In 2007 I launched a program called Blog Mastermind, which as far as I could tell at the time, was the first blog training program created by someone who had a profitable blog.
Of course there were many other bloggers out there at the time who made money blogging – many who made more than I did – but most weren’t in the business of teaching how to do Internet marketing. They focused on creating content to feed their hungry audience in whatever niche they targeted, monetizing with methods like advertising and selling affiliate products.
Even those bloggers who where focused on teaching others how to make money online, hadn’t adopted the idea of creating a products or even building email lists. Everything was about earning more from AdSense, or how to increase your pageviews so you could charge more for advertising.
In my case I had spent the previous two years studying the work of Internet marketers, who didn’t blog, but instead used landing pages to build email lists and then drive that traffic to sales pages to sell products. Up to that point I was like every other blogger, making a solid almost-full time income thanks to sponsors and promoting affiliate products like ebooks, DVD courses and live workshops.
I won’t go into detail about what happened after I released my own product as that story is well accounted for in my free report – The Membership Site Masterplan – and in the video on my Membership Site Mastermind sales page, so check out those two resources if you want the details.
In short, creating Blog Mastermind and doing a full launch campaign for it, changed my life because it pushed my income above six figures for the first time.
The Lifecycle Of An Information Product
While I was creating Blog Mastermind, I was concerned about the shelf life of my product. I didn’t want to create something that would be out of date six months later. I wanted to create something that could help people for a long time and avoid creating a product that would require I keep working on it constantly just to keep it current.
Every niche is different, however I feel confident saying that the first time you launch your product, when it is brand new and you’ve never promoted it to your audience before, is when it sells the best. There may be other considerations – for example offering a discount price for your first launch to reward the “charter members” for their early support – which could inflate the first launch sales results, but in most cases it’s the “new” factor that gives the edge.
This is why you see marketers re-brand their existing products a “2.0″ version and talk about all the updates and new features when they do subsequent launches. If you keep selling the same thing, a law of diminishing returns sets in, unless you can tap into new audiences each time you market your product.
All that being said, it’s how you market your product, rather than the content in it, that is important. If you market a product with a new angle, it’s almost as good as launching something fresh, though you have to be careful not to mislead people. A different angle can be something as simple as targeting a different market, perhaps refining your niche to a more specific group of people.
Blog Mastermind did well during the first and second launches, but by the third I noticed it was not selling as well, comparatively speaking (it still did thousands in sales). This was to be expected as I had already “launched” the product to the same people, so besides the new audience I had attracted since the previous launch, I was trying to sell the same thing to the same subscribers, many of whom had already signed up.
Thankfully, besides some minor updates over the first year, Blog Mastermind has remained relevant and an effective system, even given changes to the blogging environment. My goal of creating “timeless” content has largely been met.
This was achievable because I focused on fundamental strategies and techniques that remain effective long term. For example, the concept of Pillar Content is not going to change, and making money with advertising, affiliate programs and selling your own products, have remained the most effective monetization strategies for years – and still are.
How Many Launches Is Too Many Launches
I’ve been involved with the creation and launch process of three products over the past three years, and seen countless other products in my industry launched and re-launched by other marketers.
Some products, like Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula and Brad Fallon’s Stompernet have launched, then six months to a year later come back as a 2.0 version and so on and on for several iterations. Other products are revived with $1 trial offers, or added as a forced or optional continuity bundled with a you-only-pay-shipping front end offers.
When considering how many times to open and close a product you need to think about many variables, including -
- Do you want to add new material or update the product to justify a “2.0″ tag to keep it fresh? This is an important question, because you could spend the time creating another product instead, and releasing something brand new usually does better than revamping something old, plus it increases how many products you have on the market, which generally means you make more money.
- Have you fixed any problems with the existing product you discovered when you launched it the first time? There’s no point doing a second or third launch if your product has fatal errors in it you haven’t addressed.
- Is there a means to tap into new audiences, for example attracting new affiliates, that could keep the product selling just as well on the second or third launches?
- Are you prepared for the emotional and financial considerations if your product doesn’t sell as well? Do you have a plan B for this year’s income if it flops?
- Have you had enough of running launch campaigns? These can be quite tiring and could have an impact on relationships with your subscribers (are they sick of the same old marketing story?) and your affiliates (are they willing to promote the same product again?)
Why Stop Selling Your Product?
You might ask why keep launching a product when you could just leave it available for sale without closing it down.
That’s a valid question, and the answer in pretty much all tests I’ve ever seen is simple – you make more money when you take a product off the market.
People are motivated to buy something when they know they can’t get it tomorrow. If your product is available next week, then they can think about it and buy it later. If it’s pulled from the market, decision time is now, which usually results in a “maybe” turning into a “yes”.
I can unequivocally state that you will make more money if you take your product off the market, if you have not launched your product before. If you combine this scarcity with all the other elements that go into a good launch campaign, you have a formula to make a lot of money in a short space of time.
