How to Create (and Sell) Products People Actually Want to Buy

This week offers a mix of inspiration, clarity, purpose … and some good, old-fashioned results-oriented copywriting. On Monday, I shared some of the practical, repeatable steps you can use to create an online course that people actually want to buy. (That’s a fun thing to do, by the way, and I totally recommend it.) Brian Read More…
The post How to Create (and Sell) Products People Actually Want to Buy appeared first on Copyblogger.

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On Making Choices and Finding New Solutions: Let It Be Easy

I’ve been rinsing my mouth with salt water after every meal for the past two weeks. It’s part of the healing process after a wisdom tooth extraction.
Oral surgery: the gift that keeps on giving.
During the first week, I spilled salt all over my bathroom counter. My container of salt has a perforated opening similar to a salt shaker, and sometimes the salt got stuck in the holes. When I measured half a teaspoon, I had to shake the container a bit and the salt didn’t land seamlessly on my spoon or in my warm glass of water.
Now, I consider myself a reasonably capable human being, but after that first week, I realized that the container of salt also has a “full-pour” setting — without any holes — making it easier to pour without shaking the container and spilling the salt.
There was a much easier solution than what I had been doing right in front of me; I just didn’t take advantage of it right away.
No matter how far you’ve come, there’s always more to learn
Reflecting on that experience, I felt silly that I didn’t immediately notice the “full-pour” setting — but I did eventually discover it because I was open to a better, easier way.
When you repeat the same thing over and over again and get the same results, it’s beneficial to question your actions and explore new possibilities.
There are so many situations in life and business that aren’t easy. Accomplishments take hard

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The Keys to Launching a Successful Online Course

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!
We’ve had a lot to say this week about online courses. On Monday, Pamela Wilson talked about some of the surprising ways you can profit from launching your course. On Tuesday, Henneke gave us some specifics on how to write a high-value lesson plan to make your course easier to sell.
And yesterday, I shared my story about my own road to teaching online — a road that definitely included some bumps and curves. (Spoiler alert: it has a happy ending!)
If you’ve been thinking about launching a course but weren’t sure how to get started, Brian Clark is offering a free webinar next week to walk you through some crucial steps.
Wednesday, December 7, 2016 beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Brian’s going to cover:

Designing the learning experience for your course
How to craft your learner profile
Identifying the benefits of knowledge (these unlock so many doors)
A three-step process for crafting learning objectives

We use these ideas literally every week at Copyblogger and Rainmaker Digital. The webinar will cover very hands-on, practical material that you can start working with right away — to develop an online course that’s an amazing experience for your learners, and an amazing business to support your goals.
To register for the free webinar, simply click here and enter your email address.
Then you’ll receive the special link to register for the webinar. You have to register to attend, and space is limited … so don’t wait.
Hope to

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My Favorite Business Model for a Breakthrough Digital Business

It was the end of 2008. Something you might remember about that year — in October, the markets took a nasty fall and the global economy melted down.
I was the sole breadwinner for my family. The company I worked for was going through round after round of layoffs. The well-paying, secure job I’d had for five years looked likely to evaporate underneath me.
I had some savings, but not a ton. I had a mortgage and preschool for my three-year-old to pay for, as well as silly habits like buying groceries and having health insurance for my family.
I had been noodling around with business ideas, but I hadn’t gotten serious.
In the final few months of 2008, I had to get serious. Early in 2009, I took the leap. Here’s how I did it.
My year of living dangerously
In 2009, I felt a lot like a chicken trying to cross an eight-lane highway. It was theoretically possible, but there was a non-optimal level of stress involved.
The first thing I did was hang out my shingle as a freelance copywriter.
In a lot of ways, it was wonderful. I worked on fascinating projects that I cared about. I had lovely clients who actually listened to me. I was able to implement content strategy (which I learned, incidentally, mainly from Copyblogger), instead of sitting in endless meetings talking about it.
The main downside for me was the “you don’t kill, you don’t eat” freelance model, in which I was endlessly

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How to Write a High-Value Lesson Plan that Makes Your Course Easy to Sell

The demand for online education is exploding.
The global market for online courses is estimated around $107 billion. A mind-boggling figure, right?
Imagine stuffing one-dollar bills into a 53-foot truck. Depending on how crumpled your bills are, you’d need around 1,000 trucks stuffed up to the roof to transport those 107-billion dollar bills.
Would you like one of those trucks to deliver a heap of money to you?
Then you must create a lesson plan so valuable that students get excited about buying your online course.
A high-value lesson plan motivates people to both study and implement your advice. It makes students so happy about their newly acquired skills that they tell all of their friends about your course. That’s how your course starts selling like hot cakes.
Ready to get started?
Step #1: Carefully assess your students’ needs
When developing a course on your own platform, the most logical starting point often seems to be your expertise.
How can you teach your skills to others?
This common approach is asking for trouble. Big trouble.
Because it’s hard to create a valuable learning experience when you think from your own perspective rather than from the student’s perspective.
Think about your course buyers first:

Who will buy your course?
How will the course transform them?
Why are they interested in this transformation?

