Behind the Curtain: The 3-Step System to Becoming a Highly-Paid Expert
“The law of work seems unfair, but nothing can change it; the more enjoyment you get out of your work, the more money you will make.”
- Mark Twain
You’re Already an Expert – Start Acting Like it.
Everything we do at Live Your Legend is based on what all of you ask for – through surveys, emails, comments, tweets, snail mail, you name it – we are always listening for your biggest challenges and how we can build things to help.
As it turns out, the #1 most requested resource by all of you, by a long shot, is a tool to show you how to become an expert who people are willing to pay for your help.
Today we are going to answer that exact question, and I am very pumped about it!
About a year ago a friend introduced me to a guy she thought “I could learn something from.”
Despite the fact that I have more to learn than most, emails like that always tend to put my guard up.
But then, from a standing start, Jason Gracia went on to teach me some of my most powerful lessons in online business, and more specifically, how to build a very specific business around a passion, talent, strengths or expertise. His process blew my mind.
He’s been building businesses online and off, for longer than I really knew the Internet existed. Jason is the author of Shifting the Balance and creator of The Six-Figure Expert, where he specializes in helping people transform their passion or expertise into six-figure brands and businesses. The best part is he began his journey with just $35, eventually becoming a multiple six-figure expert with a worldwide audience. (It took me $67 to start LYL, so Jason’s got me by a huge margin!)
And to this day, I don’t think I’ve met anymore more genuinely open and helpful than this guy. When we first met I had just launched the Should I Quit test, and after excitedly telling him about it, he sent an email about it to his 60,000+ subscribers. I didn’t even ask him to do it. He was just being nice. That was only the beginning.
The guy gives on a level I’ve rarely seen, and our community and business is a lot bigger and stronger as a result of Jason’s generosity.
Today is a perfect example of that, which is why it’s an honor to introduce him as our guest expert today.
Rule #6 of our Revolution is We Are All Experts. Embrace and Develop it.
Every one of us is an expert at something. It’s on us to realize that expertise and find a way to constantly use it to make people’s lives better who most need our help.
The good news is that Jason has developed a proven process for turning that expertise into a career. He covers the process in detail below, and be sure to check out his free tool, The Six-Figure Formula, for a full breakdown.
The Path from Passion to Paid Expert
Billions of words have been posted, printed, and published to help people do an incredible thing: discover their passion. And, for most, that’s enough. Finding the thing that lights them up inside satisfies the quest.
But a rare few want more than discovery—they want to live their passion. They want to break free of the mind-numbing routine that has become their life and spend each waking hour doing what they love most.
Easy to say, but how on earth do you make it happen?
Today I’m going to answer that question, taking you through the same steps my clients follow to turn their passion or expertise into a rewarding and profitable online business.
And we’re going to do it with Betty’s help.
Who’s Betty, you ask? Why, she’s our fictitious gardener living just down the road. She’s a sweetheart of a woman and deeply passionate about her topic. In fact, she knows more about gardening than anyone should be allowed to know. (Can you tell the difference between a male and female squash blossom? Betty can.)
In short, Betty is an expert. Like many of you, she has valuable information to share, but isn’t quite sure how to turn that knowledge and know-how into a business. This is what I’d tell her:
Step 1: Create an Expert Website & Lead Magnet
Betty and I would immediately set out to develop an “expert” website. Different from your typical site, an expert website’s primary job is to position you as the go-to authority in your field. Betty’s visitors must instantly conclude that she’s knowledgeable, highly respected, and in demand. How does she make this happen?
1. First, a powerful brand. To stand out in her market Betty can’t merely be the lady who likes gardening. She has to craft a unique, cohesive message about what she does and whom she does it for. I would give Betty the following assignment: First, tell me in one paragraph exactly what you do and why you do it. Then narrow that to one sentence. Then squeeze that into three words (Just do it). She wouldn’t necessarily have to use them in her branding, but the process would force her to clarify her brand message.
- QuickTip | Biggest Result: If you’re having trouble pinpointing your brand, think of the biggest result you offer. This approach is used by many companies, such as FedEx’s promise of overnight delivery. Another useful exercise is to think of the three adjectives that best describe your current business—or the business you hope to build.
