This guest post is by Stephan Spencer of The Art of SEO.
Former mortgage broker and digital information business expert, Susan Lassiter-Lyons built her business online, and grew it to a six-figure income in only seven months.
She attributes her amazing success to a simple framework she developed and perfected over that time.
Recently, I met with Susan and she shared with me her “$1 Million digital business blueprint”. In this post, I’m going to show you these exact, replicable steps to apply to your business. If you’re serious about growing your business online, then you will want to read what she had to say.
Although Susan’s framework won’t make you a million dollars in fifteen minutes like common scams littering the internet, it can show you the simple, proven way to make millions if you put forth the necessary effort.
$1 Million digital business blueprint
Forced to close her real estate business in November 2008 because of the mortgage meltdown, Susan launched her digital information business in January 2009 with a mere $200 in startup capital.
Susan’s ebook, Mortgage Secrets for Real Estate Investors is where it all started. Published nearly four years ago, it still makes $600-$3,000 a month in online sales.
That ebook functioned as a launch point for her business that eventually reached six figures by July 2009. Living by her three-step framework, she is now able to work part-time, with no boss, in flip-flops. Some might call that a dream job.
Now, let’s break down that three-step framework for creating an online business around your passion.
Step 1. Create
- Create a product of your own.
- Acquire the rights to an already created info product to sell as your own.
- Expand to a product suite.
Step 2. Campaign
- Start a blog about your topic.
- Start a Facebook page about your product.
- Buy some cheap ads on Google to promote your product.
- Ask others who have websites and subscribers in your niche to email their list about your product.
Step 3. Convert
- Create a simple website that tells visitors all about the features and benefits of your product.
- Offer a simple way for them to buy and download the product.
Let’s look at each step in detail.
Before you jump right into creating a product, you should first take a moment to identify your expertise.
Take an inventory of your knowledge by asking yourself these questions:
- What do people always ask you about?
- What have you studied extensively?
- What do you love to do?
The answers to these questions will give you a solid idea about what to cover with your product. Once you have your topic, search Yahoo! Answers for popular FAQs within your subject area. These can form chapters in your book, audio programa, or sections in any of the products you decide to create.
Creating a product of your own
The first obvious option for you to pursue with your info product is to create one of your own.
If you feel comfortable enough, you can create an ebook like Susan did, but there are plenty of other options to choose from to suit your specific skills and abilities: you could write a real book, record an audio program, record a video program, host a teleseminar, host a webinar, or host a seminar. The possibilities are endless.
Acquiring the rights to an already created info product to sell as your own
Most people don’t know this, but there are literally thousands of info products available through private label rights.
If you are having trouble creating a product of your own, this is a fast, relatively cheap way to start a digital business. Through websites like NicheEmpires.com you can browse through pages of private label rights products that you can edit and make your own.
These PLR products are available for around $67! Why reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to?
Expanding to a product suite
Once you have your expertise figured out and entry-level product created, its time to expand that into an entire sales funnel to maximize your potential revenue from customers.
There are five elements to a proper product suite. Susan likes to explain these through an example of a golf information product suite.
- Front-end product: This is the first product you develop. It should be cheap and broad, yet enticing. For example, an ebook titled How to Add 120 Yards to Your Drive, priced at $37.
- Mid-tier program: A moderately priced product that acts as the next step in expanding the customer’s knowledge about that topic. For example, a quick video course on pitching and putting priced at $200-$300.
- High-ticket program: A high-priced product that would include all the knowledge you have to offer on the topic covered. For example, the “Ultimate Golf Package Extraordinaire” covering everything you want to know about golf, priced at $2,000.
- Seminar: A live event with added bonuses, where you can sell your existing products and coaching program to qualified leads. This might take the form of a “Learn from the Pros” live event priced at $1,000 at the door.
- Coaching program: An option for those that want even more than what your products offer. This can be priced as high as you value your time. Basically, we’re talking about one-on-one personalized training here.
The most important element of this product suite is the front-end product. Once you have the customer hooked, it becomes exponentially easier to sell them your follow up products.
Start a blog about your topic
Susan started her blog, TheInvestorInsights.com. She identified her expertise (in this case, real estate investing) and created a forum where she could post and comment on current events and issues gripping the industry.
Through consistent posting she was able to foster a community of active discussions and engaged bloggers who were interested in what she had to say. These bloggers in essence became leads for her informational products, which she was able to effectively sell through this medium.
Start a Facebook page about your product
Word of mouth is by far the best form of promotion. When somebody likes your product, you want him or her to recommend it to his or her friends. A Facebook page can help you accomplish this.
If a person is particularly pleased with your product, they will like your page on Facebook, which will notify their friends. People view the opinions of their friends as much more credible than a traditional sales pitch.
Buy some cheap ads on Google to promote your product
Google offers the most targeted advertisements on the Internet. You can choose from various demographics, including location, and purchase keywords that you believe your target customer is searching for.
In addition, Google allows you to operate on a cost per click basis so that you can control your own budget and make sure you aren’t spending too much or too little.