Imagine, for instance, that you’re a social media expert, and you want to create a course to share your Twitter knowledge. You could answer the three questions

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4 Surprising Ways You’ll Profit from Building an Online Course

I had no idea what I was getting myself into back in the fall of 2009.
The only thing I knew for sure was that I was feeling antsy.
I had been running my design and marketing business for almost two decades. Over almost twenty years, I had helped every kind of client with every kind of project. Truth be told: I was getting a little bored.
And boredom, as far as I’m concerned, is Enemy #1.
Up to that point, my business was strictly offline. I had a web presence, but it was a brochure site. You know, a “here’s what I do and here’s how to contact me” website with no content, no audience-building component, no connection whatsoever with the people who landed on its pages. Old school.
The thrill was gone from my current career. Something had to change. So I started searching.
And exactly one Google search later, I landed here on the pages of Copyblogger.
It just so happened that I stumbled onto these pages in the weeks leading up to the launch of one of the early versions of Teaching Sells, the online course that taught online course building. It’s the product that helped establish the company I now work for.
I signed up for Teaching Sells as soon as the doors opened. And I dug right into the materials. All five months’ worth!
As I watched the videos and did the worksheets, I filled a folder full of notes. I worked overtime to consume every lesson.

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Take Courage: Get Some Entrepreneurial Bravery This Week on Copyblogger

Hey there — welcome back to the Copyblogger Weekly!
I was recording a podcast interview this week, and during the conversation I realized how much of business comes down to “putting one foot in front of the other.”
From the outside, it tends to look like your favorite business owners or content marketers have everything figured out. Really, they’re doing the same thing you are — looking around to figure out the territory, making “best guesses” about how to move forward, then executing and watching for results.
Creating online means we’re always navigating unfamiliar waters — and that’s a great thing, even when it’s hard.
On Monday, it was so nice to hear from Raubi Perilli on The Digital Entrepreneur podcast, talking about listening to your instincts and finding your business passion. On Tuesday, I got a little riled up on my podcast, encouraging you to resist anyone telling you that it’s “too late” to add your voice to the world of podcasting — or any other content type.
And on Wednesday, Pamela Wilson’s post encourages you to embrace the uncertain path of the heroic entrepreneur. (Even if your superhero jammies are in the wash.)
Inspiration tends to work a lot better when it rides along with practical advice. In my Copyblogger article on Monday, I shared some thoughts on different models for niche education sites. On Tuesday, Kyle Fiehler gave us some specific strategies for crafting technical content, even if you’re not an expert.
Stay inspired, work

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4 Creative Models for Finding the Right Niche for Your Online Business

If you want your marketing to work, you have to focus.
You have to understand who your message is for, then speak to that person.
And you have to craft your offers to serve that person. Present options that appeal to her, that are in line with what she’s willing to spend, and that will benefit her in ways she cares about.
In other words … you need to specialize. You don’t have the budget to blanket the earth in ads that appeal to everyone, and neither do I.
One of the first things people do when thinking about building a business online is rush to identify their “niche.” And that isn’t wrong … but it’s more complicated than it might seem at first.
The word niche doesn’t just mean a focused topic. In biology, niche refers to how each type of organism interacts with all the other organisms in its ecosystem.
It’s how a plant or animal fits into the larger context.
Your topic is part of your niche, of course. But so is your audience. And your positioning. Not to mention your potential partners. And the folks who share your content. And the content platforms you publish on.
A conversation in the comments here on Copyblogger got me thinking about some of the different ways that business owners inhabit their niches.
Early niche sites
Back in the day, creating a “niche website” meant building a compact site around an under-served keyword phrase, pulling out all the SEO stops to

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How to Serve Students Around the World: A Natural Educator’s Story

Every so often you meet someone who seems like she’s a born teacher. Someone with the smarts, the organizational skills, and — let’s not forget, the patience — to teach.
Helena Denley is like that. In almost every aspect of her life she is in “teaching mode.” And her clients, students, and family all benefit from her gift.
To reach a wider audience with her educational efforts, Helena began using online teaching tools many years ago. They’ve permitted her to build a worldwide audience and maintain the flexibility she values in her life.
Helena’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. See all the Hero’s Journey posts here.
Read on as Helena shares her tips for moving from a service-based to a teaching-based online business.
A dynamic duo online and off
Helena Denley: My business is WP Website Coach. It’s a place for solopreneurs and small business owners to get help with their WordPress-based websites so they can move to the next level in their businesses.
We currently offer a group of interconnected one-on-one services (digital strategy, web design, “tech rescue,” monthly website care, and website reviews).
Plus, we have a WordPress training membership site and a web design course for solopreneurs.
My husband and I work in the business together and bring our life skills to all our client interactions.
Warren is a senior business analyst with more than 20 years

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