- QuickTip | Be Consistent: A strong brand is not only clear but also consistent. The voice, the look and feel, the taglines and branding statements should all point to the same core message. They should also be consistent throughout your business: on your website, in your marketing materials, on your social media outlets, etc.
2. Second, a professional design. Some people say looks don’t matter. These opinions don’t matter. We are visual creatures and make snap judgments about people, places, and things based on a glance. Luckily for Betty, the web is full of professionally designed WordPress templates at low prices (From Scott: Check out this tutorial I created on exactly how to create your own WordPress site – in under 10 minutes).
- QuickTip | Headshots: Along with a professional design, I always recommend professional headshots. A few tips: Get high-resolution shots both for print and web use; along with profile pics, get action shots of you in your particular element (e.g. Betty gardening) as well as pop-outs (blank background for use in headers, products, etc.); and make sure you own the rights to all of your images.
- QuickTip | Templates: Woo Themes, Elegant Themes, and Theme Forest are great places to start for professionally-designed templates.
3. Third, authority triggers. I’d have Betty spread simple yet powerful cues throughout her site to communicate her expertise and standing. Among the dozens available, I’d tell her to gather detailed, before-and-after testimonials from readers, collect endorsements from the top gardening blogs, use any earned degrees or certifications in her title or bio, highlight the sites where she has guest posted, feature her social proof numbers (subscribers, fans, followers), and share her credibility story (her struggle, her search for answers, her discovery and resulting success).
- QuickTip | Testimonials: If you’re just getting started, offer a handful of free consultations (if it makes sense for your business) in exchange for case studies and detailed testimonials. This is also one of the best ways to develop your skills as an expert—nothing beats talking with actual human beings.
- QuickTip | Social Proof: Numbers can be your best friend or your worst enemy. Before reaching a substantial size, you don’t want to shine too bright a light on your total subscribers or fan base. When people visit a site that boasts a readership of 153 people, whether or not the content is solid, most will assume it’s not worth the time and click away. Pick the number that shows the best – other options could be monthly visitors or clients helped, for example.
4. Finally, a lead magnet. This is a free piece of content offered in exchange for a visitor’s name and email address (though a blog and social media are excellent ways to connect with your audience, nothing currently beats email). Lead magnets come in many forms, from simple PDF reports to videos, audios, and combinations of all three. For Betty, I’d suggest a beautifully-designed PDF with full-color photos or a video series from her garden answering her readers’ top gardening questions. For a real life example, you’re welcome to check out my free Six-Figure Formula Report.
- QuickTip | Blog Comments: The best lead magnets capture an audience’s attention, compel them to sign up, and offer valuable information that delivers a tangible result. One of the best ways to cover all three is to scan blog comments, yours and others in your field, for recurring themes and questions. What do people ask most often? What are their most pressing problems? What drives them absolutely crazy?
- QuickTip | Table of Contents: Looking for more ideas? Search Amazon.com for the best-selling books in your industry. Click the cover to see inside and read the table of contents. What are the chapter titles? What problems do they highlight? What questions do they promise to answer? The books are already proven winners with your audience, so you’re sure to come away with ideas that are guaranteed to resonate with your audience.
Step 2: Attract Your Target Audience
With her website up and ready, it’s time for Betty to build her audience—but not just any audience. The myth of quantity over quality has been around the Internet since its inception, but Live Your Legend readers are smarter than that. We both know the importance of speaking to the right people, not the most people; many times in my career I’ve had greater success with lists of 10,000 than lists with 150,000. There are dozens of traffic techniques available to experts, many of them effective and efficient, but for the sake of ease and speed, I’d help Betty carry out the following strategy.
1. First, discovery. Betty’s first assignment would be to find where her prime audience has already gathered. Yes, she can and should engage with people one on one to build authentic relationships, but the key to rapid growth isn’t shaking solitary hands; it’s speaking to the masses. She would need to discover where gardeners gather online. What are their favorite websites, blogs, or forums? What are the biggest gardening conferences or seminars? Magazines and journals? And who are the big hitters in the industry who have already done the heavy lifting of creating an audience? Where do they gather offline?
