The myth of “money while you sleep” online products and programs

Money in the Bank

Before you take another step toward building that product, continuity program, or group coaching read this article! If you don’t have the pieces in place needed to launch successfully, then as my Scottish nephew once said, “This could end in tears.”

The lure of “making money while you sleep” has cost coaches, trainers, photographers, authors, and countless others vast amounts of hard-won cash — and the counter is still spinning like the deficit counter in Times Square. If you have tried and failed at offering a product or course, you are not alone and it’s not your fault.

I call BS at the many business coaches who insist this is a great way to build your business to people who are not ready, never mind set up for success.

Not all business or other coaches are guilty of course, and plenty of people buy courses thinking that this single revenue stream will be the thing that changes everything. It could, if it’s the right time in their entrepreneur’s journey — and sometimes it’s not, (I’ve been in the “not” category plenty of times in the early days.)

Ramit Sethi whose business is called “I will teach you to be rich” is honest, smart, gives massive value for free and could sell any product he decided to build because of his large, loyal following. (Hint: Large, loyal following)

Here’s what he has to say about online programs. A confession: I’ve left millions of dollars on the table by not developing a course about how to build your own online product and sell it on the Internet. Unfortunately, the blunt truth is, I don’t believe most people will ever be successful building online products. This isn’t just a condescending “I can do it but you can’t” view. No, the data backs this up. The vast majority of people who try to create online products fail — like 99%+. This is the elephant graveyard where the dream of passive income goes to die.”

Look, the right business model for you might include online products and/or programs. My goal here is to set you up for a successful launch — they are stressful enough without coming to the end and making no or little money.

Answer these questions honestly. Each one represents a facet of successfully selling online.

  • Are you known as one of the go to person in your area of expertise?
  • Do you have a fan club, an engaged tribe on FB, or even a list? I’m not saying you need a list of thousands to make money, you don’t. What you do have to have is a responsive list.
  • Are you clear on your niche?
  • What is their one main problem and why are you the best person to solve it?
  • What are they willing to pay to have their problem solved?
  • How will you market this thing? Before you can have buyers you need prospects looking for your solution.
  • What is the overall launch strategy?
  • Are you going to write your own sales copy and emails for the funnel or will you hire that out?
  • Do you have graphics?
  • Oh wait, how awesome is your content, does it get results, and do what you say it will?
  • How will you package and deliver it?
  • Have you beta tested it? Have any social proof?

Here’s a biggie: Do you have a steady income right now? If you coach, you should have enough one-on-one clients to cover your nut + extra expenses before you take on any kind of online program or product.

It’s easier to sell coaching to one person than it is to put 10 people in a group program or, fill your continuity program with enough people to give it energy and make it worth the work.

Math: Let’s say I have 5 coaching clients in a 3-month agreement at $1500, I’m taking home $7500. I sell 10 people into a 4- or 6-week coaching program at $497; I take home $4970. The one-on-one clients may get more of my time, but managing 10 people with say, half on a payment plan — some of whom will drop out — and it looks like a no-brainer to me.

And that membership program you think will bring in an easy $5K/month? I’m in a two of them; one is $57/month, the other is $197. The higher priced one is so packed with valuable content that word of mouth keeps it full of happy customers. To get to $5K, they need to keep 25 people engaging with the other members, showing up on the twice-monthly classes, and feeling like they are never without an answer or support. 25’s not too bad right?

That $57/month one, also super-valuable but less structured, a great supportive community, sends out a paper newsletter, and also has tons of resources. For them to get to $5K it takes 87 of those same happy repeat buyers. In case you hadn’t considered the repeat part, every month you have to resell people to keep them paying. Not necessarily person-by-person but day-by-day with the value you provide.

Here’s the bottom line. Launching without a strong foundation is foolish. And a launch alone will not save your business, but it can become a great revenue stream once you nail a few of the basics.

Be honest about where you are in your business, but if you can’t answer the questions I asked with gusto, don’t let that get you down — it’s time to build your presence, credibility, expertise, list, etc.

By the way, launches never go south for only one reason, but every successful launch has the most important pieces nailed and proven marketing skills and/or team behind them. Don’t give up the idea of making money while you sleep — just make sure you are awake to all it takes before you say “Cart open.”

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