The 13 Truths to Converting a Passion into an Irresistible (& Massively Profitable) Online Offer
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ~Anne Frank
*Note: This is the third article in the “Monetizing Your Passion Online” series. It’s also a little primer to some of the big ideas Jonathan Mead and I are going to cover in our free webinar/online presentation.
I have a little secret…
It took me a while to learn it.
Most blogs don’t make much money.
With how many there are, that might seem obvious.
But I’m talking about the moderately big ones too (and even some really big ones).
I know quite a few sites with thousands of followers and even tens or hundreds of thousands of monthly page views, that hardly make any money.
And it’s not because they’re doing it for charity either…
On the other hand, I know even more friends and mentors who have even smaller blogs and sites, but yet make more money than they’d ever need.
Contrary to what many early stage business builders believe (and I was just as guilty as any), it is not all about size.
The truth is that even the small guys can kick some major ass.
It just requires the right offering.
Why ‘If You Build It They Will Come’ – still doesn’t cut it.
When I first started building this site, all I could think about was how once I had 1,000 followers, that’d be when I’d have made it.
Then I got to 1,000 and noticed, other than a few more comments and emails, not much else changed. The site’s income still hovered pretty close to zero.
“What if I could just get to 2,000 – doubling my following would surely change things,” I thought…
Yet the results were the same at double that size and even double the size after that.
My problem was my offering. Once I got that right, the world changed.
So here’s the hacker’s guide to nailing an offering.
The 13 Truths to Converting a Passion into a Profitable Online Offering:
*A little side-note to give credit where it’s due: This stuff is just as relevant to brick and mortar and much of it comes from what I’ve learned from years of studying and testing branding and positioning ideas from the likes of Al Ries and Jack Trout (who wrote two of the most powerful books on the topic: Positioning – The Battle for Your Mind and The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing). My good friend, mentor and past college professor of Entrepreneurial Marketing, Jim Morouse, also helped more than he probably realizes.
And of course my foundation in this stuff would have never existed if it wasn’t for my father’s guidance, who’s 40+ years running and positioning businesses, gave me the education of a lifetime. In fact, it still does. Thanks dad!
1. Help people in a very specific way. I know you want to talk about everything, but that’s the sure-fire way to get people to listen to you on exactly nothing. Everything starts with helping people. That’s the easy (and fun) part. The real challenge is choosing one very specific way of helping them. This is the most common screw up of the average blog, especially in the personal development space. They all want to talk about “making your life better” and cover health, meditation, relationships, career, entrepreneurship, sales, raising a family. The list goes one.
Trust me, I know, because my last blog, Reading For Your Success, tried to do exactly that. You may be able to build a mildly successful following this way, but when it comes to selling products and services it’s going to be magnitudes more challenging. Don’t worry, you can still discuss these topics with your audience, but that’s after they’ve come to you for one specific reason.
Live Your Legend’s specific way of helping people is by guiding them to find passion and build a career around work they love.
2. Keep it crazy simple. My friend and mentor Adam Baker of ManVsDebt has a great way of putting this. In a few sentences or less, can you explain to your mother how your site is different and why people should visit? If not then it’s back to the drawing board. If people can’t easily explain you to others, they aren’t even going to try. There goes your word of mouth. The more specifically you help people, the simpler you will be to describe.
Live Your Legend’s description to mom: Hey mom, check out this cool site. It’s for anyone who’s unsure of their passion or wants to do work they actually care about. Scott’s guidance is the result of 8 years of experiments, interviews and case studies with 100’s of Living Legends from around the world, and he uses that to offer proven steps for finding your passion and building a career around it.
3. Don’t do everything. Just in case you didn’t get the above (As I know 99% of us want to be everything to everyone). Think of it this way. Have you ever gone to a restaurant, and opened the menu to find a small book of dishes that included everything from sushi to burgers to burritos to salads to soups and even a few nice cuts of beef? I tend to find these in really touristy places in San Francisco (I only know because I see the menu on the window outside before walking right by).
How likely are you to order raw fish from these guys? And really, how interested are you in ordering anything at all? If you want a great steak, you go to a steak house. If you want great sushi, you hit the hot sushi spot. No one thinks they are getting the top of the line when everything is offered. Be the restaurant with only one thing on the menu. Or for you California folks, be the In-N-Out Burger: 3 options, that’s it. This company is killing it.
Live Your Legend is about marrying Passion with Career. That alchemy is the magic we’re in search of. That’s where it all starts and ends. Anything else we talk about is a bonus and serves to further communicate this primary mission.