- QuickTip | The Network Effect: Want to find traffic sources fast? It’s as easy as taking advantage of our connected web and figuring out who your industry leaders connect to. Chances are they’ll follow, like, or link to similar audiences—your audiences. Start by looking in the footer or sidebar of the major sites in your space; often people will link to fellow experts, giving a virtual “shout out” to friends and partners. Head to Twitter and find out who the major players are following. You can do the same with Facebook (which people or places do they like?) and LinkedIn (which people do they connect to?).
- QuickTip | Spreadsheets: One of my favorite tools is the spreadsheet. (If you want to be a successful online expert, you’ll learn to love them too.) I would help Betty build a spreadsheet to compile and coordinate all of her sources, including the name of the site or organization, the name, email, and social media accounts of the contacts, audience size, and any connections or reference points associated with each group. (From Scott: many of the details of building genuine connections are covered in our How to Connect With Anyone course & community, which we now only offer on a referral and invitation-only basis. Get on the waitlist here).
2. Second, attention. Once she found the best sources of gathered gardeners (or hopeful green thumbs), Betty would need to get in front of them. I’d suggest creating tailor-made content, including guest posts for top- and second-tier blogs, custom videos, audios, or reports created specifically for particular sites (which the site owners would then share directly with their audiences), and interviews with the major gardening experts.
- QuickTip | Guest Posts: Getting your work featured on other expert blogs and outlets should be part of every expert’s toolkit. If you’re new to the game, start by identifying sites from your initial research that feature outside content (check their archives). Then closely study their style, uncover their audience’s needs, and always abide by the stated guest-posting guidelines. And don’t forget, content producers want nothing more than to find and feature great content – you just have to provide it for them!
- QuickTip | Offline Outreach: Want to take it offline? Many organizations publish a monthly newsletter for their members—newsletters that need to be filled with content. If your area of expertise falls into this category, contact the major associations and organizations in your field and work to get your material featured in their next issues.
3. Third, attraction. Betty knows where her audience is and how to get in front of them. The next step is to draw them back to her site. How does she do it? With a simple call-to-action within her free content. At the beginning, middle, or end of her guest posts, custom content, and interviews, Betty would include a short promotion for her free lead magnet. This will attract a percentage of readers to her site where they’ll request the magnet and join her email list.
- QuickTip | Features vs. Benefits: The promotional copy placed within your content needs to highlight the major benefits—not features—of your lead magnet. In other words, focus on the holes in the wall and not the drill bits. Getting people to take a specific action isn’t easy, so you need to make a promise they can’t resist. Features are often resistible; the right benefits are not.
- QuickTip | Know Your Number: If you don’t know your numbers, you’re bowling in the dark, clueless as to what’s working, what’s broken, and what needs to be done next. In the case of building her audience, Betty needs to know three numbers: How many people visit her lead-magnet description page, how many people sign up, and the resulting conversion percentage. With that, she’ll know if future changes help or if they hurt.
Step 3: Package & Promote Your Expertise
Betty has an expert site, traffic, and a growing audience. To complete the puzzle, she needs something to sell. Notice, though, that packaging and promoting her expertise is last, after establishing a solid foundation and delivering value to the marketplace. This is the real secret to my success. If you start a business solely to pry your way into wallets, you’ll fail. But if your objective is to deliver value, which I’m certain it is, you’ll naturally make the right decisions and find yourself with a profitable brand and business you can be proud of.
1. First, the needs of the market. Betty must uncover the core needs of her gardening market. What do they want? What do they struggle with? What are their goals? What will they pay for? What do they already pay for? She started gathering the answer while building her site and lead magnet. It’s time to finish the job. I’d have Betty survey her community using Survey Monkey or Google Docs, keeping things short and sweet—just a few questions, just a few possible responses. I’d then have her study her social media and blog post comments—what do people repeatedly ask? Finally, I’d suggest she research her market at large, visiting ClickBank.com, Amazon.com, and other online marketplaces to see what gardening programs and services are already proven winners (and what people have to say about them in their reviews).
