Susan Daffron and James Byrd: Cash in on Your Content

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Susan Daffron and James Byrd's breakout session at BlogPaws 2012: Cash in on Your Content

Susan Daffron and James Byrd's breakout session at BlogPaws 2012: Cash in on Your Content

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  • First we should probably tell you a little bit about who we are. James and I tend to call ourselves "Techno-Homesteaders because we actually started our business Logical Expressions in 1995 so we could move away from the city and live a simpler life amidst the forests of rural Northern Idaho. Since 1996, we have lived our dream of doing work we enjoy from a place we love. In our case, we started our business, Logical Expressions, to enable us to live the life we wanted to live. For us, that meant leaving the city and moving to “"the trees”" (as we call it). Our epiphany happened on a mountain vacation in 1994, when we realized that if we had a modem, we could work with clients anywhere. Two months later, we started our business, and in 1996, we realized our dream of moving to a log house in the middle of the forests of Northern Idaho.
  • Sometimes working from a rural area with questionable Internet access has some challenges. We always say that if we can make an income online from HERE…a log house in the middle of nowhere, you can do it from anywhere.
  • Cashing in on your content is NOT a get rich quick scheme. A lot of things you read about product development talk about it from the standpoint of teaching wanna be online marketers how to become better online marketers. You’ll make gazillions by creating products about marketing online that teach other people how to market online. It’s a sort of circular, weird thing that you see a lot on the Internet. Many of these Guru types use hard-sell tactics. I’m sure you’ve seen the ugly pages with the BIG red text and the yellow highlighter. We’ve seen a lot of the yellow highlighter crowd for a lot of years. It sorta makes us ill. “Act now, for only $1997, this program will change your life!” The Web site copy for the Gazillion Dollar program almost always capitalizes on fear of something nebulous. For example a year ago, lots of marketing “gurus” were talking about “your mindset.” You might have read the copy and thought: “Do I have the right mindset. Gee I’m not sure? If I did, I’d be making $7 Million BILLION dollars, right? Oh crap, what do I do?” As Frank Herbert said, “Fear is the mind-killer.” I advise you to avoid emulating or being manipulated by online sales copy that uses fear, uncertainty, and doubt as a motivator. I’ve unsubscribed from countless newsletters that offered nothing, except endless oppotunities to separate me from my money. We’re about helping people with real helpful products and avoiding the icky hard sell. Today we’ll talk about how you can taking things you’re interested in and stuff you’re already doing and making money from it. No icky Mr. Millionaire Mindset garbage.
  • Here’s the bad news. There aren’t shortcuts when it comes to making money online. The only thing that can move your business forward is you. No information or book or “guru mindset” can do it for you. Today’s talk is going to be practical and real based on more than 15 years of working online. We’re going to talk about creating a passive income stream from good quality products without selling your soul or feeling icky about it. Yes, it’s a slow process, but over time, you can seriously supplement your income. First, you create one product. Yay! You’ll get that first thrill of realizing you just paid your hosting fee. Or your fee for your Internet provider. Over time, it starts to build so you can work less hourly work. Or quit your job. Plus, it helps you avoid the feast-and famine issues related to consulting, economic shifts and the worst recession since the Great Depression. We’re proof that over time you can actually earn a nice income stream. And what writer wouldn't like to make money from her writing?
  • A Key to everything we do is that we try to set goals for our business that tie to our personal goals. That has required a lot of planning. There's a saying from Lewis Carroll that " if you don't know where you're going, any road will do. " What are your life goals? How can you tie your business goals into that? What limitations do you have? (ours = crappy Internet, rural area etc.) What advantages do you have? (ours - quiet workspace, consulting income, background in design) As Norm Brodsky says in his book The Knack, "The life plan has to come before the business plan."
  • People often think, “my site is different” so I can’t sell anything. That’s probably not true. Opportunties and ideas are all around you. You’re online and examples of people making money are everywhere. Look for opportunities. Think about what you buy online and why. Here are a couple of example I like.
  • If you’re on Facebook, you may have encountered photos of Jamie Samoyed. As the owner of a fuzzy white dog I have spent an embarassingly large amount of time looking at photos of this fuzzy white dog. Jamie’s dad is a brilliant photographer. In fact, he’s so good, one of his photos was stolen and went viral. He and his wife were kind of upset, but realistically I found Jamie’s page through the stolen photo. Word gets out. So Jamie has a lot of fans now. Photos are posted almost every day. Doug LOVES taking photos. People love seeing his photos. They wanted more. Eventually he turned it into a book. He’s not even doing it for profit. But it just shows, when you do something cool, people notice. And when people notice, sometimes they even start asking for things to buy like books and calendars in this case.
