Here’s the number one question I hear—not only from new product creators, but even from seasoned business owners: “How do I find a good idea?”
What they really mean, of course, is “How do I find an idea that will sell?” No one wants to spend days or weeks or more planning, developing and launching a course only to hear crickets on the big day. You want to know you’ll have at least some measure of success.
But don’t overthink it. The answer is simple. Just give your audience what they are asking for.
Check out the competition. What are they creating? If you serve a similar audience, then what sells for them will very likely sell for you. Now, before you break out the “But it’s already been done!” line, keep this in mind: No two experts are alike. You may create a similar course, but your voice, your experience, your teaching style, and your personality are all very different. No one else is you, and for some customers, YOU are the only one who will resonate with them.
Pay attention to your ideal client. What questions does she ask in private groups, in your help desk, and elsewhere? What posts is she reading on your blog (check your Google Analytic stats)? These are all valuable sources of intel about exactly what she needs and wants from you.
Ask. Still not sure what your dream client is looking for? Ask her. Create a survey and ask her to tell you what she struggles with, what keeps her from realizing her success, and even what she’s tried before in an effort to solve her issues.
Check the bestsellers list. Which books in your niche are outperforming others? These are the ones that offer answers your clients are seeking. Flip through the table of contents and read the online reviews to dig deep into the topics that really resonate with your audience.
Read the FAQs. Check the frequently asked questions section on competitor blogs and in forums and Facebook groups. Also, check blogs for “Start Here,” and “Quickstart” pages. Many times, the most common questions and concerns are addressed here.
Review the available resources. Which are the most common resources your colleagues and competitors are recommending? There are often questions surrounding the use of software and other tools, and these can be great ideas for eCourses.
Check your email. If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, chances are you receive questions from friends, clients and even strangers on a daily basis. What are they asking about? Look for common themes and trends.
Revisit your keyword research. Review the terms and phrases that your community most frequently searches on, and use them as a basis for your own research.
Check your search terms. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to check which terms are sending visitors to your website. Since people often search on questions (“how to design a logo” or “how to start a business”) this can be a rich source of ideas.
Ideas are everywhere. Your potential buyers are sharing them with you every day, if you just know where to look. So, don’t let your insecurities hold you back. Develop the course they are asking you for.
I look forward to hearing below, how you come up with eCourse ideas, Coach Deb
If there’s one thing that confuses and frustrates new (and even seasoned) copywriters it’s the not-always-obvious features and benefits.
We want to share all the great things about our new program, so we say things like:
While these are all good points, they’re pretty bland. That’s because they’re features, not benefits. They tell us about the program, but not why we should buy it.
Benefits, on the other hand, tell us the “so what” of features.
“6-week self-study course.” So what? Why should your reader care?
“Includes workbooks and live training.” So what? What are the benefits of workbooks and live training?
As you can see, benefits go much further than simple attributes, such as length and format. They show your prospective client not only what’s in the program, but why the product is exactly right for her, at this specific moment in her life and career.
Features and benefits work together in sales copy as two halves of a statement, like this:
“6-week self-study course so you can learn at your own pace, when it’s convenient for you.”
In fact, this powerful feature/benefit combo is often the basis for the bullet points you see in sales copy, and the format of them makes them easy to write, too.
Simply list all the features of your product, then for each one, ask yourself “Why?” Why should the reader care? But don’t stop there. Dig deeper to uncover “the why behind the why” and you’ll soon be crafting truly irresistible sales pages that convert far better than you expect. In the above example, the why behind the why might be, “so you don’t have to spend family time on webinars that have been scheduled to benefit someone else.”
Now not only is your prospective client working at her own pace, but she’s also freeing up time to spend with her family. That’s a great benefit she won’t find with most courses.
It’s easy to list all the features of your product or program, but far more challenging to uncover the benefits that will drive sales. When you truly understand the difference though, it will become easier, and your sales will reflect the change in your copy.
When you hear the word “copywriting” do you immediately think of long sales pages, squeeze pages, and unwanted bulk mail?
