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Earn money in your sleep – my ventures into the online selling world

Passive income

You might have noticed that I haven’t written a blog in a while.  During August (a traditionally quieter month for my face to face coaching work), I launched myself head first into further developing and marketing my online courses.  That has meant shooting videos, webinars and Facebook lives, creating landing pages, new eBooks and using advertising.  Phew!

It’s been an interesting journey, frustrating at times but most enlightening and I have learned a ton. I am still ploughing on and applying all I am learning to more effectively engage with my target audience.

In case you are thinking about venturing into the world of online sales and courses, here are my 5 top learnings, that I thought I would share with you…

5 key learnings

  1. There is no such thing as passive income

“Earn 6-figure sums in your sleep” they claimed.  The allure of earning passive income (i.e. income that isn’t earned by selling your time) is very tempting but the truth is that for every £ you earn you will be initially spending £££.  The stories you read about people making a lot of money are either the 0.01% or a lot of rubbish!

  1. There is a lot of rubbish and overhyped promises made online

Following on from point 1 – the online world is full of a lot of hype and people claiming they have made a fortune and they can teach you how to.  Don’t believe a word of it.  At times it reads like pyramid selling.  Any promise that seems too good to be true – almost always is (too good to be true)! The truth is you have to work super hard, and those that are successful have a team of people supporting them and are consistently working at it.

  1. Facebook is potentially a great business tool

Whether you like it or not, Facebook is a great tool to reach your target audience (2.27 billon active users).  I worked with a coach this summer and he was keen for me to use Facebook as my main channel to market.  At first, I was very resistant (after all I use Facebook to stay in touch with friends and watch videos of people’s pets doing silly things!) but I slowly came around to the idea of Facebook as a business tool and found many groups that contain my target audience. I even created my own closed group (you can join here).

  1. Facebook advertising is expensive!

Once you get your head around using Facebook as a business development tool you will then start considering how to use Facebook advertising.  My caution here though is that you need to know what you are doing if you are going to start advertising. It is super sophisticated and can easily suck up a lot of money.  There are 2 things you need to get right:

  1. Your offer and ad need to be spot on: are you going to use a video or static image? If you use video, make sure you add subtitles (rev.com is great and cheap for this) because many of your audience will view your ad on mobile with no volume.  What are you offering?  Is it unique?  Remember running an ad the first thing you need to offer some value before you try and sell something (a key mistake many make – selling online follows the traditional sales funnel: build awareness, build empathy, build credibility, build trust and then sell)
  1. Point 2 is that unless you know how to monitor your ad (using Facebook ad manager) and identify your target audiences then you will spend a lot of money researching what doesn’t work in order to find out what does. So, hang out in target groups and find out what your audiences pain points are before you start advertising
  1. The online world is super crowded

So, I admit it, I am fairly late to the game with marketing online and the truth is there are a million and one people already doing it (well actually more!) so you have to find a way to cut through the hype and noise.  The best way to do this is to be clear about your niche and the value you are offering that niche.  Try and be different and not look like everyone else (and that can be hard) and truly offer some value to your audience – that way they will want to follow you and as you build you audience you can then offer more value and ultimately sell to them.  This is a long game and not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme.  So, if you venture into it, then be prepared to stick at it!

I hope this doesn’t paint too bleak a picture.  I wanted to share a candid view of my experiences thus far.  All these learnings have not deterred me from continuing on. On the contrary – I am just focused on doing it better. I am working on a new mega course right now (“The Agency Mastermind Programme – start, grow and scale (and sell) your agency”) and also adding new content to my best selling course on client and account management.  I am also reviewing my landing pages and ads, and also revisiting my own website – so lots going on.

I know this is a topic that many are interested in, so if you want to have a chat then get in touch.

One week online and what I have learned?

start your own business

Over the past 4 months I have been developing my first online coaching course – (this first course focuses on starting your own business (take a look here, use this link to get the course for free). My plan is to build a library of both paid for and free content to offer my customers and subscribers.

It’s been a steep learning curve. I am used to selling my time so it’s been a ‘low volume, high value’ sale.  Moving into a very competitive space, it’s the opposite: “high volume and low price point.’ And not only that, I am developing a learning management system for my own website so I am having to get technical!

I certainly have no intentions that this will ever replace my face to face coaching and training but it does give me a much wider reach and another channel to market. If this sounds all very exciting then be aware of shiny new object syndrome. This is my 3rd product (my first being face to face coaching, my second being training) and it has taken me 10 years of coaching to reach the point of wanting to develop a new product – it certainly isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme that many hope it will be!

I am developing this project in conjunction with video production company (and long standing client), Snow Digital – we think we can produce much higher quality videos than the majority of ‘speak over a PowerPoint slide’ courses that are currently out there. But of course developing a good course is just the start so now we turn our attention to marketing it. There is a ton of information out there about the best way to win new customers. It can be really overwhelming but regardless of that you have to work hard to get new customers and subscribers. It amazes me how many people think you can you put a product (or website) online and expect an influx of customers/enquiries – and this is where this blog turns into my usual business advice type of commentary: No matter how good your product or service, you have to work really hard to find your market.

We realise that producing a great course is just the start. Right now we are working hard to get ‘students’ and reviews (which is why I am offering you access to the course for free – if you find it useful, please leave a review). At the time of writing this, in one week we have had nearly 400 enrollments and 9 reviews. We are focusing on targeting forums and groups that we know will have some of the issues discussed in the course and we are even venturing into the world of Facebook and LinkedIn advertising (although the jury is out on that one). The key for us (and for you) is to be able to measure the effectiveness of each approach and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. We (you) also need to build your audience and this is where offering free content helps – because it gives a ‘taste of you’ and helps build credibility (and if you watch this course you will learn that no one buys anything unless the seller first builds credibility).

I am sure I will be writing more about this in the coming months, we have 3 more courses in the planning stages including my first totally free course. I would love to hear from you, especially if you have launched any kind of online product (help me avoid some of the pitfalls!) so please get in touch or leave a comment.