Ask others in your niche to tell their list about your product
Identify third parties that deal with the same topics as your products. Then offer them a deal that if they will agree to email their subscriber list about your product, you will split the revenue generated with them. For example, you could split the revenue 50/50 with a website that mentions you in their weekly electronic newsletter.
How can a company not be excited about this? All they would have to do is mention your website, blog, or product, and they have the potential to generate income. They can’t lose.
This is definitely a tactic to try.
Create a simple website that explains the features and benefits of your product
Create a sales page. Make sure it has an intriguing video that explains the features and benefits of your product in a way that inspires the visitor to sign up for your newsletter or buy your product.
Offer a simple way for them to buy and download the product
Use Clickbank or PayPal to make it easy for the customer to purchase your product in one step.
Include an Add to cart button directly under your sales video so the customer can proceed to the checkout without jumping through any hoops.
Is it really that simple?
Susan Lassiter-Lyons has proven that these steps work. While the framework is simple, as you can see, there’s a lot of work in each step. But if you follow her example, while you may not make six figures in seven months, you will put yourself on a path to similar success.
Stephan Spencer is co-author of The Art of SEO (O’Reilly 2009), now in its second edition (March 2012), and author of Google Power Search (O’Reilly 2011). He is the inventor of GravityStream, the automated pay-for-performance natural search technology platform, and the founder of SEO agency Netconcepts. He is a Senior Contributor to Practical Ecommerce and MarketingProfs.com, and a columnist for Search Engine Land and Multichannel Merchant.
I had the exact same experience, only I was too late to respond to the market downturn.
It took me a couple years to finally realize that the market was DEAD and not coming back to life.
I’ll never forget Bush “the fundamentals of the economy are strong.” Yeah right, we still haven’t recovered.
Your post is very inspirational for an old real estate guy like myself I’ll have to check out your book.
PS: With the market “heating back up” are you looking to give it another go or are you scorned forever? :)
Hey Darnell, be sure to check out the blog. The business that closed in 2008 was my mortgage company and investment property financing fund. I do still participate in real estate deals – it’s a great time to jump back into the market.
My niche is narrowed down and we’ve got killer content. On top of all of this we’re building an extensive A-webber list. The only downside I can see is that we’re not capitalizing on any of this. You mention cheap Google ads. Would this really help find a target audience that I feel that we’re already tapped into?
I think so. We were able to really capitalize on the search terms and the ROI on our spend was quite high. We were spending about $2.50 for an opt in for keywords that the Google keyword tool says were going for $6+ a click.
I agree that creating your own product is a way to achieve $.
Product creation is a great way to make money. Your article is actually a summary of the first program I purchased on Internet marketing. A year and a half later I’ve finally found a niche and I am creating my product suite.
Internet marketing the Apple way.
I’d love to create a product suite. The web is really beginning to gain momentum here in Australia. It’s now or never I think. I’m off to get started. Cheers for a great post.
Very inspiring. Really good tips as my dad is trying to do the same – offer his expertise through a digital product. Did I miss the part where you talk about her initial investment? A lot of entrepreneurs/bloggers are part-time, and do not have the money or time to go gun-ho. Also, real estate and mortgage is an extremely hot niche.
Thanks Girlie. My initial investment for the e-book was about $250. I hired a designer from Italy that I found on eLance to make a great looking ebook and I paid about $50 to get it on Clickbank. Then I just promoted it to my list of clients, on the blog and via JV’s and it took off from there.
Thanks for responding. Wow. Only $250? Amazing! I assumed $1000+ Will definitely consider eLance and ClickBank for future reference.
You have mentioned very nice tips here for growing online business.Before starting any business you must have a back up plan for your business,
If you have a strong backup plan then definitely you will get success.Creating own product is also necessary for Growing your business.Keep in mind that keep the price of your product cheap because
some peoples want to buy it but they can’t afford the price.
Thanks for sharing this nice article.
Proven tips Stephan, love this post!
Create and you need not compete. Create intelligently, putting out a helpful product and spreading the word by creating helpful content relating to your product or service.
Leverage your presence by asking others to promote your product to their lists, and of course, give these folks something in return. Either an email to your list, or some perk with the appropriate benefits.
Thanks for sharing!
Great article and very useful advice. Niche Empires is a revelation to me and one that I will certainly be exploring especially the private label products.
Awesome article! I’m working toward the same system setup, but with jewelry how-tos haha! My site is makesilverjewelry.com and I’m just starting to see my email list grow exponentially lately, so exciting! I’m trying to figure out how to get an affiliate program set up for my products. Is clickbank the best way to go? Or do you have any other suggestions? Thanks for the smashing info ;)
Laura, that sounds cool! Clickbank is great because they are a merchant account and affiliate management program but I found that they JV’s won’t really support it there unless it already has some traction. It’s a good way to go but you’ll still have to rally JV support.
Once I got my own merchant account, I used 1ShoppingCart which has a built in affiliate management software. Now I use InfusionSoft. If you want a standalone affiliate management system I’ve heard good things about Post Affiliate Pro.
I don’t really think that is easy to create a blog about some niche, doing some basics SEO, facebook page, and start promoting your own product..
Monitizing site need , a big targeted list, and correct work + creativity.