The only downside doing this is that there are people who will go through your marketing process after your launch is over and want to buy then, who won’t be able to. This is good because it creates pent-up demand, but it’s also bad because they may have only bought right then immediately after sampling your free resources, and the urge may have worn off by the time your next launch rolls around, when they are no longer interested in what you sell.
So What Is The Best Formula?
I don’t have an answer that is universally applicable for every product and the choice really rests on how much work you want to do and what type of work, but I can tell you what has proven successful for me.
The formula I’ve applied in roughly the same format for all of my products is to launch two or three times, with the final opening resulting in the product remaining on the market for sale at any time.
This format means you get the benefit of at least two opening launches with the scarcity of the product going off the market, and the opportunity for all your members to work with you together at the same time (this is actually pretty cool, especially as it enhances the community aspect as each group do the work together).
Once the final launch is done, which usually is the least effective because by around the third launch you’ve sold the same product already twice before, you then leave your product available for purchase at any time.
With your product permanently open the income isn’t as significant as doing an open and shut launch campaign, and it comes over a much longer period of time, however it’s definitely a more passive form of revenue because launches take work.
During all of 2009 Blog Mastermind was for sale and continued to bring in new members week after week, with no additional marketing required on my part beyond what I already do – write great blog posts and email newsletters. I wasn’t sure how long it would last, but I’ve been very pleased to see that week after week, people continue to join Blog Mastermind and the refund rate is very low – so people are still benefiting from the course. It’s become a real cash cow, a pleasing result for sure – and it’s still selling strong today.
From Hard Work To Passive Income
If you’ve been watching my work during the start of 2010, you should have noticed that I opened up Become A Blogger Premium (with co-creator Gideon Shalwick) and just last week, Membership Site Mastermind. This time we left the programs on the market. They are now available for anyone to join whenever they want to.
All of my products, which are all courses, have taken a minimum of six months worth of work to create. That’s some pretty full-on work for those six months, especially if you are running a blog and all the other bits that go into your online business like customer support, email newsletters and affiliate promotions, at the same time.
When Blog Mastermind first launched I only had some of the member resources and the very first lesson ready to go. For the next 26 weeks I created at least one lesson a week, staying just ahead of the members taking the program, held coaching calls, created videos and audios, responded to questions in the forum and maintained my blog and email newsletter. This took some serious discipline, but I was committed to creating a great product.
I later reopened Blog Mastermind two more times, but the work required was much less significant because the product was complete. After the final opening campaign I left the product on the market, and as I explained, it has been selling consistently ever since.
My hope is that all three of my programs will continue to sell well this year. They were all constructed with a focus on fundamentals, so should remain reasonably up to date, and certainly valuable no matter when you join, so I expect sales to be brisk.
The great thing about having all the programs on the market is I can now set my sights on optimizing my sales funnel. I can tweak my newsletter sequence to sell the products. Whenever I write relevant blog posts I can suggest people take my courses if they want more information. I can do joint ventures with affiliates at any time.
I don’t expect sales to be anywhere near as much as they were when the products were new and I ran launch campaigns, but since my information touches new people every day, I should see a new stream of customers, and so far so good – people are still joining the programs even as I type this.
Once I’m done optimizing the sales process for these products I’ll have a fairly clean slate in terms of workload and a very steady stream of very close to passive income. The next time I do a launch, it will be for something new.
Using this model you can, at least I have so far, make at least several hundred thousand dollars a year just by writing quality content to a blog and email newsletter on a consistent basis.
It takes time to set up your products, to write free reports, create free videos and do audio interviews, to conduct launch campaigns, write emails and coordinate affiliates, but once everything is set up, you have a wonderful machine that makes a lot of money in a short period of time, and can then switch to a solid passive income stream. It really is the best of both worlds, leveraging the product lifecycle in a way that mirrors the natural momentum of a demand curve.
How Can You Do The Same?
I’ve touched on quite a few ideas in this article, and while it is clear in my head how the pieces fit together because I’ve lived my business for the past five years, you’re probably missing a few pieces of the puzzle.
Obviously if you’re serious about doing what I do I recommend you take one or all of my courses, starting with Become A Blogger Premium if you are new to blogging and like learning form video, or Blog Mastermind if you prefer my writing style and want text lessons, then take Membership Site Mastermind (or perhaps skip straight to this course if you know blogging well enough already or don’t want to use a blogging strategy to build audience, but still want to create and launch your own products).
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, that I will end this article with, is how important it is you focus on establishing a strong brand and market position. My products would not sell if it wasn’t for the combined force of my content and my brand, which are very interrelated. When people are repeatedly exposed to, and benefit from my free work, whether that is blog posts, or podcast interviews, or free reports, the natural next step if they want more, is to buy my courses.
There’s a lot of “stuff” out there that can potentially touch people with the Yaro brand, and the more often this happens, the more likely they are to take their relationship with me to the next level, by purchasing what I sell.
It’s your job to build as many exceptional, powerful and just plain valuable contact points with your audience so they discover who you are, what you stand for, what you can teach them, and where they could end up, if they decide to study and action what you teach. The more of you out there, the better, so get busy!