You’re not alone in that thinking, but the fact is, copywriting is more than just sales messages. In fact, as an online business owner, most of the content you produce could be called copywriting at least in some sense. After all, if you’re creating content with the ultimate goal of selling something, that is by definition copywriting.
Facebook: Sure we all like to hang out on Facebook and chat with friends, catch up on the latest funny videos, and enjoy a mindless “quiz” or two. But for service professionals or online businesses, Facebook is much more than that. It’s a place to connect with potential clients, and that means that when you’re sharing your latest blog post or program with your business friends, you have to keep good copywriting in mind.
LinkedIn Profile: What makes you stand out from the other experts in your niche? Your LinkedIn profile is where you share what makes you the best person to solve your ideal client’s problems. It’s where you shout about your credentials and let your ego run the show. Think of your LinkedIn profile like a resume, and be sure to list your most impressive credentials.
About Page: Here’s your chance to have some fun while blowing your own horn. It’s important to know that the about page is often the most visited page on a website, so it’s a critical piece of your overall brand and message. The purpose of your about page is to entice people to want to learn more about your services, so be sure to include a call to action on the page.
Blog Posts: All blog posts have a job to do. Maybe they’re meant to lead your reader to a sales page. Perhaps you’re asking for readers to subscribe to your mailing list. Maybe your blog post is designed to start a conversation. Or maybe it’s just sharing great content and inviting readers to learn more by clicking on related posts. Whatever the job, it’s copywriting that entices your reader to take that next action.
Twitter: One hundred and forty characters is precious little space for creating compelling content, yet that’s exactly what you must do if you hope to use Twitter as part of your overall marketing strategy. Think of tweets like email subject lines, and craft them to convey as much information as possible while still enticing readers to take action.
Email: Whether you’re sending an email about a new product or service or simply letting readers know you have a new blog post up, your email definitely qualifies as copywriting. In fact, even the personal emails you send to prospective clients contain what we would call copywriting.
The fact is, copywriting is everywhere in your business, from your sales pages to your invoices. Whenever you ask a reader to take some action, you’re writing copy, and the more comfortable with the idea of it, the better (and more natural) you’ll become.
Writing a “101 Tips” or “101 Ideas for…” Book
This is possibly the easiest type of book you can write. Research consists of gleaning tip after tip from multiple sources, all focused on your one topic, which is determined by your Title and Subtitle.
In order to make your book especially potent, however, follow these tips:
Don’t just dump your tips into your eBook any old how: First, organize them into categories.
Then weed out the duplicates
Deliberately include three categories of tips (for your reference only: Your reader should just be aware of a strong, well-balanced mix)…
Make sure your tips are “presented” nicely in strong, short sentences. Don’t ramble. Don’t use “fluff’ words or unnecessary “filler” phrases that distract readers from your point
“If you want to try this little tip, you could always squeeze lemon juice on bits of apple to really prevent things like some discoloration” does not sound half as authoritative and definite as: “To stop apples turning brown, sprinkle cut slices with lemon juice.”
And, of course, never, EVER lift tips verbatim from other sources (including PLR). If you do quote other sources directly, be up front about it and credit every source in your Acknowledgements or Appendix… or even arrange your tips by source, using the source as a subhead. For example:
Don't have the confidence to write your first book yet? Check out our Renewing Your Confidence workshop
For many people, writing the book is the easy part. Whether you have a body of work ready to repurpose (such as a blog you’ve maintained for several years) or a ghostwriter at the ready, or you just really like to write, getting your book on paper is simple.
Publishing and selling it is another matter altogether. You basically have four options when it comes to publishing your book, and each one has its pros and cons.
Probably the simplest method to publish a book, all that’s required with an ebook is to click “Save as…” in your Word document and choose “PDF.” Then you can sell the resulting file on your own website, list it on ClickBank or E-Junkie, or upload it to a number of other ebook marketplaces online.
Ebooks don’t quite have the authority that printed books carry, but if you’re on a budget and don’t have the skills to format your book for print, then this can be a viable option to get you off the ground. It’s also a great way to share your book with advance readers to get those all-important testimonials.
The darling of the self-publishing world, Amazon’s Kindle marketplace makes it easy for you to publish your book. In fact, with just a few minutes of formatting, and another several minutes spent on their step-by-step uploading system, you can have your book on their virtual shelves in less than an hour.
