You’re probably sick of hearing it.
Create a course! Passive income! Stop working and retire in Ouagadougou!
(#Protip: Don’t retire in Ouagadougou.)
What they don’t tell you is how hard it is to create a course — not just making one (sure, you have ideas…) — but once you have your course, how do you know anybody will want to buy it?
(Because let’s face it: making a grand total of $400 for something you spent *months* of your life working on…probably won’t convince your mother-in-law that your online business is anything other than a cute hobby.)
It turns out, there’s a critical step BEFORE you create an online course: One that will guarantee that you have your finger on the pulse of your target market. So you KNOW you’ll be making something people will want, more than they want the stuff clogging up their Amazon wish list.
And the beauty of this critical step?
It allows you to get *paid* to do your research.
This secret sauce is consulting.
No matter where you’re building your authority — fashion, food, faith, teaching third graders, writing better — as long as you can identify at least one problem people need help solving, you have a viable way to make money.As long as you can identify at least one problem people need help solving, you have a viable way to make money.
Now, if you’re an introvert and the idea of getting on a Skype call with a reader (who is now a *client,* since they’re paying for your time!) makes you want to hide under your fluffy down comforter, then listen up, because I’ll have something that will help you at the end of this post. But for now, let’s address the obvious:
Sure, place an ad on your site, and you’ll probably make money…but you’ll have to wait for it. As in, at least 30 days from first “click” to first “cha-ching” actually hitting your bank account. When you offer a consulting session and someone buys, however, the payout is instant: they buy a session, and that VERY MOMENT PayPal sends you a
love letter notification that there is now cold, hard cash ready for you to spend. Boom.
But here’s a key difference between running ads and offering consulting: when you get money from ads, the ONLY thing you get is money. But when you do a consulting session, you come away with solid gold:
The moment you hang up on the call, you get a surge of electricity coursing through your veins, because you NOW have…
I’ve seen *way* too many people launch their products and have no one buy. And yes, sometimes it’s because they didn’t understand how to sell their offering well…but more often than not, it’s because their offer didn’t RESONATE with the customer. They made something nobody wanted…or at least, not bad enough to pay for.
When you get on a consulting call, you can develop a deep understanding of what motivates your customer, WHY they need help, what they’ve tried before that hasn’t worked, and — you’ll see — in the natural flow of the call, you’ll come up with a handful of ideas for products that are WAY better than any you could have dreamed up on your own. So if you’re moving your business in the direction of products or courses, these customer insights are worth their weight in gold. AND you’re getting paid as you do your research.Here's how to come up with product ideas WAY better than any you could've dreamed up on your own...and get paid to do your research.
For example, when people come into my business, they’re often frustrated because they don’t have enough traffic. They’re bleary-eyed from looking at Google Analytics, wondering...How do I make that little page view line go UP?
Now, If I just “took their word for it” and started teaching traffic-generating tactics, I’d be missing a HUGE concept! Because even after consulting with just a few bloggers I discovered that most bloggers don’t really even HAVE a traffic problem! That’s just a symptom…and it’s actually something else instead!
Why would I, as a leader, waste time trying to treat the symptoms, when I could help them cure the disease?
And so I’ve been able to develop an entire program around helping bloggers build the strong brand + business foundation that leads to more traffic, but it *also* cures every other symptom they were having. You can’t BUY those kinds of insights, but I developed them while people were paying to consult with me.
And that can happen for you, too.
Now, if this is starting to sound a little less “blogger” and a little more “professional,” there’s a reason for that:
Wait a minute — I thought you had to BE an authority to offer consulting!
When that person is surfing Google or Pinterest, looking for how to solve that problem, she WANTS to find someone with answers — someone who can help get her to her goals. She may land on your article about “3 Simple Steps to Decorate Any Room,” but let’s face it: there’s only so much you can DO with “free” information written to everybody on the Internet.
If she feels like she has a particularly tricky situation, she needs help.
Following this home decor example… What if she has a chimney right in the middle of her room? Or walls she can’t paint? Or she sees TONS of beautiful pictures on Pinterest of gallery walls, but has NO IDEA how to use THESE DANG PICTURES that are scattered all over her floor? She doesn’t want to just frown every time she walks by that trouble spot…but what else can she do?