  • The next example is from the Bloggess. If you aren’t offended by bad language, you will fall down laughing when you read some of the posts on this site. And if you are, just don’t go there. In any case, I encountered the Bloggess first during the hurricane during the LAST Blog Paws conference. My sister and I were sitting in the dark watching our laptop batteries drain, reading about Beyonce the metal rooster. The post is called “And that’s why you should pick your battles.” It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that the Bloggess Jenny Lawson gets miffed at her husband Victor’s attitude about towels and gives him a metal rooster instead. The 5-foot tall metal rooster was on sale, it “  was  $300, marked down to $100.  That’s like, $200 worth of chicken  for free.” The post has get this…3787…. 3 THOUSAND seven hundred and eighty seven comments. Really. And  Beyonce-the-giant-metal-chicken now has her own Facebook page with more than 40,000 fans, and you can buy your very own travel-sized Beyonce for $20. More recently, she wrote about a small taxidermied weasel she dressed up and named Juanita. Again, you kind of have to see it to believe it. But the photo of Juanita in an apron exclaiming that that the souffle is RUINED just kills me. There are 643 comments on the Juanita post and 7 pages of products including “as requested” a Juanita Weasel souffle apron. “Because you asked for it.”
  • Here’s another example of listening to customers from my own experience. I started the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals and decided I wanted to create a really COOL autoresponder. I wrote up 101 fundraising ideas and loaded them into an autoresponder, so people would get one email with an idea every other day for 101 days. Someone complained that there were too many emails. At first I was depressed because it was SO MUCH WORK. Then I realized, I had pretty much written a book. I dropped the autoresponder on the site to 5 and put the 101 into a book. (Which I’ll be signing later today) The moral of the story: When people tell you stuff, listen.
  • The first thing you need to understand is what we mean by cashing in on content. We offer consulting and services, but what we're talking about in this session is not that income, but what we refer to as "magic money." In other words, it's money from products we created or wrote a while ago. We sell books and software and get money from a number of sources: Lightning Source - these are print books that are being sold on Amazon and other online retailers. Google (the AdSense program) - this money comes from ads on our article sites. Sales through our own sites of software like IdeaWeaver, templates, and other downloadable products like the Book Blueprint program. We have an ecommerce store. Membership (in NAPRP) and SPOC. For NAPRP we took a LOT of content we had created while working as a volunteer and put it behind a log-in. Free members get access to teleseminars and paid members get the recordings. We did pretty much the same thing with SPOC. We did some live calls as promos. To get the recordings, people had to register. Of course, all this didn't happen overnight. We’ve often told the story that a big part of the reason we got into publishing is because during the boom time say 2005, 2006, we saw how stupid the real estate industry was. I mean, zero interest loans and stuff. Interest only loans what is that? That’s just insanity. That couldn’t last. We thought, “This is going to crash.” And well, we all know how that turned out. But we were prepared. Our products did a lot to help us weather the Great Recession. "Fate is a future that you didn't try hard enough to change" - Joe Konrath. In 2005/6, I was in the untenable position of developing websites, and website development was all starting to be shipped overseas. I thought, “This is going to stink when the economy crashes. I need to do something else.” That was the thinking that led to the three year plan to leverage all the content that we already had.I always say we have been doing content marketing before content marketing was cool.So we had all this content on Web sites online. I thought, “I’m going to turn all this content into books and create a new passive income stream to help weather what I see is going to be a really bad scene.” It worked out.
  • Obviously, the key to getting started is writing or producing something. You have to do something. Anything. We recommend "how to" content. The best way to appeal to someone is to give them what they want. You solve their problems and they take an interest in you and then later buy. What are you an expert in? What things come naturally to you that other people think are hard? Then write about it. Online your content actually demonstrates your expertise, compared with a website or bio page that just claims expertise. You have to show it.
  • People often ask how we came up with so many Web sites and so much content. The answer is that we did it incrementally. We knew from the outset that we needed to write stuff and post it online to show we knew what we were talking about. In 1997, we were doing tech writing and programming, so we posted some computer tips on the Logical Expressions site. Then I was volunteering at an animal shelter and posted some pet tips. This was long before blogs and it became unweildy to keep updating the site. So James wrote a content management system (a precursor to blogs). Those sites still run our articles. After the Google AdSense program came out, we put some ads on them. To our surprise, we got money. For years, we have gotten amonthly check from Google. That's when we first started to think the idea of passive income was pretty cool. The key is listening to your customers and finding out where they are stuck and how you can help.In our case, we have two or three "funnels" with related products (pet-related stuff, computer stuff, publishing stuff). As you start creating more products, they build on each other. Ideas beget more ideas as people tell you how things helped and what they need next.
  • Ideas are everywhere. Start with your blog. Then look on your computer. Ask people. Do surveys.
  • Once you have ideas, think about what you like to do and how you can help your readers get what they want. Also take into account what people will pay for. If people can get something for free, they won’t pay for it. But you could gather information that’s really time-consuming to figure out. Also consider the fact that people often don’t value free. Sometimes putting a price tag on something gives it value.
