Your post certainly has explain in details what a blogger should do and I got to agree, affiliate marketing is the way to go making income from blog.

    However I do find difficulty in looking for a good affiliate product or membership. Sometime I’m kind of worry that the product just not up to the user’s expectation.

    • Just stick to your niche. If you have readers and can give an authoritative opinion, you’ll start earning in no time. Just be sure to stick to your niche!

  • I actually wrote a guest post on ProBlogger that was posted just the other day that really resembles this post. My post goes into detail about turning your blog into a full blown website and selling your own products. http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/03/30/building-an-empire-around-your-blog/

  • Well I’ve been working as an affiliate for 2 years promoting other people’s products and making decent money. I feel like the real money though is as the actual publisher. It’s a higher step on the pyramid. I just published my 1st product, it’s called ifw expert.

  • At first I thought that the only way to make money is to be on top by good keywords. Although lately I understood that with blogging long tail rulz and that make money with long tail is much easier and perspective.

    • NIX

      There are more the keyword that leads to sales. What is important is able to get rank high in search engine so that you can drive traffic to your blog. No doubt long tail keyword works great too as it specify the search results,.

  • Yaro,

    Excellent post, and a great lead-in to your Membership Site Mastermind program. This will be a great resource for internet marketers, and I can’t wait to hear the next round of success stories from that program!

  • Yaro,

    I agree with list article like I did with part 1. However; the most important thing about selling anything is that you need do something you love.

  • Don’t look for a get rich fast type of scheme to earn cash. By doing that the owner of the website is the only one who is getting rich. These people are the type of people who go after beginners and really don’t have a clue about anything other than using you.

  • Totally agree. Great post.

  • Firstly, I think its really important to brand yourself no matter what product you want to sell.

  • Great article again Yaro… as always.

    I have been using Amazon to research just what type of niches are hot. They have an amazing amount of information that we can leverage to find out what kind of products to sell online as well.

    Matt

  • Great post. Remember that even if you have great products, you still need ways to get people to your site. I am giving away information on how to do this that will help you drive traffic. Check it out if you have time, thanks so much for the article and good luck to everyone.

    http://www.norcal-ebooks.com

    -Jerry

  • Your post is mind blowing especially on the part of discusion about member site.

    It never came it to my mind to take advantage of member sites. Through your post I realized it’s a good way to leverage your time and effort. Beause you just find a loyal customers and then let your sales repeat month after month. Thus giving me the freedom I wanted for.

  • Choosing a cheaper product that everyone would afford would increase chances of a person knew to the internet to stat making a sale. If they go off and promote expensive programs presenting them with no real skill and knowledge, will make them fail – and also make them feel like a failure. And so they will quit.

  • I think even for intermediate and advance marketer, e-product and membership site, that give tutorial still the best money source.

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