She finds an article you wrote while surfing Pinterest, and just when she thinks she’ll NEVER be able to apply “3 Simple Steps” to ANYTHING in her home…she sees your sign that says “Get Help” or “Work with me.”
And — queue the angel chorus — she sees a glimmer of hope, because she’s all THANK YOU, JESUS, I DON’T HAVE TO SIT IN AN UGLY LIVING ROOM I HATE ANYMORE!
And you can help her. (More on that in a sec.)
When someone sees that “Work With Me” link, she’s not thinking…I wonder where this woman got her degree in interior decorating?
She’s thinking…can she help me? …Can *I* get the room I want??
When you offer a service to help people solve their problems, it automatically boosts your authority and credibility, and that makes other people SO much more comfortable buying your products in the future. Not only that…but if you show signs of authority (like consulting), the casual readers that pop over from Pinterest are MUCH more likely to recognize that you’re someone worth following. So they’re more likely to subscribe, follow, and become your readers instead of someone else’s.When you offer a service to help people solve their problems, it automatically boosts your authority and credibility.
Now, here’s the problem:
What if you don’t have TIME to offer consulting because you’re spending so much time answering your readers’ emails…for free? This is where consulting is a godsend, because…
She’s that woman. You know the one. You respond to *one lousy email* answering her “quick question” and end up chained to a person who seems to “need” your advice like she needs oxygen.
Now, answering your readers’ questions is a key part of the process of building trust with your readers…but that doesn’t mean you should always do it for free. In fact, you’d be dismayed to find out that so much of the advice you dish out for free goes completely un-taken! As in, they get the email you poured your heart and soul into writing, have a BRILLIANT light bulb moment…and then promptly do nothing at all.Answering your readers’ questions is a key part of the process of building trust with your readers.
We don’t value what we don’t pay for. It’s a simple fact of human existence.
BUT on the other hand, by simply HAVING a sales page with a “buy” button for your consulting sessions, you’re helping people value your time more.
That means when you get another email it’ll take you 15 minutes to respond to (for the second time…from the same person), you can simply say,
“I’d love to be able to work with you on this, Barb, but it’s really a complex issue and I’d want to make sure we considered all the sides of your problem. I’ve already set up a way we can work together to make sure you have exactly what you need! Take a look at my consulting page and once you’ve booked a call with me, I’m YOURS for an entire hour. When I can focus all my attention on your situation, we’ll make sure you come away with _____” (<< That end result she’s wanting. See that?)
And every time you actually WORK with this person instead of letting her take up your valuable brain cells with her problems for free, you’re building something even more powerful for your business:
If you don’t already FEEL like an expert…welcome to the club. The deeper you get into your subject area — the more you know — the more you feel like WOW, this is a whole lot more complicated than I thought!
It’s easy to get trapped in a mindset of “But I’m not an expert.”
The good news? You don’t have to be an expert to offer consulting.
You just have to be one step ahead of the person you’re helping. Think “Them Plus One.”
You don’t have to be a sub-four-hour marathon runner. If you’re running at all? You’re lapping the people on the couch. Help people get off the couch.
You don’t have to be the World’s Leading Fashion Expert. If you can walk out the door looking polished and put together? You’re doing better than those of us stuck in yoga pants. Ahem.
And you don’t have to understand Everything There Is To Know about your topic…just listen to the person on the other end of the phone, understand her situation, and help her take that next step. Because she’s STUCK (or she wouldn’t be writing you in the first place). Just help her get un-stuck.
…And you’ll find that every minute you spend on consulting calls is a minute you’re NOT spinning your wheels, but actually building your experience, your confidence, and your business.
SO, a quick recap:
As opposed to other ways bloggers make money, consulting…
Now…what kinds of tools do you need to get started consulting?
We’ll talk about that soon. So if you’re not already getting my Biz Maven emails, make sure you’re on the list (below), and I’ll let you know the moment that’s ready for you.
P.S. HEY INTROVERTS. (Are you supposed to whisper when you talk to introverts?) Hey introverts…if the thought of getting on a Skype call and talking to one of your readers for an hour scares you…here’s something that may help you push past that:
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