4. Offer one thing and do it really really f*/%ing well. Quality trumps everything (more on that below). Pick your expertise and leave the rest for someone else. In fact, find those other people who knock the cover off and send your visitors and customers to them when they need that specific help. When it comes to topics outside your expertise, others can help much better than you can. It takes maturity to realize that and admit it to your tribe. Share the love and your bond with your readers will become like titanium.
That’s exactly why I refer all my readers to Corbett Barr when it comes to building a successful blog.
It’s also why I point people to Jonathan Mead for turning a passion into an online business. And it’s why I constantly link to Adam Baker for personal finance expertise and Leo Babauta for simplicity and habit work.
There’s no way I could nail all those topics as well as they do. I’m able to help my readers even more because these guys exist. Thanks fellas!
5. Make it clear who you aren’t. To further communicate the above, it helps to tell readers all the things you will not do. Not only does this show a little honesty and vulnerability with your readers (which always builds rapport) but it gives them another understanding of the expectations they should have regarding what they’ll get from you. As much as I despise soda, I love how 7-Up did this by calling themselves the “Un-Cola.” Brilliant.
6. Define who you’re helping. Think of 1-3 specific people in your life you can specifically build and write everything for. These will serve as your target profiles and will help you constantly hone your offering. While many people have a general idea of the demographic they’re trying to reach, having specific real people in mind takes it to a whole different level. When in doubt, you can always ask yourself, how would Beth (or whoever) react to this? And if she’s a part of your life, you could even go out and ask her! Get as specific as possible – really define all the details of their life.
For bonus points, think about who isn’t a good fit for your offering. I’ve seen this a lot one sites where they’ll say if you’re x, y or x, then leave now. It further defines things. Even here I often tell people if they aren’t motivated and willing to work their ass off, they probably shouldn’t visit our site.
When I was launching Live Your Legend, I created 4 profiles: Lisa, Miles, Jeremy and Stephanie. Below is my description of Miles:
Miles is in his late thirties. He’s married and has a kid. He did well in university and listened to everyone older than him who told him to get a steady job. He did that. He’s even a VP and has some status and clout. He also makes about 90k a year. Not bad. Except something’s missing. It’s a struggle to get out of bed to head off to work and he finds himself constantly looking towards the next vacation. He’s read a few books on purpose and has a feeling there is a better way to do things. But he’s scared and no one around him relates to this notion of doing what you love. That’s just a pipe dream according to them. But when he gets home from work, after having dinner with the family and putting his daughter to bed, he starts to paint. Then he comes alive. Sometimes he’s up until 1 or 2 in the morning painting. He’s present and he’s excited. He’s heard stories of people who quit their job to pursue what they love, but he just can’t see the path. Doesn’t know where to start, nor does he have the courage. He’s in search of that push. He knows there’s an epic life and he’s meant to live it – For him, his family and everyone around him. He’s still just wondering what it might be like to…
7. Own a space in your customers’ mind. Armed with the above steps, this shouldn’t be so hard – and it’s a must. What specific concept, phrase or set of ideas can you absolutely own? Ideally you combine them in a unique way that allows you to create a new category (even if it’s a really small one) and be first in it. Tim Ferriss absolutely knocked the cover off this one with Lifestyle Design. There is no question that he owns that term. It’s now become a full-blown international movement.
At Live Your Legend, I set out to own Passion, Legend, Living Legend and loving your work.
8. Remind them constantly. Don’t assume just because someone subscribes or joins your movement, that they totally know your reason for being and how you plan to help them. Even if they knew it at one point, they likely already forgot. People need to hear things over and over again to really have it sink in. Don’t be shy in constantly repeating your unique way of helping. You should drop hints in everything you do. The way you describe your site, your products, your coaching. The way you tell stories, the examples you give, the people you interact with, all of it. Chris Guillebeau does an awesome job of this over at The Art of Non Conformity.
The post you’re reading right now is a perfect example of me reinforcing to all you readers why Live Your Legend exists, while sharing with you some very important positioning lessons.
9. Lead a revolution. What you’re building is not about you. Making it all about you is the equivalent of pouring concrete on your feet and trying dunk a basketball (even on the kiddie court). It is your job to build a movement around your unique offering. Create something that people take pride in getting behind. You absolutely must make your business about something bigger than yourself. What revolution are you going to lead?
Live Your Legend’s is about making the world better by getting all of us to do work we love. That is a movement that tens of thousands of people come by to be a part of every month.