- QuickTip | Surveys: What people say they want and what they actually buy can be miles apart, which can lead to a product or service that gets love in the surveys but nothing in sales. Fortunately, avoiding the problem is easy. Create a sales letter for the program you’re thinking about developing (based on your survey results). At the bottom, include a “buy” button that, when clicked, opens a page that says the program isn’t available yet. If a high percentage clicks to buy, you’ll know you have a winner.
- QuickTip | Market Research: Along with studying the best-selling solutions at sites like Amazon or ClickBank, you can skip the middle man and go directly to the websites of other experts in your field. What are they selling? Which programs have the best reviews or testimonials? Which outside products do they advertise on their sites?
2. Second, creation. Once Betty knows the solutions her market wants and is willing to pay for, it’s time to package her expertise into a product or service. There are many options. She could write a gardening book, record an audio course, film a video course, launch a membership program, offer personal coaching, or even hold live events. In Betty’s case, I’d suggest creating a multimedia course, leaning heavily toward video trainings and live demonstrations from the garden.
- QuickTip | Product Format: Offering all of your products as digital downloads or online trainings cuts costs and boosts convenience—for you. Many people prefer physical products by mail, which is why you should consider providing both formats. With services like Disk.com or Kunaki.com, it couldn’t be easier to create high-quality, professionally-packaged solutions.
- QuickTip | Rapid Creation: If you’re looking for a product that doesn’t take weeks or months to develop, paid webinars or teleseminars are a great choice. You simply create content for a one- to two-hour training, sign up with a service to deliver the program, (GoToWebinar and Instant Teleseminar are among the most popular), and let your people know about it. Even better, you can package the recordings from the event and sell them as a stand-alone training forever after.
3. Third, promotion. Betty has the solution her audience wants. All that’s left is to effectively spread the word. While she could turn to paid advertising, selling through affiliates, or orchestrating a full-blown product launch, I would most likely have Betty start with a soft launch to her email list. This would entail an early announcement that something is coming, several pieces of high-quality content related to the product, a frequently-asked-questions email or video to overcome possible buyer objections, and a grand announcement when the doors finally open with a link to her sales video.
- QuickTip | Honest Scarcity: If you’re like me, you’re tired of seeing people claim there are only 17 copies left … of a digital program. Scarcity is an incredibly powerful sales tool, but it must be used with honesty and integrity. To inject a little scarcity into your sales process, and do so with your character intact, offer a fast-action bonus for the first group of buyers or an early-bird discount that expires after 24 hours.
- QuickTip | Outside Experts: The highest-converting sales letters always include irresistible bonuses. You can and should create a series of your own to fill in the gaps of your program, but outside help is equally powerful. You not only improve your offer with extra value, but including other experts boosts your credibility and authority. For Betty, I’d suggest reaching out to second-tier gardening experts for contributions that compliment her course. She wouldn’t pay them (you never should), but they would get ongoing brand exposure as well as a chance to promote their programs inside their bonus content—more than enough incentive to make a donation.
In three steps, Betty transitions from knowledgeable gardener to an expert living her passion and earning a profit. If you have valuable information to share, there’s no reason you can’t do the same. Create your website and magnet, attract the right audience, and give them what they want.
The rest is just details.
This article was written by Jason Gracia, author of Shifting the Balance and creator of The Six-Figure Expert. If you’re ready to turn your five-figure business into a six-figure brand, visit http://www.jasongracia.com/
From Scott: A huge thanks to Jason for sharing his expertise with our world – a perfect fit with all we strive towards at Live Your Legend. You’ve taught me more than you realize. What you’ve created for us, both in this post and in your in-depth free Six Figure Formula download, is proof that you prioritize helping people over all else. That’s a rare and refreshing thing to see online.
Thank you for leading by example.
And to the rest of our community, I cannot wait to see what you do with it!
For the comments: Tell us your expertise! Don’t think you have one? Then tell us what you think it could be. Give us something.
Image courtesy of the ever talented James Clear