With its incredible popularity and the ability to offer “free days” during which anyone can download your book at no cost, Kindle is a great way to build a buzz quickly.
Print on Demand
The best choice for self-published authors is a relatively new technology that allows for a single book to be printed on demand. Until just a few years ago, if you chose to self-publish your book you’d likely have to shell out for hundreds if not thousands of copies up front, leaving you with a garage full of books to sell on your own.
Print on demand is different. Buyers order your book from sellers such as Amazon (whose Create Space arm is itself a print on demand enterprise), and the book is printed and shipped the next day. This makes it easy and cost-effective for everyone to become a published author.
The most difficult and time consuming option, getting your book published with a traditional print publisher will also get you the most audience and press. The drawbacks are many, though. To start, it’s extremely difficult to get a traditional publishing house to take on a new author. If you do manage to get the attention of a publisher, your royalties (the amount you earn from your book) will be very small—maybe as little as 8% of the net cost. Finally, the length of time it takes from manuscript submission to final publication can be years.
All that said, a book with a traditional publishing insignia on the spine does carry a bit more weight when it comes to press opportunities than does a self-published book.
Many new authors initially choose the ebook format, and then move to Kindle and print on demand. Given enough buzz and sales, traditional publication becomes easier to attain as well. The important thing is to get your book written, and then publish where you’re most comfortable. The rest will come naturally.
Need help writing your book, check out our book writing bootcamp
Comment below...traditional publishing or self-publishing? Coach Deb
Here’s a big fear we all have when it comes to writing a book: What if no one buys it?
While that is always possible, with a little planning and advanced buzz, it’s highly unlikely. The key is to get others excited about your book, and to get them talking and sharing the news with their friends.
Host a Launch Party
Weeks before your official publication date, it’s time to start revving up the launch engine. Offering bonuses for early purchases, incentives for a review, and free chapter downloads are all proven strategies for building the buzz for your upcoming book.
There’s a lot of moving parts in a successful book launch—landing pages, mailing lists, JV partners, social outreach, and more.
Make the Interview Rounds
Two to three months prior to your book release, have your virtual assistant begin researching podcasts, blogs, and other media outlets for potential interviews. Create a press package to send out, including headshots, book cover art, blurbs and testimonials, and let everyone know that you’re looking for interviews and guest posting opportunities.
Blog About It
You are your own best publicist; so, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn on your blog, in your email newsletter, and on social media. Include images of the cover, blurbs from advance readers, and give your audience plenty of time to get excited about the upcoming launch, so when the buy button finally goes up they’re eager to get a copy.
Facebook is a terrific way to get new eyes on your book. Paid ads leading to your launch page are ideal, and can generate a lot of traffic for a very low cost.
Free Kindle Days
This technique alone can catapult your book to bestsellerdom in a matter of days. The key is to build up a buzz on your mailing list, share, share, share on social media, and ask your friends and colleagues to do the same.
Book marketing isn’t as easy as simply listing it on Amazon and becoming an instant bestseller. Anyone who tells you that is the exception to the rule. But that doesn’t mean selling your book is impossible either. With some strategic planning and a little effort, you can have a fantastic launch, whether it’s your first book or your fourteenth.
Comment below with your favorite book marketing technique, Coach Deb
What makes you read a blog post or article or email?
Interesting stats? A clever turn of phrase? An attention-grabbing headline?
All of those things can pique your interest, but they won’t keep your eyes on the page. For that, you need a story.
As a coach, service provider, or blogger, your job is to craft a narrative that draws your reader in and keeps her interested. Do it right, and she’ll share your content with her friends and colleagues, greatly expanding your reach. Do it poorly, and she might read your post or your email, she might even buy from you. But she won’t remember you, because you won’t have made a connection.
Share Your Personal Stories
One of the best ways to build a relationship and grow your audience is to share your personal stories. Tell your readers how you got started, what lessons you learned along the way, and how your life and business were improved because of them.
