I couldn’t wait for someone to discover me and write about what I’m doing, so here I am letting the cat out myself: I’m building my very first digital product — an informational product targeted at the awesome WordPress® community; specifically, the folks I like to call Accidental Webmasters.
I’m not entirely new to making money on the Internet. It’s nearly ten years since I purchased georgeappiah.com, and I’m very certain I built a site or two before purchasing my namesake domain name. Back then AdSense was this monetization model made in Heaven, and I made the best I could of it with the dozen or so websites that I built (and sold or abandoned). This, in spite of my peculiar crime of being resident in sub-Saharan Africa.
But it’s 2015 now, and while advertising still powers a large portion of the Internet, it’s extremely difficult now for the little guy in pyjamas to make any meaningful income by simply slapping Google AdSense or advertising banners on a little website.
So after identifying my WHAT and considering several options, I’ve decided to devote the rest of this year and the whole of next year to a brand new pursuit: developing my very own info product line and building an awesome tribe around everyone’s favorite content management system, WordPress®.
Here are the 10 reasons (in no particular order) I came up with that finally got me convinced that building my own informational product line is the right career move:
- Learn valuable skills: I’m a life-long learner, and developing my own product gives me an unprecedented opportunity to learn a whole lot of new skills including idea generation and validation, product development, product launch, shopping carts, order fulfilment, and customer support. On the sales and marketing side, I’m already learning about lead magnets, landing pages, mailing list, webinars, upsells, down-sells, cross-sells, one-time offers, online advertising (Google AdWords, FB advertising, PPC advertising, etc), traffic building, etc. It’s been an incredibly rewarding journey so far, and this pursuit has become my favorite escape from the little big World War raging on in my little backyard (more about that in future posts, or maybe not).
While I don’t expect to become an expert in all these, I hope to know enough to know what I don’t know, and how to get help with these known unknowns or conscious competencies.
- Help more people: I’ve always deemed it a privilege to be called upon to help, and whenever I’m able to, I readily share my time, knowledge and skills with those who ask for it. But here’s the undeniable truth: it’s just me, and I’ve only got 24 hours in any given day. In other words, putting myself out there to help in person just doesn’t scale.
But by packaging my knowledge and skills into products, when people come to me for help I can simply refer them to these products (free or not), with 100% assurance that the product indeed will help them solve their specific problem. This way, I can help more people and more causes without being there in person.
- Feeling of making a contribution: Some say contribution, a sense of service and focus on helping others through giving and support, is the most important of the six basic human needs: Certainty, Variety, Significance, Connection, Growth and Contribution. A secondary benefit of being able to help more people through my own products is that I’ll be able to contribute to the lives of more people the world over, and consequently feel a higher sense of contribution myself.
- Connect with influential people: One of the common refrains I hear from people all the time is “to whom you know”; implying that all the good jobs, contracts, and opportunities go to people who have “connections” in high places. Even if this were universally true, I’m also convinced that such “connections” with influential people can be grown from the ground up by anyone, even someone like me who grew up on a cocoa farm in the middle of nowhere and has a strong inward-directed personality.
Sure, you don’t have to create your own products or start a business to make such connections. But these are certainly credibility boosters and can serve as the key that opens the door to some close-knit guru networks.
My goal here is to
make a dent in the universemake valuable connections within the WordPress and Internet Marketing communities.
- Sense of Accomplishment: I’m not lazy. For that, even my biggest detractors, of which there are many, will agree. But I often feel like I’m just spinning on wheels. After walking, talking, and ‘working’ all day (and most nights), I go to bed feeling like I accomplished nothing. And it appears the more hours I put in doing the same old same old, the less sense of accomplishment I experience.
That’s why, for my next year’s activities, I’ve cut back 90% of all engagements. Sorry if you received that mail from me, but this ship was headed for the rocks and I had to do something. By cutting back on these fruitless engagements, I can now devote more time to develop my own products: something specific with a clearly defined beginning and end, and with most of the key steps under my own control.
The sense of accomplishment that comes with succeeding at this task will help me exhale, breathe deeply, relax and sleep soundly. My mind will then be free to focus on other pursuits, and I have no doubt instead of feeling like a cog in a wheel, I’ll go to bed with a high sense of accomplishment and wake up feeling re-charged, in balance and ready to face another day.
- Develop momentum for higher pursuits: Nothing succeeds like success. The little baby accomplishments I’ve made have been my greatest motivator and momentum builder. After all these years of dreaming and not doing, getting something out there would be success in and of itself.
- Have a story to tell: Whenever I tell someone I run my own business, they always want to know what I do, how I do it and how it’s going. The last question is always difficult for me to answer with my current haphazard consulting practice that takes so much of my time, stresses me up all day, and brings in so little income. With my own product out there, I’ll always be able to articulate what I do and know for sure how things are going. I’ll also be able to tell a tale or two, and the best part is that I get to determine the story’s chapters.
- Build my brand. Being known for something is awfully powerful, and what better way to build a personal brand than to develop a line of products around software that powers 24.5% of all websites on the entire Internet (and 58.9% of all websites built with a content management system).
- Make money: For years I got sucked into the “do what you love and the money will follow” mantra, and only kept doing what I loved. Unfortunately, the money never followed and all I got back was burnout. Turns out the money doesn’t just follow magically. At some point while doing what you love, you must also ask for the money. But I missed the memo on this completely, and for years I toiled and toiled for free — but never had product or service to sell.
All that is changed now. While I still offer tremendous value to people and organizations for free, I am now being very strategic in this (cutting down whopping 90% of my engagements) in a bid to leverage the goodwill I’ve built over the years and reinvent myself into a profitable teaching practice.
- Reinvent my life: I’ve started and sold (or abandoned) several websites over the last 10 years. I’ve also engaged in various offline entrepreneurial ventures: sometimes as a solopreneur, other times in partnership with other fine people. Some of these ventures have been very successful, others drained away all my previous financial gains. But every time I exit a company or website project, I’m presented with an opportunity to reinvent myself all over again.
I’ve also always been a teacher at heart (no, not the chalk and talk type). And with the Internet being my playground, I’m now focused on leveraging my God-given talent as a teacher, acquired knowledge and skills, and my favorite medium of the Internet to reinvent my life once more, to deliver valuable life-altering lessons to hard-working people all over the world, and build a new career in the process. The current project at hand is only the beginning of this journey.
So the die is cast and the hard work of developing a new product has just begun. Subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed or my join my mailing list and ride along with me as I develop a new info product from idea to launch and cha-ching!