Recently while on a beach vacation my family was out on the street having ice-cream when we came across two street performers/buskers.
The first one was set up 15 meters to one side of the ice-cream shop we were visiting. He had a guitar and had his guitar case open in front of him to collect the loose change of those walking by. He was pretty good and we stopped to listen to him for a moment or two before walking on and leaving $1-$2 in change in his case.
After buying our ice-cream we noticed another performer a little further down the street. This guy was something of a one man band with honky tonk guitar, harmonica, bells on one foot and a homemade kick drum/box on the other. He too had a case out for donations/tips but also was doing something that in my estimation pulled in at least 10 times the money that the other performer was making – he had two CDs for sale.
You could get one of his CDs for $15 and both for $25.
Not only was this guy pulling in tips like the other guy – but every 10 or so people to approach him was buying at least one of his CDs.
In the 15 minutes that we stopped to listen to this guy (our kids were fascinated by his act and caused quite a commotion by doing an impromptu dancing concert on the sidewalk in front of him drawing a big crowd) I saw him sell 8 CDs. He was obviously pulling in some decent money in comparison to busker #1.
Having a CD to sell was great for revenue but interestingly it seemed to also play a part in his overall act. People seemed to take him a bit more seriously than the other guy – I heard at least a few people comment to one another about the fact that he was obviously serious if he’d recorded a CD – it gave him credibility as well as giving him a talking point when chatting with people.
The Power of Having your own Products
As I tucked my boys into bed that night and my 3 year old insisted in sleeping with his new ‘honky tonk one man band CD’ (yep, we bought one too) next to his bed it struck me just how powerful having a product to sell can be.
As bloggers trying to make a few dollars from our online activity many of us get stuck thinking about making money by slapping ads on our blogs – but in doing so perhaps we’re doing the equivalent of busking for tips (not the perfect illustration I know). I know I’ve fallen into that trap myself over the years but in working to develop products to sell I’ve seen a variety of benefits including:
- Revenue – obviously selling a product (whether it be a book, ebook, membership site, consulting, coaching etc) has the potential to make you money. The cool thing about it is that you’re not splitting revenue with an ad network or someone whose product you’re promoting with an affiliate promotion – but it’s all yours.
- Credibility/Authority – I discovered the power of having something of my own to sell when we launched the ProBlogger book. Suddenly people not only referred to me as a blogger – but an author. While a hard cover book does carry weight in some circles more than an ebook – any quality product gives you another thing to list as the creator of in your CV/bio and can lend weight to your authority and credibility.
- Opportunities – Within 24 hours of releasing my photography E-book recently I had two publishers contacting me asking if we’d be interested in having them publish it as a real hard cover book. 2 weeks after launch I’ve spoken to more photographers and photography site owners about possible collaborations than I can count. When you have a product of some kind people in your industry and niche tend to take notice. It shows others in your industry that you’re serious and able to produce more than just a blog and it shows you’ve got initiative. People are attracted to that and all kinds of opportunities can emerge.
- Deepen Relationships with Readers – when someone buys something from you once there’s an increased likelihood that they’ll buy something else from you at some point in the future – IF you keep in relationship with them. Keeping a list of those who’ve purchased something from you opens up future profitable interactions. While it’s great to have an email list of readers – it’s a pretty powerful thing to have an email list of people who are proven ‘buyers’ of products in your niche.
- Lengthens Relationships with Readers – three weeks after our holiday has ended my son is still talking about the honky tonk performer. He’s been listening to the CD and every time that happens the experience he had a few weeks back is reinforced. Just yesterday I had an email from someone who bought 31 Days to Build a Better Blog who told me that they had the e-book on their computer’s desktop. She told me that every time she did another of the daily exercises she also was reminded to also check out the latest posts on the blog – something she might not have done otherwise. That e-book is drawing visitors back to my blog on a regular basis.
- Accelerated Learning – regular readers of ProBlogger will remember that last week I revealed some of the lessons that I’ve learned in the last few weeks while launching a Photography E-book. I shared 8 lessons in that post but the reality is that while it was the most profitable week I’ve had as a blogger it was also the week that I’ve learned the most about internet marketing in the last 7 years. I’ve read a lot about how to launch products online, I’ve talked to a lot of people who have done it and I’ve viewed a lot of case studies of successful launches – but there’s nothing like DOING something to learn how to do it. The theory and past conversations and case studies are helpful – but on the job training is the best. Developing and launching a product will teach you so much about many aspects of blogging, business and yourself – it’s the kind of experience money can’t buy.
- Traffic – This morning I was digging around on my photography site’s stats. Before I logged in I expected to find that traffic had been a little down on the previous month as a result of launching the ebook over the last two weeks (because I’ve been a little distracted and posted less posts than normal) and as a result of the normal Thanksgiving lull in traffic. However I was surprised to see traffic was up by about 9% over the last 30 days as compared to the 30 days before that. You can see the chart below but the 9% rise was almost completely a result of the days after the launch. As I dug further into the stats I realized that launching the e-book meant more of our regular readers hit the site to check it out but that it also created a buzz around the web as other sites linked up and as people passed on word of the launch via Twitter. Similarly – RSS and newsletter subscribers went up by more than normal in the last two weeks – launching the product has found us new readers.