Personal anecdotes don’t even have to be business related to have an impact. Did you notice a fantastic marketing strategy while standing in line at the supermarket reading the magazine headlines? Share the story. Did you learn how to treat customers better by dealing with your cell phone company?Tell your story
By making the connection between a memorable event and your business, your readers will remember you long after they click away from your site or close your email.
Write Case Studies
Another powerful story telling technique is case studies. Tell your readers exactly what your client did to double her income last year, or how another client took your advice and grew her mailing list by 150% in six months.
These beefed-up testimonials (because that’s all a case study is) will keep your readers interested in learning more from you.
Connect Unrelated Stories in New, Interesting Ways
Want to really make an impression? Make unusual connections in your story. Share the struggles Frodo faced as he made his way to Mordor to destroy the ring, and how that relates to business today. Or talk about the squirrel in your yard that bravely defends his territory every time you take the dog out, and how it reminds you of your early days in business when you were convinced that competition was bad.
By making a connection between completely unrelated topics, you can quickly craft a blog post or email that will get readers thinking, and that they’ll remember for a long time to come.
Avoid the Awkward Segue
One word of caution though. Don’t toss in a story just because you think you need a “hook.” You’ll know you’re doing this if you can’t easily transition from the story to the purpose of your post or email. If you find yourself saying something like “Ok, that’s enough personal stuff, now let’s get back to business,” you’re trying too hard.
Your stories should naturally flow into business, if you want to make a big impression. And trust me, when you get this right, you’ll suddenly find your posts going viral and your profits soaring.
Share your favorite learning story below, Coach Deb
Struggling to bring in new clients? Not sure what to do next in your marketing plan? There’s one simple answer you probably haven’t considered:
Write a book!!
It’s true. This one thing—especially if it’s an actual printed book rather than a Kindle or eBook—has the power to grow your business beyond your expectations. You’ll experience a whole new world of opportunities simply by having your name on the cover of a book.
Imagine you’re at a conference or local networking group and you meet two people who both specialize in business branding—something you know you need help with.
One says all the right things. She’s been in business for years and worked with some top-notch business owners. She has great ideas for how she can help you solidify your branding.
The other has a similar history and story, with one added bonus: she’s just handed you a copy of her latest book. It’s a professionally printed, substantial publication that practically exudes confidence.
Which expert do you think shows more authority in her field? The one with the book, of course. There really is nothing better when it comes to establishing your authority in any niche than having a book with your name on it.
So why does a book speak so highly of you and establish your authority so well? Because it gives you a platform to show off your expertise. It’s like being invited to present on any topic you choose on the world’s largest stage.
Not only that, but your readers are a captive audience. They’re listening—in that moment—only to you. That’s a powerful position to be in, and one that gives you an opportunity to really show off your stuff.
3. Market Reach
No matter how many readers Google sends your way, no matter how much traffic your YouTube channel receives, nothing will ever compare to the number of potential readers Amazon and other online booksellers can bring your way.
Positioned correctly, your book can reach millions of new readers, and thousands of potential clients. Combine that with the expertise and authority we know comes with being a published author, and that’s a recipe for success that can’t be beat.
4. Better Than a Business Card
If you’ve ever been to a conference, you’ve no doubt collected a stack of business cards. You get home and toss them in a drawer, and six months later you throw them out, without ever having contacted the people who gave them to you.
But if one of those people handed you a book instead, what happened? You’ve likely read it (or at least leafed through it). You almost certainly didn’t throw it away. And you remember it—and the person who wrote it.
5. Press Opportunities
Turn on your television to any interview show, browse through Huffington Post, or listen to any of a number of popular podcasts, and you’ll quickly see that most of the guest speakers and interviewees have written a book.
The fact is, interview shows depend on interesting, insightful guests to keep their audiences listening, and there’s no better applicant than an author. Writing a book will open up many, many opportunities for appearances that you may never have without your name on that cover.
Do you have to write a book to be successful? No. But there’s no denying the fact that a published author will find she has a much easier time growing her business than the professional who keeps putting it off until later.
Need help writing your first book, learn how to write your book in 30 days here.
Leave us a link below to your book or success story related to your book, Coach Deb
You know that a book is a powerful tool for a professional who provides a service or who provides expertise or advice. You know that it not only helps to establish your expertise in your market, but it can also exponentially expand your audience.