  • The key to cashing in on your content is that it all starts with an article. After that, you need to figure out how to reuse it. That same content that was in our tips, was repurposed into ebooks, and then print books. In our case, virtually ALL of the content on our books is online somewhere. People worry that's going to be an issue. It's not if it's on sites you own. You have retained the copyright. You're just producing it in a different format. For example: Our pet books and computer books all started online. They were used in newspapers, sent as online newsletters, and made money from AdSense for years. Now they make money as books too. Ebooks - now we have some of our books in eformat. We get checks from Amazon KDP and Smashwords.
  • Publishing a book, and by a book I mean a real live print book (not an eBook in the Internet marketing sense), gives you a level of credibility like almost like nothing else. As Dan Poynter says the root word of authority is author. Writing a book is better than any other technique for building your credibility. Partly because if you, in the process of writing a book, you have to learn more than pretty much anybody, most people, the average person, you have to learn a whole lot about a given topic. And in the process of marketing your book, you market your business. This is exactly what happened to us. We have a monthly income from our books. Right now our latest book Funds to the Rescue is doing really well, but over the years different books have done well. Non-fiction books often have a lifecycle and some of ours are actually getting a little long in the tooth now so they need to be re-released. There has been a very consistent, happy, monthly income stream. Lightning Source, which is the company I use to print my books, they direct deposit money into my bank account every month.
  • Software - Our IdeaWeaver software came about because we needed an easier way to organize our books and content. It was literally designed on a napkin at lunch.
  • Autoresponders - my book Funds to the Rescue started out as an autoresponder promo. Someone complained about "getting too many emails." I shortened the AR to 5 and turned the 101 into a book. Our freebies that we used to give away with newsletters have been recycled into presentations. Some of the information in this presentation existed as PDF we gave away.
  • Online Education - we have repurposed material from my book publishize into online training. Home study courses - Our Book Blueprint program was originally a course called the 90 Day Book Challenge.
  • Templates - we created templates that take the steps of some of our most popular how-to articles and "do it for people."
  • The reason Google found us and we made money is because the sites are very search engine friendly. Look at your analytics and make sure your blog is actually working. The reality is that if you write a lot of good content, Google takes notice. Google finds you and people find you too. If people think you have something worthwhile to say, so will Google. Google links to you. More links, means more traffic. More traffic means more sales (or ad income). A few of the mechanics include starting an email list. There’s an old saying, “the money is in the list.” People who have signed up to get something free from you may be interested in other products later. We have marketed various different things to our in-house lists. Our promotions don’t lead to gigantic sales, but we have a core group of “fans” that connect with us via email. Don’t underestimate that relationship. Create product pages in your shopping cart or blog. Get set up with ecommerce. The easiest thing to start with is PayPal. Make sure you have a thank you page and email receipt. Do it right, DON”T send credit card numbers via email. Use a secure solution.
  • A Prussian General said, "no battle plan survides the first contact with the enemy." You have to continually adjust what you're doing and come up with new ideas. We changed our plans becuase of the circumstances. You can't know what you don't know. What is happening now? What is working? What isn't working? Do more of what's working and less of what isn't. What new opportunities are there? Be alert to new possibilities. Watch for things that people react to the best. What do your customers comment on? What do they love or hate in what you do? Is there an opportunity there? The key to earning money from your content is having a plan. Our business has evolved multiple times, but it has always been a strategic change. We started in tech writing, moved into Web development and most recently in early 2006, we decided to completely transition our business to include passive income from books. It’s still evolving. Times change and YOU change. Creative people often change direction. Don’t worry about it; embrace it.
  • Now let’s brainstorm some product ideas for your blogs…

Transcript

  • 1. About Us• S tarted our biz in 1994 in order to move to “ the trees.” ( And so we could have dogs!)• B egan with a 9600 baud modem. • We have worked online since 1996 from the middle of 40 acres of forest. • There were almost no jobs; we had to make it work. 2
  • 2. S ometimes C onditions Are Not Ideal Our satellite Internet dish, which did not appreciate blizzards. 3
  • 3. What This S ession Is Not• G et rich quick system• S limy Internet marketer “ yellow highlighter” stuff Mr. Millions E arnaMillionaDay.com It’ s a parody, but not really that far off. 4
  • 4. What It Is• P assive income stream to supplement your income• A way to take advantage of what you’ re already doing• Make money from creating content on topics you care about.• We’ ll talk about how to find ideas, product options, and the sales process. Then we’ ll brainstorm ideas for some volunteers 5 from the audience.
  • 5. S et G oals“ If you don’ t know where you’ re going any road will do.” • What are your life goals? • How can you tie your business goals into that? • What limitations do you have? ( Ours = bad Internet, rural area, etc.) • What advantages do you have? ( Ours = quiet workspace, consulting income, background in writing and 6 design.)
