Update: The sale for Breakthrough Blogging, my new course is officially over. Thank you for all of your support! Feel free to read the post below which explains how the course came about and who it’s for. Cheers!
For years, people have been asking me the same question:
“Pat, when are you going to create your first information product or course?”
Someone even asked me this question during the live Q&A session after my presentation at New Media Expo this year – in front of the entire audience.
And for years, my answer was always the same:
“I don’t want to sell an information product to my audience just because I can.”
I know that I have an Internet marketers dream here on Smart Passive Income – a huge platform, a rapid growing and incredibly engaged audience, and fans who I love to death who closely follow my work and trust my recommendations. To me, in the niche that I’m in, to truly serve an audience that is most likely exhausted from “just because” sales pitches, I have a responsibility to never sell anything just because, and that includes affiliate products too.
I did, however, recently sell an eBook of my own here on SPI called Let Go, which became a #1 Best-Selling book in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship category on Amazon. I’ve also accepted payments for live classes and consultations too, but an information product was never a top priority for me. I could help people just as easily by creating free content, leading by example and recommending products that I’ve successfully used myself – products that I didn’t really feel the need to create another version of on my own because they were already awesome.
That’s why I never created a product. I didn’t feel there was a need.
Then, in June of 2012 I came across this post on the Financial Blogger Conference blog, which was a replay video of Adam Baker’s very first public speaking presentation from the year before. It was the same exact event where I spoke for the very first time too, and ironically I’ll be giving the opening keynote speech (my first one!) at the event later this year.
Adam’s presentation was not only about how to create a product to sell on your website, but why you need to do it. I remember working with Adam before his presentation to help him rehearse (he did the same for me because we were both nervous wrecks!) and he said something that I distinctly remember when he was coming up with what to say:
A product is an incredibly effective way to deliver knowledge. If you could package something that could change a person’s life, you’re doing your audience a disservice by not creating that product.
That’s when I decided to go full steam on a course that was in high demand – a step-by-step video course on creating a niche site. I had spent a couple of hours each day for 3 months putting it together.
Three weeks from the scheduled launch date, I was putting the final touches on the course and even had a few beta testers already going through it too. That is, until Google came out with its infamous penguin update.
The update forced me to reassess the validity of my course and I had to make the decision to put it on hold until I could test the new search engine environment. While creating new sites and testing various strategies to go along with them, Google came out with even more updates and that’s when I decided to scrap the whole thing.
Although I was disappointed that months of work was all for nothing, I just simply cannot ask people to pay for a course that I’m not 100% confident in.
I also took it as a sign that I wasn’t meant to create a product at the time.
Then, something unexpected happened.
Adam Baker called me out of the blue. After some small chat, he cut right to the chase: he asked me to partner with him with his business at Only72.
Only72 handpicks products for entrepreneurs and sells them together as a bundle for a heavily discounted price. I had been an Only72 customer before, enjoying packages of eBooks and products from several different contributors, but I always thought they could do more for the customer (and prospective customer) with the smart business model they had.
So, after a few moments to think about it – I said yes.
I flew up to Portland almost immediately to meet with my new business partners, Adam and Rick Mulready. Rick is a good friend of ours who has previously written a guest post on SPI about Facebook Ads. Our goal at this meeting was to talk about the direction of the company and figure out what our first sale together would look like.
Our main focuses were:
1. Higher quality and less quantity. Instead of 10-15 so-so products, we would want to keep each sale to 4-6 extremely valuable products that make sense.
2. More purposeful themes to each sale. The products must be related to each other in some way that is useful to the customer. This is less overwhelming and confusing and more “these are the things that will help me accomplish _________”.
3. Complete transparency about the products that are included in each package. We wanted to to create videos with each of the contributors and talk about their part in the bundle so people know exactly what to expect when they get it. In other words: unboxing the mystery. 😉
4. A continued customer experience even after the sale is over.
5. A re-branded, higher quality Only72 all around – from the products in the sale to the videos and theme of the site.
When we were brainstorming for the next sale, the idea of Be Everywhere came up and we were immediately drawn to it as a theme for the next bundle of products. We started to name off experts who taught people how to master their specific platforms: Cliff Ravenscraft for podcasting, Gideon Shalwick for YouTube videos, Cathy Presland for authoring Kindle books, and then of course, there’s the blogging component of the Be Everywhere model too.
We came up with a list of several people who had blogging products that we could potentially reach out to. And then, when I was looking at the whiteboard and seeing my Be Everywhere concept come to life in this next sale, I said, “I’ll do it.”
The guys were immediately behind me, my head was racing with ideas and after all was said and done we had our next sale in sight with me right in the middle of it – it was going to be my first information product and Google wasn’t going to mess with it this time.
A Blogging Course…
There are so many blogging courses out there already and many of them are very well done. How was I going to create something new, different and unique?
I started to think about when I first started blogging and what kinds of struggles I went through. Then, I went through my email archives and searched for the words “help”, “want”, “need” and “wish”. Then, I checked the replies to an email I have in my email autoresponder sequence that asks: “what would you like me to write a blog post about?”, and then I realized something.
Starting a blog isn’t a huge problem for people. It’s actually very easy to start a blog, now more than ever. The real struggle is sticking with it.
Nobody ever starts a blog thinking, “I’ll start a blog now but give up on it later.” But sadly, that’s what happens. Most bloggers who start a blog stop within the first six months for a number of different reasons.
As a blogger, at any level, it seems like everything in the world (including yourself) tries to stop you from moving forward and making progress. You need to break through these barriers in order to keep moving towards your goal.
This is why I’m happy and very proud to announce my first course, Breakthrough Blogging with you, a resource that I’ve built and will continue to add to over time to help you break through all kinds of barriers that you will inevitably face as a blogger.
Please watch the video to see what it’s all about.
The best part is that this is just the beginning of Breakthrough Blogging. Beyond the hours of content that are already in this course, I will be continually adding more video content over time that directly addresses the questions and struggles that you submit. Future plans include a masterminding portal where members can hook up with each other to create their own mastermind groups. Imagine having a tag by your avatar that says (LFG) next to it, meaning “looking for group”. It would be that easy to find someone.
Guest post facilitation, connections between bloggers in the same niche for collaboration, all of that kind of stuff is on the radar – but you, the first set of members in BtB, will have all the say in the direction of the course.
How Do I Sign Up?
Breakthrough Blogging is now closed and will not be reopened. It was a good experiment and a great experience for our community.
Cheers, and thanks again! Here’s to breaking through and moving onward and upward!