Several weeks ago I decided to make a holiday specific product. It was something that would cost me very little to produce and would bring in a decent profit.
However, there was a slight problem. While I had the idea and the product, I didn’t know how to market it. I’ve sold a lot of stuff in the past, but I the techniques that I would have to use were different from anything I’d tried before.
To overcome this obstacle I bought a book that promised to solve all my problems.
The author had done such a bad job that I, a guy who knew nothing about the topic, felt like I could write something better.
And, after spending a lot of time researching the topic elsewhere and talking to people who used the techniques that I had wanted to learn, I decided to sit down and actually write my own book. It’s longer and more informative than any of the other titles I could find. With some smart marketing I’ll make quite a bit off it.
By purchasing a lousy product I was lucky enough to discover that I could easily improve on it and make something better. I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel either, all I needed to do was build upon what was already out there.
Which brings us to the subject of today’s post: How to invent a product.
Why is product creation superior to blogging?
Having a blog is a fun hobby. But most people will never ever turn it into a successful enterprise. In fact, most people won’t even get a serious audience.
There are two reasons for this:
- Writing for the sake of writing is not something you can profit from.
- Developing the necessary skills and authority to captivate an audience takes a lot of time.
Most of the successful “blogs” that you see are actually long-form copy in disguise. Essentially you’re reading a really good sales letter. Someone has a product and they’re selling it through their writing.
People who post a “dear diary” article about their trip to the grocery store aren’t going to make anything because they aren’t selling anything.
Secondly, running a blog and making it successful takes a lot of effort. Only 10% of Internet users will actually read a blog. You’re working with a very limited audience right off the bat. And if you don’t have any value, or a unique voice, you’re going to be ignored. And even if you have both of those, there’s still a good chance that you’ll be overlooked.
Just to illustrate my point, I’m going to provide a brief list of popular bloggers who spent money on advertisements in hopes that I’d visit their sites. I’ve seen ads for all of these people and still do not read them. I’m also going to give my honest answer as to why I don’t:
- Tim Ferriss (wore dumb hat in photo once – do not read)
- The Art of Manliness (content panders to dorks – do not read)
- Tai Lopez (brags about owning a Lamborghini and thinks quoting Warren Buffett makes him sound smart, obvious rube bait – do not read)
- All guys who write about picking up girls (audience probably has brain damage – do not read)*
- Anyone who uses jargon in their articles (assume they are clueless about their subject – do not read)
- Pat Flynn (website too polished – do not read)
- Anyone who writes about bodybuilding (audience probably has brain damage – do not read)*
As you can see from my honest list, some of those guys get snubbed for things that don’t even make sense. “Website too polished” and “wore dumb hat” aren’t even logical reasons to discredit someone. But I do it, and I’d imagine that a lot of other people have as well.
Creating a product is no cakewalk, but (for the average person) it is more lucrative than starting a blog. I’m barely old enough to buy alcohol, being some kind of guru or expert is virtually impossible. And trying to assume that kind of role would be laughable.
With that said, it is pretty easy for me to come up with products and market them. For the last two months I’ve been experimenting with eBooks and have done fairly well. Even though programs like Kindle Direct Publishing have made it possible for anyone write a book, most people are too lazy or stupid to actually put out a decent product.
Actual businesses (the selling of goods or services) have a serious deficit when it comes to quality products. The same guys who will hammer out three blog posts a day on why they are so awesome won’t lift a finger when it comes to writing a book or doing keyword research.
The simplest formula for making money online
Since everyone loves lists, I’ve created a 5-step guide to developing something you can sell. This is something that you can use in almost any situation. In fact, I know people with regular brick-and-mortar businesses who use the exact same blueprint.
- Identify a group of customers
- Look for something they need
- Develop a high quality item that meets their needs
- Connect with the audience and lure them to your sales pitch
- Pitch your product so well that the deal closes itself
I’ll give you two examples of this method in action:
The first comes from publishing erotica. This is probably the most straightforward way to witness the formula in action. You identify your customers (erotica readers), look for something they need (more erotica), develop a product (3,000 word book), connect (done through a descriptive title and eye-catching cover), and sell (your book’s blurb). It works well enough that you can throw up a handful of books and watch the royalties trickle in all year.
The second example is direct marketing, which I’ve done for other people, but am just starting out on for myself. With direct marketing you connect a bit differently. Most marketers use paid advertising or affiliate commissions to to draw in their audience. They then use a sales letter (in the form of a landing page, actual piece of mail, or scripted video) to close the deal. Not everyone is going to buy (I wouldn’t order Tai Lopez’s book for example), but most do. For a good direct marketer it’s not uncommon to make several thousand dollars in a single afternoon.
To put it another way, the difference between “career” blogging and direct marketing is several million dollars. A mid-range copywriter can usually charge about $5,000 for an afternoon speaking seminar, more than mid-range blogger would probably make in six months.
How do you make a product?
Making a product is something that used to baffle me. I had no idea where to start.
If you’re like me, the idea of making something from nothing can be intimidating.
Because of this I’ll share my secret: Find a product so bad that you say “I could have designed this better,” then do just that.
I’ve bought numerous books that sucked and used them as springboards for my own projects.
You bought something that was too elementary for you? Go make a more advanced version, other people will buy it.
Someone sold you a typo infested mess? Edit and rewrite your version 30 times.
You should not literally rewrite someone’s book or copy it (that’s illegal), but you can base your material off of their shortcomings. “Like X but better” is a sales pitch that has worked since the dawn of time. It’s called innovation.
If you’re really struggling for a product design or edge over your competitors, find a serious flaw with something they’ve produced and fix it. Doing so will add value to your own product and make it appear that much more desirable.