  • 6. Almost Any S ite C an S ell P roducts• Look for opportunities. ( They may come from surprising places.)• E ven personal/hobby sites can sell products.• S tart paying attention to what your favorite sites are doing. Why do you think it works?• Where do you “ vote with your wallet? ” 7
  • 7. E xample 1: J amie S amoyed P hoto book and calendarsMassively stolen viral photo from: by J amie’ s “ Dad” Doug ( P rinted by B lurb.com) http://www.facebook.com/J amieS amoyed 8
  • 8. E xample 2: B eyoncé & The B loggess F unniest blog post ever written about a metal chicken ( B eyoncé has 40K F B fans!) B uy your own travel-sized B eyoncé for $20B eyoncé ( knock, knock…)http://thebloggess.com/2011/06/and-thats-why-you-should-learn-to-pick-your-battles/ 9
  • 9. E xample 3: NAP R PP eople will whine. It’ s an opportunity! F ree autoresponder Award-winning book 10
  • 10. Multiple S treams of Income Ideally, it’ s good to have income from a number of sources. In our case, we earn money from:• Lightning S ource - print books being sold on Amazon and other online retailers.• G oogle ( AdS ense) - ads on our article sites.• S ales through our own sites of software like IdeaWeaver, templates, and other downloadable products.• Membership ( in NAP R P ) and events ( S P OC /VWR ) . 11
  • 11. Where to S tart?• What do you like to do? • Writing ( humor, how to, fiction, etc.) • P hotography • Video • Audio • Art/Design • C rafts 12
  • 12. How C an You Help?• What can you create that solves a problem or helps someone get what he/she wants? • Templates • B ooks/E books • C ourses/E vents • Your own hand-made products • R eselling products 13
  • 13. S ources of Ideas• Look at most popular/commented posts• E mails• Analytics and keywords• C omplaints. ( R eally!)• Q&A sites, e.g. Yahoo Answers• Ask! ( in person, surveys, email) 14
  • 14. The Intersection• What you like to do• Ways you can help people get what they want• What people will actually pay money for 15
  • 15. C reate C ontent & R ecycleIt all starts with an article or blog post. F orexample, our pet books and computerbooks all started online. They were used: • In newspapers, • S ent as online newsletters • Made money from AdS ense for years ( still do) • Now they make money as books/ebooks too 16
  • 16. B ooks/E books• B ooks/E books – Our books are on Amazon.com and some are in eformat. We get checks from Lightning S ource, Amazon KDP and S mashwords.• We sell P DF versions of our books through our Web sites and have bundled books with other products.• P roduction matters. GET AN EDITOR. Everyone needs an editor. 17
  • 17. S oftwareWhat needs do you have that aren’ t being filled?• We created blog software before blog software existed because we had so many articles and updating sites by hand was a pain.• Our IdeaWeaver software came about because we needed an easier way to organize our content into books. It was literally designed on a napkin at lunch. ( Note: you don’ t have to B E a programmer; hire one.) 18
  • 18. Autoresponders & F reebies• Autoresponders - my book Funds to the Rescue started out as an autoresponder promo. S omeone complained about "getting too many emails." I shortened the free autoreponder to 5 and turned the 101 emails into a book.• F reebies that we used to give away with newsletters have been recycled into presentations/teleseminars. 19
  • 19. Online Training• Online E ducation - we have repurposed material from my book Publishize into online training.• Home study courses - Our B ook B lueprint program was originally a live course called the 90 Day B ook C hallenge.• Masterminds – What do you know that you can share? P eople love live Q&As!• Online conferences – get experts together 20
  • 20. Templates & DIY• Templates - We created templates that take the steps of some of our most popular how-to articles and "do it for people."• Worksheets – P eople hate spreadsheets. A lot.• C ustomizable/G raphics – Icons, graphics, banners, and other designs people can use. 21
  • 21. P romotion & S elling• S tart an email list if you haven’ t already.• P ut ads on relevant articles/posts.• C reate a sales page to describe your products. ( Your promotion is designed to drive traffic to the page.)• S et up a payment method ( shopping cart/P ayP al buttons) . • C reate a thank you page. 22
  • 22. What is Working? What’ s Not? “ No battle plan survives the first contact with the enemy. “• Ideas are good, but you have to plan and continually adjust, based on feedback• Listen to find out where people are stuck• Do more of what works• Dump the duds 23
  • 23. Now You…• What is your blog about?• What are the most popular posts?• What questions do you get?• What do people struggle with? BRAINS TORM! 24
  • 24. Thank you for attending!F or more information,visit our sites: • Logical Expressions, Inc: www.LogicalE xpressions.com • Book-related content: www.TheB ookC onsultant.com • Pet-related content: www.pet-tails.com or www.naprp.com 25