Not only that, but it’s the single best way to get the attention of main stream press outlets, influential bloggers and podcasters, and to land paid speaking engagements. There’s virtually no downside to writing a book.
Except the actual writing of it.
If you don’t consider yourself a writer, you may think that the benefits are out of your reach, but even self-avowed non-writers have options.
This easy and popular option makes use of the hundreds or even thousands of pages of content you’ve already created, so there is almost no writing involved. You may need to edit a bit for flow and to update ideas, but otherwise, you probably have a ready-made book sitting right on your blog.
And before you start thinking, “Why would anyone pay for a book that’s just pulled from my blog?” know this: People will pay for information that is organized in a way that makes their life easier, even if that same information is available for free elsewhere. In fact, Darren Rowse of ProBlogger.net used this technique to publish his wildly popular “31 Days to Build a Better Blog.”
Use Private Label Content
Not enough content to repurpose? No problem. There are companies that specialize in creating content you are allowed to license and use as your own. It’s called private label rights content, or PLR, and (depending on who you buy from) it’s high quality, well researched content that makes the perfect jumping off point for your next book.
Two things you need to know about PLR: First, because it’s sold to more than one person, it’s important that you edit the content to adapt it to your voice, your unique view of the industry, and to include your personality. Second, you cannot use PLR to publish a book on Kindle, as this is a violation of their terms of service.
Want a book that’s all you without having to do the work? Hire a ghostwriter. These professionals will work with you to create a book that is uniquely yours, and in the end, you’ll have a well-written book with your name on it, all without typing a word.
Having a published book on your resume can work wonders for your business growth. It will bring you clients, expand your audience reach, and even attract some press. But it can’t do any of that if you don’t write the book in the first place. So, take one of these ideas and get your book written. You won’t regret it.
You know you need to do it. You’ve had it on your to-do list for years. Your own coach/mentor has told you time and again that this is the year you must get your book in print.
It’s not that you don’t recognize the benefits, or that you don’t want to have a published book on your resume. You just struggle with it, and probably for the same reasons many other experts resist publication.
You don’t have time
Here’s a biggie. Everyone is busy. We all get that. But that’s not a good excuse when it comes to growing your business.
Rather than lamenting your lack of time, you should be prioritizing your day to accommodate the important things, like writing your book. Maybe that means getting up 30 minutes earlier for a focused (if short) writing stint every morning, or turning off the television after dinner so you can write, or even setting aside several hours each Sunday morning until your book is done.
The point is, you must make this a priority. Block out the time in your calendar, and treat that time as sacred. Pretend it’s an appointment with your most important client, and do not allow anything to get in the way of keeping it. After all, you are your most important client.
You can’t write
Many, many people claim they cannot write; yet when you look at their blogs, there are hundreds of posts. What it really means when someone says they can’t write is that they don’t like to.
Luckily, you have plenty of options for overcoming this particular hurdle. Hire a ghostwriter. Start with PLR. Repurpose your blog posts into a book (Darren Rowse of Problogger.net did this with great success).
And if all else fails, speak. Use software such as Dragon Naturally Speaking, or simply record using your favorite MP3 app and then have it transcribed.
You can’t organize a long project like a book
Ok, so you’re great with blog posts, and you don’t mind writing them, but the thought of writing an entire book makes you stare at your blank screen like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car.
First, if you can write a blog post, you can write an entire series of books. The process is all the same, after all. It’s just putting words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, and so on.
But if you really feel you can’t manage a long project, then an outline is going to be your best friend. Start with a broad overview of your project, and then break it down by sections, then chapters. Make notes about what you’ll cover in each, and then it’s just a matter of filling in the blanks.
There are dozens of reasons to write a book. It’s important for establishing your expertise, for growing your audience, and for solidifying your message. But none of that will happen if you don’t actually write it. So, it’s time to get beyond your hurdles and get your book done.
If you would like to use any of our blogs on your blog sight, please do contact us. We would be happy to share with you.
What do top coaches, industry experts, and media superstars all have in common? They've all written a book. You can too. It's easy!