10. Give back. Everything in online business is giving (as is the case for the rest of life). But I’m not just talking about to your visitors. Further solidify your revolution by contributing to a cause bigger than yourself. Do you have a cause or charity that you are passionate about helping? Find a way to partner with them to help promote their mission and to contribute what you can. One of my biggest and most rewarding accomplishments of 2011 was being introduced to Ray Zahab and his youth charity impossible2Possible. Their mission is to take kids on seemingly impossible physical adventures around the world to show them that they are much more capable than what they or the world likely give them credit for. I’ve since made impossible2Possible Live Your Legend’s official partner charity and 5% of all the money we make is donated directly to helping kids do the impossible.
I could not think of a better fit. This takes my work at LYL to a whole new level (even if it’s just in my own mind). Because it’s no longer just about helping readers and customers and making a living for my family and me. But instead it’s about something far bigger – helping a totally unrelated third party that shares in our mission of allowing people to live their own legends.
11. Set the expectation that this is a business. Last week in response to the post How Live Your Legend Makes Money, Benny, one of the more active LYL readers and commenters, asked an important question: “What do you say to people who say a blog is not a business?” Thanks for this one Benny! Right from the start, it needs to be crystal clear, both to you and your audience, that you are in this to not only help people but to also make money while you’re at it. This will hold you all to the proper expectation and your readers won’t freak out when you start asking them to buy things. Establish the proper relationship right from the start.
12. Be Congruent. Ever tried to sell something you didn’t believe in? How long did that last? For any project one works on to be truly successful over a long period of time, its purpose, message and core way of helping people, must be consistent. When your intentions, actions, values and personal beliefs are in line with that of your business, something magical starts to happen. That is what it means to be congruent. There really is no other way.
Live Your Legend is not just a blog or business for me. It’s a way of life.
13. Start with Why.
You’re going to hear me say this a lot. Everything, and I mean everything, successful starts with Why. If I were to sum all of the above points up, it would be just that. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
Ultimately people will follow your work, not because of what you stand for. They will follow it because they stand for what you stand for. Because they believe what you believe. Do you think people line up outside an Apple store 6 hours prior to the doors opening on day one of the new iPhone launch because they desperately want to help the company’s bottom line?
Not at all. It’s because Apple’s products are a symbol for what those people feel and believe about the world – that the status quo should be challenged, that design matters and that the road less traveled truly does make all the difference. They show up in the dark and sit on the cold cement at the crack of dawn, not for Apple or even for Steve Jobs. They show up for themselves.
“The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
~Simon Sinek, author of book and leadership movement, Start With Why (this guy has enhanced my view of the world in a huge way and I’m excited to be publishing a video interview with him in a couple weeks!)
It’s not all about the size of your audience…
Sure, all else being equal, having thousands of people standing in line to consume what you have to offer, beats just hundreds.
But that’s only part of it.
The world has to be crystal clear why they come to you.
That is the biggest requirement of them all.
Get that right and you’ll likely never have to worry about size again.
There is ALWAYS a market for quality. Always.
Whatever you do, do it the best you absolutely can.
Create the best offering you are capable of and you will tower over 90% of the competition (or actually more like 99%). The sad truth is most people just don’t work that hard or want it badly enjoy. But that’s usually because they haven’t found their truly unique way of offering themselves to the world yet.
I put massive quality, blood, sweat, tears and love into everything I do. Everything. That’s partly why, for the life of me, I cannot seem to write something under 1,500 words, or even 3k for that matter…
But I’m ok with that. Because this site and I don’t exist to do things the way everyone says they should be done.
We exist for you. We exist to get the world doing work that makes us all come alive.
And to that extent, we exist to change the world.
You are a part of that.
Without the right offering, most will never make it over the starting line.
But once they find it, get the f*/% out of the way.
Because it’s then when anything and everything suddenly becomes possible.
Let’s get rolling,
A time-sensitive resource worth checking out:
1. Jonathan Mead has a few spots left in his Trailblazer program. It closes on Feb. 9th at midnight PST. Trailblazer is his 6-month interactive course to learn how to create an online business around your passion and get paid to be who you are. He taught me much of what I know online and the course even comes with a guarantee that you’ll make $1,000 in the first 6-12 months or he’ll give you your money back plus $100. Pretty cool. All the details can be found here.
Jonathan’s special launch promotion ends this Thursday at midnight. If you decide to join Trailblazer before then, and use the link on this page, you’ll get a free copy of the full Live Off Your Passion eCourse to go with it (that exact LOYP course is being sold on this site right now for $127). Just email me your receipt. Here’s all the info on the course.